Protests in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners continue; over 200 injured
Protests in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike continued across the West Bank during the week. In most protests, demonstrators threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded by firing tear gas canisters, rubber bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and, in a few cases, live ammunition; a total of 214 Palestinians, including 49 children, as well as six Israeli soldiers were injured.
As in prior weeks the largest demonstrations and clashes took place near Beituniya checkpoint in Ramallah, at Huwwara (Nablus), Qalandiya (Jerusalem) and Al Jalamah (Jenin) checkpoints, Bethlehem city and Al ‘Arrub Refugee Camp. Approximately 87 Palestinians injured were treated for tear gas inhalation, 85 for injuries sustained from rubber-coated metal bullets, four from live ammunition, and the remaining from other means. The most serious injuries included a Palestinian who was hit in the head by a rubber bullet in clashes at Qalandiya checkpoint, and another Palestinian who sustained a bullet wound to the stomach at Beituniya checkpoint.
Also this week, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces conducting a search-and-arrest operation in Silwan village in East Jerusalem. As a result, a Palestinian woman was injured in the neck by a rubber bullet. Two computers were reportedly confiscated from a house during the operation.
While this week’s number of injuries to Palestinians was lower than the previous week (469 injuries), the cumulative figure since the beginning of 2013 amounts to a two-fold increase compared with the number of injuries in the equivalent period in 2012.
Also this week, a 40 year-old Palestinian prisoner died in a Palestinian Authority (PA) jail in Jericho city on 1 March. The PA is investigating the incident. The UN is in contact with the PA to raise concerns regarding this incident.
Around 120 olive trees vandalized by Israeli settlers
Six incidents of settler violence resulting in damage to Palestinian property were recorded this week. There were no reports of Palestinians or settlers injured in settler violence incidents.
Two of the incidents involved vandalism against Palestinian-owned olive trees: 80 trees belonging to farmers from Nahhalin village (Bethlehem), near the Bat ‘Ayin settlement (4 March); and 40 trees belonging to residents of Al Janiya, (Ramallah) near Talmon settlement (27 February). In two other separate incidents on 3 and 4 March in the Gush Etzion settlement area (Bethlehem), Israeli settlers reportedly destroyed a mobile latrine (funded through the UN Emergency Response Fund - ERF) and an agricultural shed, respectively, built on privately-owned Palestinian land.
A number of additional incidents of settler violence were also reported during the week, but did not result in injuries or property damage.
Three communities in the Jordan Valley temporarily evicted to make way for military training
This week, over 200 people, including over 90 children, living in three small herding communities located in an area’s designation as a “Firing Zone” (Humsa Al Bqai’a, Khirbet ar Ras El Ahmar and Ibziq) were temporarily evicted from their homes in the context of an Israeli military training exercise. The families, in the northern Jordan Valley, were forced to evacuate their homes for periods ranging from six to 12 hours. People reportedly stayed with neighbours or relatives, or moved to a nearby location during the training. This is the seventh such forced eviction to make way for military training exercises that has taken place in the northern Jordan Valley since mid-2012.
Since the 1970’s, approximately 18 percent of the West Bank has been designated by the Israeli military as closed military zones for training – so-called “Firing Zones”. Approximately 5,000 Palestinians, in 38 herding communities are living in these areas; many have been residing there since before the area was designated as a “Firing Zone”.1
During the week, no demolition of Palestinian structures by the Israeli authorities was recorded in Area C and East Jerusalem. However, on 4 March, a Palestinian demolished his own house in the Old City of Jerusalem, after receiving a demolition order from the Jerusalem municipality. As a result, a family of ten people, including five children, was displaced. In 2012, at least 15 structures were demolished by their owners in East Jerusalem in similar circumstances.