The West Bank and Gaza fell to British forces during World War I, becoming part of the British Mandate of Palestine. In 1967 Gaza and West Bank were captured by Israel in the Six-Day War. The Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) consists of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The West Bank is a landlocked territory bordering Israel and Jordan, Gaza is a coastal area on the eastern Mediterranean Sea bordering Israel and Egypt. While the Palestinian Authority (PA) has administered most of Gaza and parts of the West Bank under its control since 1994, Palestine is generally not recognized as an independent state. As of 2022, the Occupied Palestinian Territory is home to an estimated population of some 5 million people, among them are 3 million people living in the West Bank and 2 million residing in Gaza. The OPT covers an area of 6,220 square kilometers.
The humanitarian situation
The overall humanitarian situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is marked by a protracted political crisis characterized by 55 years of Israeli military occupation. The humanitarian crisis is aggravated by violence against civilians, lack of respect for international humanitarian and human rights law, internal Palestinian divisions and the recurrent escalation of hostilities between Israeli security forces and Palestinian armed groups. Millions of Palestinians struggle to meet their most basic needs and live in dignity.
Some 5.9 million registered Palestinian refugees reside in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Most registered Palestinian Refugees live in Jordan (2.3 million), Gaza (1.44 million), West Bank (997,000), Lebanon (532,000), and Syria (618,000). The Syrian conflict that began in 2011 had a devastating impact on the Palestine refugees in the country. Over 120,000 fled Syria, most of them to Lebanon.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency, providing health, education and other basic services to Palestinian Refugees. Established in 1949, the agency operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In the absence of a political solution for the Palestinian refugees, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate.
The UN agency provides primary health care for about 2 million Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. UNRWA runs more than 700 schools, providing an education to more than half a million children. Only one-third of the registered Palestine refugees still live in refugee camps. Two-thirds live in cities, towns and villages throughout the UN agency’s area of operations, and many have moved outside the area and are living in third countries.
About 1.8 million people, including approximately 1.1 million severely food-insecure individuals, are experiencing food insecurity in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Elevated food prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 have exacerbated food insecurity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The United Nations estimates that 2.1 million Palestinians across the OPT need humanitarian assistance this year. Among them are more than 1 million children. The people in need represent 58 per cent of the population in Gaza and one quarter of people living in the West Bank.
The security situation
Under a series of agreements known as the Oslo Accords signed between 1993 and 1999, Israel transferred to the newly created Palestinian Authority security and civilian responsibility for many Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank as well as Gaza. Since 1994 the Palestinian Authority has administered parts of the West Bank under its control, mainly the major Palestinian population centers and areas immediately surrounding them. Roughly 60% of the West Bank remains under full Israeli civil and military control, impeding movement of people and goods through the territory. Gaza has been under the de facto governing authority of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) since 2007.
The repeated upsurge of hostilities between Israel and armed Palestinian groups is dramatically worsening the situation for the people living in the OPT. The humanitarian conditions created by the political and security crisis continue to impact all parts of the territory, affecting nearly every aspect of Palestinian life. For five decades, Palestinians have struggled with the security and safety consequences of the occupation and political turmoil.
Despite its responsibilities as an occupying power and a party to the Geneva Conventions, the Israeli government continues to implement policies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that violate the Geneva Conventions and exacerbate the humanitarian needs and protection risks of the Palestinian population. Such policies also threaten the ability of humanitarian organizations to respond effectively to the emergency.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), consistently high levels of the presence of Israeli Forces, including search-and-arrest operations during both the day and night, arrests, detentions, and ill-treatment of children continues. OCHA says a steep rise in conflict-related violence, including settler attacks, has further eroded public safety and security, increasing fear among the population in the OPT, particularly among children. Access to mental health and psychosocial services remains limited, as does access to critical health services, particularly in Gaza.
Recurrent escalation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip results in deaths, injuries, psychological distress, the destruction of homes and buildings, and exacerbates Gaza's chronic deficits in housing, infrastructure, and energy. Israeli policies and practices aimed at accelerating the forcible transfer of Palestinians and annexation of territory are increasing. The high level of demolitions and confiscations of Palestinian buildings continues to be an element of a coercive environment that leaves many Palestinians throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with no choice but to leave their homes and communities.
Your donation for the emergency in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the Palestine refugee crisis can help United Nations agencies, international humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their local partners to rapidly provide water, food, medicine, shelter and other aid to the people who need it most.
- UN Crisis Relief: Occupied Palestinian Territory
- United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA): Donations
- UNICEF: State of Palestine Appeal
- Islamic Relief Worldwide: Palestine emergency appeal
There are currently few active appeals for the Palestine crisis. You may also consider an un-earmarked donation to organizations that are active in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
- Action Against Hunger: Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Oxfam International: Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel
- Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC): Palestine
- Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF): Palestine
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - occupied Palestinian territory
- United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
- ACAPS: State of Palestine Conflict
- European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO): Palestine
- International Crisis Group: Israel/Palestine
- Council on Foreign Relations: Global Conflict Tracker: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/israeli-palestinian-conflict
- UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Palestine
- Human Rights Watch (HRW): World Report 2023: Israel and Palestine
- Amnesty International Report 2021/2022: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories