Learn more about specific causes in Palestine that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentNatural water sources in Palestine, such as the Jordan River and Dead Sea, are continuing to lower and become more polluted due to population increases and manufacturing.1 Due to little funding and landfills, most trash ends up being improperly disposed of, and this contributes to significant air pollution and toxins in Palestine.2
FamilyPalestinian families have a strong sense of tradition and identification with honor and hospitality being two distinct traits.1 Palestinian culture is traditionally patriarchal and over 50% of Gazan and 29% of West Bank women have reported being abused in their household.2 Muslim families are growing at a much faster rate than other groups with an average of four children per family whereas the Christian average is two, and it is not uncommon to find extended families living in the same house.3
Human RightsThe Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) commit discriminatory actions towards Palestinians such as forced home demolitions and the support of the construction of unlawful Israeli settlements in Palestine.1 Furthermore, the IDF restricts Palestinians’ right to movement by establishing various border and internal checkpoints and continuing the construction of a separation barrier.2 These restrictions on Palestinians enforced by the IDF often cause backlash to which the IDF responds with excessive force and collective punishment.2 In Gaza, Hamas tortures prisoners and unfairly treats certain people groups, and in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority is accused of severe treatment of those who disagree with them.1
EducationPalestine has one of the highest literacy rates in the world at 96%.1 Even with this high rate, however, there are significant barriers to education including schools destroyed in war in Gaza, military checkpoints, and lack of public school funding free from outside assistance.1 Higher education is prioritized in Palestinian culture, and enrollment has increased significantly in the last decade, particularly for women who now make up more than half of all students.2 There are 53 accredited post-secondary institutions, but some report that it is difficult to gain acceptance to Israeli institutions or receive recognition of their degrees within Israel.1
Poverty26% of Palestinians live in poverty with the rate in Gaza nearly double that of the West Bank.1 The Israeli occupation impedes upon economic development and restricts trade which leads to high unemployment, difficulty traveling, and food insecurity.2
ReligionPalestine is approximately 84% Muslim with a predominant Sunni presence, 13% Jewish who almost all live in Israeli settlements, and 2% Christian.1 Over 420,000 of Israeli citizens now live in Jewish settlements in Palestinian land, many of whom claim the land is theirs based on Jewish tradition.2 Christians have rapidly been fleeing the country in recent years in search of less persecution and more opportunities. Christians are now concentrated only in major cities like Bethlehem.3 Palestine is home to many holy sites to Jews, Christians, and Muslims including the Church of the Nativity, Rachel’s Tomb, Tomb of the Patriarchs, and the Temple Mount. There is constant tension with neighboring Israel over control of these sites based on international borders and peace treaties.
Clean WaterIn Palestine, most freshwater resources are controlled by Israel under the Oslo Accords, and the amount of water allocated to Gaza and the West Bank has not sufficiently changed in over 20 years even though the population has doubled.1 This causes unreliable water access to Palestinians with water being turned off for weeks at time at random.2 Over 80% of Gazans and 35,000 people in areas of the West Bank do not have reliable access to water.3 In addition, in Gaza, sewage contaminates over 90% of the water in the ground, aquifers, and coastline meaning that most Gazans depend on international aid and bottled water.4
EconomyPalestine’s biggest industries are tourism, small-scale manufacturing, and olive oil products.1 The economy struggles to grow beyond these industries because of Israeli trade restrictions, the threat of violence, and political instability.1 These factors also cause unemployment to remain high with Gaza’s unemployment rate at 42% and the West Bank’s at 18%.2
GovernmentThe Palestinian government, the Palestinian Authority (PA), was established with Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1994 under the Oslo Peace Accords, and the system is a parliamentary democracy with elections to be held every four years.1 The two major political factions, Fatah and Hamas, have struggled to form a unity government since the 2006 parliamentary elections when Hamas won a majority that was quickly renounced internationally and led to Fatah and PA President Mahmoud Abbas fighting to regain legislative control of Palestine.2 The Fatah party has also been accused of corruption, money laundering, a lack of transparency and over 80% of Palestinians believe that both Hamas and Fatah are corrupt.3
HealthThere are many significant barriers to adequate healthcare in Palestine. Blocked roads, military checkpoints, and the need to obtain a special medical permit all make many hospitals difficult to travel to. Gazans in particular have experienced a severe shortage of medical supplies and economic means to afford necessary health care after the 2014 war with Israel which led to isolation and a freeze on most imports.1 Palestinians have a life expectancy of 71 years.2
ChildrenChildren in Palestine live in the frequent threat of hostility due to the 50 year Israeli occupation. In response to occupation, youth often throw stones at IDF soldiers or Israeli settlers, and this leads to aggressive retaliation.1 In 2016, over 30 children were killed by the IDF.2 In addition, children can be subject to military checkpoints on their way to school hindering their access to education and after school enrichment programs.3
AnimalsOver hunting has contributed to the decline of many of the traditional species living in Palestine like hippopotamuses, lions, and gazelles.1 Palestine is a junction for more than 50 million birds due to the intersection of three continents’ migration routes.2
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