Question of Palestine home
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
23 March 2007
Overview - Key Issues
The number of Palestinian structures demolished in the West Bank by the Israeli authorities rose significantly in February 2007. A total of 53 structures including 22 Palestinian homes and other shelters were demolished, predominately in the southern West Bank. This compared to 18 demolitions in the previous month and a monthly average of 17 throughout 2006. These demolitions displaced more than 158 people including at least 94 children. The majority of the demolitions occurred in Area C (areas under Israeli administrative control encompassing approximately 60% of the West Bank) and were reportedly built without permits. Certain communities, such as those in Area C, near the Barrier and in East Jerusalem are particularly vulnerable. For example, between 2,700 and 3,000 Jahalin Bedouin in Area C near the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adummim have had demolition orders issued by the Israeli authorities on their shelters. They face displacement due to the construction of the Barrier and the expansion of the settlement. For more information on forced displacement and the legal framework see the Protection section on page 5 and Violence and Private Property section on page 8.
Child protection in the context of increasing IDF operations
During the month 638 Palestinians were arrested and detained by Israeli security forces. This figure represents a 30% increase from January 2007 and is also well above the 2006 monthly average of 453. Children are also heavily affected by these IDF operations. The vast majority of the arrests are witnessed by the children of the family and/or of the neighbourhood, resulting in signs of distress such as panic attacks and recurrent fears. Many children are also deprived of a parent, most often the father and family breadwinner. Children have also been the direct victims of search and arrest campaigns. In February, 398 Palestinian children were being held in Israeli detention centres. For more information on this issue and other issues concerning the protection of children see the Child Protection section on page 7.
Increased movement restrictions in the West Bank
Access within the West Bank deteriorated further during February. The number of physical obstacles including checkpoints increased to 550 from 528 recorded in January. Additional temporary access restrictions including age and residence restrictions at checkpoints in the northern West Bank and random or ‘flying’ checkpoints were also prevalent. Between 7 and 20 February, for example, age and residence restrictions were re-imposed at checkpoints throughout Nablus, Tulkarm and Jenin governorates. Palestinian men between the ages of 16 and 35 years were not able to cross major checkpoints to travel south. The number of flying checkpoints recorded increased to an average of around 180 per week, up from 113 in January.
Endangered Palestinian fisherfolks’ livelihoods and fisheries resources
According to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Department of Fisheries, the local fish catch dropped sharply in the Gaza Strip over the last year, largely as a result of restrictions on fisherfolks’ access to limited fishing grounds. In 2005 the total fishing catch was over 2,300 MT. In 2006 this fell to just 1,640 MT. Between 26 June and 24 October 2006 no fishing was permitted at all off the Gaza coast line following the capture of an IDF soldier by Palestinian militants on 25 June. Before this incident, fishing was permitted up to 12 nautical miles (nm) by the Israeli authorities, although fishing boats rarely went beyond 10 nm for fear of being targeted by Israeli naval vessels (see map for different restrictions and agreements related to fishing limits). The 35,000 people who rely on the industry in the Gaza Strip have been severely affected and food aid is already being provided to fisherfolks’ families. If the GoI continues to restrict access, overfishing in accessible areas will threaten the fisheries resource base. Fishing near the coast jeopardises sensitive inshore habitats that are key for the reproduction and nursery of many fish and invertebrate species. Overfishing will affect the viability of the fishing industry as a whole, compromise employment opportunities and create serious food security and nutrition concerns. For an analysis on overall food security in oPt, refer to the Food Security and Agriculture section on page 16.
Complete document in PDF format