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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
5 August 2013

Key issues

A total of 38 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

Around 104,630 Palestinians entered East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank on the fourth Friday of Ramadan.

In Gaza, the flow of fuel through the tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border has returned to pre-crisis levels, but the transfer of construction materials remains severely reduced.


Increase in injuries

This week, the number of Palestinian injuries recorded during clashes with Israeli forces more than doubled compared to the weekly average in the past three weeks (38 vs. 17).

A total of 31 Palestinians, including seven children, were injured in clashes with Israeli forces during two search-and-arrest operations carried out by Israeli forces in Qalqiliya city and Jenin refugee camp. However, the number of such operations during the week remained well below the weekly average recorded since the beginning of the year (37 vs. 77).

In one incident on 5 August, Israeli policemen dressed in civilian clothes reportedly physically assaulted and injured two Palestinian children after the latter attempted to set fire to an Israeli vehicle in Ath Thuri in East Jerusalem. Subsequently, clashes erupted between Palestinians and the policemen, which led to the injury of two Israeli policemen with stones.

Settler-related incidents remain low

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

On 31 July, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured an elderly Palestinian farmer (aged 80) with batons near Beitillu village in an attempt to force him to leave the area. In a similar incident, a settler attacked a Palestinian shepherd and his sheep in ‘Aqraba village (Tubas), killing three sheep with a tractor. In addition on 31 July, Palestinians threw stones at a number of Israeli buses traveling near Neve Ya’akov settlement (East Jerusalem), injuring two Israelis.

Also this week, Israeli settlers reportedly cut down 25 Palestinian-owned date trees and vandalized around 1.5 tonnes of dates belonging to the community of Khirbet Tell al Himmeh in Tubas. In addition, in the Nablus governorate, Israeli settlers vandalized equipment used by workers implementing a USAID-funded project to facilitate the provision of water to the villages of ‘Asira al Qibliya, Madama and ‘Urif. This is the fourth attack targeting the project in a month.

In one incident on 31 July, clashes took place between Palestinians and a group of Israeli settlers after the former tried to set fire to land cultivated by Israeli settlers on An Nabi Saleh village’s land (Ramallah). During the clashes, Israeli settlers fired live ammunition in the air after which Israeli forces arrived at the scene. Minor clashes erupted between the Palestinians and Israeli forces. No injuries or damage were reported.

Lull in demolitions during Ramadan continues

The lull in demolitions in Area C and East Jerusalem since the beginning of Ramadan (10 July) has continued for the fourth consecutive week. However this week, the Israeli High Court ruled that 20 Palestinian-owned storage structures near Shu’fat checkpoint (which controls access to Shu’fat refugee camp in East Jerusalem) are to be demolished to expand the checkpoint soon after ‘Eid al Fitr (Muslim feast). In addition, demolition and stop-work orders were issued against at least eight Palestinian-owned structures in Tubas and Hebron governorates and in East Jerusalem.

Ramadan: Thousands accessed East Jerusalem on the fourth Friday of Ramadan

According to the Israeli authorities, roughly 104,630 Palestinians crossed the four authorized checkpoints into East Jerusalem from the remainder of the West Bank on the fourth Friday of Ramadan (2 August). Although this is a slight decline compared to the estimated 114,400 people who crossed last week, access was reportedly smooth and proceeded without incident. However, slightly more people crossed the checkpoints for Laylat Al Qadr (Night of Destiny) prayers on 28 July (estimated at 112,150).

The criteria for accessing East Jerusalem throughout Ramadan remained the same: 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.


Relative calm continues

Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip and beyond six nautical miles (NM) from the shore continue. In one incident on 30 July, Israeli forces fired warning shots in the air at a Palestinian man while he was reportedly attempting to illegally cross the fence into Israel; the man was later detained. Earlier on the same day, Palestinian armed groups fired a rocket from Gaza towards southern Israel, which landed in an open area in Israel. No injuries or damage were reported.

Tunnel update: transfer of construction materials remains severely reduced

As in the previous week, on average, around 800,000 liters of diesel and 100,000 liters of petrol continue to enter through the tunnels 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). The 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.

In addition, the entry of construction materials through the tunnels continued, with an average of 1,200 tonnes of cement and 1,000 tonnes of aggregates transferred into Gaza each day, still significantly lower than the 7,500 tonnes of construction materials which entered each day prices of such materials in the local market have continued to decline and remain between 20 and 30 per cent above the prices earlier in the year. The import of basic construction materials through Kerem Shalom, the official crossing with Israel, remains severely restricted.

Rafah Crossing still partially operating

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). As in recent weeks, only foreign nationals, authorized Palestinians holding dual nationalities and a limited number of Palestinians referred officially for medical treatment abroad passengers are allowed to cross. On average this week, at least 230 people crossed from the Gaza Strip to Egypt and around 300 from Egypt to the Gaza Strip per day, just under half of the average number of people crossing per day (approximately 1400) in previous months. The crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians due to the long-standing severe restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via the Erez Crossing. Since the beginning of July, Egyptian authorities have not been allowing any of the visits of international delegations to Gaza through Egypt and as well only allowing a reduced number of Palestinians to cross into Egypt.

According to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza, the reduction of Rafah crossing operations affected the flow of medical supplies into Gaza, which may lead to an increase in drug shortages. Approximately 30 per cent of the medical supplies transferred to Gaza via Rafah Crossing are in-kind donations from other countries and international groups.

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