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Israel and the Occupied and Autonomous Territories - Budget Extension Appeal

24-05-2002

The escalation in violence in Israel and the occupied and autonomous Palestinian territories since the beginning of 2002 has caused many casualties and much suffering among Israeli and Palestinian civilians. By March it was clear that new, extended activities were called for, requiring new means, in order to respond to the effects of the spiraling violence.

 

 
   

 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  

 
 
 
  • The escalation in violence in Israel and the occupied and autonomous Palestinian territories since the beginning of 2002 has caused many casualties and much suffering among Israeli and Palestinian civilians. In particular, the military incursions, prolonged closures and curfews, and the destruction of private property have led to the collapse of the socio-economic infrastructure of Palestinian society, resulting in extreme hardship for the population.

 
 
 
  • ICRC programmes to protect and assist needy civilians have been running since the beginning of the year. By March it was clear that new, extended activities were called for, requiring new means, in order to respond to the effects of the spiraling violence. While the general objectives of the different programmes remain unchanged, the methods and the scope have been adapted. It should be noted that this document complements the 2002 Emergency appeals; activities described here are thus additional to those found in the Emergency Appeals.

The new activities primarily involve a vast increase in assistance programmes, to provide food and non-food support to Palestinian civilians living in rural and urban areas. Support will also be stepped up for the Palestine Red Crescent (PRCS) Emergency Medical Service.

Throughout, the underlying goal of ICRC activities is and will remain protection, namely working to ensure faithful application and respect for international humanitarian law (IHL), mainly the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the protection of civilians in time of war and occupation.

As lead agency for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in Israel, the occupied and the autonomous territories, the ICRC will continue to coordinate the Movement's humanitarian response. It is also seeking to foster relations between the Magen David Adom (MDA) and the PRCS, and to give   increased support to the MDA in various Movement-related areas.

   

 GENERAL SITUATION  

    

The violence in Israel and the occupied and autonomous Palestinian territories escalated to unprecedented levels in the first four months of 2002. Israeli air raids and incursions into Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the massive demolition of houses, destruction of public infrastructure, and military interventions in refugee camps, left growing numbers of victims and casualties in their wake. In just one week at the beginning of March, over 140 Palestinians were killed throughout the occupied territories, the highest death toll since the outbreak of violence in September 2000. In the same week, four emergency medical workers -- two of them from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) -- were killed by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) in four different incidents.

The frequency of devastating bomb attacks and drive-by shootings by Palestinians in civilian areas in Israel increased significantly from the end of January. Soldiers posted in the occupied territories and settlers were also targeted. The highest toll ever was in the month of March when 123 Israelis were killed and hundreds injured. The bomb attack in Netanya at the end of March, which caused 27 deaths and 130 wounded among Israeli civilians, unleashed the largest IDF military operation in the territories yet, with the incursion into six West Bank cities including, for the first time, refugee camps in Nablus and Jenin.

Although the Israeli armed forces have now withdrawn from the big towns in the Palestinian autonomous areas, the military presence throughout the West Bank is massive and the occupation is harsher and more restrictive than before. The closures on Palestinian towns and villages have become even tighter than before the IDF incursions. 

The impact on the Palestinian civilian population has been immense. Their living conditions have deteriorated further due to the direct effects of the military occupation and operations and because of the further disintegration of the socio-economical infrastructure, in particular in the West Bank. The destruction of administrative facilities and basic infrastructure such as water and electricity networks and roads has paralyzed basic public services. Where services are still functioning, the closures, curfews and physical barriers prevent or obstruct access to commodities and services, to workplaces, to markets, to places of education, thus bringing economic life practically to a standstill and worsening the situation for thousands of families already impoverished after months of loss of earnings and restrictions on their freedom of movement.

This situation has been exacerbated by the repeated lack of respect for the work of emergency medical teams, as well as for the protected emblems of the red cross and red crescent. The frequent harassment of medical workers and infringement of the medical mission has made it difficult to get humanitarian assistance to those in need, and led to increased suffering for the wounded and sick, on occasion even to death, for lack of timely and appropriate medical assistance.

   

 HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE  

   

 ICRC role in recent events  

Over the past weeks, the ICRC was confirmed in its role as neutral intermediary throughout the occupied territories, both as an operational agency providing direct protection and assistance to the civilian population, and as a facilitator for other oganizations or agencies providing social or medical services or relief to those in need. Through constant coordination and extensive liaising with the Israeli Civil Administration in charge of the occupied territories, the ICRC was able partially to facilitate the movement of the civilian population, the passage of emergency services into closed areas, the evacuation of dead or wounded, the transport of humanitarian goods, the distribution of drinking water and the collection of rubbish.

