“Land Defense Coalition – Mobilization for the Land and the People.”
Our Strategy 2026
The voice of the Land and the People is louder
Section One, Introduction: The land is not just a commodity, but a fundamental element for the exercise of many human rights.
The Palestinian cause has been organically linked to the land; its essence embodied in the uprooting of the Palestinian people from their land, stripping them of their environment, and erasing its traces through the destruction of villages and cities. The Zionist movement presented the world with the slogan “A people without a land for a land without a people.” Establishing a state on the ruins of the Palestinian people in the aftermath of one of the largest ethnic cleansing crimes committed in the twentieth century.
Since then, the Palestinian people launched their revolution to reclaim the land and the homeland that was usurped. Throughout this struggle, tens of thousands of martyrs sacrificed their lives, yet the road to freedom and return remains long. While the Zionist movement, supported by British colonization, succeeded in uprooting the majority of Palestinians from their land, establishing a state on the majority of the territory, and occupying the remaining historic Palestine in 1967, it has failed, even after more than 70 years, to uproot the land from the consciousness, thoughts, and culture of the Palestinian people.
The Palestinian’s relationship with their land was not an investment-based relationship but a deeply rooted connection within their identity, lifestyle, and culture. It was an eternal love affair intertwined with their way of life, poetry, literature, and reflected in the poetry and literature of the resistance and its popular expressions. The land has always been and continues to be the inspiration for the resistance, serving as the mother, the homeland, and the symbol of sacrifice. The dream of return has driven millions of Palestinians, and hundreds of thousands have sacrificed for its liberation. The Palestinian people persist in resisting colonial settlement, the apartheid system, and strive to reclaim their land, their people, and their right to self-determination.
“The land is a comprehensive issue that directly impacts the enjoyment of several human rights. For many people, the land is a source of livelihood and a central element in economic rights. Often, the land is closely tied to the identities of peoples, and therefore, it is linked to social and cultural rights. Disputes related to land frequently become the cause of violent conflicts and create obstacles to achieving sustainable peace. In brief, the various aspects of human rights associated with land affect a range of issues, including poverty reduction, development, peace-building, humanitarian aid, disaster prevention and recovery, urban and rural planning, among others.
The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967 states, “International law is very clear: annexation and invasion of territories are prohibited under the United Nations Charter. Resolution 242 issued in November 1967 explicitly affirmed the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by war or force on eight occasions, the latest being in 2016.”  The Special Rapporteur calls on the international community to condemn, explicitly and comprehensively, any annexation of the occupied Palestinian territories by Israel, to not recognize it, and to implement countermeasures and hold Israel accountable for its settlement project and current and planned annexation measures. There is no longer any justification for the absence of international consequences and condemnation, and if annexation persists, genuine and just prospects for future peace will shift from an unbelievable circumstance to an inconceivable one.
The right to land is rooted in the principles of land ownership, land use, and governance. This includes land use for public purposes related to residential areas, the protection of religious and historical sites, public parks, nature reserves, roads, and environmental protection. It also encompasses economic purposes such as agriculture, establishment of industrial zones, commercial establishments, tourism, sale, mortgage, and credit.”
“The right to land is not limited to the current uses by the rightful owners but extends in its definition to instill confidence in individuals’ and communities’ tenure security, ensuring the preservation of access to, use of, and control over the land. This is a fundamental condition for their full enjoyment of human rights.
The connection of the right to land with a set of human rights, as indicated by United Nations human rights standards, makes access to these rights a necessity to achieve various economic, social, human, and cultural goals. Interference with these rights is also considered a violation of UN human rights conventions and standards, including the following:
- The Right to Access to Food:
Ensuring fair access and use of land and water for small farmers, shepherds, fishermen, artisans, and residents is essential as productive resources. This is crucial to improving their livelihoods and sustainability.
- The Right to Adequate Housing:
Access to land and ensuring the security and protection of tenure holders is a fundamental requirement and means to guarantee the right to adequate housing, whether in rural or urban areas. This is especially critical for farmers and livestock breeders (herders) who face displacement and land annexation.
- The Right to Access to Justice and Halting Violations:
All victims have the right to effective mechanisms to seek justice, remedy their grievances, and receive appropriate compensation for the harm caused by violations. States have a duty to investigate violations, including those affecting the environment.
- The Right to Movement and Residence:
This right includes the freedom of movement and residence, also protecting against forced displacement. This right is crucial for people to access work, education, healthcare, and maintain their resources and livelihoods. Protecting the historical rights of herders, fishermen, and farmers in the freedom of movement is foundational for ensuring sustainable livelihoods. Restrictions imposed on movement due to military uses, exclusive private company uses, or any other reasons that hinder access to rights create a state of conflict and human rights violations.
- The Right to Expression, Assembly, Collective Work, and Formation of Institutions and Committees:
This entails the removal of all restrictions on freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly, and the formation of associations for human rights defenders working on land issues. It includes advocating for rights, documenting changes on the ground, and protesting eviction operations.
- The Right to Freedom of Religion:
Safeguarding people’s rights to protect lands, buildings, sacred sites, graves, and the right to worship and establish places of worship on the land involves preserving them first and ensuring people’s access to them without any hindrances or obstacles.
- The Right to Access Information:
Access to information in a timely manner is fundamental for freedom of expression and ensuring accountability. This includes the production and dissemination of credible information related to lands, plans, projects, decisions, and their resulting outcomes. Any obstacles to accessing credible information hinder people’s access to justice and impede the role of media and objection to decisions to protect people’s land rights.
