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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
20 October 2014

Key issues
Israeli forces kill a 13-year-old child the in Ramallah governorate
Protests and clashes in the context of access restrictions to Al Aqsa mosque
Five Palestinians injured in Gaza while ceasefire continues to hold
First shipment of basic construction materials enters Gaza for private sector

Israeli forces kill a 13-year-old child in Ramallah governorate

During the week, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian child and injured 42 others, including 10 children and two women. This brings the total number of Palestinians fatalities by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2014 to 44, of whom 11 were children, compared to 26 fatalities, including four children in the whole of 2013. During the week, six members of Israeli forces were also injured.

On 16 October, Israeli forces shot with live ammunition and killed a 13-year-old child in the village of Beit Liqya (Ramallah). The circumstances of the killing remain uncertain. Local community sources and eyewitnesses held that the boy was shot on his way back from the village’s playground and was not partaking in clashes which involved stone throwing at Israeli forces, and which took place at that time around 150 meters away from the site of the incident. According to Israeli army sources, quoted by Israeli media, the fatal shooting was directed at a group of Palestinians who hurled Molotov cocktails at military vehicles in the village. The Israeli Military Police reportedly opened an investigation into this case.

Half of the Palestinian injuries this week (21) and five of the Israeli forces’ injuries were sustained in the context of protests against continuing access restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on Palestinians’ access to Al Aqsa Mosque and the increased entry of settlers and other Israeli groups to the Mosque’s compound. The largest protests resulting in clashes took place in Issawiya, Shu’fat Refugee Camp, Qalandiya, the Old City of Jerusalem (Jerusalem) and in Bi’lin and Betuniya checkpoint (Ramallah). During the clashes, protestors threw stones, and in some cases, reportedly, Molotov cocktails and fireworks at Israeli forces.

On five occasions during the reporting period, Israeli authorities facilitated the entry of, and provided protection to Israeli settlers and other Israeli groups into Al Aqsa Mosque’s compound, two of which coincided with the prohibition on entry of all Palestinians below 50 years with the exception of Al Waqf students and staff, to the compound until noon prayers. The frequency of Israeli entry into the mosque compound has been on the rise since early 2013, resulting in increasing tensions and confrontations.

Also this week, three Palestinian children, aged 6, 9, and 10, were injured on 14 October, due to the detonation of an unexploded sound bomb, near their house, in an area where clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces have taken place, in Beit Ummar (Hebron).

On 14 October, Israeli authorities leveled two out of five dunums of Palestinian-owned land north of the village of Awarta (Nablus), adjacent to the Israeli military base installed near the Huwwara checkpoint, pursuant to requisition orders previously issued by the Israeli Civil Administration and valid until 2016. The two dunums of land were not cultivated.

Settlers set fire to mosque in Nablus

At least five settler-related incidents resulting in injury of Palestinians or damage to their property took place during the week, compared to a weekly average of six in 2014.

On 14 October, Israeli settlers threw a fire bomb through the window of a mosque in the village of Aqraba (Nablus) setting the mosque on fire and damaging completely the praying rooms. Anti-Palestinian graffiti was sprayed on the outside walls of the mosque indicating that the perpetrators are from the settlement of Tappuah. Reportedly, the Israeli police launched an investigation into the incident. In July 2014 the basement of a residential building located near the mosque was set on fire. Since the beginning of 2014 there have been at least two settler attacks on mosques across the West Bank, compared to three in 2013.

A number of incidents recorded during the week affected Palestinian farmers involved in the olive harvest, which officially began on 3 October 2014. Near the village of Jab’a (Bethlehem) 21 Palestinian owned olive trees were cut down and damaged, reportedly by Israeli settlers from the Bat ‘Ayin settlement. This brings the number of trees vandalized by settlers so far in 2014 to 7,500 (compared to 9,452 in the equivalent period of 2013) and to approximately 49,000 since 2009.