In line with the ICRC's primary protection mission, delegates have been observing events in the field as closely as possible in order to be in a position to make immediate representations to the authorities concerning respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) and the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention in particular.

   

 Extension of ICRC means and activities  

To ensure continued ability to fulfil this enhanced and central role over the coming months, the ICRC has had to review and adapt the programmes it had initially planned for 2002, and the means for implementing them, to take account of the evolving situation. While the objectives of the different programme areas have generally remained the same, the strategy and plan of action have been adapted and extended. 

   

 Protecting and assisting civilians  

    

The ICRC works to ensure continued and effective monitoring and documentation of violations of IHL, which remains the ICRC’s primary mission in Israel and the occupied territories, and to follow them up by oral and written representations to the relevant authorities requesting immediate corrective me asures and an appropriate response to the needs thus identified. An increase in the number of ICRC delegates in the field in the coming months will give the organization enhanced proximity and contact with vulnerable communities, thus making it more receptive to their main problems and needs.

While protection of the civilian population thus remains at the heart of the ICRC’s work in the occupied territories, in accordance with its mandate, there are now, after the recent Israeli military operation, important economic security needs which the ICRC needs to address urgently. Indeed, the protection of the economic security of the Palestinian civilian population is arguably the most urgent priority today. Consequently, assistance is the area which is being developed and expanded most under this Budget Extension Appeal.

The ICRC is, however, intent not to substitute the occupying power, which has the obligation to allow as normal a life as possible in the occupied territories, but rather to help the most affected sectors of the population to live through this difficult period.

 Economic security needs  

The assessed needs in the field of economic security, to which the ICRC is aiming to respond, arise from the following factors:

  • The prolonged closures (even before the recent military action) have been aggravated by strict and extended curfews, and have seriously affected the lives and livelihoods of the Palestinian resident population (collapse of wage income, damage to Palestinian Authority infrastructure, very restricted access to basic services, slowdown of commercial activities, etc.). In brief, the local economy has collapsed.

  • The destruction of private property and small businesses (principally in the major urban centres) and the hampering of agricultural activity in the rural areas, will hav e a negative effect on the economy for many months if not years to come.

  • The purchasing power for the majority of the resident population of the West Bank has been substantially eroded, and the prospects for early economic recovery are bleak.

The ICRC’s new assistance plan of action was based on an in-depth economic security evaluation mission carried out from 17 April 2002. Various other sources such as World Bank and WFP assessments on destitution and poverty levels have also been consulted, as well as damage assessment reports by the Donor Task Force on Project Implementation and a telephone survey by the Graduate Institute of Development Studies (IUED) of Geneva. They clearly confirm the ICRC's perceptions.

The Israeli authorities have been informed in detail of the different new programmes and have promised to facilitate their implementation where required.

Because of the prevailing circumstances, the ICRC has been obliged to enlarge its assistance role significantly and immediately. This is, however, seen as an extraordinary and temporary situation. Withdrawal is anticipated at an early stage. In this respect, developments in the field, namely the Palestinian population’s ability to meet its own needs, the re-establishment of public and administrative infrastructure, the revitalization of the economy, the evolution of the violence, and the identification and intervention of other potential, long-term actors, will be followed closely. Withdrawal strategies have been studied and are being carefully defined. Responsibilizing the authorities and communities is a key and essential component.

In addition, the ICRC will continue reminding the Israeli authorities about their primary responsibility of ensuring adequate living conditions for the population of all the occupied territories. It will also maintain its role as neutral intermediary, in particular to promote t he applicability and implementation of IHL, and namely the Fourth Geneva Convention.

 Food assistance in rural areas  

Over 200 villages in the West Bank have been identified where 30,000 particularly vulnerable families need assistance. The main selection criteria of these villages is that access has been and continues to be hampered, and the ICRC is unique in being able to reach these isolated points. The specific problem in these villages is the lack of basic foodstuffs plus the fact that families cannot access markets in the big towns.

For this reason, over the next seven months, the ICRC will provide these families with bulk food assistance (50 kg of rice, 50 kg of sugar and 50 kg of wheat flour per family every three months).

    

This is an extension and adaptation of an already existing programme, which provides monthly food and hygiene parcels as well as sports or school kits to 10,000 West Bank families who had been living under curfew or closure for a long time. A first round of the initially planned distributions is currently under way. Once this has been completed, from mid-June, vulnerable rural residents will start receiving the above-mentioned bulk food distributions of basic commodities. This adaptation takes account of the fact their situation has deteriorated considerably and their need for support grown, and that, while they have access to fresh food grown locally, their basic food needs are not being covered.

The appropriate techniques for identifying the beneficiaries and for ensuring proper monitoring have been given careful study. So large an assistance programme will require a considerable increase and development in the ICRC’s infrastructure and means (see section Finance and Personnel).

