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        General Assembly
15 June 1982


Thirty-seventh session
Item 71 (j) of the preliminary list*


Living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories

Report of the Secretary-General

1. In its resolution 34/113 of 14 December 1979, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General, in collaboration with the relevant United Nations organs and specialized agencies, particularly the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Economic Commission for Western Asia (ECWA) and the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories, to prepare and submit to the General Assembly at its thirty-fifth session a comprehensive and analytical report on the social and economic impact of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories.

2. At its thirty-fifth session, after considering the Secretary-General's report (A/35/533 and Corr.1), which had been submitted pursuant to the above-mentioned resolution, the General Assembly, in paragraph 1 of resolution 35/75 of 5 December 1980 took note with satisfaction of the report of the Secretary-General on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories land, in paragraph 4 of the same resolution, called upon all States to co-operate with United Nations agencies, organizations and organs and local Palestinian authorities to alleviate the tragic living conditions of the Palestinian people caused by the Israeli occupation. Furthermore, in paragraph 5 of the resolution, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit a comprehensive and analytical report to it at its thirty-sixth session, through the Economic and ]Social Council, on the progress made in the implementation of the resolution.

3. At its thirty-sixth session, after considering the Secretary-General's report (A/36/260 and Add. 1-3) which had been submitted pursuant to its resolution 35/75, the Assembly, in paragraph 1 of resolution 36/73 of 4 December 1981, took note of the report of the Secretary-General on the living conditions of the Palestinian people and, in paragraph 6 of the same resolution, requested the Secretary-General "to prepare a comprehensive and analytical report on the deteriorating living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories and to submit it to the General Assembly at its thirty-seventh session, through the Economic and Social Council". In paragraph 7 of the resolution, the Assembly also requested the Secretary-General, in preparing the report, "to consult and co-operate with the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people".

4. So as to enable the Secretary-General to prepare and submit the required report to the General Assembly at its thirty-seventh session, and in an effort to ensure a balanced and objective expert view, the Secretary-General used the services of two experts (see annex II below).

5. The experts were to prepare the report on the basis of material available from the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies and from the specialized agencies, and other published and unpublished literature pertaining to the subject. They were also to gather information through visits to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Republic and the occupied territories and through discussions with government officials and others, as well as with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

6. Since permission to visit the occupied Palestinian territories was not granted by the Government of Israel, the experts, in preparing their report, had to rely secondary sources of information, including the reports of a mission of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and another of the World Health Organization (WHO), which had visited the occupied territories in 1981.

7. The question of the living conditions of the Palestinian people has been a matter of concern in many intergovernmental bodies and subsidiary organs of the United Nations, for example, the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, the Commission on Human Rights, the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories and the Security Council. Because of the considerable volume of material available in the United Nations, as well as other published material in books, periodicals, journals and the press, it was agreed that one expert would remain at United Nations Headquarters to carry out the extensive research required and the other expert would go on mission to gather information from the relevant United Nations programmes and the specialized agencies in Europe and the Middle East and would also visit Egypt, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic and the offices of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Beirut and Damascus.

8. Accordingly, while one of the experts remained at the United Nations Headquarters, the other was on mission from 8 February to 19 March 1982, visiting Egypt, Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic, where he held discussions with senior government officials dealing with matters related to the occupied Palestinian territories, with Palestinian refugees living in those countries and with residents the occupied territories visiting those countries, as well as with recent Visitors to the occupied territories. He held further discussions with United Nations officials stationed in those countries. Discussions were also held with, and information gathered from, the representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in Beirut and Damascus. Information was also collected from Various academic research institutions in the neighbouring Arab countries.

9. The expert also visited the headquarters of, and gathered relevant information and data from, ECWA, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), WHO, ILO and UNRWA. Various United Nations reports dealing with conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories were also reviewed, particularly those of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories, the Security Council Commission established under resolution 446 (1979) and the committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The experts reviewed material received from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations ^Children's Fund (UNICEF).

10. The report prepared by the experts is reproduced in annex I below.


Report of the Group of Experts on the Living Conditions of the

Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territories




A.Land and settlement
C.Physical infrastructure
D.Population and housing
A.Social and cultural environment



1. In resolution 36/73, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to prepare and submit to it at its thirty-seventh session, through the Economic and Social Council, a comprehensive and analytical report on the deteriorating living conditions of the Palestinian people living in the occupied Palestinian territories. A previous report of the Secretary-General, submitted to the Assembly at its thirty-fifth session, in response to resolution 34/113, dealt with the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories (A/35/533 and Corr.l).

2. Accordingly, in the present report, the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the West Bank of the River Jordan, including East Jerusalem, and the Strip are examined with a view to determining the extent and scope of deterioration in the social and economic conditions of the people over the period of occupation.

3. Although data are readily available in officially published documents in respect of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, they are less readily available and are less reliable for East Jerusalem. The analyses in the report are therefore mainly related to conditions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with some information, gathered from secondary sources, on conditions in East Jerusalem as regards the social and cultural factors.

4. In the absence of a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, it was not possible for the expert to observe and record information and data at first hand. However, an PLO mission and a WHO mission visited the occupied territories as recently as 1981, and relevant information contained in the reports of those missions has been taken into account in the analysis of employment conditions and the health services prevailing in the territories. Information was also obtained by the expert who was on mission in February and March 1982, visiting the neighbouring Arab countries and United Nations institutions, offices and programmes in the Middle East and Europe.

5. The present report examines three broad areas affecting the social and economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territories. Section III deals with the physical and infra structural factors, including housing and community facilities; section IV deals with the economic factors; and section V the social and cultural factors, as well as health and educational aspects.


6. Employment in the occupied Palestinian territories has been declining since the occupation. As the economy of the occupied territories has not generated the jobs required to absorb the increase in the labour force, growing numbers of unskilled workers have sought employment in Israel - 34.9 per cent of the total employed in 1979 - while skilled and professionally qualified persons have been emigrating to neighbouring Arab States and beyond. The absence from home of migrant workers and the long daily commuting of those working in Israel, have adversely affected family and community life in the territories. Structural changes in the production and distribution sectors consequent on the integration of the economy with that of Israel have contributed to the decline in employment opportunities.

7. In spite of the decline in employment in the occupied territories themselves, the incomes of the people in the territories have risen in both current and real terms. This is due to increased employment in Israel, structural changes in production, a rise in- wages in the area and a significant increase in remittances from abroad. The increase in incomes has led to increased consumption and savings which rose at a relatively fast rate during the period 1968-1973, with a slowing down in the period 1973-1979. The decline in the growth rate of consumption and in the proportion of savings was the effect of accelerated inflation during the period 1973-1979.

8. In the absence of an appropriate institutional structure to mobilize and invest savings, the people in the occupied territories have found their purchasing power eroding owing to inflation. Due to lack of incentives to save, there has been a tendency to hoard gold, Jordan dinars and other hard currencies, and most of the investment has been made in improving private dwellings. There are few Opportunities to invest in income-producing activities because of the existing economic structure and the pattern of production and distribution in the industrial, agricultural and trade sectors. This has an adverse effect on the development of a viable economy to serve the long-term economic and social needs of the Palestinian people living in the occupied territories.

9. Policies adopted by the occupying Power regarding land and water usage in the territories are adversely affecting the living conditions of the Palestinian communities. The continued appropriation of parcels of cultivable land, often for the use of existing Israeli settlements or proposed ones, has created a sense of insecurity and frustration among the Palestinian people. The restrictions on the use of water by the local people and its increasing diversion for use by the new settlements have adversely affected the agricultural activities of the Palestinian communities.

