Intense clashes between Hamas-affiliated security forces and the Dugmush family resulted in the death of 13 people, including three children, and the injury of 43 others. An additional 13 Palestinians were killed and ten injured in tunnel-related incidents in Rafah in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, five unarmed civilians were killed, including two children, and 130 others were injured, including 75 children, more than half of them in Barrier-related incidents. The number of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property continued, but in smaller numbers. However, given the intensity of recent attacks, along with previous annual trends, there are concerns for the safety of Palestinian farmers about to embark on this year’s olive harvest.
In the West Bank, 36 structures, including 17 used as seasonal residences, were demolished during the implementation of evacuation orders by the Israeli military. The structures belonged to herders living in four small hamlets in the Mu’arrajat area of the eastern Ramallah governorate. These were the first of their kind since April 2008. Concern exists for the future of an additional eight families of herders who received verbal and written evacuation orders against 38 structures, including at least eight residences. If carried out, 97 people, including 51 children, will be displaced.
Access and Movement in the oPt
A recently issued OCHA report notes that despite some positive steps taken by the Government of Israel that aimed at easing internal movement for Palestinians in the West Bank, their impact remains limited geographically. Of the 100 unstaffed obstacles that the Israeli authorities announced that they had removed during the period covered by the report (30 April to 11 September 2008), only 25 were significant and counted by OCHA. Moreover, the number of obstacles increased by 3.3%. Overall, the OCHA survey found that the system of IDF-imposed movement restrictions is being further entrenched.
UNRWA mobile clinics denied access into communities in the Barrier enclaves
On 12 September, an UNRWA mobile health clinic was denied access into Khallet an Nu’man for a second time in two months. The village, located within Bethlehem governorate, falls within the Israeli expanded municipal boundary of Jerusalem and is isolated from Bethlehem by the Barrier. Border police at the checkpoint refused to allow the team to pass because they do not have permits for Jerusalem. UNRWA mobile health clinics have likewise been unable to access the Barta’a enclave in the northern West Bank since November 2007.
Gaza Access: little improvement in September
During September, there continued to be little improvement in the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, and thus living conditions remained difficult. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) reported that the unemployment rate in Gaza increased from 29.8% in the first quarter of 2008 to 45.5% in the second quarter.
The ongoing lack of imports, and hence limited transactions, closed businesses, high rates of unemployment and the lack of coordination between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank authorities, continued to damage the local private sector in Gaza. According to Pal-Trade, 98% of Gaza’s industrial operations remained non-operational (3,800 industries) and nearly 40,000 farmers in the agricultural sector, and more than 70,000 workers in other private sectors, have been laid off since the Hamas takeover of June 2007 and its resulting Israeli-imposed restrictions.
Prior to the January 2006 PLC elections, businesses in the Gaza Strip functioned at 76% of their production capacity. By November 2007 this had fallen to 11%, and by September 2008 this had declined further to less than 5% of capacity (Palestinian Businessmen’s Association figures). The Palestinian Federation of Industries stated in a recent study that due to the closure more than 66% of Gaza industries will require working capital in order to reopen.
Truckloads entering Gaza
During September, there was little increase in the number of truckloads of imported goods allowed into Gaza, compared to August 2008. A total of 4,049 truckloads were allowed entry, including 1,726 truckloads of food supplies (43%), 1,359 of gravel (34%), 179 of cement (4%), 342 of fuel (8%), and 443 truckloads of other items (11%) including hygiene and cleaning supplies, medical supplies, agricultural materials, education materials and stationery, industrial and electrical appliances. There was a noticeable decline in the number of truckloads carrying hygiene and cleaning supplies (82% less than in August), industrial/electrical appliances (33% less) and the non-edible consumables (39% less).