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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
12 August 2013

Key issues

Israeli forces injure 24 Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In Gaza, one Palestinian killed and another injured in the context of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The transfer of construction materials through the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border remains severely reduced.


Injuries remain below 2013 weekly average

This week, 24 Palestinians, including three children, were injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank, roughly the same as the weekly average for the previous four weeks (23). One Israeli soldier also was reported injured by Palestinians.

The majority of Palestinian injuries occurred in the course of search and arrest operations (14) or during the weekly demonstration in the village of Kufr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), protesting movement restrictions imposed on the village (5). Medically-treated tear gas inhalation was the main cause of injuries (13), followed by rubber-coated metal bullets (5).

On 7 August, five Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were injured in Beit Ummar (Hebron) when clashes erupted during a search operation. The Palestinian injuries included three boys, aged 15, 16 and 17, and two men who were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. Also, two boys were arrested, including a 15-year-old who was physically assaulted by Israeli forces.

On 11 August 2013, two Palestinians were injured in ‘Azzun ‘Atma village (Qalqiliya) during confrontations that began when Israeli forces closed its main gate, for unclear reasons, for approximately 11 hours. During this period, passage was allowed only to Palestinians who hold valid permits to enter Israel or the closed area between the Barrier and the Green Line, or whose place of residence in their IDs is ‘Azzun ‘Atma. The village is located in an area between the Barrier and the Green Line, but in 2010, Israeli forces stopped regularly staffing the checkpoint located at the main gate, allowing unrestricted access to most of the community.

Four olive trees located near the gate caught on fire after sound bombs were fired by Israeli forces; Palestinian Civil Defense extinguished the fire.

Low frequency of settler-related incidents continue

OCHA recorded four incidents involving Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian casualties or damage to Palestinian-owned property, resulting in one Palestinian injury. Thus far in 2013, OCHA has recorded an average of seven settler-related incidents per week.

On 12 August 2013, one Palestinian was injured and two Palestinian vehicles sustained damage when a group of Israeli settlers threw stones toward Palestinian passing vehicles near Eli (Nablus) and Ma’ale Levona settlements (Ramallah). The injured Palestinian was evacuated to hospital for medical treatment. Also this week, Israeli settlers damaged a fence and construction materials in the village of ‘Asira al Qibliya and set fire to 10 dunums of land in the village of Jalud (both in Nablus), as well as took over and planted approximately one dunum of land with grape saplings in Khallet al Fahem (Bethlehem).

This week, a group of Israeli settlers also erected tents on land near Bracha settlement, east of Burin village (Nablus), in an area that requires Palestinian owners to obtain prior coordination from the Israeli authorities in order to access their land (not included in total). During the previous period, three old olive trees were burnt after a fire broke out on three dunums of land, located next to Tel Rumeida settlement in the Israeli-controlled (H2) part of the city. The affected land requires prior coordination and its owner has accused Israeli settlers of setting the fire.

Confrontations occurred this week between Israelis and Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem, when a group of Israelis entered and toured the yards of Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Three Palestinians were arrested after verbal clashes with the Israelis. Earlier in the week, tens of Israelis demonstrated in the Old City, protesting restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on non-Muslims to enter the Compound during the holy month of Ramadan.

During the period, Israeli media reported that Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at an Israeli bus south of Nablus city. No injuries or damages were reported.

Also this week, in fulfillment of an Israeli court order issued in early 2013, the Israeli army dismantled a fence and uprooted trees from a piece of land (five dunums), which belongs to a Palestinian family from Sinjil village (Ramallah), but had been taken over and planted by Israeli settlers in 2010. The court order was to be fulfilled by 15 August 2013.

Lull in demolitions continues

Continuing the trend that began with the start of Ramadan (10 July), there were no demolitions recorded in Area C or East Jerusalem. However, on 11 August, the Israeli Civil Administration delivered a notice to a Bedouin community next to Az Za’ayyem town (Jerusalem) giving them three days to object to eight previous demolition orders issued against residential and livelihood structures in May 2011. Israeli authorities also delivered a stop work order against an animal pen belonging to Palestinian family (10 people, including 5 children) from Beit Nuba village (Ramallah), due to lack of permit. The structure was built two months ago on privately-owned land.

One Palestinian killed and another one injured in ARA

This week, in two separate incidents, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man and injured another, while enforcing restrictions on Palestinian access to areas near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. This week’s casualties bring the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the announcement of the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas on 21 November 2012 to five and the number of injured to 125.

