During November, the epicentre of the escalation of violence that began in October moved from East Jerusalem to Hebron City and governorate. Protection-related concerns remain the same: the targeting of Israeli civilians by individual, non-affiliated Palestinians, and the excessive use of force by Israeli forces against perpetrators, alleged perpetrators and protestors. There was an alarming increase in attacks and alleged attacks (mostly stabbings) by Palestinian boys and girls, as young as 11, of whom 15 were killed since October, in some cases raising concerns about extra-judicial executions.1 While clashes along Gaza's border areas with Israel continued, their frequency and intensity declined. In the two months since the current escalation began, 103 Palestinians and 17 Israelis have been killed, and 11,299 and 182 Palestinians and Israelis injured across the oPt and Israel.2
In Hebron city, the Israeli authorities responded with intensified restrictions on Palestinian movement into and within the city, further undermining access by residents to basic services and livelihoods. International organizations providing a protective presence have been denied access to the areas of the city most affected and their staff repeatedly harassed by Israeli forces and settlers. Of particular concern is the impact of the violence and restrictions on 4,200 children in Hebron city who must cross at least one military checkpoint and undergo inspections and searches to reach their schools.
In East Jerusalem, over the course of November, some 60 per cent of the checkpoints and roadblocks erected the previous month were gradually removed, returning the situation to normal in three out of nine neighbourhoods. However, some of the locations where closure obstacles remain, such as Issawiya and Ras Al Amud, are still severely affected.
Common to both Hebron and East Jerusalem is the Israeli policy of establishing and expanding illegal settlements in the heart of the urban fabric. This policy generates tensions and restrictive measures on Palestinian residents. In East Jerusalem, following a lull for about a year, this month the Israeli authorities announced the issuance of tenders for the construction of hundreds of new housing units in Ramat Shlomo settlement.
Punitive demolitions targeting the family homes of Palestinians suspected of attacks against Israelis in 2014 and 2015 continued following its resumption last month. As a result, more than 100 Palestinians, half of them children, have been displaced and rendered homeless since early October. About one quarter of those displaced were not related to a suspected perpetrator but lived in adjacent homes, which were severely damaged. The Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt, Robert Piper, called for an end to punitive demolitions, which cause unnecessary suffering and are illegal under international law.
This month also witnessed increasing pressure on vulnerable Bedouin and herding communities in Area C, including the destruction or threat of destruction of homes and livelihoods built without a permit, and repeated military training requiring temporary displacement. In one herding community (al Hadidiya), the Israeli authorities confiscated emergency tents provided by humanitarian agencies to families whose homes were demolished.
In his briefing to the Security Council, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, stressed the urgency of measures by leaders from both sides to de-escalate violence, including a halt to incitement, the lifting of some of the aforementioned restrictions and the avoidance of excessive use of force. He also added, "the reality in which a settler state is emerging in the occupied West Bank must be reversed if hope is to be reignited."
In the meantime, humanitarian and protection interventions can alleviate suffering for those most affected. As the occupying power, Israel must refrain from interfering with such interventions and should facilitate them.3
1. See joint statement by the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights in the OPT, and on summary executions: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16759&LangID=E. See also B’Tselem letter to Israel’s PrimeMinister, at: http://www.btselem.org/download/20151125_letter_to_pm_on_extrajudicial_killings_eng.pdf
2. OCHA protection of civilians data includes incidents that occurred outside of the oPt only ifthey involved residents of the oPt as either victims or perpetrators. Palestinian injuries counted in this report only include people who received medical treatment by paramedic teams on the ground, in local clinics or in hospitals. Figures on Israeli injuries are based on media reports.
3. See for example Article 55 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in Times of War.