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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
18 June 2010
Protection of Civilians
9-15 June 2010
Latest Developments since Tuesday, 15 June
16 June -- The Israeli Security Cabinet decided “to adjust” its policy regarding Gaza, as part of which more consumer goods and materials for civilian projects carried out under international supervision will be allowed into Gaza. Additional steps needed to implement the aforementioned decision have yet to be defined. The decision also states that “Israel expects the international community to work towards the immediate release of Gilad Shalit”.
One Palestinian Killed and 13 Others Injured by Israeli Forces
Israeli forces shot and killed one Palestinian and injured 13 others this week in various incidents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; one Israeli policeman was killed by a Palestinian and six other Israeli soldiers and policemen were wounded. Since the beginning of 2010, seven Palestinians and two members of the Israeli security forces have been killed in the context of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict, compared to 14 Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers and policemen killed in the equivalent period in 2009. By contrast, the number of injuries increased significantly: during 2010, 688 Palestinians and 90 Israeli soldiers and policemen were injured, compared with 548 and ten, respectively, in the equivalent period in 2009.
On 11 June, Israeli police shot and killed a 39-year-old Palestinian man in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Wadi al Joz. According to the IDF spokesperson, the man was shot while he was trying to escape the area on foot. According to media reports the man tried to escape after he lightly injured two Israeli police officers in an alleged attempt to run over them with his vehicle. Three Palestinian bystanders, including a 13 year-old girl, sustained wounds as a result of the shooting. The killing incident triggered clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents throughout the neighborhood, as well as in the adjacent Isawiya neighborhood, which resulted in one Palestinian injury.
Also this week, in the Hebron area, one Israeli police officer was killed and three others injured when Palestinians opened fire towards a police vehicle driving on Road 60 near Al Fawwar refugee camp. In the aftermath of the killing, Israeli forces imposed a four-hour curfew on two nearby communities (Wadi al Shajneh and Wadi al Hafayer) and erected flying checkpoints in areas in the vicinity of the incident.
Three Palestinians and one international activist sustained wounds in the weekly demonstrations, protesting the construction of the Barrier in the villages of Ni’lin and Bil’in (Ramallah) and Israeli restrictions on access to land near the settlement of Karmi Zur (Hebron). One Israeli soldier was also wounded in a separate protest against the expansion of the Hallamish settlement in the Ramallah area. In order to prevent Palestinians, together with international activists, from holding a scheduled demonstration against settler violence in the village of ‘Iraq Burin (Nablus), Israeli forces declared the village as a closed military area; reportedly, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters, as a result, an elderly Palestinian woman was treated for tear gas inhalation. The remaining five Palestinians, including two children, were injured in various incidents in Hebron, in Tulkarm (Far’un village land behind the Barrier) and during the demolition of vegetable stalls in the Jordan Valley (see separate report below).
Israeli forces conducted 73 search operations inside Palestinian towns and villages this week, below the average number of similar weekly operations so far in 2010 (100). During one of the operations in Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces confiscated the identity cards (IDs) of five Palestinians; the IDs have not yet been returned to their owners.
Fewer Settler Attacks Recorded
During the week, OCHA recorded three attacks perpetrated by Israeli settlers resulting in either Palestinian injuries or affecting Palestinian property, compared to 12 attacks recorded last week. Despite this decrease, the number of such incidents recorded so far this year is more than two-fold the number for the equivalent period in 2009- 135 compared to 64. In 2010, one Palestinian child has been killed and 56 Palestinians and 29 settlers injured in the context of settler-related incidents.
Armed Israeli settlers from of Itamar settlement entered the nearby village of ‘Aqraba (Nablus) and physically assaulted and wounded a Palestinian man. In a separate incident, masked individuals seen leaving the Havat Ma’on settlement outpost raided the nearby village of Tuwani in south Hebron and threw stones at a Palestinian house. As a result, the windows of the house were broken, but no injuries were reported. In another incident, settlers from the Gil’ad Farm outpost (Qalqiliya entered the nearby village of Immatin and set fire to a Palestinian vehicle.
Around four hundred Palestinians, together with international and Israeli activists, held a weekly demonstration in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem to protest the eviction of Palestinian families from their houses by Israeli settlers.
