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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
8 April 2013






Key issues

Two Palestinian youths were killed and more than 300 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli forces following the death of a Palestinian prisoner.

In response to continued rocket firing from Gaza towards southern Israel, the Israeli air force launched two air strikes in Gaza and the Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing and imposed further restrictions on access via Erez.



WEST BANK

Two Palestinian youths killed and hundreds
injured in clashes with Israeli forces


Clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces across the West Bank have intensified since 2 April, following the death, from cancer, of a 64 year-old Palestinian prisoner (Maysara Abu Hamdiya).

While various Palestinian officials have alleged that the medical treatment given to the prisoner was negligent, the Israeli authorities rejected this claim. According to the latter, Israel’s Prisons Authority initiated a process leading to the early release of the prisoner on health grounds, which could not be completed due to his sudden death.

On 3 April, in one fatal clash at Enav partial checkpoint, which controls the main route into Tulkarm city, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian youths (aged 17). According to the Palestinian medical sources, the two were shot in the back. According to IDF sources, the two youths were shot after they threw Molotov cocktails at soldiers posted at the checkpoint. The Israeli Military Police launched an investigation into the circumstances of the incident. These deaths bring the total number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2013 to nine.

Additionally, during the reporting period, 324 Palestinian civilians were injured across the West Bank in clashes with Israeli forces, mostly in the context of protests related to the death of the Palestinian prisoner. Fourteen Israeli soldiers were also injured during the clashes. The number of Clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces across the West Bank have intensified since 2 April, following the death, from cancer, of a 64 year-old Palestinian prisoner (Maysara Abu Hamdiya).

While various Palestinian officials have alleged that he medical treatment given to the prisoner was negligent, the Israeli authorities rejected this claim. According to the latter, Israel’s Prisons Authority initiated a process leading to the early release of he prisoner on health grounds, which could not be completed due to his sudden death.

On 3 April, in one fatal clash at Enav partial checkpoint, which controls the main route into Tulkarm city, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinian youths (aged 17). According to the Palestinian medical sources, the two were shot in the back. According to IDF sources, the two youths were shot after they threw Molotov cocktails at soldiers posted at the checkpoint. The Israeli Military Police launched an investigation into the circumstances of the incident. These deaths bring the total number of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2013 to nine.

Additionally, during the reporting period, 324 Palestinian civilians were injured across the West Bank in clashes with Israeli forces, mostly in the context of protests related to the death of the Palestinian prisoner. Fourteen Israeli soldiers were also injured during the clashes. The number of Palestinians injured this week represents a more than two-fold increase compared to the weekly average since the beginning of the year. Of particular concern is that 46 per cent of Palestinians injured this week were below 18 years of age, compared to an average of 23 per cent since the start of 2013.

Nearly half of Palestinians injured were treated for tear gas inhalation (this excludes those who received only light treatment), 40 per cent were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets, and the rest by live ammunition, by physical assault and by direct hits of tear gas canisters. The most violent clashes took place in the Bab Az Zawiya area in Hebron city, and in Al Khader village in Bethlehem.


Decline in settler-related incidents

This week recorded a decline in settler attacks resulting in Palestinian injuries or property damage, compared to the weekly average of incidents documented in the past two weeks (6 vs. 8). According to the IDF, four Israelis were injured during the week in four separate incidents as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians while they were travelling on West Bank roads.

On 7 April, Israeli settlers sprayed “price tag” graffiti on the walls of two mosques and slashed the tires of two vehicles in Tuqu’village (Bethlehem). While these are the first mosques vandalized by settlers in 2013, there were at least three incidents involving vandalism against mosques by Israeli settlers in 2012.

In two incidents on 2 and 4 April, Israeli settlers damaged 25 olive seedlings belonging to the village of ‘Urif (Nablus), and ten trees belonging to At Tuwani village in Hebron, respectively. In two incidents on 2 and 6 April, Israeli settlers stoned Palestinian-plated cars, near Al Jalazoun refugee camp in Ramallah; three vehicles were damaged.

Also this week, on 6 April, Israeli settlers from Esh Kodesh settlement outpost harvested a plot of land owned and cultivated by farmers from Jalud village (Nablus). The agricultural livelihoods of Jalud’s farmers have been severely undermined in recent years, due to the recurrent attacks and takeover of land by settlers from three adjacent outposts. According to the Israeli media, on 2 April, the Israeli police arrested five settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost in connection with a shooting incident in February 2013 and confiscated weapons.

