Oslo Accords agreements between the Israeli government and the PLO between the years 1993-1995 (Oslo Accords) led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was formed in 1994. It holds civil powers over the Palestinians in the West Bank (but not East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. It is in charge of some forty areas of responsibility, listed in the Oslo Accords, such as agriculture, trade, employment, water, religious affairs, telecommunications, education, the courts, municipal government, health care etc. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) is in charge of foreign policy, while Israel remains in charge of security issues and border control.
According to this agreement between the Israeli government and the PLO, it divided the territories into the following three areas:
• Area A, consisting mainly of Palestinian cities, is under full Palestinian control, including civil affairs and security issues.
• Area B, consisting of villages and outlying areas, is under joint Palestinian-Israeli control, with Israel controlling the flow of goods and the movement of people
• Area C, which includes pastoral areas, Israeli settlements and military installations, remains under full Israeli control, including civilian affairs and security issues.
This division has far-reaching consequences for the everyday lives of the local population. For instance, in the West Bank, the areas over which the Palestinians have, in principle, complete control are geographically fragmented. Nevertheless, most administrative functions that were previously managed by the Israeli military government of the West Bank and Gaza have gradually been transferred to the PA, which was formed in 1994 pursuant to the Oslo Accords. The current Palestinian administration is also affected by the PLO's past actions. The Arab Summit in 1974 recognized the PLO as the “sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” and since then the PLO has represented Palestine at the United Nations. On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly upgraded Palestine's status to "non-member Observer State at the United Nations".
Since 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has attempted to revive the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. Kerry renewed separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in October 2015 in order to quell the emerging violence. While the recent talks produced cautious optimism in the United States, relations between Israeli and Palestinian citizens remain tenuous and stalemate of the negotiation and peace processes. Since Trump’s elected as president, he promised that he will provide a historic peace deal between Palestinian and Israelis and lately he sent his senior advisor Kushner, with other members of a US delegation, to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on 24th August 2017.
Even though Palestine is a complex context characterized by a protracted crisis, the general security situation varies from Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem. GVC has been working in Palestine for over 20 years, and this has had an impact on cumulative knowledge of the political and security situation/development enabling the organisation to act rapidly and effectively in cases of emergency or irruption of political or armed violence in the country.
GVC have 5 different offices in 5 areas across the WB, East Jerusalem and Gaza strip, accordingly those offices located in different areas and for this the security level system is different in each area as follow:
1. Jerusalem office – Moderate (local and international staff+ EU Aid Volunteers)
2. West Bank offices (Ramallah, Tubas, Hebron) – substantial / Moderate (local and international staff+ EU Aid Volunteers)
3. Gaza office – substantial / high (local and international staff)
Each office area has specific and different SOPs and procedures and the security level subject of change up on regular security assessment.
In particular, Gaza still requires specific precautions before and during mission and therefore EU Aid Volunteers are not at the moment allowed to enter Gaza. For what it concerns the West Bank, the main GVC office is located in Ramallah city, which is generally safe and no particular security threats are present. Further, the high security standards adopted by GVC Palestine allow staff and EU Aid Volunteers to be updated instantaneously of any eventual incident or measure to be taken. Life-style in Ramallah city is very European and EU Aid Volunteers are able to live in a safe and adequate environment. The North and South West Bank offices, respectively in Tubas and Hebron, are also generally quiet and no particular threats are present for daily and short mission, although constant monitoring of the situation in the area needs specific attention mainly in Hebron.
The country doesn’t have any specific health risks and no endemic and epidemic threats are present. EU Aid Volunteers do not need any vaccination or prophylaxis. All EU Aid Volunteers are covered by an international health insurance which gives access to health facilities both in Palestine than in Israel.
The Security Level System (SLS) is based on Threat and not Risk. The Security Level System describes the general threat-based security environment. The Structured Threat Assessment evaluates five categories of threat: Armed Conflict, Terrorism, Crime, Civil Unrest and Hazards. Each category is evaluated using a point system, and a combination of these separate evaluations automatically determines the Security Level.
• Armed Conflict: Organized violence by groups fighting each other.
• Terrorism: Violence by individuals or groups against civilians or other non-combatant targets.
• Crime: Illegal activities undertaken for economic or personal gain. May or may not involve violence.
• Civil Unrest: Organized demonstrations or unauthorized disturbances to public order (e.g., rioting, looting). May or may not be violent.
• Hazards: Natural events or human-caused incidents which can lead to destruction, injury or death.
GVC have adopted security system based on security levels for different areas in Israel/West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, as there are various movement restrictions, borders and checkpoints. GVC have a Security and evacuation plan for the country wide and specific Standard Operating Procedures for safety and security, as well as movement in the field. During the period of political tension, GVC mitigate through adapting to the situation and impose some movement restriction on staff in some cities in specific time frame, and implement no go zones and curfew hours during the tense situation.
GVC Country Director and GVC Security Officer guarantee that EU Aid Volunteers are working under appropriate and optimal psychological and physical conditions.
GVC Palestine follows high standard security policy and risk assessment procedures which cover the staff and all the EU Aid Volunteers involved in the activities implemented in the country. These measures, based on GVC's policies, are adapted to the needs of the local Palestinian context and constantly updated and they include travel and health risks. GVC Palestine security system includes: mission clearance system for all staff (EU Aid Volunteers included), both for field visits and regular daily movement, together with the constant daily monitoring on security situation. These measures include security management and evacuation plan for all the actions, including the EU Aid Volunteers, as well as security training aimed at the local and international staff and EU Aid Volunteers. As far as it concerns the EU Aid Volunteers in detail, a context-specific briefing on security and safety procedures is provided within 24 hours from their arrival in Palestine and/or at GVC office. This briefing includes the results from the risk assessment, the evacuation and security plan, procedures for evacuation and repatriation, crisis management, contacts with Security officer, and all the details of Embassies, police, fire stations and hospitals. The security measures include as well health and safety measures to be adopted by the staff and the EU Aid Volunteers. The EU Aid Volunteers are also informed about local customs and the appropriate behaviour in relation to risk and security management, as indicated in GVC Palestinian's policies.
GVC Palestine has a part-time Security Officer who works in the main office of Ramallah and is available 24h/24h, whom is responsible for: the security of GVC staff (local and international, including EU Aid Volunteers); the implementation of all security measures; the update of the security management system and its SOPs. Further, the Security Officer, under the lead of the Country Director, is constantly in contact with UNDSS (UN Department of Safety and Security), as well as Palestine coordination body such as INSO (The International NGO Safety Organization), AIDA (Association of International Development Agencies) and other security stakeholders. Through a security tree system, GVC Security Officer constantly informs all staff members and EU Aid Volunteers though sms and whatsapp messages of all security incidents and mitigation measure to be taken (24h/24h). GVC has inducted a policy of minimum residential standard of security, for all personal residences and its 5 offices in the West Bank (Jerusalem, Ramallah, Hebron, Tubas, Gaza), including international Volunteers.
We uphold the Humanitarian Principles: humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independency.
We affirmatively engage the most vulnerable communities.
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