An estimated 1.6 million Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory, or 27 per cent of households, are food insecure (as of the end of 2015). This results from high unemployment, low household incomes and a high cost of living. The former two are the result of the protracted conflict, repeated shocks and continued restrictions on freedom of movement, constrained productive capacities and a lack of economic opportunities. Although food is available, it is priced out of reach for many. Numerous households are food insecure even though they already receive food and other assistance.
The construction of a new 2.5 km-long road on Palestinian land is currently underway by the Israeli authorities; it will bypass a section of Road 55 running through An Nabi Elyas village (Qalqiliya). Construction has already had an impact on livelihoods and the property rights of the village residents (approx. 1,500), and the negative impact is expected to increase once the road is complete. At least two additional bypass roads are reportedly planned by the Israeli authorities along Road 60: one road is next to Huwwara village (Nablus) and the other is next to Al Arrub Refugee Camp (Hebron).
In recent months, increased restrictions have been reported in the northern West Bank which are aﬀecting the access of farmers to their agricultural land isolated by the Barrier. These restrictions relate to a minimum area of land and land ownership documents required before Palestinian landowners can apply for permits to cross the Barrier. Although these restrictions have been included in previous ‘Standing Orders’ published by the Israeli authorities, which detail the regulations governing access to areas behind the Barrier, the concern is that stricter application of regulations will further restrict Palestinian access to agricultural land and livelihoods in Barrier-aﬀected areas.
Palestinian farmers in the Gaza Strip reported that in early April 2017, Israeli airplanes sprayed their farming land located along the perimeter fence with Israel with herbicides. The scope of land and farmers affected is yet to be assessed.
On 26 January 2017, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in the Gaza Strip reported its first official outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) on cattle farms in North Gaza and Rafah. Early epidemiological evidence suggests that FMD may have been carried into the Gaza Strip by animals smuggled from Egypt. By 8 March 2017, FMD had affected 105 farms in Gaza: more than 3,000 cattle (a third of the total population), in addition to nearly 3,000 small ruminants (mostly sheep), slightly less than five per cent of the total.
The 2016 olive harvest season, which lasted from 15 October to the end of November, was reported to have proceeded relatively smoothly. However, sporadic incidents of settler violence and restrictions on access to olive groves behind the Barrier and near Israeli settlements continue to pose challenges for Palestinian farmers.
The revenue from agricultural exports and transfers from the Gaza Strip during the first half of 2016 totaled $5.6 million, representing a three-fold increase compared with the equivalent period of 2015. Around 65 per cent of these revenues came from three types of produce: tomatoes, lemon, and cucumbers. The marketing of Gazan strawberries in the West Bank resumed in January 2016 following a ban by the Israeli authorities during the previous 12 months. Due to the late start (January as opposed to November), the volume of strawberries sold declined by 41 per cent compared with the previous season.