    

 Food assistance in urban areas  

After 18 months of violence culminating in a 25-day curfew on the urban populations of the West Bank in April 2002, the capacity of town-dwellers to meet their essential needs has been seriously undermined. Urban livelihoods depended heavily on salaried employment and the provision of services. This has all but collapsed. Very tight controls on access to these cities has also resulted in highly restricted trade opportunities and only very limited access for non-residents. Food needs are systematically cited amongst the population as being urgent. This takes two forms. In the first instance there are immediate needs generated by closures and curfews, as household reserves are not intended to cover such periods. The second element is more medium term and concerns the lack of purchasing power at a household level.

The ICRC has decided to implement a programme under which the most vulnerable families (20,000 for the next seven months) will receive vouchers which they can exchange for food and basic non-food items in a limited number of previously selected shops. This allows the poorest families to exercise their choice over the commodities they most need out of their household requirements. It aims to respect their dignity and provide them with a limited and short-term support until they are able to be self-sufficient. The value of the voucher represents half of the minimum shopping basket.

The beneficiaries of this programme will be selected from the nine largest urban centres in the West Bank (Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Salfit, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem, Hebron). The vouchers will enable them to secure a selection of basic goods required on a daily basis by most households. Selected traders will be contracted and required to supply a range of products according to a standard, s et-value list comprising a core group of goods which all recipients will receive as well as optional items from which the recipients can choose. Traders can then redeem the vouchers with the ICRC.

While the primary aim of the programme is to provide the poorest families with essential household goods, it will also provide a stimulus to local businesses, as the approved list contains items which must be procured locally from the rural communities (e.g. fresh food and olive oil). Moreover, the element of choice respects the dignity of the beneficiaries and reduces their feeling of helplessness and reliance on imported international food aid.

The beneficiaries will be selected through a community-based approach. Local community groups will identify the most vulnerable within their communities, in accordance with agreed vulnerability criteria,1 adapted from Ministry of Social Affairs criteria and included in a formal written agreement between the Ministry and the ICRC and lists will be compiled in cooperation with the National Emergency Committees and the Ministry of Social Affairs. Traders, too, will be selected according to set criteria. Rigorous monitoring of beneficiaries and traders will be carried out at various levels through a complex system involving a database, registration, signatures, and random checks and visits. Risk management and withdrawal strategies have been studied and defined.

 Hebron relief programme  

The distribution of food parcels to vulnerable families in Hebron’s old city, which is particularly affected by long curfews, is also being extended from 1,000 families to 2,000 a month. This programme has been running since January 2001, with food parcels provided by the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, and is organized by the ICRC and the PRCS, in cooperation with the National Emergency Committee in Hebron.

 Access to water  

An ICRC specialist evaluation found that some 270 villages are not connected to the drinking water distribution network. The population thus depends on outside supply which is very costly   given the reduced purchasing power. The ICRC has evaluated that 4,400 families among the poorest in these villages will need support in their effort to purchase water provided by tankers. (20 litres/day/person).

    

 Relief following destruction of housing and property  

In view of the increasing number of houses demolished, the ICRC will increase its capacity to assist families as part of this programme, which has been running since January 2001. The number of possible beneficiaries for 2002 will thus go up from the 1,000 initially planned to 4,000 families. The aim of this programme is to immediately provide families whose houses have been destroyed with the basic means to look after themselves.

 Micro-projects  

The key to families'self-sufficiency is clearly the development of new livelihoods, as employment opportunities will remain scarce and access to the Israeli job market, an importance source of income, closed. The ICRC plans to identify income-generating projects which will be offered to several hundred families.

In addition to the modest impact of this contribution on Palestinian society, the aim is to give a signal and example to other organizations, to inspire them to follow suit. It extends the principle of the voucher programme by giving people the means to assist themselves.

 Support for hospital structures  

The needs identified in the medical and surgical fields stem more from the consequences of the restrictions on movement than from the shortage of material or staff. The ICRC programme aims to train surgeons in certain specializations for life-saving procedures in peripheral hospitals, in order to reduce the need to transfer patients to central hospitals. It also seeks to provide essential material to certain hospitals and to ensure the supply of hospitals from a central stock when the Palestinian Ministry of Health is prevented from so doing.

The ICRC has been carrying out its programme as planned and outlined in its Emergency Appeals 2002: to upgrade the skills of general surgeons in five peripheral hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and to update the knowledge of specialists in four other hospitals through training and the provision of specific surgical materials, in the fields of neurotraumatology, and thoraco-vascular and orthopaedic surgery. Three specialist surgeons have worked for three to four weeks each in various hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The work was concentrated in Gaza city, Nablus and the smaller West Bank hospitals of Tulkarem, Jenin, Jericho and Beit Jala. Surgical instruments were distributed in February to hospitals in Tulkarem, Jenin and Gaza as planned.

