The Rafah crossing, the principal gateway from Gaza to the outside world for 1.6 million people, was re-opened in one direction on 10 August and on both directions on 14 August, allowing around 5,400 people to return to Gaza and another 780 to cross into Egypt (between 10 and 14 August). The crossing was closed between 6 and 9 August, following an attack on an Egyptian military base in Sinai.
Tunnel activity under the border between Gaza and Egypt resumed only partially. The total halt in the transfer of goods for about three days resulted in fuel shortages and in a rise in the prices of building materials. Fuel shortages triggered power cuts throughout the Gaza Strip that reached up to 16 hours per day.
Israeli settler attacks resulted in damage to around 100 trees in the Ramallah area.
Dozens injured in clashes with Israeli forces; settlers cut down around 100 trees
The majority of this week’s injuries (31 out of 46) were sustained during a weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against the prohibition on the use of the main road connecting the village to Nablus City, and to agricultural land in the vicinity of the nearby Qedumim settlement. Israeli forces raided the village a few days later, arresting two people and damaging the contents of one house. Five other Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in front of Ofer prison (Ramallah) during a demonstration organized in solidarity with prisoners.
Also this week, on 10 and 14 August, interaction between Israeli forces and Palestinians gathering at the Qalandiya checkpoint to access East Jerusalem for Friday prayers and Laylat al Qadr (Night of Destiny) prayers, respectively, evolved into clashes. Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters towards the crowds and Palestinians threw stones. As a result, a nine-year-old child was injured by a gas canister and seven other Palestinians were injured after inhaling gas. In addition, in Hebron three Palestinians were injured when Israeli forces patrolling the area detained them inside a shop in the Old City of Hebron, and threw tear gas canisters inside the shop.
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces
Killed this week: 0
Killed in 2012: 4
Injured this week: 46 (36 in demonstrations)
Injured in 2012: 1,997
2012 weekly average of injured: 62
2011 weekly average of injured: 28
Search and arrest operations by Israeli forces this week: 34
While no Palestinian has been injured this week by Israeli settlers, OCHA recorded four settler-related incidents that led to property damage. In the community of Mikhmas (Ramallah) Israeli setters reportedly cut down around 100 olive and fig trees, while in Susiya (Hebron) plants were reportedly sprayed by settlers with poisonous materials, killing ten sheep. In another incident, settlers opened fire towards a Palestinian-plated vehicle driving on Road 60 in the Ramallah area, damaging its windshield. Also, Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement entered ‘Urif village (Nablus), clashed with the residents and damaged water pipes in a secondary school. The systematic attacks carried out by Yitzhar settlers against Palestinians and their property in recent months have undermined the security and the livelihoods on the six Palestinian communities (population: 18,700) in its vicinity.
Settler-related incidents resulting in injuries or property damage:
This week: 4
2012 weekly average: 6
2011 weekly average: 8
Palestinian injuries by settler violence:
This week: 0
Injured in 2012: 89
2011 weekly average: 4
Israeli settlers injured by Palestinians:
This week: 0
Injured in 2012: 26
Injured in 2011: 37
No demolition of residential structures in Area C and East Jerusalem for the fifth week
For the fifth consecutive week no displacement due to demolitions was recorded during the reporting period. However, the monthly average of the number of people displaced in these circumstances in 2012 is still slightly above the monthly average in 2011 (103 vs. 91).
Moreover, in one incident during the week in Al Khader village (Bethlehem), Israeli authorities demolished a UN-funded water cistern used for irrigation, bulldozed three dunums of land and uprooted and confiscated 100 olive and almond trees in the course of the demolition. Consequently, the livelihood of one family (7 members) was affected. Also in Bethlehem, the Israeli authorities demolished a network of ten electric poles, which supplies electricity for a school in Beit T’emer village.
The Israeli authorities also issued demolition orders against four residences and one animal shelter in Beit Awwa village (Hebron). Also, Israeli forces issued evacuation orders against around 3,000 dunums of Palestinian-owned land next to Khirbet ‘Atuf village (Tubas), claiming the land as “state land”. The Palestinian Authority maintains that the land is Area B and has used international funds to establish grazing areas on part of it, while the other part is claimed by 15 Palestinian farmers from the village. These orders entail the uprooting of hundreds of olive trees and the removal of fences, water tanks and a caravan within 24 days.
