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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
5 February 2015

Key issues
Israeli forces kill one Palestinian and injure 41 others in the West Bank.
Six structures demolished in Area C due to lack of Israeli-issued permits.
In Gaza, families return to collective centers fearing inability to secure rental subsidies.
Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed.

Israeli forces kill one Palestinian and injure 41 others

On 31 January, Israeli forces shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian youth at the junction leading to the settlement of Yitzhar, near Burin village (Nablus), and injured another youth who was later arrested. According to Israeli media, the youths were hurling Molotov cocktails at passing Israeli vehicles when they were shot.

Additionally, Israeli forces injured 41 Palestinians, including seven children and three women, in various clashes across the West Bank. Of these, six were injured with live ammunition, including four children. The incident resulting in the single largest number of injuries (20), took place on 30 January near Al ‘Ezariya (Jerusalem), during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians involved in stone-throwing.

Four of this week’s injuries, including two children, occurred during clashes at protests against the Barrier in Bil’in (Ramallah); against the expansion of the settlement of Hallamish in An Nabi Saleh (Ramallah); and against the longstanding closure of the entrance to Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya).

Overall, Israeli forces conducted 100 search and arrest operations during the week, compared to a weekly average of 87 during 2014. Of these, three triggered clashes resulting in seven injuries, including two women and a man who were hospitalized due to tear gas inhalation in Silat ad Dhahr village (Jenin); one man who was physically assaulted in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya); and a 19-year-old man who was injured with live ammunition in Qalandiya Refugee Camp (Jerusalem).

On 28 January, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was injured when unexploded ordnance detonated near Ein al Hilwa community (Tubas) in the northern Jordan Valley, located in an Israeli-declared closed military zone for training, also referred to as a “firing zone”, while he was grazing his sheep. In the whole of 2014, 18 Palestinians including ten children were injured in similar incidents.

Five Israeli settler attacks recorded this week

Five Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians were recorded this week, two of which resulted in injury to two Palestinian children. So far this year, there has been a weekly average of five such attacks on Palestinians, compared to six in 2014.

Of these, two incidents took place in East Jerusalem and resulted in injury to two children. On 28 January in Ath Thuri area, a group of settlers physically assaulted, a 14-year-old child, who was on his way to school.

The remaining settler attacks involved stone-throwing at Palestinian vehicles near Al Jalazun (Ramallah) on 31 January; vandalising a parked Palestinian-owned vehicle in the H2 area of Hebron city on 29 January; and the cutting down of two trees in At Tuwani area (Hebron), by settlers from Ma’on settlement, on 30 January.

On 27 January, in ‘Askar Refugee Camp (Nablus), another boy, 17 years old, was injured with live ammunition during clashes that occurred between Palestinians and Israeli forces who were accompanying Israeli settlers who entered Nablus city to visit Joseph’s Tomb. According to official Palestinian sources, the visit was not coordinated; however, they were informed that there would be Israeli “military activity” inside Nablus city. During the whole of 2014, four Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during clashes with Israeli forces accompanying Israeli settlers to Joseph’s tomb.

According to Israeli media reports, during the week, three incidents involving stone throwing by Palestinians at Israeli vehicles took place, all in East Jerusalem, resulting in damage to two vehicles and injury to three Israeli settlers, including two women, who were injured by glass near the At Tur area on 28 January. Israeli forces carried out search and arrest operations in connection to all three incidents.

Six demolitions in Area C

During the reporting period, Israeli authorities demolished six Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing seven Palestinians, including five children. This brings the number of structures demolished and the number of people displaced during January 2015 to 86 and 117 respectively. Additionally, at least eight stop-work orders, two demolition orders and eight eviction orders were delivered.

On 29 January, in Idhna (Hebron), Israeli authorities demolished a house under construction, a donor-funded caravan and a livelihood structure. The house and caravan, which was provided in response to a previous house demolition that took place in November 2011, belong to the same family. As a result, a family of seven, including five children, were displaced and 55 others were affected.

Two additional donor-funded livelihood structures - a water cistern, and a fence - were demolished on 2 February, in Qusra village (Nablus), affecting ten families, of 61 people.

Also during the week, a privately-owned agricultural vehicle was confiscated in Beit Ummar (Hebron), allegedly on grounds that the vehicle was being used to transport construction materials to a house in Area C, in the same area, for which an Israeli-issued building permit was not issued.

In addition, Israeli authorities leveled one dunum of land, cutting down 30 olive trees in the process, in Azzun Atma and Beit Amin villages (Qalqiliya). According to the village councils, they were informed by the Israeli authorities that the works are for the establishment of water infrastructure for the settlement of Sha’are Tiqwa.

Property seizures and temporary evictions of communities in “firing zones”

During the week, in the Jordan Valley and Hebron at least 162 Palestinians were temporarily displaced, vast areas of land levelled and tools used for the implementation of a vital developmental project were confiscated in areas designated by Israel as “closed military zones” also referred to as “firing zones”, for training purposes.

