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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
13 January 2014




Key issues

An incident involving Israeli settlers detained and beaten by Palestinians during a settler attack, triggers a wave of retaliation, resulting in damage to Palestinian property.

Three families forcibly displaced from a “firing zone” in the Jericho area.

Rocket-fire towards southern Israel, alongside tank shelling by Israeli forces, continued intermittently during the week along the Gaza Strip-Israel fence.

Fragile energy situation in Gaza continues.


WEST BANK

25 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces

This week, 25 Palestinians, including four children, were injured during clashes with Israeli forces in a range of incidents across the West Bank. This brings the total number of Palestinians injured by Israeli forces so far in 2014 to 42, roughly the same as during the last two weeks of 2013, and a 47 per cent decline compared to the equivalent period in 2013.

Nearly half of this week’s injuries (12) took place on 10 January, in the Ramallah governorate, during various clashes with Israeli forces. Three of these clashes erupted during weekly demonstrations against the Barrier, in the villages of Bi’lin and Ni’lin, and against the expansion of the Halamish settlement in An Nabi Saleh village, resulting in the injury of seven Palestinians, including a man shot with live ammunition and a 17-year-old boy directly hit with a tear gas canister in the back. Another four Palestinians were shot with live ammunition and injured in Al Jalazun Refugee Camp in clashes with Israeli forces at the entrance of the camp, during which Israeli forces fired live ammunition, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at Palestinian stone throwers. This incident occurred in the context of an increased number of similar clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians near the entrance to the camp, across from the Israeli settlement of Beit El, where Israeli forces maintain a semi-permanent presence. In 2013, OCHA recorded 28 incidents in the area that resulted in the injury of 80 Palestinians, including during clashes that erupted during search and arrest operations by Israeli forces in the camp.

Another eight Palestinians were injured this week in a number of incidents across the Qalqiliya governorate: four of them, including two children, during the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum village, against the longstanding closure of one of the village’s main entrances; and another two in ‘Azzun ‘Atma, whilst attempting to enter Israel through an opening in an unfinished section of the Barrier that runs through the villages’ land, reportedly in search of work inside Israel. In 2013, at least 28 Palestinian workers were injured during attempts to enter Israel without permits from the West Bank.


Israeli settlers detained and beaten by Palestinians during a settler attack

This week witnessed eleven incidents involving Israeli settlers and other Israeli civilians, which resulted in injuries or property damage.

One of the most significant incidents this week took place on 7 January in and around Qusra village (Nablus). Following the Israeli army’s evacuation of a plot of private Palestinian land taken over and cultivated by Israeli settlers from Esh Kodesh settlement, the latter raided the neighboring village of Qusra (Nablus) and uprooted 27 olive seedlings belonging to three Palestinian families; the settlers withdrew from the village after clashing with local residents. A few hours later, settlers raided the village again from the southern side and assaulted a Palestinian family whilst working on their land, injuring a man. A group of Palestinian residents that arrived at the site, apprehended the settlers (16), and physically assaulted them, reportedly injuring ten of the settlers. Subsequently, local Palestinian authorities and human rights activists intervened and prevented Palestinians from beating the settlers, then handed them over to the Israeli military.

Farming constitutes the largest source of income in Qusra. The establishment and expansion of Israeli settlements has encroached onto a significant part of the villages’ agricultural land which is mainly located in Area C. In recent years, the main modality of expansion of the six adjacent settlement outposts has been the takeover and subsequent cultivation of Palestinian land. Moreover, systematic attacks and intimidation by Israeli settlers residing in these outposts have resulted in a gradual reduction in Palestinian farmers’ access to land that has not been expropriated or taken over.

At least five other settler attacks recorded during the remainder of the week were reportedly carried out in retaliation for the Qusra incident. A total of six Palestinian vehicles were burned or damaged near Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah), in Al Funduq (Qalqiliya) and in Kifl Haris (Salfit). Settler raids also took place in Sinjil (Ramallah) and Madama (Nablus), during which “price tag” slogans, such as “death to Arabs”, were sprayed on houses and shops.

Also this week, according to Israeli media, four Israelis were injured by Palestinians in various incidents, including one stabbed and one physically assaulted in East Jerusalem (near Bab Al Amoud and on board the light train respectively), and another two as a result of stones thrown at their vehicles while travelling on West Bank roads (Ramallah and Qalqiliya).

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Three families forcibly displaced in a “firing zone” in Jericho area

On 8 January, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of 17 Palestinian-owned residential and other livelihood structures in Area C in the Jericho and Nablus governorates, resulting in the displacement of 33 Palestinians, over half of them children, and affecting an additional 26 people.

Thirteen (13) of the demolished structures including three residential and eight animal structures were demolished in the Abu al ‘Ajaj area of Al Jiftlik town, in the Jordan Valley (Jericho), on grounds that they were located in area designated by the Israeli authorities as a “firing zone”, closed for Israeli military training. Three families, comprising 26 people, who reportedly have been living in the area for decades, were displaced and around 750 heads of sheep lost their shelter. On 13 January, the Israeli authorities also demolished and confiscated six tents that had been provided to the families by an international organisation as emergency shelters.

On 3 December 2013, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected an appeal from the affected families to have a previously-issued order calling for their eviction from the area overturned. The Israeli authorities have designated some 18 percent of the West Bank as ”firing zones”. The Israeli authorities also demolished another two structures in Jiftlik on 8 January on the grounds that they lacked Israeli building permits in Area C, displacing one family. Also in Jericho, the Israeli authorities demolished a fodder storage structure belong to a Palestinian family in Al ‘Auja. During the demolition, one sheep was killed.