10. Apart from the above-mentioned economic impact, the social and cultural life of the Palestinian people has also been affected by the various constraints and restrictive actions of the occupying Power, which have been intensified in recent years. For instance, collective punishment, incarceration without trial, deportation, and restrictions on freedom of movement, association and expression, are means by which the development of national consciousness and cultural identity among the Palestinian people living in the territories is restricted. A serious factor which is affecting peaceful living conditions is the continuing friction between the local Palestinian communities, on the one hand, and the Israeli authorities and settlers, on the other. Following the dismissal of the elected Mayors of El Bireh, Nablus and Ramallah in March 1982, clashes broke out in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, leading to injury and loss of life.

11. As far as health is concerned, although certain improvements have been made in the curative and preventive systems of health care, they have not kept pace with the increase in population and the need for specialist services and care within the hospital system in the occupied Palestinian territories. Shortages of medical personnel, nursing staff and technicians are widespread. Diagnostic equipment and; services are often lacking in the principal hospitals, and referrals continue to be. made increasingly to Israeli hospitals for specialist diagnosis and care. There have been no significant changes over the past two years in the health services as regards the establishment of health units or strengthening of medical staff. About half the population of the territories (the West Bank in particular) who have not joined the health insurance schemes are worse off than before in obtaining health care and needed medical services.

12. With respect to education, the number of classes, teachers and students in the territories has increased since 1968. However, the enrolment ratios for the West Bank are lagging behind those of the Gaza Strip and neighbouring Arab countries. The frequent closing down of schools and harassment of students have created an atmosphere of anxiety and apprehension which hinders the normal educational development of the students. The application of Military Order No. 854 to the universities has operated to deprive them of academic freedom.

13. As far as housing is concerned, the increase in housing stock since the occupation has not kept pace with the rate of dilapidation. Even though there have been marginal improvements in room densities, the state of overcrowding in the occupied territories remains severe.

14. The high rate of migration from the occupied territories, especially since 1975, has been attributed to lack of employment opportunities and the atmosphere of tension and uncertainty resulting from the continuing occupation. For those reasons and because of the prospect of better employment opportunities in the Gulf States, migratory flows from the territories have accelerated. Since migration generally involves young males of working age, the territories are being deprived of their most valuable human resource.


A. Land and settlements

15. Land and water resources continue to be of the greatest concern to the Palestinians since they are critical factors in a determination of the living conditions of the people. The total land area of the occupied Palestinian territories has been given as approximately 5,939,000 dunums, of which 5,572,000 dunums are in the West Bank and 367,000 in the Gaza Strip. By September 1979, 1,500,000 dunums or approximately 25 per cent of the total land area had reportedly been expropriated by the Israeli authorities (see A/34/631, para. 105). In the case of the West Bank, the land expropriated had increased from 27 per cent in 1979 to 34 per cent, or some 1,862,000 dunums, by March 1981. a/ Of the land expropriated in the West Bank, 11 per cent was reported to have been utilized for the building of new Israeli settlements. A total of 123 such settlements had reportedly been built in the occupied Palestinian territories by the middle of 1981: 10 in East Jerusalem, 103 in the West Bank and 10 in the Gaza Strip. b/

16. The process of expropriation, in association with other factors, has led to a decline in the amount of land used for agriculture and, to some extent, in agricultural output of certain commodities traditionally produced in the occupied territories. As mentioned in the report submitted to the General Assembly at its thirty-fifth session (see A/35/533, annex I, para. 28), the total land area under cultivation declined from 2,840,000 dunums in 1967 to 2,140,000 dunums in 1974 (i.e., 75 per cent of the land cultivated in 1967). With the further expropriation of land since then, it is reasonable to suppose that the amount of land cultivated by the Palestinians is smaller today than it was in 1974.

17. That expropriation of land is widespread and is continuing, adversely affecting the lives and livelihood of the Palestinian farming population, is supported by the information presented to the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories and set forth in its report to the General Assembly at its thirty-sixth session (A/36/579, paras. 102-118). Most of the land has been seized or expropriated for the expansion of new Israeli settlements. The effect of these measures on Palestinian farmers and communities has been a heightened sense of insecurity and a reluctance to make any long-term investments to improve the land.

18. In addition to the direct expropriation of land under existing emergency laws and Israeli regulations, the expert on mission was informed by Arab sources that, in certain municipalities, the authorities have recently started inserting a clause in building permits to the effect that while the applicant has permission to build a house on the land, the land on which the house stands does not belong to him. There is reason to believe that this applies mainly to urban land, especially when the authorities believe that the land comes under the category of absentee owner's property.

B. Water

19. From the point of view of the Palestinians, the situation with regard to water-has worsened. The problem appears intractable in the prevailing circumstances which do not permit of the adoption of strategies for the development and utilization of water resources for the benefit of the Palestinians.

20. As the occupying Power, Israel is the sole authority for the conservation, control and use of the water resources in the occupied territories. This question is complicated by the fact that both Israel and the West Bank share many sources of water and that some of the sources, particularly the underground aquifers straddle the border between the West Bank and Israel. Due to the stratification of the hills dividing Israel and the West Bank and the slope of the strata, much of the rain falling on the hills percolates downwards and eastwards, issuing as springs in the West Bank or adding to the aquifers. Some of the aquifers are superimposed on each other, so that exploitation of the lower aquifers by deep drilling can cause shortages or drying up of the upper aquifers. c/

21. The main sources of water in the occupied territories are wells and springs. Water from these sources is used for agricultural and domestic purposes. Since occupation in 1967, the use of only two wells for agricultural purposes has been permitted. In the urban areas of Nablus, Kalkiliya, Tul-karam and Kaffir the use of a few wells is permitted. In addition to the ban placed on the digging of new wells, a restriction has been placed on the amount of water that can be drawn from existing wells, often at the level that was established at the time of occupation, and meters have been fitted to all wells to ensure that the limits placed are not exceeded. Legal sanctions including fines are imposed on the owners of wells if the amount of water drawn exceeds the limits.

22. The restrictions placed on the utilization of water for agricultural use have, according to Palestinian sources, prev«iited the expansion of agricultural enterprises and, in some cases, have led to the virtual destruction of farms, particularly small farms which are predominant in the West Bank, because there is insufficient water to keep crops alive. Data on agricultural output indicate that after the initial surge resulting from the introduction of new techniques by the Israeli authorities, output of many agricultural products declined or remained at the same level after 1975-1976. d/

23. Table 1 below illustrates water usage in the West Bank between 1967 and 1979:

Table 1. water consumption in the West Bank (Millions of cubic metres)

Domestic use from springs
Domestic use from wells
Domestic use from Mekorot company a/
Agricultural use from wells
Agricultural use from springs

Source: Report of the Minister of Health of Israel, presented to the World Health Assembly at its thirty-fourth session (A34/1NF.DOC/1), annex.

It will be observed that the data presented by the Minister of Health of Israel supports the claim by the Palestinians that the use of water for agricultural purposes has been restricted to pre-1967 levels. The Israeli authorities state that this has become necessary because of the need to exploit the water resources in a rational manner by ensuring that, in the development of farms, consideration is given to such factors as the availability of water in the area and to the maintenance of the balance between water resources and their exploitation in order to prevent over-exploitation and salinization. As regards permission for the digging of new wells, the Israeli authorities state that between 1967 and 1979, 30 applications out of 80 were approved for permits to prospect, but not a single new well was sunk during the period, owing to the high cost involved (see A/36/260/Add.l, para. 26). There is no indication, however, that any policy exists to assist the Palestinian people to meet the high costs through loans, grants or any other form of financial assistance. On the contrary, as the expert was informed, many restrictions seem to be placed on the receipt of funds from abroad for development projects, including the improvement of the water supply.

24. In general, the Palestinian population perceives the Israeli authorities as permitting the Israelis far greater use of water for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes than they do the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Available data point to the fact that water consumption in Israel is much higher than it is in the West Bank, as table 2 below illustrates.

