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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
25 March 2013



February Overview
Escalation in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces during West Bank protests in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike
in Israeli jails.

In East Jerusalem, settler organizations have accelerated their efforts to take over land and property, triggering imminent displacement of the affected Palestinians.

Over 2,400 people in the Gaza Strip, whose homes were destroyed or damaged beyond repair during the November 2012 round of hostilities,
are still displaced.


Displacement has grave physical, social, economic and emotional impact on people. The main displacement triggers in the occupied Palestinian territory in recent years have included the breakup of hostilities, restrictive planning, settler activities and natural disasters. Developments and activities during February highlighted the situation of families recently displaced, or at risk of imminent displacement, as well as the role of humanitarian assistance in alleviating the resulting hardship.

In the Gaza Strip, over 2,400 people, whose homes were destroyed or damaged beyond repair during the November 2012 escalation in hostilities, are still displaced in rented accommodation or with host families. While reconstruction works are underway for about a third of the 382 affected homes, none has been completed. During the month, UN agencies, as well as the local authorities and a few NGOs, finalized the distribution of cash assistance to all the displaced families, aimed at covering rental expenses and the purchase of essential furniture and home items.

In East Jerusalem, settler organizations have accelerated their efforts to take over land and property in the strategic Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. Ongoing eviction proceedings at an Israeli court have placed a family of ten (the Shamasne family) at imminent risk of forced displacement. The Palestinian Authority has provided the family with legal assistance. To date, an estimated 2,000 Israeli settlers reside in Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, resulting in constant tension and the increased fragmentation of the affected areas.

While all 650 people displaced as a result of floods during January’s storm have returned to their homes, there were many whose vulnerability was exacerbated even further by the damage sustained by their already precarious shelters. In an intervention completed during the month, more than 100 herding families in the southern West Bank received assistance to winterize their residential shelters. A number of additional interventions ongoing or completed during February sought to mitigate the impact of the storm’s damage on agricultural livelihoods, estimated at US$ 16.5 million. The interventions’ main priorities were the reduction of livestock mortality, the rehabilitation of greenhouses, and the repair of agricultural roads serving isolated communities.

In the West Bank, February also witnessed an escalation in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces during demonstrations and protests. Most protests were held in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, while a few other demanded the opening of the main street in Hebron City (Shuhada street), currently used only by Israeli settlers, for Palestinian use too. This resulted in the injury of 746 Palestinian civilians, more than a three-fold increase compared to the monthly average of injuries during 2012. Of particular concern is the more frequent firing of rubber-coated metal bullets by Israeli forces, which resulted in the death of one demonstrator and the injury of another 294, a few of whom are in critical condition. The Israel Security Agency (also known as “Shabak”) also recorded a sharp increase in Palestinian attacks against Israeli security forces, mostly throwing of Molotov cocktails, which resulted in the injury of two soldiers.

The impact of the financial crisis affecting the PA on the delivery of health services has been of increasing concern. The Ministry of Health’s debt amounts to over US$ 170 million, the large majority to pharmaceutical providers and hospitals providing specialized care. Health employees have taken strike action to protest the irregular payment of salaries and staff shortages, reducing people’s access to medical treatment and forcing hospitals to cancel non-emergency surgeries. The situation of hospitals in East Jerusalem, which are the exclusive providers of some specialized medical treatments, is of particularly concern.


A number of humanitarian interventions launched or completed during February, under the coordination of the Food Security Sector and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), sought to address the livelihood needs of farmers and herders affected by the winter storm that struck the oPt between 7 and 10 January.

The uninterrupted rains over the course of these days, compounded by the overflowing of many streams and rivers and the precarious sewage and drainage infrastructure, resulted in unprecedented floods in various areas across the oPt. Combined with strong winds, this resulted in extensive damage to agricultural infrastructure and assets, including greenhouses, animal sheds, livestock and field crops.

A comprehensive assessment conducted by the Palestinian MoA in the West Bank and Gaza has estimated the value of the storm’s damage to the agriculture sector at approximately US$ 16.5 million. The assessment has also identified the three main priorities for the required response: reducing livestock mortality, repairing damaged greenhouses, and rehabilitating agricultural roads connecting isolated communities to markets.

