Israeli forces injured six Palestinians this week, including two children, the majority of whom were wounded during demonstrations. So far in 2010, seven Palestinians and two members of the Israeli security forces have been killed in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In addition, 748 Palestinians and 101 Israeli soldiers and policemen have been injured in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Five Palestinians, including two boys (ages four and 14), sustained injuries in two weekly demonstrations protesting restrictions on Palestinian access to agricultural areas near the settlement of Karmei Zur in the Hebron governorate (three injuries) and the construction of the Barrier in Ramallah governorate (Bil’in village; two injuries). In the latter protest, two dunums of land planted with olive trees were burnt as a result of tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces. Another Palestinian was injured when physically assaulted by Israeli soldiers in H2 area of Hebron City.
Palestinians, together with international and Israeli activists, held a protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem against the eviction of Palestinian families by Israeli settlers in the area. Israeli forces physically assaulted several protesters and arrested 12 others, including two internationals, during the confrontations. A number of other demonstrations were held this week, all of which ended without casualties. These included two protests in the Ramallah governorate (against Barrier construction and the expansion of Hallamish settlement), one in Hebron City (against the permanent closure of the main commercial street in the old city for Palestinian vehicles), and two in East Jerusalem (against the expected expulsion of four members of the Palestinian Legislative Council from the city, and the plan to demolish dozens of houses in the Silwan neighbourhood).
This week, Israeli forces conducted 62 search operations inside Palestinian towns and villages, a significant decline compared to this year’s weekly average (99).
Israeli settler violence
OCHA recorded four incidents involving Israeli settlers which resulted in either Palestinian injuries or damage to Palestinian property. A total of 148 such incidents took place in 2010, in which 58 Palestinians have been injured, compared to 74 incidents in the equivalent period of 2009. According to the IDF spokesperson, a settler was injured when Palestinians stoned his vehicle while travelling in the Nablus governorate.
In two separate incidents, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and wounded two Palestinians; one Palestinian was injured while tending his land in the vicinity of Kiryat Arba’ settlement (Hebron governorate), the other injury occurred in Al Lubban Ash Sharqiya village (Nablus governorate). One of the two incidents resulting in property damage involved a group of Israeli settlers who entered the village of Al Lubban Ash Sharqiya (Nablus) and uprooted a number of fig trees, olive seedlings and vegetable crops planted on two dunums of land. The other incident occurred in the Beit Hanina village (Jerusalem), where 30 dunums of land, including 60 olive trees, were set on fire and damaged, allegedly by Israeli settlers.
There were a number of additional incidents of violence and intimidation that ended with no casualties or damage reported this week. In one incident, Israeli settlers entered the Burin village (Nablus), stoned a house and verbally attacked its residents.
Also this week, a sewage pipe burst in the Sha’arei Tiqwa settlement, causing sewage to flood the playground of an adjacent secondary school in the nearby village of ‘Azzun ‘Atme (Qalqiliya), located on the western side of the Barrier. As a result, 100 children were prevented from attending the summer camp held in the school for a period of one day.
Resumption of house demolitions in East Jerusalem; new stop work orders
The Jerusalem Municipality demolished seven Palestinian-owned structures in the Beit Hanina, Jabal Al Mukabber and Al ‘Isawiya neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem. These included three Palestinian homes, two houses under construction, a shed and building foundations. As a result, 25 Palestinians, including 12 children, the youngest of whom is two months old, were forcibly displaced. Another 26 people, including eight children, were otherwise affected by the demolitions. These were the first demolitions of inhabited houses by the Jerusalem Municipality since November 2009; demolitions of un-inhabited and non-residential structures, as well as the distribution of demolition orders, have continued throughout the period. While the municipality states that demolitions are only carried out against structures lacking the required Israeli building permits, it is very difficult for the Palestinian residents of the city to obtain such permits. In 2010, a total of 24 Palestinian structures have been demolished in East Jerusalem on these grounds, effectively displacing 32 people, including 17 children.
In Area C of the West Bank, Israeli authorities issued stop-work and demolition orders against 15 Palestinian-owned structures in the villages of Fasayil al Fauqa and Az Zubeidat (Jericho governorate), Burqa (Nablus governorate), Al Jalama (Jenin governorate) and Zif (Hebron governorate. The targeted structures include six residences, five animal shelters, three vendor kiosks and a water cistern. So far this year, the Israeli authorities have demolished 95 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, displacing 129 people, compared to 163 structures in the same period in 2009, displacing 319 people.
Also in Area C (Hebron governorate), Israeli forces served an evacuation order to four farmers working on land (28 dunums) in the town of Beit Ula, giving them a period of 45 days to return the land to its previous situation, on the grounds that the property is a “State Land”; and confiscated a concrete mixer, plastic irrigation pipes and other agricultural equipment belonging to a farmer in Zif village.