The programme is to be continued and extended in the coming months, with the plan of action adapted to the findings from the first few months of implementation and to developments in the situation in the field.

 The protective effect of assistance  

Beyond the fact that the economic security provided addresses essential needs, experience has shown that a wide-ranging assistance action facilitates access to reliable and credible information about protection needs generated through violations of IHL. This enhances the ICRC's ability to pursue its mandate in making representations to the Israeli authorities. In particular, the ICRC reminds the authorities, where appropriate, that they have the obligation in accordance with IHL to meet the needs of the population living under occupation.

The exit criteria and strategy for the assistance programmes will require close coordination with other humanitarian actors and the relevant authorities.

   

 People deprived of their freedom  

    

 Places of detention under the Israeli authorities  

While there have been no changes in the ICRC’s objective or plan of action regarding the protection of people deprived of their freedom, the permanent increase in the number of detainees (both administrative and security), held mainly for interrogation purposes by the Israeli authorities, requires close follow-up.

At the beginning of May 2002, the total number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli facilities had increased to approximately 6,600, compared to 4,250 at the end of February 2002.   During the military operations which began in March, the IDF arrested several thousand people, the majority of whom were released a few days after arrest. The number of administrative detainees increased from 35 in February 2002 to approximately 350 in May.

In order to accommodate the new detainees, the IDF opened two new detention facilities: Ofer camp near Ramallah, which is currently housing around 1,000 detainees, and Qeziot in th e Negev desert, which is holding another 550 detainees. After several weeks of negotiations, the ICRC began visiting Ofer camp from mid-April, and Qeziot from mid-May.

 Family visit programme  

The military operations during the past months and the tight closure imposed on West Bank towns once again severely disrupted the ICRC’s family visit programme. Visits were last suspended on 5 March 2002 for the West Bank and on 3 April 2002 for the Gaza Strip. As a consequence, family links were severed between detainees, who are illegally detained outside the occupied territory, and their close relatives. On 20 May, the programme resumed for the Gaza Strip, when 137 people were able to visit their relatives detained in Israeli prisons.

 Places of detention under the Palestinian Authority  

The number of detainees held by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank dropped during the recent incursions. Arrests and detention by Palestinian security forces were brought to a halt, many detention facilities were destroyed, and many detainees were released during the military operations.

The security of people suspected of collaboration with Israel remains a major issue. By regularly visiting those who are detained by Palestinian security forces, the ICRC will keep monitoring their situation.

ICRC visits to detainees in the Gaza Strip continued uninterrupted over the past weeks.

   

 Cooperation with National Societies  

During the recent violence, the ICRC regularly supported PRCS ambulances which were blocked at checkpoints, facilitating thei r access to the wounded and sick and to hospitals, as the PRCS sought to provide an emergency service against all odds. In mid-April, a joint assessment of PRCS needs was carried out, a list of which the ICRC issued on 25 April.2 See PNS Briefing Note, Ref.: IL/TO/TA 02/17 - SN 02/055. As stated in this note, certain of the items appealed for are also contained in this Budget Extension Appeal. Interested National Society donors should contact the ICRC through their usual REX channels for the current outstanding needs.

In the coming months, the ICRC will increase its already considerable support for the PRCS Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Focus will be put on material upgrading of the EMS services (new ambulances, generators, emergency kits, equipment, supplies). At the same time, psychological trauma issues will be addressed and the operational capacity of the PRCS will be strengthened by upgrading dispatch centres, by reinforcing the capacity of the operations room, and by opening six additional ambulance stations. Support to the PRCS is closely coordinated with the International Federation and is complementary to its own development assistance.

The ICRC will also continue to ensure coordination and, where necessary, facilitate transport of donations from other members of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to the PRCS.

A new programme carried out with the PRCS will include awareness-raising sessions for Palestinian civilians, in particular children, as to the dangers of unexploded ordnance (UXO), following the preoccupying widespread use of various explosives over the last two months. As part of this programme, two safe playgrounds for children in Jenin will be opened and equipped with educational toys.

Relations between the MDA and PRCS took a serious downward turn in the first months of 2002. The ICRC will continue to work to facilitate and foster contacts.

The ICRC is intent on developing further its cooperation with the MDA. In the immediate term, blood bags for the MDA blood bank will be provided and support to the tracing services is being stepped up. The ICRC stands ready to respond to needs among the Israeli civilian population as identified by and in coordination with the MDA.