- The Right to Life:
No one should be deprived of life, including those deprived of land, especially those facing challenges in their livelihoods due to the violation of their land rights. Such challenges can lead to health problems, malnutrition, weakened healthcare services, and increased mortality rates. Some individuals may face physical violence due to their demands for rights, which may even lead to death in certain cases.
- The Right to Property:
This right encompasses land ownership, its use, and individual or collective access. It provides protection against forced evictions and arbitrary deprivation. Property rights include the right to assembly and grazing.
- The Right to Self-Determination: The right to self-determination for many peoples worldwide is linked to land, water, and natural resources as a foundation to meet their social, economic, and cultural needs.
- The Right to Participate in Cultural Life: The cultural life of many communities is connected to the land, especially pastoralists and fishermen, through cultural and livelihood rituals. People’s access to these is linked to preserving natural resources, water sources, ecosystems, preventing their destruction, and maintaining biodiversity and freedom of movement.
- The Right to Access Water and Sanitation Services: Access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation is reliably tied to land and population. The disposal of waste affects the land and the environment. Often, ensuring land tenure determines the accessibility to water and sanitation services, compelling people arbitrarily to leave their lands and homes.
- The Rights of Human Rights Defenders Working on Land Issues:
This includes all individuals and institutions working in human rights protection, including those defending land, natural resources, and the environment, to ensure their protection from any violence or threats to their physical or mental well-being.
- Protection from Restriction of Human Rights for Public Interest:
This involves having measures to protect landowners and their uses from any actions taken under the guise of public interest that harm people’s land rights, whether by the state or companies, to prevent the legitimization of confiscation operations.
2. Responsibility of Private Companies and Duties of Official Institutions:
Often, violations of people’s rights result from economic activities carried out by private companies, especially in manufacturing and the use of natural resources, leading to land and water degradation, depletion, impacting livelihoods, health, food supplies, forced evictions, and the destruction of public gardens and spaces.
Section Two, Coalition for the Right to Land: A Palestinian civil society organization specializing in advocacy and support for land protection and championing people’s causes.
The coalition is a Palestinian civil society organization established in 2014, operating under the Law of Charitable and Civil Associations No. (1) for the year 2000 and its amendments. The coalition is based in the State of Palestine and focuses its activities on human rights, agriculture, and rural development. It possesses legal personality and financial independence.
The coalition’s objectives include:
1. Shedding light on important issues facing farmers.
2. Enhancing the resilience of people in communities facing the threat of displacement and land confiscation.
3. Promoting international solidarity campaigns.
4. Building relationships and cooperation with relevant international organizations and bodies.
The coalition consists of working members, associate members, and honorary members. It is governed by a Board of Directors, composed of 7 elected members, responsible for managing the coalition’s affairs, preparing regulations and internal rules, appointing staff, and defining their responsibilities.
The coalition holds general assemblies to discuss the board’s report and financial statements for approval. A legal auditor is elected to examine the financial reports.
Internal mechanisms govern the coalition’s work, ensuring compliance with national laws and best administrative and financial standards.
Since its establishment, the Coalition has been working on four fundamental pillars. The first pillar is expanding the base of grassroots work to protect rights and defend land. The second pillar is mass mobilization and international solidarity. The third pillar is enhancing the organizational structure of the Coalition to achieve excellence and efficiency. The fourth pillar is promoting coordination and integration among Coalition members.
The implementation of the Coalition’s activities is overseen by a human team of employees and volunteers, as well as Coalition members from institutions and individuals, based on priorities determined by the Board of Directors and the General Assembly. The Coalition is supported in its international campaigns by international solidarity groups, national and international human rights institutions, whose work intersects with that of the Coalition. The Coalition also secures funding from national and international sources that believe in the right of the Palestinian people to determine their destiny in accordance with international legitimacy, foremost among which are international law and international humanitarian law.
Our vision is “resilience and human dignity, preserving identity and existence.”
Our mission is “community and international mobilization to protect land and water from violations and risks.”
We believe that the right to existence and self-determination is the title and ambition of all members, protecting people’s rights to land and its use is fundamental, and a necessity to achieve human dignity in living and standing peacefully, securely, and without conflict or struggle with others. We believe that this right is capable of mobilizing all human rights defenders at the local, national, and international levels to confront all colonial tendencies aimed at controlling land and water, depriving people of them, and threatening the environment.
In our work on mobilization and support, we rely on a set of international standards specializing in the right to land, derived from international humanitarian law and human rights law, with a focus on the right to life, housing, services, movement, and access to land and water. We aim to respect people’s rights to defend their land and livelihoods and avoid seizing land and water under the pretext of general interest or security reasons.
Our values, the basis for our decisions, positions, alliances, and our approach, are committed to human rights treaties and standards, and the highest human values.
- Justice and Equality: This means that our priorities in adopting the issues we work on are enhanced for vulnerable communities and groups. We continuously call for allocating additional resources and services to reinforce the resilience of marginalized people and their sustainable livelihoods to ensure everyone’s access to sustainable living conditions, according to their priorities and aspirations.
- Steadfastness, Determination, and Courage: We recognize that working in the field of human rights, especially the right to land, requires steadfastness in positions, confronting colonial and oppressive forces. This requires continuity, determination in mobilization, and demanding rights. We believe that our work requires courage, not fearing to claim our rights and supporting people’s rights recognized by international standards and treaties.