The livestock sector

The low temperatures, rain, snow and floods during the storm, alongside the destruction of animal shelters, resulted in a sharp increase in the mortality and morbidity of livestock, particularly in already vulnerable herding communities in Area C of the West Bank. This has been compounded by the destruction of cereal crops used for animal feed, which forced herders to purchase expensive fodder.

One component of the response, implemented by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN), PLDC (Palestinian Livestock Development Centre) and the Veterinary Department of the MoA, consisted of the provision of veterinary support (primarily medicines and vitamins) to 350 herders across the West Bank, targeting approximately 3,000 animals, via five mobile clinics. This has been supplemented by monitoring activities by the MoA, which took samples from sick animals to identify specific diseases.

Another component will target herders affected by the loss of animal shelters. During the month, the Emergency Response Fund (ERF) managed by OCHA, approved the allocation of US$ 250,000 for the rehabilitation of 272 animal sheds in 66 communities throughout the West Bank, to prevent the further erosion of assets and coping mechanisms. The project will be implemented by six international NGOs in March-May 2013.



Greenhouses

The MoA estimated that over 4,200 greenhouses sustained damage over the course of the storm. The financial losses for individual farmers range between US$ 650 for greenhouses with damaged plastic ceilings, and over US$ 10,000 in cases of total loss. Starting immediately after the end of the storm, the MoA procured materials and inputs required for the rehabilitation of greenhouses worth about US$ 1.8 million. Priority during February was given to farmers cultivating crops that were still in season, primarily in the northern West Bank.

Additionally, the ERF approved three projects during February to be implemented by national NGOs, while another project submitted by an international NGO is in the final approval stages. The four projects target the needs of 959 small-scale greenhouse farmers in the Gaza Strip, mostly in the southern areas, which were the hardest hit by flooding, to prevent the further erosion of assets and coping mechanisms. The projects are worth US$ 856,000 and are expected to be implemented over the coming four months.

Road rehabilitation

The extensive floods caused significant damage to a number of roads in the northern West Bank, connecting isolated rural communities to their main market and service center in the towns of Tammun, Tubas, Jenin and Qalquilya. Some of these roads were rendered partially unusable. The MoA assessed the scope of damage at more than US$ 1 million. So far, the UNDP (UN Development Program) has begun the rehabilitation of a number of roads, while others are still under consideration by various actors.

Satellite imagery

To facilitate the response efforts, FAO and OCHA activated the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” and obtained updated satellite imagery enabling to map areas affected by floods. The Charter aims to provide a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to those affected by natural disasters through authorized users. Each member agency commits resources to support the provisions of the Charter, helping to mitigate the effects of disasters on human life and property.1





The analysis of the imagery (see Map) indicated that a total of 84,000 square meters in the Gaza Strip, around Wadi Gaza, in the coastal area of Wadi as Salqa in the Middle Area, and in small pockets in Rafah city and refugee camp, were inundated. The main areas affected by floods in the West Bank were the Sanur Valley in Jenin governorate (6,100 square meters) and Deir Ballut in Salfit governorate (111 square meters).


Hundreds of residential tents and other precarious shelters located in small herding communities in Area C sustained damage as a result of the storm. Following an assessment carried out in mid-January, the Government of France, through an implementing partner (YMCA) launched a project aimed at waterproofing residential tents. The beneficiaries include 104 families (650 persons) living in herding communities in the eastern part of the Bethlehem governorate. They were provided with nylon or PVC sheeting, which they have installed themselves in a self-help approach. In addition, each family was provided with firewood to mitigate the impact of the cold weather.


A new hospital in the town of Tubas, much needed in a marginalized area in the north of the West Bank, has been built and equipped with donor funding but languishes empty, its equipment unused and with warranties now expired, due to lack of funds to staff the hospital.

The financial crisis affecting the Palestinian Authority (PA) has reduced services provided by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the West Bank due to the MoA’s inability to cover its three largest areas of expenditure --- staff salaries (including staffing of newly built hospitals), procurement of drugs and medical supplies, and patient referrals for specialized treatment. With a 2012 overall budget of NIS 1.35 billion, salaries accounted for NIS 640 million and running costs for NIS 700 million, dominated by the cost of patients’ referrals (NIS 380 million) and drugs (NIS 278 million).