   

 ICRC logistics set-up  

In order to carry out its planned assistance programme the ICRC, with the full support of the Jordanian authorities, has upgraded its logistics base in Amman, Jordan. This facility, which was set up in December 2000, allows the ICRC to receive, store and forward relief commodities directly into the affected regions in the West Bank. This has also enabled the ICRC to assist other components of the Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement in ensuring that relief and medical items are efficiently and effectively taken directly to where they are needed. The facility in Amman incorporates 17 trucks and trailers, 4,000 sq. meters of bonded warehousing and dedicated conveyors. The logistics infrastructure will shortly be expanded within Israel/the occupied territories/the autonomous territories with additional trucking and warehouse facilities.

   

 Access and security  

    

Providing assistance to the victims became increasingly difficult over the past weeks as a result of the danger to which social, medical and humanitarian workers are exposed. This was dramatically illustrated by the killing of four medical workers, including two from the PRCS, in four d ifferent incidents in March. As a result, PRCS humanitarian workers often no longer dared go out on emergency medical missions. ICRC backing and intercessions are now solicited much more frequently than before these events.

The risks to which ICRC delegates in the field are exposed have also increased. Warning shots and humiliations at checkpoints were a common feature during the recent military operations. Moreover, the internal closures - for instance, the Gaza Strip was cut into three pieces - made gaining access to the victims an increasingly slow and time-consuming process.

The ICRC has repeatedly made urgent representations regarding respect and security for ICRC staff at different levels and through various channels (IDF, Civil Administration, Ministries of Defense and of Foreign Affairs). It also systematically used the established communication channels with the Civil Administration at all levels in order to notify its movements and often also those of PRCS ambulances. However, during the recent military operations, the procedure often proved to be very slow and the actual impact at checkpoint-level irregular. 

   

 Humanitarian coordination  

    

The ICRC coordinates with UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), which recently announced that it is seeking extra funding for its programmes in the Palestinian territories. The funding will be used mainly for food and work programmes, and for education, principally for refugees. The World Food Programme (WFP) has also foreseen increased assistance for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

There is already close co-ord ination and exchange of information between the various actors and discussions are under way, in particular with WFP, so as to maximise synergies and complementarity in the food assistance different programmes.

The ICRC, which enjoyed greater freedom of movement than other organizations over the past months, was frequently asked by local and international NGOs and even other agencies to protect and/or facilitate their work, or even to deliver their goods itself. Similar services were provided to the Palestinian social or medical services which were also paralyzed.

   

 HUMANITARIAN ISSUES AND ICRC OBJECTIVES  

   

 Civilians  

    

 Protection of the Palestinian civilian population  

The scale and scope of violations of IHL have increased dramatically in the occupied and the autonomous territories over the past months. These include an almost total restriction on movements, hindered access to the workplace, health and education facilities and markets, destruction of private property, the systematic disrespect for the medical mission and in particular the PRCS, the disproportionate use of force, and the continuing settlement policy.

The Palestinian Authority’s capacity as a provider of administrative and social services has been strongly undermined as a result of physical and infrastructural damage. The collapsing education system and increasing problems of most public services linked to movement limitations (rubbish collectio n, septic tankers, general maintenance etc.) gravely affect all facets of daily life, especially the economic, health and education sectors.

 Objective: The Palestinian population in the occupied territories is treated in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention and other relevant rules of IHL. Civilians are protected from the effects of the violence and they can live their daily lives as normally as possible. They are respected by the Israeli forces and other bearers of weapons. Civilians affected by curfews and closures have access to health care and education and to their means of livelihood.

Action:

  • increase the number of ICRC delegates and locally employed staff in the field in order to cope with the workload, thus making possible efficient and broad implementation of the ICRC’s primary mission of monitoring and documenting violations of IHL and the social and economic impact of the closures, curfews and house destructions, and making oral and written representations to the relevant authorities

    

 Family visit programme  

The military operations during the past months and the tight closure imposed on West Bank towns once again severely disrupted the ICRC’s family visit programme for Palestinian detainees.

    

 Objective: Detainees can receive visits from their families.

    

Action:

  • together with the PRCS, resume and/or continue the family visits programme in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, thus enabling close family members of Palestinians detained by the Israeli authorities to visit their detained relatives regularly

    

 Separated families  

Following the recent military operations and the closures, families living across the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip have increased difficulty in keeping in contact with each other, as a result of the restrictions on movement and damage to telecommunication infrastructures. Moreover, following the mass arrest of Palestinian civilians during the recent military operations, many people were left without news of their relatives.

 Objective : Palestinian civilians living in the West Bank and Gaza who are separated from their relatives, are able to keep in contact with their families in the Palestinian territories or abroad.

Action:

  • follow up allegations of arrests transmitted by Palestinian families and inform the families of the results of the ICRC tracing agency’s efforts to restore family links; help Palestinian civilians living in the West Bank or Gaza to re-establish contact with their families abroad with the support of an ICRC " Anxious for news " system

 Palestinians accused of collaboration  

The security of Palestinians accused of collaboration with Israel is a matter of growing concern. With the recent incursions and release of many of them from detention by the Palestinian Authority, attacks on people accused of collaboration have increased. In March and April 200 2, 29 such people were killed in the West Bank.

