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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
29 February 2012




The Monthly Humanitarian Monitor

February 2012




February overview
In February, a number of incidents and trends highlighted the instability and insecurity affecting the living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied territory.

In Area C of the West Bank, there are greater numbers of Palestinians being displaced due to home demolitions in comparison with previous years, and there are increasing pressures from settler organizations on the Israeli authorities to implement outstanding demolition orders. Of particular concern is the prospect of a mass demolition and displacement in the herding community of Susiya in the south Hebron Hills. A petition filed by a settler group with the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) has requested the execution of pending demolition orders.

A tragic vehicle accident, which resulted in the deaths of five children and a teacher, along with tens of injuries, underscored gaps in services in Area C and Jerusalem areas beyond the Barrier, particularly the response to emergencies. While Israeli and Palestinian ambulances were dispatched from both Jerusalem and Ramallah, they were delayed due to heavy traffic congestion at Qalandiya checkpoint. Police presence or traffic lights in the area surrounding Qalandia checkpoint on the ‘West Bank’ side of the Barrier could have assisted in alleviating some of the congestion, but are nonexistent. Most of the casualties were evacuated to hospital in Ramallah, and three of the children and the two drivers were evacuated to

Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities later extended an offer to transport the wounded from Ramallah to Jerusalem if additional medical assistance was needed.

In the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron City (H2), international organizations have reported a sharp increase in harassment and abusive treatment by Israeli military forces. Since the beginning of the year, the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT), an organization providing protective presence in H2, documented over 40 incidents of harassment, arbitrary detention, house searches, body-searches--some of children on the way to school, as well as other abusive treatment of Palestinian residents.

In the Gaza Strip, the population has been experiencing electricity cuts of up to 18 hours per day, due to the disruption in the supply of fuel coming through the smuggling tunnels running under the border with Egypt. In February, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) received less than 25 percent of the amount it requires to operate at full capacity, forcing it to reduce production; on 14 February, with the depletion of all fuel reserves, it shut down completely. Although most hospitals, healthcare centers, and water and waste-water facilities, are equipped with back-up generators, this coping mechanism is not sustainable in the long-term: health care and water facilities have less than a week’s supply of fuel reserves on average, with some hospitals maintaining only a few days’ supply of fuel.

The Israeli authorities’ slow pace of approval of projects requiring the import of construction materials, has undermined the UN’s ability to respond promptly to the urgent needs of the Gaza population, and thereby unnecessarily prolonging people’s hardship. New data collected by OCHA indicates that since the beginning of 2010, Israel has approved only 57 percent of the total value of the UN’s submitted projects. On average, it took UN agencies six months to have a project approved. An internal policy guidance document recently released by the Israeli authorities, suggested that some of these delays are due to political rather than security considerations.

A hunger strike by a Palestinian prisoner, Khader‘Adnan, raised international awareness of Israel’s longstanding practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial, under what is known as ‘administrative detention’. The prisoner ended his hunger strike after 66 days after reaching an agreement with the Israeli authorities. Human rights groups report that there are currently over 300 Palestinians, including one child and three women, being held under administrative detention orders, some 45 percent more than in February 2011 (214). While the orders are reviewed by a military judge within eight days of the arrest, the review is based on secret evidence, which neither the detainee, nor his or her attorney, are allowed to review.

The lack of protection afforded the Palestinian civilians, as well as the above-stated gaps in access to services have continued to undermine living conditions in the oPt. They should be addressed with reference to the normative framework established in international humanitarian and human rights law, and irrespective of the lack progress in the political negotiations.

EVER-INCREASING DISPLACEMENT IN AREA C DUE TO HOUSE DEMOLITIONS

In the first two months of 2012, the Israeli authorities demolished 120 Palestinian-owned structures (76 of these in February), including 36 homes. This forcibly displaced 229 people, some 60 percent of whom are children, and adversely affected 450 others. On average, over 25 percent more people have been displaced per month in 2012 than in 2011 and 125 percent more than in 2010. Over 95 percent of displacement in 2012 occurred in Area C. At least seven of the incidents resulted in the destruction or damage to structures funded by international donors. About half of the people displaced in the West Bank so far this year were in the Hebron Governorate.