- National Belonging: We take pride in our affiliation with the land, society, the Palestinian cause, and humanity. We consider our commitment to national priorities as the basis for our work, with national liberation and the elimination of Israeli colonization at the forefront. We also cherish the Palestinian struggle’s history over more than 90 years, with martyrs, millions displaced, tens of thousands imprisoned, and the entire people suffering from Israeli colonial practices on Palestinian land.
- Volunteerism: Voluntary work remains a fundamental aspect of our work, and we will work to enhance it at the local, national, and international levels.
- Solidarity: We will consistently work to show solidarity with all active national, international, and local movements in the field of human rights.
Section Three: General Context – A Package of Pull and Push Factors Influencing the Exercise of Land-Related Rights
Palestinian lands are occupied, supported economically and militarily by several countries, led by the United States.
The Palestinian Authority is militarily, financially, and institutionally incapacitated, especially in fulfilling its duties to protect people, their resources, and providing services. There are restrictions on the work of Palestinian and international civil society institutions operating in the fields of human rights and sustainable development. The Palestinian society adheres to national constants, rooted in land and continuous struggle to achieve the right to self-determination.
International and national institutions are active supporters of the right to self-determination and defenders of Palestinian human rights according to international legitimacy. National, international, and UN-supported policies, decisions, and reports enhance the Palestinian people’s demands for their rights to land and sovereignty over it.
The total area of historical Palestine is 27,009 square kilometers. Zionist gangs occupied most of it (about 77%) in 1948, leading to the displacement of most of its population, known today as the Palestinian diaspora and refugees. The remaining part, approximately 6,200 square kilometers (5,844 known as the West Bank and 365 as the Gaza Strip), was occupied in 1967.
In 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo Accords, establishing the Palestinian National Authority for a transitional period of 5 years, followed by the establishment of the State of Palestine on the lands occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, Israel did not commit to these agreements, escalating its settlement campaigns in the West Bank and continuing its ongoing aggression on Gaza, resulting in severed communication between geographic areas, especially between Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem. Israel continued with arrests, imprisoning thousands, and causing deaths and displacement.
The United States, along with some countries and Zionist institutions worldwide, continues to support Israel’s ongoing aggression on land and people in Palestine. The United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly remain unable to enforce resolutions compelling Israel to implement United Nations decisions issued by its various bodies. This includes Security Council Resolution 242 issued on 22/11/1967, emphasizing the necessity of establishing a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, requiring Israel to withdraw its occupying forces from the territories it occupied and achieve a fair settlement for the problem of Palestinian refugees resulting from the Israeli gangs’ aggression in 1948.
The estimated number of Palestinians worldwide at the end of 2020 was approximately 13,682,203. Only 37.7% of them live in the territories occupied in 1967 (the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem), including about 42% who are refugees. Around 44.9% live in Arab countries, with many of them also being refugees who were displaced from their lands in 1948. Additionally, 12% live in the territories occupied by Israel in 1948.
The continuation of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, annexation and isolation of Jerusalem, blockade of Gaza, and its policies of land confiscation, settlement expansion, control over natural resources especially water borders, sea, customs revenues, and restrictions on the supply of water and energy to the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, contributes to weakening the official Palestinian institutions. This is done directly through the confiscation of Palestinian government funds (clearance funds), affecting the ability of official institutions to provide services to citizens and protect them. Additionally, Israel restricts the movement of Palestinian security institutions while arming and training settlers, protecting them, and avoiding their prosecution. Israel’s ongoing aggression, continuous attacks, and infrastructure destruction in some areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem also lead to severe material and human losses for civilians in Gaza.
Israeli restrictions on official Palestinian institutions are accompanied by American political and material siege, which includes the cessation and restriction of developmental aid to the State of Palestine. The official American recognition of Israel’s annexation of occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 and the relocation of the embassy to it further exacerbate the situation. The colonial policies of the occupying state also impose restrictions on Palestinian civil society institutions and activists, such as the closure of institutions (six civil society institutions active in human rights, children’s rights, agricultural and health development in the West Bank were closed by the Israeli military governor) and the pursuit and arrest of their members, local and national human rights activists, as well as preventing international activists from traveling to Palestine and the occupied state, and imposing restrictions on currency exchange and money transfer.
Various UN, international, and national reports indicate the fragility of the economic and social situation of the population in the West Bank, Gaza, and Jerusalem, especially in areas classified as “Area C” (according to the Oslo Accords, Israel has security control over “Area C” in the West Bank, which constitutes more than half of its area). According to the poverty line “monetary,” the poverty rate among the population in 2017 was 29.2% (13.9% in the West Bank and 53% in Gaza). The value of the multidimensional poverty index by region (percentage) in 2017 was 24%, and the severity of poverty for the same year was 42.4%.
The Palestinian society is considered a youthful one, with 38% of individuals being below the age of 14, and only 3% are 65 years and older. The life expectancy in Palestine in 2020 was 74.1 years, with males having an average of 73 years and females 75.3 years.
Statistical data indicates an illiteracy rate of around 3% for individuals aged 15 and older (1% among males and 4% among females). About 15% of individuals aged 15 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. The labor force participation rate for 2019 was 44.3% (69.9% for males and 18.1% for females), and the unemployment rate for the same year was 25.3% (21.3% for males and 41.2% for females).
Regarding communication technologies, about 96% of Palestinian households own at least one mobile phone, and 89% of individuals aged 18 and older own a mobile or smartphone. Additionally, 65% of Palestinian households have internet access at home, while 64% of individuals aged 18 and older have used the internet from any location in Palestine (69% in the West Bank and 57% in Gaza).
