|Dozens injured in clashes with Israeli forces|
Dozens of Palestinian were injured in clashes with Israeli forces this week. However, the number of injuries (30) is significantly lower than the weekly average recorded since the beginning of March (128 injuries). Ten Palestinians were injured during clashes on 21 March at the Beituniya checkpoint in Ramallah and on 22 March in Ar Ram town in Jerusalem. The clashes occurred in the context of protests held in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli detention. Also, four Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in clashes that took place in the Israeli-controlled area of the old city of Hebron (H2) on 20, 21 and 22 March. Two of the injuries occurred during a protest against the closure to Palestinian movement of Road 60, near Beit Haggay settlement, since 2000.
On 18 March, Israeli forces erected a flying checkpoint at the entrance to Jaba’ village in Jenin, triggering clashes with Palestinians; six Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation. In addition this week, two Palestinians were injured by live ammunition in clashes with Israeli forces in ‘Anata village (Jerusalem) and another two were injured with rubber bullets at the entrance of ‘Abud village (Ramallah).
On 23 March, a Palestinian man was injured in an incident involving unexploded ordnance (UXO) near ‘Awarta village in Nablus.
Increase in settler-related incidents against Palestinians
This week, ten settler-related incidents were recorded in which seven Palestinians were injured and Palestinian-owned trees and vehicles were damaged. This is higher than the weekly average thus far in 2013 (seven).
In one incident on 22 March, Israeli settlers from Talmon settlement clashed with Palestinians from the nearby village of Al Mazra’a al Qibliya in Ramallah, when settlers entered the outskirts of the village. Israeli forces arrived at the scene, after which Palestinians threw stones toward the settlers and soldiers and the Israeli forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. Two Palestinians were injured as a result of severe tear gas inhalation and one by a rubber bullet in the head. Since the beginning of 2013, approximately 70 Palestinians have been injured during clashes with Israeli forces that were triggered by confrontations between settlers and Palestinians.
Also this week, a 9-year-old Palestinian boy also sustained injuries on 20 March from a glass bottle thrown at him by settlers in the old city of Jerusalem. In addition, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured two Palestinian shepherds near Avne Hefez settlement (Tulkarm) on 18 March and one farmer near Yitzhar settlement (Nablus) on 21 March.
Three incidents resulted in damage to hundreds of trees by settlers, including: 300 olive saplings belonging to Husan village in Bethlehem (on 20 March); 27 olive trees and five grape trees belonging to Beit Ummar village in Hebron (17 March); and 12 olive saplings belonging to Burin village in Nablus (20 March). In three separate incidents, settlers stoned Palestinian-plated vehicles driving near Qarne Shomron (Qalqiliya) on 18 March, Yitzhar (Nablus) on 20 March, and Bet El (Ramallah) on 22 March, causing damage to 22 vehicles. This week, Israeli forces also erected a fence along a part of Route 5 near Kifl Haris and Haris villages in Salfit following stone-throwing incidents towards settlers. In this context, the Israeli media reported the arrest of five youths from the village of Haris who reportedly admitted to the stone-throwing incident that led to the critical injury of an Israeli child on 14 March.
In an incident this week affecting Palestinians, sewage leaking from the Betar Illit settlement flooded approximately 150 dunums of agricultural land belonging to Wadi Fukin (Bethlehem) for the second time this year.
The Israeli media reported this week that the Israeli army and police evacuated six structures in the Oz Zion and Ramat Migron settlement outposts south of Bet El settlement in Ramallah. Clashes reportedly erupted between Israeli soldiers and settlers; two settlers were arrested.
A tent compound dismantled; no
demolitions for the third week in a row
On 20 March, Palestinians set up a tent village named “Ahfad Younis” near Al ‘Eizariya (Jerusalem) to protest against Israeli settlement policies in the E1 area in particular and the West Bank in general. The Israeli authorities delivered a written order to the activists to evacuate the area and dismantle the tents on the grounds that they were present in a newly-declared closed military area. On 24 March, Israeli forces dismantled the tents, forcibly evacuated the activists, and detained 50 of them; four remained in custody and were later released on bail. This is the fourth protest village of this kind established by Palestinian activists and dismantled by Israeli forces since the beginning of 2013.
There were no demolitions carried out by the Israeli authorities against Palestinian-owned structures for the third week in a row. However, the Israeli authorities issued stop-work orders against six structures belonging to the Bedouin community of Deir Samit near Nahal Negohot settlement, and against a residential structure funded by the UN Emergency Response Fund in Idhna village (both in Hebron), and a house under construction in ‘Azzun ‘Atme (Qalqiliya).
Although the 21 November 2012 cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas continues to hold, this week a Palestinian armed group in Gaza fired five rockets towards southern Israel on 21 March. No casualties were reported but one rocket hit the yard of a residential building causing property damage. According to media reports, Gaza police arrested a number of members who claimed responsibility for the rocket firing. However, in response the Israeli authorities restricted fishing limits to three nautical miles from the Gaza shore: this had been increased to six nautical miles as part of the cease-fire agreement.