The protracted humanitarian protection crisis in occupied Palestinian territory has had a devastating impact on the well-being, physical security and future of girls and boys. Restrictions and conflict-related violence have left children with a deep sense of insecurity for their future, while family coping mechanisms and community resilience are weakened by the closure regime, conflict and deprivation.
Joint Press Statement from Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, Genevieve Boutin, UNICEF Special Representative in State of Palestine, and James Heenan, Head of the UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In September 2018, following an attack by Israeli settlers, Suhad and Ahmad concluded that their family could no longer stay in Tel Rumeida, located in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2). Suhad and their three children left for another part of the city, while Ahmad has continued living in the same home, from where he runs his business. “Buying a new apartment was a huge economic effort, but I had to think of the welfare of my children.”.
Between June and August 2019, there was a sharp increase in violent clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli forces in the Al ‘Isawiya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. As of 21 August, these clashes have resulted in the killing of one Palestinian and the injury of at least 137, a significant increase compared to previous periods. Four Israeli policemen were also injured. During this period, OCHA recorded the arrest of 218 residents, including 53 children, roughly the same as in previous periods, while media reports estimated this figure at over 300. The daily life of the over 18,000 Palestinians living in Al ‘Isawiya has been severely disrupted, with a particularly negative impact on children and on commercial activities.
UNRWA, in partnership with UNICEF and with the support of the European Union, has concluded the “Keeping Kids Active” (KKA) project in Gaza. Over five weeks, from 29 June to 1 August, KKA reached approximately 100,000 children throughout Gaza, providing recreational activities, psychosocial assistance, and referrals to more specialized mental health services, where needed.
About 68 per cent of households in Gaza experience severe or moderate levels of food insecurity, and the unemployment rate increased from 44 per cent in 2017 to 52 per cent in 2018. In an increasingly destabilized economy and weakened social fabric, families’ resilience capacities are increasingly eroded, and the vulnerability of certain groups, particularly children, is exacerbated. Child labour, including children engaging in hazardous occupations, has become a commonly used mechanism to alleviate poverty and secure daily expenses.
Since 30 March 2018, thousands of Palestinians have been participating in the weekly “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations near the perimeter fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, calling for the Palestinian right of return and the ending of the Israeli blockade. The demonstrations were originally scheduled to last up to 15 May, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the 1948 Nakba, but have continued on a weekly basis, and also now include occasional demonstrations on the beach next to the perimeter fence in northern Gaza in addition to night activities near the fence. Protection Cluster partners have repeatedly indicated that under international law, all Palestinians, including children, have the right to freedom of expression and demonstration.