Country programs

Continued conflict in Israel and Palestine

The work of the LWF Jerusalem Program started in 1948 as a refugee operation and continues, over 70 years later, to serve the Palestinian people. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the ongoing blockade of the Gaza strip, and a series of failed peace processes have led to a protracted protection crisis, affecting all parts of the lives of the approximately 5 million Palestinians.

An estimated 1.3 million out of Gaza’s 2 million Palestinians are UNRWA-registered refugees, whereas, in the West Bank, over 800,000 are registered as refugees. In addition, there are several thousand refugees living in areas known as camps in and around East Jerusalem. Over the course of successive Parliamentary election campaigns, the Israeli leadership has taken steps toward formally annexing parts of the West Bank. LWF and other leading ecumenical organizations have condemned the plans for annexation and called for an end to the occupation.

As a result of the financial blockade of the West Bank and Gaza in place since 2017, the US administration has considerably weakened the ability of the Palestinian Authority to cover the costs of their health and educational sectors. The Palestinian Health sector faces severe challenges, largely due to political restrictions and insufficient capacity. Lifesaving treatments for cancer patients, in particular children from Gaza, are often jeopardized due to the complicated permit regime.

Continuous impediments on movement and access, and high rates of unemployment, have led to an increase in poverty, as well as deterioration in the quality of education and high dropout rates from schools. In East Jerusalem, as in Area C of the West Bank, a restrictive planning regime applied by Israel makes it extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain building permits. As a result, the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem has been rapidly declining over the last 100 years, with a particularly sharp decline for the Palestinian Christian presence, from 23,6% of the total population in 1922 to 1,02% in 2020. The lack of affordable housing is one of the main causes of the Christian exodus from the city.

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