The social, economic, and institutional context in 2020 was affected by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and its direct and indirect health and economic impacts. The Palestinian National Authority was forced to declare a state of emergency, which is still ongoing. This emergency influenced the priorities of Palestinian society, the Palestinian government, and its decisions. Notably, it led to the approval of an emergency budget, reordering government spending priorities, and focusing on social and health protection services due to increasing unemployment and citizens’ need for vaccines, alongside the disruption of many small and medium-sized enterprises.
According to the World Bank, before the spread of the coronavirus, more than a quarter of Palestinians lived below the poverty line. It is expected that this percentage increased to 30% in the West Bank and 64% in Gaza. The youth unemployment rate was reported at 38%, exceeding the regional average for the Middle East and North Africa. Economic opportunities remain constrained by restrictions on the movement of people and goods. The overall losses for the Palestinian economy in 2020 were estimated to be around $3.8 billion, constituting approximately 27% of the total GDP of about $14 billion.
In the first quarter of 2021, the Palestinian government launched the National Development Plan titled “Resilience, Resistance, Detachment, and Development in Clusters Towards Independence.” The development plan is built upon 40 accompanying documents, including sectoral strategies and development cluster perspectives. The overarching vision of the development plan acknowledges the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and sovereignty, considering Israel as a colonial state. The goal is to establish a democratic Palestinian state that respects basic rights and public freedoms.
All UN member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015, also known as the Global Goals. These goals represent a global call to work towards ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring peace and prosperity for all by 2030. The SDGs, numbering seventeen goals and one hundred and sixty-nine targets, are characterized by their interrelatedness, recognizing that actions in one area will impact outcomes in others. Sustainable development, according to the SDGs, should balance social, economic, and environmental sustainability. The international community pledged not to leave anyone behind and committed to accelerating progress in achieving the seventeen goals, centered around people, planet protection, justice, equality, and institution-building.
The Palestinian Cabinet made a decision to form the National Team for Monitoring and Implementing Sustainable Development Goals, led by the Prime Minister’s Office and composed of ministries, relevant government institutions, representatives from civil society organizations, and private sector representatives. The team’s responsibilities include identifying sustainable development priorities in Palestine, integrating them into planning and budgeting processes, and leading and coordinating the preparation of national reports on progress towards achieving the SDGs. Additionally, a steering committee was formed to provide support to the Prime Minister’s Office in monitoring the implementation of the National Team’s recommendations. The National Team also decided to establish twelve national working groups dedicated to the SDGs to enhance partnerships and coordination among various stakeholders. Each working group is led by the relevant government institution, supported by the respective UN agency based on the nature of the goal.
Section Four: Prioritized Issues and Concerns of the People: Loss of Land Rights as the Foundation for Marginalization and Deprivation for Palestinians and Their Institutions
Israel Continues its Violations and Crimes Against Land and People:
– Occupation government legalizes crimes against land and people.
– Theft and depletion of natural resources, environmental destruction.
– Restrictions on movement and hindered development efforts.
– Israel punishes local and international human rights defenders.
“The Human Rights Council, in Resolution 22/26, affirmed that Israeli settlements and activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law. These actions constitute severe violations of international humanitarian law and the human rights of the Palestinian people in the region. They undermine international efforts to revive the peace process and achieve a two-state solution. The Council expressed deep concern about the ongoing Israeli settlement activities, including expansion, land confiscation, home demolitions, and property seizures, altering the urban and demographic landscape of the occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan.
The Council called on Israel to take serious measures, including disarmament and the application of criminal sanctions, to prevent acts of violence committed by Israeli settlers. It urged Israel to ensure the safety and protection of Palestinian civilians and properties in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.”
“Israel, as the occupying power in the occupied Palestinian territories, is bound by international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including customary international law. Israel is specifically bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in times of war and the Hague Rules. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the occupying state from deporting or transferring part of its civilian population to the occupied territories. The United Nations Security Council, General Assembly, Human Rights Council, and the International Court of Justice have all affirmed that the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and related activities in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law.”
Successive Israeli governments work to legitimize settlement activities and land confiscation through laws and military decisions that contradict international law. For example, in 2017, the Israeli Knesset passed a law retroactively legalizing about 4,000 settlement units built on land owned by Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. This move raised international concerns, as the law allows the confiscation of privately owned land by Palestinians for Israeli construction without permits or approval from Israeli authorities.
Israel also legitimizes the seizure of land from Palestinians by first registering it as state or military lands, then reallocating it for the purpose of establishing Israeli settlements. Moreover, Israeli governments enact legislation and systematic measures that encourage Israelis to settle in the West Bank by providing direct economic incentives and rewards for them and their settlements. Most settlements in the West Bank are classified as national priority areas (development zones A or B). Six ministries grant rewards to settlers: the Ministry of Housing, the Directorate of International Lands, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Labor and Welfare, and the Ministry of Finance. A report on the main violations in the Palestinian territories for the year 2020 highlighted the introduction of 23 laws to the Israeli Knesset aimed at legitimizing settlements, including the establishment of a dedicated settlement ministry and tax benefits for settlers. And decisions to establish training centers for weapons for settlers were approved by the occupation government. The government also endorsed plans for the construction of 6,719 settlement units and submitted plans for approval, including an additional 8,060 units. Meanwhile, the number of tenders not yet approved, which include 2,630 settlement units, included tenders not yet approved in Jerusalem, consisting of the construction of 1,727 settlement units.