Also as reported in the Israeli media, the Israeli police arrested two Palestinians charged with attacking two Israelis about two months ago.

Temporary displacement in the Jordan Valley

Over 70 people, including around 40 children, living in two communities in the Jordan Valley, Humsa Al Baqai’a and Ibziq, were forced to leave their homes for at least nine hours on 4 and 9 April, respectively, to make way for military training. The communities are located in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone”. Some displaced residents reportedly stayed with neighbours or relatives, or moved to a nearby location during the training. Many of the residents of these communities have been displaced by military training exercises thirteen times since the beginning of 2012.

According to the IDF , the Palestinian residents of the above communities are “trespassers”in an active training area and they are being repeatedly removed from the area for their own safety. No demolitions of homes or property were recorded during the reporting period in Area C or East Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities, however, issued stop-work and demolition orders against five residential structures and two water cisterns in Masafer Yatta area in southern Hebron.





GAZA STRIP

Tension continues; one Palestinian injured near the fence

Tension in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel continues. Palestinian armed groups continued firing rockets from Gaza towards southern Israel; according to the CIDF, a total of 21 such rockets were fired during the reporting period, three of which landed in Israel. In response, the Israeli air force launched two air strikes on 2 April, for the first time since the announcement of the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel on 21 November 2012. While no injuries were reported, the airstrikes resulted in damage to a water well and a greenhouse. Hamas police has reportedly taken action to prevent rocket firing at Israel and detained several members of an armed group accused of such activities.

A 16 year-old Palestinian boy was injured by Israeli forces on 5 April in the access restricted area near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. This is the first such incident for three weeks. The incident occurred when Israeli forces opened warning fire at a group of Palestinians in the vicinity of the fence to force them to leave the area. According to the IDF, a “procedure”aimed at removing Palestinians entering the restricted area within 100 meters from the fence, was implemented on 36 occasions during the week. A number of shooting incidents by Israeli naval forces, affecting Palestinian fishermen, were recorded between 3 and 7 April in the context of the access restrictions to fishing areas beyond 3 nautical miles from the shore; no injuries were recorded. The IDF reported that during the reporting period Palestinian fishermen entered the restricted areas at sea on 461 occasions, up from 358 in the previous week.





Closure of crossings following rocket firing

On 8 and 9 April, in response to rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups, the Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the only functioning crossing for entry and exit of goods between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Further restrictions were also imposed at the Erez passenger crossing, limiting movement to urgent humanitarian cases holding special permits. Before the closure of Kerem Shalom, a total of 893 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip between 2 and 6 April, a decline of 17 per cent compared to a weekly average of truckloads since the beginning of 2013. A cooking gas shortage was reported by Gas Stations Association as a result of the repeated closure of the Kerem shalom crossing in recent weeks.

Violent protests against UNRWA replacement
of direct cash assistance

Violent protests were held in front of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Distribution Centers across the Gaza Strip, as well as the agency’s field office and Headquarters, forcing the agency to suspend distribution services at different sites during the reporting period. On 4 April, the agency was forced to close all its Relief, Job Creation Programmes (JCP) and Distribution Centres, pending security guarantees from the local parties. Demonstrators were protesting the replacement of direct cash assistance to the poorest refugee families with their participation in the JCP due to significant budget constraints affecting the agency. With more than 1.2 million beneficiaries, UNRWA supports about 70 percent of the total population in the Gaza Strip through the provision of education, health and other services. More than 800,000 beneficiaries receive food assistance, and about 20,000 families had also received cash assistance until recently. On 8 April, UNRWA announced it was resuming its operations on 9 April after having received assurances from different local parties regarding the safety of the agency’s installations and employees.

Wave of arbitrary detentions by the Hamas police

During the week the Palestinian police detained a number of young men in different areas of the Gaza Strip on grounds that their hairstyle was “indecent”, according to Palestinian human rights groups. Some of the detainees were forced to have their hair cut and were forced to sign a statement committing to certain hairstyle and dressing codes. Some of the detainees alleged that they were also beaten while in detention.
Palestinian human rights organisations called upon the Attorney General in Gaza to open investigations into these detentions and related allegations and called upon the authorities in Gaza to respect the residents’civil liberties guaranteed under international human rights law.








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