Victim Assistance

Last updated: 28 March 2018

The State of Palestine is responsible for landmine survivors and survivors of other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Palestine has commitments to provide victim assistance through the Mine Ban Treaty and is a State Party to Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Palestine ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 2 April 2014.

There were at least 1,254 mine/ERW survivors recorded in Palestine.[1]

Victim Assistance in 2016 and 2017

The situation in Gaza remained tense and extremely challenging, with the ICRC reporting that “restrictions on the movement of people and goods were still in place; there were severe shortages of electrical power; and the failure to pay people’s salaries had become a chronic problem.”[2] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in late 2017 power cuts of around 20-hour periods severely and increasingly disrupted services at health facilities in Gaza.[3]


In its first voluntary Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report of 2013, Palestine reported that there was no specific strategic framework for victim assistance in place in the country. Mine/ERW survivors received the same support as other persons with disabilities. This support is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Social Affairs,[4] in partnership with the various ministries and institutions of civil society and with relevant authorities.[5]

The Ministry of Social Affairs is required to oversee the implementation of the Disability Law, in coordination with other ministries; but resources for this are lacking, which means that many disabled persons remain socially and economically excluded.[6] The Ministry of Health was responsible for the rehabilitation sector in Gaza.[7]

Persons with disabilities in Palestine were often overlooked and underrepresented in development and relief efforts. Since the 2014 conflict, the situation in Palestine has continued to deteriorate. Vulnerable Palestinians faced increasing difficulty in accessing electricity, education, and healthcare, and struggled to meet basic needs. Key infrastructure was destroyed and many hospitals were not equipped. Unemployment increased as did restrictions on the movement of goods and people.[8]

The ICRC strengthened local actors’ emergency response through training and urged Israeli security forces to ensure safe passage for emergency responders. With comprehensive ICRC support the Palestine Red Crescent provided emergency medical services across the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT)e. The ICRC supported the Gazan emergency-care system monitored the National Society’s patient transfers from Gaza to the West Bank and to Israel.[9]

Military operations in Gaza have caused a large, but unknown number of severe traumatic amputations according to a medical study at the key rehabilitation center in Gaza City, the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre (ALPC). Due to limited local resources the vast need for rehabilitation has been difficult to meet.[10] Existing rehabilitation services in Gaza did not meet the needs of amputees. The Palestinian Medical Relief Society estimated that all providers of rehabilitation services in the Gaza Strip combined were only able to address some 15% of the rehabilitation requirements of the population. Medical treatment available to amputees in the Gaza Strip was of poor quality. Hastily performed amputations often resulted in a stump that cannot fit a prosthesis.[11]

The ALPC, managed by the Municipality of Gaza, has been the only center of its kind in Gaza that provides prosthetic and orthotic services. Services are provided free of charge.[12] The ICRC continued to provide managerial support to the ALPC, especially in view of the impending launch of a Qatari rehabilitation project, the Khalifa Al-Thani Rehabilitation and Prosthetics Hospital. The ICRC planned to advise the municipality of Gaza and the ALPC as the Qatari rehabilitation project progressed in order to promote a strategy for sustainability. In 2016,some 2,332 people received rehabilitation services at the ALPC, including the provision of 26 upper-limb and 148 lower-limb prostheses. The ALPC continued improving its operations with technical/material support and training from the Norwegian Red Cross/ICRC. In the West Bank, meetings to discuss prosthetic and orthotic services and costs were held with most stakeholders. The ICRC reported that the head of the ALPC was unable to obtain a permit to enter Israel to take a course in physical rehabilitation for amputees and seven prosthetics students were not able to get permits to leave Gaza for the practical training, for which the trainer eventually came to Gaza. Another two students were unable to leave Gaza for an exam in Tanzania, that was thus postponed.[13]

From 2014 through 2016 Humanity and Inclusion (HI, formerly Handicap International) provided post-emergency operations to improve access to essential services for persons with disabilities in Gaza. HI also promoted the inclusion of isolated persons with disabilities, improved access to essential services, and gave support for disabled peoples’ organizations and multidisciplinary rehabilitation services, including rehabilitation and psychosocial support services.[14] Since the end of 2016, HI was no longer running a rehabilitation project, but provided referrals through the previous rehabilitation network.[15] HI carried out projects for strengthening of the resilience of the local population by support of inclusive medical care, reconstruction, and improved emergency preparedness.

ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF) continued a school-based psychosocial program and a project promoting community-based rehabilitation in Gaza to respond to the need for quality rehabilitation services and psychosocial treatment for the victims of conflict in Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as the need for technical assistance and specialized training for rehabilitation professionals.[16]

The Palestine Trauma Center in Gaza offered support from psychologists, psychiatrists, and specialist trauma counselors for war affected victims, including through an annual project run throughout 2017.[17]

In Gaza, more than 90% of persons with disabilities were unemployed.[18]

The Palestinian Disability Law was ratified in 1999.

[1] Including 320 people injured before 2000 identified through a random sample survey and 934 people injured since 2000 in Monitor data. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2000, and previous country reports and profiles on Palestine.

[2] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 478.

[3] WHO, “Occupied Palestinian Territory Situation Report,” October–November 2017.

[6] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP), “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, November 2017, p. 73.

[7] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, 2015, pp. 80–81.

[8] HI, “Palestine 2016,” August 2016; ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 481.

[9] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 478.

[10] Heszlein-Lossius, Hanne et al. “Severe amputation injuries after Israeli military operations in Gaza: a retrospective, clinical follow-up study,” The Lancet, Vol. 390, S27, 1 August 2017.

[12] ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, 2015, pp. 80–81.

[13] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, May 2017, p. 481; and ICRC PRP, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, November 2017, p. 72.

[14] HI, “Palestine 2016,” August 2016.

[15] Email from Bruno Leclercq, HI, 5 February 2018.

[16] ITF, “ITF Supports Psychosocial Aid and Comprehensive Rehabilitation in Gaza Strip,” 18 October 2017; ITF, “Annual Report 2016,” Ljubljana, 2017, pp. 84–85; and ITF, “Activities: Gaza strip,” undated.

[17] The Palestine Trauma Center, “Psycho-Social Support,”2018; Palestine Trauma Centre (UK), “Annual Report 2016,” undated; and Palestine Trauma Centre (PTC-Gaza), “Muslim Aid Project,” undated.

[18] State of Palestine, Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics,“PCBS: Press Release, on the Occasion of International Disables Day,” 3 December 2014.