Under illegal Israeli military occupation since 1967, the Palestinian people face severe economic and social challenges. Over 5.3 million of them live in the Palestinian Territories, which include the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and over 1.7 million are citizens of Israel.
Since 2004, the Israeli government has built a 465-kilometre concrete wall to isolate Palestinian populations from one another and from Israeli citizens. A further 250 kilometres of wall are to be built, mostly on Palestinian land.
Living conditions are unquestionably worse in Gaza, where 2.1 million people are totally cut off from other Palestinians, who cannot enter Gaza without a special permit from the Israeli army. They live in the poorest shelters, with limited sanitation and no electricity for several hours a day. Over a fourth of Palestinians are unemployed, a rate that rises to 45 per cent in Gaza.
Around 1.36 million Palestinians are exposed to water-related diseases. Access to basic healthcare and education services, too is limited. Palestinians who live in the West Bank and work in Jerusalem need a permit to enter the city, for which they often have to wait at Israeli military checkpoints for two to three hours every day.
In East Jerusalem, many Palestinian families face the constant threat of being evicted by the municipality from the homes in which they have lived for decades, often back to the days of the Ottoman Empire. With state and military support, Israeli settlers take possession of the houses of evicted Palestinians. Furthermore, a record 700,000 Israelis now live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The expansion of Israeli illegal settlement is fuelling the tensions that keeping making the headlines.
Recurrent escalations and violence compromise the wellbeing of Palestinians and the security of Israelis. Most Palestinians, especially women and children, live in deprivation and fear. More than ever, this region needs the support of the international community to develop new paths to peace. Meanwhile, the Palestinian people also need social and economic support.
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada’s partners in the Palestinian Territories are:
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada will continue supporting projects and programs that promote socioeconomic welfare, health, rights, humanity, dignity and peace for the Palestinian people.