Since 1967, about 250 Israeli settlements and settlement outposts have been established across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law. Settlements are a key driver of humanitarian vulnerability. The establishment and constant expansion of settlements has had a negative impact on the living conditions of Palestinians, resulting in the loss of property and sources of livelihood, restrictions on access to services, and a range of threats to physical security, which in turn have generated need for assistance and protection measures by the humanitarian community. Some of these impacts are related to Israeli settlers’ attacks on Palestinians, and the lack of adequate law enforcement by the Israeli authorities.
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.
The seizure of privately owned Palestinian land to establish and expand Israeli settlements has been a common phenomenon from the beginning of the Israeli occupation. In recent years, these actions have been conducted primarily by Israeli settlers without an official permit or authorization, but often with the acquiescence and active support of the Israeli authorities. The resulting loss of property and sources of livelihood, restricted access to services, and a range of protection threats have triggered demand for assistance and protection measures by the humanitarian community.
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.
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).
Since the beginning of 2017, a number of developments have generated additional pressure on Palestinian Bedouin communities located within and around the area designated by the Israeli authorities for the E1 settlement plan and the expansion of Ma’ale Adumim settlement in eastern Jerusalem governorate. The 18 communities in this area belong to a larger group of 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank, which the Israeli authorities seek to “relocate” to three designated sites.
The three cases highlighted in this study describe the ongoing efforts by Israeli settlers to increase their spatial control over surrounding areas and natural resources through the development of new infrastructure and activities, alongside attempts to remove a Palestinian presence.