Hundreds injured in violent clashes that escalated
following the death of a Palestinian detainee
Violent clashes during protests held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli detention, escalated during the reporting period; at least 440 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were reported injured as a result. The escalation followed the death, on 23 February, of Palestinian detainee, Arafat Jaradat (aged 30), while in Israeli custody in Meggido Prison (in northern Israel). He had been arrested a few days earlier in Sa’ir village (Hebron). The circumstances of his death remain disputed: a Palestinian doctor who participated in the autopsy concluded that his death was a result of torture; the Israeli authorities have not yet issued a conclusion on the autopsy’s findings but have rejected the possibility that Jaradat was tortured.
Widespread protests took place across the West Bank, the largest of which were held in various locations in Hebron, particularly near Beit Haggai settlement; in Al ‘Arrub and Al Fawwar refugee camps; at Beit ’Enun junction; Sa’ir Halhul Bridge; in Beit Ummar; and in the Old City of Hebron (including in Bab Az Zawiya and Ash Shuhada Street). In addition, protests took place in front of the Ofer prison in Ramallah almost on a daily basis during the reporting period; at Qalandiya (north of East Jerusalem); Al Jalama (Jenin) and Huwwara (Nablus) checkpoints; at the entrance of Ayda refugee camp and Al Khader village in Bethlehem; and in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Over the course of the protests, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded by firing tear gas canisters, rubber-coated metal bullets and live ammunition. Over half of those injured were treated for tear gas inhalation, and one third for injuries sustained from rubber-coated metal bullets. Sixteen Palestinians sustained injuries from live ammunition and the remaining from other means. In the gravest incident, a 16 year old boy from Ayda refugee camp was seriously injured in the head by live ammunition fired by Israeli forces.
According to the IDF, following the death of the Palestinian prisoner (between 24 and 26 February), there were 87 separate clashes across the West Bank, resulting in the injury of 12 Israeli soldiers. In addition, the IDF reported 27 incidents of stone-throwing and 13 incidents of Molotov-cocktail throwing by Palestinians at Israeli forces.
The Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process restated that the human rights of all Palestinian detainees and prisoners in Israeli custody must be fully respected. He reiterated that those held in administrative detention should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or promptly released. He also stated that the United Nations expects the autopsy to be followed by an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Jaradat’s death, the results of which should be made public as soon as possible.
Dozens injured in settler-related violence in Nablus
At least 28 Palestinians and 12 Israeli settlers were injured this week in the context of settler attacks. This is, however, a slight decrease compared to the weekly average of incidents of settler violence resulting in casualties and property damage recorded in 2012. On 23 February, Israeli settlers from Esh Kodesh and Kida settlement outposts raided the Palestinian village of Qusra and opened fire with live ammunition at two houses, injuring two of the residents and causing damage to the windows. The incident triggered clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinian villagers, after which Israeli forces intervened and fired tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at the Palestinians. As a result, 25 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces (the majority of injuries related to tear gas inhalation). According to the Israeli media, ten settlers were injured by stones thrown by Palestinians in this incident. According to the IDF, the circumstances of this incident could not be confirmed and the Israeli Police have opened an investigation. During the incident, settlers also vandalized an unknown number of Palestinian-owned olive trees.
Also in Qusra, in a separate incident on 20 February unknown assailants set fire to four vehicles. Local residents attributed the attack to Israeli settlers. However, it has not yet been possible to confirm this claim. The Israeli Police has opened an investigation into the incident. The agricultural livelihoods of the residents of Qusra and the neighboring community of Jalud have been significantly undermined in recent years, due to the systematic violence perpetrated by settlers from six settlement outposts established in the nearby area. Multiple plots of Palestinian land around these outposts have been forcibly taken over and cultivated by settlers.
In two separate incidents in the Hebron governorate on 19 and 23 February, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian herder near Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost and allegedly uprooted 50 olive trees belonging to Beit ‘Awwa village, respectively. Also in two incidents on 24 and 25 February, a female settler and a five-year old Israeli child were injured by stones thrown by Palestinians in the Nablus and Bethlehem areas, respectively. According to the IDF, between 24 and 26 February there were 63 incidents of stone-throwing and three incidents of Molotov cocktail throwing by Palestinians at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank.
Electricity network dismantled in Area C
On 20 February, the Israeli authorities dismantled an electricity network consisting of 33 poles located in Qusra village (Nablus), which is in Area C, on the grounds that no building permit had been issued for this infrastructure. The network had been built by the village council in May 2012 to provide electricity to one house and four agricultural structures. During the demolition, Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces; eight Palestinians were injured as a result. On 19 February, an animal shack was demolished in Beit Iksa village, Jerusalem, also on the grounds that it did not have an Israeli-issued building permit. The livelihood of the owners, a family of nine, including five children, was affected. No demolitions were carried out in East Jerusalem during the reporting period.
Also this week, the Israeli authorities issued five demolition and “Stop-Work” orders against three houses, a water cistern and an electrical network in Beit Dajan village in Nablus. Israeli forces also requisitioned three Palestinian-owned trucks carrying aggregates intended for use in a project to upgrade a road connecting hamlets in southern Hebron. The trucks were requisitioned on the grounds that the project did not have an Israeli-issued permit.