This year’s demolitions are taking place in the midst of growing pressure from settler groups for the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) to implement outstanding demolition orders. This month, Regavim, one such settler group, filed a petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) requesting the demolition of structures in the herding community of Susiya in the south Hebron Hills (see case study herein). In its response to the petition, issued in mid-March, the State indicated its intention to move forward in the process of implementing the outstanding demolition orders in the community. This recent petition is in line with Regavim’s earlier request in late 2011 that the State take action against 162 pending demolition cases. In a response, the Attorney-General declared that his office will file the State’s replies to these cases to the High Court, “in accordance with the priorities of the competent parties” by 8 August 2012.1

In response to a previous petition filed by Regavim, the ICA outlined its priorities for demolition as follows: structures on land in close proximity to Israeli settlements are the first priority, followed by structures on land categorized as “state land”, structures near major roads, and structures near the Barrier or in the closed area between the Barrier and the Green Line. The Attorney-General further stated that, in the future, cases involving “priority” areas will be dealt with more rapidly. Overall, almost 30 percent of structures demolished in the first two months of 2012 were located in areas allocated to Israeli settlements (within the boundaries of the regional or local councils). In 2011, some 60 percent of demolitions were located in these areas.

    SUSIYA: A COMMUNITY AT-RISK OF FORCED DISPLACEMENT
    The herding community of Susiya in south Hebron is among the most vulnerable to forced displacement, due to its location in Area C, as well as its close proximity to an Israeli settlement, a settlement outpost, and a military base.

    Susiya has a population of some 350 people, including 120 children. Residents of Susiya, who have been living in the area for decades, dwell in basic shelters, mainly tents and shacks, and rely on agriculture and herding for their livelihood. Access to land, however, ha been progressively reduced due to settlement construction and settler violence. According to residents, to date they are able to access less than one-third of the approximately 6,000 dunums of land that were available to them for residential, agricultural and herding purposes prior to the establishment of the settlement of Suseya in 1983. Three years later, the authorities forcibly evicted 60 Palestinian families, who were residing in one part of the community, which was declared a national park, due to its proximity to the ruins of a Roman church. Subsequent to that eviction, six Israeli families established an “unauthorized outpost” inside the National Park. The settlement and the outpost currently control land that is seven times larger than the built-up area of both settlements.

    Like most Area C communities, the Israeli authorities have never approved a “master plan” for Susiya, leaving residents unable to obtain permits for construction. Susiya has endured several waves of demolitions since 1990. In 2001, all residential and livelihood structures in the community were demolished and the residents were forcibly evicted by the Israeli authorities. The residents appealed to the High Court of justice (HCJ) to return to their land and re-build the structures. Later in 2001, the court ruled on their favor. In 2011, Susiya experienced four waves of demolitions in 2011, targeting a total of 41 structures, of which 31 were residential tents and shacks, repeatedly displacing 37 people (including 20 children), and affecting the wellbeing and livelihood of an additional 70 people. During these incidents, Israeli forces demolished and confiscated humanitarian assistance that had been provided in response to earlier demolitions. Currently, about half of the residences and livelihood structures in the community, as well as the school, have pending demolition orders.

    Susiya residents are also exposed to regular violence from nearby settlers, in cases triggering forced displacement. In one incident in September 2011, settlers set fire to a residential tent, injuring one Palestinian and displacing a family of 12, including seven children.