Table 2. Water consumption in the West Bank and Israel, 1977 (Millions of cubic metres)

West Bank
10 a/

Although there is undoubtedly a need to conserve water through controls on its utilization, the fact that the general rate of water consumption per capita in Israel is almost four times that in the West Bank (A/35/533, para. 37) provides justification for the view that the water policies of the occupying authorities deny to Palestinians the use of water resources at the same level as is permitted to Israeli citizens. In the circumstances, the limits placed on the consumption of water by Palestinians in the West Bank constitute a constraint on the agricultural and industrial development of the occupied territories.

25. The difference in the usage of water in the occupied territories and Israel is substantial. Additionally, there are clear indications that the new Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are receiving preferential treatment. Some of the water policies introduced in the West Bank appear to be directly related to the exploitation of water resources for the benefit of the new settlements. For instance, the Israeli Water Company (Mekorot) received permission to drill 30 wells to serve the new settlements established in the occupied territories. The wells are normally drilled into the deep aquifers, thus affecting the upper aquifers which are the normal source of supply for the Palestinian communities. Details of the output from these wells are not available, but for the period 1976-1977, the volume of pumping from the artesian wells alone in the territories was officially given as follows:

Table 3. Volume of pumping from artesian wells, 1976-1977 (Thousands of cubic metres)

Number of wells
Quantity of water
Percentage of total
Jordan valley and eastern foothills
Western foothills and coastal region
Israeli wells

Source: Yearly report on output of wells in West Bank, Water Administration, ;Leadership of West Bank, June 1978 (see also TD/B/870, table 17).

126. Instances have been cited by residents of the occupied territories whereby as ?alternatives to permission for sinking wells, the applicants have been offered the option of purchasing water from newly established settlements or hooking up to the water grids that are being set up to supply the settlements. The affected Palestinian communities have vigorously resisted these options as affronts to their sovereignty over their own natural resources and, as a result, the economic activities of a number of Palestinian families have been reduced to near subsistence level.

C. Physical infrastructure

27. The level, quality and quantity of physical infrastructure facilities in the occupied territories have remained low. Major road networks have been constructed by the Israeli authorities or are in the process of construction. However, these highways have largely been constructed to serve Israeli settlements and the strategic purposes of the occupying authorities. Access roads to about 25 per cent of all villages in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are lacking. This fact, by itself, if related to the situation in other developing countries, does not appear to be a major deficiency. It can only be regarded as such in the context of the large sums of money made available by the authorities for providing infrastructure facilities, including roads and drains, to Israeli settlements. In many of the villages of the occupied territories, even those with access to the main highways, a reasonable internal street system is lacking, and many houses in these villages lack vehicular access.

28. In a study prepared for ECWA, it has been observed that modern sewage systems are completely lacking in the villages while they are relatively undeveloped in the cities. Modern water supply and reticulation systems are unavailable for about 75 per cent of the villages of the West Bank, electricity supply is inadequate and in the case of 72 per cent of the West Bank villages, non-existent. e_/

29. Table 4 below, compiled from data collected by the Secretary of the World Council of Churches, shows the degree to which the rural areas of the occupied territories lack certain basic infrastructure facilities.

Table 4. Distribution of village infrastructure by type and district in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip

Number of villages
Villages without electricity
Villages without a water system
Villages with a poor connection to a highway
West Bank
Grand total

Source; Bakir Abu-Kishk, "Human settlements: problems and social dimensions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip" (ECWA, March 1981), p. 14.

D. Population and housing

30. The population of the occupied territories has increased considerably since 1967 owing to high fertility and relatively low mortality. In the West Bank, the population had increased from 581,700 in 1968 to 699,600 by the end of 1979. The population in the Gaza Strip increased from 355,900 in 1968 to 432,600 in 1979. 31. Although the territories have registered sizable increases in population, the Palestinians state that those increases would have been higher had there not been substantial emigration from the territories owing to the lack of suitable job opportunities and deteriorating conditions with respect to personal security. There is considerable evidence to support the contention that there has been significant migration from the occupied territories since 1967 (see table 5 below).

Table 5. Population changes in the occupied territories

A. West Bank

Natural increase (thousands)
Actual increase (thousands)
annual Rate of increase (percentage)

B. Gaza Strip and North Sinai
Natural increase (thousands)
Actual increase (thousands)
annual Rate of increase (percentage)

Source: Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1980 (Jerusalem, Central Bureau of Statistics, 1980), p. 677, table XXVI1/I.

32. In table 5, the amount of natural increase and the amount of actual increase, for most of the years between 1967 and 1979 are compared. The difference for each year may be taken as an estimate of migration for that year. In column (3), the annual rate of actual increase is much lower than the rate for the region and is much lower than the average annual rate of population increase for such neighbouring countries as Jordan (3.6 per cent) and the Syrian Arab Republic (3.3 per cent). £/

33. It will be observed from the table that in the case of the West Bank, emigration from the territory involved an average of less than 5,000 persons a year; between 1970 and 1974. From 1975, the volume of emigration increased considerably involving an average of more than 12,000 persons a year. In the Gaza Strip, the volume of emigration has been fairly steady, involving about 3,500 persons annually, the selective nature of emigration, involving mainly males in the working age groups may be deduced from table 6 below.

Table 6. Population of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by age group and sex, 1979 (Thousands)

Age group
65 and over

Source: Report of the Minister of Health of Israel, presented to the World Health Assembly at its thirty-fourth session (A/34/INF.DOC/1), annex, tables II and XXIV.

The table shows low male-female sex ratios for the age groups 30-44 and 45-64, indicating a preponderance of females which can be attributed to the out-migration of males from these age groups. Thus the incidence of migration, as may be expected, seems to fall heavily on males in the working-age groups. Another indication of the incidence of migration can be obtained from changes in the age Structure of the population during the period. In the West Bank, the proportion of the population in the age group 30-44 fell from 13.6 per cent in 1968 to 11.7 per cent in 1979; while in the Gaza Strip, the proportion of the population in that age group fell from 13.7 per cent in 1968 to 12.0 per cent in 1979.

34. Although the population of the occupied territories has increased considerably since 1967 no institutional arrangements have been created at the official level to ensure adequate provision of housing for the increase in population to alleviate the prevalent overcrowding, or to ensure replacements for demolished or dilapidated housing. In the West Bank there are no public housing schemes, or any publicly supported financial institutions for the development of housing. In the Gaza Strip number of housing units have been built by the authorities in public housing projects which "are primarily for rehabilitation of refugees and government employees". g/ Four thousand housing units have been completed for these purposes since 1967, and 1,500 new rooms have been added to existing shelters, h/

35. In spite of the efforts of individuals, self-help and co-operative societies fin housing construction, the number of housing units produced since the occupation does not appear to be anywhere near the number required. The extent to which new housing construction has failed to meet the needs of an increasing population living in dwellings with a high dilapidation rate is demonstrated in table 7 below. It can be observed from the figures that in the West Bank there was a decline in housing units of 7.1 per cent between 1967 and 1977 while in the Gaza Strip and North Sinai the decline was 1.3 per cent during the same period.

36. Tables 8 and 9 below give the percentage distribution of families according to room density at different points of time during the occupation.

Table 7. The aggregate supply to housing units in East Jerusalem, the West Bank ana the Gaza Strip, 1967-1978

Table 8. Distribution of families according to room density in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 1967, 1971, 1975

Table 9: Distribution of families by number of persons per room in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 1979

Table 7, 8 and 9.PDF

Source: For 1967 figures, see Bakir Abu-Kishk, "Human settlements: problems and social dimensions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip" (ECWA, March 1981), and for 1974 figures, see Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1975 ... p. 697.

