19 Palestinians injured by Israeli forces
During the week, Israeli forces injured 19 Palestinians, including five children, in various incidents in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Thus far in 2011, four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces throughout the West Bank and 33 others have been injured.
Eleven Palestinians, including two children (aged 13 and 14), were injured in two separate protests in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, which evolved into clashes between the residents and the Israeli police. The protests took place against continued Israeli settler activity in the area, and were sparked by a visit conducted by workers from the Jerusalem Municipality, escorted by Israeli forces, to the area, which raised the fear of the residents on upcoming demolitions.
Another five Palestinians, including two children (aged 13 and 15), and one Israeli activist, were injured during weekly demonstrations that were carried out in the Ramallah area against the expansion of Hallamish settlement on An Nabi Saleh village land and the ongoing isolation of land belonging to Bil’in and Ni’lin villages by the Barrier. Also in the Ramallah governorate, Israeli forces injured a 16-year-old boy, after opening fire at a group of Palestinian youths, who were allegedly throwing stones in the vicinity of the Barrier next to the town of Beituniya.
Finally, one Palestinian farmer from Qusra village (Nablus governorate) was injured after inhaling tear gas shot by Israeli forces during a clash between the farmers and Israeli settlers, which occurred while the former were working on their land (see next section).
Overall, during the week, Israeli forces conducted a total of 78 search and arrest operations throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, compared with a weekly average of 92 during 2010.
During the reporting period, OCHA documented six settler-related incidents resulting in the injury of one Palestinian and damage to property, the same as the weekly average of incidents recorded in 2010. A number of additional incidents involving intimidation and access prevention by settlers against Palestinians were also reported during the week.
During the above-mentioned clash next to Qusra village five Palestinian farmers were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli settlers; these injuries are in addition to the one farmer injured by soldiers. According to the Israeli media, three settler youths were injured in the incident. In a separate incident in the same area, a group of settlers from the Shvut Rahel settlement outpost attacked a Palestinian farmer from the village of Jal’ud while working on his land near the settlement, vandalized his tractor and forced him off the land. Since the beginning of the year, OCHA has recorded four settler attacks affecting farmers from Qusra and Jal’ud villages.
In three separate incidents, Israeli settlers attempted to take-over land belonging to the communities of Qaryut (Nablus governorate), Al Farisiya (Tubas governorate) and Abu Qbeita (Hebron governorate) by cultivating or leveling around 140 dunums of land. Settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles travelling on a main road near Al Mughayyir village in the Ramallah area, causing damage to one vehicle. In a separate incident, which did not lead to property damage, Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement entered the village of ‘Asira Al Qibliya (Nablus) and hurled stones at a Palestinian house.
Demolitions and demolition orders in Area C
This week, the Israeli authorities demolished 13 Palestinian-owned structures in the Bedouin community of Dkaika (Hebron governorate) in Area C of the West Bank, due to the lack of Israeli-issued permits. The structures included nine residential tents, an animal shelter, a storage room, a kitchen and a classroom. As a result, 50 people, including 30 children, were displaced and classes for the affected children are held outside. This week’s demolitions follow a continued trend of increased demolitions since the second half of 2010, particularly in East Jerusalem, where 50 percent of all demolitions recorded in 2010 occurred in the last two months of the year. Thus far in 2011, 29 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished in Area C of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, displacing 70 people, including 40 children.
Also this week, OCHA recorded the issuance of ten demolition and stop-work orders, including seven residences in Nazlat ‘Isa village (Tulkarm governorate); a tent used as a school playground in An Nabi Samuel village (Jerusalem governorate); and an animal shelter in the Bedouin community of Arab Ar Ramadin Al Janubi (Qalqiliya governorate).
One Palestinian killed and three others injured near the fence
This week, in two separate incidents, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and injured three others near the fence dividing the Gaza Strip from Israel. Since the beginning of 2011, three Palestinians, and one Israeli soldier were killed in the context of Israeli-Palestinian conflict-related violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel, and nine Palestinians (all civilians) and four Israelis were injured.
On 18 January, in the course of a “leveling incursion” into this area, east of Jabaliya, an Israeli tank opened fire at a group of workers collecting rubble and scrap metal near the fence, killing an 18-year-old youth and injuring two others, including a 16-year-old boy; one cart horse was also killed and another one injured. An additional worker was injured in similar circumstances in the Beit Lahiya area. In 2010, 91 people were injured while collecting rubble and scrap metal near the fence. These casualties occurred in the context of ongoing Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to areas up to 1,500 metres (17 percent of Gaza Strip’s territory) from the fence.
Access restrictions are also enforced on fishing areas beyond three nautical miles from the shore. In three separate incidents this week, the Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats, resulting in no injures.
Also, rockets and mortar shells fired by Palestinian armed factions at southern Israel declined, while the Israeli Air Force targeted two military bases in Khan Younis and Nuseirat camp; none of these incidents resulted in injuries.
Tunnels continue to claim lives; two workers killed
This week, two Palestinians died separately on 15 and 18 January from wounds they sustained in one incident after the Egyptian border police detonated a tunnel under the Gaza-Egypt border, while they were working inside. These are the first two fatalities since the beginning of 2011; during 2010, 46 Palestinians were killed and 89 others have been injured in various tunnel-related incidents, including air strikes, tunnel collapses, electrocution and others. Tunnel activity has declined since the Israeli announcement to ease the blockade on 20 June 2010, however tunnels are still the source for a number of goods that continue to be prohibited through the official crossings with Israel, primarily building materials.
Gaza Crossings: wheat stocks almost depleted; Karni Crossing to be shut down
As wheat stocks in the Gaza Strip are almost depleted, UN agencies might be forced to suspend the distribution of wheat flour to over one million beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip, unless an exceptional delivery of wheat occurs immediately. Overall, as of 17 January, wheat reserves throughout the Gaza Strip would cover the population’s needs for around 4.5 days, down from a reserve stock covering nine days, reported last week. This decline followed the Israeli authorities’ closure this week of the conveyer belt at Karni Crossing, which is the sole facility used for the transfer of grain into Gaza, on the one day allocated for this purpose, and its partial opening on the same day last week; both closures were reportedly due to Israeli security concerns. According to the Ministry of National Economy in Gaza, there are over 25,000 tonnes of wheat delayed and awaiting Israeli approval to enter the Gaza Strip. Four out of the seven flour mills in Gaza have zero stock of wheat flour and are currently shut down. There is also a shortage of animal feed in the Gaza Strip due to insufficient operations at the conveyer belt of Karni Crossing.
Wheat reserves began declining following the resumption of imports of gravel for international projects through the conveyor belt at Karni Crossing in October 2010, thus reducing the time allocated for wheat transfer, from two to one day a week. After the imposition of the blockade in June 2007, one single lane was allocated for the transfer of both grains and gravel at the Karni Crossing, operating two days a week only. The Israeli authorities have indicated that the Karni Crossing will shut down permanently by the end of January. An alternative facility to be used for the transfer of bulk materials (primarily aggregates and grains) through the Kerem Shalom crossing, replacing the current conveyer belt at Karni, is currently under construction; according to the Israeli authorities the new facility is expected to begin operations during the second half of February.