An estimated 1.6 million Palestinians across the occupied Palestinian territory, or 31.5 per cent of households, are food insecure (as of the end of 2017). 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.
Basheer Sous, President of the Beit Jala Farmers’ Society, owns several plots of land in the Al Makhrour area of Beit Jala in Bethlehem governorate, which he shares with his brothers. Al Makhrour extends for approximately 3,000 dunums and in addition to Beit Jala, includes land which the villages of Al Walaja, Batir, Husan, Wadi Fukin and Nahalin have traditionally used. The apricot, olive, fig and almond trees in Al Makhrour, irrigated by natural springs, are an important source of livelihood for farmers from these communities.
“I have been fishing since I was ten years old and fishing is the only source of income for my wife, myself and our 10 children,” said Fadi, a 44-year-old fisher from Gaza city.
On 1 April 2019, the Israeli authorities expanded the permissible fishing area along the southern and central parts of Gaza’s coast from six up to 15 nautical miles (NM) offshore, the furthest distance that Gaza’s fishers have been permitted to access since 2000. Access to the northern areas along the coast remain more limited at up to 6 NM, well below the 20 NM agreed under the Oslo Accords
The annual olive harvest, which takes place every year between October and November, is a key economic, social and cultural event for Palestinians. In the West Bank, more than 10 million olive trees are cultivated on approximately 86,000 hectares of land, representing 47 per cent of the total cultivated agricultural area. Between 80,000 and 100,000 families are said to rely on olives and olive oil for primary or secondary sources of income, and the sector employs large numbers of unskilled laborers and more than 15 per cent of working women. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the olive oil yield for the West Bank in 2019 is estimated to reach a record 27,000 tons, which is an 84 per cent increase over the previous year. The estimated record yield this year is due to the alternate fruit-bearing “on and off seasons” and less infestation by the olive fruit fly during the current season.
Recent findings indicate a significant decline in the number of permits issued by the Israeli authorities for Palestinian farmers and workers to access their land in the West Bank behind the Barrier. According to official data obtained by the Israeli organization HaMoked, the approval rate for permits for landowners fell from 76 per cent of applications in 2014 to 28 per cent in 2018 (up to 25 November). Permits issued to agricultural workers declined from 70 per cent and 50 per cent of applications in the same period
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.
In a positive development, as of 2 January 2019, for the first time since 2000, Israel has partially expanded the fishing limits up to 12 nautical miles (NM) in the middle area off the Gaza coast. However, access along the northern and southern areas continue to be restricted by Israel, citing security concerns, to six nautical miles (NM), well below the 20 NM agreed under the Oslo Accords. In addition to access restrictions, Palestinian fishers remain subject to significant protection concerns, with the number of fisher injuries and shooting incidents rising significantly in 2018.