The decades-long crisis in Palestine* has worsened the humanitarian situation of Palestinians who live in an increasingly coercive environment compounded by COVID-19. In the West Bank, Israeli settlement activity continues unabated while Palestinians are prevented from having adequate housing and access to basic services.
In the Gaza Strip, escalating violence in May 2021 worsened divisions and resulted in a crisis situation for the population. As a long-standing humanitarian donor, the EU responds to the most pressing needs of the population.
Some 2.45 million Palestinians, out of 5.2 million, need humanitarian assistance. In Gaza, the blockade, renewed conflict and political divisions have crippled the economy. Due to the violence in May this year, hundreds of Palestinians have died, including children benefitting from an EU-funded programme. More than 100,000 people have had to flee their homes.
Over 80% of Gaza’s population is aid-dependent. Gazans are trapped in a cycle of poverty, unemployment, and food insecurity. They have limited access to basic services such as medical care, safe water, electricity, and few educational or economic opportunities. COVID-19 restrictions have further worsened people’s living conditions and eroded their purchasing power.
In the West Bank, 900,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem, H2 area, and Area C - an Israeli-controlled area covering over 60% of the West Bank - also need better access to basic services such as water and education.
Due to violence, intimidation and the rejection of building permits, their homes are increasingly demolished and the inhabitants evicted by force. Violence and demolitions have intensified despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Access by Palestinian children to education is hampered: schools continue to be demolished or damaged, and students are routinely harassed on their way to school.
In 2021, the European Union provided €34 million in humanitarian funding for Palestinians in need, including funds to address emerging needs due to the coronavirus pandemic and the recent violence in Gaza.
In the Gaza Strip, we provide vulnerable families with cash assistance, helping them to cover their basic needs. EU humanitarian assistance includes protection, safe education for children, and health care.
Priority goes to improving care for victims of violence, including trauma care for the injured. Our funding also helps to upgrade water and sanitation services and to better prepare the health system for a sudden surge in demand due to disasters, conflict or public health emergencies.
In the West Bank, more specifically in Area C, East Jerusalem and Hebron H2, the EU and several Member States support a consortium of humanitarian partners that protect communities threatened by demolitions, evictions and settler violence.
EU partners provide emergency assistance, legal aid, and access to essential services. We also help to improve the living conditions of communities that are barred from accessing or upgrading basic services. They are provided with shelter and safe sources of water.
The EU engages in advocacy on the respect of International Humanitarian Law and the upholding of human dignity. The illegal destruction of Palestinian homes, assets and aid infrastructure and the forcible displacement of people are also condemned.
In both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, EU humanitarian funding helps Palestinian children to learn in a safe and conducive environment despite the many obstacles and disturbances they face. COVID-19 has brought challenges of its own, with partners piloting ways to ensure learning despite school closures and other disruptions.
In the wake of the pandemic, EU humanitarian partners on the ground were quick to adapt their interventions, stepping up infection prevention and control measures.
Following COVID-19 and the recent escalation of hostilities, the EU supported (i) the screening of patients in health facilities; (ii) the training of healthcare workers; (iii) funded substantial deliveries of personal protective equipment and medical supplies; and (iv) helped strengthen health services to allow essential primary health care and emergency medical services to continue. Access to water, sanitation and hygiene for vulnerable communities has been improved and particularly vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic receive cash transfers.
The EU supports numerous humanitarian partners in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt): United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross and non-governmental organisations.
Since 2000, the EU has provided more than €827 million in humanitarian assistance to help meet the basic needs of the Palestinian population.
* The designation of Palestine shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.