|LATEST DEVELOPMENT SINCE TUESDAY, 3 June 2009
· On 10 June in Ramallah city, PA security forces shot and injured a Palestinian driver who allegedly breached the security of PA President Mahmoud Abbasʹ motorcade.
· On 10 June, the Jerusalem municipality, accompanied by the Israeli border police, distributed one order summoning residents of a four–storey building in Al Abbasiya (10 housing units) to report to the Jerusalem municipality for building without the requisite building permits.
· On 11 June, the Jerusalem municipality accompanied by the Israeli Border Police distributed orders for 20 structures in the Bustan neighbourhood of Silwan. These include demolition orders and notices for residents to report to the municipality. These are the first orders to be distributed in Silwan since the Regional Planning Committee rejected the Bustan residents’ proposed master plan on 17 February 2009.EST DEVELOPMENT SINCE TUESDAY, 2 June 2009
Sharp increase in Palestinian casualties
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian and injured 30 others, including 15 children, in various incidents throughout the West Bank. Most Palestinian casualties occurred during anti–Barrier demonstrations held in Ni’lin and Bil’in villages in the Ramallah governorate: one Palestinian protestor was killed when shot with live ammunition, and 15 others were injured, including a PRCS medic; one IDF soldier was also injured. In addition, during the demonstrations, three houses in the village of Ni’lin were partially burnt when hit with tear gas canisters that caught on fire.
Ten Palestinians, including four children were physically assaulted at Wadi Nar checkpoint when a number of Palestinians left the bus without permission to fix a flat tire, after the bus had been stopped for routine security inspection. Another five Palestinians, including two children were injured in confrontations with Israeli security forces in the course of demolitions of structures in East Jerusalem and the Hebron governorate. (See also demolitions section).
The number of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in the West Bank this week, as well as the number of Israeli search operations, increased by 50 and 13 percent respectively, compared to the weekly averages in the first quarter of 2009. By contrast, the number of Palestinians arrested this week by Israeli forces (51) was 42 percent less than the weekly average in the first quarter of the year.
Following armed clashes that left six people dead in Qalqiliya city last week, Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces raided a building on 4 June in pursuit of three Hamas militants. Two armed Hamas members and one member of the PA security forces were killed in clashes which ensued. In addition, two female bystanders and one of the Hamas members were also injured.
In recent weeks, PA security forces have stepped up arrests of Palestinians allegedly affiliated with Hamas in the northern West Bank. This week, PA forces arrested at least 74 Palestinians in the area; this figure is nearly double the number of Palestinians arrested by the IDF in the entire West Bank during the same period.
Area C and East Jerusalem demolitions continue: 128 displaced; 95 persons put at risk
In Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar in the Jordan Valley, Israeli military forces, accompanied by representatives of the Israeli Civil Administration, bulldozed at least 60 structures including 15 residential structures, 30 animal pens, and 18 traditional “taboun” ovens. Initial reports indicate that a number of residences were also self-dismantled following the communities’ receipt of evacuation orders by Israeli authorities on 31 May. In all, 128 people, including 66 children and 34 women, were displaced. According to the community’s village council, the community has lived in the area since the 1960s.
In East Jerusalem, the Jerusalem municipality demolished adjoining structures of two buildings in the Old City for lack of requisite building permits: a balcony belonging to a family of six persons, and a roof structure on the third floor of another building. Two Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, were injured by Israeli security forces during one of the demolitions. Also in East Jerusalem, the municipality issued a demolition order for a five-storey building with 13 apartments in Beit Hanina as the structure exceeded the building density (plot ratio) specified in the building permit. The apartments are owned by 13 families – a combined total of 95 members.
During the week, the Israeli Civil Administration demolished seven water pools (coverless cisterns) in the governorate of Hebron: six in the community of Al Beqa, and one in the community of Al Bweira, located north east of Hebron City. Israeli authorities allege that Palestinians illegally connect to Mekorot water pipes in the region and pump water into the cisterns. Three Palestinians were injured in confrontations with Israeli forces that took place during the demolitions.
Further easing of Palestinian movement in the north
Israeli authorities implemented measures this week to ease Palestinian access to and from the cities of Qalqiliya and Nablus. It removed military staff from one of two main checkpoints controlling access into Qalqiliya City (the DCO checkpoint at the eastern entrance), but kept the infrastructure intact. The IDF also completely dismantled the Izbat Jal’ud checkpoint to the south of Qalqiliya.
