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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
23 June 2014

Key issues

Four Palestinian civilians killed and over 100 injured by Israeli forces in clashes during ongoing military operations in the West Bank.
A number of Islamic charitable associations raided and shutdown by military order.
Concern over further deterioration in basic services amidst salaries’ crisis in the Gaza strip.
Kerem shalom crossing for goods in the Gaza strip partially reopened, while the two passenger-crossings (Erez and Rafah) remain blocked.


Four Palestinians killed and over 100 injured by Israeli forces

The large-scale Israeli military operations, which began on 13 June in the Hebron governorate following the suspected abduction of three Israeli youth, continued and expanded across the West Bank, with the stated objective of finding and releasing the youth, as well as undermining Hamas infrastructure. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged all actors to ensure respect for international law, including by avoiding punishing individuals for offences they have not personally committed or by imposing collective penalties.

Many of the operations triggered widespread clashes between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces in dozens of cities, villages and refugee camps, during which four Palestinian civilians were shot with live ammunition and killed, including a 15-year-old boy killed in Dura village (Hebron) on 20 June, two men (both aged 30) killed in Ramallah city and Beit ‘Ein el Ma’ refugee camp (Nablus city) on 22 June; and a 22-year-old man who died on 25 June (outside of the reporting period) of a critical injury he sustained on 20 June in the Qalandiya refugee camp (Jerusalem). These fatalities bring the total number of Palestinians killed during post-13 June military operations to five.

Additionally, a total of 106 Palestinians, including 28 children, were injured during the clashes, including by rubber-coated metal bullets (37) andlive ammunition (18), or treated due to physical assault (30) or tear gas inhalation (20) or after being hit by a tear gas canister (1). Over half the injuries occurred in clashes, mostly at night, which took place in refugee camps: Ad Duheisha and Ayda (Bethlehem), Al ‘Arrub (Hebron), Balata and Askar (Nablus), Al Far’a (Tubas), Jenin (Jenin), and Qalandiya (Jerusalem).Overall, Israeli forces conducted more than 300 search-and-arrest operations during the reporting period, some of which resulted in damage to property in homes searched. A total of 340 Palestinians were arrested during these operations, mostly alleged Hamas and Islamic Jihad members, including dozens who were released in 2011 in the context of a prisoner swap (the ‘Shalit deal’). A significant proportion of those arrested are being held under administrative detention orders, imprisonment without charge or trial. Consequently, the total number of administrative detainees in Israeli prisons increased since the beginning of the current operations from approximately 190 to at least 340, according to the Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association (Addameer).

Also this week, on 21 June, a Palestinian youth (aged 18), from the Palestinian Bedouin community of Hamamat al Maleh in the northern Jordan Valley, was found dead near an Israeli military base. Community members suspect that the youth was shot by Israeli soldiers while grazing his sheep in the area. While an autopsy was carried out, its results are not yet available.

Raids and closure of charitable organizations

In the context of current military operations, the Israeli army raided a number of Islamic associations, allegedly linked to Hamas, confiscated computers and other equipment, and shutdown some by military order. These measures are expected to disrupt the delivery of services and assistance to thousands of beneficiaries.

The main affected association was Hebron’s Islamic Charitable Organization. On 20 June, Israeli forces raided the headquarters of the organization, confiscated equipment, sealed the main door and affixed on it a closure order in force through the end of 2014. Three of the organization’s branches in the Hebron governorate (Ash Shyyoukh, Bani Naim and Beit Ula) were also raided. The organization employs 680 staff and provides assistance to some 6,000 beneficiaries, including in the areas of education, food, shelter, and social safety nets for poor families.

Other affected Islamic associations, which were raided and had equipment confiscated, included the Muslim Youth Association (Hebron), which runs 12 schools across the Hebron governorate (3,500 students), the Medical Islamic Relief, in Jenin, the Zakat charitable society in Tulkarm, and a small charitable society and women’s association in East Jerusalem; the latter two were also shut down.

Movement restrictions continue disrupting access to services and places of work

Most of the movement restrictions imposed last week following the start of the current operations, primarily across the Hebron governorate, have remained in place, disrupting access of people to services, markets and workplaces, and resulting in significant economic losses. During the reporting period, three of the main entrances to Hebron city remained blocked for vehicular traffic, while access through the remaining three routes was controlled by checkpoints. Access to nearby localities has been closed intermittently during the week over the course of search and arrest operations.

Latest developments: since 24 June there has been a gradual relaxation in the access restrictions to and from Hebron city, however the situation remains fluid with some obstacles being removed and subsequently redeployed.

The vast majority of Hebron governorate’s residents have remained subject to a series of additional movement restrictions, including preventing men aged between 16 and 50 from crossing the Wadi an Nar checkpoint, which controls the single route available for most Palestinians between the central and southern West Bank; the invalidation of permits to access East Jerusalem, Israel and some settlement areas; and preventing men between 20 and 50 years of age from traveling to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge.

In the northern West Bank, the main entrances to ‘Izbet at Tabib and ‘Azzun villages (Qalqiliya) have remained closed for the second consecutive week, forcing residents to use a long detour to reach main services and workplaces in Qalqiliya city and increasing transport costs. Around 280 residents of ‘Izbet at Tabib are forced to use a 17 km detour, and 10,000 residents of ‘Azzun are forced to travel 40 km back and forth, up from 7.5 km before the closure.

Six Palestinians injured by Israeli settlers

This week recorded eight incidents perpetrated by Israeli settlers against Palestinians that led to injuries or damage to property, almost the same as the weekly average of these incidents since the beginning of the year. Another four incidents involved Palestinian attacks on Israeli vehicles, which resulted in damage to the vehicles.

