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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
18 February 2013

Key issues

Over 120 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank in clashes with Israeli forces, mostly during protests in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails.

Friction between Israeli forces and Palestinian civilians along Gaza’s perimeter fence and on sea areas continued; four civilians were injured and ten arrested.


    Dozens injured in clashes during
    solidarity protests with prisoners

    There was a significant increase in violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and Israeli forces during the week; these clashes were in the context of multiple protests held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention facilities who are currently on hunger strike. At least 88 Palestinian civilians, including 19 minors, as well as four Israeli soldiers, were injured during the clashes. More than half of Palestinians were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets; others sustained injuries as a result of being hit by tear gas canisters, were hit by Israeli forces or suffered from tear gas inhalation. The largest and most violent clash took place on 15 February in front of Ofer prison, south of Ramallah city (43 injuries). Similar demonstrations and clashes were also recorded a few days earlier at the same site and also at Qalandiya checkpoint (north of East Jerusalem), at Al Jalama checkpoint (Jenin), in Bethlehem city, and in Al Arroub refugee camp in Hebron.

    The UN Secretary-General and the Humanitarian Coordinator expressed their deep concern over the rapidly deteriorating condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike. They emphasized that detainees held in administrative detention should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released.

    Additional clashes during the week resulted in 34 other Palestinian injuries. These included, among others, ten Palestinians who were injured during the weekly protests in Nabi Salah village against the expansion of Hallamish settlement (Ramallah) and the permanent closure of the main entrance of Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya); 13 Palestinians who were injured during confrontations at the checkpoint controlling access to the Shu’fat refugee camp in East Jerusalem; five who were injured during incidents of Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli forces patrolling the Barrier next to Budrus village (Ramallah); and four who were injured during a protest in Jayyous against a new re-routing of the Barrier in the village.

    Settler violence continues; settlement
    outpost partially evacuated

    This week, OCHA documented six settler-related incidents that led to one injury and damage to Palestinian property, slightly below the weekly average of seven incidents in 2012. On 13 February, a group of female settlers physically assaulted a Palestinian woman near Za’tara junction in Nablus; the circumstances of the incident remain unclear. On 13 February, Israeli settlers intimidated a Palestinian shepherd in Al Hadidiya Bedouin community, killing five of his sheep.

    In incidents on 16 and 18 February, Israeli settlers reportedly uprooted approximately 50 olive saplings in the Khallet an Nahla area (Bethlehem) and cut down 20 olive trees and six fig trees belonging to Turmus’ayya village (Ramallah). On 18 February, settlers slashed the tires of three Palestinian-owned cars in in Yasuf village (Salfit) and wrote “price tag”graffiti on them. In two incidents on 15 and 16 February, settlers hurled stones at cars driving on Road 60 near Al Jalazun refugee camp, damaging two vehicles.

    Also this week Israeli forces razed nine structures in Ma’aleh Rehavam settlement outpost in Gush Etzion (Bethlehem). A temporary injunction issued by an Israeli court on Wednesday prevented the evacuation and demolition of the remaining structures, some of them, according to Peace Now, are built on private Palestinian property.

    Nine people displaced in East Jerusalem

    This week, the Israeli authorities demolished two Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem and Area C on the grounds that they were built without an Israeli-issued building permit.

    On 18 February, the Jerusalem Municipality demolished a one-storey house in the Beit Hanina for selling vegetables next to Ar Ramadin village, in Hebron governorate. During the demolition, Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces; one Palestinian was injured.

    Additionally, the Israeli military issued evacuation orders against 25 dunums of land in the village of Nahhalin and 30 dunums of land in the village of Husan (both in Bethlehem), on grounds that the land has been designated ‘state land’; Palestinian residents claiming ownership over the land have been requested by the Israeli authorities to produce documentation of their claims.


