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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
24 December 2013

Key issues

Ya’abad village in Jenin (16,000 people) confined by flying checkpoints for six days; elderly man dies after denied access to a hospital.
Entire Bedouin community displaced due to demolitions, the fourth case since August 2013.
Worrying escalation in Gaza and southern Israel results in two fatalities and 16 injuries.
Electricity supply and exports further disrupted due to closure of Kerem Shalom Crossing


31 Palestinians injured in clashes

During the last week of 2013, 31 Palestinian civilians, including eight children and five women, were injured by Israeli forces during clashes across the West Bank. This brings the total number of Palestinian injuries in these circumstances during the year (up to 30 December) to 3,718, a 23 per cent increase compared with the equivalent figure during 2012. A total of 28 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during the year.

Two thirds (21) of this week's injuries occurred on 27 December, during weekly demonstrations, including in Bilin village, against the isolation of land by the Barrier and in An Nabi Saleh village (both in Ramallah) against the expansion of the Israeli settlement of Halamish on the village's land; and in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) against the prolonged closure of one of the village's main entrances, as well as settlement expansion on the village's land. Another five Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces during search-and-arrest operations in Tulkarm city, in Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah), and in Qalandiya Refugee Camp (Jerusalem). Fourteen (14) of this week's injuries were caused by tear gas inhalation, eight by rubber-coated metal bullets, and three by live ammunition.

Entire village confined for six days; elderly man dies after denied access through checkpoint en route to hospital

Between 24 and 29 December, Israeli forces severely restricted vehicular movement to and from the village of Ya'bad (Jenin), disrupting the access of nearly 16,000 residents to services and livelihoods. The Israeli military deployed multiple ad-hoc ("flying") checkpoints along the main entrances to the village, allowing passage only in exceptional cases, closed a road gate on one of the routes into the village, and patrolled the area intensively. During the week, Israeli forces also conducted a number of search-and-arrest operations in the village and occupied the roof of one uninhabited house.

On 29 December, an 82-year-old man from the village, suffering from pneumonia, tried to reach a hospital in Jenin city in a private vehicle for medical treatment; he was held for over 20 minutes at one of the flying checkpoints and finally were turned back by Israeli soldiers staffing the checkpoint; he died while en route back to the village.

According to Palestinian sources, the access restrictions were imposed in response to a recent increase in stone throwing by the village's youth at Israeli vehicles travelling between the nearby settlement of Mevo Dotan and Israel. In November 2013, Israeli forces pruned and damaged more than 100 olive trees owned by residents of Ya'bad next to the Mayo Dotan permanent checkpoint, claiming security reasons. Protests against this measure triggered clashes which resulted in multiple Palestinian injuries.

Nearly 11,000 Palestinian-owned trees damaged by Israeli settlers in 2013

This week there were four incidents involving Israelis and Israeli settlers reported, two of which resulted in casualty and property damage among Palestinians, and two resulted in property damage among Israeli settlers.

On 28 December, a 29-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem was stoned and physically assaulted by a group of Israelis in West Jerusalem. The perpetrators fled the scene and the man was evacuated to a hospital. A similar attack last week in the same area resulted in the injury of another Palestinian.

In the Old City of Hebron, Israeli settlers from Havat Gal settlement outpost cut down 12 Palestinian-owned olive trees in Jabal Jales area, on 26 December. By the end of 2013, around 10,700 Palestinian-owned trees, including saplings, were cut down or otherwise damaged by Israeli settlers across the West Bank, 56 percent of them in the northern governorates and 7 percent in Hebron governorate; about 25 percent increase from the equivalent figure in 2012 (8,530).

Also this week, there were two stoning incidents against Israeli vehicles in East Jerusalem by Palestinians that resulted in damage to the vehicles, according to Israeli media reports.

70 Palestinians from Bedouin communities displaced

This week, 68 people, including 32 children, were forcibly displaced in the context of home demolitions, and another 42 were otherwise affected. All of the incidents occurred on 24 December, when the Israeli authorities demolished 28 structures in three Bedouin communities in Area C on grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits. The humanitarian impact of the recent demolitions is of a particular concern given the low temperatures at this time of the year.

Twenty-one (21) of the demolished structures, including 14 residential structures, belonged to the Ein Ayoub community in the Ramallah governorate. The demolition resulted in the displacement of

the entire community, comprising 61 individuals, almost half of them children. The community, which belongs to the Jahalin tribe, was established on this site in 1980, following an agreement with the land owner, a resident of Deir 'Ammar village. This is the fourth Bedouin or herding community displaced in its entirety since August 2013.

The other seven demolished structures belonged to two other Bedouin communities in the Jericho governorate: six structures, including two residential structures, belonged to Fasayil Al Wusta community; and one animal barracks belonged to An Nuweima Al Fauqa community.

