- The occupation in the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza have caused a long-lasting protection crisis with humanitarian consequences, particularly in terms of access to health, water, education and livelihood opportunities.
- The military escalation in Gaza in July and August 2014 has had a dramatic humanitarian impact: more than 2,000 deaths, mostly civilians, and displacement on an unprecedented scale. Major assistance is needed. The European Commission's ongoing aid to Gaza is being redirected to respond to the most urgent needs, such as food, shelter, health, repair of water and sanitation infrastructure, and provision of power supply to key emergency services.
- Fragmentation of the Palestinian territory has led to the isolation of civilians who face checkpoints, increasing settlement expansion and settler violence, and the Separation Barrier which limits the movement of people across the border. Palestinians are suffering from the demolition and confiscation of their homes and property, leaving many families homeless and without their source of livelihood.
- The European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is addressing the protection needs of the most vulnerable through emergency support to people affected by eviction and or demolitions, provision of basic services, legal assistance, emergency preparedness, and humanitarian advocacy activities. The European Commission response advocates for the upholding respect of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law violations in Palestine.
- The blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed by Israel has impacted the lives and livelihoods of Gazans for a seventh year, by driving many deeper into poverty and unemployment. Around 80% of the 1.8 million people living in Gaza are now forced to rely on external assistance.
Facts & Figures
European Commission humanitarian funding in 2014:
(€25.6 million to the Gaza Strip and €8 million in the West Bank)
Humanitarian situation and needs
The escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip in July to August 2014 led to a sharp increase in civilian casualties and a mass displacement of more than 500,000 people. Over 100,000 Palestinians have had their homes destroyed beyond repair. At the height of the conflict more than 500,000 people were displaced (more than a quarter of the Gaza population). Following the ceasefire on 26 August, many displaced families moved out of UN and government shelters to return to what is left of their home or to seek refuge with host families or elsewhere. Critical infrastructures, including hospitals, health centres, and schools have been severely damaged or destroyed. Recent hostilities have added another layer to the existing humanitarian needs in terms of health, shelter, access to safe water, protection, and psychosocial support. The high civilian fatality rate, the shelling of hospitals and schools, and the killing of humanitarian aid workers and on-duty medical personnel and electricity, water and waste water technicians, have raised concerns about respect for the principles of distinction between civilian targets and proportionality under international humanitarian law.
The West Bank is home to 2.65 million people. Palestinians living in East Jerusalem, the Seam Zones (located between the Barrier and the 1949 Armistice green line) and in Area C (area under full Israeli control that represents 60% of the West Bank) are facing ever-growing pressure resulting from the impact of Israeli occupation. Restrictions on movement and access, demolition of houses and livelihood assets, forced transfers as well as settlers' violence increase the vulnerability of affected population in terms of shelter assistance, access to basic services such as WASH and livelihood support, legal assistance and protection. Palestinians are separated from their land, families, basic services, schools, hospitals, workplaces and places of worship due to restrictions on the freedom of movement and access.
The European Union's Response
Funding for Palestine in 2014 stands at 033.6 million, benefiting more than two million Palestinians. Almost a quarter of the €33.6 million budget has been allocated to core actions such as coordination with other humanitarian partners, legal assistance to families living in Area C and East Jerusalem, and emergency response to demolitions and evictions.
Responding to the emergency needs in Gaza, 025.6 million has been made available to support emergency operations from key humanitarian partners. ECHO's 2014 initial assistance to Gaza was redirected to respond to the most urgent needs of the Palestinian population, including food, shelter and health as well as repair of water and sanitation infrastructure. ECHO's overall assistance in Gaza in 2014 will reach around 800,000 people.
Since 2000, the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) has provided a total of 0700 million in humanitarian aid to help meeting the basic needs of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
DG ECHO's humanitarian assistance focuses on:
Food security through in-kind or cash support to households. In Gaza, vouchers, basic commodities and other essential non-food items are distributed to displaced Palestinian by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Occupied Palestinian Territory Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Programme (WFP), Action Contre la Faim, Premiere Urgence – Aide Medicale Internationale, and Oxfam GB.
Water and sanitation through water trucking and rehabilitation of infrastructure. In Gaza, the disastrous consequences of the recent Israeli offensive on the already worrying water and hygiene situation, are being alleviated through the provision of drinking water and basic sanitation are being provided, as well as essential infrastructures repaired, through Action Contre la Faim, International Committee of the Red Cross and Oxfam GB.
Emergency shelter or basic household items are provided as an immediate response to families in the West Bank who are victims of demolitions, evictions or confiscations of assets. In Gaza, shelter solutions are being supplied to those living with host-families or in emergency shelters, through the Norwegian Refugee Council, following the latest conflict which left many Palestinians homeless.
Health in emergencies, including evacuation and treatment of the wounded, increased capacities of emergency services in hospitals, and medical supplies, through the work of International Committee of the Red Cross. This emergency response proved crucial during the last Gaza war when the health system was hugely compromised. Emergency medical services in the main hospitals, including ambulance services, presence of surgical teams and provision of drugs and disposables were provided to the Gazan population.
Protection is provided through legal assistance, counselling and access to information to Palestinians who have been displaced or are at risk of displacement. Protection is also provided through an international monitoring presence in areas at risk of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) violations.
Humanitarian Advocacy and Coordination to ensure the systematic and collective documentation of all incidents related to IHL violations that have a direct humanitarian impact on the population of Area C, East Jerusalem and Gaza. This includes incidents of demolition of residential and livelihood structures and assets, settler violence, and access and movement restrictions.
Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
B-1049 Brussels, Belgium
Tel.: (+32 2) 295 44 00
Fax: (+32 2) 295 45 72
Document Type: Factsheet, Report
Document Sources: European Commission, European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), European Union (EU)
Subject: Access and movement, Armed conflict, Assistance, Food, Gaza Strip, Health, House demolitions, Human rights and international humanitarian law, Humanitarian relief, Internally displaced persons, Living conditions, Poverty, Settlements, Shelter, Water
Publication Date: 16/10/2014