The Palestinian Authority as a whole has been facing acute financial stress since 2011, due to reduced external support from the donor community and the withholding of tax revenues collected by Israel to cover the PA’s debt to Israeli bodies. Ministry of Health officials say they are not requesting an increased aid package, but only that donors maintain their previous commitments while the MoH works to improve cost efficiency.

Health employees have taken strike action in recent months to protest the irregular payment of salaries and staff shortages. The strikes caused clinics to shorten working hours, hospitals to cancel non-emergency surgeries and ministry offices to empty by mid-morning.

* This article was compiled by the World Health Organization

    In 2012, the Palestinian Ministry of Health referred a total of 33,469 patients from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to hospitals outside their region, indicating a high need for medical access, especially to East Jerusalem. Gaza patients, whose process for permit approval is different and includes security interviews, were more likely to receive health access permits than West Bank patients, but less likely to apply.

    The approval rate of applications for permits submitted in 2012 by patients, patients’ companions and hospital visitors, stood at 79.7 per cent for West Bank residents and 92.5 per cent for Gaza Strip residents. While the approval rate for Gaza applicants slightly increased compared to 2011 (89.8 per cent), the rate for West Bank residents slightly decreased (81.4 per cent).

    The main problems identified by WHO are the lack of transparent criteria, delays in response, and the lack of an appeal procedure once an application is rejected.

    The MoH faces debts amounting to NIS 633 million dating back to 2009. Pharmaceuticals and patients’ referrals to specialized health care together represent 87 per cent of the current debt of NIS 662 million, at 44 and 53 per cent respectively. The remaining 13 per cent of debt is divided among 23 categories. Pharmaceutical suppliers, both foreign and local, have been reluctant to respond to new tenders due to the sizeable outstanding debts from the MoH. Referrals are also being restricted. Of the NIS 289 million debt, NIS 105 million is owed to Jordanian hospitals, NIS 65 million to East Jerusalem hospitals and the rest to private sector facilities in the West Bank and Gaza, and to health facilities in Egypt. Referrals to Jordan were stopped in May 2012 after Jordanian facilities refused to admit new MoH-referred patients because of accrued debt.

    About NIS 15 million is spent monthly on patient referrals to Israeli hospitals. Israel deducts their payments directly from the tax reimbursements which it holds for the Palestinian Authority.

    The MoH has been proactive in seeking greater monitoring of costs to increase efficiency and equity in health care. A special financial audit committee works within the Referral Abroad Department to compare hospital bills with documented patient care.


    In 2012, the Palestinian Ministry of Health referred a total of 33,469 patients from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to hospitals outside their region, indicating a high need for medical access, especially to East Jerusalem. Gaza patients, whose process for permit approval is different and includes security interviews, were more likely to receive health access permits than West Bank patients, but less likely to apply.

    The approval rate of applications for permits submitted in 2012 by patients, patients’ companions and hospital visitors, stood at 79.7 per cent for West Bank residents and 92.5 per cent for Gaza Strip residents. While the approval rate for Gaza applicants slightly increased compared to 2011 (89.8 per cent), the rate for West Bank residents slightly decreased (81.4 per cent).

    The main problems identified by WHO are the lack of transparent criteria, delays in response, and the lack of an appeal procedure once an application is rejected.

    The MoH faces debts amounting to NIS 633 million dating back to 2009. Pharmaceuticals and patients’ referrals to specialized health care together represent 87 per cent of the current debt of NIS 662 million, at 44 and 53 per cent respectively. The remaining 13 per cent of debt is divided among 23 categories. Pharmaceutical suppliers, both foreign and local, have been reluctant to respond to new tenders due to the sizeable outstanding debts from the MoH. Referrals are also being restricted. Of the NIS 289 million debt, NIS 105 million is owed to Jordanian hospitals, NIS 65 million to East Jerusalem hospitals and the rest to private sector facilities in the West Bank and Gaza, and to health facilities in Egypt. Referrals to Jordan were stopped in May 2012 after Jordanian facilities refused to admit new MoH-referred patients because of accrued debt.

    About NIS 15 million is spent monthly on patient referrals to Israeli hospitals. Israel deducts their payments directly from the tax reimbursements which it holds for the Palestinian Authority.

    The MoH has been proactive in seeking greater monitoring of costs to increase efficiency and equity in health care. A special financial audit committee works within the Referral Abroad Department to compare hospital bills with documented patient care.


