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

Key issues

Concern over escalation in violence in the West Bank: 25 Palestinians killed since the beginning of the year, including one child this week.

Import of construction materials for international projects in the Gaza Strip resumes.

Electricity cuts and fuel shortages continue to disrupt services in the Gaza Strip


Child shot and killed by soldiers

In the afternoon hours of 7 December, an Israeli soldier shot and killed a 15-year-old Palestinian child in an area near Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah); the circumstances of the incident are unclear. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the shooting occurred amidst stone throwing by a group of Palestinian children near the Refugee Camp’s UNRWA school, towards Israeli soldiers positioned nearby. Some eyewitnesses, however, disputed PCHR’s account of the incident, and reported that there was no stone throwing at the time of the shooting. The IDF Military Advocate General has ordered the opening of an investigation of the incident.

So far in 2013, a total of 25 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including at least 20 civilians unaffiliated with any armed group; four were children. So far, 2013 has registered the highest number of child fatalities by Israeli forces recorded in the West Bank since 2006.

Also on 7 December, in An Nabi Saleh village (also in Ramallah), ten Palestinians, including a child and three women, were shot and injured by Israeli forces with rubber-coated metal bullets. The incident occurred during clashes that erupted during a demonstration commemorating the death of a village activist in November 2011 during a demonstration protesting settlement expansion. The victim was killed when he was hit with a tear-gas canister shot from close range by an Israeli soldier. Earlier this week, the IDF Military Advocate General announced the closing of its two-year investigation of the case, without indictment of the soldier involved.

Ten Palestinians were injured during the week by Israeli soldiers in the village of Kafr Qaddum (Qalqilya) during the weekly demonstration against the longstanding closure of one of the village’s main entrance, citing the security needs related to the nearby settlement. On two other occasions during the week, Israeli forces raided the village, triggering clashes with local residents, and resulting in two injuries: a two-month-old infant treated for tear gas inhalation and a man struck by a tear gas canister.

Also this week, two separate clashes between stone throwing Palestinians and Israeli forces next to the Ayda Refugee Camp (Bethlehem) resulted in the injury of eight Palestinians, including a 15-year-old boy hit in the face with a tear gas canister, two men shot in their legs with live ammunition, and five others hit with rubber- coated metal bullets.

Finally, in East Jerusalem’s Old City, on 4 and 6 December, clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli security forces resulted in the injury of 13 Palestinians, including one child. Nine of these injuries occurred in a clash in Al Aqsa Mosque compound (6 December).

Israeli settler-related violence: 70 trees vandalized and access to grazing land blocked

This week, three Israeli settler attacks resulted in Palestinian injuries or damage to their property, down from a weekly average of eight since the beginning of 2013. Two additional incidents resulted in Israeli injuries.

On 4 December, a group of Israeli settlers cut down or otherwise damaged 70 olive trees belonging to six Palestinian families from the community of Khirbet Abu Falah (Ramallah). This brings the number of olive trees vandalized by setters so far this year to 10,510, including saplings, compared to 8,529 in the whole of 2012. Two days later, a group of Israeli settlers torched a Palestinian vehicle in the nearby village of Jalud (Nablus), and wrote graffiti on nearby walls, including the expression ‘price tag” in Hebrew. Both communities are located in the vicinity of six unauthorized settlement outposts built next to Shilo settlement. In recent years, Israeli settlers residing in these outposts have frequently been involved in attacks against Palestinians, as well as in the takeover over and subsequent cultivation of Palestinian land.

Last week (previously unreported), on 29 November, Israeli settlers fenced in Palestinian private land next to the Area C community of Yanun (Nablus), between two settlement outposts associated to Itamar settlement. The fence prevents Palestinians’ access to approximately 1,000 dunums of grazing land, affecting the livelihoods of nine families (40 people).

Also this week, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian child while he was near his house in the Israeli-controlled area on Hebron city (H2).

On 6 December, two separate incidents, reported by the Israeli media, involving stone throwing by Palestinians in East Jerusalem resulted in the injury of an Israeli girl (in the Old City) and an Israeli man (on Nablus Road).


16 structures demolished in Area C

On 3 December, 16 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by the Israeli authorities in three Area C communities in the Jordan Valley, on the grounds that they lacked building permits, which are virtually impossible to obtain from the Israeli authorities. As a result, two families comprising 12 people, including six children, were displaced in Al Farisiya, and five other families were otherwise affected in Bardala and Al Hadidiya.

