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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
27 May 2013

Key issues

Twenty-one Palestinian civilians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces, including two children with serious injuries; five Israeli settlers were injured by Palestinians in stone-throwing incidents.

Ten Palestinian families were displaced in the context of demolitions in East Jerusalem and Area C.

The Israeli authorities extended the fishing areas permissible for Gaza fishermen from 3 to 6 Nautical Miles from the shore.

The Rafah Crossing was re-opened, allowing around 4,500 Palestinian travelers stranded on the Egyptian side to cross into Gaza and over 5,000 others, including medical cases, to exit Gaza.


Significant decline in clashes and injuries

Twenty-one Palestinian civilians, including five children, were injured this week during clashes with Israeli forces. This represents a significant decline compared to the equivalent figure last week (at least 270), as well as compared to the weekly average since the beginning of the year (116). There were no injuries among Israeli forces.

On 21 May, stone-throwing by Palestinian youths at Israeli forces at the entrance of Al Jalazun refugee camp (Ramallah), led to a violent clash, during which, two Palestinian children, aged 13 and 15, sustained serious injuries. Medical sources indicate that the children were shot with 0.22 caliber bullets, a smaller and less lethal caliber than the standard live ammunition (5.56mm bullets). Last week, five children were injured by this ammunition in the same location.

About half of this week’s injuries were recorded during additional clashes in weekly demonstrations. These included a protest in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya), against the longstanding closure of the village’s entrance, citing the security needs of the Qedummim settlement, and two other protests in the villages of Bil’in (Ramallah) and Al Ma’sara (Bethlehem), against the separation of farming land from the village by the Barrier. The remaining injuries occurred in two arrest operations in the Old City of East Jerusalem and in Budrus and Beituniya villages (Ramallah).

Five Israeli settlers injured by Palestinians in stone-throwing incidents; at least 500 Palestinian trees vandalized

Two stone-throwing incidents recorded on 23 May, in which Palestinians targeted Israeli-plated cars driving near the villages of Al Khader village in Bethlehem and Silwad in Ramallah, resulted in the injury of five Israeli settlers. According to the Israeli media, the joint leadership of the Israeli settler movement (Yesh Council) raised concerns about a sharp increase in stoning incidents across the West Bank in recent months; the leaders protested what they considered as a “lack of law enforcement” against Palestinians stone-throwers and demanded that the IDF loosen the rules of engagement.

In another incident, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian shepherd from Yatta (who is also physically impaired) near the Ma’on settlement in Hebron.

Also this week, Israeli settlers reportedly set fire to, or sprayed with chemicals, at least 500 olive trees in the villages of Beitillu (on 22 and 24 May) and Burin in Nablus (on 25 May). Since the beginning of 2013, around 4,050 trees and saplings have been damaged by settlers, undermining livelihoods. Of the 162 complaints filed by the Israeli NGO Yesh Din between 2005 and 2012 regarding vandalism against Palestinian trees, only one has so far led to the indictment of a suspect.

This week, settlers took over two shops in the Old City of East Jerusalem, following a court ruling in favour of the settlers who claim ownership over them.

Nineteen families displaced by demolitions and due to military training exercises

This week, the Israeli authorities demolished seven Palestinian-owned residential structures in East Jerusalem and Area C on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. As a result, ten families comprising 44 people, including around 20 children, were displaced.

The targeted structures in East Jerusalem included two residences in Jabal al Mukabbir and a house and a latrine in At Tur. In Area C, four residential structures were demolished in Al Jiftlik village in the Jordan Valley. Also, the Israeli authorities issued demolition and stop-work orders against dozens of structures in the Jordan Valley and a mosque in Burin in Nablus.

Nine families in Humsa al Bqai’a (Tubas) residing in an area designated as a “Firing Zone” in the northern Jordan Valley were evicted from their homes for eight hours on 27 May in the context of an Israeli military training exercise. At least 340 people in several communities in the northern Jordan Valley have been temporarily evicted to make way for military training exercises since the beginning of the year, some of whom were displaced several times. Some of these communities have been residing in their current location long before their designation as “Firing zones”. According to the Israeli authorities, the residents of these communities are “trespassers”, who are removed from the area for their own safety during the exercise.


Relative calm continues; fishing limits doubled

This week, the Israeli authorities extended, once again, the fishing areas permissible for Gaza fishermen to 6 Nautical Miles (NM) from the shore. This limit, which had been set in November 2012, as part of the ceasefire agreement, was reduced on 21 March 2013 to 3 NM, in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups. The erratic implementation of sea access restrictions in the recent period has left fishermen fearful that they will be unable to capitalize on investments made following the relaxation of restrictions in November. The currently accessible areas by sea makes up only 30 per cent of the fishing zones allocated to Palestinians under the Oslo Agreement of 1994 (20 NM). The expansion of these limits to over 12 NM is required to enable the revitalization of the fishing sector.

During the week, at least ten incidents of opening warning fire and using water cannons against fishermen were recorded in the proximity of the new 6 NM fishing limit. While none of these incidents resulted in injuries, at least one boat and some fishing equipment were damaged. In the context of similar restrictions on land near the fence between Israel and Gaza, on at least two occasions, Israeli forces fired warning shots towards people and conducted land leveling operations before withdrawing. No injuries were reported.

One killed in a tunnel-related incident

On 24 May, a 20 year-old worker was killed when a tunnel under the Gaza Strip-Egypt border collapsed while he was working, bringing the total number of those killed in tunnel-related incidents since the beginning of 2013 to 13. Eleven other workers have been injured so far in 2013. Tunnels, many 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.

Another death sentence

On 23 May, a military court in Gaza sentenced a 43 year-old civilian man to death by hanging, after convicting him of “collaboration with a hostile element”. This is the third case of a death sentence since the beginning of the year, bringing the total number of these sentences issued since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 to 135. Of those, 108 sentences have been issued in Gaza and 27 in the West Bank. Of these sentences, 27 have been executed, including 25 in the Gaza Strip (14 without the required Palestinian presidential ratification) and two in the West Bank.

Rafah crossing re-opened

On 21 May, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing with Gaza was re-opened after five days of closure, following the kidnap of seven members of Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula on 16 May. As a result, around 4,500 Palestinian travelers who were stranded on the Egyptian side of the crossing were able to cross into Gaza and over 5,000 others, including medical cases, exited Gaza, during the course of the week. Rafah Crossing serves as the main access point to the outside world in light of the restrictions on Palestinian movement via Erez Crossing to Israel.

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