Palestinian-owned structures demolished in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem
Demolished in 2012: 400
Of which residences: 120
People displaced in 2012: 615
2012 vs. 2011 demolitions (weekly av.): 13 vs. 12
2012 vs. 2011 people displaced (weekly av.): 21 vs. 21
Access to East Jerusalem for Friday Ramadan prayer
On the fourth Friday of Ramadan (10 August), the Israeli authorities continued applying the same age criteria that they used in the last three Fridays since the onset of Ramadan, to regulate West Bank ID holders’ access to Friday prayers in Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem. Men and women above the age of 40 and children below 12 were allowed to enter East Jerusalem without permits, while males and females between the ages of 12 and 40 continued to require permits. Despite the announced age limit, women of all ages were able to cross at most times. The population of the Gaza Strip remains barred from entering East Jerusalem.
According to the Israeli authorities, approximately 196,400 Palestinians entered East Jerusalem on 10 August through four authorized checkpoints (Qalandiya, Gilo, Shu’fat Camp and Az Zeitoun) along the Barrier. This is an increase compare to the previous Friday, when around 174,700 crossed into East Jerusalem. The same age criteria were applied during Laylat al Qadr on 14 August.
There were two access-related incidents that led to the injury of eight Palestinians (reported above) on 10 and 14 August. Flying checkpoints were deployed by Israeli forces on roads leading to East Jerusalem on both days.
One farmer injured near the fence
Despite a relatively calm situation inside the Gaza Strip, with no reports of Israeli air strikes or armed clashes this week, Israeli forces injured a Palestinian farmer near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip when they fired warning shots, enforcing restrictions on access near the fence. Also in the context of restrictions on access beyond three nautical miles from the shore, the Israeli navy opened warning fire towards Palestinian fishing boats on at least three occasions, forcing them ashore. No injuries or damage were reported.
Also this week, Palestinian armed factions fired a number of projectiles toward southern Israel, resulting in no injuries or damage to property.
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip:
Killed this week: 0
Killed in 2012: 47
Injured this week: 1
Injured in 2012: 244
2012 weekly average of injured: 8
2011 weekly average of injured: 9
Israeli casualties by Palestinian fire from Gaza
Injured this week: 0
Rafah Crossing and tunnels partially resume operations
The Egyptian authorities re-opened the Rafah Crossing partially between 10 and 13 August in one direction only, allowing over 4,000 Palestinians to return to Gaza from Egypt. The crossing was closed between 6 and 9 August, following an attack on an Egyptian military base in Sinai. On 14 August, the Egyptian authorities opened the crossing in both directions, allowing around 780 medical cases (along with accompaniers) and students enrolled in universities abroad, among others, to cross into Egypt.
The measures adopted by the Egyptian authorities following the attack also led to a halt in tunnel activities. However, according to local sources, including tunnel owners, this week nearly 20 percent of the tunnels resumed operations. The amounts of fuel and construction materials transferred to Gaza have reportedly declined by over 30 per cent and 70 percent respectively since 5 August. As a result, the prices of construction materials in Gaza markets have increased between 20 and 30 per cent.
Movement of goods (Kerem Shalom Crossing)
Number of truckloads (TL) entered this week: 1,024
Due to a fuel shortage, triggered by the reduction in the amounts transferred through tunnels, on 10 August the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) was forced to operate two turbines only, down from three to four turbines in the previous two weeks. This resulted in power cuts of up to 16 hours per day, compared to 10-12 in the previous weeks.
The GPP needs over 3.5 million liters of fuel a week in order operate at full capacity. Less than half of this amount was received from Egypt through the tunnels over the reporting period, as the transfer of the Qatari-funded fuel has remained blocked by the Egyptian authorities since 6 August. It is estimated that the weekly amounts of Qatari fuel delivered to Gaza constitutes around 18 percent of the 3.5 million liters. In addition, due to fuel shortages, the rationing of fuel by Gaza petrol stations continues, with reports of long queues.