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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
10 March 2014

Key issues

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians in the West Bank and injure 29 others; Israeli settlers injure three more Palestinians.

The Gaza Power Plant will shut down on 13 March due to the imminent depletion of its fuel reserves.

Rafah crossing remains closed for regular travelers for over a month.


Tension in West Bank on the rise: two Palestinians killed and 29 injured

In two separate incidents within a period of 24 hours, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian civilians. The first, which took place on 10 March at an Israeli checkpoint at the King Hussein crossing (also known as Allenby Bridge) between the West Bank and Jordan, resulted in the death of a 38-year-old man of Palestinian origin who resides in Jordan. While the incident involved a physical clash between the man and an Israeli soldier, the precise circumstances of the incident remain unclear. The Israeli Prime Minister regretted the killing and said that Israel has agreed to establish a joint Israeli-Jordanian team to investigate the incident.

Later the same day, Israeli forces shot and killed a 20-year-old university student from Beitin village (Ramallah) with live ammunition in the head. In this case, the circumstances of the incident are also disputed: while the Israeli media reported that the man was part of a group of youth throwing stones at Israeli vehicles travelling on Road 60, next to the village, according to the village’s residents, there was no stone throwing in the area when the man was killed.

These incidents bring the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the begging of 2014 to five, the same as the equivalent period in 2013. The UN Deputy Special Coordinator, James Rawley, expressed deep concern about these incidents and urged the Israeli authorities to conduct thorough investigations and ensure accountability for any violations of international law.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces injured another 29 Palestinians, including eight children, during clashes across the West Bank. Twelve (12) of them, including two boys, shot with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets, were injured during three clashes with Israeli forces inside and at the entrance of Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah), in response to stone throwing. The frequency and intensity of clashes in this location have intensified in recent months, following Israeli forces’ killing of a 15-year-old boy from the camp in December 2013 and a worker from the camp in January 2014.

In the late night hours of 10 March, Palestinians from the camp shot fire towards the adjacent Beit El settlement, damaging a window glass of an Israeli settler’s house. Following that, Israeli forces conducted a search operation in the camp, clashed with the residents, and injuring three people (included above).

Another 11 were injured during clashes that erupted in weekly demonstrations; in An Nabi Saleh village (Ramallah), against the expansion of Hallamish settlement on the villages’ land; in Bi’lin village (Ramallah) against the construction of the Barrier on the villages’ land; and in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against the long-standing Israeli closure of one of the villages’ main entrances.

Another two Palestinians, including a 60-year-old man, were injured in clashes that erupted during search-and-arrest operations by Israeli forces in the villages of ‘Illar (Tulkarm) and Ya’bad (Jenin), on 4 and 8 March respectively.

Five Palestinians injured in settler-related incidents

This week, OCHA recorded reports of seven settler-related incidents; two of which resulted in Palestinian injuries and five in damage to their property; no incidents against Israeli settlers were reported.

The most serious incident took place on 6 March, when a group of Israeli settlers from Kokhav Hashahar settlement physically assaulted and seriously injured three Palestinian farmers from Al Mughayyir village (Ramallah), who were collecting wild plants (Gundelia) in a private land near the settlement. Tens of families from the village rely on the gathering and marketing of this plant during the month of March.

Another violent clash involving settlers took place in the Al Khan Al Ahmar area (Jerusalem), on 9 March, when a group of 100 Palestinians attempted to plant trees on their land in the vicinity of an Israeli settlement. Israeli forces intervened and fired teargas canisters, injuring two Palestinians who were treated for teargas inhalation, and arrested 12 other Palestinians. The planting was carried out to protest the takeover and subsequent cultivation by settlers of several plots of private land in the area belonging to residents of Anata village.

Also this week, there were two settler attacks resulting in property damage in An Nabi Samuel village (Jerusalem), one of which targeted a car-wash facility (the third such attack in the past few months) and another involving damage to 50 olive saplings. The village, which is located in Area C on the “Jerusalem side” of the Barrier, is physically isolated from the rest of the West Bank and is affected by settler attacks.