38. From information provided by Governments of Arab States and the PLO, it seems that the official housing policy in the West Bank and, to a lesser extent, in the Gaza Strip, is not merely one of "benign neglect" but, in may instances, one of positive obstruction of efforts of individuals to build houses. Building permits are difficult to obtain and, in some cases, applications have been pending for as long as two years. It is stated that Palestinians, in desperation, have resorted to building houses without the required permit and that these houses are demolished by the authorities as unauthorized. Such demolition, which does nothing to alleviate the acute housing shortage, has been carried out in addition to the punitive demolition of 1,259 houses carried out by the end of 1980. Furthermore, difficulties are placed in the way of charitable and self-help organizations which utilize funds from abroad for development projects, including housing projects. For example, according to reports compiled from the Israeli press as at 12 October 1981 by the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories, several West Bank towns and societies were facing problems owing to the ban imposed by the military authorities on funds coming from abroad. This led to the freezing of several development projects. In addition, the military administration was reported to have issued an order prohibiting the expansion or construction of buildings in refugee camps. Thus it appears that the minimal housing construction in the West Bank since the occupation has taken place in spite of several difficulties encountered from the authorities and, according to one source, has been possible largely through remittances from Palestinians living abroad which, in 1980, amounted to US 200 million, i/


39. Data from various sources indicate that employment in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has declined during the period of occupation, in spite of an increase in the population as a whole - from 966,600 in 1967 to 1,132,300 in 1979 - and in the working-age population - from 491,200 in 1967 to 643,600 in 1979. In 1969, the number of people working in the occupied territories was 151,000. By 1974 the number had declined to 141,700 and by 1979 to 138,000. j/

40. The decline in the number of employed persons can be attributed partly to the emigration of a considerable number from the occupied territories, estimated at an annual average of 20,000. k/ There is no doubt that "pull" factors in the form of well-paid jobs in the Gulf region play some part in the migratory process. However, it was impressed on the expert by several Arab governmental representatives, PLO officials and residents of the territories who met the expert, that the emigration is a direct result of the unsatisfactory living conditions in the territories, in addition to the lack of employment opportunities for educated and skilled people in the economy of the territories, particularly recently qualified young people. The expert was also informed that there were practically no job opportunities in the professional, management and technical fields and many engineers, doctors, architects and similarly qualified persons were often impelled to accept jobs much below their level of competence and experience.

41. Another reason for the decline in employment is that, because of the competition of products from Israel and the new Israeli settlements established in the territories, which have unrestricted entry into the markets of the occupied territories, indigenous producers have found it uneconomical to pursue their traditional income-producing activities particularly in agriculture and, as an alternative, have had to seek wage employment primarily in Israel. This became possible with the opening up of the Israeli unskilled labour market to workers from the occupied territories mainly in construction, industry (processing) and agriculture (seasonal and migrant).

42. The sharpest decline in employment was in agriculture, from 64,000 in 1969 (42 per cent of the employed) to 38,600 in 1979 (28 per cent of the employed). This has been attributed by the occupying authorities to the structural changes and the new technology that were introduced immediately after the occupation. It would appear that the changes were directed towards eliminating those crops which posed a threat to production in Israel - melons and pumpkins in particular. Imports substitution crops were promoted and new ones introduced for which there was a demand for export to and for processing in Israel. The new technology and equipment, including loans from the military administration to purchase them, have been made available primarily for such crops, while the production of traditional crops has been largely overlooked. As a result, those farmers who were engaged in producing traditional crops on small holdings of up to 20 dunums or were farming marginally productive land experienced a severe decline in their earnings and have had to abandon farming which not only met their food needs and provided cash incomes, but was also a way of life for both the family and the community.

43. It is not uncommon for these farmers to seek employment in Israel, leaving the family farm to be tended by the female members, children and the elderly. In other instances, they have had to seek employment in nearby Israeli settlements, such employment enabling them to avoid to a great extent the restrictions that accompany employment in Israel itself, for example, recruitment through the labour bureaux or "in an organized fashion". Available data indicate that in 1969, 64,000 persons were employed in agriculture in the occupied territories, while 2,000 Palestinians were employed in the agricultural sector in Israel. T^/ By 1974, the figures were 47,700 in the occupied territories and 13,100 in Israel, m/ By 1979, the figures had declined to 38,600 in the occupied territories and 10,900 in Israel, n/

44. In industry, there was some growth in employment in the occupied territories, from 19,000 persons in 1969 to 23,100 persons in 1979, while employment in Israeli industry of people from the occupied territories increased from 2,000 in 1969 to 16,900 in 1979. o_l The growth in employment in this sector can be attributed partly to the growth in incomes in the occupied territories resulting from increasing employment in Israel, but largely to the jobbing orders executed for Israeli firms in such manufacturing sub-sectors as wood and wood products, paper and paper products, metal fabrication, textiles and garment manufacture.

45. In construction, the number of persons employed in 1969 was 13,000, which fell to 8,800 in 1974. From 1975 the number rose, reaching 13,900 by 1979. Two contributory factors to this increase would appear to be the significant increase in private remittances from abroad which were generally invested in improvements to private housing and the assistance that, despite restrictions, was flowing from Arab countries into public projects.

46. In the clerical, sales and service sectors, taking the West Bank and the Gaza Strip together, the number of persons employed increased by 1,000 between 1974 and 1979, from 40,400 to 41,400 (from 19.0 per cent to 19.4 per cent of the total number of persons employed in both the occupied territories and Israel. p/ It is not possible to determine from the published data whether this increase occurred in the territories or in Israel. The expert on mission was informed that there had been a significant decrease in tourist services. Apart from tourists from Arab countries, the tourist trade in general has been organized and serviced by Israeli firms. According to Arab sources, small-scale commercial, industrial and service enterprises, which provide many job opportunities in the clerical, sales and service sectors, are hindered from expanding because of high taxation, bureaucratic regulations, interminable delays in licensing and unfair competition from Israeli establishments which are subsidized by the Government. One example cited was that of bakeries; most of the bakeries operated by Palestinians have been compelled to close down because of unfair competition from the government-subsidized Israeli bakeries.

47. Employment has been falling, in both absolute and proportionate terms, in the professional, academic and administrative categories, as is evident from table 11 below.

Table 11. Employment in the professional, academic and administrative categories

Gaza Strip
West Bank
Number employed (thousands
Percentage of total employed
Number employed (thousands
percentage of total employed

48. The employment situation in the occupied territories obviously constitutes a push factor for the people in the areas to seek employment in Israel. This, however, has proved to be a mixed blessing. Although such employment has helped to eliminate unemployment and has provided an income for the worker and his family, it entails many hardships and insecurities. The worker is debarred from residing in Israel. He has to commute daily from his home in the territories to his place of work, which often takes two to four hours. He is subjected to inspection at various checkpoints, and has to leave Israeli territory at the end of his day of work. If he is found remaining there after his hours of work, he can be subjected to various penalties and loss of employment. The Palestinian's wages are lower than those paid to his counterparts in the Israeli labour force; yet he is subjected to the same taxes and deductions. It was mentioned to the expert mission that inspections at the checkpoints and other controls in connexion with commuting to and from work have become more strict in recent years.

49. In spite of those hardships, the number of Palestinians working in Israel has increased over the years of occupation, from 12,000 in 1969 to 74,100 in 1979, or from 7.4 per cent of the total employed in 1969 to 34.9 per cent in 1979. q/ These figures refer to workers who are engaged through official channels. In addition, there are a considerable number of persons who seek employment on their own or are engaged through unauthorized agents or contractors. It is extremely difficult to assess this number which, according to various sources, including officials of the PLO and knowledgeable persons in the territories, would amount to more than a quarter of those recorded as recruited through the official bureaux. In addition ] there is the growing number of Palestinians who, on their own behalf, are seeking '" employment in the newly established settlements, a number not easy to quantify. The working conditions of these "illegally" engaged workers are said to be much worse than those of workers engaged through official channels.

50. Most of the Palestinians working in Israel are employed at the lower levels of] the employment structure in jobs which are poorly paid, being manual and unskilled work. The largest number are employed in construction: 11,000 in 1970, rising to 34,000 in 1979 - almost half the number of Palestinians employed in Israel. The number working in agriculture almost doubled during the period, while in the category of "other" employment, the number increased six times as much and in industry almost seven times. Table 12 below illustrates the pattern.

