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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
20 February 2015

Key issues
Israeli forces injure 30 Palestinians across the West Bank.
One third of Palestinian arrests were in the Jerusalem governorate.
Israeli authorities demolish five structures in Area C and East Jerusalem and issue eviction orders pertaining to around 650 dunums of land.
Gaza temporarily suspends import of Israeli fruits.
Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has not been exceptionally opened since 22 January 2015

Israeli forces injure 30 Palestinians across the West Bank

During the week, Israeli forces injured 30 Palestinians, including nine children, in various clashes across the West Bank. Of these, six were injured with live ammunition, including four children. The incident resulting in the single largest number of injuries (16) took place on 13 February during clashes between Israel forces and Palestinian stone throwers in Al ‘Eizariya in the Jerusalem governorate.

Five of this week’s injuries, including two children, were recorded during protests in the governorate of Qalqiliya against the closure of the main eastern entrance to the village of ‘Azzun, and during the weekly protest against the longstanding closure of the entrance to Kafr Qaddum village.

Two clashes in ‘Ayda Refugee Camp (Bethlehem) resulted in an additional six injuries, including a 30-year-old UNRWA contractor, hit with a rubber bullet to the chest, while working in an office adjacent to the site of confrontations between Israeli forces and children engaged in stone-throwing. Confrontations of this type have been on the rise in ‘Ayda Refugee Camp over the course of 2014, resulting in one death and 163 injuries.

Overall, Israeli forces conducted 74 search and arrest operations during the week, compared to a weekly average of 87 during 2014 and a weekly average of 84 thus far, in 2015. Similar to the previous reporting period, around one third were carried out in the Jerusalem governorate, and two triggered clashes resulting in three injuries.

No Israeli settler attacks recorded this week

This week, for the first time as far back as 2005 no settler attacks on Palestinians resulting in injury or property damage were recorded, setting the weekly average of such attacks thus far in 2015 to four, compared to a weekly average of six during 2014.

During the week, there were seven Palestinian attacks involving Molotov cocktail and stone throwing at Israeli vehicles and houses in East Jerusalem, and the governorates of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem, according to Israeli media reports; all resulted in damage to property. In two separate incidents (not included in the count), Palestinians threw paint bottles and stones at the light train station in the Shu’fat area of East Jerusalem causing damage to a windshield. Israeli forces carried out search and arrest operations, but no arrests were reported.

Four structures demolished in the Jerusalem governorate

During the reporting period, Israeli authorities demolished four Palestinian-owned structures due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits, affecting 25 Palestinians. This brings the number of structures demolished since the beginning of 2015 to 89 compared to 119 in the equivalent period of 2014. Additionally, at least one stop-work order and two eviction orders were delivered.

In East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities demolished an uninhabited house in Silwan, built in 2014, on privately-owned land. Silwan has a population of some 55,000 Palestinians and is immediately adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem. Due to its strategic significance, it has repeatedly been the target of Israeli settlement activities, as well as by religious settler organizations with government support.

Also this week, in Area C of the Jerusalem governorate, Israeli authorities demolished a commercial structure and a horse stable, belonging to the At Tur Bedouin community, and a two-storey building in the Al Khalayleh community, which included four commercial shops and one uninhabited residential apartment. As a result, a registered refugee family comprising seven people including four children were affected. Both communities, along with 15 others, are located on the “Jerusalem” side of the Barrier, physically separated from the rest of the West Bank. Those residents who hold West Bank ID cards (around 1,500 Palestinians) are also denied access to the surrounding East Jerusalem area for work, markets or services. Movement between their homes and the rest of the West Bank, is conditional upon obtaining either special Israeli ‘seam zone’ permits or having their names recorded on a coordination list at the nearest checkpoint.

Also this week in Area C, Israeli authorities delivered eviction orders pertaining to over 650 dunums of cultivated land in Ash Shuyukh village, affecting around 20 families. The land was declared as public land (also known as “state land”) in the 1980’s and was incorporated within the boundaries of the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba. A similar order was issued this week in Tayasir village (Tubas) calling for the removal of 300 olive trees; if implemented this would affect a family of seven.

Israeli “warning shots” in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) continue

Incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire into the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea continued on a daily basis, with at least 17 such incidents reported during the week, none of which led to injury. In at least two incidents, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats reportedly sailing within the Israeli-declared six-nautical-mile fishing limit, forcing them ashore.

Access restrictions imposed by Israel at land and sea continue to undermine the security of Palestinians and the agricultural sector in Gaza, which is the primary source of income for thousands of farmers and fishermen and their families.

Palestinian infant died in a fire that erupted in an UNRWA collective centre

The Ministry of Health announced the death of a four-month-old infant in a fire that erupted in the UNRWA collective centre for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Beit Hanoun. The infant’s parents sustained injuries. An initial investigation suggests that the fire erupted as a result of an electrical malfunction. Over 10,000 Palestinian IDPs are currently hosted in UNRWA collective centers in difficult conditions. UNRWA reiterated that the issue of the safety and security of IDPS sheltering in its collective centres is a matter of paramount importance. The Agency has recently conducted fire safety training, including for collective centre staff in Beit Hanoun, and undertook a review of power grids in the collective centers to promote a safe environment within these centers.

Gaza temporarily suspends import of Israeli fruits

On 16 February the Minister of Agriculture in Gaza announced the temporary suspension of purchases of Israeli-produced fruits and their import into Gaza starting 18 February, in response to Israel’s halt on the transfer of Gaza strawberries into the West Bank.

On 1 February, the Israeli authorities suspended the commercial transfer of strawberries from Gaza to the West Bank. Previously on 6 January, Israeli authorities banned the transfer of strawberries from Gaza after claiming that they were found in Israeli markets without authorization. Palestinian merchants in Gaza have denied this claim. The Israeli authorities later agreed to allow one truck of strawberries per day (6-7 tons), into the West Bank; an arrangement which was eventually agreed to by the Palestinian authorities. The impact of the current situation on the profitability of Gaza’s strawberry production sector is expected to be significant, especially considering that export season to European markets is about to conclude.

Since the imposition of the blockade in June 2007, Israel has banned almost completely the exit of goods from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel, which were the main markets for Gaza products. On 6 November 2014, in the context of the understandings reached in the ceasefire agreement, Israel allowed the resumption of deliveries of limited agricultural products from Gaza to the West Bank.

Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed

The Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt remained closed during the entire reporting period. An estimated 30,000 Palestinians are waiting to cross into Egypt including patients and students. Out of this number, 17,000 are registered at the Palestinian Ministry of Interior in Gaza to gain priority to travel in case the crossing is opened. The Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt was last exceptionally opened in both directions between 20 and 22 January, including for a humanitarian convoy of medical and food supplies.

During the whole of 2014, the Rafah Crossing was opened on 158 days, allowing 97,690 people through the crossing in both directions. In 2013, the Rafah Crossing was opened on 262 days allowing 302,240 people through the crossing in both directions. The vast majority of Palestinians also continue to be prohibited from exiting Gaza through the Erez crossing with Israel. On 17 February, the Israeli authorities announced a further relaxation in the restrictions pertaining to the operation of this crossing. According to the announcement, this relaxation includes increasing the number of merchants from 400 to 800 per day, increasing the monthly quota for permits for merchants from 3,000 to 5,000 and the expansion of the agricultural and industrial export from Gaza, such as textile products and furniture.

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