Casualties: civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict
September 2010 witnessed the highest number of Palestinian civilian fatalities since the beginning of the year, with seven civilians killed, in addition to four Palestinian armed group members. Israeli forces also injured 15 Palestinians, 14 of whom were civilians. No Israeli casualties were reported this month in Gaza or southern Israel. Since the beginning of the year Israeli forces have killed 21 Palestinian civilians and injured another 170, which constitutes 40 and 87 percent respectively of all Palestinian fatalities and injuries in Gaza. During this period, one civilian (a foreign national) was killed in southern Israel by rocket fire.
The majority of this month’s fatalities (8 of 11) occurred in the restricted area along the fence and off the shore, in the context of access restrictions enforced by the Israeli military.7 In one incident, two boys (16 and 17 years old) and a 91 year old man were hit and killed by tank shells, while herding their flock in an area approximately 500 meters from the fence, next to Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. 43 goats were also killed. According to an investigation by the Israeli army, Israeli soldiers mistakenly opened fire on the civilians as they suspected that one of the boys was preparing to launch a rocket propelled grenade.8
Shooting incidents along the fence also resulted in eight Palestinian injuries (all civilians). Six of these individuals were collecting rubble/scrap metal to be recycled for the construction industry. Some rubble collection sites are located in restricted areas, such as the former settlement area in northern Gaza, the former industrial area next to the Erez crossing, and the former Gaza Airport south of Rafah, bringing consequent risks to this activity. The demand for building supplies to rehabilitate and reconstruct damaged and destroyed buildings, combined with ongoing restrictions on the import of construction materials as part of the blockade, has led to the rise of a lucrative but dangerous market based on recovering and recycling building materials.
In recent months, the Food Security, Agriculture and Cash for Work and Work Assistance sectors have developed a common food security framework, and it is expected that this initiative will increase overall funding for the agriculture sector.
1 Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Press release, 19 September 2010.
2 ACRI, Unsafe Space, September 2010.
3 B’Tselem and ACRI, Ghost Town: Israel’s Separation Policy and Forced Eviction of Palestinians from the Center of Hebron, May 2007.
4 At least six additional structures were demolished in 2010 by their owners, displacing 22 people.
5 While most of these areas fall within Area C, they also include land formally defined as Area B in the eastern Bethlehem governorate that was intended to be handed over to the Palestinian Authority, under the Wye River Memorandum of 1998.
6 See OCHA, Area C Humanitarian Response Plan Fact Sheet, September 2010.
7 See, OCHA, Between the Fence and the Hard Place: The humanitarian impact of Israeli-imposed restrictions on access to land and sea in the Gaza Strip, August 2010.
8 See, BBC, Israeli army admits three killed Gazans were civilians, 14 September 2010.
9 Palestine Trade Center, Gaza Crossings Bi-Monthly Monitoring Report, June-July 2010.
11 Both reports were submitted to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee. According to the IMF, real GDP growth in the first half of 2010, compared to the first half of 2009, is estimated at 16 percent for Gaza.
12 OCHA, The Humanitarian Monitor, December 2010.
13 Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza.
14 OCHA and WFP, “Between the Fence and a Hard Place”, August 2010.
15 Information from FAO.