Yitzhak Benhorin
January 18, 2012 - 1:00am

WASHINGTON - The United Nations' submitted its annual report on the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories on Wednesday, painting a grim picture that includes food insecurity, isolation, violence and failing health and education services – all courtesy of the Israeli "occupation."

The report, which was presented during a Security Council session upon the Palestinians' request, asserted that the number of civilian casualties rose by more than 30% in Gaza and the West Bank compared to 2010.

"Serious protection and human rights issues, limited access to essential services and entrenched levels of food insecurity continue to characterize the day-to-day lives of many Palestinians," the report stated.

"Israeli authorities continued to impose a blockade on Gaza, amounting to collective punishment of the population and affecting every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip," it adds.

The report maintains that the policies that restrict the Gazans' access to areas with viable agriculture and fishing prospects constrain their livelihoods. Moreover, restrictions on the movement of goods and people into Gaza compromise the region's health, education and sanitation services.

The UN also addressed the situation in east Jerusalem, arguing that the Palestinian population there is growing isolated from the rest of the West Bank. Furthermore, the residents of Area C – which makes up 60% of the West Bank and is under Israeli control – have been facing escalating rates of home demolitions, settler violence and restricted travel.

"The threat to lives and livelihoods became too great for many, coping strategies were overwhelmed and an increasing number of Palestinians were displaced from their homes and their land," the report claims.
The global body called on organizations and policy makers to work towards alleviating the suffering and demand respect for the Palestinians' human rights.

"Progress in the peace process is desperately needed – the coping strategies of Palestinian communities are being eroded with each year that passes," the report said.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor slammed the Security Council for "wasting time on an issue that does not pose a humanitarian crisis." He noted that while Gaza saw a 28% growth in its Gross Domestic Product, 4 million Somalis are starving and people in Haiti, Sudan and Afghanistan don't have access to water.

Prosor later told reporters that a humanitarian crisis can be found in southern Israel, where kids have 15 seconds to take cover when a rocket is about to explode.


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