Humanitarian and political background
Large-scale displacement took place during the wars of 1948 and 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Many of those displaced have never been able to return. There are currently over 5 million Palestinian refugees spread across Palestine, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Internal displacement within Palestine remains a concern. Communities come under increasing risk of forcible transfer and other Intentional Humanitarian Law violations , stemming from Israeli policies and practices.
NRC has been active in Palestine since 2009.
A damaging status quo
For nearly a decade, Gaza has faced a continuous siege. These restrictions have prevented almost any import or export of materials, leading to economic collapse and crippling their development. Unemployment in Gaza is among the highest in the world, with youth unemployment reaching a staggering 63 per cent in 2014.
The siege of Gaza has been characterised by repeated open hostilities with Israel, with over 2,000 Palestinians killed in the last conflict – including over 500 children. Nearly 18,000 homes were destroyed and reconstruction efforts have been severely hampered by the inability to bring building materials through the siege imposed by Israel.
Is this what our lives have come to? I feel no hope for the future or reconstruction. We will spend the rest of our lives in this shack, in suffering and despair.
Um Mohammed, displaced Palestinian in central Gaza.
While humanitarian assistance is essential to meeting the basic needs of Palestinians in Gaza, it is also imperative that the world takes action to end the Israeli blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip.
A blocked path to schooling
Children are among the worst affected by the conflict.
In Gaza, the Ministry of Education and the UN Relief and Aid Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNWRA) have seen hundreds of their schools damaged during the last war. The lack of building materials has obstructed rebuilding.
A seven-year-old child in Gaza has already witnessed three wars in their lifetime. This is unacceptable.
Jan Egeland, NRC’s Secretary General
Schools in the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – are under attack. Soldiers and settlers repeatedly harass children going to school. This systematically hinders children's ability to access primary education, and adds to their high levels of emotional trauma. This means an entire generation of Palestinians may lose out on the opportunities offered by a quality education.
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, forcible transfers of Palestinians continue. The aim is to push Palestinian out of strategic areas that Israel has slated for settlement establishment and expansion.
Across Palestine, forcible transfers manifest through a discriminatory permit needed for construction, forced and capricious evictions, wanton destruction of civilian property, obstruction of humanitarian assistance, land expropriation, construction of the Wall, movement and access restrictions, settler violence and military operations.
People we helped in Palestine in 2015
NRC in Palestine
Through our programme in Palestine, we protect and assist those affected by or threatened with displacement.
NRC Palestine has offices in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron and Gaza.
We provide legal counselling to promote access to human rights, shelter, water and sanitation, and quality education.
Nationally and globally, we advocate for the rights of displaced Palestinians.
We work across Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, to reach Palestinians who are displaced or who face imminent threats of displacement.
Together with local authorities and community-based organisations, we establish mechanisms monitoring the needs of displaced Palestinians, and promoting community-owned solutions.
In government and UNRWA schools, our education teams work to bring quality education in the classroom, decrease dropout rates and promote inclusive teaching approaches.
They also run our school-based psychosocial intervention, the Better Learning Programme, which helps Palestinian children suffering from severe trauma recover their desire to learn. Children who participated in the programme have had their nightmares reduced by 90 per cent, and discover a renewed interest in learning.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
Our ICLA experts address housing, land and property (HLP) rights for Palestinians, as well as residency rights. We challenge discriminatory policies and protect Palestinians from unlawful land exportation, wanton destruction of property and forcible transfers.
Our ICLA programmes:
- Offer legal counselling and advice. In the West Bank, these address demolition or eviction orders, land confiscation, settler violence, residency, and access restrictions. In Gaza, we provide legal assistance on HLP rights and civil documentation assistance for reconstruction efforts.
- Fund local NGO partners to provide direct legal aid and work with private lawyers to support public interest litigation.
- Prioritise women’s housing, land and property rights.
NRC is the Shelter Cluster lead for Palestine.
In addition, our shelter teams:
- Repair moderately and severely damaged housing.
- Provide self-help cash support to rehabilitate shelters.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
Because of the severely underdeveloped water resources, the groundwater in Gaza has become saline and undrinkable. The vast majority of the population have to buy drinking water from an unregulated private sector, which produces and sells expensive desalinated water. We are looking to establish a partnership that will improve the quality and availability of drinking water.
We also run WASH interventions that mitigate the risk and impact of winter flooding.
Urban displacement outside of camps
We work with municipalities and local actors in Gaza to strengthen community participation and ensure locally-driven responses to the needs of the displaced population.
We are also establishing local monitoring and response mechanisms in the West Bank to address past and ongoing displacement.
Policy, protection and research
NRC provides protection and policy advice to a range of key actors in Palestine, promoting humanitarian assistance in line with international law. NRC interacts closely with decision makers in international arenas, undertaking evidence-based humanitarian advocacy to protect the human rights of displaced and vulnerable persons.
Cluster and other coordination support
Besides leading the Shelter Cluster, NRC also hosts other important coordination mechanisms in Palestine, including AIDA and the West Bank Protection Consortium.
About nrc in Palestine
Gaza’s wounds will not heal at this pace
Conflict tore through the Gaza strip in the summer of 2014. In seven short weeks, 1,492 Palestinian and 6 Israeli civilians were killed. 17,800 homes were severly damaged or destroyed. Two years after, only 4,000 are completely rebuilt.
Children’s nightmares of war
Since the 2014 Israeli attack on the Gaza strip, more than 100,000 children in Palestine have received psycho-educational support from NRC, helping them mitigate trauma symptoms and significantly reduce nightmares.