    There is no longer a sense of peace and security as there is always the threat of settler attacks. It is particularly difficult to see how my children have lost their sense of security; they now have nightmares about settlers and soldiers attacking them. There are no recreational facilities for them and they are afraid to play too far away from the family home for fear of being attacked.”- testimony by a mother in Susiya, given to OCHA

    Susiya residents rely on rainwater harvesting cisterns, as the community is not connected to the water network and there are no nearby water filling points. However, according to the village council, since 2001, the Israeli authorities have demolished 12 cisterns, in and around Susiya, and have issued demolition orders against 20 others. Two of these cisterns were demolished in 2011. As a result, many residents are increasingly dependent on purchasing expensive tankered water, leaving the average household to spend one-third of its income on water per year, while nearby Israeli settlers pay 20 percent of the price. According to the WASH cluster, water consumption in Susiya is 28 litres/ capita/day, significantly less than the 70 litres/capita/day consumed by an average Palestinian and well below the WHO standard of a minimum of 100 liters/capita/day.

Palestinian construction is effectively prohibited in some 70 percent of Area C, in areas that have been largely designated for the use of Israeli settlements or the Israeli military. In the remaining 30 percent of Area C, there are a range of other restrictions that greatly reduce the possibility of obtaining a building permit. In practice, Palestinian construction is only permitted in less than one percent of Area C (which have Israeli-approved plans) much of which is already built-up. As a result, Palestinians needing to build in Area C are left with no choice than to build without a permit and risk demolition of their structure.

ELECTRICITY CRISIS IN GAZA

Supply of diesel fuel to Gaza Power Plant unpredictable in February; vital services affected

A number of factors throughout the month, including the unrest in the Egyptian Sinai, resulted in a disruption in the regular supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip through the tunnels operating under Gaza’s border with Egypt. During February, less than seven million litres of diesel entered Gaza through the tunnels, compared to an average of 23 million each month in the previous three months.

Four of the seven million litres that entered Gaza this month were delivered to the Gaza Power Plant (GPP). This constitutes only less than a third of the average amount delivered each month throughout 2011 (12 million liters), and less than 30 percent the amount required by the GPP to operate at full capacity. Since January 2011, the GPP has been relying on the purchase of fuel from Egypt transferred to Gaza through the tunnels, rather than from Israel, primarily due to Israeli restrictions on the access of fuel (Israel restricting fuel to 2.2 million litres/week) to Gaza and the price differences, as the latter is approximately three times more expensive than the former.

As a result of the fuel shortage, that GPP was forced to reduce production and on 14 February, following the depletion of all fuel reserves, it shut down completely. As a result, power cuts throughout Gaza increased from 6-8 hours a day (the norm since 2007) to 12-18 hours per day. On 20 February, the plant resumed the operation of one of its three turbines, thus reducing power cuts to 12-16 hours a day.

At full capacity, the GPP can generate 80-85MW of electricity. Gaza purchases an additional 120MW of electricity from Israel and 17 MW from Egypt (increased to 22 MW on 27 February), totalling a maximum of 227 MW, or 65 percent of the 350MW needed to meet Gaza’s maximum demand.

In addition to the disruption of the normal functioning of households, the longer blackouts also disrupted the delivery of some essential services and increased the vulnerability of others. Although most hospitals, primary health care centres and water and waste water facilities are equipped with back-up generators, this coping mechanism is not sustainable in the long term: on average, health care and water facilities have less than a one week’s supply fuel reserves, with some hospitals maintaining only a few days’ supply of fuel. Additionally, generators are not designed to function for prolonged periods and are often damaged as a result.

Critical hospital facilities, such as operating theatres, haemodialysis, neonatal and intensive care units, have a double back-up system of large uninterrupted power supply (UPS) generators, which function during short-term cuts, with the main hospital generators operating during longer blackouts. However, the UPS generators cannot cope with intensive use and are therefore affected by chronic malfunctioning. Overall, while the delivery of the majority of health services continued, the continued power cuts increased the risk on vulnerable patients and hospital equipment.

Water and waste water facilities also rely on back-up generators for power. In addition to the limited fuel supply, random power cuts place further strain on the water and wastewater systems. Up to 180 generators were being overused in February, thereby increasing the risk of breakdowns and malfunctions at the operating sites. The lack of fuel also affects pumping stations, increasing the risk of sewage flooding. As a result, 40 percent of the Gaza Strip population (mainly in Gaza City, Rafah and Jabaliya) receive running water supply once every four days only; 30 percent between 6 to 8 hours every three days; 25 percent between 6 to 8 hours every two days; and five percent between 6 to 8 hours once a day.

