The Israeli authorities carried out large-scale demolitions in Area C of the West Bank this week, displacing around 60 Palestinians and undermining the livelihoods of over 100 others.
The export season for Gaza’s cash crops commenced this week, amid continued Israeli restrictions on Gaza exports. While four truckloads of strawberries left Gaza during the period, Israel’s announcement in February this year that a wider range of exports from Gaza would be permitted, including exports of furniture, textiles and agricultural produce, has remained unimplemented.
Clashes between Israeli forces and
Palestinians continue to result in injuries
This week, most Palestinian casualties were sustained during clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians, most in the context of protests against settlement expansion, Barrier construction or demolitions. The level of settler violence remained low compared with previous weeks, given the close of the olive harvest.
During the week, two Palestinians sustained injuries in the weekly protest against the expansion of Hallamish settlement in the Ramallah governorate. Another two Palestinians were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli forces during the demolition of their house in the community of Umm Fagarah, near Ma’on settlement in the Hebron governorate (see also next section). Also, two Palestinians were injured in confrontations with Israeli forces posted at the military observation tower at the entrance of Beit Ummar village (Hebron). In addition, Israeli forces injured three Palestinians during confrontations that erupted when residents of ‘Azzun ‘Atma attempted to stop Israeli forces from leveling their land. This incident came in the context of the recent re-routing of the Barrier, southwest of ‘Azzun ‘Atma village. Over the past two weeks, approximately 130 dunums of cultivated land belonging to 100 farmers have been bulldozed, and some 500 trees uprooted. Farmers were forced to dismantle nine greenhouses and approximately 7,000 metres of irrigation networks located along the new route. Once complete, this section of the Barrier will isolate some 400 dunums of land that will be located in the closed area between the Barrier and the Green Line, requiring farmers to obtain permits to access the area.
Three Israeli soldiers were injured in two separate incidents when Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at one of the Israeli checkpoints in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron City (H2).
This week, OCHA documented two settler-related incidents affecting Palestinians and their property, significantly below the average number of incidents in recent weeks, following the beginning of the olive harvest in early October (eight incidents per week).
In two separate incidents, Israeli settlers stoned Palestinian-plated vehicles driving on the main road near Jinsafut and Azzun villages (Qalqiliya), injuring a Palestinian female and damaging a vehicle. A settler was also injured when Palestinians stoned the settlement of Kiryat Arba’ (Hebron).
In another incident, Israeli settlers accompanied by their dogs attacked Palestinian shepherds grazing their sheep near Hill 777 settlement outpost in the Nablus governorate. One shepherd was bitten by a dog. Israeli forces intervened and removed the settlers and detained the shepherds for a few hours. Also this week, Israeli settlers cut down six olive trees belonging to the village of Madama (Nablus), significantly below the weekly average for the number of trees vandalized by settlers since the beginning of the olive harvest (190). In 2011, around 10,000 Palestinian-owned fruit trees have been vandalized or destroyed by Israeli settlers.
Wave of demolitions and
displacements in Area C
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished 27 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits. This is the most extensive wave of demolitions in a single week during the last two months.
The Israeli authorities demolished 12 residences and one house under construction, displacing 60 Palestinians, including 27 children in four separate locations in Area C. The demolitions occurred in the communities of Beit Hanina al Balad and Az Za’ayyem (Jerusalem governorate) and Umm Fagarah and Susiya (Hebron). Also in Umm Fagarah, the Israeli authorities demolished a mosque and the electricity generator that feeds the entire community (70 people). This is the third instance, in which the Israeli authorities demolished a mosque in Area C in 2011. In another community (Al Buss) in Hebron, Israeli forces demolished an electricity generator that pumps water to agricultural land, an agricultural room and two water wells, bringing the total number of water-related structures demolished since the beginning of 2011 to 45. The remaining structures demolished this week were the International Solidarity Center in Bil’in village and a car workshop near Umm Saffa village in the Ramallah governorate, and animal shelters in Az Za’ayyem village. Overall, the livelihoods of over 100 people were affected by the demolitions. Also this week, the Israeli authorities delivered stop-work orders against a school (in Susiya), a water cistern, and five houses in the Hebron and Jerusalem governorates.
Calm in Gaza continues
The Gaza Strip witnessed another calm week, during which there were no reports of casualties. However, the Israeli air force launched a number of air strikes inside Gaza, one of which hit an area in Khan Younis, damaging several greenhouses. Also, Palestinian armed factions fired a number of rockets towards southern Israel, causing no casualties or damage to property.
Further increase in electricity
This week, the majority of the population throughout the Gaza Strip experienced electricity blackouts between eight and 12 hours per day, up from four hours daily in previous weeks. This increase took place as a result of the increasing demand on electricity due to colder weather, coupled with the malfunctioning of one of the Israeli lines feeding electricity to Gaza City and the fact that the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) is operating two instead of three turbines for maintenance. The line was fixed towards the end of the reporting period, reducing power cuts to between six and eight hours per day.
The current power supply is estimated to be 30 per cent below the current need of 300 MW. Gaza has experienced electricity deficits for many years, a situation that was compounded in 2006 as a result of an Israeli air force attack on the plant’s transformers, which resulted in an over 40 percent drop in the productive capacity of the plant. Power cuts continue to disrupt daily life, affecting food refrigeration and the provision of essential services, including water supply, sewage removal and treatment, and medical services.
Limited shipments of agriculture
produce allowed out of Gaza
As the yearly export season for authorized cash crops in Gaza has commenced, the Israeli authorities allowed the exit of four truckloads carrying 5.5 tonnes of strawberries from Gaza to Europe this week. These truckloads are the first to leave Gaza in six months, following the end of the last export season for cash crops. Since the beginning of 2011, around 190 truckloads of a limited range of authorized agricultural produce have been allowed out of Gaza, compared to around 5,800 truckloads of a wider range of exports, which exited during the same period in 2007 to the West Bank, Israel and to other markets. Under the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, signed between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority in 2005, the number of export trucks per day processed via Karni Crossing should reach 400. Israel continues to restrict exports from Gaza, despite its announcement earlier this year to allow a wide range of exports, including textiles, furniture and agricultural produce to exit Gaza.