    

 Objective: The Palestinian population of the occupied territories is treated in accordance with the principles of IHL. Civilians are protected from the effects of the violence. They are respected by the Palestinian Authority and armed groups.

Action:

  • make representations to the Palestinian authorities regarding the need to provide the civilians under their control with protection, and to ensure that the various groups under their formal jurisdiction also do so

 Economic security of the Palestinian civilian population  

The serious deterioration in the economic situation of the Palestinian territories in general, and the West Bank in particular, after the Israeli military action of March-April 2002, has put many people’s livelihoods in jeopardy. Employment in Israel is now impossible, and much of the Palestinian Authority’s infrastructure has disintegrated. Even local businesses, which rely either for their markets or their raw materials on Israel, or other areas in the occupied or the autonomous territories, are failing in large numbers. Purchasing power is at its lowest level ever among the Palestinian population. Cash reserves and savings are extremely depleted and many households are simply unable to meet their obligatory household expenses. Levels of frustration and stress are very high and opportunities for generating local income are few. Reliance on support mechanisms in the short term is high and likely to remain so. Strict curfews being imposed on urban and some rural areas hinder the passage of goods, and also restrict the population's acce ss to these goods.

 Objective: Vulnerable sections of the civilian population have access to the basic household requirements of food and non-food items. Civilians affected by curfews and closures are able to maintain sufficient economic capacities to cover basic household expenses. Farmers and traders in particular can resume normal economic activities without undue hindrance. No person whose house has been demolished is left without shelter or assistance.

    

Action:

  • provide essential food commodities (wheat flour, rice and sugar) to the most vulnerable 30,000 families living in closed villages in rural areas of the West Bank and in ad hoc cases in the Gaza Strip, from May to December

  • through a system of redeemable vouchers . with local suppliers, help the most vulnerable 20,000 families in urban communities in the West Bank to gain access to a range of essential goods currently beyond their financial means

 The  vouchers  will entitle recipients to two groups of commodities: a first “core” group which all beneficiaries will receive (soap, oil, milk, detergent, sugar and rice) and a second “choice” group which allows the beneficiary to choose from a range of basic household goods (basic food, fresh food, hygiene items, household items and school items)  

  • provide 200 individuals, families or community groups with agricultural or other input to enable them to initiate small-scale entrepreneurial activities in order to generate a basic income that will cover a part of their dai ly expenses

  • provide up to 4,000 families in the West Bank or Gaza Strip who have lost their homes due to the violence, with the most urgent basic household items (shelter and kitchen/household equipment) within a period of one week

  • reduce the economic hardship of 2,000 resident families in the old city of Hebron by providing a monthly half food-basket throughout 2002

  • make oral interventions in the field and/or submit written interventions to the relevant Israeli authorities, in order to facilitate access of essential humanitarian goods to areas under curfew or closure, and to enable rural communities under curfew or closure to undertake their agricultural activities without undue hindrance

  • ensure regular contact with vulnerable communities in view of the ongoing violence; act as an early warning system regarding the civilian population’s main needs

 Water and sanitation  

The current situation has aggravated the chronic water crisis in villages in the occupied and autonomous territories which are not connected to the water network. Curfews or closures, imposed on rural areas over extended periods of time, hinder the passage of water tankers used to refill outside these areas, thus increasing water prices even further.

    

 Objective: The Palestinian population has access to sufficient clean water for drinking and other purposes and lives in a healthy environment.   Vulnerable households in villages not connected to a network have access to a minimum amount of water (20 litres/day/person) during the summer mo nths, from June to October.

Action:

  • support the most vulnerable families living in villages not connected to the water network in gaining access to a minimum quantity of water

    

  • facilitate access to villages under closure or curfew for trucks transporting water, removing sewage or collecting rubbish, and for maintenance work on the water network

    

 Protection of the Israeli civilian population  

Indiscriminate acts of violence and bomb attacks against Israeli civilians increased during the first months of 2002, causing hundreds of deaths and wounding many more, in total contravention of the basic principles of IHL.

    

 Objective : The Israeli civilian population is spared from acts of indiscriminate violence. The Palestinian authorities take all feasible measures to prevent any kind of attacks by Palestinians on civilians.

Action:

  • make representations to the Palestinian authorities regarding the need to take all feasible security and legal measures to prevent attacks on civilians living in the occupied territories, including in settlements, and on Israeli territory

   

 People deprived of their freedom  

    

 Places of detention under the responsibility of the Israeli authorities  

At the beginning of May 2002, the total number of Palestinian detainees in Israeli facilities had increased to approximately 6,600, compared to 4,250 at the end of February 2002.   During the military operations which began in March, the IDF arrested several thousand people, the majority of whom were released a few days after arrest. The number of administrative detainees increased from 35 in February 2002 to approximately 350 in May.

