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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
25 March 2013





حماية المدنيين



Key issues

In Gaza, the Israeli authorities heightened restrictions on the fishing limits, and closed the Kerem Shalom crossing in response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel. Restrictions at the Erez passenger crossing were also increased.

In the West Bank, seven Palestinians were injured and around 340 trees vandalized in incidents related to settler violence.

No demolitions were carried out by the Israeli authorities for the third consecutive week.


WEST BANK

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.





GAZA STRIP

Fishing limits reduced to three nautical
miles in response to rocket firing

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.

For the second consecutive week, there were no Palestinian casualties by Israeli forces. This week, Israeli forces handed over the body of a 24 year-old Palestinian man from Gaza. The man was shot and killed on 26 November on the Israeli side of the fence, after he had crossed into Israel, broke into a house in a nearby village in southern Israel (Sdeh Nehemia) and attacked a woman who was alone in the house. The total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the ceasefire is five; another 110 Palestinians have been injured, all in the vicinity of the fence. Also, on at least two occasions during the week (on 23 and 24 March), Israeli naval forces opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats reportedly sailing close to the 1.5 nautical mile limit along the northern maritime boundary with Israel. According to the Israeli authorities, Israeli forces opened fire at the fishing boats when they crossed the maritime boundary between Israel and the Gaza Strip established in the Oslo Accords.

Six children injured in UXOs related incident

Six boys (aged between 6 and 10) were injured in an incident on 22 March when the Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) they were playing with detonated in Al Salam quarter east of Rafah. Since January 2013, two children have been killed in incidents related to ERWs. Additionally, 17 Palestinians, including 16 children, have been injured. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) with partners continues to step up risk awareness training in Gaza.

Closure of crossings following rocket firing

In response to the firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups towards southern Israel on 21 March, the Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing for goods. Further restrictions were also imposed at the Erez passenger crossing, limiting movement to humanitarian cases holding permits only. The two crossings remained closed at the end of the reporting period, which also coincided with the Israeli Passover holidays. Before the closure of Kerem Shalom at mid-day on 21 March, only 675 truckloads of goods entered the Gaza Strip between 19 and 21 March, a decline of 38 percent compared to a weekly average of truckloads through the Kerem Shalom crossing since the beginning of 2013. Prior to the blockade in June 2007, 2807 truckloads entered Gaza each week.

Man sentenced to death

On 24 March, a military court in Gaza sentenced a 23-year-old man to death by hanging, allegedly for collaborating with what the court described as “hostile elements”. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, the number of death sentences issued since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994 is 132, including 106 sentences issued in Gaza and 26 in the West Bank; 46 of these death sentences have been issued since 2007, following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Of these sentences, 27 have been implemented, including 25 in the Gaza Strip (14 without the required Palestinian presidential ratification) and two in the West Bank.






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