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.
At least five young unarmed people shot by soldiers despite rules permitting live fire only in extreme circumstances
At least five unarmed young Palestinians, including a 21-year-old woman, have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers in 13 days since the start of the year, prompting mounting concern about the unwarranted use of live fire. A sixth was killed on his 17th birthday last month, and a seventh death this month is disputed by the Israeli military.
The commander of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in the West Bank, Brigadier-General Hagai Mordechai has ordered all commanders to reiterate to all soldiers the rules of engagement, a military spokesman told the Guardian.
The use of live fire is permitted only in extreme circumstances, and shooting to kill only in a life-threatening situation. “None of [the dead] posed a threat that justifies the use of lethal force,” said Sarit Michaeli, of the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem and the author of a report published on Monday which analyses the IDF’s use of crowd control weapons in the West Bank. “Swift action by the army is required to transmit a clear message to soldiers that the lives of Palestinians have equal value and that firing live ammunition in non-life threatening situations is illegal.”
The youngest to be killed was 15-year-old Salah Amarin, who died last Wednesday, five days after being shot in the head during clashes near Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. According to the IDF, he had been launching stones from a slingshot.
The same day as Amarin died, Lubna al-Hanash, 22, was shot in the face while walking on a college campus south of Bethlehem. According to the IDF, a routine patrol in the area had opened fire in self-defence after being “confronted by Palestinians with Molotov cocktails”. But Suad Jaara, a friend who was injured in the shooting, told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an: “An Israeli soldier was shooting from his rifle while a white car was parked on the roadside. There was no one in the area except Lubna and I.”
Sixteen-year-old Samir Awad was shot on 15 January after crossing a fence that forms part of the security barrier near his home in the village of Budrus. He had just completed school exam before a midterm break from school when he was grabbed by soldiers, broke free and ran away. Soldiers opened fire, hitting him from behind in the back and the head. The IDF said Awad was “attempting to infiltrate into Israel”.
Three days earlier, Uday Darwish, 21, was also shot in the back while running away from soldiers after attempting to cross the separation barrier south of Hebron, according to Palestinian sources. The IDF said “soldiers at the scene fired towards his legs”.
Last month, Mohammed al-Salaymeh was killed by a female soldier at a checkpoint in Hebron while en route to buy a cake to celebrate his 17th birthday. The IDF said he had brandished a toy gun. Grainy video footage of the incident appears to show the youth struggling with a soldier, and then being shot three times. The third and final shot is fired as Salaymeh is leaving the scene.
In Gaza, Anwar al-Mamlouk, 19, was shot in the abdomen 50 metres from the border fence on 11 January by Israeli soldiers, according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.
Three days later, a 21-year-old farmer, Mustafa Abu Jarad died after being shot in the head. The IDF denied it was responsible.
According to B’Tselem, IDF regulations say live fire is permissible “in a case of violent rioting by the separation barrier, when there appears to be a real threat of damage to, or breaching of, the barrier, and when less severe methods have proved to be ineffective, the commander of the force may, as a last resort, authorise the firing of single shots of live ammunition at the legs of those people identified as central agitators”.
At least 46 Palestinians have been killed since 2005 by live ammunition fired by soldiers at stone-throwers, says its report, Israel’s Use of Crowd Control Weapons in the West Bank. The most common crowd control weapons are tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, stun grenades and “skunk” – the use of foul-smelling liquid in water cannon.
“Live ammunition is the most lethal means used by security forces at West Bank demonstrations,” says the report. “The Israeli military’s standing orders explicitly state that live ammunition may not be fired at stone-throwers.”
The IDF said the report relied on “a biased narrative” and “specific incidents … are exceptions to IDF policy rather than the rule”. It added: “Every soldier who is expected to contend with these situations regularly trains with riot dispersal means and is carefully taught the rules of engagement.”
The Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad called for “strong condemnation from the international community” of the recent spate of deaths from live fire, and urged “immediate intervention to compel Israel to desist from these serious attacks on our people”.
The UN special co-ordinator for the Middle East peace process, Robert Serry, has also raised concerns about the use of live fire by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.
In an editorial published before the most recent two deaths, the liberal daily Haaretz said the “basic problem emerging from these cases … is in soldiers and commanders’ overly-free interpretation regarding the circumstances permitting killing Palestinian civilians who only approach the fence, or even try to cross it, without endangering the lives of Israeli soldiers or civilians.”
