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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
11 November 2013



Key issues

Two Palestinian civilians were killed and 66 others were injured in the West Bank by Israeli forces

Demolitions in East Jerusalem continue: 22 people displaced or otherwise affected.

Fuel and electricity shortages in Gaza Strip severely disrupt the provision of basic services including health, water and sanitation; power outages up to 16 hours per day.


WEST BANK

Two Palestinian civilians killed at
Israeli checkpoints

In two separate incidents on 7 November, Israeli forces staffing military checkpoints shot and killed two civilian men. One incident, which resulted in the death of a 28-year-old man, took place at Za’tara checkpoint, south of Nablus city, which controls Palestinian movement along the main north-south traffic artery. According to Israeli media sources, the man was shot after he opened fire with a flare gun at soldiers positioned at the checkpoint. The other incident, which ended in the killing of 23-year-old man, took place at the Wadi Nar checkpoint controlling Palestinians’ access between the northern and southern West Bank. Israeli sources claimed that the man was shot after he stepped out of his car and attempted to stab one of the border policemen staffing the checkpoint; the man’s brother, who witnessed the incident, denied this, alleging that he was shot when he opened the car after the Israeli forces stopped the car at the checkpoint. While in recent years there has been a significant improvement in the connectivity between the main cities and villages in the West Bank, checkpoints have remained a point of friction between the civilian population and Israeli forces. Currently, there are 61 permanently staffed military checkpoints across the West Bank, including 36 located along the Barrier, 11 in Hebron City and 14 on key routes elsewhere. This week’s fatalities bring the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2013 to 19, compared to 4 in the equivalent period of 2012.

Sixty-six (66) Palestinian civilians, almost two thirds of them children (38), were injured this week in various clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank. Over half of these injuries occurred in clashes with Israeli forces on 11 November, during demonstrations commemorating the 9th anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian president Yasser Arafat. Also, 13 civilians, including seven children, were injured this week in Abu Dis town (Jerusalem) during clashes with Israeli forces that erupted during Israeli military operations in the town on 8 and 10 November. Six additional Palestinians were injured in clashes during the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against the closure of the village’s main entrance and the expansion of Israeli settlements on the village’s land.


Settler-related incidents

This week, OCHA recorded at least seven settler-related incidents resulting in causalities or damage to property. Five of the incidents affected Palestinians and two affected Israeli settlers.

Most of this week’s incidents took place in the Hebron area: on 5 November, in the Old City of Hebron (H2), Israeli settlers took over an abandoned house and began rebuilding its walls under the protection of Israeli forces, reportedly to turn it into an Israeli settlement. The settlers were subsequently evacuated after the house’s Palestinian owners filed a complaint with the Israeli police. In Al Jalajel area near the entrance of Bani Naim, Israeli settlers set fire to two Palestinian vehicles on 7 November, and sprayed slogans on the walls of a house in the area; two Palestinian families were affected.

Also this week, in the Nablus governorate, Israeli settlers leveled about 25 dunums of Palestinian land, planted with wheat and owned by at least 15 farmers from the village of Qaryut; raided Jamma’in village and stoned a Palestinian farmer working his land; and, stoned and damaged a Palestinian bus carrying workers in the village of Beita.

On 9 November, 100 olive trees were found cut-down in the village of Jit (Qalqiliya), near Havat Gilad settlement outpost. The affected farmer and his 15-member family have suffered frequent attacks by settlers in the past. Since the beginning of the olive harvest season on 15 October, at least 1,000 olive trees have been reportedly vandalized by Israeli settlers, bringing the total number of trees damaged since the beginning of 2013 to 9,500.

This week, there were two incidents of stoning of Israeli vehicles by Palestinians: one resulted in the injury of an Israeli settler in At Tur area in East Jerusalem; and one resulted in damage to a bus travelling near Halhul (Hebron).
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22 people displaced or affected by
self demolitions in East Jerusalem

On 11 November, two Palestinian families from the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem started self-demolishing the zinc caravans in which they were residing. The families had been residing there since their permanent houses in an apartment building were demolished by the Israeli authorities on 5 February 2013, due to the lack of an Israeli building permit. The demolition was completed by the Israeli authorities the following day. As a result, 14 people, including six children, were displaced for the second time this year. Similarly, on 9 November, another Palestinian family living in the Old City of Jerusalem self-demolished two rooms they had added to their house 18 years ago to meet the growing
needs of their family. Eight people, including 6 children, were affected. Both demolitions occurred following the receipt of demolition orders from the Israeli authorities, to avoid demolitions by Israeli forces and the imposition of additional fines. So far this year, Palestinians have self demolished at least 19 structures; including 13 residential structures in these circumstances, of which 12 were in East Jerusalem.

