Decline in clashes during demonstrations
While clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in the context of demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners continued during the week, the number of people involved and the level of violence was less than in previous weeks. Overall, a total of 132 Palestinians were reported injured by Israeli forces during the week, down by around 40 per cent compared to last week; five Israeli soldiers were also injured during the clashes.
Also this week (7 March), a 23 year-old Palestinian man died of head wounds he sustained from a rubber-coated metal bullet fired by Israeli forces during a prisoner’s demonstration in ‘Abud village (Ramallah) on 22 February.
Latest development: on 12 March (outside the reporting period), Israeli forces shot and killed a 22 year old man during clashes in Al-Fawar refugee camp (Hebron). The IDF has stated that the soldiers opened fire in response to intensive stone throwing by residents of the camp after feeling their lives at risk. This incident brings the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of 2013 to six.
The largest demonstrations this week took place in Al Aqsa Mosque compound and in other areas in the old city of Jerusalem following the Friday prayers, at Qalandiya (Jerusalem) and Beituniya (Ramallah) checkpoints, in the old city of Hebron, and in ‘Anata and Shu’fat refugee camp in East Jerusalem. Most injuries were caused by rubber-coated bullets (36) and tear gas inhalation (37).
On 8 March, 18 Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces during a demonstration protesting the continuous leakage of sewage from the Shave Shomoron settlement onto land belonging to farmers from Sabastiya village, near Nablus. According to the Israeli authorities they have suggested to solve the problem by connecting the settlement, at Israel’s expense, to a nearby sewage pipeline serving Palestinian villages. The Palestinian Authority has reportedly refused.
Fourteen Palestinians injured in settler-related violence
Fourteen Palestinians were injured in two incidents of settler violence this week. The majority were injured by Israeli forces which were intervening in clashes between Palestinians and settlers. In addition, settlers vandalized dozens of Palestinian-owned trees over the course of the week.
On 8 March, a group of armed Israeli settlers from the Adei Ad settlement outpost physically assaulted and injured an elderly Palestinian shepherd and killed five of his sheep and injured several others. According to the IDF, the attack took place after unknown Palestinians entered the settlement outpost and stole 30 sheep. The incident triggered clashes between the Israeli settlers and local Palestinian residents from Al Mughayyir. Israeli forces which arrived at the scene were attacked with stones by Palestinian villagers and responded by firing tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets. Six Palestinians were injured in this incident, one of whom sustained a serious head injury. According to the IDF, their efforts to request the head of the village council intervene to stop the clashes were unsuccessful.
In a separate incident on the same day, Israeli settlers from Talmon settlement clashed with Palestinian villagers on the outskirts of Al Mazra’a Al Qibliya (Ramallah). Israeli forces intervened and fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters, injuring six Palestinians, including two children. On 11 March, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a 9 year-old Palestinian child in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2).
A number of additional settler violence-related incidents resulted in damage to Palestinian-owned olive trees. On 8 March, farmers from As Sawiya village (Nablus) reported that they found dozens of their olive trees vandalized, with “price tag” graffiti sprayed on barrels next to the trees. The day before, in the Ramallah governorate, Israeli settlers cut down 30 olive trees belonging to residents of Deir Jarir village. Also in Ramallah (not reported last week), on 1 March villagers from Al Mazra’a al Qibliya found 270 olive trees vandalized, reportedly by settlers from Nahliel settlement.
This week, the Israeli media reported that demolition orders were issued by the Israeli authorities against four new structures erected in the settlement outpost of Sde Boaz in the Gush Etzion area (Bethlehem). The settlement outpost has been established on land belonging to Palestinian residents of Al-Khader village. This followed a petition filed by the Palestinians with the Israeli High Court of Justice.
At least 200 people temporarily displaced to make way for military training in the Jordan Valley
On 8, 10 and 11 March, at least 200 people, including 90 children, living in three communities in the Jordan Valley (Humsa al Bqai’a, Khirbet ar Ras el Ahmar and Ibziq), were forced to leave their homes for periods ranging from nine to 16 hours to make way for military training. The communities are located in an area designated as a “firing zone”. People reportedly stayed with neighbours or relatives, or moved to a nearby location during the training. This follows similar temporary displacement in the same area last week.
Since the 1970’s, approximately 18 percent of the West Bank has been designated by the Israeli military as “firing zones”. Approximately 5,000 Palestinians reside in 38 communities herding communities in these zones, many of which existed prior to the closing of the area. Access to these areas is prohibited under Israeli military orders, unless special authorization is given by the military commander.
For the second consecutive week, no demolitions of Palestinian structures were carried out by the Israeli authorities in Area C and East Jerusalem. However in Area C, the Israeli authorities delivered at least 30 demolition and stop-work orders in the communities of Khallet ad Dab’a and Al Ganoub in Hebron against residential structures, water cisterns and animal structures. The orders were issued on the grounds that the structures were built without the necessary Israeli-issued building permits.