It added: “The consecutive incidents in which Palestinians were killed in recent days give the feeling that Palestinian blood may be shed with impunity.”
O those who pass between fleeting words
carry your names, and be gone
Rid our time of your hours, and be gone
Steal what you will from the blueness of the sea
And the sand of memory
Take what pictures you will, so that you understand
That which you never will:
How a stone from our land builds the ceiling of our sky
From you steel and fire, from us our flesh
From you yet another tank, from us stones
From you teargas, from us rain…
It is time for you to be gone
Live wherever you like, but do not live among us
It is time for you to be gone
Die wherever you like, but do not die among us
For we have work to do in our land
So leave our country
Our land, our sea
Our wheat, our salt, our wounds
Everything, and leave
The memories of memory
those who pass between fleeting words!
– Mahmoud Darwish, Passers Between the Passing Words, 1988
Odai al Darawish, 21, was trying to cross into Israel to find work, his family said.
Haaretz – Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian who was trying to cross a security barrier to enter Israel from the occupied West Bank on Saturday.
Odai al Darawish, 21, was trying to cross into Israel to find work, his family said. He was taken to a hospital in Israel where he was pronounced dead, they said.
An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers had opened fire when they saw a man trying to cross the barrier in an area south of the West Bank city of Hebron.
“The soldiers followed the rules of engagement and fired towards his legs,” the spokesman said.
Hospital officials were not available for comment. Israel says the security barrier – a network of fences interspersed with concrete walls and projected to be 720 km (450 miles) long when complete – has prevented Palestinian suicide bombers entering Israel from the West Bank.
Palestinians say it is a way to grab land because it encroaches onto occupied territory, and the International Court of Justice has ruled it illegal.
IMEMC – The Israeli government published plans for the construction of additional 170 units, and 84 “guestroom”, for Jewish settlers in Rote m illegal settlement, in the Jordan valley, Hagit Ofran of Israel’s Peace Now movement said.
Ofran stated that the construction have been previously authorized by Israel, and that what have been declared recently is the construction plan.
Construction maps were submitted last week for review; they include 200 homes (30 have already been built), in addition to construction plans for 84 “guestrooms”.
Ofran further stated that the Israeli public has 60 days for file objections, and that after all objections, if any, have been reviewed, the Construction and Planning Committee will be deciding whether to approve or reject the plan (although a rejection is a rare occurrence).
The Rotem settlement in the Jordan village is located in “Area C” in the occupied West Bank; the area under the Oslo peace deals is under “Israeli civil and military control”.
There are numerous calls by Israeli right wing parties demanding the Israeli government to “annex” area C (%60 of the occupied West Bank) to regard it as “part of the state of Israel”.
After the Palestinians managed to obtain an observer state status at the United Nations General Assembly in November of last year, the Israeli government decided “to punish” them by tripling its illegal settlement activities in the occupied territories, in addition to continuing to block the transfer of tax money Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on border terminals (around $150 a month as part of previous agreements between Israel and the P.A).
The International Law does not recognize settlements and considers them illegal; this includes settlements built in and around occupied East Jerusalem.
Several countries around the world, mainly in Europe, denounced Israel settlements plans, especially Israel’s illegal E1 settlement project that aims at building thousands of units for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
The United States found is “suffice” to declare that the Israel plan was “counterproductive”, and called on both Israel and the Palestinians to “refrain from conducting unilateral moves that obstruct the efforts to resume direct peace talks”
E1 would effectively kill the chances of a “two-state solution” as Israel’s settlement are blocking any geographical contiguity between the Palestinian communities, and the new E1 project would split the West Bank into two parts, and would completely isolate Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied West Bank.
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.
Ma’an News – Israel’s high court on Wednesday ordered 21 Palestinians to pay 52,500 shekels to delay the demolition of their homes in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said.
Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity, told Ma’an the homeowners, from Yatma, were ordered to pay 2,500 shekels to the court by Friday to delay demolition while the court considers their case.
Hamid Sunuber, head of Fatah in the village, said Israel ordered the demolitions because the homes are in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli control.
Sunuber questioned the timing of the demolition orders. “Is this a response to the recognition of Palestine as a non-member state in the UN General Assembly?” he asked.
*52,000 shekels= 13927.94 US Dollar
*2,500 shekels= 669.61 US Dollar
*1 shekel= 0.27 US Dollar