Table 12. Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip employed in Israel


Source: Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1980...

51. The workers employed in Israel have no job security. They are engaged on short-term work permits, and the continuity of their jobs largely depends on fluctuations in the Israeli economy. They are the first to be laid off in times of recession and the last to be engaged in times of economic recovery. They are not entitled to unemployment benefits. It was mentioned to the mission that very often skilled workers seek unskilled jobs, because of the lack of suitable opportunities commensurate with their skills either in the occupied territories or in Israel.

B. Income

52. Incomes of the people in the occupied territories have risen significantly since 1967. This can be attributed to employment in Israel and the reorientation of production in the occupied territories to meet the requirements of the Israeli economy with emphasis on agricultural commodities which have a demand for export and for industrial processing in Israel. Wages in the occupied territories have also risen relative to wages paid in Israel for comparable occupations in agriculture, industry and services. A considerable increase in private remittances from Palestinians working in Jordan, the neighbouring Arab States and other countries has contributed significantly to the incomes in the occupied territories. Although incomes in current terms have shown gains since 1967, they have to be discounted in terms of the accelerating inflationary trends in the Israeli economy, which have a direct impact on income, consumption and savings, as is evident from the analyses that follow.

53. Earnings through employment in Israel constituted 5.8 per cent of the gross .national product (GNP) of the territories in 1969, at factor prices. By 1974, the proportion had increased to 30 per cent and by 1979 to 34.5 per cent. Representing more than a third of GNP, these earnings, together with the considerable private remittances from abroad, have had a multiplier effect in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors of the occupied territories. Income from employment i-n Israel is, of course, dependent on the level of activity in the Israeli economy itself, particularly in those sectors which employ the majority of workers from the occupied territories. Fears have been expressed that in the event of a recession or a change of existing policy, a fall-off in the number of Palestinians employed in Israel could have severe repercussions on the economy of the occupied territories. However, according to the information conveyed by the Israeli authorities to the ILO mission in March 1981, this did not seem to have occurred to any significant extent, although at that time the economy of Israel was going through a period of economic recession, galloping inflation and rising unemployment. r_/

54. In the production sectors, agriculture is predominant in the economy of the occupied territories. Income originating in agriculture amounted to |£I 149.9 million in 1967/68 (at current prices). It rose to £1 996.8 million in 1973/74 and to £1 6,191.3 million in 1978/79. s/ When viewing this increase, one has to take into account variations in the output of crops due to weather and rainfall, which are important factors in the West Bank where much of the cultivation is on unirrigated land. Variations in price based on supply and demand and changes in the value of the Israeli pound due to inflation and devaluation are other variables that have to be taken into account. Fluctuations in output and value are most evident in the olive crop (almost exclusively in the West Bank), as illustrated by table 13, below;

Table 13; Output and value of olives

(thousands of tons
(millions of Israeli pounds
Value per ton
(Israeli pounds)

55. There are many obstacles in the way of enlarging the agricultural base with a view to increasing output and income. As mentioned earlier in the present report, the progressive loss of cultivable land through seizure and appropriation by the occupying authorities, the restrictions on the use of water by Palestinian rural communities, together with the virtual prohibition of sinking new wells, and the competition from similar crops produced by Israeli farmers and enterprises both in Israel itself and in the new settlements in the occupied territories on a more cost-efficient basis have all combined to limit the potentialities of the local farmers to increase their output and incomes. Furthermore, the rising cost of purchased inputs, the increasing wages for hired labour and accelerating inflation are eroding the purchasing power of the income earned by Palestinian farmers.

56. The average daily wage in the West Bank rose from £1 7.9 in 1970 to £1 25.3 in 1974 and £1 181.7 in 1979. In the Gaza Strip, it rose from £1 6.5 in 1970 and £1 27.2 in 1974 and to £1 199.2 in 1979. t/ These rises in current terms have to be viewed in relation to the consumer price index for those years (see table 14 below and appendix II).

Table 14. consumer price index (1968/69 = 100)

West Bank
Gaza Strip

A revision of the data to take account of inflation would indicate that for the West Bank, the average daily wage of employees rose from £1 7.3 in 1970 to £1 9.9 ^ 1974 and to £1 11.2 in 1979, at 1968/69 prices. In the Gaza Strip, it rose from 6.1 in 1970 to £1 9.2 in 1974 and to £1 10.9, also at 1968/69 prices. It would ^appear, therefore, that in the period 1970-1974 wages, in real terms, rose in the .West Bank by 35 per cent and in the period 1974-1979, by 13 per cent. In the Gaza Strip, they rose by 50 per cent in the period 1970-1974 and by 18.4 per cent in the |period 1974-1979, in real terms.

57. Private transfers from abroad, that is, from Palestinians working in Jordan, the neighbouring Arab States and other countries, rose significantly during the period under review. These transfers amounted to £1 108 million in 1968, rising to £1 160 million in 1973 and to £1 2,036 million in 1979. The very sharp increase between 1973 and 1979 reflects partly the large number of Palestinians who had sought employment abroad and partly the progressive devaluation of the Israeli ;pound and the resulting fall in its value vis-H-vis foreign currencies.

C. Consumption

58. Levels of consumption expenditure, savings and investment are indicative of the standard of living of the people. However, the macro-indicators which are normally used do not reveal the real distribution of consumption, savings or investment among the various social groups and geographical locations. Nevertheless, they give a fair idea of the trend in these factors contributing to standards of living.

59. The growth of incomes among the people in the occupied Palestinian territories, through rising wages in the territories themselves, employment in Israel and private remittances from abroad, has, no doubt, contributed to the higher levels that are observable in consumption. Table 15 below illustrates the trend.

60. It will be observed that, at 1968 prices, in the first period, 1968-1973, consumption expenditure in the Gaza Strip increased by 107 per cent or an annual average of 21.4 per cent, while in the second period, 1973-1979, it rose at a slower rate, namely, 37.7 per cent or an annual average of 7.5 per cent. Comparable figures for the West Bank are, for the first period, 75.7 per cent or an annual average of 15.1 per cent and, for the second period, 48.5 per cent or an annual average of 9.7 per cent. The slower growth in consumption in the second period is, no doubt, primarily due to the escalation of prices of both agricultural and industrial goods, as well as in the price of services as a result of accelerating inflation during the period.

61. The proportions of the domestic private consumption expenditure spent on agricultural goods, industrial goods and services over the period of occupation are shown in table 16 below:

Table 16. Domestic private consumption expenditure (including net consumption by non-residents) Percentage

Agricultural goods
Industrial goods

The data indicate that there was no significant change in the consumption pattern over the period; there was a slight downward trend in the consumption of agricultural goods. Consumption of industrial goods increased by about 5 per cent fin the period 1968-1973, but fell during the period 1973-1979. Consumption of ^services decreased in the first period by about 5 per cent and increased in the second period by 1.6 per cent. Higher consumption of industrial goods, ^particularly household and personal durable goods, is indicative of a rising |standard of living. Available data bear this out in respect of the occupied territories where the largest increase occurred in the purchase of gas and electric stoves and ranges for cooking, electric refrigerators, television sets and tape recorders. u/ 162. Savings constitute the difference between private disposable income from all sources and private consumption. Relevant data are shown in table 17 below.