In addition, the IDF increased opening hours at four main checkpoints around Nablus City (Huwwara, Shave Shomron, the new Beit Iba, and 'Asira ash Shamaliya) to 24 hours a day, 7 days/ week. It increased by one hour opening times for two other Nablus checkpoints (Beit Furik and 'Awarta)
Also this week, Israeli contractors asphalted new lanes recently added to the ‘Enav checkpoint, which controls the main route into Tulkarm City from the east, thus almost completing the expansion of the checkpoint.
All but one of these measures (the removal of the southern Qalqiliya checkpoint) are consistent with the trend identified by OCHA in its latest Movement and Access report: the easing of Palestinian traffic into the main cities alongside the maintenance and entrenchment of the mechanisms of control over Palestinian movement.
Israeli-settler/settlement related incidents
Reports indicate that Israeli settler violence and attacks decreased this week in all parts of the West Bank, though violence did continue to occur in a number of locales. In the northern governorate of Nablus, settlers set fire to olive groves and agricultural land and threw stones at Palestinian vehicles. One Palestinian was injured from stone throwing, and one Palestinian landowner was arrested after trying to inspect the damages to his land.
The lack of law enforcement against these incidents remains a protection concern. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported this week that the Israeli police closed the investigation of an incident where Israeli settlers beat Palestinian shepherds near Susiya settlement (Hebron) with truncheons in June 2008, on grounds of “offender unknown”. B’Tselem also reported that the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office intends to withdraw the indictment against an Israeli settler who was filmed while shooting a Palestinian at point blank range during the evacuation of the Rajabi House settlement in Hebron City in December 2008. During the reporting period, the Israeli Civil Administration announced that it would pay a total of NIS 250,000 to compensate 50 Palestinians whose property was damaged during the same evacuation.
Military activities continue impacting civilian’s lives
This week, Palestinian–Israeli violence intensified and resulted in four Palestinians killed and six others injured. In the deadliest incident since the end of the Cast Lead operation on 18 January, three armed militants were killed and another injured in an armed attacked against IDF troops near the border fence with Israel, east of Gaza City. Following the incident, IDF troops entered a few hundred meters inside Gaza and fired several tank shells into the border area.
Palestinian armed factions fired several rounds of rudimentary rockets and mortar shells towards southern Israel and IDF troops stationed at the border. In addition, Palestinian factions set off explosives on two separate occasions, near Israeli troops patrolling in border areas. No Israeli injuries were reported due to any of these attacks.
Palestinian access to land and sea remain restricted
The recent expansion of the so–called ʺbuffer zoneʺ between Israel and the Gaza Strip continues to restrict Palestinians from accessing agricultural land of up to 300 meters from the border with Israel. Reports indicate that in areas east of Rafah and Khan Younis, access restrictions are enforced on a wider strip of land. This week, three Palestinian farmers were injured by IDF fire when working in a field east of Beit Hanoun. In other reported incidents, IDF tanks entered a few hundred meters into border areas east of Gaza city, Jabalia and Rafah, forcing Palestinian farmers to leave the area.
Israeli naval forces continue to restrict access of Palestinian fishermen to fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from Gaza’s 38 kilometre coastline. Israeli patrol boats opened warning fire on ten separate occasions targeting Palestinian fishing boats west of Rafah, Deir Al Balah, Gaza City and Beit Lahia, forcing the boats to return to shore. No injuries were reported in any of these incidents. According to the Gaza fishermen syndicate, there are no clear, consistent channels of communication with the Israeli patrol boats and almost all communication is delivered at gunpoint.
Other casualties and damages
One Palestinian militant was killed and another seriously injured when an improvised explosive device (IED) prematurely detonated in a house east of Khan Younis. In another incident, 12 people were injured when a gas canister exploded in a petrol station in Khan Younis Camp. In addition, the blast left four houses severely damaged and tens of the surrounding houses sustained light damages.
During the week, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reported the search and arrest of 73 Palestinians with alleged Fatah affiliations by Hamas security forces. The arrests began in the aftermath of armed clashes between PA security forces and members of Hamas in the West Bank city of Qalqiliya in the previous week. The Gaza Ministry of Interior issued a statement that those arrested allegedly sought to undermine internal security in Gaza.
Imports remain below needs - (31 May - 06 June 09)
Restrictions imposed by Israel on imports and exports to and from the Gaza Strip continue to affect the living conditions of the population of Gaza.
This week, a total of 512 truckloads of goods entered Gaza, less than one fifth of truckloads entered during the first five months of 2007, before the Hamas take-over.
The entry of other major essential goods including materials for reconstruction, spare parts for water and sanitation projects, and industrial and agricultural materials, remain either restricted to limited quantities, or barred from entry.
This week, 1,002 tonnes of cooking gas were entered – approximately 57% of Gaza’s weekly needs according to the Gas Stations Owners Association (GSOA).