Vidas Ocupadas | #LifeUnderOccupation

Life Under Occupation

After 50 years of occupation and 10 years of blockade in Gaza, the 4.5 million people living in Palestine are still worried, after all this time, about having difficulties with access to water and a secure livelihood.

LIFE UNDER OCCUPATION is a project for raising awareness about Action Against Hunger which presents, through a different and artistic language, that of the graphic novel, the humanitarian impact of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

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In Palestine

On his journey through Palestine, José Pablo García has been able to witness the daily difficulties that affect the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza.

Discover some of them and select the stages on the map

Abu Nuwar and Jabal al Baba, in the shadow of the wall
Abu Nuwar is the largest Palestinian community in East Jerusalem, but all its structures have received demolition order. Although not all of the demolitions have been carried out, residents of the community have been unable to obtain any kind of building permit for years and the community has to use very basic construction materials to refurbish its infrastructures such as wood, canvas and steel. They are at risk of being forcibly transferred to an area next to a landfill. "We are determined to stay on this land, where we were displaced in 1967, our goats and sheep need open spaces," says Abu Emad Ibsisat, spokesman for the community. They make dairy products but it is increasingly difficult to sell them. You can only distribute them through using public transportation or private vehicles to other nearby communities. Before, they were sold in other parts of East Jerusalem on the other side of the wall, which they can no longer do. The Wall prevents it. The same happens in the community of Jabal al Baba. The wall, omnipresent, almost surrounds 56 families that make up the village. This wall prevents them from utilising the natural resources in their area as they were able to do before. Now they cannot grow anything along the slopes of the river bed, they have lost access to large portions of the grazing land for their cattle, and their access to water has been cut off. The expansion of the Israeli settlements, the demolitions and the isolation generated by the wall is contributing to the loss of Palestinian communities’ livelihoods.
In 2002, the Israeli Government approved the construction of a wall in order to protect themselves from possible Palestinian terrorist attacks. Of the planned 436 m, two-thirds have been completed, 20% along the Green Line (1949 Armistice Line) and the remaining 80% in West Bank territory, spanning more than 13.5 miles in some places. Despite repeated condemnation by the United Nations or agencies such as the International Criminal Court, the wall stands as an insurmountable barrier limiting room for movement, trade and the livelihoods of the population. [1]
Susiya and Um Al Kher, symbols resilience against demolitions
The community of Susiya, where 45 Palestinian families live, is one of the communities most affected by the expansion of the Israeli settlements, and the silent and gradual annexation of land by Israel as the occupying power. Its sheikh, Nassir Nawaja, explains that Israel is expanding its military training areas and as a result 80% of the community’s infrastructure have demolition orders. Israel intends to relocate them to connect the Israeli settlement of Susiya with the adjacent military camp and a place with ancient archaeological remains. As the Israeli Rabbis for Human Rights organization says, there is historical documentation of the existence of Palestinians living in this area since 1830. In 1986 they suffered the first forcible displacement from their lands, only three years after the creation of the adjacent Israeli colonial settlement. The Palestinian inhabitants of Susiya have documents that certify ownership of this land. Some human rights organizations have helped them to legally appeal against the process and humanitarian organizations have supported them in order to gain access to basic services. Nowadays Susiya has become a symbol of the resistance of the Palestinians in Hebron, since there are many more communities in the same situation. Voices like that of Nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa[1] o John Kirby[2], of the United States State Department, have denounced this situation. Until the situation is legally resolved, residents cannot take their sheep and goats out to graze or harvest their olive trees.Humanitarian organizations are helping them with water facilities such as tanks, cisterns or latrines, and with solar panels for energy. However, these facilities, many financed with money from Spanish and European citizens, also run the risk of being demolished. On the other hand, the impact of the colonies can also be seen especially in the case of Um Al Kher. This village, situated not far from Hebron and a few metres from the comfortable villas of the Israeli settlement of Karmel, illustrates the brutal contrast between one side of the fences that separate them and the other.The history of Um Al Kher, where there are now five families left, is a history of forcible transfer. Suleiman, its patriarch, was only eight years old when he was expelled from the Negev desert in 1948 during the Nakba (catastrophe). In 1965 they came to these lands, which they bought with 100 camels. Suleiman tells us about his bread oven (taboon in Arabic), which has been destroyed on several occasions "because - as they say - its smell and its smoke is annoying the Israeli settlers from the adjacent settlement". But it is clear, as Suleiman points out "that this is not a religious problem. The problem is that they are occupying our land". With no oven, no land for their sheep, no water for their crops and no access to markets to sell their thyme, the livelihoods of these communities are increasingly diminished, endangering the wel being of their inhabitants.
In 2016 the demolitions, including water infrastructure, schools, farms, stockyards, stables, etc., have increased at an alarming rate. As of 31 December 2016, 1089 structures in the occupied Palestinian territory had been demolished, almost double the total in 2015. To date this has led to the displacement of 1,593 people, including 556 children [3], and has directly affected the livelihoods of 7,101 people.
Gaza, living under blockade
In recent years, the situation in the Gaza Strip has been mainly mediated by the wars it suffered in 2008-2009, 2012 and the last in 2014. These conflicts have caused countless human and material damage, but even outside of these periods, life in Gaza is a challenge for its 2 million people. In addition to the destruction and damage, it is important to mention the impossibility of recovering from the recurrent wars because of the blockade, and the population is facing enormous challenges to rebuild schools, repair hospitals, develop sewer networks, or power plants and other essential infrastructure. The blockade imposed by Israel for 10 years prevents the import of resources and materials needed for the development of Gaza. The blockade also hinders export and therefore the economic development of the area. As a result, Gaza is now undergoing one of highest unemployment rates in the world, affecting 60% of young people. Gazans live under very difficult conditions, without access to any livelihood, with no or few basic resources such as water. Access to water is a major problem, both for use and consumption by the inhabitants, their cattle, and for irrigating their crops. Currently access to water is mainly influenced by the distribution of water from cross-border underground aquifers between Israel and Palestine, and the vast majority controlled by Israel. The aquifer does not recharge enough naturally and is greatly damaged by saline intrusion and the large amount of nitrates. In addition Gaza still lacks the necessary infrastructure to treat and desalinate water, as well as to eliminate waste water or collect rainwater.
The consequences of the 2014 war were tragic. 500,000 people were displaced and in the 51 days that the conflict lasted 2,251 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed. There were 11,230 injured people. Of the Palestinian dead, 1462 were civilians of whom 566 were children, and 299 women; of the Israeli dead, 6 were civilians. The material consequences were also dramatic. 153,200 homes were partially destroyed, 252 schools damaged and 78 hospitals affected. Today, 80% of the population depends on humanitarian aid to survive. [1]
Area C, the Palestinian archipelago… without water
Since 1994 Ramallah has been the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, i.e. the Palestinian administrative organization in the West Bank. This mandate was created as a result of the Oslo Accords in 1993, which established the division of the West Bank into 3 areas, on a temporary basis for 5 years until the arrival of a political resolution for the creation of a Palestinian State:
  • Area A, under the administrative control and security of the Palestinian Authority
  • Area B, under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority and security managed by Israel
  • Area C, under the administrative control and security of Israel
More than 20 years later, Area C covers more than 60 percent of the West Bank [1], mainly rural areas. During the last decade, the number of Israelis living in settlements in the West Bank has increased from 30 percent, to about 600,000 people spread over more than 250 settlements (including East Jerusalem) [2]. Israel’s expansion policy in Area C has fragmented the territory, preventing movement and cohesion between different communities and creating a kind of Palestinian "archipelago". On the other hand, the ability of the Palestinian Authority in Area C [3] to act is greatly limited by the Oslo Accords. The Bedouin communities living in Area C are among the most vulnerable in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with very limited access to water and sanitation. According to OCHA data, only 1% of the permits for infrastructure presented by Palestinians are approved by the Israeli Civil Administration. This is a huge limitation for the planning of water resources and leads to poor investment in water and sanitation infrastructure. In many cases, families have to buy water from tankers, often at prohibitive prices. Limited access to water especially becomes a problem during the summer months.
A Palestinian in Area C consumes 79 litres of water a day (the WHO recommends a minimum of 100). In some communities this average is 20 litres per person per day. In Israel, the average is 296 per person per day. Currently, about 113,000 people (70 communities) are not connected to the water network. The Palestinian Authority has no choice but to buy 60 million cubic metres of water per year from Mekorot (the national Israeli water company) to meet basic water needs.

