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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
4 March 2013

Key issues

At least 200 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank in the context of protests held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and following the death of a Palestinian detainee in Meggido prison.

A 40 year-old Palestinian prisoner died in custody in a Palestinian Authority detention facility in Jericho.

Four Palestinian civilians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces near the Gaza perimeter fence.


    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.



    Open-fire incidents near the fence continue; Palestinian rockets fired at Israel

    On 26 February, Palestinian armed groups fired three rockets that landed in an open area in the southern Israeli city of Ashqelon; no casualties or property damage were reported. On 1 March, clashes broke out between Israeli forces and a Palestinian gunman after the latter opened fire at an Israeli military vehicle patrolling on the Israeli side of the fence; no casualties were reported. These were the first such incidents recorded since the ceasefire understanding reached on 21 November 2012.

    A number of incidents between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the access-restricted areas along Gaza’s perimeter fence were reported during the week. In two incidents on 1 March, Palestinian youths approached the fence, east of Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya (northern Gaza Strip) and threw stones towards Israeli forces. The soldiers responded by firing live bullets and tear gas canisters, injuring four youths. This brings the total number of Palestinians injured in similar circumstances since 21 November 2012 to 110. On 4 March, Israeli bulldozers and tanks entered approximately 200 meters from the fence into the Gaza Strip near Al Bureij refugee camp, and withdrew after leveling land in the area.

    In addition, on at least one occasion during the week (on 1 March), Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats which were (according to Palestinian reports) sailing close to and within the six nautical mile limit; no injuries or damage to boats were reported.

    Tunnel activity

    The volume of goods smuggled through the tunnels under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt increased this week, compared to last week when the Egyptian authorities had destroyed a number of tunnels. The Palestinian Federation of Industries indicated that approximately 2,500 tonnes of gravel, 2,000 tonnes of cement and 400 tonnes of steel bars entered Gaza every day this week, bringing prices back to prior levels. The volume of fuel smuggled through the tunnels remained some 10-20 percent below the usual levels. On average, approximately 700- 800,000 liters have been entering compared to approximately one million liters which entered each day during previous weeks. While fuel is still available in the local market, fuel delivery to the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) has remained at 15- 20 percent below the usual levels and as a result the GPP is only able to run two turbines instead of three.

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