The latest escalation in hostilities in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, that took place between 14 and 21 November 2012, resulted in significant displacement within the Gaza Strip. The affected population includes some 12,000 individuals, who fled their homes due to fear and warnings given by the Israeli army, as well as over 2,400 people who resided in 382 housing units that were totally destroyed (184 units) or damaged beyond repair (198 units). It has also been estimated that approximately 8,000 housing units across Gaza sustained minor damage as a result of Israeli airstrikes and bombardments.

Following the ceasefire agreement’s entry into force, all those who fled their homes due to fear or warning, returned. On the other hand, by the end of February, all families who lost their homes were still displaced, residing in rented accommodation or with host families. It is estimated that approximately a third of the homes destroyed or severely damaged (130) are currently under reconstruction/rehabilitation; however, due the combined effect of the weather conditions in January and delays in the delivery of pledged funds, works could not be completed.

All the currently displaced families have received cash assistance from up to three sources, to cover the rental expenses and the purchase of essential furniture and home items lost with the house. The de-facto authorities in Gaza completed the distribution of a one-time allotment of US$ 3,000 for each family with a totally destroyed house, and US$ 2,000 for families whose house sustained major damage. Families whose homes were totally destroyed also received another US$ 2,000 from Mercy for Relief and Development, a local non-profit association.


The Egyptian authorities took several measures this month to close the smuggling tunnels underneath the Gaza-Egypt border, including flooding a number of tunnel entrances on the Egyptian side of the border. The Ministry of National Economy (MoNE) in Gaza has stated that the volume of construction materials and fuel from the tunnels decreased temporarily in the first half of the month, but largely recovered by the end of the month. According to MoNE data, the monthly volume of cement and steel increased compared to January (by 30 and 152 per cent respectively) while aggregate imports declined only slightly (by 4 per cent). The price of such materials increased by 15 to 20 percent earlier in the month; however, prices subsequently returned to normal by the end of the month.

Additionally, UNRWA provided all refugee families whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged with a total of US$ 750 to cover rental expenditures for six months (January to June 2013), while UNDP did the same regarding non-refugee families. These interventions were funded by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), a humanitarian fund established by the UN General Assembly in 2006, to enable more timely and reliable assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts. Humanitarian actors in the oPt secured US$ 8.2 million of funding from the CERF for projects related to the escalation in hostilities in Gaza.

Cash assistance was also distributed among families whose homes sustained minor damage. Through the CERF, UNRWA and UNDP funded over 2,000 such families, with the specific amount being determined following an assessment of the damage. The local Ministry of Public Works and Housing, in conjunction with a number of local Islamic charity organizations, targeted approximately 4,000 families.

People displaced during the latest hostilities joined over 8,000 people who lost their homes during the “Cast Lead” offensive in December 2008 – January 2009, as well as another 2,100 who lost their homes during prior rounds of violence, and are still displaced. These displacements have exacerbated the already large housing shortage affecting the population of Gaza and resulting in overcrowding and poor living conditions. This shortage is driven by the combined effect of a rapid population growth and the lack of economic access by the poor to adequate housing. The high unemployment and poverty rates prevailing in Gaza in recent years are directly affected by the Israeli restrictions on the movement of goods and people, particularly since the intensification of the blockade in June 2007.



February witnessed an escalation in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, mostly in the context of protests, which are ongoing since mid-January 2013, in support with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails who are holding hunger strikes. Overall, during the month, Israeli forces injured a total of 746 Palestinians civilians across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; this is the largest number of Palestinian injuries recorded in the West Bank in a single month since 2005, and more than a three-fold increase compared to the equivalent figure for the previous month (244) and the monthly average of injuries during 2012 (252). About 87% per cent of February’s injuries occurred during “prisoners’ protests”.

The number of demonstrations and the intensity of clashes significantly increased after 23 February, following the death of a Palestinian detainee, Arafat Jaradat (30 years old), while in Israeli custody.3 As of 10 March, there were eight prisoners on hunger strike, including six held under administrative detention (imprisonment without charges or trial) and two who were released in the prisoners exchange deal of October 2011 and re-detained afterwards.4 Some of the protests started several months earlier, as in the village of Al ‘Issawiya in East Jerusalem (see Box: Demonstrations and policing in Al ‘Isawiya). At present there are approximately 4,700 Palestinians from the oPt, including some 230 children and ten women, imprisoned in Israeli facilities for acts, or suspicion of acts, committed in connection to Israel’s occupation; about 160 are being held in administrative detention.

