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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
18 November 2013

Key issues

72 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank and two Palestinian farmers were injured by Israeli forces near the fence separating Israel and Gaza.

The fuel and power crisis continued in Gaza, affecting the provision of vital basic services, including health and water and sanitation: the largest sewage pump station in Gaza City flooded an area of nearly 160,000 square meters.

The Rafah Crossing remained closed by the Egyptian authorities for the eleventh day.


Seventy-two Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces

This week, 74 Palestinians, including 13 children, were injured by Israeli forces across the West Bank, in clashes that erupted in variety of contexts.

Nearly half of this week’s injuries (35) took place in Abu Dis town (Jerusalem) during clashes with Israeli forces on 15 and 17 November. Most of the injuries (32) occurred on the 17th November, when clashes erupted between tens of Palestinian stone throwers, including students from Al Quds University, and Israeli forces, while the latter were guarding Israeli workers carrying out maintenance on the Barrier in an area adjacent to the University. During the clashes, Israeli forces fired tear gas and sound grenades towards students inside the university, causing damage to university property.

Nineteen (19) other Palestinians, including five children, were injured on 15 November, in the context of weekly demonstrations in Bi’lin village (Ramallah), against the construction of the Barrier on the village’s lands, and in Kafr Qaddum village (Qaqliliya), against the closure of the village’s main entrance and the expansion of Israeli settlements on the village’s land.

An additional nine injuries (9) occurred this week during two separate clashes with Israeli forces in the context of Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians. Both incidents occurred in the Nablus governorate: on 14 November, Israeli settlers from Bracha settlement raided the village of Burin. Clashes erupted between settlers and village residents, after which Israeli forces intervened and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and gas grenades toward the Palestinians, injuring two. During the incident, Israeli forces shot and injured a woman with rubber-coated metal bullets, while she was attempting to secure the release of her 15-year-old child, who was being arrested, allegedly for stone throwing. Two other Palestinians were arrested during the incident. Similarly, on 18 November, Israeli settlers from Esh Kodesh settlement raided the Palestinian village of Qusra, after which clashes erupted with residents. Israeli forces intervened and fired live and rubber-coated metal bullets at Palestinian stone throwers, injuring six of them. Earlier that day, settlers had damaged two greenhouses and 27 olive trees in the village.

Also this week, four Palestinians, including one woman, were injured on 16 November, when Israeli forces raided their house in Al Arrub Refugee Camp (Hebron) during a search-and-arrest operation; a 64-year-old man and his wife (60 years) were physically assaulted and injured and their two sons were injured by sound bombs, fired directly at their upper body by Israeli forces, during the course of operation.

Five Palestinian children injured when Israeli settlers set their house on fire

This week, OCHA recorded 14 settler-related incidents resulting in casualties or damage to Palestinian-owned property. (These include the two incidents involving Israeli forces reported above).

On 14 November, five Palestinian children from Sinjil village (Ramallah), aged between 18 months and eight years, were injured and received medical treatment in hospital for smoke inhalation, after a group of Israeli settlers broke into their home, threw jars of fuel inside the house and set it on fire, before they escaped towards the adjacent settlement of Shilo. The settlers also sprayed graffiti on a wall in front of the house.

Also this week, a 48-year-old man was hit by a rock and seriously injured near Bab Al Magharba in the Old City of Jerusalem. Another Palestinian man from East Jerusalem was injured when his car was stoned by Israelis along Bar-Ilan Street in West Jerusalem (not included in total).

Israeli settlers damaged a total of 465 Palestinian-owned olive trees in Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron governorates, affecting dozens of Palestinians. Since the beginning of 2013, close to 10,000 Palestinian-owned trees, mostly olive trees, have been damaged by Israeli settlers. In the village of Bruqin, Israeli settlers also reportedly poured an unknown white substance on Palestinian land, while Israeli settlers from Nofim settlement also planted citrus trees on land adjacent to the settlement, owned by two Palestinian families from Qarawat Bani Hassan (both in Salfit). Additionally, three Palestinian vehicles were stoned and damaged by Israeli settlers while travelling near Kafr Laqif (Qalqiliya), and near Huwwara checkpoint (Nablus).

Settler-related violence undermines the physical security and livelihoods of Palestinians. At present, OCHA estimates that there are 110 Palestinian communities, with a combined population of over 315,000 people, who are vulnerable to settler violence; of these, almost 60 communities (population over 130,000) are at high risk.


Israeli forces renew requisition orders against 1,426 dunums of Palestinian land

On 12 November, the Israeli authorities completed the demolition of two zinc caravans in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, which had been inhabited by two Palestinian families since the demolition of their apartment building in February 2013, due to the lack of a building permit. The families had begun the self-demolition of the caravans the previous day(during the previous reporting period), after receiving demolition orders from the Israeli authorities, to avoid paying additional fines. Fourteen (14) people, including six children, were displaced. (See previous Protection of civilians report for additional information.)

Also this week, on 13 November, Israeli forces renewed requisition orders against 1,409 dunums of land belonging to three Palestinian clans (Al Ka’abneh, Al Hathaleen and Imneizil) from east Yatta (Hebron), for the construction of the Barrier. In 2006, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) approved the construction of a Barrier section on the requisitioned land. Similarly, Israeli forces distributed a renewed requisition order against 17 dunums of Palestinian-owned agricultural land, planted with olive trees and belonging to the villages of Yatma, Beita, Qabalan, Aqraba and Osarin (Nablus).

