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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
7 October 2013

Key issues

270 Palestinian-owned olive trees were reportedly damaged by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

Following seven days of partial operation, Rafah Crossing closed on 5 October until further notice.

Authorities in the Gaza Strip executed a man convicted of murder.


23 Palestinians, including six children injured by Israeli forces

A total of 23 Palestinians, including six children; and one international were injured this week during clashes that occurred between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the West Bank. (Five) of this week’s injuries were caused by live ammunition, (six) by rubber-coated metal bullets and (five) by teargas canisters shot directly at them.

On 4 October, five Palestinians, including one female; and one international were injured by Israeli forces during confrontations that took place during the weekly demonstration against the Barrier in Bi’lin village (Ramallah). On the same day, four Palestinians, including two children, were injured in confrontations near the Israeli Ofer prison (Ramallah), during which Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters, live ammunition, and rubber-coated metal bullets towards tens of Palestinians, many of whom were throwing stones. Another four Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces at the northern entrance to the town of Ar Ram (Jerusalem), including three injured by live ammunition.

Since the beginning of 2013 until end of September, two thirds of the Palestinians injuries by Israeli forces in the West Bank occurred in the context of confrontations that erupt during demonstrations.

Around 270 Palestinian-owned olive trees were damaged by Israeli settlers

This week, OCHA recorded 12 reports of settler-related incidents, all of which resulted in damage to Palestinian-owned property, mainly olive trees. In addition, one Israeli settler girl was reportedly shot and injured by a Palestinian.

In total, Israeli settlers damaged during the week nearly 270 olive trees owned by Palestinians in five villages across the West Bank, including 100 trees in Deir Sharaf (Nablus), and 100 trees in Jit (Qalqilya). These incidents affected approximately ten farmers and their families. In addition, olive crops were reported as stolen by settlers in a number of these locations; in Tul Rumeida in the old city of Hebron (H2) for example, Israeli settlers reportedly harvested around 40 olive trees owned by a Palestinian farmer. These incidents occurred immediately before the official opening of the 2013 olive harvest season in the West Bank during which period many Palestinian farmers receive permission from the Israeli forces to access their land in order to harvest their olive crops. Thus far in 2013, OCHA has recorded the damage or destruction of over 8,300 trees or saplings in the context of reported settler-related incidents, compared to the parallel figure of slightly more than 8,500 trees or saplings in all of 2012.

Also this week, on 3 October, a group of Israeli settlers from Neve Daniyel settlement gathered around two Palestinian farmers working on their land in Al Khader (Bethlehem) which is adjacent to the settlement, verbally assaulted them and prevented them from working on their land. Israeli forces came to the location, detained the two farmers, and confiscated a tractor and other agricultural tools belonging to the farmers, on grounds that the land is designated as “state land”.

In four reported incidents this week, Israeli settlers damaged 11 Palestinian-owned vehicles in Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah), Burin village (Nablus) and in East Jerusalem. On 3 October, one vehicle was set on fire by a group of Israeli settlers who entered Beit Iska village (Jerusalem) and sprayed offensive graffiti on the external walls of the village’s mosque. On 1 October, graffiti related to settler activities (so-called “price-tag” graffiti) was also sprayed on the walls of Catholic church in East Jerusalem.

On 5 October, according to initial verbal reports from the Civil Administration and Israeli media, a Palestinian assailant broke through a fence in the Psagot settlement (Ramallah) and injured a nine-year old girl. Media reports indicate she was shot with live ammunition, while the Civil Administration reported that an investigation into the case is on-going. Following the incident, the Israeli forces conducted a search operation in several areas of nearby Al Bireh city, during which clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces; no injuries were reported during these clashes.


Four structures demolished in Mak-hul; over 28 demolition and stop-work orders issued in Area C

On 3 October, the Israeli forces demolished four basic residential structures in the Palestinian herding community of Mak-hul (approx. population 50) in the northern Jordan Valley. Two of these structures had been constructed with the assistance of a Palestinian NGO, while the other two were provided by international humanitarian organizations. According to community members, at least one donor-funded tarpaulin was also burnt by the Israeli forces and two other donor-funded tarpaulins and a privately-owned tarpaulin were either burnt or confiscated.

These demolitions occurred in spite of an Israeli High Court injunction, issued on 24 September 2013, according to which Israeli forces were prevented from evicting the community and from demolishing tents that will be built there, until at least 8 October 2013. The court stated that this injunction would not apply to structures demolished for security reasons or military operations.

Also, this week, 28 demolition and stop-work orders were issued by the Israeli authorities against Palestinian residential and livelihood-related structures in Area C, due to lack of permits.

