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Redefining Deprivation in a Conflict Area: Learning from the Palestinian Experience

Author: Angelik Nehme Published: 3 June 2021

An event organised by the London School of Economics, LSE, on March 31, 2021.

Chair: Tiziana Leone, Associate Professor at the LSE.

Speakers: Weeam Hmmoudeh, Assistant Professor at Birzeit University.

Tracy Lin Kuo, Assistant Professor of Health Economics at the University of California.

Suzan Mitwalli, Academic Researcher and Assistant Coordinator at Birzeit University.

Deprivation: A multidimensional Spectrum

The topic of conflict has been a part of international affairs for so long. It takes over a bulk of literary works, and scholars have discussed it substantially. Thus, leading to an in-depth historiography built up of numerous diverging arguments and views on the notion of conflict. This divergence in the arguments has made it impossible to create a standard and one-sided view of this matter.

Israel-Palestine conflict

One of the most notable conflicts is the Palestinian-Israeli one, and it is worthy of discussion because of the fifty-year-long ongoing occupation. Conflict, in general, encompasses an array of aspects, and more often than not, the intangible non-materialistic ones go overlooked. In the Palestinian-Israeli context, the most-disregarded aspects of conflict and deprivation is mental health. The most commonly addressed aspects of conflicts are related to armed forces and military action. Another important dimension of conflict is that it breeds deprivation. The London School of Economics and Political Science has recently conducted a webinar titled "Redefining Deprivation in a Conflict Area: Learning from the Palestinian Experience". The chair for the webinar was Tiziana Leone, LSE professor. The speakers were Weeam Hammoudeh and Suzan Mitwalli, part of Birzeit University staff, and Tracy Kuo Lin, part of the University of California staff. The researchers and chair conducted this webinar to serve as a launch for the report under the name "Redefining deprivation in a conflict area: learning from the Palestinian experience using mixed methods".

Deprivation is defined as a state of vivid disadvantage suffered by an individual or a group compared to their broader community. This definition insinuates that deprivation is a defect that can occur at different levels, whether it being at the individual or community levels. The primary purpose of the webinar was to challenge and develop the notion of deprivation, because the speakers have found that its repercussions are various, including the issue of mental health . In addition, they seek to shed light on how deprivation does not come in a "one-size-fits-all" formula because different people experience it differently. The heavier bulk of the literature focuses on the materialistic impact of deprivation. However, some recent studies have pushed for a more multidimensional and inclusive view of deprivation, which the report advocates. The areas discussed in the research are Gaza and the West Bank which are the deprived Palestinian areas.

The speakers have identified four crucial areas of deprivation: political, material, food-related, and General Subjective Deprivation. The researchers have discussed food deprivation extensively and have found that its effect is striking. The elaborate Israeli checkpoints hinder moving food from an area to another and decrease the diversity of the available food in a household. In addition, the speakers have found that deprivation harms mental health, although the data constitutes a constraint on the outcome.

Deprivation, Mental Health and the outcome

The researchers have chosen a diverse sample of Palestinian individuals to better represent the impact of deprivation on this community. They have found that those who classified themselves as more impoverished and more susceptible to political instability have recorded worse levels of mental health. It is important to note that deprivation does not spare women and children because its impact affects the household in its entirety. On one hand, children are constantly scared, and in many cases they do not have access to education, and on the other, women struggle to move around because of safety concerns. The most important indicator of mental health was that of Subjective Deprivation. For this indicator, the researchers asked the people in their diverse focus group about the extent to which they feel deprived. Some of the answers showed that Palestinians see deprivation as a collective issue. They do not compare their levels of deprivation to each other, but they compare their unanimous sense of deprivation to the more fortunate international account. Some of the sample participants have said that deprivation manifests itself in political and social issues because there is no proper representation of Palestinians in decision-making positions. Some have viewed deprivation as a right taken away from them. Another Palestinian portrayed a deprivation of sustainable development and progress because hope for improvement is not in sight. This discouragement constitutes a pressing matter, especially when Palestinians worry about future generations.

According to some literary works, over half of Palestinians have reported that they worry for their safety daily, and over one-third of them said that they feel deprived. This deprivation prompts the notion that development attempts in areas of conflict have quivering principles. Social and political deprivation hinders the execution of sustainability plans. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict leaves room for questions about how food security can be used as a means of manipulation and negotiation, and what should be done to limit the lingering effect of multidimensional deprivation.

Angelik Nehme graduated with an MSc in Development Economics & Policy and a BSc in Economics with a track in Political Science and International Affairs. She wishes to put her passion for writing and editing to good use, by reporting about international issues.

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More Information is available at:

  1. Bates, Katie, Tiziana Leone, Rula Ghandour, Suzan Mitwalli, Shiraz Nasr, Ernestina Coast, and Rita Giacaman. "Women's health in the occupied Palestinian territories: Contextual influences on subjective and objective health measures." PloS one 12, no. 10 (2017): e0186610.

  2. Giacaman, R., 2004. Psycho-social/mental health care in the Occupied Palestine Territory: the embryonic system.

  3. World Bank, 2004. Four Years–Intifada, Closures and Palestinian Economic Crisis: An Assessment.

Zimmerman, Frederick J., and Wayne Katon. "Socioeconomic status, depression disparities, and financial strain: what lies behind the income‐depression relationship?." Health economics 14, no. 12 (2005): 1197-1215.

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