Table 17. Rate of consumption and saving
West Bank and Gaza
Gross disposable private income from all sources (millions of Israeli Pounds)
Private consumption (millions of Israeli pounds)
Rate of consumption (percentage)
Rage of saving (percentage)
The data indicate that the rate of savings almost doubled between 1968 and 1973, but fell off close to two percentage points between 1973 and 1979. Nevertheless, it would appear that by 1979 the people in the occupied territories were saving a higher proportion of their disposable private income than in 1968. When viewing this increased rate of saving over the period of occupation, it should be borne in mind that private transfers from abroad, namely, remittances from Palestinians working in Jordan, the neighbouring Arab countries and beyond, increased significantly during this period. It would be reasonable to conclude that during the period 1968-1973, more was being saved from the incomes accruing to the people.^ in the occupied territories, while in the period 1973-1979, less was being saved i spite of the significant increase in remittances from abroad. The erosion of purchasing power of the Israeli pound and a disincentive to save because of rapid inflation could be cited as contributory causes of this situation.
Number of Israeli pounds in one Jordan dinar a/
Annual devaluation of the Israeli pound (percentage)
A consequence of this situation is that in the absence of opportunities to invest savings and earn a return, the Palestinian people have found that their savings have dwindled in purchasing power over the years.

E. Investment

64. The lack of a commercial banking system has inhibited investments by the people of the occupied territories in productive enterprises. There is a reluctance on their part to obtain investment funds from the Israeli bank branches that have been established in the territories. Loans granted by these banks are subject to the approval of the Military Government, and they are usually given for operational activities, mainly for agricultural projects promoted by the Israeli authorities, and to manufacturing establishments which undertake subcontracts for Israeli firms. Agricultural and manufacturing enterprises producing for the local market rely mostly on profits and remittances from abroad for their operating and investment needs. Even here, there is some reluctance to expand production and improve quality because of the keen competition from similar items produced by Israeli firms and marketed without restrictions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. More recently, local producers have had to compete with products from the new Israeli settlements which enjoy the same privileges as firms in Israel. Consequently, many small producers and entrepreneurs in the occupied territories have ceased from investing in their enterprises. Some of them have had to abandon their traditional sources of earning a livelihood, their conditions of living have deteriorated and they have had to seek employment which gives them less income than otherwise.

F. Inflation

65. The impact of inflation on the living conditions of the people in the occupied territories has been referred to above in connexion with consumption, savings and investments. The close economic links that have been established between the occupied territories and Israel have made the former highly susceptible to fluctuations in the Israeli economy, particularly its inflationary trends. In the first period of occupation up to 1973, inflation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, taken as a whole, was in the neighbourhood of 20 per cent annually. In 1974 and 1975, it accelerated to around 49 per cent annually, dropping to an average of 22 per cent in 1976 when there was a recession in Israel. In 1977, the rate of inflation increased to 37 per cent; in 1978 to 46.6 per cent; and in 1979 to 70.3 per cent (see appendix II below). Available data indicate that the rate of inflation in the occupied territories rose faster than it did in Israel, so that the living conditions in the territories were more adversely affected. Those who, because of their circumstances, had to have their resources in Israeli currency which was progressively losing its purchasing power, have been affected more adversely than those who were in a position to have their resources in Jordan dinars, both currencies being legal tender in the West Bank. Lack of detailed income data for various social groups in the occupied territories makes it difficult to identify those who were affected most seriously. It would be reasonable to assume, however, that persons already employed in the territories at the time of occupation and persons who had to seek alternative employment within the territories as a result of the changing economic and occupational structures would have been affected the most because of the lag in increase in wages and the higher inflationary rate in the territories relative to that in Israel.


A. Social and cultural environment

66. The living conditions of the people in the occupied territories have been profoundly affected by the constraints and restrictions imposed by the occupying Power as regards their social activities, outlook, aspirations and cultural development. Instances of actions detrimental to the growth and development of a national identity among the Palestinians in the territories have been documented and reported to various bodies of the United Nations system, v/ An attempt is made in the present report to roar shall some of these instances succinctly with a view to focusing attention on their impact on the social and cultural life of the people in the occupied territories.

67. First and foremost should be mentioned the deep sense of insecurity that has spread throughout the Palestinian population in the territories. The Defense (Emergency) Regulations, 1945, under which they live, and the regulations imposed by the military administration have tended to deprive the people of their rights land, water and other resources and facilities which could be preserved and developed for their own advancement. As mentioned earlier, more than one quarter of the land, public and privately owned, has been taken over by the occupying Power, and water resources have been tapped for the benefit of the new Israeli settlements in the territories, often at the expense of the requirements of existing Palestinian villages. Destruction of dwellings has taken place under the emergency laws. Collective punishment has been imposed on towns and villages in the wake of public demonstrations and acts of violence. Imprisonment and incarceration without trial have taken place and deportation has been resorted to for political and other reasons. Restrictions have been placed on freedom of association and expressions of non-violent protest, such as closing of trading establishments, displaying the colours of the flag adopted by the Palestinians and gatherings for religious purposes. All these actions have had a negative effect on the spirit of the Palestinians in the territories as far as development and progress are concerned.

68. The incidence of such restrictive actions seemed to increase after the municipal elections of 1976, when representatives, including mayors, from the National Front which supports the PLO came to the forefront of municipal politics, the highest form of representative government in the occupied territories. That these actions continue and with much more frequency and intensity is evident from the information gathered and documented in the most recent report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories (A/36/579). In 1980 and 1981, actions taken for "national security" reasons, included evacuation of families from their homes in East Jerusalem, Beit Iksa and Nabi-Samwil and the demolition and sealing of louses and commercial premises in the districts of Jenin, Nablus, the Gaza Strip, Ramallah, Hebron and other towns. Hundreds of citrus trees along the Deir El Balah road were uprooted, causing an annual loss of 400 tons of produce. The Jericho municipality was forbidden to implement any town project without the approval of the Military Government. Curfews were imposed on various towns, villages and refugee camps, sometimes extending into days following individual acts of violence. More recently, in March 1982, the dismissal of the elected Mayors of Bineh, Nablus and Ramallah gave rise to widespread clashes between the Palestinian people and the Israeli authorities resulting in some cases in loss of life.

69. Instances of restrictions to freedom of movement also appear to have increased in recent years. There were many occasions when mayors and notables were refused permission to cross the borders to Jordan and to Egypt or to travel beyond. Gaza residents were refused permission to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan as from 19 November 1980 for an undetermined period. Restricting individuals to their towns of residence or their homes was common. The Military Government of the West Bank issued some 33 orders in a brief period restricting mayors, municipal councillors and other public figures to their towns of residence (A/36/579, para. 278). In one instance, a group of 28 schoolgirls from Helhul were ordered to remain at military headquarters along with their parents from 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for a period of one month. Restrictions of movement were imposed on a number of editors of Arab newspapers in the occupied territories and the movement of a Jenin religious leader was restricted for a period of six months.

70. The increasing number of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is posing a real threat to peaceful conditions of living for the Palestinian people in the territories. Apart from the economic consequences in so far as the production of these settlements competes with indigenous agriculture and industry, the close proximity of some of the settlements to Palestinian villages and towns has given rise to friction between the settlers and the local people. In some cases, Palestinian farmers have been prevented from cultivating their fields on the grounds that the land belongs to a nearby settlement. Houses belonging to local people have been occupied illegally. Land belonging to Palestinian farmers has been seized by settlers from nearby settlements. There is widespread belief among the Palestinians that these incidents are often overlooked by the occupying authorities, condoned in some instances and supported in others.

71. There is evidence which has been reported in newspapers and documented by the PLO, and which was also conveyed to the expert on mission by residents of the occupied territories visiting neighbouring Arab countries, that social and religious activities are being progressively curtailed as a deterrent to political or "subversive" activities which undermine "national security". Restrictions on the activities of social clubs and organizations include scrutiny and approval of those elected to their governing bodies or directorships. Clubs are asked to elect new officers acceptable to the authorities; otherwise they are closed. Banning the formation of new clubs and associations for cultural and social purposes is common. Library associations, theatre clubs and literary magazines are often subject to control. Scripts of plays have to be approved by the administrative authorities and journals of folklore are subject to censorship. It was also mentioned that religious sermons on Fridays have often to be presented beforehand to the authorities for approval. Development of a cultural consciousness among the Palestinians living in the territories has been adversely affected by the banning of the distribution of a number of books recently published in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

72. Social and cultural conditions have deteriorated sharply for the Arab population of East Jerusalem. They are subject to Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration, including taxes and language requirements. Social, cultural and sports activities among the Arab residents are being actively discouraged. The Jordanian educational system which prevailed before 1967 has been replaced by the Israeli system. The circulation of certain Arabic books has been prohibited as has the entry of certain books and publications dealing with Arab culture and history. Censorship of the Arab press is much more strict than that of the Israeli press, particularly because of the wide circulation of the Arab daily newspapers published} in East Jerusalem in other parts of the occupied territories.

