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Source: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
UNDP Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP)
24 February 2009


UNDP
Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People



Inside Gaza
Attitudes and perceptions
of the Gaza Strip residents
in the aftermath of the
Israeli military operations



INTRODUCTION AND METHODOLOGY

Immediately after the unilateral ceasefire was declared, all efforts have been geared towards assessing the damage of the 27 December 2007 – 18 January 2008 Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, as well as providing much needed assistance to the affected population. In a move to complement the assessments in the Gaza Strip, UNDP/PAPP commissioned a large-scale public opinion survey that included over 1,800 households.

The aim of the survey and this report is to provide local and international organizations, authorities, donors, and decision-makers with baseline information from a people’s perspective on the current living conditions, needs, damages, and destruction in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Israeli military operations. Fast dissemination of such information is crucial for policymakers and practitioners alike at the outset of an intense early recovery and reconstruction period as it will help to better inform responses and targeted interventions.

The voices and views of the people in the Gaza Strip in the current context are of critical importance: although they are at the centre of events that are mostly beyond their control, they are currently facing the consequences, and they will be the core beneficiaries of the reconstruction efforts. Therefore, throughout this report, UNDP/PAPP aims to provide a comprehensive snapshot, from a human perspective, about the main issues and challenges faced by Gazans today. These issues range from poverty and unemployment, security, damages and needs for assistance to health-related issues, and main challenges faced by the youth. They form the seven chapters in this report.

The survey for this report was conducted between 25 January and 1 February 2009, using simple random sampling.

The sample size of the survey consists of 1,815 successfully interviewed households from the five governorates in the Gaza Strip. About 360 households were selected from each governorate. In the analysis, the data used on the governorate level were not weighted, however the data for other independent variables, including refugee status, place of residence, poverty level, and sex and age of the respondents, were weighted proportional to the actual size of each governorate. All the survey questions analyzed in this report were tested in their relationship with independent variables, and when relevant correlations were found, they are presented throughout the report.

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MAIN FINDINGS

POVERTY
The income poverty rate in the Gaza Strip is 65%. In real numbers, this means that out of an estimated 1,416,543 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, approximately 920,750 live in poverty. Of those, 524,120 are extremely poor. An estimated 8% of households are still above the poverty line,31however they are at high risk of falling into poverty. Poverty forces many families to rely on coping mechanisms, but these alternatives, including selling jewellery and reducing household expenditures, are largely depleted in the Gaza Strip: 72% of families, affecting about 1,019,910 people, do not have any alternative ways to face daily financial hardship, let alone pull themselves out of poverty.

EMPLOYMENT
Before the recent Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, unemployment levels had already reached unprecedented high levels. In comparison to before the latest flare-up in the conflict, unemployment levels in the labour force increased from 36% to 43%. Even the fully employed are not necessarily protected against poverty, as 28% of them belong to households with a monthly average income that falls below the poverty line. The unemployment rate remains high in the agricultural, manufacturing, and construction sectors. This directly and negatively affects the poverty rate of those households whose breadwinners are involved in these sectors. Similarly, self-employed Gazans include a high proportion of unemployed, resulting in many of these families belonging to the poorest in the Gaza Strip.

SECURITY
Over 1 million of roughly 1.4 million, or 75% of the Gazan population, feel insecure for one of three reasons: (i) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (42%); (ii) Israeli control over borders (27%) which prevents movement of persons and goods; and (iii) inter-Palestinian tensions.

Nearly 40% of the surveyed households were displaced as a result of the Israeli military operations. Approximately, 70% left their homes due to fighting in their neighbourhoods, 15% left because they were warned to leave, and 13% left because their homes either sustained severe damage or were destroyed. A large majority displaced during the 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 Israeli military operations, 79%, moved to a family member's house, while 9% sought shelter in a friend's house, and 7% left their homes to an UNRWA shelter. Approximately 2% sought refuge in uninhabited buildings.
The majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, 69%, believe that since the ceasefire there is control on the streets. Of these, 37% believe that the situation is tense, while 32% see it as calm. A modest majority of 54% evaluate control in the streets positively.

Since the ceasefire, 32% of the people surveyed have detected remnants of war.

NEEDS AND ASSISTANCE
Security is by far the largest household need in the Gaza Strip, distantly followed by the need for food, electricity, and employment. At the community level, security is identified as the most important need, and is similarly followed by the need for food, social cohesion, and employment.

Less than one fifth of households in the Gaza Strip received assistance during the recent Israeli military operations and in the first week after the ceasefire. By far, UN agencies (39%) are considered the most important source of this assistance; the United Nations is followed by charities (19%), Arab governments (13%), and international NGOs (8%).

Over 60% of the households in Gaza currently need assistance. This need is specifically influenced by the poverty status of households: (i) 82% of extremely poor households require assistance; (ii) 63% of poor households need it; and (iii) 44% of households above the poverty line require some form of assistance. Currently, psychosocial support is the most needed form of assistance in 25% of households, while financial assistance is necessary for 17%, and food aid for 16% of households in Gaza.

DAMAGES
Nearly half of the households across the Gaza Strip, 45%, reported damages to their residences as a result of the recent Israeli military operations. The majority of people with damaged homes have shattered windows (67%); 16% incurred damage from bullets or artillery shells; and 12% had the main structure of their residence damaged. Three percent mentioned that their homes had collapsed. In the second week after the ceasefire took effect,4210% of households still did not have access to clean water and electricity.

YOUTH AND CHILDREN
49% of survey respondents view psychosocial support as the most important need for children in their households. Reported signs of stress in children, such as anxiety, aggressive behaviour, lack of interest in socializing, bedwetting, and nightmares, have tripled and in some cases quadrupled since the recent Israeli military operations.

Of the respondents, 40% are witnessed to violence against children in their environment. In the year running up to the most recent Israeli military operations, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the lack of internal security in the Gaza Strip were viewed as the main two sources of violence against children: 41% and 37% respectively. Nowadays, 71% of Gazans consider the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be the main source of violence against children in the Gaza Strip, while 17% continue to see the lack of internal security as the main source of violence.

The inability of parents to meet the care and protection needs of their children has more than doubled since the Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip: from 26% to 64%. These results not only highlight the diffi cult plight of adults in their households, but also point to a large number of children in the Gaza Strip who remain vulnerable as their needs for care and protection are unmet. In addition, in 82% of households, most adults need psychosocial support.

HEALTH CARE
During the recent Israeli military incursions into the Gaza Strip, 37% of households were in need of primary health care. However, more than one fourth of these households could not access these services. Of those needing medical care, including primary health care, 72% faced problems, as only a mere 18% had health care provided to them without delays or restrictions.

14% of households surveyed include at least one disabled member. Physical impairment is prevalent with 16% of reported disabilities being conflict-related. The most frequently mentioned types of assistance that households with disabled persons need are: (i) rehabilitation and mobility skills (22%); (ii) financial assistance (20%); (iii) aids, devices, and technologies (17%); (iv) adapted employment (11%); (v) access to education for those with special needs (9%); and (vi) psychosocial support (6%).


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