Policy of Demolition and Restriction of Construction:
Planning authorities in the Israeli occupation also work to limit the development of Palestinian cities and villages by rejecting applications submitted by Palestinians for building permits. Often, refusals are based on the claim that the structural regional plans approved in the 1940s (during the British mandate period) do not allow construction on these lands. However, these structural plans do not reflect the development needs of Palestinians, and planning authorities deliberately avoid preparing new plans that align with Palestinian needs. It is worth noting that the Civil Administration demolishes unlicensed houses built by Palestinians on their privately owned lands. In the past year, a total of 869 demolition operations were carried out by Israeli authorities on Palestinian structures, with a focus on the Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tubas governorates, where the demolition rate exceeded 65% of the total operations in the West Bank governorates.3
|Number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank
|Number of Israeli settlements and outposts
|309 settlements and outposts
|Number of settlement outposts established in 2020
|Number of service, industrial, and other settlement sites
|Number of military sites in Palestinian territories
|Number of military colleges
|Number of permanent and temporary checkpoints (gates, military or barriers)
|705 checkpoints and gates
|Number of Israeli companies specializing in land confiscation
|Area of Palestinian lands cultivated by Jewish settlers
|Area of lands seized by Israeli authorities in 2020
|Total area of lands subjected to Israeli colonization measures (excluding lands planned for isolation by the wall)
|2,642 km², constituting 76.3% of the total land area
|Number of structures demolished by Israeli authorities in 2020
|Number of demolition notices recorded by the committee in 2020
|Number of schools threatened with total or partial demolition
|Number of trees uprooted by the occupation or subjected to settler attacks
The report from Amnesty International, titled “Israeli Occupation: 50 Years of Land Theft.” highlights the harsh policies implemented by the Israeli occupation since 1967. These policies involve land confiscation, construction of illegal settlements, property seizure, blatant discrimination, and overall immense suffering for Palestinians, depriving them of their basic rights. The Israeli military rule negatively impacts various aspects of daily life, including travel, work, education, visiting relatives, earning a livelihood, accessing agricultural lands, and basic services like water and electricity. This ongoing suffering, humiliation, fear, and restriction prevent Palestinians from protesting or objecting. “Over the past fifty years, Israel forcibly displaced thousands of Palestinians from their lands, which it unlawfully occupied and used to construct settlements exclusively inhabited by Israeli Jewish settlers.” The report emphasizes that Israel has demolished tens of thousands of Palestinian properties over the last fifty years, displacing large segments of the population to build homes and essential facilities for the illegal settlement of its inhabitants in the occupied territories. Additionally, Israel diverted many natural resources from Palestinians, such as water and agricultural lands, for use in settlements. The report notes that Israel, with the support of Israeli and international businesses, established a thriving economy to maintain and expand settlements. This “settlement project” is based on unlawfully seizing Palestinian resources, including land, water, and minerals, to produce goods that are exported and sold for private profits. Goods from settlement products are exported for hundreds of millions of dollars annually to various countries.
“The average water consumption of Israelis is at least four times that of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories. Approximately 96 percent of the water in the Gaza Strip is polluted and unfit for human use.”
“Israel is obligated to return the lands, orchards, olive groves, and other fixed properties that it seized for the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territories. All countries around the world are obligated not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall. This advisory opinion was issued by the International Court of Justice in 2004.”
Despite Israel withdrawing its ground forces from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it continues to impose an illegal air, sea, and land blockade on Gaza. It also maintains buffer zones, or “restricted entry zones,” within Gaza. These measures have resulted in the isolation of over two million Palestinians from other areas in the occupied Palestinian territories and the outside world for more than a decade.
Restricting Palestinians’ access to water through the allocation of water quotas does not meet the basic needs of the Palestinian population, and it fails to ensure fair distribution of shared water resources. The stark contrast between the scenes of swimming pools, watered lawns, and expansive irrigated farms in Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land and the adjacent arid and barren Palestinian villages is a glaring contradiction. Residents of these villages endure significant hardships to obtain sufficient water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, or drinking, not to mention irrigation for their crops.
Only 13% of the East Jerusalem areas are designated for Palestinian construction. Israeli Jewish settlements cover approximately 35% of the East Jerusalem area. Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem illegally in 1980.
The percentage of cases considered by Israeli military courts in the occupied West Bank that resulted in convictions is high. Meanwhile, Israeli Jewish settlers are tried in civilian courts, where the conviction rate is virtually zero. Additionally, no criminal investigations have been conducted regarding more than a thousand complaints of torture submitted to Israeli authorities since 2001.
Since 1967, Israeli authorities have arrested hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Those detained face serious human rights violations, including torture and arbitrary detention, and are often subjected to unfair trials in Israeli military courts. Israeli prisons and detention centers are known for harsh conditions and inadequate facilities.
The Israeli policy of settlement expansion and land confiscation, along with the construction of illegal settlements, has led to immense suffering for Palestinians, depriving them of their basic rights. The military occupation negatively impacts various aspects of daily life, such as travel, work, education, family visits, and access to agricultural land and basic services like water and electricity. This has resulted in the daily suffering, humiliation, fear, and suppression of Palestinians, limiting their ability to protest or object.
Despite international condemnation, Israel has continued its practices, violating international law and undermining efforts for a just and lasting peace in the region..
Since 1967, Israeli authorities have arrested hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, under military orders that criminalize many peaceful activities. During times of heightened tension and violence, men and boys in entire villages were subjected to mass and arbitrary arrests. During the Palestinian uprising between 1987 and 1993, Israeli forces arrested around 100,000 Palestinians. Israeli authorities also arbitrarily detained hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including prisoners of conscience, holding them indefinitely under administrative detention without charges or trial.