Use of lethal force in the access restricted areas continue

Friction between Israeli forces and Palestinian civilians in the access restricted areas (ARA) along Gaza’s perimeter fence and on sea areas along the coast continued the week. At the same time, there were no reports of incidents or clashes between Palestinian armed factions and the Israeli army.

In one incident on 14 February, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinians who were collecting scrap metal approximately 200 meters from the fence. According to the Israeli army, the men were shot after attempting to steal barbed wire, which is part of the perimeter fence’s infrastructure. Also near the fence, Israeli forces detained ten Palestinian civilians, including at least four minors, who were reportedly attempting to illegally cross the fence into Israel in three incidents between 12 and 17 February. In another incident on 18 February, Israeli naval forces shot and injured two fishermen, one of whom was 16 years old; while according to the fishermen they were sailing at approximately three nautical miles (NM) from the shore, the Israeli navy asserts the incidents occurred beyond the 6 NM limit and the soldiers opened fire only after the fishermen were warned and refused to return to the permitted area. This week’s injuries bring the total number of civilian casualties recorded on the ARAs since 21 November 2012 to 101.

In the context of the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli authorities have extended the permissible fishing area from three to six NM from the Gaza Strip coastline, and have allowed civilian access on foot to areas up to 100 meters from the perimeter fence for agricultural purposes only, and vehicular access to a distance of 300 meters.

One child killed and four others injured
by Explosive Remnants of War

On 13 January, a five year old Palestinian child was killed and another injured when Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) detonated while they were playing in Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City. The following day, three other children were injured in Beit Hanoun, North Gaza, in a similar incident. Since the 21 November 2012 cease-fire understanding between Israel and Hamas, two children have been killed and 11 other Palestinians, including ten children, injured in incidents related to ERWs.

Five people injured in electricity-related
incidents; long power cuts continue

Five people were injured during the week in two incidents of fires that broke due to the misuse of an electric generator and candles during a power outage. Since the beginning of 2013, seven people, including four children, have been killed and at least seven others injured in electricity-related incidents.

Electricity cuts throughout the Gaza Strip continue to last for up to 12 hours per day, forcing many households to rely on generators (often of low quality) or on candles to light their homes. The longstanding electricity shortage affecting the Gaza Strip is exacerbated by the fuel shortage, which means that the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) operates at only 75 per cent of its capacity (around 90 Mega Watts –MW- out of 120 MWs it could produce if enough fuel made available). Current electricity needs in Gaza are estimated at 360 MWs. Only, 238 MWs (approximately 65 per cent) are available and being supplied through three different sources including 120 MWs purchased from Israel, 28 MWs purchased from Egypt and 90 MWs produced locally by the GPP.

For the third successive week, none of the fuel donated to the GPP by Qatar and currently stored in Egypt entered Gaza; the reasons remain unclear. Since 7 June, less than 11 million liters of the Qatari fuel have entered Gaza, representing less than 35 percent of the 30 million liters donated by the Government of Qatar.

Israel allows the transfer of fuel from Israel to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which has the required infrastructure to that aim. Despite this, most of the fuel for the GPP is purchased in Egypt and transferred to Gaza through the tunnel system (except for the Qatari donation), citing the large price difference between the Egyptian and Israeli fuel.

Tunnel activity

This week, the Egyptian authorities have reportedly flooded a number of tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border as part of a larger operation aimed at reducing tunnel activities. So far, however, various reports indicate that the vast majority of tunnels have remained operational. While the Palestinian Federation of Industries (PFI) has reported a decline in the volume of construction materials that entered through the tunnels in recent weeks, this has been attributed to a range of factors, in addition to the measures taken by the Egyptian authorities, including the increased risk on workers due to the weather conditions and a seasonal decline in demand.

Tunnels, which are poorly built, remain the primary source for the transfer of a wide variety of goods into the Gaza Strip. This includes construction materials, for which entry via Israeli-controlled crossings remains restricted, as well as fuel, which is cheaper to purchase from Egypt via the tunnels.

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