The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for the Occupied Palestinian Territory has released a statistical document related to Palestinians’ humanitarian needs for 2016. Insecurities related to protection, basic needs and psychological attention have increased particularly since the ramifications of Israel’s aggression in 2014. The published information should serve as an intensive alert primarily for the same organisation that contributed towards the degradation of the Palestinian population by legitimising the Zionist colonial project.
Hence, the first sentence of the overview, although correct as regards the consequences, is still committed to absolving the existence of Israel. The report states: “The humanitarian context of oPt is unique amongst today’s humanitarian crises and remains directly tied to the impact of occupation, now approaching its 50th year.” Prime concerns of the OCHA report include the need for protection, delivery of essential services and support for vulnerable households – essentially revealing a cycle in which the repercussions of both colonisation and occupation have impacted Palestinian society.
According to the report, 2.3 million Palestinians are in need of humanitarian assistance – 1.3 million of whom are living in the Gaza Strip. The exacerbation of conditions in Gaza, especially after international betrayal regarding the alleged rebuilding of the enclave that never materialised, has rendered the population vulnerable in particular as regards internal displacement and economic insecurity; the latter impacted by the Israeli blockade. The manifestation of dependence in relation to displacement and economic insecurity is evident in the statistics published by OCHA – over 17,000 families, or 95,000 people remain displaced in the Gaza Strip. The need for protection in Gaza is reflected in the increasing isolation which has become a joint effort between Israel and Egypt, in particular the combined efforts to destroy the tunnel network which has provided a lifeline for Palestinians.
The West Bank, on the other hand, is characterised by needs and dependency related to Israeli and PA collaboration, in particular the practice of security coordination and administrative detention, as well as physical hindrances such as the Apartheid Wall and increased settlement expansion. Excessive violence by Israeli forces as well as settler aggression sanctioned by Israel have also contributed to dire statistical data. The report states that from January to November 2015, there have been 11,953 injured Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel. Israeli premeditated extrajudicial killings which triggered the Jerusalem Intifada, simplified in the OCHA report as “a surge in violence”, has also contributed to further displacement, forced transfers and home demolitions. Some 42,000 Palestinians are affected by such policies in Area C and East Jerusalem.
Palestinians living in refugee camps in the West Bank have totalled 780,000. While overcrowding contributes to humanitarian inadequacies, Israeli military incursions in the camps have also resulted in human rights violations that reflect and indeed, are an extension of, the violence experienced by Palestinians elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Priority issues that have contributed to humanitarian concerns include access restrictions, military operations and settler violence, followed by incursions, demolitions, planning restrictions and poverty. Essentially, the report can be viewed as an unfortunate affirmation of increasing hardships that is cleverly diverted away from the political issues. The depravity however, lies in the selective notions of illusory accountability and responsibility. Given the lack of legal enforcement, as well as Israel’s brand of impunity that has been endorsed at an international level, the report will most likely serve as a tool to heighten awareness and, in return, bolster Israel’s macabre deceit. For, according to UN predictability, a calculated form of slow extermination will not constitute genocide and hence, needs, dependency and deprivation will be assessed separately from the wider issue of colonial violence.