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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
15 January 2015



Key issues
Israeli forces injured 19 children in clashes across the West Bank.
34 structures demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem due to lack of Israeli-issued permits.
Israeli settlers damaged over 5,500 Palestinian-owned olive trees and saplings.
One civilian killed by Egyptian forces and three others injured by Israeli forces in Gaza.
Four children and one man die due to electricity-related incidents and winter storm.


WEST BANK
Israeli forces injured 42 Palestinians including 19 children

During the two week reporting period, Israeli forces injured 42 Palestinians during clashes in various contexts across the West Bank. Forty-five percent of the injuries recorded (19 out of 42) were children, and 14 out of the total were injured by live ammunition. The weekly average of injuries during this period (21) is the lowest recorded since mid-September 2014.

Of the child injuries, five Palestinian boys including a 13, 14 and 15 year-old were shot and injured with live ammunition, in three separate incidents involving stone throwing by Palestinian youths at Israeli checkpoints and patrols, near the Beituniya checkpoint, at the entrance of Al Jalazone Refugee Camp (Ramallah) and at entrance to ‘Anata village (Jerusalem).

Another serious clash took place on 11 January during a search-and-arrest operation south of Yatta (Hebron), which resulted in the injury of five Palestinians, including a six-month old infant from severe tear gas inhalation, when a tear gas canister fired by Israeli forces landed in their house.

In the whole of 2014, 1,187 Palestinian children were injured by Israeli forces across the West Bank, almost the same as in 2013. However, there is a notable decline in the proportion of child injuries out of the total, from 32 per cent in 2013, to 20 percent in 2014, possibly attributable to a higher participation of adults in demonstrations during 2014.




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.




34 structures demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem

During the reporting period, Israeli authorities demolished 27 Palestinian structures in Area C of the West Bank and five in East Jerusalem in addition to two self-demolition incidents, due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits.

Eighteen of these structures, including eight residential structures, eight animal shelters and two external kitchens, were demolished on 1 January in the northern Jordan Valley herding community of ‘Ein Hilwan- Um al Jmal. Five families, consistingof 29 people, including 17 children, have been displaced as a result. At least seven of the structures demolished were provided by humanitarian organizations in response to a previous large-scale demolition, which took place on 31 January 2014, affecting 36 structures. While Israeli officials indicated that the demolitions were carried out due to the lack of building permits, according to community representatives, no demolition orders have been received prior to this incident. ‘Ein Hilwa – Um al Jmal is a small herding community, with a permanent population of approximately eighty people, and some additional thirty people residing there on a seasonal basis. It is located entirely in Area C, on the margins of an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a closed zone for military training (“firing zone”). As such, the community is not connected to water or electricity networks and suffers from restrictions on access to their traditional grazing areas, on which they depend for their livelihoods.

On 1 January, in the community of Fagarah in Masafer Yatta (Hebron); also located in an Israeli declared closed military zone, Israeli authorities demolished a tent used for storage affecting a family of 14, including 8 children.

Approximately 18 per cent of the West Bank has been designated by the Israeli authorities as “firing zones”. There are over 18,000 Palestinians living in small herding communities located inside or adjacent to “firing zones”. They suffer from severe access restrictions, recurrent demolitions and incidents of forced displacement, and maintain high levels of humanitarian need.

On 30 December, Israeli authorities demolished five structures, including four uninhabited residential structures, in the neighbourhood of Jabal Al Mukabbir in East Jerusalem, and forced one family to self-demolish their home in order to avoid incurring higher costs if the structure were to be demolished by the Israeli authorities. On similar grounds, a family from the neighbourhood of Sur Bahir in East Jerusalem was forced to self-demolish a residential structure on 2 January. A total of five people, including three children, were affected.

Seven of the structures, including a water cistern and a livelihood structure which was provided through humanitarian assistance in response to a previous demolition, were demolished on 5 January in Hebron City and the village of Idhna, (Hebron). Another two commercial structures were demolished in Husan (Bethlehem). In total, 58 Palestinians were affected.

Israeli forces delivered eviction orders against at least 14 registered refugee families from Al Hathroura Bedouin community near Wadi al Qilt area with a 48-hour notice, for reportedly, illegal presence in the area. As a result, 69 Palestinians including 27 children are affected. Families of this community had received donor-funded humanitarian assistance in the form of caravans two weeks earlier.




GAZA STRIP


One civilian killed by Egyptian forces and three others injured by Israeli forces

On 2 January, Egyptian border troops opened fire towards a group of Palestinian children east of Rafah city, while they were reportedly attempting to infiltrate into Egypt, injuring a 17 year-old, who subsequently died of his wounds, and arresting another three.

Incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire into the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea have continued on a daily basis, with at least 32 such incidents reported during the two week reporting period, leading to the injury of three Palestinians civilians.

In one incident on 2 January, Israeli forces positioned along Gaza’s perimeter fence east of Jabalia, opened fire towards a group of Palestinians who threw stones at them, injuring two 19-year-old youths. In another two incidents, on 8 and 11 January, Israeli forces shot and injured two Palestinian civilians who were reportedly attempting to infiltrate into Israel, and later detained them.

Attempts to infiltrate into both Israel and Egypt have reportedly been on the rise for the past few months. The increase can be attributed to deterioration in the living conditions after the July-August 2014 hostilities, compounded by the inability of the bulk of the population to leave Gaza via the official crossings, which have been either closed for long periods (Rafah) or severely restricted (Erez).

In at least nine incidents, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats reportedly sailing within the Israeli declared six-Nautical-Mile (NM) fishing limit, forcing them ashore. On 30 December, the Israeli navy fired warning shots at Palestinian fishing boats west of Rafah City. According to eyewitnesses, Israeli naval forces forced three fishermen on board to swim towards the navy boat, before detaining them and confiscating their boat. The fishermen were released a few hours later without their boat. In another incident on 3 January the Israeli navy opened fire at Palestinian boats west of Rafah, injuring one Palestinian fisherman and setting one boat on fire.

Winter storm reportedly claimed the lives of two infants and a fisherman

A winter storm that struck the region between 6 and 9 January resulted in at least three deaths and nine injuries, in addition to the temporary displacement of hundreds due to flooding.

The fatalities include two infants (one-year-old and four-month old) who died on 9 and 10 January from hypothermia, and a fisherman who died on 10 January from hypothermia while fishing near the shore. The Palestinian Civil Defense reported that at least nine people were injured, during the storm, as a result of using unsafe heating and lighting appliances and hundreds were evacuated due to flooding, leakage and partial collapse of their houses, including some 150 people who took refuge in UNRWA Collective Centers. Over 80 rescue missions were carried out in the Gaza Strip including 50 evacuation missions in Rafah and Khan Younis, during the winter storm.

The lack of fuel and electricity continue to be of major concern, curtailing the ability of service providers to respond to emergencies, especially municipalities and ministries that are already facing insufficient funding and a shortage of adequate equipment, including spare parts.

Living conditions of people in Temporary Displacement Sites (TDSs) and in damaged houses/ makeshift shelters continue to be of major concern during this winter season. Roofs leakage was reported in some TDSs in Khuza’a shelters, especially in the extensions made by IDPs to their caravans.

Shortage of electricity continues

The longstanding shortage of electricity, combined with the high prices of fuel and shortage of cooking gas and the harsh weather conditions, have forced many people to revert to unsafe methods for lighting and heating, which have led to casualties.
On 3 January, two children, a three and a four year old died and their father was injured, when a fire broke out in their home in the Shati Refugee Camp.
Initial investigations suggest that the fire was caused by a candle. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights 26 people, including 21 children, have died in electricity shortage related incidents since 2010.
The Gaza Power Plant (GPP) resumed operation of one turbine on 4 January, and on 6 January operated the second turbine following the receipt of further fuel shipments. The Palestinian Energy Authority (PEA) stated that the available electricity will not be sufficient to resume the 8 hours cycle due to increased demands as a result of the cold weather and the limited fuel, hence power outages reached up to 18 hours a day on average. Previously, the GPP was forced to shut down on 28 December, due to the lack funds to purchase fuel.
The recent deterioration in the financial situation of the GPP is due to two key factors. First, a tax exemption that was granted in the past by the Palestinian Ministry of Finance to the GPP regarding fuel purchases has recently expired, significantly increasing the cost of fuel. Second, due to the further deterioration in the economic situation of the population since the summer’s hostilities, the collection of revenues for electricity consumption by households has decreased sharply.




Rafah crossing remained closed in both directions

The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza remained closed for the entire two weeks of the reporting period. According to the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza, there are around 17,000 registered people, including medical patients, waiting to exit Gaza, in addition to an estimated 37,000 others who wish to exit Gaza, including to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.

The Rafah crossing has been mainly closed since 24 October 2014, following an attack in the Sinai during which 30 Egyptian soldiers were killed. However, the crossing was exceptionally partially opened for travel into Gaza between 26 November and 1 December, and in both directions between 21 and 23 December. During that time, according to the Director of Border Crossings in Gaza, some 1,516 people, mainly patients and students, left Gaza and a total of 4,078 returned.


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