As of the end of the month, negotiations between Palestinian officials and their counterparts in Cairo were ongoing to resolve the fuel issue and agree on a plan for the future, including legitimization of fuel transfers and increasing in the amount of electricity supplied through the grid from Egypt.

VEHICLE ACCIDENT HIGHLIGHTS GAPS IN SERVICES

Impact on response during emergencies

On the morning of 16 February 2012, an accident involving a Palestinian school bus and a truck took place on Road 60 between Jaba’ checkpoint and Al Ram roundabout (Jerusalem district). The collision ignited the bus’s fuel tank, claiming the lives of five children and a teacher, and resulting in the injury of 41 other children, and the drivers of both vehicles.2 A Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance was immediately dispatched from Ramallah, and in compliance with their responsibilities under the Oslo agreement, the Israeli authorities also requested an ambulance from Jerusalem, but it too was delayed due to traffic gridlock at Qalandiya checkpoint. Three of the children and the two drivers were evacuated to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, while the remaining casualties were evacuated to a Ramallah hospital.

Despite the close proximity of the accident site to both Jerusalem and Ramallah, it took almost half an hour for ambulances affiliated with Magen David Adom (from Jerusalem) and PRCS (from Ramallah), as well the Palestinian civil defense and fire-fighters, and the Palestinian and Israeli police to arrive at the location. This delay highlights some of the constraints undermining the ability to respond effectively to emergencies involving Palestinians that occur in Area C and in areas affected by the Barrier in general, and in the geographical area of the accident in particular.

Access to the area of the accident from Ramallah is severely impeded on a regular basis by traffic congestion generated by the Qalandiya checkpoint, which is the main access point through the Barrier to and from East Jerusalem from the central and northern West Bank. The checkpoint and its infrastructure creates a bottleneck, with the merging of traffic entering and exiting East Jerusalem through the checkpoint, with the traffic between Ramallah and the southern West Bank, which bypasses Jerusalem from the east. The huge volume of vehicles travelling along these two routes in both directions results in heavy congestion in the area adjacent to the checkpoint.

The access problems in that area are compounded by the lack of police presence or traffic lights, which could contribute to the easing of the congestion and to the facilitation of the movement of emergency vehicles. This gap is directly related to the location of this area within the Israeli-defined boundaries of the Jerusalem municipality, but on the “Palestinian side” of the Barrier. Similar to Area C and to the Israeli-controlled areas of Hebron City (H2), law enforcement powers lies exclusively with the Israeli authorities, with the Palestinian Police being prohibited from operating there. In practice, Israeli policing in those areas is limited almost exclusively to issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while other issues such as regular crime and traffic direction are left unaddressed.

Under the Oslo Accords, the responsibility for the provision of emergency services in Area C, including ambulances and fire fighters, lies exclusively with the Israeli authorities. In practice, the PRCS and Palestinian fire fighters are those responding to emergency incidents affecting Palestinians. In the case of this accident, although PRCS closest base in Ramallah and Magen David Adom bases in Jerusalem are located a few kilometers away from the site of the accident, and both reported that an ambulance was deployed immediately upon receiving the call, the traffic congestion next to Qalandiya checkpoint delayed their arrival to the scene for approximately 25 minutes, diminishing their opportunity to save lives.

CONCERNS RAISED OVER ISRAEL’S USE OF “ADMINISTRATIVE DETENTION”

Palestinian prisoner ends hunger strike on day 66, following deal reached with the Israeli authorities.

This month, concerns were raised by local and international human rights organizations and UN officials over Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial under administrative detention orders.3 These concerns were raised in the context of a hunger strike by a Palestinian prisoner, Khader ‘Adnan, who reportedly has previously served a total of six years in Israeli prisons, primarily under administrative detention. On 21 February, ‘Adnan ended his hunger strike after reaching an agreement with the Israeli authorities that his administrative detention order would expire on 17 April and would not be renewed unless new evidence was discovered; he had been on strike for 66 days.

