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

Key issues

Settler-related incidents: Four Israelis and one Palestinian injured and at least 100 olive trees vandalized.

Around 114,400 Palestinians accessed East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank on the third Friday of Ramadan.

Two Palestinians injured by Israeli forces near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip.


Continuing low level of clashes and injuries

As in previous weeks, a relatively low level of confrontations between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces was recorded during the reporting period.

Six Palestinians were injured this week in clashes that erupted during three search-and-arrest operations carried out by Israeli forces in Nablus City and Jenin refugee camp. The overall number of such operations during the week, however, remained well below the weekly average recorded since the beginning of the year (50 vs. 80). In addition, two Palestinians, one international activist and one Israeli soldier were injured in two weekly demonstrations against the construction of the Barrier in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages in Ramallah.

Clashes also took place near Migdal Oz settlement (Bethlehem), when Israeli forces dismantled a tent erected by Palestinian and international activists that had been set up in protest at the expansion of the nearby Gush Etzion settlement bloc; no casualties were reported. This is the third time that this tent was erected by Palestinian activists and dismantled by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2013.

Four Israelis and one Palestinian injured and at least 100 olive trees vandalized

During the reporting period, OCHA recorded four incidents involving Israeli settlers that led to injury or property damage, half the weekly average of such incidents so far in 2013 (8).

On 28 July, Israeli settlers physically assaulted a Palestinian family while passing near the Al Ibrahimi Mosque in the old city of Hebron and injured a pregnant Palestinian woman. In East Jerusalem, settlers vandalized 12 Palestinian vehicles in the Ash Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood on 25 July. Owing to its strategic location, Israeli settler groups have in recent years made persistent efforts to take over land and property in Sheikh Jarrah in order to establish new settlements in the area. In another incident on 25 July, Palestinians threw stones at a number of Israeli buses traveling near the Old City of East Jerusalem, injuring four Israelis.

In an incident resulting in damage to property on 25 July, Israeli settlers set fire to approximately 100 olive trees belonging to Mikhmas village (Ramallah), bringing the total number of Palestinian trees damaged by Israeli settlers this year to over 7,200. This is almost 20 per cent per cent higher than the figure for the equivalent period in 2012.

Lull in demolitions continues

The lull in demolitions in Area C and East Jerusalem continued for the third consecutive week; there has, in previous years, been a similar lull in demolitions during the holy month of Ramadan. However during the reporting period, a family was forced to partially demolish a residential structure built on the top of its house in the Old City of East Jerusalem, after they received a demolition order. In addition, the Israeli authorities issued a number of demolition and stop work orders in Area C, including for a house under construction in Idhna village (Hebron), and an animal shelter in An Nabi Samuel village (Jerusalem).

Ramadan: High number of Palestinians from the rest of the West Bank accessing East Jerusalem

Preliminary figures obtained from the Israeli authorities indicated that approximately 114,400 Palestinians crossed the four authorized checkpoints into East Jerusalem from the remainder of the West Bank on the third Friday of the holy month of Ramadan (26 July). Although this is a slight decline compared to 138,600 people who crossed last week, access was reportedly smooth and proceeded without incident.

As reported last week, women and girls of all ages, men above 40 and boys below 12 have been allowed to pass through the checkpoints on Friday without permits, while those above 60 and under 12 were also allowed during the rest of the week, except on Saturdays. West Bank ID holders not included in these age categories are able to apply for special permits to attend the Friday prayers or for family visits. Palestinians from the Gaza Strip continued to be denied access.


Two injured near the fence

The overall situation remains relatively calm with no reports of Palestinian rockets or Israeli air strikes. However, this week, Israeli forces opened fire at two Palestinian men in two separate incidents on 25 and 27 July while they were reportedly approximately 300 meters from the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip; both men sustained injuries. These are the first injuries recorded in two months in context of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access near the fence.

Similar restrictions continue to be imposed on fishing areas beyond 6 nautical miles (NM) from the shore. In this context, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen on at least one occasion to force them ashore, causing damage to one boat. Access restrictions continue to undermine the fishing sector in Gaza, which is the primary source of income for approximately 3,500 fishermen and their families.

Tunnels update: slight increase in the entry of essential materials via tunnels

Local sources in Gaza indicated that increasing amounts of fuel were transferred through the tunnels this week; on average, around 800,000 liters of diesel and 100,000 liters of petrol entered each day, almost the same quantities that entered before the Egyptian measures against tunnels began more than a month ago. The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) continues operating three of four turbines (fuelled by diesel), producing around two-thirds of its full capacity (80 out of 120 megawatts). Use of diesel is currently controlled by the local authorities in order to ensure sufficient supplies to support basic services, including hospitals (which rely on fuel to run backup generators due to the shortage of electricity) and water and wastewater systems. In recent years, the tunnels have become the primary entry point for transfer of fuel from Egypt which is cheaper than fuel from Israel.

There has been also a slight increase in the entry of construction materials through the tunnels this week: on average, 1,200 tonnes of cement and 1,000 tonnes of aggregates were transferred into Gaza each day. Prices of such materials at the local market have thus continued to decline but remain between 20 and 30 per cent above the prices earlier in the year. Import of basic construction materials through the official crossing with Israel remains severely restricted.

Rafah Crossing still partially open

The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing has remained operational for four hours per day (for six days per week), compared to the previous standard of nine hours per day (for seven days per week). Travel of passengers continues to be restricted to foreign nationals, authorized Palestinians holding dual nationalities and a limited number of Palestinians referred officially for medical treatment abroad. On average, at least 240 people have crossed from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and around 420 others have crossed from Egypt to the Gaza Strip per day since 10 July, just under half of the average number of people crossing per day (approximately

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