In another related incident, on 16 October, three masked individuals, reportedly settlers from Nahli’el settlement in Ramallah, damaged a Palestinian-owned vehicle while the owners were harvesting the olives in their land located 600 meters from the settlement. In addition, four incidents of intimidation of Palestinians engaged in harvesting by settlers were reported in Al ‘Iqab (Bethlehem), Beitin (Ramallah) and Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), as well as one attempt of theft of olives in Kafr Laqif village (Qalqiliya).

In addition (not included in the count), during the reporting period, two Palestinian girls, five and six-years-old, were seriously injured in a hit and run incident by a settler vehicle travelling on Road 60, near the village of Sinjil (Ramallah); one of the girls died later of her wounds. The girls were reportedly standing on the edge of the road on their way to their homes after they were dropped off by a kindergarten bus. According to Israeli media reports, the perpetrator turned himself in to Israeli police and reported that he did not stop following the incident in fear for his life. Since the beginning of the year 14 similar incidents were reported, the majority of which occurred in the Hebron governorate.

According to Israeli media sources, during the week, there were nine incidents of stone throwing by Palestinians at Israeli settlers, of which two resulted in injury to two settlers and seven resulting in damage to their vehicles and to one house. In addition, four incidents of stone throwing, by Palestinians, at the light rail in Shu’fat (East Jerusalem) were reported.

Concerns over further settlement expansion in the Silwan area of East Jerusalem

During the night of 19 October, tens of Israeli settlers accompanied by Israeli forces took control of two residential buildings comprised of 10 apartments and a 700m2 plot of land in the heart of the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, in East Jerusalem. The houses were purchased by the Ateret Cohanim settler organization. In a similar context El’ad organization, on 30 September, had taken over 25 apartments in the same area.

Silwan has a population of some 55,000 Palestinians and is immediately adjacent to the Old City of Jerusalem. Due to its strategic and historical significance, it has repeatedly been the target of settlement activities by the Israeli government, as well as by religious settler organizations with government support. According to local sources, since the late 1980’s, Israeli settlers have taken over 19 buildings in Silwan occupied by 350 settlers. Furthermore, the City of David settlement tourist center is located at the entrance of Silwan, across from which, a plan promoted by El’ad for the construction of a visitors’ centre (Kedem center) was approved by the District Planning Committee in February 2014.

Settlement activity in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem in recent years has resulted in restrictions on Palestinian public space, residential growth and freedom of movement, along with increased friction and violence, loss of property and the eviction of the long-term Palestinian residents.

Eight structures demolished due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits

During the reporting period, Israeli authorities demolished eight structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in addition to two self-demolitions. As a result 21 Palestinians, including 14 children were displaced and 78 were otherwise affected.

On 18 October, two families were forced to self-demolish a house and an extension of another (two rooms) in Ras al ‘Amud in East Jerusalem to avoid incurring higher costs if the houses were to be demolished by Israeli authorities. In both cases the families had received demolition orders due to the lack of Israeli issued building permits.

In Area C, on 20 October, the Israeli Civil Administration (ICA) demolished a total of eight structures in Palestinian communities in the Jericho area for lack of Israeli-issued building permits, including an animal barrack in Fasayil al Wusta; an agricultural structure and an uninhabited residential structure in Al Jiftlik Abu al ‘Ajaj; two houses and one animal barrack in Al Jiftlik ash Shuneh; and an agricultural structure in Al Jiftlik Gharb al Muthalath. A commercial structure (car wash) was also demolished in the town of Al Khadr (Bethlehem).

Israeli forces evicted nine Palestinian families from the herding community of Khirbet Ras al Ahmar in the northern Jordan Valley, from 12:00pm until 6:00am the next day, to make way for Israeli military training. The evicted families of 51 members, including 20 children, had no alternative shelter and stayed outdoors under the rain along with their cattle. The families were also given written orders to evacuate the area on 21 October. Of note, Israeli authorities had given similar orders to families from the same community during the previous reporting period. Additionally, on 15 and 20 October, on similar grounds, Israeli forces verbally ordered two Palestinian families to vacate their residence in ‘Ibziq (Tubas).