Also this week, Israeli media reported that an Israeli woman was injured by stones while driving through a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem later the same day, on which the Palestinian was killed in the area.
Israeli authorities demolish nine Palestinian-owned structures; an Area C school was issued demolition orders
Following a nine-week long lull in demolitions, the Israeli authorities demolished nine nonresidential structures in Area C and East Jerusalem due to the lack of building permit. In 2010, the Israeli authorities have demolished 70 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, displacing 129 people, and five other structures in East Jerusalem; three houses were also self-demolished in Jerusalem. In the equivalent period in 2009, 133 structures were demolished in Area C and 36 others in East Jerusalem, displacing 299 and 151 people respectively.
In one incident, the Israeli army demolished five vegetable stalls located alongside Road 90 near Marj Na’ja village (Jericho) and confiscated some goods. Also in Area C, the Israeli authorities delivered stop-work orders against 26 Palestinian-owned structures, including 22 houses (one under construction), in the villages of Majdal Bani Fadil (Nablus), An Nabi Saleh (Ramallah) and Umm Salamuna (Bethlehem).
Another two demolition orders were delivered against al Ka’abna School near An Nuwei’ma village (Jericho), which provides primary education to some 60 students. There are at least 26 schools in Area C, which have been served stop-work or demolition orders by the Israeli authorities for lack of construction permit or are prevented from expanding their facilities. So far, no official reply has been given by the Israeli authorities to a proposal submitted by the humanitarian community four months ago, requesting the approval of projects affecting these schools.
In East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem municipality demolished a garage in the Ath thuri neighbourhood due to the lack of a building permit and fined its owner. In addition, three animal containers in Silwan neighbourhood were also demolished and some animals and one container were confiscated. The animal shelters constituted the livelihood of a family of eight.
Movement and Access Update
In the aftermath of the shooting incident resulting in the killing of an Israeli police officer (see above), the Israeli military re-established a roadblock at the entrance of Wadi al Hafayer community, along Road 60 in the Hebron area. This obstacle was removed two weeks ago, in the context of a package of movement easings announced by the Israeli authorities on 24 May. No further removals were recorded this week.
Also this week, Israeli forces closed the checkpoints controlling the southern entrance into Nablus City (Huwwara) and the northern entrance to Ramallah (‘Atara) for over one hour each, due to security alerts, resulting in long queues and delays. In the Old City of East Jerusalem, Israeli forces were deployed heavily in and around the city, erected several flying checkpoints, preventing Palestinians under the age of 40 from accessing Al Aqsa Mosque.
Palestinian, international and Israeli activists held a demonstration this week near the Beit El checkpoint, at the main entrance to Ramallah from the east, demanding its opening for Palestinian traffic. The protests evolved into clashes with Israeli soldiers but resulted in no injuries. The ban on Palestinian access through this checkpoint (except for ambulances and VIP card holders), has restricted the road connecting Ramallah to Road 60 for the exclusive use of Israeli settlers and
military, forcing tens of thousands of Palestinians to make long detours to reach Ramallah City.
Palestinian Casualties Decline; Incidents Along the Border Continue
Israeli forces injured three Palestinians this week, compared to six Palestinians killed and three others injured last week. Since the beginning of 2010, 31 Palestinians (including nine civilians), three Israeli soldiers and one foreign national have been killed in the context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. Another 119 Palestinians (including 103 civilians) and five Israeli soldiers have been injured.
Incidents along the Gaza-Israel border continue, affecting civilian lives and livelihoods. On two different occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards a group of Palestinian civilians collecting scrap metal near the border, injuring three of them. In addition, local sources report that on three separate occasions during the week, Israeli forces opened warning fire towards female farmers and international activists while they harvested wheat east of Khan Younis, in the vicinity of the border with Israel; as a result, significant amounts of wheat have remained unharvested, further
undermining scarce livelihoods. Israeli tanks and bulldozers also launched a number of incursions a few hundred metres inside Gaza and withdrew after conducting land leveling. These incidents occurred in the context of continued Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas located up to one kilometer from the border fence and cover approximately 18 percent of the Gaza Strip. Similar restrictions apply to fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from the shore; this week Israeli naval vessels opened “warning” fire towards Palestinian fishing boats on two occasions; no casualties were reported.
