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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
27 January 2014




Key issues

53 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces in clashes across the West Bank.

Over 180 Palestinians were displaced or otherwise affected as a result of demolitions in Area C and East Jerusalem by Israeli authorities.

Two Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, including one in the access restricted area along the fence with Israel, and another during an airstrike targeting a member of an armed group.


WEST BANK


Serious clashes between Israeli forces and university students

Clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces continued during the week; fifty-three (53) Palestinians, including ten children, were injured as a result. While the number of injuries is twice as many as the weekly average during the first three weeks of 2014 (25); the total number of injuries so far in 2014 (129), is slightly above half of the equivalent figure in 2013 (238).

One of the most violent clashes was recorded on 22 January in and around the campus of Al Quds University in Abu Dis (Jerusalem governorate), when students threw stones at Israeli forces patrolling the area, who responded by shooting tear-gas and rubber-coated metal bullets and, subsequently, raided the campus. Seventeen (17) students were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets and several windows were damaged after being hit by the tear gas canisters. Six similar clashes were recorded in the same area during 2013 and resulted in the injury of 52 Palestinians; most of them were university students.

The largest number of injuries (23), however, was recorded in clashes that erupted during the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) against the Israeli military’s long-standing closure of one of the village’s main routes, which passes through the adjacent Qedumim settlement, citing security reasons. Among the injuries was a two-month-old infant who inhaled tear-gas, after a canister broke a window and penetrated his house. A similar incident that took place on 1 January in the same village resulted in the death of an elderly man.

On 23 January, Israeli forces uprooted and seized 1,000 olive-tree saplings planted the day before in Wadi Qana (Salfit), in Area C, on the grounds that the plot is designated as “state land”,, and as a “nature reserve”; which severely limits agricultural use. The Palestinian farmers claim private ownership over the plot. The incident triggered clashes with area residents and resulted in the injury of a 73-year-old Palestinian farmer. In June 2011, Israeli forces uprooted another 300 olive trees on privately-owned Palestinian land in that area on the same grounds.


Settler violence on the rise; seven Palestinians injured and over 800 trees vandalized

This week witnessed eight Israeli settler attacks across the West Bank resulting in Palestinian injuries (four) or damage to their property (four), as well as one incident resulted in injuries among Israeli settlers.

Israeli settlers from Itamar settlement raided the neighbouring village of Beit Furik (Nablus) twice during the week, on 22 and 27 January, triggering clashes with the residents. Israeli forces that arrived at the site in both cases intervened and fired rubber-coated-metal bullets or live ammunition at Palestinians, injuring four of them, and detaining another two, including a 16-year-old boy. During 2013, 201 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during interventions in settler attacks.

The day before, also in the Nablus area, Israeli settlers from Rehelim settlement raided the neighboring village of Qabalan and vandalized ten Palestinian vehicles, sprayed “price tag” graffiti on several walls and damaged 20 olive seedlings.

The most serious incident in terms of property damage occurred on 22 January when Israeli settlers from Giv’at Hara’el settlement outpost uprooted and vandalized 800 olive saplings in Sinjil village (Ramallah) that were recently planted through a donor-funded project; fifteen (15) Palestinian families were affected as a result. On 14 January (previous reporting period), a group of Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian workers implementing a donor-funded project in the village of Burin (Nablus), for the rehabilitation of an agricultural road in Area B; the incident ended with no injuries. In response, the Israeli military designated the area as a “closed military zone”, resulting in the suspension of the project until further notice.

This week also recorded multiple incidents of physical assault or intimidation by Israeli settlers targeting Palestinian farmers or herders, most of which ended without casualties or damage. In one of the incidents, however, a 60-year-old Palestinian herder from Um al Kheir (Hebron) lost consciousness after being attacked by settlers from Karmel settlement, while grazing his sheep in the area.

Also this week, two separate incidents of physical assault resulting in injuries were recorded in East Jerusalem: on 24 January, two Palestinians were attacked by a group of settler while driving through the Pisgat Ze’ev settlement; and, on 22 January, two Israelis were attacked by Palestinians in At Tur area.

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Nearly 50 people were displaced as a result of demolitions

This week saw an increase in demolitions compared to the weekly average during the first three weeks of 2014. The demolitions targeted a total of 36 residential and livelihood structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing and otherwise affecting a total of 182 Palestinians.

