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.
Since 28 January 2018, the three access roads into Hizma village have been totally or partially blocked to Palestinian traffic by the Israeli military, and remain so at the time of writing. Hizma is a Palestinian village of over 7000 residents in Jerusalem governorate. The bulk of its built-up area is in Area B, but small parts of the village lie in Area C or within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, separated from the rest of the city by the Barrier.
Very few of the measures agreed in the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas on 12 October 2017 have been implemented to date and improvements in conditions in the Gaza Strip are extremely limited.
I am deeply concerned about the significant reduction in funding for UNRWA, which is critical to the provision of humanitarian assistance in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). Some 2.5 million Palestinians in this area, or about half of the population, need humanitarian aid, including 1.4 million Palestine refugees, who are among the most vulnerable groups in the oPt. The reduction is particularly worrying against the backdrop of an overall decline in humanitarian funding in the oPt in recent years.
About 2.5 million Palestinians across the oPt, or roughly half of the population, were identified as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection according to the 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) released in December 2017. Of those, 1.9 million, identified as the most vulnerable, will be targeted in 2018 by a range of interventions outlined in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), at a total cost of $539.7 million, ten per cent lower than the 2017 request.
The 2017 olive harvest season, which lasted roughly from mid-September to mid-November, was reported to have proceeded relatively smoothly. However, an increase in incidents of settler violence, including theft of and damage to olive trees, and restrictions on access to olive groves behind the Barrier and near Israeli settlements, continue to pose challenges for Palestinian farmers.
November marked the beginning of the peak season for the export of high-value cash crops such as strawberries. Growth in agricultural trade from the Gaza Strip in 2017 is encouraging news within an economic context characterized by sluggish growth and unemployment peaking at 46.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2017.