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.
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.