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Israel and the Palestinian territories (the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem) are located in the Middle East on or near the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The West Bank sits to the east of Israel, while the Gaza Strip sits to the southwest, bordering Egypt.
The Palestinian economy has struggled over the past years. Unemployment in the Gaza Strip is very high, and more than half of the population lives below the poverty line. Almost a quarter of Palestinians in the West Bank live below the poverty line.
In 2009, the World Food Program estimated that 25 percent of people in the West Bank and about 60 percent of people in the Gaza Strip experienced food insecurity.
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Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.
Established Child-Friendly Spaces, giving girls and boys safe places to gather and play.
Held extracurricular activities including summer camps, fun days, and healthy food fairs, allowing children to participate in positive community events.
Supplied community-based organizations with office equipment and furniture, allowing them to better provide services to children and youth.
Provided youth clubs with sports equipment, engaging kids with constructive activities in a safe environment.
Provided counseling for mothers, mentoring them on ways to support children who are traumatized by violence in the area.
Worked with communities to develop disaster and emergency response plans, helping them more confidently and effectively handle emergency situations.
Established community cooperatives, allowing women to participate in income-generating activities such as sewing, fashion design, and gardening.
Partnered with communities to improve kindergartens and bring them up to national standards, helping provide clean, safe environments for children to learn and grow.
Helped facilitate recently graduated university students to provide tutoring for children with special needs, assisting the children in improving their school performance and boosting their self-esteem.
Renovated or provided supplies and equipment to dozens of local schools, improving the learning environment for children.
World Vision is committed to partnering with both Palestinians and Israelis to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future security, freedom and dignity of all children, families, and communities in the Holy Land. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in the lives of children in the region, with donors from around the world. World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza has 44,526 children registered in its programs, of which 35,492 are sponsored. Donors in the United States sponsor more than 10,000 girls and boys among the total of registered children. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit Palestinian and Israeli communities. Highlights include:
World Vision began working in the region in 1975, opening a secondary school for boys in Bethlehem that same year. Since then, some of World Vision's major accomplishments include:
Geography and people
Israel and the Palestinian Territories (the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem) are located in the Middle East on or near the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Lebanon in the north, Syria in the northeast, Jordan in the east, Egypt on the southwest, and the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south.
The region contains low coastal plains, central mountain ranges, a rugged upland plateau in the east, and the Negev Desert in the south of Israel. The climate is temperate, with hot summers and mild winters.
Natural resources include timber, copper, natural gas, clay, and sand for Israel; limestone, olive oil and arable land for the West Bank.
Palestinian Arabs make up more than 99% of the Gaza Strip’s population and the majority of the population in the West Bank, although there is a large and increasing number of Israelis living in West Bank settlements that are considered illegal by the United Nations. In Israel, 75% of the population is Israeli Jew, 20.5% are Palestinian Muslims and Christians, and the remainder are Druze or other descent.
In the Palestinian territory, Arabic is the official language, while many also speak English and Hebrew. In Israel, Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages; many people also speak English or Russian.
The Zionist movement began in the nineteenth century with the aim of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Jewish immigration to Palestine started in the nineteenth century and was intensified following World War II and the Holocaust. Prior to the massive influx of European Jews to Palestine, smaller Jewish communities were living peacefully among the majority indigenous Palestinian population.
With a substantial increase in the Jewish population following WWII, the Jewish Zionist Movement established the State of Israel in 1948. The Jewish community celebrated a new beginning while Palestinians were devastated by displacement. Regional war soon ensued. After a year, a ceasefire was declared and Jordan governed the West Bank, while Egypt administered the Gaza Strip. After the War of 1948, 75% of the Arab population of Palestine fled or were expelled outside of what became the state of Israel. The resulting Palestinian refugee population was not absorbed by Israel nor the surrounding Arab states, and more than 600,000 Arabs became refugees.
In 1967, Israel defeated Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian forces during the Six-Day War and occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. The war displaced many people within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, adding to the world’s largest and longest-running refugee crisis.
Shortly after the war, the UN unanimously passed Security Council resolution 242, which called for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the occupied territories, peace within secure borders, implementation of several security measures, and a just settlement to the refugee crisis. This resolution is yet to be implemented. It has been widely accepted by all parties that this serves as a primary basis for a peaceful resolution.
After further conflict and a peace treaty (the Oslo Accord) during the 1990s that has proven ineffective, the international community pushed for renewed peace negotiations in 2007-2008. Today, Israelis continue to live in anxiety and fear about their security. Palestinians continue to live under the reality of a military occupation.