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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
12 December 2014

Key issues
Israeli forces injure 108 Palestinians, the majority in Jerusalem.
Rise in number of Israeli settler attacks.
Two Israeli settlers stabbed by a 16-year-old Palestinian.
Rafah crossing remains closed.
Four children and a pregnant woman injured in UXO incidents in Gaza.
Suspension of cleaning services in health facilities in Gaza raises serious concern.

Rise in Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces; majority recorded in Jerusalem

During the week, Israeli forces injured 115 Palestinians, including 13 children, in various incidents and clashes across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The number of Palestinian injuries has increased compared to the previous reporting period (68 injuries).

The majority of Palestinian injuries were recorded in a single incident in East Jerusalem. On 3 December, Israeli forces injured 85 Palestinians in clashes with Israeli forces at the Shu’fat checkpoint, after Israeli authorities demolished a structure in that area (see more below). Of the injured, 33 were by rubber bullets, including a 12-year-old and five others who were injured in the eyes, and the rest due to severe tear gas inhalation.

In the three weeks preceding the reporting period, the number of Palestinian injuries by Israeli forces had generally declined reaching as low as 68 injuries. This decline came after the Israeli authorities eased the restrictions on access, mainly for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, to Al Aqsa Mosque Compound and Israeli politicians have generally refrained from entering and touring the compound following a trilateral meeting between the United States, Israel and Jordan, on 13 November, during which they announced a plan to “restore calm” in Jerusalem.

The number of Israeli search and arrest operations in the Jerusalem governorate, during the reporting period (21) has remained largely consistent over the past eight weeks, accounting for the majority of such operations in the West Bank.

An additional three injuries, including of two children, were recorded during the weekly protests in Ni’lin and Bil’in (Ramallah) against the Barrier, in An Nabi Saleh against settlement expansion, and in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) protesting the longstanding closure of one of the main access roads to the village, which passes through the nearby Israeli settlement. Clashes during the latter protest, on 5 December, resulted in the injury of a member of a TV crew.

On 5 December, one Palestinian was injured in Al Bireh, and others suffered from tear gas inhalation, during clashes with Israeli forces in the context of a protest by Palestinian residents against repeated Israel settler attacks in the area.

On 7 December, a 60-year-old Palestinian, previously reported as an Israeli injury, died of wounds sustained on 5 November 2014 when a Palestinian man ran his car into a station of the Jerusalem light rail train. According to family members the Israeli authorities had suspected that he was involved in the attack and took him to the hospital in handcuffs.

Rise in Israeli settler attacks; settlers cut down 50 trees in Nablus

There were six incidents of Israeli attacks in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in injury and damage to Palestinian property recorded this week, marking a rise in the number of such attacks compared to the weekly average (six), and bringing the total number of such incidents in 2014 to 313, compared to 395 in the equivalent period in 2013.

Four of the settler attacks involved stone throwing at vehicles and houses in the Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron governorates, and, in one case, the throwing of Molotov cocktails at a Palestinian house in an area between Al Jalazun Refugee camp and the Beit El settlement (Ramallah), causing damage to the house. In a separate incident on 2 December, settlers cut down some 50 newly planted olive trees on Palestinian owned land, east of Aqraba village (Nablus).

Also this week, on 7 December, according to Palestinian media sources, a group of Israelis physically assaulted two Palestinian workers at a petrol station in West Jerusalem.

Two Israeli settlers stabbed

According to Israeli media, 13 Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers were recorded this week in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; four which resulted in injury to Israelis and nine in damage to property, compared to a weekly average of four since the beginning of 2014.

On 3 December, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from Al ‘Eizariya area (Jerusalem), stabbed and injured two Israeli settlers in a supermarket in the Mishor Adumim industrial settlement. One Israeli settler was injured in the head and the hand, whilst the other was injured in the head. The Palestinian boy was shot and injured by an Israeli security guard and later arrested by Israeli forces. Two other Palestinian boys were arrested for allegedly providing support to the 16-year-old boy.

According to media reports, six of the Palestinian attacks involved stone throwing at Israeli-plated vehicles in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Ramallah governorates; and in three cases throwing of Molotov cocktails, at a bus and settlement structures in the Jerusalem governorate.

Two structures demolished in East Jerusalem

This week, Israeli authorities demolished one Palestinian structure, and delivered stop work orders against three houses and structures, in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. A self-demolition was also reported.

On 3 December, Israeli authorities demolished a structure adjacent to the Barrier near Shu’fat checkpoint in East Jerusalem on security grounds, following a ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court in January 2014, in favour of the requisitioning of the land by the Israeli Ministry of Defence. As a result, ten Palestinians were affected. Following the demolition, the Israeli authorities constructed a second Barrier of concrete slabs encompassing the demolished building. The demolition triggered clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians (See section 1).

Also in Jerusalem, on 5 December, one Palestinian family was forced to self-demolish a residential structure under construction in Jabal al Mukabbir in East Jerusalem for lack of Israeli-issued building permits, in order to avoid incurring additional costs if the structures were to be demolished by the Israeli authorities. A family of seven, including four children, was affected. This brings to 80 the number of structures demolished in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year for lack of Israeli-issued building permits, in addition to one house demolished as a punitive measure, a house demolished on security grounds and two others on settlement related grounds.

During the week, Israeli authorities delivered at least eight stop-work and demolition orders for lack of Israeli-issued building permits in Area C, affecting a total of 55 Palestinians, including 36 children, in addition to some 120 students. Four of the orders were issued against structures in the communities of At Taban and Um Fagara in Masafer Yatta (Hebron), including a donor-funded caravan provided in response to a previous demolition in Um Fagara. Of note, these communities, along with 12 others in Massafer Yatta, are in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a closed military zone for training, the so-called “Firing Zone 918”, and are at risk of forcible transfer from the area.


Two Palestinians injured in the Access Restricted Areas

Incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire into the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) at land and sea have continued on a daily basis, with 20 such incidents reported during the week, including two resulting in injuries. On 5 December, two Palestinians, ages 19 and 25, were shot and injured when Israeli forces positioned near the fence opened fire towards a group of Palestinians at around 100 meters from the fence, east of Jabaliya. In one incident, on 6 December in the ARA at sea, Israeli naval forces opened fire towards five Palestinian fishing boats containing 12 Palestinian fishermen, reportedly, sailing within two-three nautical miles from the shore, west of Beit Lahia.

Israeli naval forces surrounded the boats and forced the fishermen to take off their clothes and swim towards the Israeli naval boats, where they were placed under arrest. The fishermen’s boats and fishing nets were confiscated.

Also in the ARA, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians reportedly during attempts to infiltrate into Israel in search of work.

Palestinian access to areas in the vicinity of the fence has increased since the ceasefire of 26 August 2014. However, the Israeli authorities have so far not officially announced the boundaries of what they consider a restricted area, thus generating uncertainty and increasing the risks to the civilian population. Field observations suggest that areas within 100 meters from the fence are largely inaccessible, while access to areas several hundred meters beyond this distance is risky. Access to fishing areas in the sea is restricted to six nautical miles from the coast. These access restrictions, imposed by the Israeli military citing security concerns, continue to undermine the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and fishermen and their families.

Serious concerns over suspension of cleaning services at health facilities in Gaza

On 4 December, around 750 employees providing the bulk of cleaning services to 13 hospitals and 56 health centers under the auspices of the Ministry of Health (MoH) suspended their services in protest of not receiving salaries since June 2014. As a result, waste, including medical waste, has piled up in medical centers, increasing the risk of contamination and spread of diseases and forcing the MoH to suspend a range of medical services, including non-urgent surgeries, which have reached around 180 operations, thus far. The MoH is urgently seeking to cover the salaries of some 300 of these staff and raise $100,000 to procure cleaning supplies, as an emergency measure, pending longer-term solutions for covering the outstanding salaries. The total cost for cleaning services in MoH facilities is approximately $2.5 million per year.

The halt in cleaning services exacerbates the situation for an already strained health system, affected by chronic energy problems, a shortage of equipment and medication, and a lack of training opportunities for its staff, stemming, by and large, from years of blockade compounded by the large influx of injuries attributed to the July-August 2014 hostilities. This has resulted in prolonged delays in access to treatment and increasing referrals sought outside of Gaza.

Rafah crossing remained closed in both directions

The Egyptian Authorities continued to close the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza despite appeals from human rights organization and Palestinian political parties to re-open the crossing. According to the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza, there are around 10,000 registered people, including over a thousand medical patients waiting, to exit Gaza.

The Rafah crossing has been closed since 24 October, with the exception of being partially opened for travel into Gaza, on four days (26, 27, 30 November and 1 December) allowing into Gaza some 3,242 out of an estimated 6,000 who are believed to be stranded in Egypt. The crossing was closed following attacks in the northern Egyptian City of Al Arish, reportedly carried out by radical groups based in the Sinai Peninsula and claiming the lives of 30 Egyptian military personnel. This is the longest period of closure of the Rafah crossing recorded since mid-2008.

Four Palestinian children injured by unexploded ordnance (UXO)

During the week, four children and a pregnant woman were injured as a result of the explosion of unexploded ordnance (UXO). In one incident, on 4 December, three children ages 3, 4, and 13 and a pregnant woman were injured when an UXO exploded inside a house. The house was reportedly targeted during the July-August 2014 hostilities. On 5 December, a 17-year-old boy was injured west of Rafah when an UXO detonated while the he was tampering with it. The presence of UXO continues to pose a high risk to civilians, particularly children, following the July-August hostilities. Since the ceasefire of 26 August, four Palestinians have been killed in UXO incidents, including a 4-your-old child, and 15 others injured including eight children.

According to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), children, rubble-removal workers, scrap collectors, construction workers, IDPs returning to their damaged homes and farmers working and/or living in the Access Restricted Areas have been identified as the most exposed groups to UXO hazards.

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