Overall, six Palestinians were injured by Israeli settlers during the week. Two of them were farmers injured while working their land: one stabbed in the Ar Ramadin village (Hebron) (22 June) and the other stoned near Bracha settlement in Nablus (20 June). Four other Palestinians were attacked while traveling near settlements in four separate incidents, near Yitzhar settlement in Nablus, on Road 60 in Hebron and Sinjil in Ramallah (by stoning) and near Talmon settlement in Ramallah (by shooting of gas canister).

In two other incidents on 19 June, settlers threw stones at Palestinian houses in Al Bireh city (Ramallah), damaging a house and a car; and also slashed tires and sprayed graffiti on ten Palestinian cars in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.

In four separate incidents on 18, 19 and 21 June in the Ramallah and Jerusalem governorates, Palestinians stoned or threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli-plated vehicles, causing damage to four cars and a bus; no injuries were reported.

Increase in demolitions and displacement across Hebron governorate

On 17 and 18 June, the Israeli authorities demolished a total of 14 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank, due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 42 people, around half of whom were children, and affecting at least 50 others. Almost 80 percent of the demolished structures (11) were in the Hebron governorate, compared to only seven percent since the beginning of 2014.

Affected structures in the Hebron area include six houses and an animal shelter in Bani Na’im village, a house under construction in Idhna village, a water cistern used for irrigation in Hebron city, and an agriculture room in Al Fawwar refugee camp. Also in the Hebron area, the Israeli authorities destroyed a segment of a road (700 meters long) located in Area C, which connects the community of Khallet al Maiyya to a main road; the targeted segment was paved almost three years ago with the support of an international donor. The remaining structures demolished this week include two residences and a water cistern in Al Khadr village (Bethlehem), displacing 22 people, including eight children.

Also this week on 21 June, a dairy factory and farm, owned by Hebron’s Islamic Charitable Organization (see above) and located in an Area C part of Hebron city, was issued a 72-hour warning, prior to its demolition due to the lack of a building permit, on the basis of a demolition order that was pending since 2002 Finally, on 23 June, the Israeli military issued a demolition order against the family home of two Palestinians (a man and his son) from Idhna village (Hebron), who were arrested over a month ago, as suspects in the killing of an Israeli policeman in Hebron city in April 2014. Thirteen (13) people, including eight children, are at risk of displacement.

The policy of punitive demolitions by the Israeli authorities was officially suspended in 2005 and, with the exception of one case in East Jerusalem in 2009, not implemented since then

Ten civilians injured across the Gaza strip

Tension in Gaza remained high for the second consecutive week. The Israeli air force launched a number of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, targeting primarily military training sites. Nine Palestinian civilians, including four children, were injured by shattered windows, and at least two houses, four workshops and a storage warehouse (all in Gaza City) were damaged. Palestinian armed groups continued firing rockets at southern Israel, some of which landed in open areas, while others were intercepted in the air, resulting in no injuries or property damage. One of these rockets landed short in Beit Hanoun town, damaging a house.

An additional Palestinian youth was shot and injured on 20 June by Israeli forces stationed at the fence after they opened fire at a group of youths who threw stones at them. In another incident, a Palestinian man was detained by Israeli forces while he was reportedly trying to cross the fence into Israel while carrying a hand grenade. Also this week, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 100 meters into Gaza and conducted a land-levelling operation before withdrawing.

On at least six occasions during the reporting period, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the Israeli-imposed six-nautical-mile fishing limits. While no injuries were reported, fishing equipment was damaged. In one of these incidents, on 19 June, Israeli forces reportedly ordered two fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the navy boat before arresting them and seizing their boat and fishing equipment. The two fishermen were released shortly later, without their boat.

Also this week, on 19 June, five members of a Palestinian armed group were killed, reportedly due to the collapse of an underground facility they operated.

Kerem shalom crossing partially reopened

After last week’s partial closure for two days, the Israeli authorities re-opened Kerem Shalom crossing on 17 June, for imports only. The already limited exit of goods has been halted since 9 June, reportedly due to the break-down of a scanner, and did not resume. Consequently, two shipments of agricultural produce scheduled to exit Gaza this week to international markets were stopped. Since the beginning of 2014, only 84 truckloads of select agricultural produce were allowed to exit Gaza, compared to a weekly average of 240 truckloads of a wider range of exports during the first half of 2007, prior to the imposition of the blockade.Gaza Power Plant at risk of shutting down

By the end of the reporting period, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) depleted its fuel stock, including its emergency reserves, and was about to shut down completely. This followed the exhaustion of the funds contributed by the Government of Qatar to cover fuel supplies. On 25 June, however, a limited quantity of fuel was delivered to the GPP via the Kerem Shalom Crossing, thus preventing its immediate shut down; the source and mechanism for the funding of this consignment is unclear.

The GPP needs at least 260,000 liters of fuel per day to continue operating at the current level (two turbines). Should the GPP shut down, the scheduled power outages would increase from 12 to 18 hours per day on average. The power cuts disrupt the daily life of the entire population of 1.7 million people, as well as the provision of vital services, such as health, water and sanitation.

Concern over further deterioration in services amidst salaries’ crisis

There is increasing concern about a potential further deterioration in services, as the Civil Servants Union in Gaza called for a general strike to protest the non-payment of salaries to most public employees. Approximately 40,000 people employed by the former Hamas government, including some 18,000 in the security services, 6,000 in the health sector and 5,000 in the education sector, have received only partial salaries since August 2013 and no payment since last April. Public institutions in Gaza have indicated that an increasing share of their staff has been absent from work due to their inability to afford transportation costs.

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