73. In a report to the General Assembly at its thirty-sixth session (see A/36/260/Add.l) , the Government of Israel stated that, as from 1967, the administration undertook a wide-ranging programme of improvements to the health services in the occupied territories. The programme included the introduction of advanced medical technology and expertise provided by Israeli medical teams; expansion of existing training facilities for local Arab teams; the establishment of new hospitals, medical centres, nursing schools and paramedical schools; the introduction of new equipment; expansion of immunization programmes, the establishment of school health services; the installation of running water and the establishment of mother and child health care centres. According to the report, health insurance schemes were also introduced, a compulsory scheme for administrative workers and occupied territory residents working in Israel, and a voluntary scheme for all other residents. Around 600,000 residents, about half the population of the occupied territories, are reported to have joined the schemes.

74. In the absence of a visit to the occupied territories, it is difficult to assess the impact of these measures on the living conditions of the people in the territories. As regards hospitals, available data w/ indicate that since 1974 the number of hospitals in the Gaza Strip has been reduced from seven (six of which are governmental) to six, the reduction being in respect of one of the governmental hospitals. In the West Bank, the number of hospitals has been increased from 16 (eight of them governmental) to 17, the additional hospital being a governmental one. There was an overall reduction in the number of hospital beds in the governmental hospitals in the Gaza Strip and a negligible increase in the West Bank between 1974 and 1979, in spite of an increase in population in the territories and the number of hospitalized patients.

75. As regards equipment, in a report made available to the experts x/ mention is made of widespread shortages of modern equipment at the principal hospitals in the West Bank. These shortages include monitoring equipment in intensive-care units, incubators for babies born prematurely, X-ray equipment, advanced laboratory equipment for diagnosis, and operating and sterilization equipment.

76. As regards specialist services, the head of the West Bank Medical Association, in a report entitled "Medical services in the occupied West Bank", y/ has asserted that there are deficiencies in such medical fields as paediatrics, pathology and radiology. Shortages are experienced among nurses and paramedical personnel. The lack of an adequate supply of X-ray technicians, physiotherapists, blood-bank technicians and pharmacists was deeply affecting the efficient delivery of health services.

77. The inadequacy of services in the main hospitals in the West Bank has compelled local physicians to refer an increasing number of Arab patients to hospitals in Israel. In such cases, the patient is charged one third of the cost and the remaining two thirds is charged to the West Bank budget for health services. These charges for West Bank patient care in Israeli hospitals, which is Ion the increase, are mentioned as one of the obstacles to the improvement and development of the health services in the West Bank.

78. The worst off among the population in the occupied territories in terms of health care are those who have not joined the health insurance schemes - about half the population - because they are not qualified to join the compulsory scheme or because of an imperfect understanding of the scheme or because they lack a regular source of income. They find the costs of medical care too high in relation to their resources and many of them find it difficult to obtain the kind of free medical treatment they were accustomed to before the occupation.

79. Some of the shortcomings in the health system mentioned above were observed and commented on by the Special Committee of Experts of the World Health Organization which visited the occupied territories in April 1981. z/ Particular mention has been made of the shortage of essential equipment and technicians in the laboratories which were being established in the health districts under a recent policy of decentralization of these services. The hospitals in the territories were experiencing shortages of physicians and nurses who, because of poor work conditions and pay, were leaving the territories in search of employment in the neighbouring Arab countries. Another reason for physicians leaving was given as the lack of opportunities for post-graduate training which for budgetary reasons was not being made available to them. Shortages of drugs were widespread. All these shortcomings add to the feeling of frustration in the occupied territories matters pertaining to health care.

80. According to the WHO Special Committee, some improvements had been made in the infrastructure for the delivery of health services and in the supply of equipment, Yet, much more had to be done in order to serve the needs of the growing population. Medical care in the occupied territories was still dependent on Israeli facilities for a number of specialist services. According to the Committee, there had been no significant changes during the past two years in the health services with regard to the establishment of health units or strengthening of medical staff. The system of centralization in planning for health services was not conducive to community participation in the public health effort and left the local medical authorities very little room for initiative. The health budget did not allow for desirable developments in the health services. Extra-budgetary resources from non-governmental and philanthropic institutions and associations or the community were often refused by the Israeli authorities.

81. The Committee observed that services provided through the maternal and child health centres were adequately organized, and the immunization programme was pursued in all the territories. Developments were also observed in environmental sanitation, particularly through the construction of sewage treatment plants and in the supply of drinking water which, in general, was good and had been extended to cover a larger proportion of the residents through individual connexions.

C. Education

82. Education is an important element in the living conditions of a people since it not only provides the opportunity and mechanism for self-improvement but also makes possible upward occupational mobility, an increase in a person's ability to earn and the enhancement of his standard of living. In dealing with education as a component of living conditions, it is not enough to consider the existence, levels and distribution of educational institutions; the individual's access to the type of education relevant to his needs and the over-all conditions under which education is provided should also be considered.

83. The system of education is basically the same in all the occupied territories. It starts with kindergarten for children under the age of six, followed by elementary or primary school for children between the ages of six and l2, who then proceed to preparatory school, normally for three years. The primary and preparatory schools form the compulsory cycle of education and are followed by secondary, vocational and teacher training institutions and institutions of higher learning.

84. The educational institutions are managed by the government, private bodies or UNRWA. As far as practicable, the schools follow the Jordanian curriculum in the West Bank and the Egyptian curriculum in the Gaza Strip. However, books used by the schools are subject to Israeli censorship. Some books have been banned by the authorities and others have been reprinted, the sections considered offensive by •the Israeli authorities being eliminated.

"85. There has been a considerable increase in educational institutions in the territories since 1967. In the West Bank and the Gaza Strip the number of educational institutions increased from 1,091 in 1967/68 to 1,366 in 1979/80 and, (according to an Israeli official report, the number of classrooms increased by per cent, from 6,187 in 1967/68 to 11,187 in 1979/80, while the average number of pupils in a class remained stable at around 36 (see A/36/260/Add.l, p. 18, para. 72). However, from 1967 to 1977 enrolment rates in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were somewhat behind those of neighbouring countries. Data are not available for evaluation of the situation since 1977, but from indirect data on enrolment of refugee pupils one can infer that while the situation has improved in the Gaza Strip, the situation in the West Bank does not appear to have kept pace with that in the neighbouring territories.

86. The enrolment ratio which relates the enrolment in each age group to the population in that age group is a good measure of the extent to which persons who are eligible for education are attending school. The proportions in the first year of the compulsory cycle give a good indication of the enrolment ratio generally because the higher the enrolment ratio of first-year entrants into the educational system, the higher the enrolment ratio for succeeding years at all ages. Although direct information on the enrolment ratio in the occupied territories is not available, such information has been compiled by UNRWA with respect to refugee students in all the areas in which UNRWA operates. If it is assumed that educational trends among the refugee population reflects the trends in the host countries then the information given in table 19 below can be regarded as reflecting the trends in enrolment ratios in the various countries and territories. The table shows the enrolment ratios at age six for refugee children in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. It will be observed that these ratios are very high for boys and, in the case of Gaza and the Syrian Arab Republic, almost all the six-year-old are in school. The West Bank which has the lowest enrolment ratio at year six. Furthermore, this ratio declined between 1977/78 and 1979/80. In 1980/81 it picked up to a high of 66.8 per cent which is only about two thirds of the ratios for the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Arab Republic. The enrolment ratios for girls are compared with those of other developing countries. But the ratio for the West Bank is much less than that for the other countries and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the low ratio appears to be stable with a noticeable decline between 1979/80 and 1980/81. The West Bank, has the lowest enrolment ratios in 1977/78, is the only one of the four neighbouring countries and territories with declining enrolment ratios. The decline in the ratios in Lebanon since 1979/80 may be attributed to the unstable political and military situation in that country. In all four countries and territories the population of school children who are girls rose from about one quarter in the 1950s to almost half in 1980/81. This achievement seems to be common to all the countries and territories in the region and may be a reflection of a greater awareness of the importance of education in society.

