Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man and injured over 130 others in protests and clashes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Power outages throughout the Gaza Strip remain high, disrupting the provision of basic services. As a result, around 40 percent of the population (total 1.6 million) did not have access to running water for much of the week.
One Palestinian death and multiple injuries in protests and clashes with Israeli forces
On 24 February, Israeli forces killed a 25 year-old Palestinian during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces close to Ar Ram in Northern Jerusalem. This is the first fatality reported in the West Bank since December 2011. The clashes erupted in the context of demonstrations following attempts by Israeli right-wing activists to enter Al Aqsa mosque compound under the protection of Israeli forces. Confrontations in the Old City, Al ‘Isawiya, At Tur, Shu’fat Refugee Camp, Qalandiya checkpoint and Ar Ram resulted in the injury of 29 Palestinians, including five children (aged between 6 months and 17) and 11 Israeli soldiers. In addition, over 50 Palestinians were detained in East Jerusalem and the peripheries.
The bulk of the injuries (87), however, occurred during a protest by Palestinians against the permanent closure of Ash Shuhada main road in the Israeli-controlled area of the Old City of Hebron (H2 area) on 24 February. The demonstration also coincided with the 18th anniversary of a massacre of Palestinians by a settler in the Al Ibrahimi mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs). Fourteen other Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in incidents related to settlement activities in Qalqiliya governorate, including: 12 people injured in a weekly demonstration against restrictions on access to agricultural land in the vicinity of Qedumim settlement, and two during a number of settler raids in Far’ata village. This week’s injuries in demonstrations is the highest number of casualties reported in a single week in ten months.
Israeli settler-related violence continued, with four settler attacks against Palestinians and one attack by Palestinians against settlers reported this week. Settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian man in At Tuwani village (Hebron). In three stone-throwing incidents by settlers and Palestinians in the Ramallah and Jerusalem governorates, two Palestinian women and two settlers were injured and three Palestinian-plated vehicles were damaged. Settlers also cut down 24 olive trees belonging to Burin village (Nablus). In an incident affecting Palestinians, but causing no injuries, settlers from Nof Hanesher outpost (Hebron) fired live bullets in the air to force a Palestinian herder off land.
13 people displaced and over 1,000 trees vandalized by Israeli forces
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished eight Palestinian-owned residential and livelihood structures in communities located in Area C of the West Bank due to the lack of Israeli- issued building permits.
Two houses were demolished in the Bedouin community of Jaba’ (Jerusalem governorate), displacing 13 people, including nine children. In Beit Ula and Surif villages (Hebron), the Israeli authorities demolished three water cisterns, an agricultural structure, and a fence and uprooted or cut down 670 almond and olive trees. Consequently, the livelihoods of six families were affected. Moreover, Israeli forces uprooted around 500 olive trees in Al Jab’a village (Bethlehem), claiming that the land is registered as “state land”. Palestinians claim they own the land. Also, a military bulldozer hit and damaged a water cistern during a raid by Israeli forces in Fahma village (Jenin).
Also this week, an Israeli right-wing organization (Regavim) petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice to remove Palestinian structures that the organization allege are built on land within an outpost of Suseya settlement, near the Palestinian community of Susiya (Hebron). This exacerbates the situation in the community, which currently has demolition orders against the majority of its structures, despite that the court having recognized their ownership of the land in 2001, following previous demolitions.
Also in the Hebron governorate, Israeli forces issued demolition and stop work orders in the Bedouin community of Jinba (300 residents), affecting most of the community’s structures, and distributed further orders against eight residences, three water collection cisterns, and a network of solar panels in the communities of Surif and Isfey Al Fauqa. Eviction orders were also issued against more than 500 dunums of land, the majority of which are in Wadi Fukin village in the Bethlehem governorate. Also, Israeli forces confiscated a water pump and an electric generator, which operates a water well that supplies water to 35 people in Al Hafira Bedouin community close to T’innik village (Jenin). In addition, Israeli forces raided two Palestinian television stations (Watan and Al Quds) in Ramallah, confiscating transmitters, computer hard drives and documents.
Air strikes injure two armed Palestinians and damage a factory and a number of houses
On 24 February, the Israeli Air Force targeted a group of armed Palestinians while they were reportedly attempting to launch a rocket near Al Zeitoun area, injuring two of them. Additional air strikes were carried out by Israeli forces for the fourth consecutive week inside the Gaza Strip against a concrete mix factory and military bases, as well as against tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border. No injuries were reported but the factory and at least three houses sustained damage. Another two Palestinian houses sustained damage, one when it was hit by a tank shell fired by Israeli forces, and the other by rocket fired by a Palestinian armed group, east of Gaza City and in the Beit Hanoun area, respectively.
Israeli restrictions continued on Palestinian access to areas up to 1,500 meters from the fence and to fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from the shore. This week, on three occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinian farmers working their land, forcing them to leave their farms. No injuries were reported. Also, three Palestinians were detained by Israeli forces n the restricted area, east of Rafah. On one occasion, the Israeli navy opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats, forcing them ashore; no injuries or damage were reported.
Power supply remains fragile, triggering extensive electricity cuts while leaving around 40% of the population without running water for most of the week
The majority of the Gaza population continues to experience long power cuts of eight to 16 hours per day due to a fuel shortage, which has forced the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) to operate at a reduced capacity, with only one of three turbines running. Such cuts continue to take place despite a slight increase in electricity supply from Egypt from 17 to 22 megawatts (MW) (in addition, 120 MW coming from Israel and 30 MW generated by the GPP, bringing the total to 172 MW). On 28 February, the GPP shut down completely due to a fuel shortage, thus creating a 60 percent of electricity deficit throughout the Gaza Strip, which triggered power cuts of up to 18 hours per day.
As a result of electricity shortages, approximately 40 percent of the Gaza population receive running water only every four days, 30 percent every three days, 25 percent every other day and only five percent receive water on a daily basis. Also, due to the lack of fuel supply, approximately one-quarter of water wells run by the Costal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) throughout the Gaza Strip (total 190 wells) have fuel stocks to run generators for a few days only. The CMWU distributed 15,000 liters of fuel to critical sewage facilities in preparation for an expected storm.
During the week, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza received 150,000 liters of fuel from the ICRC enough to run generators in 13 MoH hospitals for up to two weeks. Limited amounts of fuel were supplied through the tunnels to local fuel companies/petrol stations during the reporting period, enabling a few petrol stations to operate throughout the Gaza Strip for several hours a day.