Thousands of Palestinians throughout the occupied Palestinian territory have been forcibly displaced or are at risk of forced displacement, which has immediate and longer-term physical, socio-economic and psycho-social impacts on Palestinian families, particularly on children. In the West Bank, displacement is primarily driven by occupation-related policies, including the inability to obtain building permits and related demolitions, residency status issues and the impact of the Barrier. In some cases, entire West Bank communities are at risk of forcible transfer. In the Gaza Strip, displacement has primarily resulted from damage or destruction to homes during hostilities or military operations. Many displaced people in Gaza are unable to rebuild or repair their homes due to the inability of the Palestinian Government of National Consensus to assume effective government functions; Israel’s longstanding restrictions on the import of building materials defined as “dual use items”; and the slow pace of disbursement of pledges made by member states for reconstruction.
OCHA monitors displacement of Palestinians due to home demolitions in the West Bank through its online Demolition System. Official data on demolition orders in Area C is available here.
Between 25 and 27 March, the Gaza Strip and southern Israel witnessed one of the most significant escalations of hostilities since 2014, up to that point, after a rocket was fired from Gaza, severely damaging a house in central Israel, injuring seven Israelis. Following the incident, Israeli air force struck multiple locations across Gaza while Palestinian armed groups fired dozens of projectiles towards southern Israel.
In East Jerusalem, as in Area C of the West Bank, a restrictive planning regime applied by Israel makes it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain building permits, impeding the development of adequate housing, infrastructure and livelihoods. Only 13 per cent of East Jerusalem is zoned for Palestinian construction, much of which is already built up, while 35 per cent has been allocated for Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.
The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) has left the H2 area of Hebron city following the Israeli government’s decision not to renew its mandate beyond 31 January 2019. Combined with intensified harassment and restrictions against residents and the remaining protective presence actors in the area, this increases the protection risks faced by the population, particularly schoolchildren. In his remarks to the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, UN Secretary General António Guterres expressed regret at Israel’s decision not to renew TIPH’s mandate. He expressed the hope that an agreement can be reached to “preserve this long-standing and valuable arrangement”.
An oPt Humanitarian Fund success story: Khaled and Hajar are married and live in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Abu Nuwwar, in the central West Bank. They have seven children, including five from Khaled’s first marriage and two of their own. Khaled’s first wife passed away, and so did his daughter, who had a rare, hereditary medical condition. Two other children, Yusuf and Ibrahim, suffer from the same illness, which requires close care, preventing the father from committing to one job.
Recent developments in East Jerusalem place an extended Palestinian refugee family from Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood at risk of imminent forced eviction, following a lengthy legal struggle with an Israeli settler organization. Thirty-two members of the Sabbagh family currently reside in the family home, including six children; at least 19 additional people would be affected by the loss of their family home. This eviction may amount to a forcible transfer, which is a grave breach of the fourth Geneva Convention. Forced evictions contrary to international law also violate the right to adequate housing and the right to privacy, and may be incompatible with other human rights.
Today, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) released a summary of data collected during 2018. Further breakdowns and statistics from previous years are available through links.