● 49 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank.
● Ongoing fuel and electricity shortages result in further disruption to essential services across the Gaza Strip.
This week, Israeli forces injured 49 Palestinian civilians, including 16 children, in various clashes across the West Bank, 36 percent below the weekly average of injuries so far in 2013. Around 30 percent of the injuries this week resulted from inhalation of tear gas requiring medical treatment, 27 percent from physical assaults, 20 percent from the shooting of rubber-coated metal bullets, and 12 percent from the shooting of live ammunition. Also, two Israeli soldiers were injured when a Palestinian man attempted to run them over near Az Za’ayyem checkpoint (Jerusalem), according to the Israeli media.
Of this week’s injuries, 17, including five children, occurred on 22 November, during clashes that erupted in the context of the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya). Demonstrations in the village are ongoing since 2011 in protest of the closure of the village’s main entrance and the expansion of the adjacent Israeli settlement; so far this year, 201 civilians have been injured during such demonstrations, an 81 percent decrease compared with the equivalent period in 2012.
Another 10 civilians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces during other demonstrations: in Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah) against Israeli settler violence; in Ya’bad (Jenin), protesting the recent pruning and damaging of olive trees next to the Mevo Dotan checkpoint by Israeli forces; and in Tuqu’ village (Bethlehem) against the erection of a tent at the entrance of the village by Israeli settlers. The erection of the tent was part of a series of settler protests during the week against the insecurity
facing Israelis travelling along Road 356, which links the Noqedim settlement block (Bethlehem) to Jerusalem; on 25 November, citing security reasons, Israeli forces cut down 100 Palestinian olive trees alongside this road, affecting the livelihoods of around 20 Palestinian households.
Additional clashes resulting in the injury of eight Palestinians occurred in the context of search-and-arrest operations in East Jerusalem (Al Issawiya neighborhood), Qarawat Bani Zeid (Ramallah), and Izbat at Tabib (Qalqiliya). Overall, a total of 79 such operations were recorded during the week, slightly above the weekly average for 2013.
This week OCHA recorded four settler related incidents that resulted in Palestinian injuries and damage to Palestinian-owned property. There were no reports of causalities or property damage among settlers.
On 23 November, Israeli settlers from the Mitzpe Yair settlement outpost physically attacked a group of farmers, who were accompanied by international activists, near Al Qawawis village south of Yatta town (Hebron). Israeli forces that arrived at the site reportedly clashed with the farmers and international activists. A total of 11 Palestinians, including seven children, and two internationals were injured by Israeli settlers and forces during the incident. In 1999, the Israeli military evacuated the Palestinian land owners from their homes on the grounds that area is designated a “firing zone”, following which settlers moved in, but were evacuated by Israeli forces shortly afterwards. However, last year the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the state to return the land to the Palestinian owners.
Also this week, Israeli settlers cut down 10 Palestinian olive trees on land owned by a Palestinian family from Bruqin village (Salfit), adjacent to Bruchin settlement, in an area that does not require Palestinian owners to undertake prior coordination with Israeli forces for access.
On 19 November, Israeli settlers, reportedly from the Havat Gil’ad settlement outpost, burned two Palestinian vehicles in the village of Far’ata (Qalqiliya) and sprayed graffiti on a wall in the same area. On 24 November, Israeli settlers cut electric cables supplying power to a car wash facility in An Nabi Samuel village (Jerusalem), affecting 11 people, including eight children. The village, which is located in Area C on the “Jerusalem side” of the Barrier, is physically isolated from the rest of the West Bank and is affected by settler attacks.
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished 11 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C, on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 28 people, including 12 children, and otherwise affecting at least 36 others. All the displacement occurred during the demolition of four structures in Al Jiftlik village (Jericho) on 20 November. Israeli authorities also demolished animal barracks and a water cistern in the community of Khirbet Tuwayel (Nablus) on the same day, affecting 27 people including 18 children. No demolitions were reported during the week in East Jerusalem
Also this week, the Israeli authorities issued at least 42 demolition and stop-work orders against Palestinian residential structures in East Jerusalem and Area C. The affected structures include 36 residential structures funded by international donors in an area east of Jerusalem, which is planned for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adummim settlement and its connection with East Jerusalem settlements (the E1 area).
The shortage of fuel and the resulting energy crisis compounded by the recent halt in smuggling activities via the tunnels under the border with Egypt, continued to result in long electricity cuts and disruptions in the provision of vital basic services, particularly health, water and sanitation. The entire population (1.7 million people) of the Gaza Strip is affected.
The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) has been out of operation since 1 November 2013, when it shut down due to lack of fuel. The fuel had previously been smuggled from Egypt via the illegal tunnels under the border at highly subsidized prices. Prior to the recent developments, the GPP received about 400,000 liters of diesel per day via the tunnels and produced approximately 30 percent of the electricity supplied to Gaza (60 MW). The electricity that is currently available is purchased from Israel (120 MW) and Egypt (30 MW). The shut down has resulted in long electricity cuts of up to 16 hours per day. At least 650,000 liters of diesel per day are needed for the GPP to function at full capacity (120 megawatts). Citing security concerns, the Egyptian authorities have also prevented the transfer to Gaza of some 20 million liters of diesel, donated by Qatar for the GPP in 2012, and since then stored in Egypt.