On 9 March, a group of Israeli settlers from Bracha settlement attacked Palestinian workers rehabilitating an agricultural road in Area B in the village of Burin (Nablus). Israeli forces intervened and forced the workers to leave. A similar incident took place on 14 January, following which the Israeli military designated the area as a “closed military zone”, resulting in the suspension of the project for nearly 45 days.

In Masafer Yatta, settlers from Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost stoned and physically assaulted a shepherd while he was grazing his sheep in a private land near the settlement, before Israeli forces arrived and arrested him. There were several other incidents of harassments by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in other parts of Hebron governorate, none of which resulted in injuries.

In two incidents on 5 and 10 March, a settler from Eli settlement attacked a Palestinian farmer working his land and damaged two trees in Talfit, and another attempted to steal a mule from Al Lubban Al Sharqiya (Nablus area). Both settlers were detained by the villages’ residents, then released by Israeli forces or local Palestinian authorities after some hours.

27 Palestinian families evicted or confined during Israeli military training

On 6 March, three extended families from Khirbet Yarza were temporarily evicted from their homes and another 23 families from Khirbet Ar Ras al Ahmar (both in the Jordan Valley, Tubas governorate) were confined to their homes, both for nearly six hours, to make way for Israeli military training in the area. The affected families reported the firing of live ammunition and the use of tanks and helicopters by Israeli military during the training, causing panic among residents, especially among children. The same families were affected by another military training in the area last week.

Both communities are located within areas Israel designates as “closed firing zone” for military training. Nearly 18 per cent of the West Bank is designated as such, with 38 Bedouin and herding communities (6,200 people) located within these areas. Most have existed for decades before the designation, undermining their livelihoods and making them highly vulnerable to displacement.

On 10 March, the Israeli authorities demolished a non-residential structure (latrines) in a donor-funded archaeological park in the village of Burqa (Nablus) on the grounds that the structure, located in Area C, lacked the Israeli-issued building permit. On the same grounds, the Israeli authorities issued at least 10 demolition and stop-work orders against residential (seven structures) and other livelihood structures, in Area C areas in Hebron, Bethlehem and Jericho. No demolitions were recorded during the week in East Jerusalem.


Sharp reduction in violent incidents along the perimeter fence
The reporting period was one of the calmest recorded since December 2013 in the Gaza Strip, with no reports of Palestinian deaths or injuries by Israeli forces. This could be attributed to measures taken by the security members of the local authorities in Gaza, who prevented demonstrators from approaching the access restricted area (ARA) along the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of 2014, there has been a significant increase in the frequency of incidents in the ARA involving shooting at civilians by Israeli forces, which resulted in four civilian fatalities and 56 injuries, mainly during protests.

On at least five occasions this week, Israeli naval forces fired warning shots at Palestinian fishermen approaching the Israeli-imposed six-nautical-mile fishing limits, forcing them back to the shore. No injuries or damage were reported.
Palestinian armed groups continued sporadic rocket firings at southern Israel, most of which fell short in Gaza without causing injuries or damages.

Gaza Power Plant to shutdown on 13 March

Fuel imports for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), funded by the government of Qatar, continued through Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, with some 1.9 million litres of fuel entering Gaza during the week (similar to the previous week). This represents 45 percent of the weekly requirement (4.2 million litres) for the GPP to operate at full capacity.

The Head of the Gaza Energy Authority noted that this week’s consignment of fuel for the GPP was the last funded by the Government of Qatar, warning that the GPP will shut down on 13 March unless an emergency fuel supply becomes available. This will increase power outages to 16 hours, compared with the current average of 12 hours when the plant functions at half capacity.

Rafah Crossing remains closed for regular travelers

Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was opened for two days on 9 and 10 March, exclusively for the movement of pilgrims between Gaza Strip and Mecca, allowing some 750 pilgrims to leave Gaza and 400 others to return.

Only pilgrims were allowed to travel through Rafah during the past month, while other humanitarian cases, students and third country nationals have been denied for over a month. The crossing was last open for regular travelers on 6 February.

During February 2014, only 3,720 people entered Gaza and 3,273 exited, through Rafah crossing, mainly pilgrims, compared with 17,035 and 16,561 respectively, during February 2013. Prior to July 2013, Rafah functioned as the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via Erez Crossing.

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