Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip resulted in the killing of a Palestinian civilian and the injury of another, as well as in property damage. The airstrikes were reportedly launched in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian militants.
The Gaza power plant was forced to shut down after depleting its fuel reserves, triggering electricity blackouts of up to 18 hours a day. This follows a disruption in the fuel supply from Egypt, entering Gaza through the tunnels.
Over 40 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished and a total of 126 people were displaced in Area C and East Jerusalem due to the lack of permits, the largest number in a single week in more than seven months.
45 Palestinians injured in clashes and raids; decline in settler attacks
Over half of the Palestinian injuries this week (24 out of 45) occurred during weekly demonstrations against settlement-related measures and activities: access restrictions to agricultural areas in the vicinities of Qedumim (Qaqiliya) and Karmei Tzur (Hebron) settlements; the expansion of Hallamish settlement (Ramallah); and the Barrier next to Bil’in village (Ramallah), the route of which seeks to protect the adjacent settlement bloc and allow for its expansion. Eight other Palestinians were injured in Israeli search and arrest operations in the communities of Al ‘Isawiya (East Jerusalem), ‘Aqbat Jabr Refugee Camp (Jericho) and At Tabaqa (Hebron).
Another eight Palestinians were injured in two demonstrations, which evolved into clashes with Israeli forces, in front of the Israeli prison of Ofer (Ramallah). The protests were held in solidarity with Khader ‘Adnan, a Palestinian prisoner, being held in administrative detention, whose health is in a critical state after being on a hunger strike for the past 60 days. The hunger strike is in protest of Israel’s use of administrative detention, where prisoners are detained without charge or trial, on the basis of orders that can be renewed indefinitely, as well as against his conditions of detention. Currently, there are over 300 Palestinians being held under administrative detention, up 45 percent from February 2011.
This week, the number of settler attacks resulting in injuries or property damage declined compared to the previous one (4 vs. 8). Settlers uprooted 200 out of 450 olive saplings, which were planted by Palestinians, together with international activists in the Susiya area (Hebron), as well as six olive trees belonging to Burin village. Thus far in 2012,
more than 300 Palestinian-owned trees have been vandalized by settlers. Also, settlers travelling on a bus next to the village of An Nabi Elias (Qalqiliya) threw stones at a Palestinian commercial store and injured a Palestinian man. A number of incidents of intimidation and access prevention were also reported.
During the week, Palestinians injured two settlers when they stoned settler vehicles driving in East Jerusalem and the Ramallah governorate.
A wave of home demolitions displaces 126 people
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished more than 40 Palestinian-owned structures, 15 of which were residences, due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits. Consequently, 126 Palestinians were displaced. This is the highest number demolitions and displacement recorded in a single week since June 2011.
Around half of the demolitions (23) took place in Khirbet Ar Rahawa village (Hebron). These included eight residences, four fodder storage units, and the community’s water collection cistern, displacing 83 people, including 48 children, and denying access to water to the community’s 120 residents. Seven other houses and six animal shelters were demolished in the Bedouin communities of Khirbet Tana and Khirbit Tuwayil in the Jordan Valley. As a result, six families consisting of 33 people, including 10 children were displaced. In the Area C section of the Beit Hanina community (Jerusalem), a house was demolished for the fourth time since 1995, displacing a family of eight, including three children.
In East Jerusalem, a house was demolished in the As Suwanneh neighbourhood, displacing a family of two. Also in East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities demolished a cultural centre in the Silwan area, which provided activities for more than 80 children in the area, and vandalized its football field; a man was forced to demolish his aluminum workshop after receiving a demolition order.
In addition, the Israeli authorities distributed at least 21demolition orders against residential and animal structures in the Bedouin communities in the periphery of Deir ‘Istiya (Salfit) and Al Eizariya (Jerusalem) villages, and in the village of Surif (Hebron).
One civilian killed and another injured in Israeli air strikes on Gaza
This week, the Israeli Air Force launched several air strikes in different locations inside the Gaza Strip for the second consecutive week. One Palestinian elderly civilian man was killed and his son injured on 11 February, when an air strike hit an animal farm in Az Zeitoun area, east of Gaza City. At least one house sustained damage in the Khan Younis area. Since the beginning of the year, a few dozen houses have been damaged by Israeli air strikes. The attacks were reportedly carried out in response to rockets fired by Palestinian armed factions towards southern Israel, none of which resulted in injuries or damage to property.
Israeli restrictions continued on Palestinian access to areas up to 1,500 meters from the fence and to fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from the shore by opening warning fire at farmers and fishermen, undermining their livelihoods. In two separate incidents, the Israeli navy intercepted Palestinian fishing boats, detaining five Palestinian fishermen, including a 14 year old child, and requisitioning two boats. Four of the detainees, including the child, were later released.
Also this week, two members of Palestinian factions were killed and another one injured in three separate incidents (10, 12 and 14 February), reportedly accidently during military training.
Power outage hits Gaza for up to 18 hours per day as a result of fuel shortage
The level of fuel supplied through the Rafah tunnels from the Sinai into the Gaza Strip has continued to decline gradually for the third consecutive week, dipping to on average 100-150,000 liters per day, or 20 percent of the daily amount of fuel that entered into Gaza in the previous weeks. The reasons for the sharp decline remain unclear however there are reportedly distribution problems affecting fuel in Egypt, as well as other issues, which are impeding deliveries to the border with Gaza.
As a result of the fuel shortage, electricity blackouts throughout the Gaza Strip have reached up to 12-18 hours per day (a 6 hours on, 12 hours off cycle) after the Gaza Power Plant (producing 80-85 megawatts (MW)) shut down on 14 February, following the depletion of its fuel reserves. The plant requires more than 400,000 liters of diesel a day to function. By the end of the reporting period, Gaza was receiving 137 MW of electricity (120 MW from Israel and 17 MW from Egypt), hence, creating a 60 percent deficit in requirements. Electricity shortages may lead to the disruption in the delivery of public services, including water and waste water treatment plants and hospitals. While most such facilities report having a back-up fuel supply adequate for approximately one week, unreliable electricity of low voltage (drop from 360 to 300 volt), is inadequate and can result in earlier disruptions. Water and sewage facilities, including 190 water wells, 40 main sewage pump stations, 15 districts sewage pumping stations, four wastewater treatment plants, eight water desalination units and ten water lifting stations, are particularly vulnerable.
disruptions. Water and sewage facilities, including 190 water wells, 40 main sewage pump stations, 15 districts sewage pumping stations, four wastewater treatment plants, eight water desalination units and ten water lifting stations, are particularly vulnerable.
Also due to the fuel shortage, the Gas Stations Owner Association (GSOA) reports that only a few of the 180 fuel stations throughout the Gaza Strip are operating for just several hours per day when they receive limited supplies. Fuel prices, which are regulated, remain constant.
Child dies in a sewage water pond established as a result of lack of sewage treatment infrastructure
On 11 February, an 11-year-old child died after drowning in a sewage pool, in the northern Gaza Strip. This is the third child fatality that has occurred in the same context within the past two months. Many such pools have been established throughout the Gaza Strip to cope with the enormous gaps in the coverage of existing sewage treatment infrastructure. While the volume of imported materials needed to expand and upgrade this infrastructure has increased significantly since the easing of the blockade on June 2010, the large majority has gone to three large-scale projects, funded by international donors and approved by the Israeli authorities. Many medium and small-scale projects, aimed to address urgent needs, are yet to receive Israeli approval and cannot be implemented.