No demolitions were reported this week in Area C. However, the Israeli authorities issued at least nine demolition and stop-work orders against four residential structures in East Jerusalem; and five structures in Area C, including one against a caravan used as a classroom in An Nabi Samuel School (Jerusalem), at least ten students will be affected as a result.

This week, on 7 November, four Palestinian Bedouin families living near Deir Al Qilt (Jericho) were temporarily displaced to make way for Israeli military training exercises; 31 people including 20 children were affected.


GAZA STRIP
Resumption of relative calm in the Gaza Strip

This week, the situation was relatively calm in Gaza, compared to previous weeks. While several rockets were reportedly fired by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel, all of them exploded at the launching site or fell short in the Gaza Strip, resulting in no injuries or damage. Also, there were no reports of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Israeli forces continued to enforce restrictions on Palestinian access to areas near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. On several occasions this week, Israeli forces fired warning shots towards Palestinian farmers working their lands near the fence between Gaza and Israel, forcing them to leave the area. No injuries were reported. Also, in the same context, on at least two occasions, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza, and conducted land leveling operations.

Similarly, on at least four occasions this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the six (NM) fishing limit; no injuries were reported. In one of the incidents, on 10 November, Israeli forces arrested two fishermen and confiscated their boat, west of Beit Lahia, while they were reportedly sailing near the 1.5 nautical mile “no-go” sea corridor area between Gaza and Israel


Gaza power plant remains shut down

For the third week in a row, almost no Egyptian fuel was supplied to Gaza via illegal smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt this week. Between 3 and 9 November, a total of between 10,000 to 20,000 litres of fuel were transferred into Gaza, compared to approximately one million litres that entered per day in June 2013, when the Egyptian authorities tightened measures aimed at countering insecurity and illegal activity in the Sinai.

As has been the case since 1 November, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) remained non-operational, due to lack of fuel. Prior to June 2013, the GPP received over 400,000 litres of subsidized Egyptian fuel per day, and was able to keep a fuel reserve of up to 8 million litres. The shutdown of the GPP has increased electricity blackouts across the Gaza Strip from 12 to up to 16 hours per day. The GPP needs at least 500,000 liters of fuel per day to run at full capacity and produce around 120 megawatts.


Fuel shortages, combined with unreliable electricity supply, continue to disrupt the provision of basic services, including water supply, sanitation, health, and transportation. The Ministry of Health in Gaza warned that specialized health services, such as kidney dialysis, operating theaters, blood banks, intensive care units, labs and infants’ incubators are at risk of disruption as a result of electricity cuts and fuel shortages. (For an overview of the impact of the energy crisis on the provision of water and sanitation services, see last week’s Protection of Civilians report)

The transfer of goods through the tunnels also came to an almost complete halt this week, compared to the equivalent of over 200 truckloads of goods that entered per day in last June. On the other hand, since the end of June 2013, the recurrent closure of the Rafah crossing has contributed to a decline in the volume of aid supplies donated by international actors, which had previously been transferred via the Rafah Crossing.


Ban on the transfer of construction

materials continues

The total halt in the transfer of basic construction materials (primarily cement, steel bars and aggregate) into Gaza via Israel, both for international organizations and the private sector, continued for the fifth week in a row. This measure was imposed on 13 October, a week after the reported discovery of 1.8 km long underground tunnel leading from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel. No construction materials reportedly entered Gaza via the smuggling tunnels this week either. The very limited quantities of available construction materials are being sold in the local market at more than twice the June 2013 prices, especially for cement and aggregates. The illegal smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt borders once served as the primary entry points of construction materials into Gaza, due to restrictions on their import via the official crossings with Israel. Around 7,500 tonnes of construction materials entered Gaza per day through the tunnels in late June 2013.

Last week, UNRWA, the largest UN implementing agency in the Gaza Strip, was forced to suspend 19 out of 20 ongoing construction activities, including the construction of 1,295 housing units, 22 schools, one health centre, a bridge and ten essential water and sanitation projects. In addition to the delay in the response provided to urgent infrastructure needs, the recent developments have led to the temporary layoff of tens of thousands of workers, compounding pre-existing pressures on livelihoods in Gaza.

Rafah Crossing update
The operation of the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt continued to be unpredictable. On 8 November, the Egyptian authorities re-closed the Rafah Crossing for unclear reasons until further notice. The crossing was last open on 6 and 7 November for the passage of humanitarian cases, including patients and students. Approximately 122 travelers were allowed to cross into Egypt and around 57 others entered Gaza. These numbers remain well below the daily average of approximately 1,860 who crossed in both directions in June, before strict measures were imposed by the Egyptians authorities, due to security concerns in the Sinai. Since early July, when open, the crossing has operated four-six hours per day compared to nine hours (seven days per week) prior to early July. The crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via the Erez Crossing.



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