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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
19 May 2014

Key issues

Two Palestinian boys killed and over 60 injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank, mostly during protests commemorating what Palestinians refer to as “An Nakba”.
Twenty-two structures demolished in 11 communities in area C, primarily in and around the E1 area to the east of Jerusalem.
Despite relative calm in the Gaza strip and southern Israel, four Palestinian civilians were shot and injured by Israeli forces near the fence and another two by Egyptian forces at sea.

Two Palestinian boys killed and over 60 injured in clashes and protests

Numerous demonstrations commemorating the 66th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the “An Nakba” took place on 15 and 16 May across the West Bank. Some of the demonstrations evolved into violent clashes with Israeli forces, resulting in the death of two Palestinian boys and in the injury of another 64 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers.

The two boys, both aged 17, were shot with live ammunition and killed on 15 May, during confrontations at the Beituniya checkpoint, near the Ofer prison (Ramallah); 20 other Palestinians were injured during the clashes. Testimonies by eyewitnesses, as well as video footage of the incident, suggest that there was no stone throwing ongoing at the specific time and place of the lethal shootings and that the minors were unarmed. The Israeli Military Police opened an investigation into the case. This incident brings the total number of Palestinian fatalities by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2014 to 11, compared to eight in the equivalent period of 2013.

Similar clashes occurred during demonstrations at the Qalandiya checkpoint (Jerusalem), and in Ar Ram (Jerusalem), Hebron City (H2), Al Walaja (Bethlehem) and Beit Ummar (Hebron), among other places, resulting in the injury of another 54 Palestinians, including 17 children. About two-thirds of the injuries were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets or rubber bullets, and most of the rest were either treated after inhaling gas or hit by a tear gas canister. Overall, the number of Palestinian injuries in the context of this year’s “An Nakba” protests and clashes is significantly lower than in the protests on the same occasion in 2013 (188) and 2012 (376); no deaths were recorded in these protests in previous years.

Also this week, 15 Palestinians, including five children, were injured on 16 May in clashes with Israeli police forces that erupted during the course of a search-and-arrest operation in the Al ‘Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem.

Decline in settler-related incidents; around 50 trees damaged

This week witnessed a slight decline in Israeli settler attacks resulting in Palestinian injuries or property damage, compared to the weekly average of incidents recorded since the beginning of the year (4 vs. 7). No Palestinian attacks affecting Israeli settlers were reported during the week.

Two of this week’s incidents occurred in the vicinity of the Kokhav Hashahar settlement in the Ramallah governorate, one involving the physical assault and injury of a Palestinian shepherd (on 13 May), and the other involving the burning of two dunums of land planted with wheat (on 17 May). Another injury was reported after Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian-plated vehicles travelling near Nahli’el settlement (Ramallah) on 19 May. The third incident this week took place in the vicinity of Betar Illit settlement in the Bethlehem governorate, where settlers reportedly damaged 48 Palestinian-owned olive trees.

Wave of demolitions and displacement in and around the E1 area, east of Jerusalem

On 19 May, the Israeli authorities carried out a series of demolitions in six residential sites in Area C in the hills to the east of Jerusalem, in and around the E1 settlement area. The affected communities were Nkheila, Kassara, Khan al Ahmar-Mithawish, Khan al Ahmar-Makab as Samen, Jabal al Baba and Al ‘Eizariya. Overall, a total of 13 structures were demolished on grounds that they lacked building permits, displacing 37 people, including 23 children, and otherwise affecting some 50 others. The targeted structures included four residential structures, one external kitchen, one fodder storage unit, a hosting tent, three portable latrines, and three animal structures. Four of these structures were provided by international donors.

This area, which includes 18 residential sites (2,800 people), has been identified as a priority for the implementation of an official Israeli plan to “relocate” most Bedouin communities across Area C to a limited number of sites. Most of this area has been allocated for the expansion of Israeli settlements, including the E1 plan, as well as planned to be surrounded by the Barrier around Ma’ale Adumim settlement. The UN Secretary General has previously expressed concern that the implementation of these “relocation” plans may amount to forcible transfer, in contravention of international law.

Also this week, on 18 May, Israeli forces dismantled and confiscated three donor-funded residential tents, along with a cement mixer, in Tell al Khashabah Bedouin community in Nablus, displacing 27 people, including 18 children, for the third time in three weeks. The tents were provided in response to last week’s demolitions. Stop-work orders were issued against two structures in the same community, as well as against 15 residential structures, eight of which were provided by an international donor, and eight animal shelters in Khirbet Ghuwein al Fauqa (Hebron).

Also in Hebron, in an Area C section of Idhna town, Israeli forces tore down and removed six electricity poles supplying 15 households, on the grounds that they were installed without permits.

In East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities demolished four structures: a residential house in Jabal al Mukabbir; an aluminum workshop in Ras al ‘Amud, a shop in Shu’fat, and a storage structure n Beit Hanina. The first demolition led to the displacement of a family comprising eight people, including five children, while the other demolitions affected the livelihoods of 24 people. So far this year, a total of 31 structures have been demolished and approximately 100 people displaced in East Jerusalem.

600 trees uprooted by israeli forces in the Bethlehem governorate

On 19 May, Israeli forces bulldozed around eight dunums of land next to Nahhalin village (Bethlehem), uprooting approximately 600 almond trees aged over ten years. Two months ago, the Israeli authorities issued an evacuation order applicable to that land, on the grounds that the land is designated as government property or “state land”. This designation was reviewed and confirmed by a committee from the Israeli Civil Administration in 2012 with the purpose of allocating this land for settlement development. A Palestinian family claims ownership over the land and has rehabilitated it in recent years.

Six Palestinian civilians injured near the fence and at sea

Despite the relative calm in Gaza, with no reports of Israeli airstrikes or rocket firing, this week four Palestinian civilians were shot and injured by Israeli forces in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) in the vicinity of Gaza’s perimeter fence: a 17-year-old boy collecting hay for animals approximately 600 meters from the fence; two men who were collecting rubble; and a man fishing on the coast reportedly more than 300 meters from the fence running across the northern Gaza Strip. Also in the ARA, on at least one occasion, Israeli forces entered approximately 200 meters into Gaza and conducted land leveling.

On a number of occasions this week, Israeli naval forces chased and opened warning fire towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the six nautical miles (NM) fishing limit. No injuries or damage were reported, but two boats were seized and fishing equipment was damaged. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, in one incident on 19 May, Israeli soldiers ordered two fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the navy boat before they were arrested and their boat and fishing equipment confiscated. Also, on 19 May, Egyptian naval forces shot at Palestinian fishing boats, while they were reportedly sailing in the vicinity of Egyptian waters, injuring two fishermen with rubber bullets.

Rafah Crossing re-opened for pilgrims

Following 12 days of complete closure, on 18 May, the Egyptian authorities re-opened Rafah Crossing for three days, allowing nearly 3,000 people, mainly pilgrims, to cross in both directions. In addition, two international medical aid convoys and around 140 truckloads of basic construction materials, designated for the Qatari-funded projects, were allowed to enter. According to the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza, despite the three-day limited opening, at least 10,000 people are still registered and waiting to cross into Egypt, mainly medical patients, students and holders of visa to third countries.

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