● Over 40 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank.
● In Gaza, two fishermen were injured by Egyptian naval gunfire.
● Reduced amounts of fuel and construction materials continue entering Gaza due to ongoing Egyptian measures targeting tunnels.
Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces continued in different areas of the West Bank in the context of protests against last week’s search-and-arrest operation, which led to the killing of three Palestinians by Israeli forces in the Qalandiya refugee camp (Jerusalem). The Israeli operation had triggered confrontation with hundreds of local residents who pelted Israeli forces and armored jeeps with stones, blocks and other objects. In related protests this week, 16 Palestinians were injured at Qalandiya checkpoint and in Ar Ram village (both in Jerusalem), at the entrances of Ayda and Al Jalazoun refugee camps (in Bethlehem and Ramallah, respectively), and in Halhoul village (Hebron). On 31 August, a Palestinian youth (aged 18) died of wounds he sustained a week ago during an Israeli military raid in Jenin refugee camp.
In addition, ten Palestinians were injured in clashes that took place during search-and-arrest operations in the villages of Sanur (Jenin), Tammun (Tubas), Deir Istiya (Salfit), Ad Dhahiriya (Hebron) and Nablus city. Palestinians also clashed with Israeli forces during the demolition of a residence in Fasayil al Fauqa village in Jericho (see below), resulting in injury to four Palestinians.
Eleven (11) other Palestinians were injured this week by Israeli forces, in clashes that took place during two weekly demonstrations against the Barrier in Bil’in village (Ramallah) and against the prolonged closure of one of the main entrances of Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya).
OCHA recorded six incidents involving Israeli settlers that led to Palestinian injuries or property damage, up one incident from last week. This week’s number remains below the weekly average of such incidents so far in 2013 (7).
Four of this week’s incidents took place in Nablus: two Palestinian workers were stoned and injured, and their vehicle damaged, near Esh Kodesh settlement outpost, after dumping waste in a Palestinian dump site near the outpost. At the time of the incident, the workers were driving behind an Israeli military jeep, after having been informed by Israeli forces that they are not allowed to dump waste in the area. Also, Israeli settlers physically assaulted a Palestinian at the Za’tara junction, injuring him, and residents of Burin and Kafr Qalil villages reported that settlers vandalized 28 olive trees and stole almond crops this week. In two other incidents, settlers slashed the tires and sprayed “price tag” graffiti on six vehicles in Beit Safafa village (Jerusalem) and stoned and damaged two Palestinian-plated cars near Beit El settlement in Ramallah.
In addition, on 2 September, an Israeli settler was stoned and injured by Palestinians while he was travelling near Adam settlement (Jerusalem).
Demolitions took place this week in two herding communities in the Jordan Valley, Al Jiftlik ash Shuneh and Fasayil al Fauqa (both in Jericho) on 2 September, affecting two residential structures (one of which was uninhabited), an animal structure and a cesspool. As a result, a three-member family, including a child, was displaced and two other households (20 members) were affected. Additionally, the Israeli authorities issued demolition and stop-work orders affecting residences and donor-funded water cisterns in South Hebron.
Incidents in the context of Israeli enforcement of the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea continued this week. In three incidents near the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Israeli forces shot and injured a civilian man to force him to leave the area (reportedly while he was approximately 300 meters from the fence); detained another civilian man while he was allegedly trying to enter Israel (reportedly seeking work); and conducted one land leveling operation. Also near the fence, residents reported that Israeli forces continue to open fire sporadically towards open fields in Gaza. In two additional incidents (on 30 August and 2 September), improvised explosive devices (IED) reportedly were detonated by unknown people near the closed Israeli crossings of Sufa and Karni, resulting in no casualties or damage.
Similarly, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire towards Palestinian fishing boats on at least three occasions, in the context of enforcing restrictions on access to fishing areas beyond 6 nautical miles from shore. While no injuries were reported, one boat and some fishing equipment were confiscated.
Also during the week, Palestinian armed groups reportedly fired a number of rockets from Gaza towards southern Israel, most of which fell short in Gaza or landed in open areas in Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.
Two fishermen injured
This week, Egyptian naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats, injuring two fishermen. In addition, five fishermen were arrested and one boat was confiscated. The incidents took place after the vessels reportedly entered Egyptian territorial waters.
Transfer of materials via tunnels remains severely reduced
The Egyptian authorities have reportedly continued to demolish tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border as well as houses that are used as entrances to tunnels, on the Egyptian side. Such measures have reduced the amounts of goods, including fuel and construction materials that enter Gaza via the tunnels. Local sources indicated that only around ten tunnels are functioning now, down from approximately 50 prior to mid-August (compared to 200-300 tunnels reportedly operating prior to June 2013), allowing entry of only 20 to 30 truckloads of goods per day, compared to up to 200 truckloads before the recent events.
On average, around 200,000 liters of fuel were transferred to Gaza per day this week, constituting only 20 per cent of the amounts received prior to the Egyptian campaign, which began in early June 2013. As a result, fuel prices increased by up to six per cent compared to the period prior to June. Fuel shortages have reduced production at the Gaza Power Plant to around half of its full capacity (60 out of 120 megawatts), resulting in daily power outages of up to 12 hours. Long queues of vehicles and people at fuel stations across Gaza continue.
Smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt have served as the main channel for the supply of construction materials given restrictions on their import via the official crossings with Israel. They are also the primary entry point for the transfer of fuel, which is significantly cheaper from Egypt (smuggled fuel, subsidized by Egypt) than Israel.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing has remained operational for four hours per day (six days per week), compared to the previous standard of nine hours per day (seven days per week). Access through the crossing remains limited to foreign nationals, people holding visas, and patients officially referred for medical treatment abroad. On average this week, at least 270 people crossed into Egypt and around 250 others crossed into the Gaza Strip per day, just 30 per cent of the average number of people crossing per day in June (approximately 1,860).
The current status of the crossing affects access for thousands of students and patients, as estimated by the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza; over 5,000 registered people are prioritized and waiting to cross. The crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing, severe restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via the Erez Crossing.
On 27 August, a military court in the Gaza Strip sentenced a Palestinian man (aged 55) to death after convicting him of collaborating with Israel. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, this is the eighth death sentence issued since the beginning of the year. So far in 2013, two men have been executed by the Gaza authorities. In total, since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, 140 death sentences have been issued in Palestinian courts, of which 113 were in Gaza. Of those in Gaza, around 46 per cent have been issued since the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Of all sentences, 29 have been executed, including 27 in the Gaza Strip (16 without the required Palestinian presidential ratification) and two in the West Bank.
Last month, European Union (EU) Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah and several human rights groups raised concerns over the Gaza authorities’ stated intention of carrying out a number of executions and doing so publicly. At the same time, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on the Gaza authorities to impose a moratorium on executions.
Exit of two shipments allowed to Israel
This week, the Israeli authorities allowed the exit of two shipments of palm fronds from Gaza for the upcoming Jewish festival of Sukkot. This is the first time in six years that shipments of produce exit Gaza for Israeli markets; approval was given in 2009 and 2011 for the exit of palm fronds, but never realized. Another truckload of agricultural produce was allowed to exit for export abroad. Despite that, the Israeli ban on the transfer of goods from Gaza to the West Bank and Israel remains in place. Since the beginning of 2013, only 79 truckloads of authorized agricultural produce has been exported abroad; in 2012, there were 254 truckloads of approved exports. These figures are compared to over 5,700 truckloads of a wider range of exports and transferred goods, which exited in the first six months in 2007 to the West Bank, Israel and abroad prior to the imposition of the blockade.