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

Key issues

Over 70 Palestinians in three herding communities in the Jordan Valley and Ramallah were displaced following the demolition of their homes; eight others were also affected.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza raised concerns regarding the impact of increasing fuel shortages on the functioning of health services.


Search-and-arrest operations result in multiple injuries

Following a similar trend since the beginning of the month, the total number of civilian injuries occurring as a result of clashes with Israeli forces during the week remained well below the weekly average for 2013. Yet, unlike previous periods, the majority of this week’s injuries occurred during search-and-arrest operations, rather than in protests. The number of search-and-arrest operations recorded this week across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was 83 – consistent with the weekly average number of such operations since the beginning of the year.

The search-and-arrest operations that triggered clashes and injuries took place in Al Kum and Beit Ummar villages (both in Hebron), Qalandiya (Jerusalem) and Ayda (Bethlehem) refugee camps, and the cities of Nablus, Salfit and Qalqiliya. The clashes involved throwing stones by Palestinians and firing rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters by Israeli forces. A total of 16 Palestinian civilians were wounded during these clashes, including five minors and two infants.

Seven additional injuries were recorded in separate clashes that took place near Ar Ram town (Jerusalem) after Palestinian youth threw stones at Israeli Jeeps, as well as during a weekly protest against the longstanding closure of one of the main entrances to Kafr Qaddum.

Around 200 olive trees damaged by Israeli settlers

During the reporting period, OCHA recorded two settler-related incidents that led to Palestinian injuries and nine other incidents that resulted in damage to Palestinian property. No Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers were reported for the second consecutive week.

In three incidents this week, settlers reportedly burnt and damaged at least 190 olive trees in the Nablus villages of Huwwara (100 trees), Sabastiya (15) and ‘Einabus (70). In the latter village, some 50 dunums of land planted with almond trees were also set on fire. In addition, an unconfirmed number of trees were burnt and damaged by Israeli settlers on 28 June in Far’ata village (Qalqiliya). During the latter incident, settlers clashed with Palestinians who were trying to put out the fire, following which Israeli forces intervened, fired tear gas canisters and shortly detained some 40 Palestinians; two Palestinians were physically assaulted and injured during the clashes.

Also in the Nablus area, Israeli settlers were recorded on a surveillance camera pouring an unknown material into and writing “price-tag” graffiti on a water tank used by workers implementing a USAID-funded project to facilitate provision of water to the villages of ‘Asira al Qibliya, Madama and ‘Urif. This is the second attack targeting the project in the past two weeks.

Significant increase in demolitions in Area C

This week, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of 49 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C on grounds that they were built without Israeli-issued building permits; 76 people were displaced and eight others were affected. These numbers represent an approximately four-fold increase compared to the weekly average of structures demolished and people displaced since the beginning of the year.

Forty-five of the targeted structures were demolished on 27 June in two herding communities in the northern Jordan Valley: Al Hadidya (10 structures) and Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar (35 structures). In the latter location, Israeli forces confiscated two animal sheds (on 30 June) and damaged dozens of troughs and metal barrels. Around one-quarter of the structures demolished were residential shelters, resulting in the displacement of 64 people, including 21 children, while the remaining were animal sheds, kitchens and latrines. At least five of these structures were donated by the Palestinian Authority and international or local agencies in response to previous demolitions.

The remaining structures demolished this week included two residential shelters in the Al Mu’arrajat area (Ramallah), displacing 12 people, including four children and an agricultural shed and a retaining wall in Khallet An Nahla (Bethlehem). During the latter demolition, Israeli forces uprooted around 300 olive trees for unclear reasons.

Dozens of stop-work and demolitions orders were issued by the Israeli authorities this week, mainly affecting residential and livelihood structures in the communities of Khan Al Ahmar (Jerusalem) and Susiya (Hebron). At least nine of the targeted structures were funded by international donors. A confiscation order was also issued against around 380 dunums of land Kafr Qalil (Nablus) on the grounds that the area is designated as “state land”.


Relative calm continues

There have been no reports of rocket firing by Palestinian armed groups or Israeli air strikes during this week. However, a number of incidents were recorded in the context of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access on land and at sea, which have continued to affect access to livelihoods, but resulted in no injuries. In four incidents near the fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip Israeli forces fired warning shots at farmers, forcing them out of the area, detained three Palestinian civilians who were reportedly attempting to cross the fence illegally into Israel, and conducted one land leveling operation. On at least one occasion, Israeli naval forces opened fire at fishermen who were reportedly sailing near the 6 NM limit from the shore, forcing them to leave the area.

Ongoing fuel crisis raises humanitarian concerns

The quantities of fuel that entered the Gaza Strip have continued to decline for the second consecutive week due to the measures adopted by the Egyptian authorities to close down tunnel activities along Egypt’s border with Gaza. Tunnels are the main entry point for the transfer of fuel to the Gaza Strip, due to the lower prices in Egypt compared to Israel. It is estimated that this week approximately 30- 50,000 liters of fuel (mostly diesel) entered Gaza via tunnels per day, or around 10 percent of the amounts of fuel that entered before mid-June, when Egypt began closing tunnels. These amounts were the lowest recorded since August 2012.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza issued a statement on 2 July, saying that fuel reserves available in its hospitals have declined by 80 per cent over the past two weeks, raising concerns regarding the effective functioning of health services, and called for an immediate supply of fuel. Hospitals and other public services rely heavily on fuel to run backup generators due to the prolonged power cuts. The Gaza Power Plant was able to maintain operations at two-thirds of its capacity (120 megawatts) by drawing on its fuel reserves. Some private contractors have reportedly increased their purchase of fuel from Israel. Long queues of vehicles were also seen at fuel stations across the Gaza Strip.

The volume of construction materials entering through the tunnels declined to less than 1,000 tonnes a day during the week, compared to over 7,000 tonnes which entered each day through the tunnels in the past weeks. Towards the end of the week, the transfer of construction materials came to a complete halt and prices of available building materials increased by 50 per cent compared to prior mid-June levels.

Decline in number of travelers via Rafah

According to the Border and Crossing Authority in the Gaza Strip, the number of people who crossed daily into Egypt via Rafah Crossing this week declined by almost half; approximately 580 people crossed each day compared to a daily average of 1000 since beginning of the year. The decline might be attributed to the current unrest in Egypt. Rafah remains the sole passengers’ crossing to the outside world due to the restrictions on access via the Israeli-controlled Erez Crossing.

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