Ma’an News – Fluctuating prices, poverty and border restrictions mean growing numbers of Palestinians are facing food insecurity this year — one of the key priorities in the humanitarian community’s annual appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory.
This year’s Consolidated Appeal Process is for $401.6 million, a slight decrease on last year’s $416.7 million, only 68 percent of which was financed.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which helped coordinate the CAP, estimates that 1.3 million Palestinians do not have enough food.
The latest figures show the number of households without sufficient access to food has risen by 7 percent since 2011, a trend which — if continued — would have left an estimated 41 percent of Palestinians without the necessary resources to get sufficient, safe and nutritious food at the end of 2012.
“Palestinian wages have not kept pace with inflation … Many poor Palestinians have exhausted their coping mechanisms (taking on loans, cutting back consumption) and are now much more vulnerable to small price increases than they were,” said a recent World Food Program bulletin.
According to the CAP, the situation is further worsened by restrictions on the movement of people and goods, which have resulted in higher prices of basic food commodities and reduced the purchasing power of many vulnerable families.
Humanitarian agencies hope to carry out 157 projects in 2013 — 58 implemented by UN agencies, 82 by international NGOs and 17 by local NGOs.
But doing this type of work is becoming increasingly difficult, according to aid workers who say getting access to vulnerable communities became tougher in 2012 because of lengthy Israeli planning procedures and restrictions on mobility and authorization.
In 2011, UN reconstruction projects had to wait an average of eight months for approval from Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in Territories, a unit in the Israeli Ministry of Defense that engages in coordinating civilian issues between the government of Israel, the army, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian Authority). By the end of 2012, the average waiting time more than doubled to 20 months, according to the CAP report.
In addition, aid workers lost some 1,959 working hours due to 535 access incidents while attempting to pass Israeli checkpoints in 2012, Maria José Torres, OCHA deputy head of office in OPT, told IRIN.
This trend is expected to worsen once the Israeli Crossing Points Administration, a civilian department linked to the Defense Ministry, begins to operate all checkpoints.
The CPA requires regular searches of UN vehicles, unless the driver is an international staff member, and national UN staff are subject to body searches and required to walk through the crossings the CPA operates. It remains unclear, however, when exactly CPA will take over.
Impact of recent political events
The recent escalation in violence in Gaza at the end of 2012 only increased humanitarian needs and added an extra $26 million to the CAP as communities try to rebuild: this year’s appeal has a tighter focus on strictly humanitarian projects that would immediately tackle suffering, said Torres.
The indebted Palestinian government in the West Bank is also struggling to provide basic services due to a shortfall in revenue provoked by declining donor support, and also the holding back of tax revenues by Israel, which objected to the State of Palestine being given the status of a non-member observer state at the UN.
A man-made crisis?
These incidents highlight the close correlation between politics and humanitarian needs in oPt.
At the CAP presentation in Ramallah, several speakers on the podium criticized Israel for provoking what they said was a man-made humanitarian crisis in oPt.
“The UN has repeatedly called upon the State of Israel to meet its obligations as an occupying power, including halting demolitions and addressing humanitarian needs. Unfortunately, these have not been met,” said the resident humanitarian coordinator in oPt, James Rawley.
“The international community tries to fill the gap, and this humanitarian action is essential. But it is no substitute to political action.”
Many of the Palestinian officials and humanitarian staff present told IRIN they had become frustrated by the man-made and largely unchanged humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“After 20 years of a useless peace process with Israel, the situation on the ground continues to deteriorate. The status quo is not working,” said Estephan Salameh, an adviser to the Palestinian Ministry of Planning in the West Bank.
IMEMC – Palestinian detainees, held at the Israeli Eshil prison, declared hunger strike in protest to the transfer of 27 detainees into solitary confinement, and to the ongoing violations carried out by the soldiers against them.
The Palestinian Ministry of Detainees issued a press release stating that the detainees started their hunger strike one day ago after the Israeli Prison Authority forced 27 detainees into solitary confinement.
The detainees said that the army is escalating its attacks against them, while the prison administration decided to deny family visits for one month.
Approximately two weeks ago, undercover soldiers of the Israeli Prison Administration broke into section 15 of the Ofer Israel Prison, and attacked several detainees.
The detainees said that dozens of soldiers broke into section 15, and forced them to stand under the rain for an extended period, before violently kicking several detainees and hitting them with batons.
Four of the attacked and wounded detainees have been identified as Khalil Al-Kharouf, Ibrahim Abu Al-Asal, Mohammad Ibrewish, and Shaher Al-Heeh. Soldiers also transferred several detainees from Ofer to the Hadarim prison.
Israeli soldiers carry out repeated and similar attacks against the detainees in different Israeli prisons, detention camps, interrogation and detention centers.
There are currently more than 4500 Palestinians who are still imprisoned by Israel, including 198 children, eight women, and several elected legislators and officials.
79 detainees have died in prison since the beginning of the Al-Aqsa Intifada (In late September 2000) due to torture, medical neglect, excessive use of force by the soldiers and interrogators, in addition to several detainees who were executed by the arresting officers, former Political Prisoner, Palestinian Researcher, Abdul-Nasser Farawna said.
A total of 202 detainees died or were killed in Israeli prisons since 1967; dozens of detainees also died after they were released due to diseases they encountered in prison or due to complications resulting from extreme torture and bad conditions in prisons.
