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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
8 November 2013

Key issues

A 22-year-old Palestinian was killed and 25 others injured in the West Bank by Israeli forces.

Around 400 Palestinian-owned olive trees and olive saplings were damaged by Israeli settlers.

17 Palestinian structures were demolished by the Israeli authorities: 39 people, including 19 children, were displaced as a result.

Gaza Power Plant (GPP) shut down completely as a result of fuel shortages, impacting provision of basic services and increasing power outages to up to 16 hours per day.


One Palestinian killed; eleven children injured

In the early hours of 31 October, Israeli forces shot and killed a 22-year-old Palestinian civilian in the village of Qabatiya (Jenin), during clashes with the village’s residents that erupted during a search-and-arrest operation. A Palestinian medical source indicated that the man died after being shot by live ammunition while he was reportedly selling vegetables in a market adjacent to the site of the clashes. Also this week, Israeli forces damaged four houses and arrested three Palestinian residents from the village during the course of the operation. This is the third Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in October, bringing the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces thus far this year to 18, compared to four in the equivalent period of 2012.

Twenty-five (25) Palestinians, almost half of them children, were injured this week in various clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank. Sixteen (16) of this week’s injuries occurred on 1 November in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya), during clashes with Israeli forces in the context of the weekly demonstration against the closure of the village’s main entrance and the expansion of Israeli settlements on the village’s land. The injuries included ten (10) children. Another four Palestinians were injured on 1 November during clashes in the context of weekly demonstrations against the Barrier in Bi’lin village, and in An Nabi Saleh village (both in Ramallah) against the expansion of Hallamish settlement on the village’s land.

Also on 1 November, three other Palestinians, including one child were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in different places in Hebron. Also included is the injury of a 21-year-old Palestinian who was shot with live ammunition in the Old City of Hebron during a demonstration demanding the reopening of Ash Shuhada Street, which has been closed by the Israeli authorities to Palestinian vehicular movement since 1994 and pedestrian movement since 2000. The street was once the main commercial artery of Hebron City, as well as a densely populated residential area. Its closure forces Palestinian residents to take long detours or climb rooftops to reach their homes, schools and markets.

Around 400 Palestinian-owned olive trees and olive saplings damaged by Israeli settlers

This week, OCHA recorded at least seven settler-related incidents that resulted in damage to Palestinian-owned property, mainly olive trees.

At least six incidents targeted Palestinian-owned olive trees this week, resulting in damage to 400 olive trees; nearly twice the weekly average damaged by Israeli settlers during the past four weeks (218) of the olive harvest season. Most of the trees damaged this week, 322, were in Far’ata and Azzun villages (both in Qalqiliya). Other incidents in the context of the olive harvest were recorded this week, including stealing of crops from 120 Palestinian olive trees in Hebron, as well as incidents of settler-harassment against Palestinian farmers while they were picking their olive trees.

Thus far in 2013, OCHA has recorded the damage or destruction of over 9,400 trees or saplings in the context of settler-related incidents, compared to 8,500 in all of 2012.

The olive harvest is a key staple of the Palestinian economy; olive production comprises about 25% of the agricultural income in the oPt, it generates 3 million days of seasonal work each year and about 100,000 families depend on olive production for income.

Other settler attacks against Palestinian agricultural property, but outside the context of the olive harvest, were also reported this week. Palestinians were prevented from reaching their land near Qawawis village in Masafer Yatta (Hebron); settlers from Qiryat Nitafim reportedly began cultivation of 40 dunums of land owned by two Palestinian families holding official documents of land ownership from Qarawat Bani Hassan village (Salfit) ; and settlers from Magdalim settlement reportedly leveled a land owned by six Palestinian families from the village of Qusra (Nablus).


Rise in demolitions in East Jerusalem

This week, 17 Palestinian-owned structures, including six (6) residential structures were demolished by the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem and in Area C on grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. 39 Palestinians, including 19 children, were displaced, and at least 50 others were affected.

In the early hours of 29 October, the Israeli authorities demolished a three-story house built on privately-owned land in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The family was given 20 minutes to evacuate the house prior to the demolition, and only managed to gather a few financial assets and important documents. Some furniture was moved out by Israeli forces, while the rest ended up under the rubble. The owner of the house reported that he was detained and hand-cuffed for seven hours during the demolition and was not allowed to take his medication for diabetes during this period. Overall, nine people, including two children were displaced.

There has been a significant rise in the number of structures demolished due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits and the number of people displaced as a result, in East Jerusalem. So far in 2013, 93 structures were demolished and 282 people were displaced in East Jerusalem, compared to 64 demolished structures and 71 people displaced during all 2012; ‘illegal’ construction has been widespread in East Jerusalem largely because opportunities for authorized construction have been extremely limited due to the restrictive planning regime enforced by the Israeli authorities in the city. Only 13 per cent of East Jerusalem area is available for Palestinian construction, and much of this is already built-up.

Furthermore, between 30 October and 1 November, the Israeli authorities issued 16 new demolition orders in East Jerusalem, of which ten were issued against apartment buildings in the Ras Khamis neighborhood of East Jerusalem, including over 200 housing units; thus placing around 1,500 people at-risk of displacement. The other six demolition orders targeted Palestinian houses in the Silwan area.

Also this week Israeli authorities issued at least 13 stop work orders against Palestinian houses (9) and other agricultural structures in Hebron and Bethlehem. At least 95 people including 60 children will be affected if the demolitions are carried out.

Armed clashes in Gaza

This week witnessed increased tensions between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Between 31 October and 1 November, four armed Palestinians were killed and six others were injured (one Palestinian and five Israeli soldiers) in armed clashes which erupted when Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza, east of Khan Younis, to destroy the recently discovered tunnel originating from that area and running into Israel.

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 two occasions this week, Israeli forces reportedly opened warning fire towards farmers working their lands near the fence, forcing them to leave the area. In the same context, on at least four occasions, Israeli tanks and bulldozers reportedly entered approximately 200 meters inside Gaza northwest Beit Hanoun, and east of Khan Younis and conducted land leveling operations. On at least five occasions, Israeli naval forces reportedly fired warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the six (NM) fishing limits.

Gaza power plant shuts down completely as a result of fuel shortages

Tunnel activity under the border between Gaza and Egypt remains severely restricted due to the measures imposed by the Egyptian authorities along the border which are aimed at countering insecurity and illegal activity in the Sinai. The volume of cheap Egyptian fuel that entered Gaza via the smuggling tunnels this week was less than 150,000 litres of diesel, compared to approximately 100,000 litres that entered per day last week, and to roughly one million litres that entered daily in June 2013. As a result, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) was forced to shut down completely after it had depleted all its fuel reserves. The GPP needs at least 500,000 litres of fuel per day in order to run at full capacity, producing around 120MW. Prior to June 2013, GPP received Egyptian fuel in amounts exceeding 400,000 litres per day, and was able to maintain fuel reserves of up to eight million litres. Due to the shutdown of the GPP, electricity blackouts across the Gaza Strip have increased to up to 16 hours per day

The shortage in fuel supply to the GPP could not be covered by Israeli fuel, due to an unresolved dispute between the authorities in Gaza and West Bank on imported-Israeli-fuel tax rates. At present, the Gaza Strip is relying entirely on the 120 MW electricity it buys from Israel and the 30 MW it buys from Egypt. The total amount of electricity currently available covers only 30 per cent of the demand. The Gaza Electricity Distribution Corporation (GEDCO) has warned that electricity distribution will likely be more complicated with the coming cold winter season, as demand on electricity is expected to increase.

Fuel shortages, combined with unreliable electricity supply, continue to disrupt the provision of basic services, including water supply, sanitation, health and transportation. For example, the operation of 291 water and sewage facilities have been severely affected, and access to running water has declined across the Gaza Strip. There has been an approximate 60 per cent reduction in the rate of production by the 25 small to medium scale desalination units that supply drinking water to approximately 160,000 inhabitants. Forty (40) per cent of Gaza’s population receives water once every three days; 25 per cent receive water once every four days; 20 per cent receive water once every two days; and 15 per cent receive water every day. When water is supplied, delivery lasts for only six to eight hours. Consequently, many families are forced to purchase unsafe water from unregulated water vendors and distributors. Initial reports indicate that people, mostly children, are filling jerry cans from these desalination units during night hours (when the electricity is on), raising protection concerns. In addition, approximately 90,000 cubic meters of untreated or partially treated sewage water is being dumped daily into the sea.

The Fuel Stations Owners Association has also indicated critical fuel shortages in the local market, where imported Israeli fuel is being sold at elevated prices. Long queues of vehicles and people continue to form at operational fuel stations across the Gaza strip.

The illegal entry of construction material, commodities, and other goods through the tunnels has come to an almost complete halt: around 10 truckloads of goods entered per day this week compared to over 200 truckloads that entered daily in June 2013. The Palestinian Federation of Industries estimates that almost no construction materials entered the Gaza Strip through the tunnels this week; in late June 2013, an average of 7,500 tonnes entered daily. Prices of construction materials on the local market in Gaza have continued to increase, reaching up to 40 per cent above the normal market price.

Israeli authorities continue ban on entry of construction material into Gaza: 19 UNRWA building projects suspended

For the fourth consecutive week, the Israeli authorities continued to suspend the entry of construction materials to the Gaza Strip, including for humanitarian projects, through Kerem Shalom following the discovery of a 1.8 kilometer-long underground tunnel running from the Gaza Strip into Israel on 13 October. Only 63 truckloads of humanitarian supplies for international humanitarian projects entered Gaza this week, compared to a weekly average of 440 truckloads of humanitarian supplies including a considerable amount of construction materials, entered between January and until 26 October 2013 through the official crossings.

As a result, UNRWA has reported the suspension of 19 out of its 20 building projects in the Gaza Strip due to the lack of building materials. The suspension has directly affected more than 4,000 construction workers employed in different humanitarian projects, including rehabilitation or construction of housing, schools and health clinics intended to serve thousands of Palestinians. UNRWA also warned that the lack of building materials will delay the hand-over of housing units undertaken by the agency including the Saudi Re-housing Project (2) in Rafah, which will provide housing to over 800 Palestinian refugee families, most of whom are currently living in inadequate shelter in Rafah and Khan Younis.

From 1 January to 13 October, an average of 1,052 truckloads (67,000 tonnes) of construction materials, designated for building projects implemented by aid agencies, including UN and other international organizations, have entered Gaza each month via Kerem Shalom.

Rafah Crossing update

After seven days of complete closure, the Egyptian authorities re-opened the Rafah Crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt on 2 November. A daily average of approximately 151 travelers were allowed to cross into Egypt including medical cases, students, people holding visas and foreign nationals, and around 74 others entered Gaza from Egypt. These numbers remain well below the daily average of approximately 1,860 who crossed in both directions in June, before strict measures on the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza were imposed by Egyptians authorities on grounds of security concerns in the Sinai. The Crossing Authority in Gaza indicated that thousands of people are registered and on the waiting list to travel to Egypt and third countries, including medical cases and students.

The crossing remains the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via the Erez Crossing.

On the other hand, since the end of June 2013, the recurrent closure of the Rafah crossing has contributed to a decline in the volume of aid supplies donated by international actors, which had previously been transferred via the Rafah Crossing.

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