Ten Palestinians, including two children, were injured and some 100 olive trees damaged in a series of Israeli settler attacks.
After a six-week lull, the demolition of residential structures in Area C resumed, displacing a family of 13; ten water-related structures were also demolished, five of which were located in Area B, undermining the livelihoods of over 200 people.
In the Gaza Strip, the continuous decline in tunnel activity has triggered an increase in the price of construction materials, restricted through the official crossings, and ongoing electricity blackouts.
Significant decrease in Palestinians injured by Israeli forces
There were 69 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank during the two week reporting period, roughly 55 percent of the weekly average of reported injuries from the beginning of the year (34 per week vs. 61). Most of these injures (57) were sustained during a weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against the prohibition on the use of the main road connecting the village to Nablus City, and to agricultural land in the vicinity of Qedumim settlement. The weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum account for almost 40 per cent of all injuries in the West Bank in 2012.
Nine of the Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces were sustained during other demonstrations: including weekly scheduled protests that were held in An Nabi Saleh and Bil’in against settlement expansion and the construction of the Barrier on village lands, respectively, and in Beituniya in solidarity with Palestinian detainees held in Israeli jails (Ramallah).
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces
Injured these two weeks: 69
Injured in 2012: 2066
2012 weekly average of injured: 61
2011 weekly average of injured: 28
Search and arrest operations by Israeli forces this week: 114
Israeli settler violence
The two-week reporting period witnessed a slight decline on the total number of attacks perpetrated by Israeli settlers and resulting in injury or damage to Palestinian-owned property (ten, or an average of five per week) compared with the 2012 weekly average (six). However, the gravity of some of this period’s incidents is of particular concern, including attacks resulting in the injury of ten Palestinians (some seriously) and the damaging of at least 100 olive trees. Also during this period one Israeli settler was injured by Palestinians.
In one notable incident, on 16 August, a family of six Palestinians from Nahalin village (Bethlehem), including two children, were injured when Israeli settlers threw a Molotov cocktail at their vehicle, a taxi, in which they were travelling near Bat Ayin settlement. They were transported to an Israeli hospital in West Jerusalem for medical treatment; all of the victims of the incident had burns, some of which were severe. The Israeli Police arrested three children aged 12 and 13 from the abovementioned settlement, who are suspected of perpetrating the attack.
On 28 August, a group of Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian house on the outskirts of Al Lubban ash Sharqiya village (Nablus), causing damage to some of its contents and a vehicle, and clashed with family members; as a result, three of the latter were injured, including a woman and her two children, as well as an Israeli settler. Israeli forces intervened and arrested the father of the family and one of his sons. The incident comes in the context of an ongoing attempt by Israeli settlers from Ma’ale Levona settlement to take over a nearby water well and historical building located on a parcel of land privately owned by the attacked Palestinian family. A recent study conducted by OCHA indicated that in recent years Israeli settlers have taken total or partial control of 56 water springs located in mostly on private Palestinian land.
Settler-related incidents resulting in injuries or property damage:
Two weeks: 10
2012 weekly average: 6
2011 weekly average: 8
Palestinians injuries by settler violence:
This week: 10
Injured in 2012: 114*
2011 weekly average: 4
Israeli settlers injured by Palestinians:
This week: 1
Injured in 2012: 27
Injured in 2011: 37
In another grave incident, a 65-year-old herder from the community of Bir al ‘Idd, in the south Hebron area was assaulted with a wooden stick and stabbed with a knife by two masked assailants that arrived in an Israeli plated car. Israeli forces that arrive at the scene provided him first aid and facilitated his transfer to a Hebron hospital, where he received 25 stitches in his head three in the fingers. Residents of this community (150 people) were evicted from their homes in 2001, on grounds that the area is designated as a “firing zone”, and allowed to return to a small part of the village in November 2009. Since then, they have been the target of systematic harassment by Israeli settlers, and most of their structures were issued demolition orders.
In an additional incident during this period in West Jerusalem (not included in the above figures) a large group of Israelis youth physically assaulted and seriously injured a 17-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem. The Israeli Police arrested and indicted nine suspects of this attack, of whom eight are children, including a few who, according to the Israeli media, are settlers.
Access to Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan
According to the Israeli authorities, almost 270,000 Palestinians (West Bank ID holders) entered East Jerusalem on 14 and 17 August for the “Night of Destiny” and Friday prayers, bringing the total number of West Bank Palestinians that entered East Jerusalem and Israel during Ramadan to almost 820,000 people, significantly above previous years. While the Israeli authorities continued to apply the same age criteria to allow West Bank ID holders without permits (men and women above the age of 40 and children below 12), in practice women of all ages were able to cross at most times. Palestinians from Gaza continued to be barred from entering Israel for prayers in Jerusalem.
Displacement in Area C resumes
After six consecutive weeks with no demolitions resulting in displacement, during the reporting period, the Israeli authorities demolished 31 structures, displacing 13 people, and affecting more than 200 others. So far in 2012, the monthly average of people displaced is below the monthly average in 2011 (74 vs. 91).