In order to accommodate the new detainees, the IDF has opened two new detention facilities: Ofer camp near Ramallah and Qeziot in the Negev desert.

 Objective: The conditions of detention and treatment of persons protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention are in compliance with the relevant provisions of IHL. The detainees are visited by their families.

    

Action:

  • pay regular visits to Palestinians detained by the Israeli authorities (in particular those under interrogation) and protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention; submit reports and recommendations to the relevant authorities after the visits

 Places of detention under the responsibility of the Palestinian authorities  

The number of detainees held by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank dropped during the recent incursions. Arrests and detention by Palestinian security forces were brought to a halt, many detention facilities were destroyed, and many detainees were released during the military operations.

The security of people suspected of collaboration with Israel remains a major issue. By regularly visiting those who are detained by Palestinian security forces, the ICRC will keep monitoring their situation. In March and April, 29 Palestinians accused of collaboration were killed, 22 of whom had been registered by the ICRC while in detention.

 Objective: The conditions of detention and treatment of all detainees, in particular suspected collaborators, is in conformity with international standards. Basic judicial guarantees are respected.

Action:

  • make regular visits to people detained by the Palestinian Authority (in particular those accused of collaboration); submit reports and recommendations to the authorities after the visits.

  • when the situation permits, hold dissemination and training sessions for staff in the places visited

   

 Wounded and sick  

    

Casualty figures have been high on both Palestinian and Israeli sides since the beginning of the year. For Palestinian wounded and sick, problems arise when their transfer to hospitals with specialist surgical facilities is obstructed by closures or checkpoints. Fewer transfers would be necessary if general surgeons in peripheral hospitals in the Gaza Strip and West Bank could upgrade their skills in neurotraumatology and thoracovascular and orthopaedic surgery. Moreover, not all hospitals are well prepared for managing large numbers of war-wounded.

The only oxygen-producing plant in the West Bank is located in Jenin. In situations of violence, transporting oxygen bottles to hospitals, or escorting vehicles transporting oxygen bottl es, is therefore extremely dangerous.

 Objective: In emergency situations, wounded and sick persons in the occupied and the autonomous territories are evacuated and transferred in timely manner and are treated adequately through the PRCS Emergency Medical Service (EMS).

The transport of surgical patients from peripheral hospitals to the main referral hospitals in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip is minimized due to the increased surgical capacity of the general surgeons in the peripheral hospitals. Transport of oxygen bottles is no longer necessary because all Ministry of Health hospitals with surgical facilities have oxygen concentrators.

Action:

  • train Palestinian surgeons in management of war-wounded, by holding one to two war-surgery seminars in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the participation of at least one surgeon and one anaesthetist from every government hospital

  • follow-up training carried out in the first quarter of 2002 in Gaza city and Nablus, as well as in the smaller hospitals of Tulkarem, Jenin, Jericho, Beit Jala, Rafah and Khan Yunis.

  • further upgrade the skills of orthopaedic surgeons, for instance by providing additional training in plastic and reconstructive surgery

  • provide training for surgeons, anaesthetists and nurses in postoperative and intensive care, and in the management of postoperative complications in the intensive care unit in Rafidiah hospital in Nablus

  • as a complement to the training program in specialized surgery, provide instruments to hospitals where Palestinian surgeons were trained by ICRC surgeons in vascular, orthopaedic and neurosurgery

  • ensure that all Ministry of Health hospitals with surgical facilities are equipped with one oxygen concentrator and one pulse oxymeter

   

 Cooperation with National Societies  

    

 Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement  

Following the recent military incursions and the severe strain on PRCS operations, there has been significant interest on the part of participating National Societies in supporting and working with the PRCS. As lead agency for the Movement in the context, the ICRC has been coordinating its humanitarian response. It chairs a coordination cell involving delegates form the International Federation, the PRCS and other National Societies, which meets on a monthly basis.

The MDA`s relationship with PRCS suffered a serious setback in the first months of 2002, following MDA allegations that the PRCS had facilitated bomb attacks in Israel. In April, the PRCS formally severed its links with MDA, stating however that ICRC facilitation of certain questions would still be possible and medical cooperation would continue among the respective EMS services in their care for patients in the field.

 Objective: Dialogue is resumed between the MDA and the PRCS, and cooperation on a technical level is promoted.

Action:

  • facilitate relations between the MDA and PRCS and foster reconciliation between the two National Societies

 MDA  

The M DA has worked efficiently during the violence and is a competent auxiliary to the Israeli medical services. It runs extensive emergency ambulance services and blood-bank programmes. The ongoing violence has put great strain on its services.

