Significant decline in clashes and injuries; one Palestinian killed and another dies of prior wounds
During clashes that erupted at the entrance of Al Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron on 12 March, Israeli forces shot and killed a 22 year-old Palestinian man and injured another seven. An IDF spokesperson stated that the soldiers, fearing that their lives were at risk, fired live ammunition in response to intensive stone throwing by residents of the camp. According to the same source, the soldiers entered the camp after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the main road next to the camp. Also this week on 15 March, a 32 year-old Palestinian died of wounds he had sustained on 22 February at the entrance of Ar Ram town (north of East Jerusalem) in a protest held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners. Upon the news of his death, a clash ensued in the town, resulting in the injury of one Palestinian on 15 March.
These incidents bring the total number of Palestinian civilians killed since the beginning of 2013 by Israeli forces to seven. At least five of these cases have triggered investigations by IDF Military Police. This week, a military court convicted a soldier who shot and killed a Palestinian worker attempting to cross into Israel without a permit on 12 January 2013, of negligent homicide.
The week saw a further decline in the number and intensity of protests held in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strike. A total of three Palestinians (one of whom was a minor) were injured in two protests that took place at Beituniya (Ramallah) and Huwwara (Nablus) checkpoints, compared to a weekly average of 210 injuries in such protests over the past four weeks. Additionally, Ayman Sharawna, a Palestinian prisoner and resident of Hebron, was deported to the Gaza Strip for a period of ten years as part of an agreement aimed at ending his almost eighth month hunger strike.
Additional clashes were recorded this week during search and arrest operations, which resulted in the injury of 13 Palestinians, including three children, in Abu Dis town (Jerusalem), and an additional two, one of whom was an infant, in Al Arrub refugee camp (Hebron). Another search and arrest operation in Jaba’ village (Jenin) resulted in significant property damage by Israeli forces to two houses, including damage to furniture, computers, a digital camera, a water well and tiles.
Settler-related incidents: significant increase in injuries
This week witnessed a significant increase in the number of injuries as a result of incidents involving Israeli settlers throughout the West Bank. Seven Palestinians and ten settlers were injured.
In two incidents on 15 and 16 March, Israeli settlers from the Kfar Tapuah settlement, clashed with residents of the nearby Yasuf village (Salfit). Israeli forces that arrived at the scene were stoned by Palestinians and shot tear gas canisters at the Palestinians, injuring three. Additional incidents perpetrated by settlers resulting in Palestinian injuries included stoning of a child in the old city of Hebron on 12 March, physical assaults of a shepherd near Otni’el settlement in Hebron and of a man near Itamar settlement in Nablus (14 and 15 March), and spraying of pepper in the face of a Palestinian woman in the Old City of Jerusalem (16 March).
On 18 March, a 70 year-old Israeli settler was shot and injured, reportedly by a Palestinian travelling in a vehicle near the Qedumim settlement in the Qalqiliya area.
The remaining settler and Palestinian injuries occurred during or following stone-throwing incidents by Palestinians at Israeli vehicles, mostly around Ariel settlement in Salfit. According to the Israeli police, On 14 March, a truck braked abruptly after being stoned near Ariel settlement, causing another vehicle to crash into it. As a result, four family members, including a woman and her three daughters (aged 2, 4 and 6) were injured; the two-year-old girl sustained critical head injuries. Two Israeli buses were reportedly stoned shortly before this incident while driving on the same road, resulting in the injury of two Israelis. Following these incidents, Israeli forces raided the nearby Haris and Kifl Haris villages on four separate occasions during the week. During these operations, a man and a child were injured and 12 children (aged between 16 and 17) were arrested.
According to the Israeli media, two additional stone-throwing incidents near the French Hill settlement in East Jerusalem and the Maccabim settlement in Ramallah resulted in the injury of three Israelis.
This week, Israeli settlers also vandalized around 530 Palestinian-owned trees: 350 trees in the village of Al Khader in Bethlehem, 120 in Qaryut in Nablus, around 30 in Mikhmas in Jerusalem and 30 Beitillu in Ramallah. Since the beginning of 2013, over 2000 trees have been vandalized by settlers.
Temporary displacement in the Jordan Valley continues
On 12 March, at least 150 people, including around 60 children, living in two communities in the Jordan Valley (Khirbet ar Ras el Ahmar and Ibziq), were forced to leave their homes for a period of approximately seven hours, to make way for military training. The communities are located in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone”. Some displaced residents reportedly stayed with neighbours or relatives, or moved to a nearby location during the training. Affected residents of these communities have now been displaced for the twelfth time since the beginning of 2012.
Also this week, Israeli forces demolished a newly-built tent that was erected in At Tuwani village in South Hebron on two occasions on 15 and 16 March, on the grounds of lack of permit. The tent was built for school children who must wait for Israeli soldiers to escort them back to their homes, due to recurrent settler harassment.
On 14 March, the Israeli authorities delivered a written order to uproot over 100 palm trees belonging to a Palestinian farmer in in Az Zubeidat in Jericho for being planted on “state land”.