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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
18 December 2014

Key issues
Israeli forces injure 97 Palestinians; majority in clashes protesting death of Palestinian Minister.
Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed in both directions.
Israeli forces injure four Palestinians in Access Restricted Areas in Gaza.
Six injured by UXO and three in explosions by unknown assailants in Gaza.

Palestinian Minister dies during an incident with Israeli forces, triggering widespread clashes

On 10 December, Ziad Abu Ein, the Palestinian Minister of the Commission on Wall and Settlement Affairs died during an olive-tree planting event, during which Israeli soldiers prevented participants from gaining access to privately-owned land to plant olive saplings, and fired tear gas canisters towards them. Minister Abu Ein suffered from tear gas inhalation and was physically assaulted by an Israeli soldier during an altercation. Announced findings of the autopsy indicate that the death was mainly caused by a narrowing and bleeding of one of the heart arteries, which could be triggered by mental stress or physical injury.

The minister, along with some 150 Palestinians, Israelis and internationals had gathered in Turmus’ayya village (Ramallah) for an olive-tree planting event organized to mark International Human Rights Day and the filing of a petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) calling for the dismantling of the nearby settlement outpost of Adei Ad. Apart from its illegality under international law, this outpost was established without authorization from the Israeli authorities, partially on private Palestinian land, and has been a source of systematic violence and harassment, which has undermined the safety and the livelihoods of Palestinians living in four adjacent villages; between 2010 and 2014, Israeli settlers uprooted more than 3,000 olive trees and saplings in this area.

The death of the Minister triggered clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and accounted for 61 out of a total of 97 injuries recorded this week. One of the largest clashes in this context was recorded in yda Refugee Camp (Bethlehem) on 13 December, during which 17 Palestinian children were injured, including seven by rubber coated metal bullets, and the remainder by severe tear gas inhalation that required medical treatment.

During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted 90 search and arrest operations and arrested 156 Palestinians, the majority in the Jerusalem governorate.

Settlers set fire to factory in Nablus; eight Israelis injured in Palestinian attacks

There were six incidents of Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in injury and damage to Palestinian property recorded this week, bringing the total number of such incidents in 2014 to 319, compared to 395 in the equivalent period in 2013.

Three of the settler attacks involved stone throwing at vehicles and property in the Nablus and Ramallah governorates. Additionally, according to Israeli media reports, Israeli settlers threw stones at an Israeli bus, driven by a Palestinian, which was crossing through the settlement of Gilo in East Jerusalem; two suspects were reportedly arrested by the Israeli Police.

On 10 December, according to eyewitness, Israeli settlers hurled a Molotov cocktail at a factory in the village of Beita (Nablus), setting fire to the factory and its contents, according to the owners, causing NIS 250,000 in losses.

During the previous reporting period (not included in the count), on 8 December, Israeli settlers stabbed a young Palestinian man in the arm and leg near Bani Na’im (Hebron). The young man was with his father and brother near the cave where they live, when a group of settlers attacked the elder son. The settlers ran off as the father and younger son ran to his aid.

According to Israeli media reports, eight Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers were recorded this week in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; four of which resulted in eight injuries and four in damage to property.

On 12 December, five Israelis were injured near Al Khadr-Husan junction (Bethlehem) after a Palestinian man sprayed an unknown liquid at them; Israeli forces shot and injured the alleged perpetrator and placed him under arrest. In another incident the same day in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Palestinian sprayed a 20-year-old Israeli settler in the face with pepper spray and was later arrested during verbal clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers.

On 9 December, according to Israeli media reports, a Palestinian threw stones at an Israeli settler bus travelling near Sinjil village (Ramallah) causing damage to the windshield. The remaining Palestinian attacks involved stone throwing at Israeli settler vehicles in various locations across the West Bank that did not result in damage.

One structure demolished in East Jerusalem; tractors and equipment requisitioned in Area C

This week, Israeli authorities demolished one Palestinian structure; delivered stop work orders against at least 17 structures, as well as a punitive demolition order against one home; and requisitioned tractors and equipment in two separate incidents.

On 9 December, Israeli authorities demolished a concrete fence adjacent to the house of a Palestinian family in At Tur area of East Jerusalem, for lack of an Israeli-issued building permit, affecting a family of seven. Also in East Jerusalem, on 9 December, Israeli authorities seized a digger from a commercial shop belonging to a family from Al ‘Isawiya, on grounds of lack of an Israeli-issued license for the shop.