Relative calm in the Gaza Strip

Gaza saw relative calm this week, despite two rockets reportedly fired by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel, which landed in the Gaza Strip, causing no injuries or damage.

Israeli forces continued to enforce restrictions on Palestinian access to areas near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip, as well as on fishing areas beyond six nautical miles (NM) from the shore: on at least three occasions this week, Israeli forces reportedly fired warning shots at Palestinians present a few hundred meters from the fence, forcing them to return back; no injuries were reported. Also, in the same context, on at least two occasions, Israeli tanks and bulldozers reportedly entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza, and conducted land leveling operations.

On at least three occasions this week, Israeli naval forces reportedly opened warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the six nautical mile fishing limit; no injuries or damage were reported.

Significant increase in imports permitted from Israel
While the volume of goods transferred via the illegal smuggling tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border remained extremely limited, the amount of imports from Israel increased significantly.

Local sources in Gaza indicated that the volume of goods transported via the tunnels this week remained at approximately 30-40 truckloads of goods per day, the same as in the previous week. These amounts constitute less than 20 per cent of the volume of goods that entered before June 2013 (up to 200 truckloads).

The limited scope of tunnel activity continued to be reflected in shortages of goods, including fuel and construction materials. This week, between 400,000 and 500,000 liters of fuel (mostly diesel) reportedly entered Gaza via tunnels every day, including for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) and other public facilities and services; this compares to approximately one million liters per day prior to June 2013. The GPP authority reported a 32 per cent increase in the amount of fuel received this week compared to the previous week (330,000 vs 250,000 liters per day). The GPP continued operating at half of its full capacity, triggering long electricity blackouts of up to 12 hours per day, and 16 hours per day in some areas, forcing people to relay on unsafe methods to light their houses.

Fuel shortfalls have also continued to disrupt the provision of basic services, including water, sanitation, health and transportation. Local petrol stations sell, almost exclusively, fuel imported from Israel at double the price of the subsidized fuel purchased from Egypt and smuggled into Gaza via illegal tunnels.

Construction materials have continued to enter via tunnels in limited amounts; the Palestinian Federation of Industries estimated that approximately 150 tonnes of building materials (mainly cement) entered Gaza per day this week, compared to a daily average of more than 7,500 tonnes in June 2013.

The volume of goods that entered Gaza this week via the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel saw a 55 per cent increase compared to the weekly average since the beginning of the year (1,711 vs 1,103

truckloads). This is primarily due to the Israeli decision from 17 September to allow the entry of limited amounts of construction materials for use by the private sector. Approximately 4,600 tonnes of cement, 5,280 tonnes of gravel, and 2,560 tonnes of steel bars were allowed into Gaza via Kerem Shalom this week. The Ministry of National Economy in the Gaza Strip estimates that these amounts cover less than 15 per cent of current demand.

Whilst the increase in imports via Israel is significant, it has not fully compensated for the sharp reduction in the volume of construction materials entering illegally via the tunnels. As a result, prices remain about 20 per cent higher than June 2013 prices.

Rafah Crossing update

The Egyptian authorities re-opened the Rafah Crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt for four days during the reporting period (between 1- 4 October) – its opening for three of these days was almost exclusively to allow passage of pilgrims en route to Mecca. The crossing was closed again by the Egyptian authorities on 5 October, until further notice. Since early July, the crossing has been closed repeatedly and when open operated for four hours per day (six days per week), compared to nine hours (seven days per week).

During the reporting period, a daily average of approximately 350 travelers were allowed to cross into Egypt and around 40 others entered Gaza, mostly pilgrims as well as medical cases, students, people holding visas and foreign nationals. These numbers remain well below the daily average of approximately 1,860 who crossed each day in June, before restrictions were imposed at the crossing due to security concerns in the Sinai. The Gaza Border and Crossing Authority has ceased accepting travel applications, with around 4,000 people currently waiting to travel to Egypt and third countries, including medical cases and students, in addition to at least 60 additional pilgrims.

Authorities in the Gaza Strip execute a Palestinian man

On 2 October, the Gaza authorities executed a 28- year- old Palestinian man, who had been sentenced in May 2010 to death by hanging after being convicted of murder. This brings the number of executions implemented by the de facto authorities since the beginning of 2013 to three, and since 2007 to 17, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR). Most executions occurred after individuals were convicted of collaborating with foreign parties or committing murder. All executions were carried out without the Palestinian Authority President’s authorization, in contravention of Palestinian Constitutional Law.

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