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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
1 April 2013

نييندملا ةيامح

Key issues

Nearly 100 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in protests held across the West Bank to commemorate the 37th anniversary of Land Day; ten Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians were also injured during the demonstrations.

Situation in Gaza remains tense; fishing limit remains at 3NM, undermining the livelihoods of nearly 3,500 fishermen and their dependents.


Increased numbers of injuries in widespread protests

A total of 124 Palestinians, including 54 children, were injured in clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank. This represents a significant increase compared with the past two weeks and compared to the weekly average of injuries since the beginning of 2013. Fifteen Israeli soldiers were also injured during this week’s clashes, according to the IDF.

Around 80 per cent of the Palestinian injuries during the week occurred in demonstrations commemorating the 37th anniversary of “Land Day”, which falls on 30 March; for Palestinians, this day commemorates historical expropriation of land in Israel. The most serious clashes took place in Al Khader village (Bethlehem), at the entrance of Al Arrub refugee camp (Hebron), at the Qalandiya and Beituniya checkpoints (East Jerusalem and Ramallah, respectively), in ‘Anata and Ar Ram towns (Jerusalem) and in the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. According to the IDF, there were a total of 52 violent incidents related to “Land Day”, involving around 3,000 Palestinians.

Additional clashes took place during protests held earlier in the week, resulting in the injury of 18 Palestinians: in Hebron city, demonstrations were held against the longstanding closure of the main entrance to the city from the south on the grounds of security for the adjacent Beit Haggai settlement (27 March); demonstrations were held at the entrance of Ayda camp in Bethlehem in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners (28 March); and demonstrations were held in the Sabastiya village in Nablus in protest at settlement activities (29 March).

Injuries and damage in incidents involving settlers and other Israeli civilians
During the week, OCHA recorded the injury of seven Palestinians, including five children, and four Israelis, including one child, as well as damage to over 200 Palestinian-owned trees, in incidents involving settlers and other Israeli civilians. According to official Israeli sources, additional three Israeli civilians were injured by Palestinians during the week.

Five of this week’s incidents involved stone-throwing at travelling vehicles. In one of the incidents on 31 March, settlers stoned a Palestinian bus near Yitzhar settlement (Nablus), injuring four Palestinian girls. In four incidents between 27 and 30 March, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli-plated vehicles driving in the Bethlehem governorate, injuring four Israelis, including a 4-year-old child. Two of the stone throwing incidents affecting Israelis occurred in the context of “Land Day” demonstrations.

In another incident on 29 March, a Palestinian elderly herder (aged 80) was severely beaten and injured by Israeli settlers near Avne Hefez settlement (Tulkarm), and transferred to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment. The Israeli police opened an investigation into the attack. In the old city of Jerusalem, settlers physically assaulted and injured a 16-year-old Palestinian child.

Also this week on 29 March, Israeli settlers from Newe Daniyel settlement uprooted around 200 olive saplings belonging to the nearby Al Khader village in Bethlehem. In addition, the village council of Al Mazra’a al Qibliya village in Ramallah reported that 18 olive trees belonging to the village were vandalized

Latest developments:

On 2 April, a 64 year-old Palestinian prisoner, Maysara Abu Hamdiya, died of cancer in Israeli custody, triggering widespread demonstrations and clashes.

On 3 April, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, aged 17, after, according to the Israeli media, they threw Molotov cocktails at a military post near Enav checkpoint in Tulkarm. These deaths bring the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year to nine (excluding those who died in Israeli custody).

The lull in demolitions and displacement continues

For the fourth week in a row, there were no demolitions carried out by the Israeli authorities against Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem. In addition, no demolition orders were delivered this week. However on 1 April, in order to avoid paying a fine, a Palestinian in the As Suwaneh area of East Jerusalem demolished a room, which is an extension to his house, built without permit.


Situation in Gaza remains extremely volatile

While no casualties were recorded during the reporting period in the Gaza Strip and Israel, the situation remains tense. On 2 and 3 April, outside the reporting period, Palestinian armed groups fired rockets towards southern Israel and, in response, the Israeli military conducted airstrikes in Gaza on 3 April, undermining the ceasefire reached on 21 November 2012. According to the IDF, the airstrikes targeted tunnels east of Gaza City. The Israeli media reported that one rocket fired from Gaza hit a kindergarten in the city of Sderot on 21 March. The building was empty due to the Passover holiday and the damaged was discovered only this week.

Following the incidents on 2 and 3 April, the UN Special Coordinator, Mr. Robert Serry condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups into civilian areas and called on Israel to act with restraint. He also stated that the UN will continue to support Egyptian efforts to restore the calm and fully implement the ceasefire understanding as the only viable way to address the unsustainable situation in Gaza.

This week also witnessed several clashes in the access restricted areas (ARA) on land and at sea; no casualties were reported. One incident took place on 30 March during a Land Day demonstration held a in the vicinity of the fence. On 28 March, also near the fence, Israeli bulldozers and tanks entered approximately 300 meters into Gaza, withdrawing after leveling land. On several occasions this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire towards Palestinian fishing boats reportedly sailing close to the 3 nautical miles (NM) limit from the Gaza shore and in the vicinity of 1.5 NM limit along the northern maritime boundary with Israel.

The fishing limit had been extended to 6 NM in the context of the November 2012 ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. This was subsequently reduced by the Israeli authorities to 3 NM on 21 March in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups towards Israel on the same day. According to the Fishermen Syndicate in Gaza, this measure will further undermine the livelihoods of approximately 3,500 fishermen and their dependents.

Two killed and one injured in a tunnel related incident
In one incident on 26 March, two workers were killed and another was injured when a cooking gas cylinder exploded in a tunnel under the Gaza- Egypt border while they were working inside. Since the beginning of 2013, ten workers have died and nine others have been injured in tunnel-related incidents. Tunnels, some of which are poorly built, remain the primary source for the transfer of construction materials into Gaza, for which entry via Israel remains restricted, and for fuel, which is cheaper to purchase from Egypt.

Crossings update

On 28 March, the Israeli authorities re-opened the Kerem Shalom crossing for goods for a day, after having closed it for seven successive days in response to the firing of rockets towards southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups. Only 340 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip on 28 March, about 60 per cent below the average number of truckloads that have entered each week since the beginning of 2013. Also on 28 March, the Israeli authorities allowed over 100 Palestinian businessmen to cross the Erez crossing into Israel; businessmen had not been allowed to cross since 21 March. The next day (29 March), the Israeli authorities closed the two crossings again until the end the reporting period, due to the Jewish holiday of Passover; both crossings resumed operations, subject to pre-21 March restrictions, on 2 April.

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