On 27 January, the Israeli authorities demolished four residential structures, including multiple-apartment buildings, in Beit Hanina and Al Isawiya neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. This resulted in the displacement of 19 people (three families), including 11 children, and affected 32 others. Two of the displaced families from Beit Hanina, were reportedly evicted forcibly from their homes and were not given enough time to evacuate their belongings prior to the demolition. The other family was displaced for the second time in less than year, as their previous home in the same location was demolished in February 2013.

In Area C, Israeli forces demolished a total of 32 residential and other livelihood structures this week, displacing 28 Palestinians, including 10 children, and otherwise affecting 105 others. The

displaced families (4) were from two Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley - Ibziq and Khirbet Yarza; the latter is located in an area designated by Israeli forces as a “closed military zone”. The other affected families were from Huwwara town, Aqraba village, and the herding community of Al Twayyel in the Nablus governorate.



GAZA STRIP
Shooting incidents at Palestinian civilians along the fence and at sea continue

The reporting period witnessed a decline in attacks and clashes by Palestinian armed groups and the Israeli military, compared to the previous four weeks. However, the frequency of shooting incidents by Israeli forces at Palestinian civilians along Gaza’s perimeter fence and on fishing areas at sea remained high.

On 24 January, Israeli forces shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian man who, together with other civilians, entered the access restricted areas (ARA), reached the fence in an area north of Beit Lahiya, and took pictures of the area, according to human-right groups. A member of the group reported that the lethal shot was not preceded by verbal warnings or warning shots. In a separate incident on the same day, seven civilian men were shot and injured by live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets in the ARA near Jabaliya, while they were throwing stones at Israeli forces positioned next to the fence. At least 13 additional incidents involving the opening of warning fire at civilians present in the ARA along the fence (seven incidents), or in fishing areas along the coast (six incidents) were reported during the week, none of which resulted in injuries.

Also this week, a member of a Palestinian armed group was targeted and killed during an Israeli airstrike on 22 January in Beit Hanoun; another 22-year-old family member of the man was killed during the attack, and his house and private vehicle sustained significant damage. A similar airstrike that took place three days before, targeting another member of an armed group, resulted in the injury of a child.



Rafah Crossing reopened for five days; hundreds unable to access medical care

The Rafah Crossing was opened for 5 days (21-23 January, 26 - 27 January) to facilitate the travel of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. At least 1,000 people entered Gaza, some 1,400 exited, 101 were denied exit and another 450 were turned back at the Palestinian side of the border as they were unable to cross prior to the scheduled closing hours. The crossing was last opened 9 January, after 11 consecutive days of closure. Rafah Crossing also opened for three days between 19 and 25 January for the entry of 215 truckloads of construction materials designated for the Qatari projects.

Gazan’s ability to travel through the Rafah crossing has been severely curtailed since July 2013, following measures taken by the Egyptian authorities along Egypt’s border with Gaza. As a result of the recurrent closures of Rafah, WHO reported that during December 2013 the number of applications to leave Gaza for health care through the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing was 48 percent higher than during December 2012. It is estimated that hundreds of patients remain unable to access specialized medical treatment outside Gaza. Medical referrals to Egypt in the second half of 2013 decreased by 50 percent from the first half of the year.


Israel announced the entry of small amounts of construction materials

This week, the Israeli authorities announced a limited easing of the longstanding ban on the import of building materials for the private sector. This would entail the entry of 1,000 tonnes (or approximately 25 truckloads) of materials through Karem Shalom Crossing to be used for repairing damages sustained during the winter storm in December 2013. This amount constitutes approximately five percent of estimated needs (19,000 tonnes), according to private contractors. Since June 2013, the Gaza Strip is affected by a severe shortage of building materials following the halt in smuggling activities via the tunnels under the border with Egypt.

While a lifting of the ban on the import of construction materials for projects implemented by international organizations (and approved by the Israeli authorities) was announced on 8 December 2013; so far only 12 projects implemented by UNRWA have been allowed to resume. Entry of construction materials for approximately 30 other international projects remains on hold. This restriction has been in place since 13 October 2013, following the discovery of a tunnel between Gaza and Israel.

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