Table 19. First-year primary school enrolment ratios for refugee children in selected countries, 1977/78 to 1980/81

West Bank
Syrian Arab Republic

87. From information supplied to the ILO mission which visited Israel and the occupied territories in March 1981, it appears that considerable efforts are being made by the authorities to provide opportunities for vocational training. The 26 vocational training centres (18 on the West Bank and eight in Gaza) have provided training for over 40,000 people, aa/ According to the mission, the role if the training centres, which had been to provide unemployed adults with basic training principally with a view to employment in the construction sector in Israel, had changed in 1972 and at present, "programmes are mainly directed at young People who do not wish to continue their academic education at secondary level and concentrate on the acquisition of manufacturing skills", bb/ In general, it appears the vocational training centres provide training mainly for semi-skilled jobs in industry and construction. Information received from Arab sources emphasizes the point that the training which is given is largely geared towards Meeting the needs of the Israeli economy. Most of those who complete the training programmes therefore find jobs in Israel or else migrate to the Arab Gulf countries. In a visit to two training centres in 1981, the ILO mission found that lonely a small percentage of persons completing these courses (between 5 per cent and 20 per cent) managed or attempted to find employment locally. The mission concluded that besides the potential long-term benefits from acquisition of skills in jobs outside the occupied territories," the training system, as at present organized, does not serve the real development needs of the occupied territories because it is not based on a planned match of manpower needs and resources", cc/

88. With regard to higher education, there are three universities in the West Bank and an Institute of Islamic Religious Studies in Gaza. They are supported by private foundations and individuals and receive practically no assistance from the Government. They cater for Arab students not only from the occupied territories it also from Israel itself. The universities have long been experiencing numerous problems with the administering authorities. These persistent problems, however, seem to have intensified within the past few years, especially with respect to Bir-Zeit University. The main reason for this appears to be Israeli Military order 854 of 8th July 1980, "an order concerning the law of Education and Culture to. (16) of 1964 - Amendment (Judea and Samaria) No. (854) of 1960". This order [placed all the educational institutions, including the universities in the occupied territories, under the absolute control of the military authorities. By this order fall institutions of higher education, whether in existence at the date of the order tor not, have to obtain a permit from the Military Governor in order to operate and fall teachers have to be cleared by the Military Governor and his office before they -can obtain employment in the University or continue in such employment. In addition, all foreign students, including students from the Gaza Strip, have to obtain permits to enable them to attend the universities.

89. The harassment of students is not confined to the institutions of higher learning. Many secondary schools seem to be subjected to similar harassment. 1980/81, 12 schools were shut down by the military authorities for various periods and three of these, Prince Hassan Secondary School at Bir Zeit, Abu Diss Science College and Ossana Bin Munkiz School at Hebron were shut down permanently.

90. While progress has been achieved in the numbers of schools, classes and teachers, as well as in enrolment, the frequent closure of schools and universities, the continual harassment of staff and students and the restrictions on the academic freedom of the universities have created an atmosphere of fear, uncertainty and helplessness, unconducive to the proper and effective conduct of, teaching and learning.

Appendix I

Land recently appropriated by the occupying Power Location

Amount of land confiscated (dunums)
Dier El Hatab
August 1980
August 1980
(land expropriated)
August 1980
September 1980
November 1980
Beit Sahur
October 1980
Ketel Haris
December 1980
(land confiscated
December 1980
December 1980
Ein Yabaad
December 1980
February 1981
Betunia, Ajaiby, Ajadira, Rafat
Feburary 1981
February 1981
(land confiscated)
February 1981
February 1981
Abu Dis
February 1981
11,000 (declared "stated land" before acquisition)

Source: "Report of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories" (A/36/579), paras. 102-118.

West Bank
Gaza Strip

source: Compiled from Statistical abstract of Israel, 1975... and document TD/B/870, table 11.

Members of the Team of Experts
Dr. P. Austin Tetteh (Ghana)
Professor, Department of Planning
Kumasi, Ghana

Dr. Dudley Madawela (Sri Lanka)
Formerly co-ordinator of Units
Social development Branch
Centre for Social development and Humanitarian Affairs
Department of international Economic and social Affairs
united Nations, New York


a/ Arab Labour Organization, Arab Labour Office, Israeli Settlements and their effect on the conditions of Arab Workers in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories (March 1981).

b/ The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Ministry of Occupied Territories Affairs, A Brief Survey of the Living Conditions of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Territories (Amman, February 1982).

c/ See "Review of the economic conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories" (TD/B/870), para. 55.

d/ See "Permanent sovereignty over national resources in the occupied Arab territories: report of the Secretary-General" (A/36/648), annex, appendix IV, and the report of the Minister of Health of Israel, presented to the World Health Assembly at its thirty-fourth session (A/34/INF.DOC/1), annex.

e/ Bakir Abu-Kishk, "Human settlements: problems and social dimensions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip", (ECWA, March 1981), p. 13.

f Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, Statistical Year Book, (Arab Republic of Egypt, July 1980).

g/ Report of the Minister of Health of Israel, presented to the World Health Assembly at its thirty-fourth session (A/34/INF/DOC/1), p. 15, table IX.

i/ Ministry of Occupied Territories, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Daily Living Conditions of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Territories (Amman, Jordan, February 1982).

j Arie Bregman, Economic Growth in the Administered Areas, 1969-1973 (Jerusalem, Bank of Israel, Research Department, 1975) and Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1980 ...

k/ Report of the Director—General, International Labour Conference, sixty-sixth session (Geneva, International Labour Office, 1980), appendix III, para. 84.

m/ Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1975 (Jerusalem, Central Bureau of Statistics, 1975), p.707. 0/ Ibid.

p/ Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1975 . Israel, 1980 ...and Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1980...

q/ Arie Bregman, op. cit., p. 32, and Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1980 .... p. 696.

r/ Report of the Director-General, International Labour Conference, sixty-seventh session (Geneva,International Labour Office, 1981), appendix III, para. 18.

s/ Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1975 ... and Statistical Abstract of Israel, 1980 ...

t/ Ibid.

v/ See, for example, reports of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Population of the Occupied Territories; reports of the Security Council Commission established under resolution 446 (1979); reports to the governing bodies of UNESCO, the ILO and WHO; reports of the Secretary-General submitted to the General Assembly on such subjects as living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Arab territories, permanent sovereignty over national resources in the occupied Arab territories and the situation in the Middle East. x/ "The deficiency of medical instruments in West Bank hospitals", report by the Committee for the Defense of Palestinian Human Rights under Israeli Occupation, Lebanon, 1979 (railroad).

y/ Reproduced by the Committee for the Defense of Palestinian Human Rights under Israeli Occupation, Lebanon, 29 March 1979 (mimeo).

z/ See WHO, "Report of the Special Committee of Experts appointed to study the health conditions of the inhabitants of the occupied territories" (A/34/17).

aa/ Report of the Director-General, International Labour Conference, sixty-seventh session (International Labour Office, Geneva, 1981), p. 31.

bb/ Ibid.,

cc/ Ibid.,

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