In the first incident, on 10 August, Israeli forces patrolling the fence shot and killed a 34-year-old Palestinian man (married with four children) while he was reportedly attempting to illegally cross the fence into Israel. This year, there has been a significant increase in the number of young Palestinians from Gaza attempting to infiltrate into Israel through the fence in search of work inside Israel; figures from Al Mezan Human Rights Center indicate that approximately 54 people, including 29 children, have been recorded as attempting to enter Israel illegally in 2013, compared to 53 people, including 25 children in all of 2012. While some 26,000 Palestinians from Gaza entered Erez daily, on average, during the first half of 2000, prior to the second Intifada, most for work, fewer than 200 crossed on average each day in the first half of 2013, primarily approved humanitarian cases.

In the second incident, on 11 August, a 21-year-old farmer was injured when Israeli forces stationed near the fence, east of Sheja’iyya, east of Gaza City, opened fire towards Palestinian farmers working their lands approximately 400 metres from the fence, forcing them to leave the area. Also this week, Israeli forces bulldozers and tanks entered approximately 300 meters inside Gaza, east of Al Bureij camp, and conducted land levelling operations before withdrawing.

Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to fishing areas beyond six nautical miles (NM) from the shore continue. On at least two occasions this week, Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats, northwest of Gaza city and northwest of Beit Lahyia. No injuries were reported, but one boat and some fishing equipment sustained damage. According to human rights groups in Gaza, the boats were located between three and six NM from shore when the incidents occurred.

Also, during the week, Palestinian armed groups reportedly fired from Gaza towards southern Israel two rockets, which landed in an open area in Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.

Widespread calls on Gaza authorities to halt executions

During the reporting period, European Union (EU) Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah and several human rights groups issued statements raising their concern over the Gaza authorities’ intention to carry out a number of executions and to do so publicly. The statements came following a number of public announcements made by Gaza authorities and the Gaza Attorney General in the past few weeks that several convicted persons, who have received death sentences, are set to be executed in public as a “lesson” to others. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on the Gaza authorities to impose a moratorium on executions, noting that “One absolute requirement is that the death penalty can only be imposed after a fair trial. This is currently not possible in Gaza, neither legally nor practically.”

The last death sentence (by hanging) was issued on 10 July 2013, by a civilian court in Gaza, against a man, allegedly for murdering a man in Khan Younis city. The previous month, the Gaza authorities executed two male Palestinian civilians convicted of collaboration with Israel. These were the first executions to be carried out in 2013.

According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, since the beginning of 2013, seven death sentences have been issued in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total number of death sentences issued since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 to 139. These include 112 sentences issued in Gaza and 27 in the West Bank; 51 of these have been issued since 2007, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Of all sentences, 29 have been executed, including 27 in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank.

Transfer of construction materials through tunnels remains severely reduced

Overall, the volume of goods entering this week through the tunnels under the border between Egypt and Gaza is less than 20-30 per cent of the amount that entered prior to imposition of tightened restrictions by Egyptian police in late June.

As in the previous week, on average, around 900,000 liters of diesel and 100,000 liters of petrol entered through the tunnels each day, almost the same quantities that entered before the Egyptian measures against tunnels began more than a month ago. The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) continued to operate three of four turbines, producing around two-thirds of its full capacity (80 out of 120 megawatts). The use of diesel is currently controlled by the local authorities in order to ensure sufficient supplies to support basic services, including hospitals (which rely on fuel to run backup generators, due to the electricity shortfall) and water and wastewater systems. In recent years, the tunnels have become the primary entry point for transfer of fuel from Egypt, which is cheaper than fuel from Israel.

Limited volumes of construction materials continued to enter through the tunnels this week, with an average 1,500 tonnes of cement and 1,000 tonnes of aggregates entering daily. The above quantity is significantly lower than the 7,500 tonnes of construction materials that entered each day prior to the imposition of the recent measures. The prices of such materials is between 10 and 20 per cent higher than prices earlier in the year. The import of basic construction materials through Kerem Shalom, the official crossing with Israel, remains severely restricted.

Rafah Crossing resumes partial operation after three days of closure

On 12 August, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing resumed partial operation after three days of closure by the Egyptian authorities for the Eid al Fitr holiday. As in recent weeks, only foreign nationals, authorized Palestinians holding dual nationality and a limited number of Palestinians referred officially for medical treatment abroad are allowed to cross. The crossing continued to operate four hours per day (six days per week), rather than the previous standard of nine hours per day (seven days per week).

On average this week, at least 162 people crossed, from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, and around 155 from Egypt to the Gaza Strip per day, just 17 per cent of the average number of people crossing both ways per day (approximately 1,860) in June 2013. The crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians. The Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza estimates that over 10,000 Palestinians are registered and waiting to cross into Egypt via Rafah Crossing.

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