IMEMC – Wednesday January 16; the Israeli District Court in Jerusalem denied an appeal filed by the defense attorney of hunger striking detainee, Samer Al-Eesawy, requesting the court to void its deliberation in his case as he is being tried on the same charges at the Ofer Military Court.
The District Court also ruled that Al-Eesawy will have to attend a court hearing on February 5, 2013.
Al-Eesawy, from Jerusalem, was one of more than a thousand Palestinian detainees who were released as part of the prisoner swap deal that secured the release of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit on October 18, 2011 who was captured by the resistance in Gaza in 2006.
476 Palestinian detainees, including Al-Eesawy were released on the first phase of the agreement the same day Shalit was released.
But the Israeli army rearrested Al-Eesawy after claiming that he “violated the terms of his release” by heading to the occupied West Bank.
The Ofer Israeli Military Court and the Jerusalem District Court are now trying him on the same charges.
His lawyer is arguing that the District Court in Jerusalem cannot look into a case that involves what Israel described as “a military order violation”.
The District Court rejected the appeal, and decided to hold a session on February 5 to grant the prosecution more time to present its case.
Al-Eesawy is ongoing with his hunger strike that he started more than 176 days ago. His family said that he is determined to continue his strike until his release despite his sharply deteriorating health conditions and complications.
Mansaf is a traditional meal in the central West Bank and Naqab region in the southern West Bank, having its roots from the Bedouin population of ancient Arabia. It is mostly cooked on occasions such as, during holidays, weddings or a large gathering. Mansaf is cooked as a lamb leg or large pieces of lamb on top of a taboon bread that has usually been smothered with yellow rice. A type of thick and dried cheesecloth yogurt from goat’s milk, called jameed, is poured on top of the lamb and rice to give it its distinct flavor and taste. The dish is also garnished with cooked pine nuts and almonds. The classic form of eating mansaf is using the right hand as a utensil. For politeness, participants in the feast tear pieces of meat to hand to the person next to them
Maqluba, which literally means upside-down in Arabic, is an upside-down rice and baked eggplant casserole mixed with cooked cauliflowers, carrots and chicken or lamb. It dates back to the 13th century.
Musakhan is a common main dish that originated in the Jenin and Tulkarm area in the northern West Bank. It consists of a roasted chicken over a taboon bread that has been topped with pieces of fried sweet onions, sumac, allspice and pine nuts.
Kubbeh made of bulghur, minced onions and ground red meat, usually beef, lamb, or goat. The best known variety is a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. Other types of kibbeh may be shaped into balls or patties, and baked or cooked in broth.
Waraq al-‘ainib (stuffed grape leaves), is a mahshi(stuffed) meal. The grape leaves are normally wrapped around minced meat, white rice and diced tomatoes, however meat is not always used. Each piece being tightly wrapped, although some families differ in their structure. It is then cooked and served as dozens of rolls on a large plate usually accompanied by boiled potato slices, carrots and lamb pieces. Kousa mahshi are zucchinis stuffed with the same ingredients as waraq al-‘ainib and usually served alongside it.
Labneh is a common breakfast food typically eaten with Arabic flat bread, olive oil and oftentimes mint. It is usually lightly salted and eaten in a fashion similar to Hummus in the region; being spread on a plate with thicker edges and a more shallow center, drizzled in olive oil. It is often served with an assortment of pickled vegetables, olives, Hummus and cheeses as part of a meal. Armenians who historically lived in Palestine have adopted the food as well as the name and mode of consumption. Like the Bedouin Arabs, Palestinians also press and dry strained cheese as a mode of preservation and flavor enhancement.
Tabbouleh is a type of salad made from parsley pieces, bulgur, diced tomatoes, cucumbers and is sautéed with lemon juice and vinegar. In 2006, the largest bowl of tabbouleh in the world was prepared by Palestinian cooks in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Kanafeh, a well-known dessert in the Arab World and Turkey, originated in the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank in the early 15th century. Made of several fine shreds of pastry noodles with honey-sweetened cheese in the center, the top layer of the pastry is usually dyed orange with food coloring and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. Nablus, to the present day is famed for its kanafeh, partly due to its use of a white-brined cheese called Nabulsi after the city. Boiled sugar is used as a syrup for kanafeh.
The representative of the World Food Program (WFP) in the occupied Palestinian territory says that although the Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip is over, the humanitarian situation there still remains dire.
“There is a misconception that because there is a period of calm, we can start thinking about a development process, which is very difficult to do when they are under occupation,” Pablo Recalde said at a press conference in Dubai on 9 December.
“These kinds of flare-ups of violence are now systemic. Up until there is a permanent solution to the problem of the Palestinian people, you will have these ups and downs.”
Around 1,000 families lost their homes during the 8 day attack on Gaza in November.
Recalde states that there has been no major decrease in food security in Gaza. Even in normal times, he states, 40% of Gazans do not have regular access to food and are dependent on aid to survive.
In spite of the Israeli attacks on Gaza in November the World Food Program (WFP) moved forward with its regulary scheduled food distributions in Gaza.
Gaza is home to nearly 1.7 million people. The Gaza strip is small but densely populated, therefore, a “faltering economy and rampant poverty” has made it increasingly difficult for local residents to buy nutritious food. Adding to the pressure is the blockade on Gaza, which was heavily imposed in 2007, this blockade has made the movement of goods, services, and people in and out of Gaza extremely difficult. Therefore, Gazans must depend on an underground tunnel to Egypt in order to accomidate many of their basic needs.