11 November 2018

This is a presentation of “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population”, released by UN General Assembly on 14 August 2018.

In August 2018, the General Assembly requested the Secretary General to submit a report regarding the status of Protection of the Palestinian civilian population and his new improvement proposals.

In the past, the General Assembly has adopted various resolutions relating to this issue. In Palestine, the UN is already employing around 800 staff, in addition to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to ensure the safety, protection and wellbeing of Palestinian civilian population within Israeli territory. The final and best solution to achieve this goal would consist in the negotiation of a comprehensive and fair settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict, by reaching a lasting agreement among the parties involved.

In order to reduce the risk of a military conflict with potential regional implications, to support Egypt in achieving intra-Palestinian reconciliation, and to alleviate grievances at the roots of conflict, the activities the UN already has in place range widely in scope. Firstly, they believe in diplomatic efforts, aimed at mediation, tension reduction and prevention of violence escalation, as well as in engagement with religious and civil society groups to tackle radicalization and extremism. They also support the Palestinian state and institution building and provide and coordinate humanitarian aid. Moreover, they provide legal protection and carry out monitoring, reporting and advocacy activities, by controlling the situation, providing real-time alerts, data and analysis on threats to Palestinians, and engaging in public and legal advocacy for protection. Finally, the UN grants programmatic assistance through several projects in the fields of education, health, relief, social services, microfinance, and infrastructure and camp improvement. It also contributes to empowerment and resilience by intervening on various issues such as water and sanitation, employment, gender discrimination, targeted social protection, food security and agriculture, environment, housing etc., with a specific focus on most vulnerable groups.

The report identifies four types of protection that the UN should address further: physical protection, legal protection, general assistance and protection by publicity (through the presence of international media). If additional resources were to be provided, the options proposed for an enhanced international protection mechanism could include:

-        Protection of the territory through UN administration and a stronger UN presence on the ground; for example, coordination and political officers could be deployed to provide enhanced monitoring, reporting and situational analysis;

-        A better humanitarian access and additional resources, both human and financial, should be provided to satisfy Palestinians’ pressing needs;

-        Dedicated civilian observers could be deployed by the UN or a third party with the mandate to report on protection and wellbeing issues, to provide local mediation and to monitor any agreement;

-        Physical protection: only if backed up by an international mandate, the UN could deploy armed military or police forces to act as deterrent and, if necessary, to ensure the safety of the civilian population.


However, these options could only be viable if there were both cooperation among the parties and a lasting cessation of hostilities. These conditions currently are impeded by negative trends with regard to the expansion and construction of Israeli settlements (which the Report considers a deliberate violation under international law), prevention of Palestinian development, renewal of violence and incitement, absence of Palestinian unity, terrorist attacks and militant build-up in Gaza. In fact, the report highlights how both Fatah and Hamas have not participated in reconciliation efforts at all, and the incitement and glorification of terror attacks by Palestinian factions perpetuate the conflict, besides worsening further the humanitarian and economic situation. Another source of concern is the lessening space for civil society organizations and human rights defenders as Israel keeps imposing new restrictions to their interventions.


Finally, the Secretary General calls for major accountability in the violation of international humanitarian law and for better financial contributions and political support by member states. It is believed critical that Gaza returns to the control of the Government of the State of Palestine, and that a new balance between two States living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition is established as soon as possible.



Original report available here: