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

Key issues

West Bank: demolitions of Palestinian homes and livelihood structures increased this week, leading to the displacement of around 50 people and affecting more than 150 others.

Gaza: In response to firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups Israeli authorities conducted air strikes in Gaza and temporarily closed Kerem Shalom goods crossing.


Significant decline in clashes and injuries

This week saw a significant decline in clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces, resulting in a reduction in the number of Palestinians injured as compared to previous weeks. During the week, 18 Palestinians were injured during four separate demonstrations: in Beit Ummar (Hebron) and Al Khader (Bethlehem) villages held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike; in Hebron city against the longstanding closure of the southern entrance to the city, next to Haggay settlement; and in Silwad village (Ramallah) in protest at settler violence.

In addition, on 25 April, eight school children (aged between 6 and 16) were injured as a result of tear gas inhalation as they were leaving schools in clashes with Israeli forces during a search–and-arrest operation in Abu Dis town (Jerusalem). Another child (15 years) was shot and injured by Israeli forces when he entered the area between the Barrier and the Green Line near Jalbun village (Jenin).

Settler-related violence: 17 Palestinians injured and 130 trees and ten vehicles vandalized

During the week, OCHA documented 13 incidents involving Palestinians, settlers and other Israeli civilians, which resulted in injuries or property damage. Overall, 17 Palestinians and two Israelis were injured and around 130 Palestinian-owned trees and saplings were vandalized.

Four of the incidents resulting in injuries occurred in the context of settler and other Israeli activities in Palestinian cities. In Nablus, clashes took place between Palestinians and Israelis, when the latter entered the city to visit the Joseph tomb site (24 April) without prior coordination, according to the Palestinian Authority; Israeli forces intervened in the incident, firing tear gas canisters which resulted in the injury of five Palestinians. In three separate incidents, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured three men and two children in the old city of Hebron and two other men in Beit Furik in Nablus. Within the context of the Jewish Lag Ba’omer celebrations, which traditionally involves the lighting of fires, Israeli settlers set fire in parts of East Jerusalem. On 27 April, nine UN vehicles were damaged in Jabal Al Mukabbir after such a fire was lit adjacent to a UN compound and the flames crossed into the compound. Also, in two separate incidents on 28 April, a car and a private garden were damaged and three Palestinians were treated for smoke inhalation in Sheikh Jarrah and an agricultural field belonging to the Orthodox Church in Silwan was damaged.

In three other incidents, Palestinian farmers reported that settlers cut down or uprooted around 90 Palestinian-owned olive trees in Kafr Qaddum in Qaliqiliya (26 April) and 38 olive saplings and almond trees in Halhul in Hebron (on 23 and 28 April). In an additional incident on 23 April, Israeli settlers entered Deir Jrir village in Ramallah and set fire to ten Palestinian vehicles.

Also this week, on 24 April, the Israeli authorities evacuated two Israeli settler families from the “Beit Ezra building” in the old city of Hebron following a court order. The Israeli army also demolished two structures in Oz Zion settlement outpost near Beit El settlement (Ramallah) on 26 April.

Significant increase in demolitions; around 50 people displaced

During the week, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of 33 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem on grounds that the structures lack Israeli-issued building permits. This represents a significant increase in the number of structures demolished compared to the previous week. This week’s demolitions displaced around 50 people, including around 30 children, and affected over 150 other people.

More than one-third of the targeted structures were residential, including four in the At Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, seven structures in different communities in the northern Jordan Valley (Hammamat el Maleh el Meitah, Ein el Hilwah and Khirbet Yarza), and one (under construction) in Al ‘Arrub camp in Hebron. The remaining structures included, among others, five animal shelters, four agricultural and storage sheds, two kitchens, and a water cistern (in Khallet al Loza in Hebron). During the latter demolition, Israeli forces also uprooted 60 Palestinian-owned olive trees on grounds that the land on which the trees were planted is designated as “state land”; Palestinians claim ownership over the land.

According to the Tubas governorate, between 29 and 30 April, around 100 families in the northern Jordan Valley communities were forced to leave their homes for varying periods of time to make way for Israeli military training exercises. The families had been issued with evacuation orders a few days prior to the exercise. The Israeli military has stated that the residents of these communities are “trespassers”, who are removed from the area for their own safety. In addition, on 25 April, the Israeli authorities uprooted some 150 olive trees owned by Palestinians in an area next to ‘Arraba village (Jenin) on grounds that the land is designated as “state land”.


Increasing tension following rocket firing and airstrikes

A series of incidents during the week have increased tensions in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel. On 28 April, Palestinian armed groups fired a number of projectiles towards southern Israel; no injuries or damage to property was reported. In response, Israeli air forces launched two air strikes, targeting military training sites in Khan Younis and Rafah cities; a member of a Palestinian armed group was reportedly injured.

On 26 April, a 16 year-old Palestinian boy was also injured by Israeli forces near the fence between Gaza and Israel after a group of Palestinian youths threw stones at soldiers patrolling along the fence. A number of additional incidents in the access restricted area (ARA) near the fence were reported this week, during which Israeli forces detained three civilians, including a child, who attempted to cross illegally into Israel (in one incident on 27 April); and conducted at least two land leveling operations inside the Gaza Strip. In the context of restrictions on access to fishing areas beyond 3 nautical miles from the shore, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire towards fishermen on a number of occasions; no injuries were reported but one boat was damaged.

Closure of goods’ crossing in response to rocket firing; over 500 permits for Christian Gazans issued to cross Erez

On 28 and 29 April, in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups, the Israeli authorities closed again the Kerem Shalom crossing, the only functional crossing for goods to the Gaza Strip. Since 27 February 2013, the Kerem Shalom crossing has been closed for 13 days following rocket firing; including weekends and Israeli holydays, the cumulative period of closures reached 36 out of 63 days. These repeated closures have resulted in intermittent shortages of certain fresh food items, as well as of cooking gas.

Also, further restrictions were imposed at the Erez passenger crossing during these days restricting movement of Palestinians to urgent humanitarian cases holding permits only; businessmen, Palestinian staff working in NGOs and people visiting families in the West Bank were not allowed to cross. Despite these restrictions, the Israeli authorities issued around 540 permits for Palestinian Christians in the Gaza Strip to cross into the West Bank and Israel, in the context of the Orthodox Easter celebrations.

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