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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
19 April 2013

Key issues

Over 160 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces and six others injured by Israeli settlers.

Reports of shortages of certain goods due to the intermittent opening of Kerem Shalom crossing continue, affecting the population in Gaza.

Dozens of stop-work orders were issued against residences and livelihood structures owned by Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, putting 100 people at risk of displacement.


Dozens injured in protests and clashes with Israeli forces

Protests and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces continued during the week in multiple locations across the West Bank, resulting in the injury of 134 Palestinians and nine Israeli soldiers. Almost half of those injured were treated for tear gas inhalation.1 The other half were treated for injuries sustained from rubber-coated metal bullets.

Over 80 per cent of Palestinians injured this week were injured during demonstrations held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. The most serious clashes in this context occurred in the southern West Bank: in Beit Ummar village and Al Arrub refugee camp in Hebron, and in Al Khader village and Ayda refugee camp in Bethlehem.

Furthermore, 13 Palestinians were injured in the regular demonstrations held in protest at access restrictions and settlement activities: in Nabi Saleh (Ramallah), against the expansion of Hallamish settlement on the village’s land; in Bil’in (Ramallah) protesting the erection of the Barrier; and in Hebron, protesting the closure of the main entrance to the city from the south, citing the security need of Beit Haggay settlement.

Six Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces at the entrance to Silwad and Deir Jrir villages in Ramallah on 12 April. On 9 April, 13 Palestinians, including nine school students, were injured as a result of tear gas inhalation after two tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces a few days earlier exploded while the students were playing with them near a school in Tuqu’ village in Bethlehem.

According to Burin village council (Nablus), on 10 April Israeli forces raided 50 houses in a search-and-arrest operation, during which 30 Palestinians were detained. In addition, 20 of the houses searched reportedly sustained damage, including to door locks, windows, furniture, electrical devices and electricity wires. All except three of those detained were released. According to the IDF, the objective of the operation was to arrest individuals suspected of stone-throwing, and they received no reports of property damage relating to the operation.

1The number excludes people who received any “light treatment” but includes those who received medical treatment on the ground or in hospital.

Settler-related incidents: six Palestinians and four settlers injured and around 150 plants damaged

This week, OCHA recorded ten incidents of violence perpetrated by Israeli settlers, which resulted in injuries or property damage, representing a slight increase compared to the weekly average of seven such incidents so far this year. According to the IDF, four Israeli civilians were injured by Palestinians during the week, however no further information has been provided on these incidents.

Four Palestinians were physically assaulted and injured by settlers in separate incidents during the week, including two elderly farmers who were working their land near Silwad and Ras Karkar villages in Ramallah (11 and 13 April), a shepherd who was herding his livestock near Al Walajah village in Bethlehem (12 April), and a man who was parking his vehicle close to the former Homesh settlement in Nablus (15 April). In another incident, on 15 April, Israeli settlers threw stones at two boys herding their animals near Immanu’el settlement in Salfit, wounding two of their sheep.

During the reporting period, Israeli settlers also vandalized around 150 Palestinian-owned plants, the majority of which were grape vines and olive trees and saplings in the Wadi ar Rish area of Hebron and in ‘Urif village in Nablus. In two other incidents, settlers took over two dunums of land cultivated by Palestinians in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, and leveled approximately five dunums of Palestinian-owned land belonging to Kafr Qaddum village.

Also this week, according to the village council of Madama (Nablus), on 15 April, Israeli settlers conducted construction work next to a water spring located on a plot of land privately owned by a Palestinian resident of the village. In research conducted in 2012, OCHA found that at least 30 water springs across the West Bank have been taken over by settlers and turned into “tourist sites”.

Over 200 people temporarily displaced due to military training and 12 due to demolitions

This week, after a very positive period throughout March of almost no demolitions, the Israeli authorities resumed the demolition of Palestinian structures in Area C on the ground that they lack of Israeli-issued building permits. These included demolitions of two residential structures, an animal shelter and two agricultural sheds in As Simiya area, and an animal shelter, an agricultural shed, a water cistern and a free-standing stone oven in Ad Deirat village, both in Hebron governorate. As a result 12 people, including six children, were displaced and over 40 people, including more than 30 children, were affected.
Additionally, the Israeli authorities issued stop-work orders against approximately 70 residential and livelihood structures in Ein al Hilwa Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley, placing around 100 people at risk of displacement.

Also in the Jordan Valley, IDF military training exercises continued during the week. More than 200 people, including around 120 children, living in Khirbet Ar Ras al Ahmar and Humsa al Baqai’a communities were forced to leave their homes for around eight hours on 9 and 15 April, respectively, to make way for such training exercises. The communities are located in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone”, some of them have been residing long before this designation. Many of the residents of these communities have been displaced by military training exercises fourteen times since the beginning of 2012. According to the IDF, the residents of these communities are “trespassers”, who are removed from the area for their own safety.


Relative calm continues

Although relative calm continued in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, several incidents in the access restricted areas (ARA) on land and at sea were reported this week. On at least two occasions, Israeli forces carried out land-leveling operations into Gaza, close to the fence with Israel. According to media reports, in an incident on 9 April, an Israeli bulldozer sustained damage when an improvised explosive device exploded nearby; no injuries were reported.

A number of incidents in which Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinians were also reported in the ARAs; no injuries were reported. The IDF reported that on 19 occasions during the week, their soldiers took action to force Palestinians out of areas less than 100 meters from the fence. In at least one incident, Israeli forces opened fire towards people in the vicinity of the fence, and reportedly detained two Palestinian youths who had attempted to illegally cross the fence into Israel. The Israeli navy also fired warning shots towards Gazan fishermen on a number of occasions; no injuries or damage to boats were reported. There are concerns regarding the impact of the continued imposition of a 3 NM limit on access to the sea on the livelihoods of Gazan fishermen; the sardine catch season (which makes up to 70 percent of the fishing catch in some seasons) began in earnest this week but the best catch is found beyond 8 NM, to which Palestinian fisherman have no access.

Shortages of certain goods due to the closure of Kerem Shalom

Kerem Shalom, which is the sole functioning crossing for goods to and from Gaza, was closed on five out of seven days during the week; Israeli authorities closed the crossing on 9 and 11 April in response to firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups at southern Israel, and on 15 and 16 April due to Israel’s Remembrance and Independence Day. During the reporting period, only 343 truckloads of goods (and 274 tonnes of cooking gas) entered Gaza, representing a decline of two-thirds compared to a weekly average of 1,060 truckloads since the beginning of 2013. Shortages of cooking gas, dairy products and fresh fruits were reported in local markets during the week, as a result of the closure of Kerem Shalom.

No criminal investigations on alleged violations of international law during the “Pillar of Defense” operation

The Israeli Military Advocate General (MAG) announced this week that criminal investigations will not be opened into a number of incidents that resulted in the deaths of Palestinian civilians and destruction of civilian property during the “Pillar of Defense” operation in November 2012. The MAG’s decision concerns, among others, two incidents in which the Israeli Air Force launched airstrikes against the houses of two families (al- Dalu and al-Shawwa) on 18 and 20 November 2012; 16 civilians, including five children, were killed in these incidents.

According to the MAG, the decision was based on the findings of a military committee appointed by the IDF Chief of Staff, to examine complaints about misconduct. The committee concluded that the civilian casualties were the result of “unintended damage resulting from an attack against military targets, or alternatively from operational errors, where civilians were mistakenly identified as terrorist operatives”, and therefore, according to the MAG, do not constitute violations of international law.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza expressed serious concerns in this regard, highlighting the culture of impunity relating to violations of international law.

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