On 28 August, two families in the community of Zanuta (Hebron) were displaced (13 people including nine children), and seven families consisting of 47 people were affected when Israeli forces demolished two residential structures, five water cisterns, and eight other structures for the lack of building permit.
Palestinian-owned structures demolished in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem
Demolished in 2012: 431
Of which residences: 2
People displaced in 2012: 628
2012 vs. 2011 demolitions (weekly av.): 13 vs. 12
2012 vs. 2011 people displaced (weekly av.): 22 vs. 21
In the Area B villages of Beit Qad and Deir Abu Da’if (Jenin), five water wells belonging to three Palestinian families were demolished due to lack of licenses from the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Water Committee (JWC); in addition to the three families (23 members) directly affected, the agricultural livelihoods of approximately 130 farming families were also affected. No military order was received before the demolition. Unlike in Area C, under the Interim Agreement enforcement of planning and building regulations in Area B lie with the Palestinian Authority. Therefore, it remains unclear under which authority the Israeli authorities carried out these demolitions.
On16 August, on the occasion of the month of Ramadan, the Israeli authorities opened the Tayasir and Hamra checkpoints in the northern Jordan Valley for all Palestinian private vehicles. Yet, passengers are still required to undergo checking through pedestrian lanes, while drivers may cross the checkpoints with their vehicles. Both checkpoints were established following the beginning of the second Intifada (2001 and 2002, respectively). Prior to the easing only Palestinians residing in the Jordan Valley who own private vehicles also registered in the Jordan Valley, and public transportation, could cross these checkpoints. It is still unclear whether the checkpoints’ new mode of operation is permanent.
This opening follows the recent opening of the northern entrance to Jericho City, as well as the turning in 2011 of two other checkpoints that controlled access into the Jordan Valley (Ma’ale Efrayim and Yitav) into partial checkpoints, which are staffed on an ad-hoc basis.
Sporadic hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel
The reporting period was characterized by sporadic Palestinian rocket fire towards military positions and communities in southern Israel. On one such occasion, on 28 August, Palestinian rocket fire resulted in damage to a residential building and a factory, prompting Israeli forces to respond with several air strikes targeting a former Gaza government intelligence building (west of Jabalia), and a Hamas military base southeast of Zaitoun quarter in Gaza City. As a result, two Palestinian civilians and a policeman sustained injuries, and were treated on site. In addition, eleven houses, and four public buildings (including two schools) sustained minor damages.
There were also sporadic shooting incidents in the context of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas along the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as to fishing zones beyond three nautical miles from the Gaza Strip shore. In several instances Palestinian farmers were forced to leave their land as a result, and Palestinian fishing boats were forced ashore. In one of the incidents, an Israeli naval force surrounded and seized one of the boats, and ordered two fishermen on board (a father and his 16 years old son) to abandon their vessel and swim toward the Israeli navy boat; they were detained and their fishing equipment was confiscated.
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip:
Killed this week: 00
Killed in 2012: 47
Injured this week: 3
Injured in 2012: 247
2012 weekly average of injured: 7
2011 weekly average of injured: 9
Israeli Casualties by Palestinian fire from Gaza
Injured this week: 0
Killed in 2012: 1
Injured in 2012:18
Rafah Crossing partially resumes operations
The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was opened in both directions during most of the two week reporting period, except for the days between 17 and 21 August (Eid Holiday); approximately 6,550 persons reportedly exited the Gaza Strip to Egypt. 6,917 persons entered the Gaza Strip and 178 persons were denied access to Egypt for unknown reasons. This opening, however, was defined as exceptional, allowing only some categories of travelers, including students, patients, foreign passport holders, and people with residency permits in foreign countries. Since the attack in the Sinai Peninsula on 5 August, the modality of operation at the Rafah crossing has remained, since the attack in the Sinai on 5 August, uncertain and unpredictable.
Movement of goods (Kerem Shalom Crossing)
According to tunnel operators, since the 5 August attack in the Sinai, tunnel activity under the border between Gaza and Egypt declined by over 70 per cent due to restrictions and security measures implemented by the Egyptian and Gaza authorities. The Palestinian Federation of Industries reports that the sharp reduction in the inflow, via the tunnels of basic construction materials, which remain restricted through the official crossings, resulted in a 20-30 per cent increase in the prices of such materials in the local market.
The reduction in tunnel activity also affected the transfer of fuel from Egypt, exacerbating ongoing shortages at gas stations, as well as at the Gaza Power Plant (GPP). The latter was also affected due to the suspension by the Egyptian authorities of the transfer of fuel donated by Qatar, and transferred to Gaza in previous weeks via Israel. As a result, during the reporting period, less than half of the 3.5 million liters of fuel per week needed for the GPP to operate at full capacity was reported to have been received from the tunnels, and the GPP was forced to operate only two of its four turbines. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Company (GEDCO) applied a strict distribution schedule of eight hours electricity supply and eight hours of electricity cuts throughout the Gaza Strip.