|Over 5,500 olive saplings and trees vandalized by Israeli settlers; 11 incidents of attacks on settlers by Palestinians recorded
Three of the settler incidents during the reporting period involved Israeli forces intervening during settler attacks that evolved into clashes with Palestinians, resulting in six Palestinian injuries (counted in the previous section). On 3 January, a group of 50 armed settlers tried to detain five Palestinian herders next to the settlement of Itamar (Nablus), sparking clashes; Israeli forces who arrived at the site fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the Palestinians, injuring two of them. Also in Nablus, in two separate incidents on 31 December and 10 January, in Burin village, Israeli forces intervened in clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians by opening fire at the Palestinians, injuring four Palestinians, including two children with live ammunition.
During this period, Israeli settlers reportedly uprooted or vandalized a total of 5,554 trees and saplings in four separate incidents. The largest incident took place in Turmus’ayya village (Ramallah) where 5,000 2-3 year-old olive saplings were found uprooted on 1 January. At least 70 Palestinians are estimated to be affected. On the following day, a group of settlers from the nearby ‘Adei ‘Ad settlement outpost threw stones towards at a foreign diplomatic convoy on a field visit to the site of the damaged trees, causing damage to a vehicle. Although Israeli forces arrived at the scene, no arrests were reported.
Apart from its illegality under international law, the settlement outpost of ‘Adei ‘Ad was established in 1998 without authorization from the Israeli authorities and has been a source of systematic violence and harassment of Palestinians living in four adjacent villages. Lack of effective law enforcement by Israeli authorities, including the dismantling of the outpost, has led to the uprooting of over 8,000 trees and saplings since 2010.
On 8 January, around 580 olive and almond trees were cut down by settlers near the villages of Qwawis and Ma’in (Hebron) affecting ten families. Additionally, in Yassuf village (Salfit), in land near the settlement of Kfar Tappuah, 36 olive trees were discovered cut down on 11 January. Overall in 2014, Israeli settlers vandalized around 9,400 trees and saplings, and over 10,600 in 2013.
In the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron City (H2), Israeli settlers opened a hole in the wall of a shop on Ash Shuhada Street. Israeli authorities have prohibited Palestinian access to all of Ash Shuhada Street, consisting of 160 shops, since 2002, as part of a series of military orders marking areas as restricted and affecting a total of 512 shops.
On 30 December, Israeli settlers drove into the village of Ad Dierat (Hebron), hurled Molotov cocktails at a house setting furniture on fire, and wrote anti-Palestinians slogans on the wall of the house before fleeing the scene.
On 4 January, an Israeli security coordinator of the Karyat Arba’ settlement in H2 Hebron, opened fire towards children who he claims were throwing stones towards the settlement. As a result a bystander was injured. In another incident on 10 January, in Ar Rihiya village (Hebron), an Israeli security coordinator of the Haggay settlement opened fire at a group of children who were playing with snow on land near the settlement fence, injuring a 14-year-old boy with live ammunition.
Security coordinators of settlements have been granted policing powers by military orders, such as the detention of suspects and the use of force. While the Israeli military is formally responsible for their arming, training and supervision, they are also accountable to the municipal bodies of the settlement that appoint them and pay their salaries, often creating a conflict of interests.
According to Israeli media reports, 11 Palestinian attacks against settlers and other Israelis were recorded this week in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; two of which resulted in the injury of three Israeli settlers, and another nine incidents in damage to property. One of the most serious incidents occurred on 31 December when a Palestinian stabbed a settler in the back with a screwdriver in the Old City of Jerusalem.
Six of the incidents involved stone throwing, and in three incidents, the throwing of Molotov cocktails, at Israeli settler vehicles, in Jerusalem Ramallah and Bethlehem, resulting in damage to vehicles. In one incident on 12 January stone throwing at a vehicle near Sinjil resulted in injury to two Israeli settler women. Two incidents (not included in the count) of stone throwing at the light train segment in Shu’fat were also reported.