New Movement-related activities such as tracing, IHL/Exploring Humanitarian Law, and disaster preparedness were initiated and made some good progress over the last six months.

 Objective: While continuing to provide emergency and health care services, the MDA develops its internal staff training on the Fundamental Principles and its dissemination activities on IHL within Israel. The MDA continues to receive support from the other components of the Movement.

Action:

  • provide 25,000 blood bags to the MDA blood bank and stand ready to contribute to additional needs in the field of emergency medical services

  • offer expertise and other support to help develop MDA dissemination and tracing activities

 PRCS  

Throughout the recent violence, PRCS maintained desperate efforts to continue to maintain some kind of pre-hospital emergency care for the sick and wounded in the most difficult circumstances of complete closures and curfews.

The EMS were strained to a maximum during the latest military incursions. The PRCS ambulance service was heavily obstructed and partly paralyzed by flagrant non-respect by the IDF for the medical mission. PRCS ambulance teams were constantly harassed, detained, and humiliated. Two medical staff killed and others severely injured while evacuating wounded.

 Objective: The PRCS has a well functioning Emergency Medical Service (EMS) which is prepared to run the nationwide service effectively in peace time as well as in times of conflict.

Action:

  • provide the PRCS with new ambulances, thus replacing vehicles destroyed or damaged over the past weeks and upgrading a fleet run down from months of use; provide other equipment such as generators, emergency kits, EMS equipment and supplies

  • expand the current psychological trauma project (possibly as a delegated project)

  • reinforce the PRCS EMS operational capacity by upgrading two dispatch centres, reinforcing the capacity of the headquarters'operations room, and opening six additional ambulance stations

  • continue to ensure that the operational ambulance staff in the West Bank and Gaza Strip maintains and upgrades its level of knowledge and continues to go through training exercises. Beside the medical and technical components, the EMS training reemphasizes the importance of ethical behaviour regarding the fundamental principles and the emblem

  • continue to ensure that the continuous psychological hardship for the Emergency Medical Technicians is addressed professionally through a well-defined programme (delegated project). As a new element to this project, address the extraordinary and extreme psychological hardship by mobilizing additional specialists in trauma psychology

  • continue to ensure that EMS managers in charge have the know-how and technical expertise to run and guide the EMS in the West Bank and Gaza in the long-term in an operationally effective and economically efficient manner

  • continue implementation of a logistics project (fleet management, warehouse management, two 2 mechanical workshops and equipment) enabling the PRCS to establish and maintain a com prehensive logistical structure

    

 Dissemination  

Despite the situation of violence, the more development- and education-oriented components of the ICRC’s cooperation programme with the PRCS have continued, albeit at a slower pace. Training earlier this year of 240 volunteers in subjects such as Movement principles, rapid needs- and damage assessment seemed to have had positive effects on the ground. Effective dissemination to civilians of how to behave during closures and how to prepare for extended curfews emerged as an additional need to be addressed.

    

 Objective: The PRCS effectively promotes awareness of the Fundamental Principles and IHL as well as its own regional activities through its dissemination department and its network of branches. This department responds effectively to the population’s information needs.

Action:

  • design and carry out dissemination courses to effectively disseminate appropriate behaviour in times of closures and preparation for extended curfews, etc.

    

 Raising awareness to the dangers of unexploded ordnance  

When ICRC delegates were finally able to enter Jenin refugee camp on 17 April 2002, it became immediately clear that not only demining and neutralization of unexploded ordnance (UXO) was an absolute priority, but also provision of basic preventive information/education to the affected population.

For several years, UNICEF has run a small-scale mine-awareness programm e with the PRCS as an implementing agency. However, with the sudden spread at a high and preoccupying rate of various explosives by all parties following the last two months’ military operations in the occupied territories, it was felt indispensable to back and complement the UNICEF/PRCS programme, in common agreement with them.

    

 Objective: Accidents and deaths by UXO among affected populations of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are reduced through an education campaign on the risks of UXO.

Action:

  • train a core group of PRCS volunteers who will be on standby to undertake education and awareness-raising activities with populations who are at danger from UXO; provide follow-up training, information materials and distinctive uniforms for the volunteers

  • in cooperation with the PRCS, provide a safe area for children to play in to keep them away from rubble and other places where UXO may be concealed; in particular, develop two safe playgrounds for children in Jenin which will be equipped with educational toys; support PRCS in running specific activities such as open days or play days for the children from affected areas

  • develop materials for distribution and posting (e.g.. billboards) to educate the general population about the dangers of UXO

 For further information, please contact the External Resources Division.  

Ref.OP/REX 02/438 - Budg.Ext.App. N° 2/2002