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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
The extent of domestic, gender-based violence (GBV) across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is believed to be significant. A 2010 survey by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) revealed that 37 per cent of married Palestinian women had been subject to violence by their husbands, while nearly two-thirds of them (65.3 per cent) reported that they chose not to report the violence: only 0.7 per cent of these women sought assistance from specialized organizations. The survey indicated that the incidence of GBV in the Gaza Strip is significantly higher than in the West Bank.
Over 220,000 Palestinians living in 189 communities across the West Bank lack a permanent clinic and face critical challenges in accessing basic health services. These communities include, primarily, those located in Area C, in the Israeli-controlled parts of Hebron city (H2), and in the closed areas behind the Barrier (the Seam Zone). In many of these areas, the journey to the nearest clinic has lengthened because of the need to travel circuitous ways around settlements and barriers. Access to healthcare can be hampered by the unavailability or high costs of transportation, and in some communities, access to emergency services is challenging as even ambulances face delays.
The hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups from 7 July to 26 August 2014 were the most devastating in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israeli occupation in 1967. In addition to the 1,460 Palestinian civilians killed, including 556 children,3 some 17,800 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged, causing approximately 100,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs). Three and a half years after the ceasefire, more than 22,000 people (4,162 families) are still displaced (as of the end of February 2018).4 As highlighted below, many of them continue to live in precarious conditions with uncertainty regarding their immediate future.
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.