The fuel shortages have also impacted the delivery of essential services, which depend on the operation of backup generators during electricity outages. The Ministry of Health in Gaza (MoH), has indicated that essential specialized health services, such as kidney dialysis, operating theaters, blood banks, intensive care units, and labs, among others, have been affected.
There are 291 water and sewage treatment facilities in Gaza, none of which are functioning adequately due to a lack of fuel to power the back-up generators. As a result, none of the sewage discharge into the sea (90 million liters a day) can be treated. There have been at least ten incidents, where sewage pumping stations were unable to pump to their respective treatment plants and were forced to divert sewage to open channels, the sea or storm water lagoons. Last week the main sewage pump station of Gaza City overflowed affecting 3,000 people. In the absence of electricity supply from the GPP, Gaza’s WASH facilities require approximately 400,000 liters of fuel per month to run backup generators and maintain operations at a minimum level.
Access to running water continues to decline in many parts of the Gaza Strip. The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility (CMWU) reported a 75 per cent decline in production rates of 25 small to medium scale desalination units that supply drinking water to approximately 160,000 inhabitants due to the lack of fuel. Consequently, many families have been forced to purchase water from unregulated vendors, raising concerns over water quality.
Garbage-collection vehicles are currently running at half capacity, due to the shortage of cheap Egyptian fuel for their operation. The Ministry of Local Government in Gaza has recently warned about the public health impact of the resulting daily accumulation of over 800 tons of solid waste. The Ministry has indicated that a number of municipalities in the Gaza Strip have started using donkey carts to remove the garbage. Around 150,000 liters of fuel per month are urgently needed in order to run the garbage collection vehicles.
The Government of Turkey has pledged funds to purchase 800,000 liters of fuel to run essential WASH, health and solid waste facilities for four months, of which 20,000 liters have already been distributed. (See Gaza Fuel Crisis Situation Report for further information.)
The provision of basic services has also been affected by the shortage of construction materials, impeding the maintenance and rehabilitation of affected infrastructure. For the seventh consecutive week, the Israeli authorities continued to ban the entry of these materials, including for international projects. Similarly, almost no construction materials have entered Gaza through the illegal tunnels for the fourth week in row. (For further background, see previous issues of the Protection of Civilians report).
The shortage of cooking gas in Gaza continued for the second month in a row. Nearly 870 tonnes of cooking gas were imported from Israel this week, covering close to 60 percent of the estimated demand. Similar to other goods, the supply of cooking gas to the Gaza Strip has been affected by the halt in tunnel smuggling; prior to June 2013, over 3,000 gas cylinders entered Gaza daily via the illegal tunnels. Due to a range of administrative and economic factors, including higher costs, the resulting gap has not been filled by an increase in the purchase of cooking gas from Israel.
Most of the 28 cooking gas stations in the Gaza Strip are only partially operational due to the lack of gas. Thousands of empty gas cylinders have accumulated at the cooking gas stations, waiting to be refilled. The shortage of cooking gas is forcing people to rely on unsafe cooking methods, including wood fire.
Rafah Crossing update
The Rafah Crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt was re-opened on 19 November for three days, after 12 days of consecutive closure. It was closed again by the Egyptian authorities until further notice, for unclear reasons.
This week, for the first time since last June, the Egyptian authorities allowed the entry of 100 tons of medical supplies destined for the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. At present, 30 percent of the essential drugs and 52 percent of medical disposables are at zero stock. Prior to June 2013, around 30 percent of the medical supplies to Gaza entered through the Rafah Crossing.
Two people injured in the Access Restricted Area
Israeli forces continued to enforce restrictions on Palestinian access to areas near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as on fishing areas beyond six nautical miles (NM) from the shore.
On 22 November, two Palestinian civilians were injured when Israeli forces opened fire at a group of youngsters who reportedly approached the fence and started throwing stones at IDF troops, east of Jabalia. In another incident, on 23 November, Israeli forces fired warning shots and detained three unarmed Palestinians who attempted to cross into Israel, east of Al Bureij Camp. In the same context, on at least one occasion, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza, and conducted a land leveling operation, during which armed Palestinians fired three mortar shells towards them.
Similarly, on at least four occasions this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the Israeli-imposed six (NM) fishing limits; no injuries or damage were reported.
During the week, the Israeli Air Force launched a number of airstrikes reportedly targeting military bases, animal farms and open areas in response to the firing of six projectiles by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel and Israeli troops inside Gaza. No injuries or damage were reported in any of these incidents.
One child injured as a result of UXOs
On 21 November, a 14-year-old Palestinian boy was injured when an Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) he found in an open space near Johr Ed-Dik area, northeast of Al Bureij Camp, detonated in his hands. Since the beginning of 2013, two Palestinian children, have been killed and 26 Palestinians including 23 children, have been injured in incidents related to Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs). Between 2009 and 2013, a total of 142 civilians, over half of them children, have been victims of ERWs in Gaza Strip; of these, 19 people, including 12 children have been killed.