Since 1967, over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed, with many of them perishing under circumstances suggesting that extrajudicial killings occurred, possibly constituting war crimes.
Exploitation of Natural Resources
A special report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur Michael Lynk in 2019 emphasized that Israel’s exploitation of natural resources in the occupied Palestinian territories constitutes a direct violation of its legal responsibilities as an occupying power. He stated in his report submitted to the Human Rights Council in Geneva that “for about five million Palestinians living under occupation, the deterioration of their water supply, the exploitation of their natural resources, and the degradation of their environment are hallmarks of a lack of any meaningful control over their daily lives.” Lynk confirmed that “Israel’s policy of strip-mining Palestinian natural resources and neglecting the environment deprives Palestinians of vital resources, simply meaning they cannot enjoy their right to development.” He added that “Israel’s approach to the natural resources of the occupied Palestinian territories is to use them entirely as a sovereign state uses its resources, under wide-ranging discriminatory consequences.”
The report, focusing on the impact of the occupation on the environment and natural resources, indicated that people living under occupation must be able to enjoy the full scope of human rights as provided for in international law to protect their sovereignty over their natural wealth. The Special Rapporteur stated, “However, Israeli practices regarding water, other resource extractions, and environmental protection raise profound concerns. With the collapse of drinking water resources in Gaza and the Palestinians’ inability to access most of their water resources in the West Bank, water has become a powerful symbol of systematic human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories.”
The report also highlighted that more than 96% of the coastal aquifer layers in Gaza, the main source of water for its residents, are unfit for human consumption. Excessive extraction of these waters, due to the high population density in the Strip, pollution from sewage and seawater, and the blockade imposed by Israel for 12 years, along with the disproportionate wars that left the infrastructure of the sector crippled, contributed to a continuous shortage of electricity.
The Special Rapporteur explained that Israel is extracting the natural and mineral wealth from the Dead Sea, part of which is in the occupied West Bank, for its own benefit, while denying Palestinians any access to those resources. He affirmed that “States are obligated to ensure that the enjoyment of human rights is not environmentally harmful and to adopt the legal and institutional frameworks that secure protection against any environmental harm that interferes with the enjoyment of human rights.”
The Special Rapporteur expressed deep concern about Israel’s practice of dumping hazardous waste in what is known as the “sacrificed areas” in the West Bank, pointing out that the impact of Israeli practices is not only felt by Palestinians but also extends to Israelis and others in the region. The report also raised questions about the ongoing use of excessive force by Israeli security forces against protesters in Gaza and the imminent humanitarian disaster in the sector due to the ongoing blockade.
Tools and Measures Limited to Enhancing People’s Resilience and Protecting the Land
-Legislation and national measures are limited in protecting and developing natural resources. —-Fragility of programs and services provided to regions and categories that face violations and risks.
-Limited societal and institutional awareness of rights related to natural resources.
“As long as the Israeli government continues to represent the occupying authority, it will largely bear the ultimate responsibility for enabling Palestinians to achieve the global goals outlined in the 2030 plan or impeding them in doing so. United Nations Country Team on the Occupied Palestinian Territory – Joint Country Analysis 2016.”
A report by the United Nations Country Team, Occupied Palestinian Territory – Joint Country Analysis 2016, identified the most deprived categories in Palestine, including Bedouin and pastoral communities residing in Area C, communities residing in Area C, Gaza residents unable to access safe water or sanitation, Hebron residents in H2, people residing in buffer zones, Palestinian refugees, small farmers, non-Bedouin herders, and fishermen.
The number of individuals in Bedouin and pastoral communities residing in Area C is estimated at over 30,000 people living in about 183 residential clusters in Area C. Israeli restrictions imposed on them deepen their poverty, significantly impact their lives, and violate their human rights, including the right to movement, housing, health, education, and work. More than 70% of them are refugees who had their land taken by Israel in 1948. They are under constant threat of forced eviction and settler violence, with 90% relying on sheep farming that requires large areas and daily movement for grazing.6
Residents of 532 residential clusters located in Area C face the constant threat of home demolitions, forced displacement, and eviction due to discriminatory Israeli policies in spatial planning and land division, making obtaining building permits impossible for Palestinians and restricting the movement of students, farmers, and workers.
Access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right that Gaza residents cannot fully enjoy. There is a severe water shortage, with about 100,000 residents in eastern Gaza not connected to public water networks. The lack of sanitation facilities exposes Gaza residents to diseases and increases soil and water pollution. Around 95% of Gaza’s approximately 2 million residents are at risk of waterborne diseases, in addition to the scarcity and increased salinity of water.
Approximately 40,000 Palestinians residing in the city of Hebron (H2) face daily obstacles in accessing education, practicing their religious rituals, and developing their businesses due to Israeli settlement activity in the city. The absence of responsible governmental authority for the development of the area, provision of services, and protection of people facing violations and settler violence compounds their inability to access justice and institutions that classify them.
Moreover, over 11,000 individuals live in areas called buffer zones, which consist of 12 sites located between the Israeli separation barrier and the Green Line, favoring the West Bank over the lands occupied by Israel in 1948. Israel’s continued control over Area C imposes significant restrictions on economic development, affecting about 63% of Palestinian lands in the West Bank and Gaza. This has led to the depletion of agricultural resources and deprived farmers and herders of their ability to produce food and be self-sufficient. Additionally, fishermen in Gaza face constant attacks by the Israeli army, with limited fishing areas and boat confiscations.