The Israeli authorities also issued at least 17 demolition orders this week, mainly against residential structures, in East Jerusalem and in Area C, placing nine Palestinian families at-risk of displacement.

This week's demolitions bring the total number of Palestinian structures demolished by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank in 2013 to 662 and the number of people displaced to 1,100, a 10 per cent and 24 per cent increase, respectively, over the equivalent figures during 2012 (604 and 886 respectively).


Worrying escalation results in two fatalities and 16 injuries

The reporting period witnessed one of the most serious episodes of violence since the ceasefire reached in November 2012, resulting in two fatalities (one Israeli and one Palestinian) and 16 Palestinian injuries. The escalation began on 24 December, when a Palestinian sniper shot and killed an Israeli man carrying out repair works along the fence between Gaza and Israel. In response, the Israeli army carried out a series of airstrikes and tank and artillery shots across the Gaza Strip, targeting primarily military training facilities. One of the tank shells hit a civilian house in Al Maghazi refugee camp, killing a three-year-old girl and injuring three of her family members; it remains unclear what was the target of the attack. Another 16 civilians were also injured during the Israeli attacks. Over the course of the escalation, Palestinian armed groups fired a number of projectiles towards Israel, most of which fell short of their targets within the Gaza Strip, resulting in no casualties or damage.

Incidents in the context of the enforcement of access restrictions along the fence and at sea also continued during the week. In two separate incidents, Israeli forces fired teargas canisters at Palestinian civilians approaching the fence, injuring seven of them, who were treated for tear gas inhalation. Additional incidents of warning shots along the ARA, which did not result in casualties, were reported during the week. On at least four occasions during the week, the Israeli navy opened warning fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing near the 6 NM limit, forcing them ashore.

Despite the increase in violence during the week, the number of civilian deaths and injuries during 2013 (6 and 76 respectively) is the lowest since the beginning of the second Intifada in September 2000.

Electricity supply and exports further disrupted due to closure of Kerem Shalom Crossing

In response to the killing of the Israeli man on 24 December, the Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing, which is the only crossing for goods between Gaza and Israel currently operational, for four days, including the weekend (25-28 December). Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations raised concern that the closure amounts to collective punishment, prohibited under international law.

The closure forced the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) to shut down on 27 and 28 December, due to a lack of fuel, resulting in power cuts of up to 16 hours per day, compared to approximately 12 hours per day in most areas, in the previous days. Following the reopening of the Crossing and the resumption of fuel supply on 29 December, the GPP restarted operations, producing 60 megawatts of electricity, less than 13 per cent of the current demand.
The closure of Kerem Shalom Crossing also disrupted the limited export of cash crops from Gaza to markets abroad. In this context, some 12 tonnes of strawberries, seven tonnes of cherry tomatoes and 100,000 cut flowers were delayed for several days in warehouses undermining the quality of the produce. This is expected to reduce the farmers' income, adding to the losses sustained as a result of the winter storm that hit the region on 11-14 December. Overall, during the reporting period (22-28 December 2013), 10 truckloads of cash crops exited Gaza to international markets. Since June 2007, Israel has prohibited the transfer of goods from Gaza to West Bank or Israeli markets.

The import of cooking gas was also affected by the closure of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, resulting in the entry of only 633 tonnes compared to 1,167 during the previous week. Similarly to other critical goods, the supply of cooking gas to the Gaza Strip has been severely cut due to the halt in smuggling via the illegal tunnels under the border with Egypt. At the same time, the demand has increased due to winter weather conditions, as well as due to the increased use of cooking gas to run transportation given fuel shortages.

Rafah Crossing update

After a partial opening for three days (24-26 December), allowing only 961 travelers to cross into Egypt, the Egyptian authorities closed Rafah Crossing on 27 December. Another 1,214 people entered Gaza, 129 were denied entry and some 400 travelers were turned back on the Palestinian side after waiting to Cross. The number of people crossing is well below the average of 1,860 people crossing per day in June 2013. In December, Rafah Crossing was closed for 23 days, up from 20 days in November. In recent years, the Rafah Crossing has functioned as the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on movement of people via the Erez Crossing.

In the context of the increasing closure of Rafah, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the number of applications for permits to leave Gaza for medical treatment through the Erez Crossing with Israel (to the West Bank, Israel or Jordan) is 47 percent higher this year compared to 2012. On average, 91 percent of these applications were approved. Nevertheless due to access restrictions at Erez Crossing and the infrequent opening of Rafah Crossing, it is estimated that hundreds of patients are unable to access specialized services. According to the IDF, in early December, a man referred to medical treatment in the West Bank due to an eye problem was arrested at the Erez Crossing on the grounds of membership with a Palestinian armed group, where he allegedly served as a sniper.

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