You are here
In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), as elsewhere, women, men, boys and girls may have different humanitarian needs and vulnerabilities based on their gender. Israel’s policies in the oPt restrict and affect these groups in different ways, and gender roles and relations in Palestinian society determine varying levels of access to resources and opportunities. Relevant factors that determine the different impacts of occupation include types of human rights violations, livelihood-related vulnerabilities, gender-based division of labour, discriminatory norms and possible gender bias in the design of humanitarian assistance. Additionally, the intra-Palestinian divide and the limited authority exercised by the State of Palestine in Gaza, Area C and East Jerusalem compound gaps in legal protection for women. The humanitarian community in the oPt collects sex-disaggregated data in order to refine the identification of needs, address gender-based vulnerabilities and ensure an equitable and effective humanitarian response.
Articles, statements and press releases
According to UN Women, gender-based violence (GBV) in the oPt has assumed a higher profile in recent years. In 2010 the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) undertook a survey which revealed that levels of domestic violence had declined in the West Bank compared with 2005, but had increased in the Gaza Strip. The rise in GBV in Gaza was attributed to the deteriorating humanitarian situation following the Israeli blockade imposed after the Hamas takeover in 2007, and the devastating impact of the ‘Cast Lead’ hostilities in December 2008-January 2009.
The humanitarian context in the oPt has a differentiated impact on men, women, boys and girls. Gender analysis assists in identifying groups of the affected population that should be prioritized in the humanitarian response, defining their humanitarian needs based on the differentiated impact, and ensuring gender responsive humanitarian interventions that mitigate negative coping mechanisms prioritizing needs of people with disabilities, divorced or widowed women, adolescent girls and boys, and the elderly. Gender analysis also expands on household level vulnerability from a focus on female-headed households to include also households with high dependency ratios, headed by a person with a disability or a person in detention, married women who are in a separated or polygamous marriage, and widows and divorcees without secure tenure rights.
Settler violence and poor law enforcement by the Israeli authorities have been longstanding concerns. They have undermined the physical security and agricultural livelihoods of tens of thousands of Palestinians in some areas of the West Bank and generated the need for assistance and protection by humanitarian actors, especially for vulnerable groups such as children and women. Humanitarian interventions coordinated by the Protection Cluster include the deployment of a protective presence in high-risk areas; psychosocial support to victims; the installation of protective infrastructure (see case study); the documentation of cases and advocacy; and legal counselling.
For the past three years, approximately 700 Palestinian children in East Jerusalem have been detained by Israeli forces every year, usually on charges of stone-throwing and, more recently, incitement to violence in social media. Some of these cases have triggered allegations of abuses during the arrest, transfer and/or interrogation. Also of concern are recent changes to Israeli legislation that allow harsher prison sentences for children convicted of crimes such as stone-throwing, including children as young as 12 who start serving their sentences when they turn 14. Some Palestinian children convicted or awaiting trial have been placed under house arrest. Although preferable than imprisonment for children, this puts additional strain on the families affected.
Following a rise in Palestinian attacks since October 2015, and citing the need for deterrence and prevention, the Israeli authorities have implemented measures that penalize Palestinians for acts that they did not commit and for which they are not criminally responsible. These measures include the destruction of the family homes of Palestinians who carried out an attack or are suspected of carrying out or planning attacks, and the closure of localities where some of these suspects lived. These practices raise concerns about collective punishment, which is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.