Human rights groups report that there are currently over 300 Palestinians, including one child and three women, being held under administrative detention orders, some 45 percent more than in February 2011 (214).4 While the orders are reviewed by a military judge within eight days of the arrest, the review is based on secret evidence, which neither the detainee, nor his/her attorney, may review. The UN Committee against Torture has expressed concern that Israel’s use of administrative detention, can amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.5 This concern is particularly related to the duration of administrative detention, stemming from the ability of the authorities to renew the detention orders indefinitely. At the time of writing, health concerns were also being raised by human rights groups for a female detainee, Hana’ Shalabi, who had been on hunger strike for nearly a month in protest of being placed in administrative detention; she had been released from administrative detention in October 2011 in the context of the Hamas-Israel prisoner exchange.6

Concerns over Israel’s use of administrative detention occur within the broader context of Israel’s imprisonment of Palestinians from the oPt for acts, or suspicion of acts, committed in connection to Israel’s occupation. According to Addameer, there are currently over 4,300 such prisoners, including five women and some 160 children. Of these, there are approximately 460 from the Gaza Strip, who have been denied family visits since 2007.

Most Palestinians arrested by Israel in the oPt, except in East Jerusalem, are prosecuted through a military court system. This system offers far fewer rights and protections, than the civil court system applied to Israeli civilians, including settlers. Specific concerns regarding due process include that military court judges lack independence; that detainees are not promptly informed of the charges against them; and that the accused and their attorneys are not provided with the facilities, time and information necessary for the preparation of an adequate defense, among others.

Palestinian prisoners, including children, report facing considerable physical and psychological coercion to incriminate themselves and others during interrogation. Forms of reported abuse include beatings and threats, sleep deprivation, position abuse, prolonged cuffing, and having family members threatened and, in cases, arrested, among others.7 Some detainees can spend weeks before they are able to meet with a lawyer. Human rights organizations report a total lack of accountability regarding allegations of mistreatment and torture of Palestinian detainees: between 2001 and October 2010, of 645 complaints made to the Ministry of Justice concerning Israel Security Agency interrogators’ treatment of Palestinian detainees, none led to a criminal investigation.8

The defendant’s confession is then used as the basis for his/her prosecution and also influences ‘plea bargain’ arrangements negotiated between the defendant’s attorney and the military prosecutor. Less than five percent of cases receive a full evidentiary trial; most convictions are the result of plea bargain arrangements.9 Concerns have been raised that sentences are far harsher if defense lawyers demand a full evidentiary trial instead of reaching a plea bargain arrangement.10

INCREASE IN ALLEGATIONS OF VIOLENCE AND ABUSE BY ISRAELI SOLDIERS IN HEBRON OLD CITY

Since the beginning of 2012, international organizations providing protective presence to Palestinian residents of Hebron’s Old City have reported a sharp increase in harassment and abusive treatment by Israeli military forces controlling the area. The reported incidents were documented through first-hand observation by the organizations, or testimony given by victims. Some observers have attributed the deterioration in the situation to the deployment of the IDF Golani Brigade in the H2 section of Hebron City, at the end of December 2011.

In the context of the Oslo Accords, in a Protocol signed in 1997, Hebron City was divided into two sections, to be administered by the Palestinian Authority (H1) and Israel (H2). The latter comprises about four square kilometres and includes five Israeli settlements with a combined population of a few hundred. Together with East Jerusalem, these are the only two cases in the West Bank, where Israeli settlements have been established in the heart of a Palestinian city. The H2 area is also the home of some 35,000 Palestinians and it includes what was once one of the main commercial centres of Hebron, as well as the Ibrahimi Mosque/’Machpela’ Cave.

