ISRAEL LAUNCHES LARGE MILITARY OFFENSIVE IN GAZA; MULTIPLE CASUALTIES AMONG PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI CIVILIANS
On 14 November at approximately 1545 hrs, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched an airstrike that targeted and killed the acting chief of Hamas’ armed wing and one of his associates. This incident marked the opening of a large military offensive, which is ongoing. The offensive followed several weeks of intermittent escalations in violence, with the last round taking place between 8 and 11 November.
In the last 24 hours, the IAF conducted over 100 airstrikes, supplemented by navy and tank shelling, all of which continue. Most attacks reportedly targeted military facilities, many of which were located in residential areas. Initial reports indicate that 15 Palestinians, of whom at least six were civilians (including an infant, two children and a pregnant woman), were killed as a result of the attacks; more than 130 others, including at least 100 civilians, were injured. At least seven houses were almost entirely destroyed and over 120 sustained minor damages.
Palestinian factions fired over 200 rockets and mortars, indiscriminately directed at communities and cities in southern Israel. While dozens of the rockets were intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome system, many others fell within or near residential areas. This morning one of them hit a house in Kiryat Malachi, killing three Israeli civilians and injuring three others (including a child); later today three soldiers were injured. Damage to civilian property was also reported.
The uninterrupted waves of airstrikes and indiscriminate rocket fire have also triggered widespread fear among the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, particularly among children, with dozens having to be treated for shock.
While hospitals in Gaza have so far managed to treat all incoming injuries, the shortage of essential drugs and consumables is of major concern, particularly if hostilities escalate further. At present, there are 192 essential drug items and more than 500 consumable items out of stock.
Kerem Shalom, the only crossing for commodities, is closed until further notice. While the tunnels under the border with Egypt, which are used for the transfer fuel, have remained operational, the scope of activities has declined significantly. This has exacerbated fuel shortages throughout Gaza and forced the Gaza Power Plant to turn off one of the two operating turbines (out of four available), triggering scheduled blackouts of up to 12 hours a day.
The already fragile humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate rapidly if hostilities escalate further. In conversations, the UN Secretary-General called for the parties to exercise the utmost restraint and to respect international humanitarian law.
This week, Israeli forces injured 20 Palestinians, an increase compared to the previous four weeks (average 7), but well below the 2012 weekly average (50).
All but one of this week’s injuries occurred during three separate incidents on 7 November. In one incident, nine Palestinians were physically assaulted and injured when they clashed with Israeli forces during demolitions in Haris village in Area C in Salfit governorate (see demolitions section below). Another seven injuries (including three children) occurred during confrontations with Israeli forces in the An Nabi Saleh (Ramallah) weekly demonstration against settlement expansion. In the third incident, three Palestinians (including two youths aged 17) were struck by tear gas grenades and injured during clashes with Israeli forces in the Balata refugee camp (Nablus), in the course of a search-and-arrest operation. Overall this week, Israeli forces conducted around 60 search-and-arrest operations inside Palestinian villages and cities, slightly below the weekly average recorded since the beginning of the year (80).
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces
Killed this week: 0
Killed in 2012: 4
Killed in 2011: 11
Injured this week: 20
Injured in 2012: 2,303
Injured in 2011: 1,460
2012 vs. 2011 weekly averages: 50 vs. 30
Search and arrest operations by Israeli forces this week: around 60
Significant decline in settler violence; 130 olive plants damaged
This week, OCHA recorded one settler-related incident that led to one Palestinian injury (on 10 November), when a Palestinian was stoned and injured by settlers in the Old City of Hebron. In addition, according to the Israeli media, an Israeli settler was injured when a Palestinian attacked her with a knife in an attempt to steal her car in the French Hill settlement (East Jerusalem).
In one incident that led to damage to property on 7 November , settlers from Rechelim settlement (Nablus) damaged 30 olive trees and 100 olive seedlings, which belonged to the nearby As Sawiya village; they also wrote anti-Arab graffiti on barrels. In addition, settlers raided Al Manshiyeh village in Bethlehem and wrote offensive graffiti on the wall of one house and attempted to set fire to another.
Settlers also attacked farmers harvesting their olives near Karney Shomoron settlement (Qalqiliya), forcing them out of the area; and security guards from Yitzhar settlement (Nablus) detained farmers for a few hours.
Settler-related incidents resulting in injuries or property damage:
This week: 2
2012 weekly average: 7
2011 weekly average: 8
Palestinian injuries by settler violence:
This week: 1
Injured in 2012: 142
Injured in 2011: 206
2012 vs. 2011 weekly averages: 3 vs. 4
Israeli settlers injured by Palestinians:
This week: 1
Injured in 2012: 39
Injured in 2011: 37
Twelve structures demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem
During the reporting period, 11 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by the Israeli authorities, half of which were residences, and one ‘self demolished’ by its owner, due to the lack of building permits.
On 13 November, the Israeli authorities demolished a house in the At Tur neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, displacing a family of eight, including six children. In the course of the demolition, around 20 trees were also reportedly damaged. In addition on 7 November, Israeli forces demolished two houses (one uninhabited and the other under construction) in Haris village (Salfit). Two residential tents and a cow shed were also demolished in the Humsa and Bardala communities in Tubas governorate. At least 50 people were affected by this week’s demolitions.
Palestinian-owned structures demolished in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem
Demolished in 2012: 569
Of which residences: 178
People displaced in 2012: 1,014
2012 vs. 2011 demolitions (weekly av.): 12 vs. 12
2012 vs. 2011 people displaced (weekly av.): 20 vs. 21
Israeli forces also demolished two water pools in Beit Annun community (Hebron), affecting the irrigation of around 120 dunums of land. The remaining structures included a commercial facility, parking lot and a garage in Farsh el Hawa, Beit Ummar (both in Hebron), and Husan (Bethlehem) respectively. In addition, three bulldozers (in Beit Fajjar; Bethlehem) and two water tanks (in Bardala; Tubas) were requisitioned.
Hundreds of residents of the Jordan Valley temporarily displaced
This week, the Israeli army issued further evacuation orders in the Jordan Valley area, affecting 40 families in the herding community of Khirbet Tana, ordering them to leave the area within a few days in advance of a military training exercise.
On 11 and 12 November, around 100 families in the northern Jordan Valley (Hamamat el Maleh area, Ibziq Khirbet Ar Ras al Ahmar and Humsa communities) were temporarily displaced to nearby localities during the day after receiving evacuation orders issued by Israeli forces last week. Approximately 18 percent of the West Bank, with a population of some 5,000 has been designated during the 1970s as a “firing zone” for military training.
Continuing escalation leaves six Palestinian civilian fatalities and over 50 injuries (as of the end of the reporting period)
Continued violence took place between 8 and 11 November, resulting in the killing of eight Palestinians, including six civilians (three of them children), and the injury of 52 other civilians (13 of them children). Five Israeli soldiers and four civilians were also injured.
On 8 November, Israeli forces conducting an incursion into Gaza, to the east of Khan Younis, opened fire towards an open area, killing a 13 year-old boy. Initial accounts by human rights organizations indicate that the boy was playing near his house, although the reason for the shooting remains unclear. Later that day, in the same area, one Israeli soldier was injured by a Palestinian mortar shell fired at Israeli forces patrolling along the perimeter fence.
On 10 November, Palestinian armed factions fired an anti-tank missile towards an Israeli military vehicle travelling along the fence (on the Israeli side), injuring four soldiers. Israeli forces responded by firing tank shells, reportedly to the source of fire, hitting a residential area east of Shajaiyeh neighbourhood of Gaza City; five civilians, including two children, were killed and 36 civilians, including nine children, were injured.
During 10 and 11 November, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of air strikes targeting a metal workshop in Jabaliya area, injuring three, including a child; a municipality water tank in Al Khuza’a area, injuring 11 civilians including five women and two children; and armed men, killing two of them. In at least two cases, Israeli forces fired tank shells towards open areas in Jabaliya and Ash Shouka areas, injuring two civilians. In addition, two schools sustained damage.
Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip:
Killed this week: 8
Killed in 2012: 78
Killed in 2011: 108
Injured this week: 52
Injured in 2012: 343
Injured in 2011: 479
2012 weekly average of injured: 8
2011 weekly average of injured: 9
Israeli casualties by Palestinian fire from Gaza
Injured this week: 9
Killed in 2012: 1
Injured in 2012: 27
During the week, Palestinian armed factions intensified rocket firing towards Israeli communities and military bases in southern Israel affecting hundreds of thousands of people. According to Israeli media reports, four civilians were injured and a number of civilian properties sustained damage.
On 11 November, the Ministry of Education in Gaza suspended classes in 17 government schools in the vicinity of the fence, affecting approximately 11,000 students. Classes were also suspended in schools in southern Israel, affecting tens of thousands of children.
Long power cuts continue; two-year-old child dies in an electricity-related incident
On 11 November, a two-year old child died and his one-year old brother and his father were injured in a house fire caused by the candles used by the family during power cuts. Since the beginning of 2012, seven children have been killed as a result of accidents related to unsafe methods used to cope with the electricity cuts.
Due to fuel shortages, the power plant inside Gaza continues to operate only two of its four turbines, producing only half of its full capacity (120 megawatts (MW) of electricity). As result, scheduled power cuts throughout the Gaza Strip continued to be implemented in cycles of eight hours on and eight hours off. Slightly above 50 per cent of the amount needed to operate the plant at full capacity was reportedly received from Egypt through the tunnels over the reporting period.
Movement of goods (Kerem Shalom Crossing)
Number of truckloads (TL) entered this week (4- 10 Nov): 1,481
TL carrying food: 32%
Weekly average of TL since the beginning of 2012: 1,083
Weekly average of TL before the blockade: 2,807
Truckloads this week: 0
Weekly average since the beginning of 2012: 4 Weekly average before the blockade: 240
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