Despite the existence of national policies, programs, and international mechanisms to support marginalized groups and areas, especially those in Area C, the volume and management of these programs, as well as the enforcement of policies, remain insufficient in reaching deprived groups or supporting the resilience and legal assistance of residents in these areas in accessing their internationally recognized rights.
The state of deprivation and the weaknesses in humanitarian aid programs are also accompanied by deficiencies in national legislation or its enforcement concerning the protection of lands and the environment by official institutions. This can be attributed to Israel’s hindrance of official and international institutional efforts, lack of available resources, or the dominance of certain investors and influential figures. This includes the protection of high and medium-value agricultural lands, which are continuously violated and converted for non-agricultural purposes, such as tourism, construction, or establishing industrial zones.
Section Five: Our Priorities – Towards an Active Social Movement in Enforcing Land-Related Rights
First pillar: Institution and Organization – Towards an Inclusive and Effective Coalition Centered on People and Advocates, Founded on International Human Rights Charters and Standards
1. Our Approach – Mobilizing Local, National, and International Partnerships Based on People’s Priorities
In our work, we focus on enhancing the coalition’s capabilities to lead a national social movement with an international dimension. This movement is centered around active popular committees in communities facing or vulnerable to violations by Israeli occupation. We empower these committees with knowledge, national tools, and international resources to assert their land rights and utilize them. Our approach involves incorporating and institutionalizing land rights issues into the programs and priorities of national and international civil and grassroots institutions. We operate under the principle that protecting rights is fundamental and necessary for achieving sustainable development, a concern that should involve everyone.
We will work on promoting knowledge about the local reality of land-related issues in all aspects. This knowledge will serve as the basis for identifying priorities and advocating for rights based on evidence and proofs that reflect people’s concerns. We aim to enhance communication and engagement with member institutions, partners, and all relevant parties to portray the local reality, participate in global and national movements defending land and farmers, exchange experiences and global solidarity, and build human relationships with social movements worldwide working on common issues.
For the coalition’s sustainability and effectiveness, it requires periodic reviews of its foundational system, work plans, programs, partnerships, and resource enhancement in accordance with national laws, regulations, and standards.
2. Institutional and Organizational Priorities for the Coalition – Short and Medium-Term Goals and Interventions
First Strategic Goal: A well-organized coalition governed by the best governance and organizational standards to achieve its mission and vision.
|1.1.1. Facilitate the formation of local committees in vulnerable communities.
|1. Number of engaged popular committees, their members, and activities organized.
|Active and engaged popular committees in the coalition. 1.1.2. Capacity building for popular committees. 1.1.3. Provide communication tools for popular committees. 1.1.4. Annual conference for popular committees.
|1.2. Civil society institutions engaged in land development interventions.
|2. Number of partnering civil society institutions involved in land protection and development.
|1.2.1. Partnership memoranda between the coalition and civil society institutions. 1.2.2. Joint action plan with civil society institutions for land protection and development issues.
|1.3. Strong connections with international solidarity groups and human rights organizations
|3. Number of coalitions, committees, and partnerships assessed by the coalition with international and UN institutions and joint activities.
|1.3.1. Update the website and publish fact sheets in various languages. 1.3.2. Organize annual meetings with international solidarity groups. 1.3.3. Partnership memoranda with international solidarity institutions. 1.3.4. Active participation in international activities and coalitions defending land and the environment.
|1.4. Violations of the right to land widely documented and disseminated
|4. Number of periodic papers and reports issued by the coalition on land rights violations.
|| 4.1.1. Issue fact sheets in different languages based on information from reliable institutions and committees. 4.1.2. Monitor and document land rights violations. 4.1.3. Partnership memoranda with research institutions for periodic reports and maps.
|1.5. Updated foundational system, organizational, administrative, and financial regulations
|5. Number of updated regulations, policies, and rules.
|5.1.1. Periodic review of the coalition’s work strategy through an annual assessment. 5.1.2. Review and identification of foundational, financial, and administrative systems. 5.1.3. Development of a monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning system through participation. 5.1.4. Preparation of a code of conduct for the coalition and partnerships.
|1.6. Access to necessary resources to achieve coalition goals and results
|6. Percentage increase in financial and human resources for the coalition.
|6.1.1. Financial partnerships with international and national institutions for the long and medium term. 6.1.2. Recruitment of volunteers for coalition activities. 6.1.3. Material and in-kind donation campaign.
Pillar Two: Mobilization and Support – Organized campaigns based on collaborative work with national and international partners to achieve rights.
1. Our Approach: Mobilization and support for people’s issues are built on a collaborative approach that emphasizes legitimacy, accountability, public engagement, facts, root cause analysis, and impact assessment.
– In organizing campaigns for land rights, our work is grounded in raising awareness among rights holders, communities, institutions, and international activists. We rely on data, reports, and studies based on facts and supported by evidence that highlight the causes and effects of rights violations, especially on people’s lives, resilience, and livelihoods.
– We strive to achieve consensus among all local and international partners on the goals and activities of the campaigns through a genuinely participatory mechanism. The basis for this collaboration is awareness of the importance of the issues for people, their impact, and the political, social, and economic context, with a legal framework grounded in international law and international humanitarian law.
We will enhance the discourse at the national and international levels regarding the right to land. This involves engaging with journalists, diplomats, political parties, opinion leaders, human rights activists, and environmental defenders. We will provide them with information and international reports, strengthen partnerships, and facilitate information and knowledge exchange.