Since the beginning of the year, the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT), an organization providing protective presence in H2, documented over 40 incidents of harassment, arbitrary detention, house searches, body-searches--some of children on the way to school, and other abusive treatment of H2’s Palestinian residents. In one incident of note, on 8 February, Israeli soldiers and border policemen raided more than 30 Palestinian homes in the Old City, with some damage incurred to many of them; some of the families were either locked in one room while their homes were being searched, or were forced to wait outside. The Israeli authorities have not provided information regarding the reason for this operation.

    THE ABU SHAMSIE FAMILY
    The Abu Shamsie family lives in the Israeli controlled H2 area of Hebron, near the Tel Rumeida settlement. Ever since the family moved into their house three years ago they have suffered from harassment—from both soldiers and settlers. Imad Abu Shamsie, father of five children, says that the hardship he and his family face has increased after the arrival of the Golani Brigade. The latest in a series of settler attacks targeting the family took place on Saturday, 25 March.

    “Recently, the settlers have come here to harass us every Saturday before their weekly tour in the Old City. This time, stones were raining onto the house from two directions. I did not dare to even open the door to go and have a look outside at what was happening. Our satellite dish and water tanks were damaged and windows were broken.”

    We filed a police report last Saturday, detailing what had happened. A report was also filed by a settler against our son, claiming that our son had thrown rocks. Thanks to B`Tselem, we had video evidence to prove both our son’s innocence and the fact that it was the very settler who filed the report against our son who had been throwing stones. But there is no justice here, settlers can accuse us with no evidence whatsoever, while they never face consequences for their actions, even when we present evidence. For example, our daughter was in a coma for 48 hours after a settler broke her jaw with a stone one year and two months ago. Settlers have urinated and thrown stones at our door but nothing has happened to them.

    I have a hard time believing that soldiers would go against the settlers. We have had an army watchtower on our roof ever since the second intifada. There are also Israeli surveillance cameras in the area, but the authorities refuse to release any footage showing settler harassment. The soldiers were also present here last Saturday. Soldiers come here regularly at nights to harass us.

    What is even worse than the physical and material damage is the psychological effect on us, especially our children. Two months ago a soldier pushed our 12-year-old son against concertina wire, causing a 8 cm open wound and last Saturday one soldier even said that he wanted to slay our children. Our children have nightmares and have started to wet their beds. If I ask my children to draw a picture it will show settlers and soldiers.

    “We cannot leave. We have nowhere else to go. If we leave it would be like giving a gift to the settlers. What would you do in our situation?”

    Testimony was taken and provided by the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI)

Both Palestinian residents of H2 as well as protective presence groups have also indicated a sharp increase in Palestinian children being bodily searched or arbitrarily detained by Israeli forces, either while playing in the street, or on their way to or from school. In some of the cases documented by CPT, the soldiers detained teenagers for lack of IDs; in other cases, children were accused of stone-throwing, and held for a number of hours. There were a number of incidents where Palestinian adults attempted to interfere in the arrests of children, and were also subsequently detained.

CPT also reported 16 incidents of international observers and human rights activists themselves being threatened, detained, and in two cases, even sexually harassed by the soldiers. In one noteworthy incident reported by CPT, on 21 January, Israeli soldiers entered the offices of the human rights organization, Youth Against Settlements, and arrested an activist. They then blindfolded and physically assaulted him, and pointed a gun at him, threatening him with live fire. Afterwards, they made him walk, hand-bound, through Beit Hadassah settlement, allowing its Israeli residents to kick, spit, and verbally taunt him.

CONTINUING DELAYS IN ISRAELI APPROVAL FOR UN AND INGO PROJECTS IN GAZA

New data collected by OCHA highlights the impediments that UN agencies and international NGOs face in implementing projects in the Gaza Strip, due to the delays in their approval by the Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT), the department of the Ministry of Defense responsible for Israeli policy vis-à-vis the oPt. The need for such approvals stems from the Israeli definition of basic construction materials, critical for implementation of those projects, as dual-use (civil-military) items, whose import to Gaza is subject to Israeli approval.