Three of the structures targeted in Bardala were animal shelters that had been funded by international donors in response to a previous demolition. Permit applications submitted to the Israeli authorities in the past for these structures had been rejected on the grounds that the land is designated as “state land.”

Additionally, in the community of Khirbet Yarza, also in the Jordan Valley, Israeli bulldozers filled two water cisterns with dirt and damaged them, alleging the lack of building permits (not included in the demolition count). The cisterns were established as part of a land rehabilitation project, implemented by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and benefiting 11 families, comprising 87 people.

No demolition incidents were reported during the week in East Jerusalem.

Import of construction materials for international projects resumes

This week, the Israeli authorities allowed the resumption of the import of basic construction materials for international projects. These materials had been suspended since 13 October, following the discovery of a tunnel under the fence between Gaza and Israel. The halt in the import of materials had resulted in the freezing of dozens of projects carried out by international organizations, which had previously been approved by the Israeli authorities, including 20 housing and infrastructure projects implemented by UNRWA. Following the decision, the first four truckloads of cement and aggregates entered Gaza on 10 December. Despite the limited quantities of construction material allowed to enter Gaza between December 2012 and October 2013, the general ban on the import of construction materials for the private sector remains in place.

As the cash crops export season is coming to its peak, 19 truckloads of agricultural produce were allowed to exit Gaza to international markets. However, the Israeli authorities continue to prohibit the exit of Gazan products to the West Bank and Israel, which are their main markets, preventing a revival of Gaza’s productive capacity.

Severe energy crisis continues

The Gaza Strip continued to experience fuel and energy shortages resulting in electricity cuts of up to 16 hours per day. This situation is ongoing for the sixth consecutive week, since the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) on 1 November. The shortages have impacted the delivery of essential services, including health, water, sanitation and schooling, all of which depend on the operation of backup generators during electricity outages. As the winter season begins, the current electricity deficit is estimated to be around 80 per cent of the actual demand.

To alleviate some of the impact of the fuel shortages on services, on 2-3 December, some 165,000 liters of fuel donated by the Turkish Government was distributed to 12 health facilities serving 1.27 million people, 80 water and sewage treatment facilities serving at least 910,000 people, and 27 solid waste management installations providing for some 1.44 million people.

Clean-up operations have been mostly completed for the sewage spills from the main sewage pump station that overflowed on 13 November, flooding an area of nearly 160,000 square meters in Az- Zeitoun area south of Gaza City, affecting some 3,000 people.

Concern over deterioration in health services

On 8 December, the World Health Organization issued a statement expressing concern over Gaza’s health crisis due to shortages in basic supplies. The strains on the health system have particularly affected emergency patients, newborns, chronically ill, transplant recipients, people with special needs and the poor. Roughly 30 per cent of medicines and 50 per cent of medical disposables are out of stock at the Central Drug Store in Gaza, and the entry of medication and disposables has been hampered by the Palestinian Authority’s budget deficit; over the past six months, PA medical shipments have been reduced to one shipment of 1 million USD compared to 5 million USD in the six months prior.

Large generators for powering hospitals during electricity cuts have frequent breakdowns. Government hospitals have reduced non-urgent surgeries by almost half in an effort to conserve fuel and medical supplies for urgent cases. Power shortages cause a chain reaction of consequences affecting the health situation of the people in Gaza, as water supplies are limited, sewage pumps are not functioning adequately, and transportation for basic public health services is irregular.

Rafah Crossing update

After nine consecutive days of closure, on 30 November, the Egyptian Authorities reopened the Rafah Crossing on 8 December. During its three days of operation this week, 931 people entered Gaza, 1,019 people crossed into Egypt, while 81 people were denied entry into Egypt. Furthermore, on 9 December, approximately 300 travelers in fives buses were turned back on the Palestinian side after waiting for several hours to cross. According to the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza, the Crossing will be opened on an exceptional basis for five days, from 8 – 12 December. Since early July 2013, Egyptian Authorities have kept the Rafah Crossing closed with irregular, exceptional openings to allow for the passage of a limited number of authorized humanitarian cases.

No casualties recorded in Gaza

This week, no casualties by Israeli forces were reported in the context of the enforcement of 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. Several rockets were launched towards Israel, most of which fell short of their destination inside Gaza, without casualty.

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