|Two Palestinian boys killed and over 60 injured in clashes and protests
Numerous demonstrations commemorating the 66th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the “An Nakba” took place on 15 and 16 May across the West Bank. Some of the demonstrations evolved into violent clashes with Israeli forces, resulting in the death of two Palestinian boys and in the injury of another 64 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers.
The two boys, both aged 17, were shot with live ammunition and killed on 15 May, during confrontations at the Beituniya checkpoint, near the Ofer prison (Ramallah); 20 other Palestinians were injured during the clashes. Testimonies by eyewitnesses, as well as video footage of the incident, suggest that there was no stone throwing ongoing at the specific time and place of the lethal shootings and that the minors were unarmed. The Israeli Military Police opened an investigation into the case. This incident brings the total number of Palestinian fatalities by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2014 to 11, compared to eight in the equivalent period of 2013.
Similar clashes occurred during demonstrations at the Qalandiya checkpoint (Jerusalem), and in Ar Ram (Jerusalem), Hebron City (H2), Al Walaja (Bethlehem) and Beit Ummar (Hebron), among other places, resulting in the injury of another 54 Palestinians, including 17 children. About two-thirds of the injuries were hit by rubber-coated metal bullets or rubber bullets, and most of the rest were either treated after inhaling gas or hit by a tear gas canister. Overall, the number of Palestinian injuries in the context of this year’s “An Nakba” protests and clashes is significantly lower than in the protests on the same occasion in 2013 (188) and 2012 (376); no deaths were recorded in these protests in previous years.
Also this week, 15 Palestinians, including five children, were injured on 16 May in clashes with Israeli police forces that erupted during the course of a search-and-arrest operation in the Al ‘Issawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem.
Wave of demolitions and displacement in and around the E1 area, east of Jerusalem
On 19 May, the Israeli authorities carried out a series of demolitions in six residential sites in Area C in the hills to the east of Jerusalem, in and around the E1 settlement area. The affected communities were Nkheila, Kassara, Khan al Ahmar-Mithawish, Khan al Ahmar-Makab as Samen, Jabal al Baba and Al ‘Eizariya. Overall, a total of 13 structures were demolished on grounds that they lacked building permits, displacing 37 people, including 23 children, and otherwise affecting some 50 others. The targeted structures included four residential structures, one external kitchen, one fodder storage unit, a hosting tent, three portable latrines, and three animal structures. Four of these structures were provided by international donors.
This area, which includes 18 residential sites (2,800 people), has been identified as a priority for the implementation of an official Israeli plan to “relocate” most Bedouin communities across Area C to a limited number of sites. Most of this area has been allocated for the expansion of Israeli settlements, including the E1 plan, as well as planned to be surrounded by the Barrier around Ma’ale Adumim settlement. The UN Secretary General has previously expressed concern that the implementation of these “relocation” plans may amount to forcible transfer, in contravention of international law.
Also this week, on 18 May, Israeli forces dismantled and confiscated three donor-funded residential tents, along with a cement mixer, in Tell al Khashabah Bedouin community in Nablus, displacing 27 people, including 18 children, for the third time in three weeks. The tents were provided in response to last week’s demolitions. Stop-work orders were issued against two structures in the same community, as well as against 15 residential structures, eight of which were provided by an international donor, and eight animal shelters in Khirbet Ghuwein al Fauqa (Hebron).
Also in Hebron, in an Area C section of Idhna town, Israeli forces tore down and removed six electricity poles supplying 15 households, on the grounds that they were installed without permits.
In East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities demolished four structures: a residential house in Jabal al Mukabbir; an aluminum workshop in Ras al ‘Amud, a shop in Shu’fat, and a storage structure n Beit Hanina. The first demolition led to the displacement of a family comprising eight people, including five children, while the other demolitions affected the livelihoods of 24 people. So far this year, a total of 31 structures have been demolished and approximately 100 people displaced in East Jerusalem.
600 trees uprooted by israeli forces in the Bethlehem governorate
On 19 May, Israeli forces bulldozed around eight dunums of land next to Nahhalin village (Bethlehem), uprooting approximately 600 almond trees aged over ten years. Two months ago, the Israeli authorities issued an evacuation order applicable to that land, on the grounds that the land is designated as government property or “state land”. This designation was reviewed and confirmed by a committee from the Israeli Civil Administration in 2012 with the purpose of allocating this land for settlement development. A Palestinian family claims ownership over the land and has rehabilitated it in recent years.