On 18 November, the Israeli authorities distributed six stop work orders in Area C against nine residential and agricultural structures belonging to six Palestinian families near Bardala village (Tubas), for lacking Israeli-issued building permits. The families were given notice to appeal these orders until 1 December 2013. Approximately 40 people, including at least 25 children, will be affected. Also, Israeli authorities delivered notices to four Palestinian Bedouin families from Bir Al Maskoob area (Jerusalem) in Area C, giving them three days to object to previously-issued demolition orders due to the lack of building permits against four structures (two residential and two animal). In this case four registered refugee families, comprising 36 people, including 21 children, are affected.

Two Palestinians injured in Access Restricted Area

Two Palestinian farmers were shot and injured by Israeli forces on 13 November, reportedly while working their land near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip; one in Al Musadar , in the middle area and the other in Abassan, east of Khan Younis. The two incidents occurred within the context of on-going Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas along the fence between Gaza and Israel. In the same context, on at least two occasions, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza, and conducted land leveling operations near the fence.

Restrictions also continue to be imposed on Palestinian access to fishing areas: on at least five occasions this week, Israeli naval forces reportedly opened warning fire towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the Israeli-imposed six (NM) fishing limit; no injuries were reported. Also, on 17 November, two fishermen were arrested and their boat and fishing equipment confiscated by the Israeli navy, while reportedly sailing near the 1.5 nautical mile “no-go” sea corridor area between Gaza and Israel, west of Beit Lahia.

This week, a 24-year-old Palestinian patient was detained on 14 November by Israeli security forces at the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, after he had been interviewed by them. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the patient was called to the meeting as a pre-condition to issuing him a permit to access a hospital in East Jerusalem, to which he had been referred for medical treatment. According to Al Mezan , since the beginning of 2013, eight patients or companions to patients from Gaza have been detained by the Israeli security forces in similar circumstances. Due to the access restrictions on Erez Crossing and the frequent closure of Rafah Crossing, hundreds of patients are reportedly unable to pursue their medical treatment at hospitals in the West Bank, Israel or Egypt.

Also this week, on 14 November, Israeli forces reportedly launched two airstrikes targeting open areas in Gaza, in response to three projectiles reportedly fired by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel which landed and exploded in open areas; none of the incidents resulted in injuries or damage.

Large area of Gaza city flooded with sewage due to fuel shortage

On 13 November, the largest sewage pump station in Gaza City overflowed and released over 35,000 cubic meters of untreated sewage, flooding an area of nearly 160,000 square meters in the southern neighborhood of Az Zeitoun, south of Gaza City. Approximately 3,000 people, living in the surrounding areas, were directly or indirectly affected.

The affected station collects and pumps around 60 per cent of the sewage produced in Gaza City to the Central Treatment Plant. The overflow was caused by the failure of backup generators, which normally compensate for the lack of regular electricity supply, due to lack of fuel. The station currently requires 2,000 liters of diesel per day to function. Unless fuel is immediately delivered, the overflow is likely to continue, affecting an increasingly large area and number of people. Another six main sewage pump stations across Gaza city are currently at risk of a similar overflow. None of the 291 water and sewage treatment facilities are functioning adequately due to a lack of fuel to power the back-up generators, which is resulting in some 90 million litres of raw and partially treated sewage being dumped daily into the sea.

This incident occurs within the context of the ongoing fuel and energy crisis affecting the Gaza Strip, which has been compounded in recent weeks following the halt in the smuggling of subsidized Egyptian fuel through the tunnels. Since June 2013, the Egyptian authorities have closed hundreds of illegal tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza borders, in the context of security operations in the Sinai. As few as 10,000-20,000 litres of fuel were reportedly transferred to Gaza through the few still operational smuggling tunnels during the past two weeks, compared to approximately one million litres that entered per day before June. The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) has been forced to shut down completely since the beginning of the month, after exhausting its fuel reserves. This has triggered electricity blackouts of up to 16 hours per day. Prior to June, the plant received over 400,000 liters of cheap Egyptian fuel per day through the smuggling tunnels and was able to keep a fuel reserve of up to 8 million litres, producing about 30 percent of the electricity supplied in the Gaza Strip. The GPP needs at least 500,000 liters of fuel per day in order to run at full capacity producing around 120 megawatts. The electricity that is currently supplied to Gaza is purchased from Israel and Egypt (120 and 30 megawatts, respectively), which covers only 38 percent of the needs. The electricity shortage threatens already precarious infrastructure, severely disrupting the provision of basic services, including health, water, sanitation and transportation. Most of the wastewater treatment plants in the Gaza Strip were already overloaded and working beyond their intended capacity, prior to the recent events.

The Israeli government continues to halt the entry of construction material into Gaza

For the sixth consecutive week, the Israeli authorities have continued to halt the entry of construction materials to the Gaza Strip, mainly cement, steel bars and aggregate, including for international projects. This follows the 13 October announcement by the Israeli authorities that it was suspending the entry of such materials to the Gaza Strip after discovering a 1.8 kilometer-long underground tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

For the last three weeks, the transfer of goods into Gaza through the illegal tunnels has reportedly stopped. Prior to June 13, over 200 truckloads of a wide variety of goods, such as food, construction materials, and fuel, were entering per day. In particular, virtually no construction materials entered through the tunnels. The very limited quantities of available construction materials are being sold in the local market at triple the prices in June 2013.

Rafah Crossing update

The Rafah Crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt was closed by the Egyptian authorities for the entire reporting period. The crossing was last open on 6 and 7 November for the movement of humanitarian cases, particularly students and patients. Approximately 1,860 persons crossed in both directions per day in June, before strict measures were imposed at the Crossing by the Egyptian authorities, in the context of security concerns in the Sinai. Since early July, when open, the crossing has operated four-six hours per day compared to nine hours (seven days per week) prior to early July. The Crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via the Erez Crossing.

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