Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza

CRS in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza

The Middle East is a land holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims, but tragically it is also a land riven by conflict that yearns for a just peace. Catholic Relief Services' long-running work in the Holy Land is therefore guided by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' commitment to a just, sustainable, and secure peace, in accordance with the Vatican's appeal that "the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream."

CRS' work in the Holy Land has evolved over the course of decades, but continues to focus on accompanying local partners to strengthen the economic, civic and environmental foundations for a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, while responding to humanitarian crises whenever they arise.

CRS supports strong leadership by the U.S. government to seek a comprehensive peace agreement that ends the conflict in the Holy Land and achieves both the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state and Israel's goal of a secure state with recognized borders.


People Served: 1,310,374

Population: 4,654,421; 1,869,055 in Gaza (July 2015 est.) and 2,785,366 in the West Bank (2015 est.)

Size: 2,363 sq mi; slightly smaller than Delaware

CRS' History in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza

Catholic Relief Services' work in the Holy Land stretches back to the 1940s, when CRS provided humanitarian assistance to communities displaced during World War II. CRS established an office in Jerusalem in 1961 under an agreement with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and has maintained a continuous presence throughout the intervening decades of turbulence and change.

CRS' work initially focused on the provision of food assistance, organizing vaccination campaigns, and leading other nutrition and health-focused initiatives. In the 1970s and 1980s, CRS constructed roads, classrooms, bridges and wells as part of a broad rural development initiative. CRS also implemented nutrition education, vocational training and village health worker training projects. Water projects became a major area of focus in the 1990s.

Today, the country's strategic focus is on programs addressing food security, civil society strengthening, peacebuilding, the provision of humanitarian assistance and educating U.S. citizens about the conflict in the Holy Land. CRS' work is carried out in close partnership with an extensive network of local civil society organizations and in regular consultation with the local Church.