Accountability and raising human rights issues in international forums are fundamental to amplifying the voices of those affected. Our campaigns will be supported by similar legal cases at the national level or in countries facing similar conditions. We believe that legal accountability is crucial for influencing decision-makers and public opinion in countries and institutions that respect human rights, especially UN bodies.
- Priority and Support Objectives – Short and Medium Term
Strategic Goal Two: International and National Positions and Decisions Holding Israel Accountable for Violations of Palestinian Rights to Land and Related Matters.
|2.1. Land protection issues and related rights are a top priority for people, official institutions, and civil society.
|7. Increase in awareness and interest among people, opinion leaders, and decision-makers in violations, crimes, and mechanisms for asserting rights.
|2.1.1. Awareness campaigns for school and university students, youth, and women on land-related rights and protection. 2.1.2. Fact sheets on land violations, their impacts, and causes disseminated to institutions and opinion leaders. 2.1.3. Campaigns to enhance the resilience of local and international farmers and provide the necessary support for on-ground resilience. 2.1.4. Enhancement of activities on Land Day in all provinces.
|2.2. Decision-makers in international organizations, institutions, groups, and countries adopt official positions rejecting Israel’s colonial policies violating Palestinians’ rights to land.
|| 8. Number of statements, positions, and decisions taken by countries, institutions, committees, and groups condemning Israel’s land rights violations.
|2.2.1. Advocacy campaign targeting members of the Arab League and the Islamic Conference. 2.2.2. Advocacy campaign targeting relevant United Nations institutions and bodies. 2.2.3. Advocacy campaign targeting United Nations institutions. 2.2.4. Advocacy campaign targeting ambassadors and representatives of countries in the Authority. 2.2.5. Media campaign reaching political activists, academics, student groups, and journalists in influential countries at the United Nations.
|2.3. Rights holders enabled to hold individuals and entities of the occupation accountable for their land and environmental violations.
|9. Number of legal cases and accountability sessions organized or filed in international forums and bodies to criminalize Israel’s policies, decisions, and actions regarding land and people.
|2.3.1. Professional monitoring and documentation of Israel’s violations of people’s rights related to land. 2.3.2. Providing financial and technical support to local communities and individuals to file cases in international forums and bodies. 2.3.3. Building partnerships with international human rights organizations to file cases and organize accountability activities against Israel. 2.3.4. Annual international popular conference in Europe for popular accountability of Israel for its actions against land rights.
Pillar Three: Community and Institutions – Effective National Policies Supporting the Resilience of Farmers
1. Our Approach: Shedding light on priorities supporting the resilience and rights of people related to land. And enhancing social accountability based on documented information about the reasons and effects of existing policies and their enforcement.
We base our work on the belief that development is a right for everyone, regardless of location. Accelerating the implementation of policies that achieve sustainable livelihoods for all is a fundamental requirement for achieving sustainable development goals and reducing deprivation and poverty. We will work on building the capacities of grassroots institutions and interest groups in marginalized areas to advocate for their human rights, focusing on fundamental services that enhance their resilience, such as education, health, water, sanitation, suitable housing, and employment. This is grounded in principles of justice, equality, and national policies adopted by the government in the national development plan.
Additionally, our work involves providing necessary technical support to grassroots institutions and interest groups, whether in preparing reports or policy papers demonstrating the reasons and effects of current policies. We emphasize the legal and policy references for demands and provide support in organizing policy dialogue sessions with relevant institutions and holding social accountability sessions for duty bearers.
We also rely on empowering national and international development programs and institutions operating in Palestine with information, reports, and proposals to include interventions aimed at enhancing services in marginalized areas. These areas are at risk of displacement due to insufficient services, particularly legal services, agricultural services, small business development services, education, health, transportation, water, and energy.
2. Priority and Support Objectives – Short and Medium Term:
Strategic Goal Three: Enhance Services Provided to Deprived and Vulnerable Areas at Risk of Displacement.
|3.1. Official and non-governmental development and humanitarian institutions and projects respond to the urgent priorities of people in marginalized areas.
|10. Percentage increase in satisfaction among activists and local institutions about the improvement of services provided to their communities.
|3.1.1. Reports on the development and humanitarian needs and the necessary legal support for marginalized communities and their dissemination to stakeholders. 3.1.2. Annual forum on development and resilience priorities in marginalized areas at risk of displacement. 3.1.3. Local campaigns to demand humanitarian services, infrastructure services, and business development services. 3.1.4. Support local institutions in organizing social accountability campaigns
|3.2. National legislation and measures protecting people’s rights related to land
|11. Number of legislations and measures taken to protect rights related to land in areas subject to violations by investment companies, public purposes, or individuals.
|3.2.1. Policy papers on national legislations and measures to protect lands. 3.2.2. Campaigns to support the rights of people whose lands are locally violated. 3.2.3. Monitoring and documentation of violations and crimes against land and the environment. 3.2.4. Engagement in effective national coalitions, committees, and partnerships in the fields of environment, human rights, and agricultural development.
Coalition Working Mechanisms:
1. Coordination among members to form popular and community committees that constitute a field foundation for the coalition and its members.
2. Expansion of the coalition’s base by adding new bodies and institutions that align with the coalition’s vision, mission, and goals.
3. Continuous expansion of the coalition’s base.
 https://www.ohchr.org/AR/Issues/LandAndHR/Pages/LandandHumanRightsIndex.aspx – Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
 Land and human rights standards and applications , UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner