Over 80 injured in clashes with Israeli forces
This week, Israeli forces injured 88 Palestinians, the majority of them in demonstrations, marking Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967. Thus far in 2011, 787 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, around half of whom participants in protests. This is a 17 percent increase compared to the equivalent period of 2010.
Several demonstrations and clashes took place throughout in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, some of which resulted in injuries. Seventy‐six (76) Palestinians were injured on 5 June in a demonstration organized by Palestinians at the Qalandiya checkpoint (East Jerusalem). About half of the injuries were sustained as a result of tear gas inhalation and the remaining half were caused by tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets fired by Israeli forces, alongside instances of physical assault. One Israeli soldier was also injured by a stone. In two similar demonstrations, two Palestinians were injured in Al Walajah village (Bethlehem governorate) and at least 350 olive and almond trees were damaged by tear gas canisters, which were fired by Israeli forces in Deir al Hatab village (Nablus governorate).
Four Palestinians were injured in separate demonstrations protesting against the construction of the Barrier in Bil’in village (Ramallah), land seizure by the Israeli military in Budrus village (Ramallah), and settler activities in Silwan village in East Jerusalem. In a separate incident in Mughayyir village (Ramallah), three Palestinians (including two children) were injured in clashes that erupted between the residents of the village and Israeli forces, following an arson attack perpetrated by Israeli settlers on the village’s mosque (also see below).
Overall this week, Israeli forces conducted 67 search-and-arrest operations throughout the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem; a decline compared to the weekly average of such operations since the beginning of 2011 (90).
Settler violence increased; a mosque vandalized
During the reporting period, OCHA documented 15 settler attacks that resulted in six Palestinian injuries and damage to a mosque, as well as to approximately 150 grape vines and olive trees. This week’s figure is above the weekly average of settler-related incidents recorded since the beginning of 2011 (9). In addition, four settlers were injured this week by Palestinians in two separate incidents. Since the beginning of the year, three Palestinians (including two children) and six Israeli settlers (including three children) have been killed, and 93 Palestinian and 18 Israeli settlers have been injured in the context of settler-related incidents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Around 3,000 trees belonging to Palestinians have been also vandalized.
Four Palestinians, including an 11 year-old child, and three Israeli settlers were injured in clashes between Palestinian residents and settlers in the Old City of Jerusalem. The remaining two Palestinians were injured in clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinian residents of Far’ata village after the former set fire to land belonging to the village, damaging wheat crops. Also, one Israeli was injured when Palestinians threw stones at settler vehicles in ‘Anata village (Jerusalem).
In one serious incident that occurred in Al Mughayyir village (Ramallah governorate), Israeli settlers set fire to a mosque, damaging the carpets, and wrote Hebrew graffiti on its walls, including “Alei Ayin”, which is the name of a settlement outpost that Israeli forces evacuated a few days ago in the area. This incident reportedly occurred in the context of the so-called “price tag” strategy, in which settlers attack Palestinians and their property in retaliation for measures implemented by the Israeli authorities. The Israeli police have launched an investigation into the incident.
In five separate incidents this week, Israeli settlers uprooted 130 grape vines belonging to Palestinians near the settlements of Bat Ayin and Efrata (Bethlehem governorate). Also, settlers reportedly vandalized and damaged 20 olive trees in Hizma village (Jerusalem governorate). In separate incidents, Israeli settlers set fire to three dunums of land planted with wheat crops and grape vines, damaging the crops, and leveled 100 dunums of land in the Hebron and Nablus governorates.
No demolitions recorded; stop-work orders issued
This week, there were no demolitions reported in Area C of the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Since the beginning of 2011, 207 Palestinian-owned structures have been demolished in East Jerusalem and Area C, displacing 433 people. This represents more than double and triple the numbers of demolitions and people displaced, respectively, compared to the equivalent period in 2010. This week, however, the Israeli authorities delivered stop-work orders against two water cisterns in Za’tara village in the Bethlehem governorate. Restrictive planning and zoning regimes applied by the Israeli authorities in both East Jerusalem and Area C make it virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits for legal construction.
One injury in a demonstration near the fence
During the week, Israeli forces injured a Palestinian civilian near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. For the fifth consecutive week, there were no reports of Israeli air strikes, however, Palestinian armed factions attempted to fire a rocket towards southern Israel, which exploded prematurely. Since the beginning of 2011, 50 Palestinians (20 civilians) and two Israelis (one civilian) have been killed in the context of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, and 283 Palestinians (255 civilians), and nine Israelis (five civilians) have been injured.
In a demonstration organized by Palestinians on 7 June in the Beit Hanoun area to protest ongoing restrictions on areas along the fence, Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators as they approached the fence, injuring one of them. Access restrictions are also enforced on fishing zones beyond three nautical miles from the shore. In one incident during the week, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them ashore. During the incident, an Israeli navel vessel collided with a Palestinian boat, damaging the boat. No injuries were reported.
One Palestinian killed in tunnel collapse
In one incident on 6 June, a Palestinian was killed when a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border collapsed while he was working inside. Since the beginning of 2011, 15 Palestinians have been killed and 26 others have been injured in tunnel-related incidents, including air strikes, tunnel collapses and electrocution. A total of 46 Palestinians were killed and 89 others injured in 2010. While tunnel activity has declined since the Israeli decision to ease the blockade on 20 June 2010, it continues to serve as a main delivery source for construction materials, whose import through the official crossings with Israel remains restricted, and fuel, which is significantly cheaper in Egypt than in Israel.
Rafah Crossing opened in one direction only
Following the 28 May implementation of new measures at the Rafah crossing, the movement of people in and out of Gaza improved. The improvement, however, was short-lived, as a number of technical issues concerning procedures previously announced by the Egyptian authorities led to the re-imposition of limits on the movement of people through the crossing. On 4 June, the Egyptian Authorities opened the crossing in one direction, for people entering Gaza, and closed it for those exiting Gaza to Egypt, without prior notification to the Palestinian side. In protest, the Palestinian Border and Crossing authorities closed the crossing from the Gaza side. Currently, the crossing remains open in one direction only, allowing Palestinians to enter Gaza. Discussions between the Egyptian and Gaza authorities continue in order to clarify technical issues, including the number of people that can cross each day and the crossing’s working hours. On 7 June, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza announced that the crossing will open in both directions after reaching an agreement with the Egyptian authorities.
Between 28 May and 3 June, a daily average of 462 people left Gaza to Egypt, compared to a quota of 300 to 350 people crossing per day. In addition, an average of 369 people entered Gaza per day. During the same period, 280 people were denied entry to Egypt.
Improvements in electricity supply
Since the beginning of June, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) has been operating a third power-generating turbine, raising electricity production from 60 megawatts (MW) to 78 MW. The GPP continues to run its turbines on diesel supplied through tunnels under the Egyptian border. Consequently, daily power cuts throughout the Gaza Strip were reduced to four hours per day, down from six to eight hours in the previous weeks. According to the Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza, this increase in power supply is solely for the month‐long Tawjihi (final school exam) and is temporary due to the severe limitations in the supply of fuel.
Gaza crossings with Israel; restrictions on imports and exports continue
A total of 1,123 truckloads of goods entered Gaza this week (29 May-4 June), around 23 percent above the weekly average of truckloads that entered since the beginning of the year (913). This week's figure represents only 40 per cent of the weekly average of 2,807 truckloads that entered Gaza during the first five months of 2007, prior to the imposition of the blockade. Most goods that enter Gaza continue to be consumer products, with food constituting around 46 percent of imports, compared to less than 20 percent before the blockade.
This week, 140 truckloads carrying 9,800 tonnes of aggregate entered through the new facility recently opened at the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Entry of basic construction materials, including aggregates, cement and steel bars, remains restricted for a limited number of humanitarian projects approved by Israel. A total of 131 truckloads of other types of construction materials including tiles, pipes and paints were allowed in this week for commercial purposes. Restricted construction materials continue to be transferred into Gaza in considerable quantities via tunnels under the border with Egypt.
No exports left the Gaza Strip for the third consecutive week. Over the course of the last export season, which started in late November 2010, a total of 290 truckloads were allowed out of Gaza, 98 percent of which consisted of strawberries and cut flowers. In the six months prior to the imposition of the blockade in June 2007, a monthly average of over 960 truckloads of textiles, furniture and agricultural produce left Gaza.
Cooking gas shortages continue
This week, 514 tonnes of cooking gas entered the Gaza Strip, representing only 43 percent of the required weekly amount of 1,200 tonnes. This shortage of cooking gas is reportedly the result of a reduction in the capacity of the fuel pipes at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which began a few weeks ago due to a broken pump and has yet to be fixed. Shortages of cooking gas continue to affect daily life in the Gaza Strip; the Gas Stations Owners Association in Gaza reports that nearly half of the 28 cooking gas stations are partially operating due to lack of cooking gas, while a rationing system remains in place.