In 2013, the number of Palestinian structures demolished by the Israeli authorities, and the number of Palestinians subsequently displaced in the Jordan Valley more than doubled: from 192 structures demolished in 2012 to 393 in 2013, and from 279 people displaced in 2012 to 575 in 2013, alongside a slight decrease in other sections of Area C.

Over 6,200 Palestinians currently reside in these areas and face the chronic risk of displacement as a result. The UN Secretary-General has raised concerns regarding a similar situation in southern Hebron (“Firing Zone 918”), in which he noted that the displacement of Palestinian communities from their homes located in “firing zones” raises serious concerns that may run counter to Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law” [A/HRC/24/30, para. 29, 22 August 2013].



GAZA STRIP
Intermittent rocket-fire, tank shelling and armed clashes

Rocket-fire by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel, alongside tank shelling by Israeli forces, continued intermittently during the week along the Gaza strip-Israel fence. No Israeli casualties or damage have been reported as a result of Palestinian rocket fire. In one incident on 9 January, a three-year-old Palestinian girl from Khan Younis was injured when the windows of her home shattered as a result of an Israeli tank shell, shot in response to Palestinian shooting. Two members of an armed group were also injured. On the same day, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian armed groups during a “land leveling” operation inside Gaza east of Khuza’a, which ended without casualty. The previous day, another member of an armed group was hit by tank fire and killed near the fence east of Gaza City.

Violent incidents related to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas along Gaza’s perimeter fence continued as well during the week. On 11 January, Israeli forces opened fire at a group of civilians approaching the fence east of Jabaliya, injuring a 22-year-old man. An Israeli army spokeswoman indicated that the Palestinians attempted to damage the border fence, and received prior warning before shots were fired at them. On at least five additional occasions during the week, Israeli forces opened warning fire at Palestinian civilians present in the vicinity of the fence, forcing them to leave. In another two incidents, the Israeli navy opened fire in the direction of Palestinian fishing boats sailing near the 6 nautical mile movement limit, and, in one of them, forced two fishermen to strip and swim to the Israeli patrol boat, where they were arrested.

A man electrocuted in a tunnel accident

On 12 January, a Palestinian man died as a result of electrocution while working in one of the illegal tunnels under the border between the Gaza strip and Egypt. This is the first casualty in a tunnel recorded in 2014. During 2013, a total of 14 people, including two children, were killed; and 14 injured in tunnel incidents, compared to 14 and 31 respectively in 2012. The vast majority of the tunnels, primarily used for the smuggling of construction materials and fuel, have been destroyed or shut down by the Egyptian authorities during the second half of 2013, resulting in a sharp reduction in the frequency of related accidents and casualties.

On 10 January, it was reported that a seven-year-old boy fell into a storm water lagoon in the industrial area south-east of Beit Hanoun and drowned. According to an assessment of the site by the WASH Cluster focal point for the area (Save the Children), the sides of the lagoon had collapsed as a result of the winter storm in December, creating very steep slopes and making it difficult to climb out of the lagoon. The water inside the lagoon was 1.5 meters deep. The area around the lagoon is generally unsafe because of storm-related damage. Parts of the area are fenced, but damage has occurred in some places.



Rafah Crossing opens for two days

Rafah Crossing opened in a limited manner for two days on 7 and 8 January, allowing passengers to exit and enter Gaza for the first time since its closure on 27 December 2013 This allowed nearly 900 people to leave Gaza and over 1,000 to return; 52 people were denied entry into Egypt and 150 people on three buses were turned back on the Palestinian side for unclear reasons. The Gaza Border and Crossings authority requested that all people, who registered to travel via Rafah prior to 2014, renew their registration to further prioritize those able to travel. It is reported that some 5,000 people are waiting to cross, including humanitarian cases. Freedom of movement to and from Gaza has been severely curtailed since July 2013, as a result of the frequent closure of the Rafah Crossing. This is taking place alongside the longstanding restrictions imposed by Israel on movement of people via Erez Crossing.

Energy situation in Gaza remains fragile

The Kerem Shalom crossing, the only entry point for goods between Gaza and Israel, functioned according to schedule during the reporting period. While this allowed for the entry of 2,131,133 liters of fuel to the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), mostly funded by Qatar, reserves at the GPP remain extremely low. It is expected that the Qatari funding allocated for the GPP will be exhausted in approximately one month. At present the Gaza strip population experiences an average of 12 hours of electricity blackouts per day. This is expected to extend to up to 16 hours per day if the GPP is shutdown as a result of depleting its fuel reserves.

The running of critical health, water and sanitation and solid waste management facilities heavily rely on fuel to power the back-up generators required due to the long hours of electricity cuts. It was reported by WHO that many of the hospitals in Gaza only have supplies for a limited number of days.

Limited amounts of cash crops from Gaza were exported abroad during the period, including some 17.5 tonnes of strawberries, five tonnes of cherry tomatoes, 0.5 tonnes of herbs and 170,000 cut flowers. Transfer of goods from Gaza to Israel or the West Bank, which are the main relevant markets for Gazan products, remains banned by the Israeli authorities. This is despite the installation of a new and sophisticated scanner, funded by the Government of the Netherlands, at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which would allow for a comprehensive checking of exiting goods.

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