Electricity cuts due to increased demand in Gaza have triggered a rise in the use of unsafe methods of heating, such as burning charcoal. This week, two people died due to suffocation inside their house as a result of such
Over 50 people were displaced in Area C this week, in the context of demolitions in the Jerusalem periphery.
Conflict-related casualties continue to occur as a result of settlement activity
Ten Palestinians were injured this week by Israeli forces during weekly protests against settlement related measures: the closure of the main entrance to Kafr Qaddum village, next to Qedumim settlement (Qalqiliya); the expansion of Hallamish settlement (Ramallah); and the construction of the Barrier in Al Ma’sara village (Bethlehem), next to Efrat settlement. Another Palestinian was shot and injured when he reportedly attempted to attack soldiers at Qalandiya checkpoint (Jerusalem). A 17-year-old Palestinian boy was also injured this week after being physically assaulted by Israeli settlers while working his land near Karmei Tzur settlement (Hebron).
Also this week, Israeli settlers vandalized two olive trees belonging to Deir Ibzi’ village (Ramallah), bringing the total number of trees damaged by settlers in 2012 to over 100. In 2011, over 10,000 trees were vandalized by settlers.
In addition, two children (aged 11 and 13) were injured by unexploded ordnance (UXOs) in the Hebron governorate, while they were playing in a closed military area near Jinba village. In 2011, four children were injured in such incidents.
Also this week, Israeli forces stormed the offices of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) and arrested two members of the Palestinian Legislative Council affiliated to Hamas. According to the Israeli authorities, they were detained due to the fact that they were illegally staying in Jerusalem, after their Jerusalem IDs were revoked over a year ago. Three other members were arrested in the Ramallah and Bethlehem governorates, reportedly due to their affiliation with Hamas.
Over 50 people displaced due to demolitions
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished 17 Palestinian-owned structures, in Area C of the West Bank, due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits.
Eight residences were demolished in two locations in ‘Anata village (Jerusalem governorate), including one Bedouin community, displacing 52 people, including 29 children. One of the houses, which served as a community center, was demolished for the fifth time. The entire Area C part of ‘Anata faces a high risk of displacement due to outstanding demolition orders and other difficult conditions resulting from policies applied by the Israeli authorities in Area C of the West Bank. The remaining structures demolished this week were unused commercial stores belonging to eight Palestinian families in the Jordan Valley community of Al-Auja. In addition, the Israeli authorities distributed demolition orders against 16 houses and five water collection structures in East Jerusalem and in the Hebron and Nablus governorates.
Calm in Gaza disrupted; air strikes resumed
Following two weeks of relative calm, Israeli air strikes resumed this week, killing two Palestinian militants on 18 January after they were reportedly spotted attempting to plant an explosive device near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. Air strikes were also carried out in the Khan Younis area, damaging a number of greenhouses. Palestinian armed factions continued firing rockets towards southern Israel, resulting in no injuries or damage to property.
This week, two people, including a 17-year-old Palestinian girl, died of wounds they sustained during the Israeli offensive “Cast Lead”, which took place in 2008-2009.
Two injured in a tunnel collapse
On 21 January, two Palestinian workers were injured when a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed while they were working inside. In 2012, one has been killed and three others injured in tunnel-related incidents. Overall in 2011, 36 Palestinians were killed and 54 others were injured in tunnel-related incidents, including air strikes, tunnel collapses and electrocution. Tunnels remain the main source for the transfer of certain goods, including construction materials that are restricted through the official crossings with Israel, as well as fuel that is significantly cheaper to buy from Egypt than from Israel.
Dependency on unsafe methods of heating, due to electricity shortages, results in two deaths
Since the beginning of the winter season, electricity blackouts throughout the Gaza Strip have ranged between eight to ten hours per day, up from a daily average of five hours in previous months.
This is due to increased demand, coupled with the recurrent malfunctioning of electricity feeding lines due to overloads. The current power supply is 38 percent below estimated needs (217 out of 350 megawatts) in Gaza. Electricity shortages are forcing many people to resort to unsafe alternative heating methods, such as burning charcoal in their homes, with dangerous consequences for the population; on 18 January, a couple died due to suffocation inside their house.
Registration policy reinstituted at Rafah crossing
The Ministry of Interior in Gaza has announced the reinstatement of the registration requirements for Palestinians wishing to cross the Rafah Crossing into Egypt, as a result of an increase in demand for travel. The registration measure was temporary lifted last month, due to a reduction in the number of people wishing to travel. Access through Rafah has been improving since last year, however, the number of people crossing daily remains below its parallel figure prior to the imposition of the blockade, mainly due to reduced operating days and hours. In 2011, a daily average of 350 crossed Rafah in each direction, half of the parallel figure in the first six months of 2006, prior to the partial closure of the crossing. With the exception of medical and urgent humanitarian cases, any traveler wishing to exit Gaza should wait up to ten days in order to be able to leave Gaza.
Furniture allowed out to Jordan for the first time since 2007
This week, Israel allowed a shipment of 15 pallets of furniture to Jordan for a commercial exhibition. This is the first shipment of non-agricultural products allowed out of Gaza since the imposition of the blockade in 2007.
Between 15 and 21 January, seven truckloads of agricultural produce were exported from Gaza to international markets. These included: two truckloads carrying strawberries (2.7 tonnes), three carrying cut flowers (171,500 stems), one sweet pepper (4 tonnes) and one cherry of tomatoes (7 tonnes). Since the beginning of the agricultural season in late November 2011, over 130 truckloads of such products were permitted to exit Gaza, an exception to the general prohibition on Gaza exports implemented by Israel in 2007. Exports to Gaza’s traditional main markets in Israel and the West Bank remain prohibited.