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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
2 December 2013

Key issues

Israeli forces kill three alleged members of an armed group in southern Hebron, triggering widespread clashes with Israeli forces.

Sixteen Palestinian structures demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 19 people.

Ongoing energy crisis continues to affect the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.


Widespread confrontations in the south follow the killing of alleged militants

During the evening hours of 26 November, Israeli military forces shot and killed three alleged members of a Palestinian armed group, all men in their early twenties, in two separate incidents in the southern Hebron governorate. The first two were killed in an ambush while driving near Zif junction, north-east of Yatta town. The third man was killed shortly thereafter, while trying to flee a house in the nearby Al Karmil village, after Israeli forces surrounded the house and used explosives to gain entrance through the main door. According to the Israeli army’s spokesperson, the ambushed vehicle contained two guns and a number of explosives, and all three belonged to a Salafist armed group and intended to carry out an attack against an Israeli target in the coming days. According to eyewitnesses, in none of the cases did the Palestinian men open fire against the Israeli force. These incidents triggered several clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces across the southern West Bank, which resulted in the injury of 55 civilians, including 44 children. Nine (9) of these injuries were caused by live ammunition and 27 by rubber-coated metal bullets.

On 30 November, a 24-year-old Palestinian man from Qabalan (Nablus) was shot and killed in the city of Petach Tikva, in Israel, by a volunteer of the Israeli Border Police, during a raid carried out in a cemetery and aimed at arresting workers without permits; the Israeli authorities opened an investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

Also this week, another Palestinian man from Qalandiya Refugee Camp (Jerusalem) died of wounds he sustained on 1 March 2013, after he was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet by Israeli forces during clashes near Qalandiya checkpoint. The news of his death led to protests and clashes with Israeli forces near the checkpoint, which resulted in the injury of eight Palestinians.

This week’s incidents bring the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2013, to 26, including at least 22 civilians without any alleged affiliation with an armed group. This represents a worrying increase compared to the four Palestinians killed during the equivalent period in 2012.

Another violent clash took place this week in Al Eizariya village (Jerusalem), following the death of a Palestinian girl, who was delayed while en route to a hospital due to a traffic jam caused by the Wadi An Nar checkpoint, to the east of Jerusalem, that controls all Palestinian traffic between the northern and southern West Bank; the girl, who had a congenital disability, was suffering a severe chest infection. Two Palestinian civilians were shot with live ammunition and injured during the clashes, as well as two Israeli soldiers, who were injured by stones.

Twenty-eight (28) other civilians, including six children, were injured by Israeli forces this week in a range of clashes across the West Bank. Many of these injuries occurred during the weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum, against the longstanding closure of one of the village’s main entrance, and in Bil’in, against the isolation of land by the Barrier.

Incidents involving settlers and other Israelis

This week, there were seven violent incidents involving settlers and other Israelis resulting in injuries or damage to property. Five of the incidents affected Palestinians, and two affected Israelis.

Three of this week’s incidents resulted in injuries, two of which were the result of stone throwing: a Palestinian man injured while travelling on a road near Beit El settlement (Ramallah) and an Israeli girl injured while travelling in the Armon Hanatziv settlement of East Jerusalem. The latter incident triggered the arrest by the Israeli Police of four Palestinian children from the adjacent Sur Bahir neighborhood, suspected of the stone throwing. Another Israeli was reportedly physically assaulted and injured by a Palestinian near Bab Al Amud area in East Jerusalem.

On 26 November, a group of Israeli settlers from Bracha settlement attacked an isolated Palestinian house in the village of Burin (Nablus) with Molotov cocktails, burning its external walls. Burin’s location in-between the settlements of Har Bracha, Sne Ya’akov and Yitzhar, which are considered strongholds of the Israeli radical right, has made the village one the most vulnerable to settler violence. The systematic attacks recorded since the beginning of the second Intifada in 2000 have severely undermined the livelihoods of dozens of families in the village.

Two of this week’s incidents of settler violence against Palestinians occurred in south Hebron. Israeli settlers from Karmel settlement caused some damage to a traditional bakery in Um al Kher village (Hebron). A demolition order was issued by the Israeli authorities against the bakery on the grounds that it lacked an Israeli-issued building permit, following multiple complaints by settlers about the smoke caused by the bakery. Also in Hebron, on 29 November, Israeli settlers from Havat Ma’on settlement outpost cut down about 25 Palestinian-owned olive trees near At Tuwani village affecting nine Palestinians. On the other hand, Israeli settlers from the Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost continued to prevent Palestinian farmers from entering their land adjacent to the settlement for the third time, despite a ruling by the Israeli High Court of Justice in favor of the Palestinian owners.