The UN programme of work for Gaza, valued at approximately USD 850 million, includes 136 different projects that aim to develop 10,500 housing units, 105 schools and 12 water, sanitation and electric projects, among others. These projects are badly needed to address demographic pressures accumulated since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007, and damages that have resulted from the 2008/09 Israel’s ‘Cast Lead’ military offensive and ongoing armed conflict. Since February 2010, COGAT has approved 57 percent of the UN programme of work submitted for approval, including 84 full projects and components of a further three, worth approximately USD 276.2 million.11 Approved projects include 2,000 housing units, 45 schools and eight WASH infrastructure projects. In addition, several non-UN water and sanitation (WASH), infrastructure and roads projects have also been approved.

Information collected by OCHA indicates that, on average, it took UN agencies six months to have a project approved. To date, there are 45 UN projects (worth USD 198.8 million) pending approval with COGAT, including 39 entire projects and 6 components of three additional projects. These delayed projects include 100 further housing units, 34 schools and a number of electrical and WASH projects. On average, these projects have been pending approval for 13 months; one UNRWA project has been pending for two years.

In addition, there are 16 non-UN WASH projects, valued at over USD 75 million, awaiting approval for restricted materials access to Gaza. Materials are still not approved for eight of these projects, valued at USD 3.5 million, and some have been pending for over a year.

The delays in the approval of projects impede the ability of agencies to respond to urgent needs and unnecessarily prolong the hardship of the affected people. An internal policy guidance document recently released by the Israeli authorities, suggest that some of these delays are due to political rather than security considerations.12

Moreover, the large volume of construction materials which reach Gaza’s markets every day via the tunnels operating under its border with Egypt calls into question Israeli restrictions on their import through the legitimate crossings. According to UN estimates, more than twice as much construction material enters Gaza through tunnels than through the crossings (so far in 2012, 200,000 tons of aggregates, cement and steel bars per month have entered via the tunnels compared to a monthly average of 69,823 tons via Kerem Shalom). However, due to their illegitimate origin, UN agencies and most international NGOs cannot benefit from tunnel materials and therefore have been the most heavily affected by the Israeli restrictions. At the same time, the local authorities in Gaza, have been able to implement a range of infrastructure projects, as well as to increase their revenues by taxing some of the goods transferred through the tunnels.

ENDNOTES
1HCJ 5377/09 Regavim v the Minister of Defence, Military Commander and the Head of the Civil Administration.
2A sixth child died of injuries sustained during the accident on 20 February 2012.
3See “Statement by Robert Serry UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process on Palestinian Prisoners, 10 February 2012; Amnesty International, “Israel: End use of administrative detention”, 17 February 2012; Human Rights Watch, “Hunger Striker’s Life at Risk,” 11 February 2012; “Statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967,” 20 February 2012.
4February 2011 figure for administrative detainees from B’Tselem.
5Concluding Observations of the UN Committee against Torture, Israel, CAT/C/ISR/CO/4,14 May 2009, pg. 5.
6“Serious Danger to Health of Administrative Detainee Hana Shalabi, on Day 27 of Her Hunger Strike,” Joint Statement, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, 13 March 2012.
7See, for example, the ‘violations’ section of Addameer’s website http://www.addameer.org and B’Tselem / Hamoked, “Kept in the Dark: Treatment of Palestinian Detainees in the Petach- Tikva Interrogation Facility of the Israel Security Agency,” October 2010.
8B’Tselem / Hamoked. Ibid.
9Yesh Din, “Backyard Proceedings: The Implementation of Due Process Rights in Military Courts in the Occupied Territories,” December 2007.
10“Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Addendum, Communication to and from governments, Israel,” Gabriela Carina Knaul de Albuquerque e Silva,” (18 June 2010), A/HRC/14/26/Add.1 - paragraph 594.1
11Three UN projects, worth USD 356 million have not yet been submitted for approval with COGAT. These projects include 7,345 shelters and 26 schools, among others.
12As reported in the January 2012 Humanitarian Monitor, internal COGAT procedures specifies internationally sponsored projects should be released for approval within two months, however, projects are intentionally held in a ‘bank’ until political considerations prompt their release to implementing agencies.











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