In the community of Khirbet Yarza (Tubas) (accounted for in the number of structures demolished), in the Jordan Valley, Israeli authorities damaged and confiscated 300 meters of metal water pipelines on 29 January. The pipeline was provided by the Palestinian Authority as part of a donor-funded project to connect the community with the public water network in Tubas city. The demolition affected the entire community, comprising 86 people who have been depending on alternative, unreliable and/or costly sources of water. Of note, since the beginning of 2014, Israeli authorities have demolished a total of 24 structures in this community. Near Tammun (Tubas), on 28 January, Israeli authorities confiscated a water tank and agricultural vehicle. The vehicles, property of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, were being used for purposes of implementing a tree planting project. This is the second confiscation related to the same project; on 18 December 2014, Israeli forces requisitioned one tent, 20 water tanks and 50 seedlings.

In the community of ‘Ibziq (Tubas), 17 families (135 Palestinians) were temporarily displaced between 08:00 and 13:00 every day from 26 through 29 January and on 2 February. The orders extend to 4 February. ‘Ibziq, which is located in an Israeli-declared closed military zone for training(“firing zone”), is home to 30 families (176 Palestinians) and has been subjected to at least 20 temporary displacements as a result of military training in the area since the beginning of 2014.

In Humsa al Bqai’a herding community (Tubas), four families (27 Palestinians) were temporarily displaced between 06:00 and 14:00 in order to make way for Israeli military training.

In the area of Masafer Yatta (Hebron), Israeli forces leveled around 800 dunums of land for unknown reasons. The land was cultivated with wheat and barley for grazing, in an area located between the communities of Jinba Mirkez, Halaweh, Khirbet al Fakheit and Khirbet al Majaz. These are among 14 Palestinian communities in the Masafer Yatta area designated by the Israeli authorities since the 1980’s, as a closed military zone for training, also referred to as the “918 firing zone”. At least 1,300 people currently living in this area are at continuous risk of forcible transfer.

Approximately 18 per cent of the West Bank has been designated as a closed military zone for training, where around 5,000 Palestinians reside in 38 communities. According to an Israeli media report, in early 2014, a senior officer from the IDF Central Command confirmed that the frequency and scope of military trainings has increased dramatically in recent times, particularly in the Jordan Valley, and that such exercises contribute to the prevention of “illegal building.”


No injuries reported in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA)

Incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire into the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea continued on a daily basis, with at least 29 such incidents reported during the week, none of which resulted in injuries. In at least ten incidents, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats reportedly sailing within the Israeli declared six-nautical-mile (NM) fishing limit, forcing them ashore.

In two incidents on land, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 150 meters into Gaza, northeast of Khan Younis, and east of Rafah, and leveled land.

During the week, Israeli forces arrested five Palestinians, reportedly while they were attempting to infiltrate into Israel through the perimeter fence. Restrictions imposed by Israel on access to land along Gaza’s perimeter fence and to fishing areas along the coast undermine the security and livelihoods of Palestinians. These restrictions prevent access to farming and fishing areas and their enforcement places civilians at serious physical risk.

Displaced families return to collective centers due to inability to afford rental expenses

Around 90 families (over 640 people), mainly from central Gaza, have returned to UNRWA Collective Centers for internally displaced persons, due to concerns they will not be able to cover their rental expenses. This follows the announcement last week that the agency had been forced to suspend its cash assistance programme supporting repairs and providing rental subsidies to Palestinian refugee families, who were displaced following the escalation in hostilities in July/August 2014, due to lack of funds. According to the Agency’s assessments to date, over 100,000 Palestine refugee dwellings were damaged or destroyed during last summer’s conflict and more than US$ 720 million is required to address this need. While some funds are available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes, UNRWA has so far received US$ 135 million in pledges for its shelter programme, leaving a shortfall of US$ 585 million. UNRWA is ready to resume the programme as soon as sufficient funds are made available. A number of demonstrations took place in front of UNRWA and other UN offices in Gaza in protest against the aid cuts. There are growing concerns that the number of families seek-ing shelter in UNRWA collective centers may continue to rise until new funding is available.

Daily scheduled power outages continued across the Gaza Strip

As the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) continues to run at only half of its operating capacity, the daily scheduled power outages across the Gaza Strip continue between 16 and 18 hours in some areas, disrupting the routine provision of basic services and forcing service providers to depend on back-up generators, also run by fuel. Between 27 January and 2 February, around 59,000 liters of emergency fuel coordinated by OCHA were delivered to around 12 prioritized basic facilities, including hospitals. A select number of basic services facilities including health, water and garbage collection are receiving regular fuel rations funded by a number of donors. Fuel supply as well as storage capacity remain the main reasons curtailing the GPP operations.

Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed

The Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt remained closed during the entire reporting period. More than 30,000 Palestinians are reportedly registered and waiting to cross into Egypt, including patients and students. The Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt was last exceptionally opened in both directions between 20-22 January, including for a humanitarian convoy of medical and food supplies.

The Rafah crossing was closed on 24 October 2014, following an attack in the Sinai in which 30 Egyptian soldiers were killed. During 2014, the Rafah Crossing was closed for 207 days, or 57 per cent of the year. This has exacerbated the impact of the longstanding Israeli restriction on people’s movement through Erez Crossing with Israel. The vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza remain unable to leave through either Rafah or Erez crossings. In the wake of further deadly attacks in the northern Sinai on 29 January, in which over 30 Egyptian security forces were reportedly killed, the possibility of Rafah crossing reopening in the near future appears remote. During the whole of 2014, the crossing was opened on 158 days allowing 97,690 Palestinians through the crossing in both directions compared to 2013, during which the crossing was opened on 262 days allowing 302,240 Palestinians through in both directions.

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