On 18 November (unreported during the previous reporting period), Israeli settlers from Zufin settlement leveled land owned by a Palestinian family from Jayyus (Qalqiliya), and damaged 40 olive trees and a water cistern. Similarly, on 26 November, Israeli settlers from Ariel leveled privately-owned lands belonging to four Palestinian families in the village of Bruqin (Salfit).


Sixteen Palestinian structures demolished; 19 people displaced

Fourteen (14) Palestinian structures were demolished by Israeli authorities in Area C this week, displacing 19 people, including 13 children, and affecting at least 75 others. On 2 December, the Israeli authorities demolished 13 structures, including five residential structures, six animal barracks and a fodder storage room, in Al ‘Auja village (Jericho); as a result, three families comprising 19 people, including 13 children, were displaced, and at least 60 others were affected. An under-construction house owned by a Palestinian family was also demolished in the village of Deir Ballut (Salfit).

Also this week, two Palestinian families self-demolished their houses in the Sur Bahir neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The self-demolition was carried out to avoid fines and additional penalties after receiving a final demolition order by the Israeli authorities; eleven (11) people, including seven children, were affected.

All 16 structures were demolished on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. On the same grounds, this week, the Israeli authorities distributed at least 50 demolition and stop work orders, most of them were issued against residential structures in different sites across Area C. About 35 percent of the targeted structures were funded by international donors as emergency assistance.

Ongoing energy crisis affects almost all aspects of daily life

The Gaza Strip continued to suffer from heightened fuel and electricity shortages for the fifth week in a row, characterized by outages of up to 16 hours per day and related disruptions in the provision of vital services, including health, water, sanitation, solid waste disposal and schooling. (See previous Protection of Civilian Report for more details). The current acute crisis began on 1 November, following the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant due to lack of fuel.

This week, the electricity crisis was exacerbated in Rafah town, as a result of damage sustained to two of three power lines supplying electricity from Egypt, caused by Egyptian bulldozers operating near the border with Gaza. This triggered power cuts longer than 16 hours per day for three consecutive days. While the increased power deficit placed the area at risk of sewage flooding, this was prevented by the allocation of an extra 5,000 litres of diesel funded by the Turkish Government to fuel the back-up generators at the relevant facilities. Turkey has pledged funding for a total of 800,000 liters of fuel to the most critical sewage, solid waste and health facilities for a period of four months (200,000 liters per month).

Overall, there are 291 water and sewage treatment facilities in Gaza, none of which are functioning adequately, due to a lack of fuel to power the back-up generators. As a result, none of the sewage discharge into the sea (90 million litres a day) can be treated. Clean-up operations for the sewage spills from the main sewage pump that overflowed on 13 November, flooding an area of nearly 160,000 square meters in Az-Zeitoun area south of Gaza City, is still incomplete, continuing to pose health and environmental risks. Around 3,000 people were directly or indirectly affected by the flooding. Other environmental hazards, such as sewage entering the soil and groundwater supplies, have also been reported.

Distribution of fuel donated by the Turkish government began this week. During November, in advance of the Turkish donation, UNRWA allocated some 35,000 litres to a number of critically affected sewage treatment and health facilities..

This week, 165 truckloads of construction materials, designated for projects funded by the Government of Qatar entered Gaza through the Rafah Crossing with Egypt.No construction materials were allowed through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom Crossing for the eighth week in a row. The halt in the smuggling of materials through the illegal tunnels under the border with Egypt also continued. This has resulted in the continued suspension of international construction projects and ongoing unemployment in the construction sector. The resulting shortage has also resulted in the loss of income for some 30,000 people previously employed in the construction sector.

Also this week, construction and maintenance of at least 26 educational facilities, implemented by the local authorities in Gaza, came to a complete halt due to the shortage of construction materials.

Rafah Crossing update

The Egyptian authorities have once again closed the Rafah Crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt on 29 November after partially opening it on the two previous days, allowing for the movement of a limited number of travelers in both directions. Overall, the Crossing had been operational for a total of ten days in November.

One Palestinians injured in the Access Restricted Area

Israeli forces continued to enforce restrictions on Palestinian access to areas near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as on fishing areas beyond six nautical miles (NM) from the shore. A Palestinian farmer was injured on 29 November by Israeli forces near the fence while working his land in the Access Restricted Area (ARA) east of Jabaliya. In another incident, on 26 November, Israeli forces fired warning shots and detained a civilian who attempted to cross into Israel, east of Al Bureij Camp. Similarly, on at least three occasions this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the Israeli-imposed six (NM) fishing limits. On 27 Nov, Israeli navy arrested two Palestinian fishermen west of Rafah.

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