Palestinian armed factions fired a number of rudimentary rockets towards southern Israel, including at military bases located on the border, resulting in no injuries or damage to property.
Two Palestinians Died in Tunnel-Related Incidents
Two Palestinians died in two separate tunnel-related incidents. A 17 year-old boy was killed as a result of an electric shock and the other died from suffocation while working inside tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. In 2010, 29 Palestinians have been killed and 48 others injured in tunnel-related incidents, including air strikes, tunnel collapse, electrocution and the explosion of gas cylinders. In spite of the risks, tunnels constitute a lifeline for the Gaza population, providing goods, which are unavailable through the official crossings with Israel, due to the Israeli imposed blockade in place since June 2007.
Rafah Crossing Allows a Few Hundreds to Cross Daily
The Egyptian authorities continue to open the Rafah border crossing in both directions. Since its opening for an unspecified duration on 2 June 2010, on average, around 416 Palestinians cross from Gaza into Egypt and 270 cross from Egypt into Gaza on a daily basis. Passage continues to be limited to medical and other humanitarian cases, as well as students and foreign passport holders. As a result, despite the growth in the number of people crossing Rafah compared to previous weeks, these
figures remain well below the daily average of 650 people who crossed each way in the first five months of 2006, before the partial closure of the crossing.
The Blockade Enters its Fourth Year; Limited Entry of New Items Continues (6 - 13 June)
The Israeli blockade on Gaza, which has entered its fourth year this week, continues to undermine livelihoods and to prevent major reconstruction of houses and infrastructure. In a press statement released on this occasion, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) declared that the closure constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel's obligations under international humanitarian law and has a devastating impact on the 1.5 million people living in Gaza. Since the beginning of 2010, some new items have been allowed to enter into the Gaza Strip, mainly food, hygiene and reconstruction materials (mostly gravel and cement), however, these items remain limited in both quantity and variety.
Two new items were allowed into Gaza this week by the Israeli authorities: ketchup (two truckloads) and sewing thread (two truckloads). Overall, Gaza imports increased by almost 17 percent compared to last week (573 vs. 488 truckloads). However, this week's figure constitutes only 20 percent of the weekly average that entered during the first five months of 2007 (2,807 truckloads), before the imposition of the blockade. Similar to previous weeks, food and hygiene items made up the majority
of imported goods (475 truckloads or 83 percent of total imports). The restrictions on exports continue; no exports left Gaza this week.
The entry of construction materials for the commercial market, including glass, aluminum and wood, continued this week, along with other materials for three specific projects. One of the projects is carried out by UNRWA and entails the construction of 151 housing units in Khan Younis; a total of eight truckloads of gravel and another two of cement were allowed into Gaza for this project. The materials received so far accounts for around 20 percent of the project’s needed quantities.
The humanitarian cargo brought by the Gaza flotilla, which was intercepted by Israeli forces on 31 May, was kept under Israeli custody. However, this week, the UN Special Envoy to the oPt, Robert Serry, stated that the government of Israel and the donors of the goods have agreed to release the entire cargo to the UN under the understanding that it is for the UN exclusively to determine its appropriate humanitarian use in Gaza. Delivery of the goods is expected to start this coming week.
Industrial Fuel and Cooking Gas Shortfalls Continue
Imports of industrial fuel required to operate the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) increased slightly compared to last week (1.2 vs. 1.05 million litres). This amount, however, constitutes only around half the weekly quantity of fuel that entered Gaza in November 2009, before the beginning of the current funding crisis. Due to fuel shortfalls, the GPP continues to operate at only 38 percent of its full capacity. As a result, the majority of the population continues to experience power cuts of 8-12 hours per day. The problem is further exacerbated by the lack of materials needed to maintain and repair vital equipment, due to restrictions imposed on the import of these materials by the Israeli authorities. Over 90 essential items for maintaining the power plant have continued to be denied entry since June 2007.
Similarly, imports of cooking gas increased by 31 percent this week (979 vs. 750 tonnes), representing 70 percent of the average weekly needs, as estimated by the Gas Stations Owners Association. As shortfalls continue, the rationing scheme for cooking gas, introduced in November 2009, remains in place.