For the first time since October 2008, Israel allowed the entry of a small quantity of building materials for the private sector in Gaza. Despite the general ban on the import of such materials because of the blockade, they are supplied to the Gaza market in large quantities through the tunnels.
An Israeli court has ordered the evacuation of a Palestinian family from their house in East Jerusalem and the handover of the house to a settler organization. This comes alongside the renewal of demolitions in the city, after a four week lull.
Clashes with Israeli forces and
settler attacks continued; injuries
and property damage declined
While clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians during weekly demonstrations, as well as Israeli settler attacks, continued during this two-week reporting period, they resulted in fewer injuries and damage to property than in previous weeks.
Almost all of the Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces, during the period, occurred in the course of protests against measures taken in relation to Israeli settlements. Fourteen were injured in a protest against the closure of the main entrance of Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) that leads to Qeddumim settlement. Another seven sustained their injuries during protests against the expansion of Hallamish settlement (Ramallah) and against the Barrier, the latter in the villages of Al Walajah and Al Ma’sara (Bethlehem). The route of the Barrier in these two sections seeks to protect the adjacent settlements and allow for their expansion. Two other people were injured when they clashed with Israeli forces during a search-and-arrest operation in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Clashes in this area have been recurrent in recent years in the context of protests against Israeli settlements established there and attempts to expand them (see also section below).
Also during the period, six Palestinian peace activists and one Palestinian journalist were detained while attempting to enter East Jerusalem on Israeli public transportation, servicing settlements, in the Ramallah area. The bus was stopped at Hizma checkpoint, then held near the CP for several hours, after which the Israeli forces forcibly removed the activists from the bus. They all were released within a few hours, on the condition that they not approach Jerusalem checkpoints for ten days. No injuries were reported. The incident occurred as part of the Palestinian “Freedom Rides” campaign designed to highlight the discrimination faced by Palestinians due to Israeli settlement activity and access restrictions.
During the two-week reporting period, OCHA also documented seven Israeli settler attacks leading to injuries or property damage, most of which affected the ongoing olive harvest. This represents a significant decline compared to the average number of incidents recorded in recent weeks (14).
In one incident near Tappuah settlement (Salfit), settlers stoned Palestinians while they were harvesting olives, injuring one of them and damaging a vehicle. Also, in three separate incidents in the Khallet Zakariya area (Bethlehem), Israeli settlers dispersed pepper spray, injuring a Palestinian child (10 years), cut down 30 grape vines, and set fire to three vehicles. These incidents come in the context of the ‘price tag’ strategy, after the Israeli authorities demolished three housing units in the nearby Bat Ayin settlement on 31 October. In a separate incident, settlers uprooted 25 olive trees belonging to the village of Madama (Nablus governorate).
In a serious incident on 10 November, Israeli soldiers staffing an ad-hoc “flying” checkpoint, south of Hebron City, shot at an Israeli vehicle that reportedly did not stop at the checkpoint when soldiers ordered it to do so, killing the Israeli settler driving the vehicle and injuring another two. In the course of the incident, a passing Palestinian truck driver hit one of the soldiers, injuring him. At another “flying” checkpoint in the Qalqiliya governorate during the period, a 15 year-old Palestinian child was physically assaulted and injured by soldiers. “Flying” checkpoints, which are on the rise, are often more disruptive than fixed checkpoints, due to their unpredictability. Since the beginning of 2011, OCHA has recorded the deployment of an average of 115 flying checkpoints a week, compared to 96 in 2010 and 66 in 2009.
Also this week, a Palestinian man and his donkey were killed after a settler vehicle hit them near Revava settlement (Salfit), while the man was returning home after picking olives near the settlement. According to an Israeli police investigation, the incident was accidental. Since the beginning of the year, three Palestinians, of whom
one was a child, have been killed and 19 others, including 14 children, have been injured after being hit by settler vehicles in the West Bank.
Demolitions and evictions in
East Jerusalem resumed
During the two-week reporting period, the Israeli authorities demolished at total of ten Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits.
In East Jerusalem, there is increasing concern over the expected eviction of a Palestinian family comprising 12 members, including four children, from their house in the neighborhood of Silwan. This is due to a decision issued this week by the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, indicating that the house is Absentee Property, has been allocated to an Israeli settler organization, and must be evacuated. Silwan has been targeted by Israeli settlers and the Israeli authorities in recent years, leading to the takeover of Palestinian property, the eviction of residents, and the establishment of the settleroperated “City of David” visitor center.
Also in East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem municipality demolished a caravan and a barracks in the At Tur area; 80 trees were also uprooted during the demolition. While these are the first demolitions carried out by the municipality after a four week lull, five structures were demolished by their owners in that period after receiving demolition orders.
Five of the demolished structures were in Area C, including three residences and an agricultural facility in Ein Diyuk at Tahta (Jericho); a mechanic workshop in Al Luban ash Sharqiya (Nablus); and newly-installed electricity connection, comprising ten pylons in At Tuwani community (Hebron). In the same context, the Israeli Civil Administration delivered stop-work orders against seven residential tents and 21 animal structures in the Bedouin community of Al Hadidiya in the northern Jordan Valley. This community has experienced a number of demolition waves since the late 1990s, including two sets in 2011 that resulted in the displacement of 37 people. Dozens of families have been permanently displaced from the community since 1997, due to a combination of factors, primarily demolitions, confiscation of water-related equipment and movement and access restrictions. Also during the period, demolition orders were issued two residences, an agricultural water pool, a road leading to a school and an animal shelter in the Hebron governorate.
Sporadic attacks continue;
two civilians and three
Despite the Egyptian-brokered calm on 30 October, sporadic attacks and clashes continued. During the two-week period, five Palestinians, of whom two were civilians, were killed, and 15 others, including five civilians, were injured. No Israeli casualties were reported.
The majority of the Palestinian casualties fell as a result of Israeli airstrikes and shellings launched, according to Israeli sources, in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed factions at southern Israel. In two separate incidents (on 5 and 14 November), the Israeli air force launched air strikes targeting a group of militants and a military base, killing a militant and a policeman, and injuring nine others, including six civilians, as well as four internationals (including the French Consul), in the Beit Lahiya and Khan Younis areas. In another incident, Israeli forces shelled an area near the border fence, east of Gaza City, injuring three civilians. On 3 November, Israeli forces clashed with members of an armed faction, killing two of them and injuring another.
Israeli restrictions on access to areas near the fence continue to undermine the safety and livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians. In one incident, soldiers opened fire towards workers collecting scrap metal near the fence, injuring one of them. On three occasions during the period, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered 200-300 meters into the Gaza Strip and withdrew after conducting land leveling. Also, restrictions continue to be enforced on fishing zones beyond three nautical miles. In one incident, the Israeli navy detained three fishermen and confiscated their boat. One of them had been released as of the end of the reporting period. In another two separate incidents, the Israeli navy opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them ashore.
Israel allows limited entry of
basic construction material
for the private sector
For the first time since October 2008, Israel allowed the entry of limited quantities of basic construction materials (35 truckloads carrying around 2,100 tonnes), including aggregates, cement and steel bars, into the Gaza Strip. This comes in the context of an Israeli announcement in August 2011, according to which, ten private sector companies would be allowed to import building materials to reconstruct their facilities, after Israeli approval.
Despite the easing of the blockade in June 2010, the import of basic construction materials has been authorized only for some specific humanitarian projects that are run by international organizations. However, the Gaza market is supplied with large quantities of such materials, which are smuggled via the hundreds of tunnels functioning under the border with Egypt. Since the beginning of 2011, tunnel activities have resulted in the death of 35 workers and the injury of another 50.