Additionally, four demolition and stop-work orders were delivered on 20 October against four agricultural structures and a water cistern in the village of Haris (Salfit) near the settlement of Barkan for lack of Israeli-issued building permits. The ten families affected were given until 9 November to file objections in connection to the orders.


Five Palestinians injured in Gaza while ceasefire continues to hold

The ceasefire agreed on 26 August, largely continues to hold, with no reported rocket or airstrikes coming into or emanating from the Gaza Strip. However, several incidents involving the opening of fire by Israeli forces took place in the context of access restrictions at sea.

On at least four occasions, during the reporting period, Israeli forces opened fire towards fishing boats sailing near the Israeli-declared 6-NauticalMile (NM) fishing limit, forcing them ashore. In one incident on 16 October, Israeli naval forces opened fire at a fishing boat reportedly sailing at 5 NM, injuring five fishermen and severely damaging one boat. Access restrictions at land and sea continue to undermine the agricultural sector in Gaza, which is the primary source of income for thousands of farmers and fishermen and their families.

Shortages of electricity and fuel further undermine provision of basic services

Gaza’s sole power plant is not in operation for the seventh consecutive week following its repair, due to the lack of funding to purchase fuel, thus resulting in power cuts of up to 18 hours per day and adversely impacting the provision of basic services in Gaza including health, water and sanitation. Meanwhile, securing emergency fuel distributions to operate backup electricity generators is becoming increasingly difficult due to the depletion of donor emergency stock and lack of funds. According to the health and WASH clusters, current emergency fuel reserves to operate generators at hospitals and water facilities will last for seven to ten days if not replenished.

Ongoing assessment estimates the number of damaged homes at over 100,000

The housing assessment on damages incurred during the July-August hostilities, launched in mid-September by UNRWA, UNDP and the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MoPWH), continues. Current estimates indicate that over 100,000 homes were damaged affecting over 600,000 Palestinians, or one third of the population of Gaza. This is more than double the initial estimates. Furthermore, the Shelter Cluster estimates that approximately 20,000 housing units were totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable. As of 18 October, 18 UNRWA school facilities continued to serve as collective shelters, housing some 42,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs). The Ministry of Social Affairs in Gaza estimates that another 47,000 IDPs are residing with host families. Transitional shelter options being sought by the Palestinian government with support of the international community include rental assistance; refurbishment of buildings under construction to create new rental units; and prefabricated housing units in certain areas – either installed on the site of the original home, or in small temporary displacement sites of up to 50 units. There is an urgent need to ensure that all shelters have adequate weather-proofing in preparation for anticipated storms in the coming months.

First consignment of building materials for private sector entered Gaza

On 14 October, the first shipment of basic construction materials (around 2,000 tons) for the private sector, coordinated by the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM), was allowed to Additionally, four demolition and stop-work orders were delivered on 20 October against four agricultural structures and a water cistern in the village of Haris (Salfit) near the settlement of Barkan for lack of Israeli-issued building permits. The ten families affected were given until 9 November to file objections in connection to the orders. enter Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Basic construction materials are defined by the Israel authorities as “dual use items” and their import has been severely restricted since the imposition of the blockade in 2007. The GRM is a temporary agreement brokered by the UN between the Israeli authorities and the Government of Palestine (GoP), to allow the latter to lead the reconstruction of housing and infrastructure damaged and destroyed during the latest round of hostilities, while addressing Israeli security concerns. Under the GRM, a number of vendors approved by the GoP, are authorized to import “dual use items” and sell them to individuals or to contractors for specific works recorded in a central database managed by the Palestinian Ministry of Civil Affairs. The Ministry of National Economy in Gaza estimates that to cope with the current construction caseload, around 3,000-4,000 truckloads of cement aggregates and iron bars need to be entered per-day.

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