Palestine Watchlist 2024


Palestine added to human rights Watchlist as aid organisations face blockades and funding restrictions further threaten humanitarian assistance

5 March 2024

  • The deliberate targeting of humanitarian aid convoys, the destruction of their buildings and the killing of their staff further compounds the difficulties faced by relief organisations
  • Funding suspensions of UN Agency and civil society organisations further limits the delivery of essential services
  • High numbers of journalists and media workers have been killed, attacked, injured and detained in Gaza

The CIVICUS Monitor has added Palestine to its watchlist of countries citing alarming restrictions on humanitarian aid services, civil society aid funding as well as the killing of aid workers and journalists.

The brutal conditions for civilians, civil society groups and members of the media continue to deteriorate amidst the ongoing military bombardment of Gaza by Israel, evidenced by over 28,000 civilian lives lost in Gaza since the eruption of violence on 7 October 2023.

The dangers faced by humanitarian workers are underscored by the alarming toll of casualties among UN staff members, with at least 158 aid workers killed since October 7th, 2023, the highest number that have been killed in a single conflict in the organisation’s history. Additionally, other humanitarian organisations, including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), have reported numerous fatalities among their personnel, highlighting the perilous conditions they navigate while delivering aid amidst ongoing military operations.

The security situation hinders their mandate which is exacerbated by additional obstacles due to the blockade of aid, hampering their efforts to provide vital assistance to the civilian population. Despite scheduling 77 aid missions between January 1st and February 12th, 2024, Israeli authorities have impeded or denied access to critical areas. In particular, aid envoys intended to support hospitals and water sanitation have been consistently denied. Furthermore, on 16 February, Israeli authorities intercepted 1,049 containers designated for UN food assistance, which brings Gaza one step closer to famine. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Palestinians are starving to death.

On top of Israeli authorities blocking aid, some Israeli citizens have also taken to the streets to obstruct aid trucks at the Karem Abu Salem crossing. Dozens of activists have blocked aid trucks by lying on the streets, while others have set up tents in the area so that they can stop the passage of essential supplies.

Furthermore, the suspension of funding to a number of civil society organisations and the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) further hinders humanitarian efforts, exacerbating the risk of starvation, famine and the delivery of essential services. Despite immediate actions to address allegations that a select number of employees at the UN agency were involved in the 7 October 2023 Hamas attack, at least eighteen countries have suspended funding to UNRWA which provides vital aid to millions of Palestinian refugees.

The operating environment for UN agencies and civil society groups in Gaza has become highly constrained. "Those on the frontlines of this humanitarian emergency are caught between the hammer of Israeli aggression and the unyielding wall of conditional funding" said a member of the Arab Network of NGOs, currently in Gaza. “The decision by numerous donor nations to suspend funding for organisations who are providing essential services only compounds the humanitarian crisis.”

The latest CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist coincides with the 55th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (26 February to 5 April 2024) and spotlights five countries experiencing a notable decline in civic freedoms. This assessment is made by data compiled by the CIVICUS Monitor in collaboration with research partners worldwide. Alongside Palestine, the latest Watchlist also includes Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Senegal, and Venezuela.

“The devastating death toll in Gaza affecting unarmed civilians, aid workers, journalists and media workers paints a harrowing picture of the dire circumstances endured by countless innocent individuals trapped in the crossfire of Israel's relentless bombardment, amidst what is fast becoming one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent global history” said Sylvia Mbataru, Middle East and North Africa researcher for CIVICUS . “At this juncture, the international community must be compelled to call for an immediate ceasefire, scale up humanitarian aid efforts, and firmly hold to account all parties responsible for human rights violations”.

The conflict has also precipitated the erosion of freedom of expression, one of the fundamental civic freedoms evaluated by the CIVICUS Monitor. Attacks on journalists and internet blackouts have been two primary violations documented by the research platform.

Since October 7, 2023, 85 journalists and media workers have been killed, 16 injured, 4 reported missing, and 25 arrested. ​​Additionally, recurring telecommunications blackouts imposed by Israel have undermined safety for civilians, journalists, and aid workers. These shutdowns hinder access to critical, life saving information and impede humanitarian aid operations. Over 10 internet shutdowns have been documented since October.

About the CIVICUS Monitor

Over twenty organisations collaborate on the CIVICUS Monitor to provide an evidence base for action to improve civic space on all continents. Civic freedoms in 198 countries and territories are categorised as either ‘closed,’ ‘repressed,’ ‘obstructed,’ ‘narrowed’ or ‘open,’ based on a methodology that combines several data sources on the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

Palestine is currently rated ‘Repressed’ by the CIVICUS Monitor. There are a total of 50 countries in the world with this rating (see all). This rating is typically given to countries where civic space is heavily contested by power holders, who impose a combination of legal and practical constraints on the full enjoyment of fundamental rights (see the full description of ratings).

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: