Human Wrongs Watch – 2012-08-20 11:20:18
(August 18, 2012) — The UN expressed “serious concern” over Palestinians living in the southern Hebron Hills region who have been “forced to leave their houses after Israeli authorities designated the area as a fire zone for military training.”
“These are already some of the most vulnerable families in the West Bank — forcibly displacing them from their homes and lands would have a serious immediate and long-term impact on their physical, socio-economic and emotional welfare” said on 16 August the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory Maxwell Gaylard.
Approximately 18 percent of the West Bank has been designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone.”
Most of these areas are located in Area C, over which Israel retains full control of security and planning.
Bedouin and Herders
Some 5,000 Palestinians, mostly Bedouin and herders, live in localities now designated as firing zones and many face serious restrictions on their freedom of movement, on their access to basic services including health and education, and are also subject to violence and harassment by soldiers, according to a UN report.
“The humanitarian community reiterates its call to the Government of Israel to immediately halt demolitions of Palestinian homes and property and to establish a fair and equitable zoning and planning system,” Gaylard said.
Legal Obligations as an Occupying Power
“Israel, as an occupying power, has an obligation under international law to protect Palestinian civilians and to administer the territory in a manner that ensures their welfare and basic needs,” he added.
Since 2010, over 800 Palestinian civilians have been displaced from these areas by demolitions of their homes and property.
Humanitarian organizations have also faced serious difficulties in providing assistance to these communities, with relief items confiscated and demolition orders issued against humanitarian donor-funded structures.
Turkish Donations to Thousands of Palestinian Families
On 2 August 2012, the UN announced that more than 129,000 families will benefit from an in-kind food donation from the Turkish Government worth $6.6 million, the United Nations agency assisting Palestinian refugees announced today.
Some 12,500 tons of wheat flour will be delivered over the next eight weeks, with the first shipment arriving today, and will feed about 687,000 people, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a news release.
Food Insecurity Threatening 60 percent of Gazans
“The Palestine refugees we serve are grateful for this generous donation,” said UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi. “The need for this aid is clear with food insecurity currently threatening 60 percent of Gazans.”
Five years ago, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza for what it called security reasons after the Hamas group, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, ousted the Fatah movement from the Gaza Strip in 2007, the UN reminds.
Since the tightening of the Israeli blockade, unemployment has skyrocketed in the territory, as imports, exports, and job opportunities have slowed or come to a complete halt.
One in Three, Unemployed
Currently, 34 percent of Gazans are unemployed and 70 percent of refugees are reliant on UNRWA aid, the agency said.
In addition to in-kind contributions of food, Turkey also provides financial support to UNRWA. Since 2009, the Turkish Government has more than doubled its contribution to the agency, reaching an annual sum of $1.25 million this year.
Turkey also chairs the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA in New York, and is a member of the Advisory Commission comprising UNRWA’s major governmental supporters.
Established in 1949, UNRWA provides assistance, protection and advocacy for some five million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a solution to their plight.
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