On 15 December, the Jerusalem Municipality delivered a demolition order against the family home of a suspect in the attempted assassination of an Israeli settler leader on 29 October. A punitive demolition order against the same house was previously delivered in November, for which an injunction was issued pending a decision from he Israeli High Court. The family home consists of four apartments, placing 19 people, including four children, at risk of displacement. According to the affected family it is not clear whether the administrative demolition order is against the entire house (built prior to 1967) or parts of the house that were added in the 1990s.

In Area C, during the week, Israeli authorities confiscated three agricultural tractors from the community of ‘Ibziq, in the northern Jordan Valley, for being present in an Israeli-declared closed military zone for training, also referred to asfiring zone”. In a similar incident in October 2014, community members were forced to pay around NIS 11,000 to release agricultural tools which were confiscated on similar grounds. ‘Ibziq is home to 30 families (176 persons) and the tractors are the only means for bringing drinking water to the community and to transport children to school. On at least 11 occasions since the beginning of 2014, residents were temporarily displaced due to Israeli military trainings.

In a similar incident on 9 December, Israeli authorities confiscated a construction bulldozer, on the grounds of it being used in an Israeli declared nature reserve in the village of Kafr ad Dik (Salfit), where construction is prohibited. The bulldozer was being used in a joint project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture to open an agricultural road.


Five Palestinians injured in the Access Restricted Areas

Incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire into the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) at land and at sea have continued on a daily basis, with nine such incidents reported during the week, including one resulting in injuries. On 12 December, four Palestinian civilians reportedly engaging in stone throwing at Israeli forces, were shot and injured at around 100 meters from the fence, east of Jabalia. Also in the ARA, Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians reportedly during attempts by them to infiltrate into Israel in search of work.

Palestinian access to areas in the vicinity of the fence has increased since the ceasefire of 26 August 2014. However, the Israeli authorities have so far not officially announced the boundaries of what they consider a restricted area, thus generating uncertainty and increasing the risks to the civilian population. Field observations suggest that areas within 100 meters from the fence are largely inaccessible, while access to areas several hundred meters beyond this distance is risky. Access to fishing areas in the sea is restricted to six nautical miles from the coast. These access restrictions, imposed by the Israeli military citing security concerns, continue to undermine the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and fishermen and their families.

A family of six, including three children, injured by unexploded ordnance (UXO)

On 12 December, a Palestinian family of six, including three children was injured as a result of the explosion of an UXO in Jabalia, when family members started a fire to bake bread. The presence of UXOs continues to pose a high risk to civilians, particularly children. Since the ceasefire of 26 August, four Palestinians have been killed in UXO incidents, including a 4-year-old child, and 15 others injured, including eight children. This brings the number of fatalities to 10, including one child, and injuries to 48, including 20 children, since the beginning of 2014.

According to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), children, humanitarian workers, rubble-removal workers, scrap collectors, construction workers, internally displaced persons (IDPs) returning to their damaged homes, and farmers working and/or living in the Access Restricted Areas have been identified as the most exposed groups to UXO hazards.

Three Palestinians injured in explosions by unknown assailants

During the reporting period, three people including a child and a Palestinian policeman were injured in two separate incidents involving the detonation of explosive devices planted by unknown assailants. Thus far, no party has claimed responsibility for the attacks; Palestinian factions in Gaza including Hamas condemned the attacks and called on the Ministry of Interior to bring the perpetrators to Justice.

On 10 December an explosive device detonated in front of a building in Rafah, housing several public offices and institutions, injuring, a mother and her 11-year-old child in the house opposite. The explosion also caused material damage to the building, five adjacent buildings as well as to 20 nearby stores. In another incident on 12 December, an explosive device detonated in front of the French Cultural Centre west of Gaza city, injuring a Palestinian policeman and causing damage to the center’s fence. The centre was previously targeted on 7 October 2014, but continues to operate. Palestinian police have opened investigations for both incidents.

Serious concerns over suspension of cleaning services at health facilities in Gaza

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH), around 2,800 surgeries have been delayed and medical attention discontinued to approximately 50,000 patients including around 4000 children until further notice. Fear of contamination and spread of diseases is behind the delay due to the accumulation of medical waste, following the suspension of cleaning services by some 750 employees since 4 December, who provide the bulk of cleaning services to 13 hospitals and 56 health centers under the auspices of the MoH,. The suspension is to protest the lack of salaries since June 2014.

The halt in cleaning services exacerbates the situation of an already strained health system, affected by chronic energy problems, a shortage of equipment and medication, and a lack of training opportunities for staff, from years of blockade, compounded by the enormous number of injuries from the July-August 2014 hostilities. This has resulted in prolonged delays in access to treatment and increasing referrals outside of Gaza.

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