Additional injuries were recorded in the context of a demonstration held on 22 February in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron City (H2), as part of a campaign demanding the re-opening of the Shuhada Street. Palestinians are prohibited from travelling or walking along most of the street, once the main commercial center of the city and now accessible mainly to Israeli settlers (see Box: Shuhada Street: at the heart of a ghost town”).

The escalation in violence during the month is also reflected in the number of Palestinian attacks against Israeli security forces, as recorded by the Israel Security Agency (also known as “Shabak”), which increased by 66 per cent compared to January (138 vs 83). About 86 per cent of February’s attacks (119) consisted of the throwing of Molotov cocktails, while the rest involved explosive devices, shooting and stabbing. Two Israeli soldiers were injured as a result of these incidents.5





Shuhada Street was once the main commercial artery of Hebron City, as well as a densely populated residential area. In 1994, following the killing of 29 Palestinians by an Israeli settler in the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Patriarchs, the Israeli authorities closed the street for Palestinian traffic; later, following the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2000, most of the street has been closed for Palestinian pedestrian movement as well. Additionally, about 480 shops along the street were shut down by military orders, which are periodically renewed. The Israeli authorities justify these restrictions as a means of protecting the Israeli settlers residing in three settlements established along the Shuhada street (Abraham Avinu, Beit Hadassa and Beit Rommano), in contravention of international law, and permitting them to lead a normal life, including the free use of the street.7

The harsh access restrictions have forced the vast majority of Palestinians living along the street to abandon their homes and be displaced elsewhere.8 The few families that remained face difficult living conditions. While some of them are exceptionally allowed to use a small section of the street to enter their homes, other families must rely on back entrances, or their neighbours’ rooftops to enter their homes. As a result, otherwise normal activities, such as bringing home foodstuff or furniture, became complicated operations; receiving visitors became almost prohibitive. Children living nearby, who attend one of the three schools along, or adjacent to, Shuhada street, must pass through checkpoints daily and undergo searches. In emergency cases, ambulances’ access to the street requires prior coordination with the Israeli authorities, which often results in delays.

Additionally, Palestinians living along the street are constantly exposed to settler intimidation and harassment. As in other West Bank areas, the majority of complaints filed with the Israeli Police are closed without indictment. This is often exacerbated by frequent military operations carried out by the army, which include home searches, questionings and arrests.

Mufeed Sharabati, 47, father of five, lives in an old three story house located in Al Shuhada Street, with his brother Zaidan, also father of five, and his mother:

“Our life in Shuhada Street is almost like living in a prison. Every time we enter or exit the street we have to pass through a checkpoint, and have our belongings checked. Our children are deprived of all aspects of childhood. They are not free to play down the street with a ball or ride a bike because most times they get harassed by settlers. Israeli forces invade our house anytime they want; each time something wrong happens down the street near the house, our children are accused of it, and they get interrogated. When there is a health emergency, for the ambulance to get here it needs prior coordination. We feel so isolated, our friends and relatives don’t visit us because it’s difficult for them to get here. Nothing is normal here, but at the end of the day this is my home, I inherited from my father, it means so much to me, I was born here, all my life and memories are here, and I will not leave here except when I die.”


Al ‘Isawiya is a Palestinian village of over 18,000 people located within the expanded municipal boundaries of Jerusalem. Since August 2012, the residents have been regularly demonstrating in support to Samer Al ‘Isawi, one of the prisoners on hunger strike since 1 August 2012. Al ‘Isawi, a village resident, is protesting his re-arrest on the grounds that he violated the conditions of his release under the Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal. Residents report that following the start of the prisoners’ protests, the Israeli Police has increased its activities within the village, which include search and arrest operations, movement restrictions and more frequent campaigns to collect taxes and traffic fines.