Photo Gallery

Action Against Hunger works in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 2002, with the aim of reducing the population’s vulnerability. With the support of donors like the Spanish Cooperation Agency (AECID), it implements projects to respond to humanitarian needs and to protect and strengthen the resilience of the Palestinian communities.

About the graphic novel

Life Under Occupation is the embodiment in a graphic novel of the journey undertaken by José Pablo García with Action Against Hunger through Palestinine. In his journey through Palestine, he has experienced first-hand what life is like for those who suffer the consequences of a conflict that, due to the distance and length of time, seems rather distant and blurry.

This year, when the occupation becomes fifty years old, José Pablo brings an emotionally loaded story that will transport us to places and situations that we are scarcely aware of and that will not leave us indifferent. In the words of the author, “This experience has allowed me to leave my comfort zone and help provide a look behind the scenes at a conflict which, because of its age, has been relegated to indifference”.

The Author

José Pablo García (Málaga, 1982). His work as an Illustrator can be found in books like Eugenia de Montijo (Editorial Almed, 2012) or Malaga Illustrated Atlas (Loving Books, 2013), and on the LP Sr. Chinarro ¡Menos Samba! (Mushroom Pillow, 2012), which won him an Independent Music Award for the best album design.

As a graphic novel artist he has been honoured in more than twenty competitions, highlighting among them the Injuve national prize in 2009 and Desencaja in 2012, thanks to which he published his first work, Orbita 76 (Dibbuks, 2013), scripted by Gabriel Noguera. His next work was The Adventures of Joselito (Reino de Cordelia, 2015), which recreated the biography of the boy chorister in episodes which mixed all kinds of styles and references in the history of the graphic novel. After this came The Spanish Civil War (Debate, 2016), an adaptation of the historiography classic by the Hispanist Paul Preston.


As part of the project, the promotion of the book is accompanied by a series of activities, talks and lectures in the presence of the author, representatives of Action Against Hunger and other relevant actors.

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Press Pack

Download the press pack for LIFE UNDER OCCUPATION, the graphic novel about the effects of the occupation on the daily life of Palestinians.