UN Slams Israeli Settlements as Main Cause of Palestinian Suffering
Here’s a shocker for you: a new United Nations report has taken a dim view of Israeli settlements.
The report from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) claims that the biggest obstacle to meeting the “humanitarian needs” of the Palestinians is Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza.
The OCHA report, titled "Fragmented Lives," presents a "comprehensive overview of the underlying causes or drivers of the humanitarian vulnerabilities in the oPt [occupied Palestinian territory]."
Israeli settlements in the West Bank (condemned as illegal by the UN), and the Israeli-Egyptian blockade in Gaza (deemed legal by the UN) are the primary contributors to Palestinian suffering, according to the report.
"At its heart, the crisis in the oPt is one of a lack of protection for Palestinian civilians," said report lead David Carden.
"From violence, from displacement, from restrictions on access to services and livelihoods, and from other rights violations – with a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable, children in particular."
The number of Palestinians displaced by home demolitions reached a new high in 2016, according the report.
One thousand and ninety-four structures were demolished, leaving 1,601 Palestinians displaced within the West Bank.
The report also noted 572 instances of Israeli "restrictions on Palestinian movement."
On the other side of the Holy Land, the blockade of Gaza was criticized for denying 31 percent of entry and exit visas to aid workers.
The Egyptians kept their side of the border closed for 321 days of the year.
Hamas, which heads the de-facto government in the Strip, was also criticized for impeding humanitarian endeavors.
"Nearly a decade of blockade, internal divide and recurring conflict, alongside a lack of action to adopt measures that would resolve chronic needs, has left the Gaza Strip especially vulnerable," Carden said.
The new report does note that violence in the West Bank has declined significantly since last year, which in turn marked a significant decrease from the year before.
OCHA claimed a 37 percent drop in combat-related fatalities since last year (from 169 in 2015 to 3,247 in 2016), and an 89 percent drop in the number of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces (from 15,477 in 2015 to 107 in 3,247).
Similar reports have been published by OCHA since 2012.
"Palestinian civilians across the oPt continue to be subject to threats to their lives, physical safety and liberty from conflict-related violence, and from policies and practices related to the Israeli occupation, including settler violence," according to the 2015 report.
Israeli government offices, which are closed for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, did not respond to the report.