Between August 2012 and February 2013 the number of injuries and arrests in the village increased significantly compared with the preceding seven months (see chart). Representatives from the village estimate that in the first month and a half of 2013, there were on average 4-5 houses searched every day and a daily average of five military operations. Similarly, whilst in 2012 there was one demolition in Al ‘Isawiya affecting a storage shed in July, in 2013 the Israeli authorities demolished 10 non-residential structures and one house under construction belonging to Samer Al ‘Isawi’s brother, leveled five dunums of land, and have repeatedly demolished the protest tent erected in solidarity with Al ‘Isawi.

The possibilities to develop Al ‘Isawiya outwards have been severely constrained in recent decades, as the village has become gradually surrounded by Israeli (existing or planned) infrastructure: the French Hill settlement to the west, a planned “national park” to the south, the Barrier and the E1 settlement plan to the east, and the Barrier and a planned landfill to the north. Residents also report a poor quality of services, including a shortage of classrooms and playgrounds and insufficient garbage collection, along with serious difficulties in obtaining building permits.9

Overall, February witnessed not only a record number of Palestinian injuries, but also the largest number of people injured by rubber-coated metal bullets in several years, both in absolute terms (294) and as a percentage of the total number of injuries (39 percent). Among the victims was a 23 year-old man from ‘Abud village (Ramallah) who on 22 February was hit in the head by a rubber-coated metal bullet and died of his wounds two weeks later. Due to its potentially lethal nature, the shooting of this ammunition at the upper part of the body is prohibited under the Israeli rules of engagement.

Additionally, there has been an increase in the number of people shot and injured with live ammunition across the West Bank: 22 compared to a monthly average of five in 2012. These include a 16 year-old boy from Ayda refugee camp (Bethlehem) and an 24 year old man from Qalandiya refugee camp (Jerusalem), who were shot in the head and remained in critical condition.

The lack of accountability regarding cases of serious injury to demonstrators by Israeli forces is of continuing concern. So far, none of these cases have triggered the opening of an investigation by the Israeli Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU), the only mechanism which could potentially lead to prosecutions. Such investigations are automatically opened only in cases where Israeli soldiers kill a civilian, but not in cases resulting in injuries. The latter may trigger an IDF "operational inquiry", based on which it may be decided to open an MPIU investigation. However, as pointed out recently by an official Israeli Commission (The Turkel Commission), the operational inquiry is an inadequate mechanism to inform about the need to open a criminal investigation.6



In East Jerusalem, settler organizations continue to target densely-populated Palestinian residential areas, particularly the so-called 'Holy Basin' area - comprising the Muslim and Christian quarters of the Old City, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrah, At-Tur (Mount of Olives), Wadi Joz, Ras al-'Amud, and Jabal Al Mukabbir. An estimated 2,000 settlers reside in these areas, in properties which have been expropriated by means of the Absentee Property Law; on the basis of alleged prior Jewish ownership; in buildings purchased from Palestinian owners; and in residences custom built and financed by settler organizations.10

In recent years, owing to its strategic location, Israeli settler groups have made persistent efforts to take over land and property in the Sheikh Jarrah residential neighbourhood, located to the north of the Old City. Since late 2008, more than 60 Palestinians, including 24 children, have been forcibly evicted by the Israeli authorities from their homes in the Karm Al Ja’ouni area of Sheikh Jarrah. The evictions were effected on the grounds that the land was allegedly owned prior to 1948 by Jewish individuals or associations in East Jerusalem.. Israeli law acknowledges such claims while denying equivalent rights to Palestinian refugees owning land or property in areas that are now in Israel.




Immediately following the evictions, the homes were handed over to settler groups, which already occupy several other buildings in the area. According to plans submitted to the Jerusalem Municipality, the settlers ultimately intend to demolish the entire area, including 28 Palestinian homes, to make way for a new Israeli settlement. The plans threaten to displace over 300 Palestinian residents of Karm Al Ja’ouni, most of whom are Palestinian refugees who moved to the area under an UNRWA-sponsored housing scheme in 1956. Formal eviction proceedings are currently underway against eight extended Palestinian families, which remain at imminent risk of eviction.11

Settler organizations have also been targeting Kubaniyat Im Haroun, in the western part of Sheikh Jarrah. There has been an ongoing ownership dispute in this area between the Palestinian residents and the Israeli Custodian General12, acting on behalf of Israeli individuals who allegedly owned the land before 1948, and other Jewish owners. Some 200 Palestinian tenants live in Kubaniyat Im Haroun, in generally dilapidated conditions, with more than one nuclear family living in each house. A protracted legal battle over the land in the neighbourhood came to an end in September 2010 when the Israeli Supreme Court ruled in favor of the General Custodian and other Jewish individuals, concluding that they had succeeded in proving ownership of the land in Kubaniyat Im Haroun. The Supreme Court’s ruling has significantly increased the likelihood of the future eviction and displacement of the Palestinians living in this area, most of whom are refugees.