Movement and access
Israeli forces prevented some 16 farmers from accessing land near the settlement of Yaqir (near Deir Istiya village; Salfit) to implement an agricultural land rehabilitation project. The farmers were denied entry on the grounds that coordination procedures between the Palestinian and Israeli DCLs (District Coordination and Liaison Offices) to access these areas have not been finalized. Since the establishment of a settlement outpost in the area in 2001, Palestinian farmers have been prevented from reaching land (around 4000 dunums), and have been subject to recurrent harassment and attacks by settlers. Over the past few years, the Israeli authorities have implemented a “prior” coordination system throughout the West Bank, which allows limited access for Palestinians to farming areas, primarily during the olive harvest season; such a system is currently in place in 57 Israeli settlements and settlement outposts
Incidents along the border continue; one woman killed and nine others injured
Israeli forces killed a Palestinian woman and injured nine other Palestinians in separate incidents near the Gaza-Israel border. In 2010, 35 Palestinians (including 12 civilians), three Israeli soldiers and one foreign national have been killed in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Another 139 Palestinians (including 122 civilians) and five Israeli soldiers have been injured.
On 13 July, a Palestinian woman was killed and three members of her family, including two women, were injured when two shells fired by Israeli forces landed in the vicinity of their house, located approximately 400 metres from the Gaza-Israel border in Johr ad Dik. According to Israeli media reports, citing the IDF spokesperson, the soldiers opened fire after spotting two “suspicious” figures approaching the border fence. Also near the border, five other Palestinians sustained wounds in four separate incidents when Israeli forces opened fire towards groups of Palestinians collecting scrap metal. Another Palestinian was injured during one of seven Israeli land-leveling incursions inside the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis. These incidents took place in the context of the Israeli restrictions imposed on Palestinian access to areas within approximately one kilometer from the border fence, which entail opening “warning” fire towards people approaching or entering these areas. In 2010, 27 Palestinians have been killed and 99 others injured near the border under similar circumstances.
Similar access restrictions apply on fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from the shore. On one occasion, the Israeli navy opened “warning fire” towards Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them ashore. On another occasion, the Israeli navy intercepted a boat and arrested two Palestinian fishermen for questioning in Israel; the fishermen were later released.
Palestinian armed factions fired a number of rudimentary rockets towards southern Israel, including at military bases located on the border, resulting in no injuries or damage to property.
PA liaison office at Erez crossing vandalized
In the morning of 9 July, unknown persons reportedly broke into the Palestinian Liaison Office at Erez crossing, vandalized its contents and stole some communications equipment. The office is responsible for coordinating traveler movement into and out of the Gaza Strip with Israeli counterparts. These include Gazan patients leaving to hospitals in the West Bank, Israel and abroad. The perpetrators, who remain unknown, also reportedly obtained copies of medical referral documents.
Crossings: the volume of imports continues to grow; exports remain severely restricted
Since the Israeli announcement to ease the blockade on Gaza on 20 June, the number of imported truckloads has steadily increased. A total of 846 truckloads of goods entered Gaza between 4 and 10 July, constituting an increase of 53 percent compared to a weekly average of 553 from the beginning of 2010 up to the time of the announcement. Although this week’s figure is the highest recorded since March 2009, it only represents 30 percent of the equivalent number (on average) of the first five months of 2007, before the imposition of the blockade. Food and hygiene items still make up the majority of imports (483 truckloads or 51 percent), however, with the increase in the import of other items, their percentage of the total has gradually declined from 80 to 50 percent of all imports. No exports left Gaza this week, and no change in the policy prohibiting exports implemented since June 2007 has been announced by the Israeli authorities.
Imports allowed into Gaza are mainly consumer goods and limited quantities of ‘productive items’, including agricultural and fishing materials and raw materials for the textile industry (thread and sewing kits). Of significance this week, ten truckloads of raw materials for textile and ten truckloads carrying 291 calves were allowed entry; the latter was last allowed entry in November 2009. With the exception of glass, wood and aluminum (allowed for the commercial sector during the past few months), only limited amounts of construction materials designated for three projects implemented by international organizations continue to enter Gaza.
Movement of people remains unchanged
The movement of people continues to be severely restricted. On 7 July, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition, submitted by Gisha, an Israeli human rights group, on behalf of a Gazan student wishing to study at Birzeit University in Ramallah. During court deliberations, it became clear that the latest Israeli easing blockade restrictions were limited to imports, and movement of people in and out of Gaza remains mostly limited to cases defined as “humanitarian”.
Electricity crisis, shortages of industrial fuel and cooking gas continue
A total of 0.89 million litres of industrial fuel to operate the Gaza power plant entered Gaza this week, constituting only 28 percent of the needed fuel to operate the plant at full capacity. As a result, the majority of the population in Gaza continues to experience power cuts of up to eight hours per day. These cuts affect all spheres of daily life, as well as the provision of essential public services inside the Gaza Strip.
Around 944 tonnes of cooking gas entered Gaza, representing only 67 percent of the weekly average of gas needed, as estimated by the Gas Owners Stations Association. Cooking gas rationing remains in place since November 2009.