The situation in the West Bank is rapidly spiraling out of control, ActionAid is warning today, with Palestinian civilians subject to increasing attacks from both the Israeli forces and armed settlers. According to OCHA, 104 Palestinians have been killed since October 7 in the West Bank, including at least 28 children – the highest ever monthly total since the UN began keeping records in 2005.
The Israeli forces have been conducting military raids day and night in refugee camps, neighborhoods, and towns and making widespread arrests. Some four Palestinians were killed, and 11 others were injured in a strike conducted by the Israeli Military Forces in the Jenin refugee camp early Wednesday morning, according to Palestinian reports.
Noor, a mother who lives with her family in the Jenin refugee camp, says:
“To this day, some children sleep with their hands up. That is because, in the recent incursions into the camp, Israeli soldiers would barge into homes and demand all family members put their hands up in the air and surrender. Children, as a result, now subconsciously sleep with their hands up.
“They feel unsafe. Today, these boys and girls no longer feel safe in their homes. They don’t feel the walls surrounding them are protecting them anymore. They are not protected, with no sense of psychological stability. All of this would affect the reality those children live, whether they are in school or in their social life.
Another mother who lives there told ActionAid that snipers took to the rooftops surrounding the camp:
“They fire at everything that moves in the camp with the aim of killing. They destroyed almost 15 shops and many houses that were at the entrance of the camp to give space to their army trucks and military tools. They also destroyed the Youth Club, destroyed the roads and streets inside the camp, you know the camp has very narrow streets, they destroyed it all.
It was a nightmare. I couldn’t sleep for 27 hours, watching the kids and taking care of them. They would shout and cry every time they heard the sound of a bomb. On Sunday, as the military airplane was bombarding, the snipers were shooting at anything that moved. One of them killed was a man who was inside his house. There were five children killed the same way, inside or near their homes.”
Even before October 7, people living in the Jenin refugee camp were victims of increasingly frequent military raids and attacks. Buildings destroyed during a major military operation launched by the Israeli forces in Jenin in July, in which at least 14 Palestinians were killed, are still being rebuilt.
Farah, who lives in the camp, told us of the increasing difficulties facing her community:
“The residents of the camp, including children, women, and youth, are living in hard conditions as a result of Israeli violations targeting innocent civilians. The frequent and continuous raids on the Jenin refugee camp have daily impacts on the lives of children and women. Today, the women in the camp live in a state of fear, frustration, and tension, especially the women who lost members of their families.
Daily life is becoming more and more challenging for Palestinians in the West Bank. Freedom of movement is being drastically curtailed, with new checkpoints erected and people prevented from moving from city to city, leaving some unable to access healthcare, education, or their livelihoods. It is currently the olive harvesting season, but, as in the past years, for most farmers, it has become too dangerous to travel to their land and pick their olives – depriving them of a vital source of income. Hundreds have been forced to leave their homes: according to UNOCHA, within two weeks, 82 households comprising of 607 Palestinians, including 211 children, have been displaced from more than 13 different communities in the West Bank.
There are already 871,000 registered refugees living in the West Bank, a quarter of whom live in 19 refugee camps. These should be places where people are free to live in safety, and yet they are increasingly coming under attack.
“Women in Jenin refugee camp tried to play a great role in protecting themselves and their families under lack of international protection. Mothers try to hide their sadness and the injustice they experience to give more hope and provide small spaces for their children to live a quiet and stable life. This situation affects the economic and educational aspects of life in the Jenin refugee camp. Men cannot go to their work due to the strict closure of the West Bank after the recent escalation against Gaza. They lost their livelihoods, and they became unable to cover the basic needs of their families. This is the most difficult situation where people lose everything.”
As the situation in the West Bank risks reaching breaking point, we call on the Israeli government to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure the rights and protection of Palestinian people, including refugees. We remind them that refugee camps must never be a target.
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine, said:
“Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, continue to face attacks from settlers, the raiding of refugee camps, the targeting of civilians, including children and women, displacement, home demolitions, land confiscation, incursions into Palestinian villages, and the excessive use of lethal force. We express our concerns over the increasing movement restrictions limiting access of many to health care, education, and livelihoods.
“The Israeli authorities have a legal responsibility to ensure the protection of all Palestinians. This includes guaranteeing that any measures taken do not affect people disproportionately. De-escalation is critical to avoid further loss of life, protect civilians, and ensure access to essential humanitarian services.”
In the West Bank, ActionAid has distributed 700 dignity kits in the last ten days to displaced workers from Gaza who have been trapped in the West Bank since the escalation began. These kits contain essentials, including toothpaste, soap, and wet wipes. ActionAid continues to monitor the situation and prepare to support those affected, but demand far outweighs our current capacity, and this is only increasing.
For media requests, please email Christal.James@actionaid.org or call 704 665 9743.
Spokespeople are available.
- Wisam Shweiki - Head of Programmes at ActionAid Palestine
- Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine
- Soraida Hussein-Sabbah, Gender and Advocacy Specialist for ActionAid Spain, based in Ramallah, oPt.
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.