At Imminent Risk of Eviction: The Case of the Shamasneh Family

The Shamasneh family, who have lived in their home in the Kubaniyat Im Haroun since 1964, have become the object of eviction proceedings set in motion against them by the General Custodian and the Israeli Jewish landowners, placing 10 people, including three children, at imminent risk of forced displacement. Between 1972 and 2009, the family paid annual rent to the General Custodian, after which the latter refused to renew the rental contract on the instructions of the heirs of the original Jewish landowner. Although some of the Palestinian families in Kubaniyat Im Haroun come under the provisions of the Protected Tenants Act 1972 , the Shamasneh family report that they were deemed ineligible because they did not have a written rent agreement with the Palestinian who sub-leased the property to them between 1964 and 1967. Two court rulings ordering the eviction of the family have been issued to date:13 the family’s lawyer has most recently appealed to the Israeli High Court against the eviction, and a ruling on the case by the Israeli High Court is expected to take place at the session scheduled for 20 May 2013.

Mohammed Shamasneh’s parents, who have lived in the house for almost 50 years, are shaken by the possibility of being forced to leave their home. Mohammed, his wife and their six children feel especially concerned about the impact of an eviction on the elderly couple.

Forced Displacement

In the most severe cases, in the Old City, Silwan, and most recently Sheikh Jarrah, settler expropriation of Palestinian property has resulted in the loss of property and the eviction of the long-term Palestinian residents. Such forced displacement has grave physical, social, economic and emotional impact on the Palestinian families concerned. In addition to depriving the family of a home – its main asset and source of physical and economic security – displacement frequently results in disruption in livelihoods, increased poverty and a reduced standard of living, as well as limited access to basic services, such as water, education and health care. Families may also be obliged to refund the municipality for the expenses related to their own eviction. The high legal fees families incur when defending their case in court further strain their already meagre financial resources. The impact on children is particularly devastating, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and reduced academic achievement.




1. For further background see: http://www.disasterscharter.org/c/document_library/get_file?folderId=33 636&name=DLFE-2502.pdf
2. WHO, Right to health: Barriers to health access in the occupied Palestinian territory, 2011 and 2012, March 2013.
3. The man died in the Meggido Prison in northern Israel. The circumstances of his death remain disputed: a Palestinian doctor who participated in the autopsy concluded that his death was a result of torture; the Israeli authorities have not yet issued a conclusion on the autopsy’s findings but have rejected the possibility that Jaradat was tortured.
4. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
5. Israel Security Agency, Monthly Summary, February 2013.
6. The Public Committee to Examine the Maritime Incident of 31 May 2010, The Turkel Commission, February 2013.
7. Pursuant to a 1997 agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel has continued to exercise full control over the 20% of Hebron City which is known as H2. The population of H2 includes over 48,000 Palestinians living alongside a few hundred Israeli settlers who reside in five separate settlements. Approximately 6,000 Palestinians live in neighbourhoods adjacent to the five settlements, including the bulk of the Hebron’s Old City.
8. See B’Tselem and ACRI, Ghost Town - Israel’s Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron, May 2007.
9. For further information on Al Issawiya see, OCHA, East Jerusalem : Key Humanitarian Concerns, March 2011.
10. See OCHA, East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns, March 2011, p.p. 54-57. http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_jerusalem_report_2011_03_23_web_english.pdf
11. See OCHA, The Case of Sheikh Jarrah: Updated Version, October 2010, http://www.ochaopt.org/ documents/ocha_opt_sheikh_jarrah_factsheet_2010_10_11_english.pdf
12. The Custodian General is the legal entity that serves as a trustee of any property in East Jerusalem which, prior to Israel’s occupation and annexation of the area in 1967, was held by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property.
13. The first eviction ruling was by the Jerusalem Magistrate Court in June 2011 and the second by the Central Court in December 2012.
















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