Search operation results in one Palestinian fatality
Regular demonstrations against Israeli measures and related clashes continued, resulting in 11 injuries. However, the gravest incident this week involved the killing of a Palestinian man, aged 22, in a search-and-arrest operation by Israeli forces in Al Far’a refugee camp (Tubas governorate) on 13 July. Although the man was unarmed and not “wanted” by the Israeli authorities, he was shot and severely injured in the leg when he refused to stop when ordered. He was treated on the ground by the soldiers until a Palestinian ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital, where he later died. Immediately after the incident, the Israeli military announced the opening of a Military Police (criminal) investigation into the case. This is the first case involving the killing of a Palestinian civilian in the West Bank since April 2011, when the army announced a policy change regarding the investigation of civilian killings by soldiers.
Also this week, 300 olive trees were burnt when Israeli forces detonated unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the village of Zawata (Nablus governorate), affecting 12 farmers.
Settler violence leaves 7 injuries and over 1,000 trees damaged
During the reporting period, OCHA documented seven settler attacks that resulted in seven Palestinian injuries and damage to over 1,000 olive trees. In one incident, Israeli settlers assaulted three children (aged 5, 10 and 13) in their tent in a Bedouin community near Mikhmas village (Jerusalem governorate), injuring them. Also in Mikhmas, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured two Palestinian shepherds while they were grazing their sheep.
In the gravest incident this week involving damage to property, according to Burin village council, on 12 July Israeli settlers set fire to land belonging to Palestinians, damaging around 1,150 olive trees. Settlers also burnt ten olive trees planted near Taqu’ village (Bethlehem governorate). Since the beginning of the year, settlers have damaged around 4,000 trees owned by Palestinians throughout the West Bank.
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished an animal shelter in Zubeidat village (Jericho governorate) in Area C of the West Bank, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permit, affecting five people. In addition, two Palestinian families were forced to demolish their own homes in Sur Baher and Jabal Al Mukabber areas of East Jerusalem (13 and 18 July), displacing 24 people and affecting seven others, including 22 children. This follows a wave of demolitions that began on 26 May and entailed the demolition of 167 structures and the displacement of 274 people, including 164 children. Demolitions recorded since the beginning of the year have almost doubled compared to the equivalent period in 2010, while more people have been displaced thus far in 2011 than in all of 2010 (606) or 2009 (643).
Also this week, Israeli forces issued stop-work orders against three houses, one of which is under construction, and three poultry farms in Deir Razih village (Hebron governorate), threatening the livelihood of six families, comprising 36 persons.
Escalation in violence resulted in one fatality and 24 injured
Palestinian-Israeli violence inside the Gaza Strip has escalated, resulting this week in one Palestinian fatality and 24 injuries, the majority of whom were civilians, in various incidents involving air strikes. According to the Israeli military, the air strikes were launched in response to rocket firing by Palestinian armed factions at southern Israel. This week’s injuries are the highest recorded in Gaza since the beginning of April 2011.
In one incident on 14 July, the Israeli Air Force launched air strikes targeting tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border, resulting in the killing of one Palestinian and the injury of five others. In another two incidents (on 13 and 17 July), air strikes hit a number of workshops in Gaza City and a water well in the Beit Hanoun area, injuring 12 civilians, including six children and three women. Twentynine houses, the well and the workshops also sustained damage in the same incident. Additional air strikes targeted three military training bases and a group of armed men, resulting in the injury of seven, including four civilians.
Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas up to 1,500 meters from the fence continue to undermine the livelihoods of thousands of Palestinians. In one incident, Israeli forces opened warning fire towards Palestinian farmers working their land near the fence, forcing them to leave the area. Also on one occasion, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza and withdrew after conducting land leveling. Access restrictions also continue to be enforced on fishing zones beyond three nautical miles from the shore. In three incidents this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire at Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them ashore.
Movement through Rafah Crossing remains limited
During the reporting period, a daily average of 579 people left Gaza to Egypt and another 554 entered Gaza per day, with a total of 143 people denied entry to Egypt for unspecified reasons. Passing into Egypt through the Rafah crossing remains limited to specific categories of people, including patients, students, foreign passport holders and those with visas to other countries. The Border and Crossing authorities in Gaza continue to implement a registration mechanism, with nearly 30,000 people so far registered and scheduled to travel in the coming months.
Israeli navy seized an international solidarity boat
On 19 July, Israeli naval forces seized the international solidarity boat (Al-Karama/Dignity) while sailing towards Gaza. The boat, which carried 16 international activists, was taken to Ashdod seaport (southern Israel), where passengers were interrogated. By the end of the reporting period, one of the activists had been deported by the authorities. The boat departed Greece for Gaza on 16 July to protest the blockade on Gaza, which has been in place since June 2007.
A Palestinian NGO dissolved by Gaza authorities
On 12 July, the Ministry of Interior in Gaza issued a decision to dissolve the Palestinian NGO, Sharek Youth Forum. According to the Ministry, the branches of the organization in Gaza do not have registration and the organization violates public order and morals. In response, Mr. Maxwell Gaylard, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, issued a press statement on 20 July to encourage the Gaza authorities to reconsider their decision. In his statement, Mr. Gaylard expressed concerns that the principles of rule of law and due process may not have been followed; and noted that the closure of NGOs inevitably leads to the disruption of assistance programmes and services to beneficiaries. Human rights organizations in Gaza also expressed concern over the Ministry’s decision.