|Decline in clashes and injuries
This week witnessed a significant decline in the number of injuries stemming from clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces: overall 22 Palestinians were injured in a range of incidents, compared to 64 last week and a weekly average of 42 since the beginning of 2014.
Half of this week’s injuries occurred during clashes that erupted in the course of search-and arrest operations. One such incident took place in the Al ‘Isawiyya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where the Israeli Police fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters towards Palestinians who threw stones at them, injuring nine residents, including three children. Violent clashes in this neighborhood, in the context of police operations and access restrictions, have been recorded in recent months on an almost weekly basis, resulting in 27 Palestinian injuries since the beginning of 2014.
Three other Palestinians were injured in similar clashes during search-and-arrest operations in Deir Nidham (Ramallah), Seida (Tulkarm) and Balata refugee camp (Nablus). In total this week, Israeli forces carried out at least 70 search and arrest operations across the West Bank, during which around 100 people were arrested.
Also in the Jerusalem area this week, Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces who were protecting workers carrying out maintenance activities on the Barrier next to the neighbourhood of Kafr ‘Aqab; five Palestinians, including two children, were injured by live ammunition (3) and rubber-coated metal bullets (2). While Kafr ‘Aqab is located within the Israeli-declared municipal boundary of Jerusalem, it has been separated from the rest of the city by the Barrier, forcing residents to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint to access services and places of work, and leading to a virtual halt in the provision of municipal services in the neighborhood itself.
While the regular protests against the Barrier, settlements and access restrictions continued this week, and some of them triggered confrontations with Israeli forces, no injuries were reported. Elsewhere, two protests, organized in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and held in Ar Ram village (Jerusalem) and at Beituniya checkpoint (Ramallah), led to clashes resulting in the injury of two Palestinians.
Also this week, the Spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that according to the initial findings of an investigation it carried out, the killing of two Palestinian boys in a demonstration near Jerusalem by Israeli forces last week (WBN557) “may amount to extrajudicial executions under human rights law as well as willful killings under international humanitarian law”. The Spokesperson welcomed the opening of an investigation into the incident by the IDF Military Police and called for this investigation to be prompt, thorough, effective, independent, impartial and transparent. Since April 2011, Military Police investigations are automatically opened regarding most cases involving the killing of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank by Israeli soldiers; until now they have resulted in a total of one indictment.
Two Palestinians and one Israeli injured in settler-related violence
A total of five incidents involving Israelis and Israeli settlers, and resulting in Palestinian injuries or damage to their property, were recorded during the week, slightly below the weekly average of incidents reported since the beginning of the year (7). Five additional incidents involved Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the West Bank.
Two of this week’s incidents affecting Palestinians ended in injuries. On 24 May, it was reported that a settler driving on Road 60 in Hebron opened fire towards Al Aroub refugee camp in Hebron, injuring a man; the circumstances of the incident are unclear. In another incident in West Jerusalem on 20 May, a Palestinian worker from East Jerusalem was physically assaulted and injured by a group of ultra-orthodox Jews, following which the Israeli police arrived and arrested some of the assailants.
In two incidents that affected Palestinian property
on 20 and 22 May, Israeli settlers set fire to 22 trees and 20 sacks of harvested wheat, near Revava settlement (Salfit) and Mitzpe Yatir outpost (Hebron), respectively. Also, settlers from Sde Bo’az settlement outpost in Bethlehem grazed their sheep on land owned by residents of Al Khader village, damaging 100 grape vines and almond trees.
In five incidents this week, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles, including buses, driving on West Bank roads in Hebron and Bethlehem governorates. Four of the incidents caused damage to the vehicles and one resulted in an injury.
Over 100 people in the Jordan Valley displaced by demolitions and military evacuations
During the week, the Israeli authorities demolished 40 Palestinian-owned structures in several parts of Area C of the West Bank, due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 70 people, including 38 children, and otherwise affecting 23 others.
Most of the structures (36) were demolished in Abu al ‘Ajaj Bedouin area of Al Jiftik town (Jericho governorate) in the Jordan Valley. Demolished structures included ten residential tents, 19 animal shelters, a fodder storage unit, a traditional stone oven, a kitchen and a fence. Ten families were displaced and another three negatively affected. In addition, around 4,000 sheep and 15 calves were left without shelter.
This community is home to some 1,580 people, and is one of four residential areas within Al Jiftlik town (pop.~5,600), the largest Area C community in the Jordan Valley. This town, which serves as a service center for neighboring communities, is the only one in the Jordan Valley with a special outline plan approved in 2005 by the Israeli authorities. However, this plan only covers approximately 55 percent of the existing population, rendering the rest, including those affected by this week’s demolitions, vulnerable to further displacement as well as to serious restrictions to develop water, electricity and sewage networks. This is the fifth time the residents of Al Jiftlik / Abu al ‘Ajaj have experienced demolition incidents since the beginning of the year, leading to the destruction of 50 structures and the displacement of 95 persons, including 53 children, some of whom were displaced more than once.
Also this week, two residential tents provided by a humanitarian organization to the Khan al Ahmar Bedouin community in response to last week’s demolition there, were dismantled and seized by the Israeli Civil Administration. The remaining two demolitions this week included a 300-m2 warehouse and an extension to a carpentry workshop in Al Khalayleh community in Area C of the Jerusalem governorate on 20 May.
Also in the Jordan Valley this week, in the early morning hours of 26 May, eight families comprising 62 people, including 27 children, were temporarily displaced from their homes in Humsa al Buqai’a community for a few hours to make way for Israeli military training exercises. The community is located in a closed area designated for Israeli military training, or a “firing zone”. Such areas encompass about 18 percent of the West Bank and are home to 38 small herding communities where some 6,200 people live. An additional 50 communities (12,200 people) are located in the vicinity of these areas and depend on access to them for their livelihoods. Since the beginning of 2012, Israeli forces have carried out 67 military exercises resulting in the temporary displacement, mainly in the Jordan Valley; many of the affected households were displaced multiple times. According to an Israeli media report this week, a senior IDF officer recently stated that these military exercises play a role in pushing Palestinians out of the firing zones.