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

حماية المدنيين

Key issues

Over 100 Palestinians injured in the West Bank in clashes with Israeli forces during demonstrations; over 60 per cent of them were minors.

Some 500 trees and saplings owned by Palestinians were uprooted or damaged across the West Bank. About half of them were damaged by Israeli settlers in various incidents. The other half were uprooted by Israeli authorities on grounds that the area was designated as a “firing zone”.


Violent clashes during demonstrations continue

There was a decrease in the number of injuries reported this week, as compared to previous weeks. However, violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces continued at multiple locations and the high proportion of minors among those injured (over 60 per cent) is of concern. Some 37 per cent of the people injured this week were treated for tear gas inhalation1 and 56 per cent were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. Three Israeli soldiers were also injured during the confrontations.

Around 100 Palestinian civilians were injured in protests held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Al Khader village in Bethlehem, Al ‘Arrub refugee camp and Beit Ummar village in Hebron and near Beituniya checkpoint in Ramallah. Three other Palestinians were injured during a protest against settler violence in Silwad village (Ramallah).

1The number excludes people who received any “light treatment” but includes those who received medical treatment on the ground or in hospital.

Update on incidents involving Palestinians, settlers and other Israeli civilians

During the week, OCHA documented 12 violent incidents involving Palestinians, Israeli settlers and other Israeli civilians that resulted in injuries or property damage, including eight incidents affecting Palestinians.

In two incidents on 16 April, a 14 year-old Palestinian boy was physically assaulted and injured by the armed guards of the Bracha settlement in Nablus, while he was grazing sheep near the settlement, and another Palestinian man injured when Israeli settlers sprayed pepper at him in the old city of Jerusalem.

Also this week, in four separate incidents, Israeli settlers reportedly uprooted or cut down a total of 245 plants in the Ramallah and Hebron governorates: 190 olive and fig trees in An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham villages (17 April); 20 olive trees in Beitillu village (16 April); 20 olive trees in Sa’ir village (16 April) and 15 almond trees in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood (21 April). Since the beginning of 2013, around 2,500 trees have been damaged by settlers, mostly in the context of settler attempts to takeover land in the vicinity of the settlement. The lack of adequate law enforcement in regard to such incidents remains of concerns: of the 162 complaints filed by the Israeli NGO Yesh Din between 2005 and 2012 regarding vandalism against Palestinian trees, only one has so far led to the indictment of a suspect.

In a separate incident on 17 April, settlers reportedly stole some 90 sheep belonging to Palestinians from Ras Ein al Auja community in Jericho while the sheep were grazing between Yitav and Kokhav Hashahar settlements. Palestinian sources indicated that the theft happened while the sheep were unattended and Israeli police located six of them, but the police will not return them until they finalize the investigation.

In two additional incidents on 16 April, two Israelis were injured when Palestinians threw stones at Israeli-plated vehicles travelling near Halhul and Beit Ummar villages, both in Hebron. According to the IDF, in two separate incidents during the week, Palestinians entered the settlement of Argaman in the Jordan Valley and damaged irrigation equipment and attempted to set on fire a greenhouse.

Illegal Fences dismantled by the Israeli authorities

This week, the Israeli authorities dismantled a series of fences erected by Israeli settlers around private Palestinian land next to the settlements of ‘Ofra and Geva Binyamin (Adam), both in the Ramallah governorate. These fences were established about a decade ago, without any permit issued by the Israeli authorities. As a result, the Palestinian landowners from the villages of Ein Yabrud and Silwad (in the case of ‘Ofra) and Jab’a (in the case of Geva Binyamin) were prevented from cultivating their land, though later they were given restricted access under a “prior coordination regime”.

The dismantlement of the fences this week took place in the context of a protracted litigation process at the Israeli High Court of Justice, which begun over three years ago. The removal of the fences is expected to have a positive impact on the livelihood of the Palestinian farmers, provided that the Israeli authorities take appropriate measures to secure safe access to the land.

Three livelihood structures demolished, 250 seedlings uprooted and around 60 people temporarily displaced

This week, the Israeli authorities demolished three Palestinian-owned structures in Area C on the ground that they lack Israeli-issued building permits. On 18 April, two agricultural sheds and a restaurant were demolished in the Al Makhrour area and Al Khader village in Bethlehem, respectively. This is the third time in a year that this restaurant, which lacks a building permit, is demolished. These demolitions affected the livelihoods of around 70 people.

On 19 April, Israeli forces forced nine families comprising 60 people, including 36 children, living in Humsa al Baqai’a community to leave their homes for around six hours to make way for Israeli military training exercises. This is one of several communities which have been repeatedly forced to leave their homes in such circumstances due to their location in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone”, some of them have been residing long before this designation. The IDF has stated that the residents of these communities are “trespassers”, who are removed from the area for their own safety. Citing the zoning of the area as a firing zone, on 22 April, Israeli forces uprooted at least 150 olive seedlings and 100 almond seedlings east of Beit Dajan village in Nablus; Palestinian residents claim ownership of the land. According to the IDF, an offer made to relocate the trees to an alternative site was rejected by the farmers; this information could not be independently verified.


One Palestinian injured near the fence

There were several incidents of Palestinian rocket firing towards Israel this week (none of which resulted in casualties or damage) and of the Israeli military opening fire towards Palestinians in the access restricted areas (ARA).

On 16 April, Israeli forces opened fire, injuring a Palestinian shepherd while he was grazing his sheep reportedly 400 meters from the fence, near Al Bureij camp. The IDF has stated that on 17 occasions during the week, their soldiers took action to force Palestinians out of areas less than 100 meters from the fence. Since 21 November 2012, four Palestinians have been killed and 112 others injured in the ARA near the fence with Israel. Also in the vicinity of the fence, Israeli forces opened fire in at least three incidents towards people; Israeli military forces reportedly detained two Palestinians who had attempted to illegally cross the fence into Israel, and conducted at least one land leveling operation.

In the context of restrictions on access beyond 3 nautical miles (NM) from the shore, the Israeli navy also opened fire towards fishermen on a number of occasions this week, forcing them ashore. No injuries or damage to property were reported. According to local reports the fishermen were sailing close to the 3 NM limit. The denial of access to fishing areas beyond 3 NM continues to impact upon the livelihoods of some 3,500 families; the sardine season is currently underway but sardine catch (which makes up to about 70 per cent of the catch in some seasons) is mainly located beyond 8 NM to which Palestinian fishermen have no access.

Shortages of cooking gas continue

Significant shortages of cooking gas continue as a result of the repeated closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing since 27 February; long queues were observed at the gas filling stations.
The Kerem Shalom crossing has resumed operations and was opened on all scheduled days this week, except on 16 April due to Israel’s Independence Day. This week, in total 994 truckloads of goods entered Gaza through Kerem Shalom and two other truckloads of carnation (about 95,000 flowers) destined for overseas markets exited.

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