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




Key issues

Massive military operations following the suspected abduction of three Israeli youth; one Palestinian civilian killed and over 70 injured in clashes with Israeli forces.
Movement restrictions in the context of the ongoing military operations disrupt access to services, markets and workplaces, particularly in the Hebron governorate
Palestinian child killed during targeting of alleged member of an armed group in Gaza; seven civilians injured and around 25 houses damaged in airstrikes.
Gaza crossing with Israel partially closed until further notice.



WEST BANK
Massive military operations following the suspected abduction of three Israeli youth; one civilian killed and over 73 injured in clashes

Large scale military operations have been ongoing since 13 June following the suspected abduction of three Israeli youth (two of them aged 16 and one 19), southwest of Bethlehem city (in Area C), with the stated objective of finding and releasing them. The three were on their way back home from the religious high schools (Yeshiva) they attend, in two Israeli settlements in the southern West Bank. While no organization has so far claimed responsibility, the Israeli authorities attributed the act to a Hamas cell.

The military activities have included massive raids, initially focused on Hebron City, but later expanded to other areas. Over the course of these raids hundreds of homes were searched, mainly in Hebron City, and the nearby villages of Taffuh, Beit Kahel, Halhul, Dura, and Beit Ummar; destruction of furniture has been reported in some cases. In one of the searches in Hebron City on 15 June,

Israeli forces reportedly exploded the main door of a house, injuring two children. In the context of these operations, Israeli forces imposed multiple access restrictions, affecting primarily Hebron residents (see section below). Overall, more than 200 Palestinians, mostly Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists and leaders (including former PLC members), were arrested as of the end of the reporting period.

Some of the operations triggered confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinian residents, which resulted in one fatality and at least 30 injuries. On 16 June at around midnight in Al Jalazon refugee camp (Ramallah), Israeli forces shot and killed a 21 year-old Palestinian man and wounded two others during clashes that erupted following a search operation in the camp. Violent clashes in the same context were also recorded in various localities across the Hebron governorate, including in Hebron city, Halhul, Dura and Beit Ummar, as well as in Al ‘Isawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Qatanna village (Jerusalem) and Nablus city.
Additional clashes were recorded this week during demonstrations held in solidarity with over 100 prisoners under Israeli administrative detention, who are on hunger strike, as well as in the regular protests against the Barrier and settlement expansion. A total of 40 Palestinians were injured in these confrontations, the majority (28) on 13 June in Al Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem, and the remaining in Hebron city, Beit Ummar, Al ‘Arrub and Halhul (Hebron), Bil’in (Ramallah) and Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya). Two members of Israeli forces were also injured.
Overall, 73 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during the reporting period, well above the weekly average of injuries since the beginning of the year (44). The majority of the injuries were sustained by rubber-coated metal bullets (24), shrapnel from sound grenades or broken windows (22). The remaining were hit by sound grenades (11), live ammunition (3), or pepper spray (4) or a tear gas canister (2) or were treated due to physical assault (5) or tear gas inhalation (2).

Movement restrictions disrupt access to services and workplaces

Since 13 June the Israeli authorities have imposed a series of movement restrictions in the context of above military operations, which have disrupted the access of Palestinians to services, markets and workplaces. The bulk of these restrictions were implemented across the Hebron governorate, with focus on Hebron city, or regarding their residents (over 680,000 people or around 25 per cent of the West Bank population, PCBS 2014 estimate).

Three of the main entrances to Hebron city have been blocked for vehicular traffic, while access through the remaining three routes (Halhul, Nabi Yunis and Al Fahs) is controlled by newly established checkpoints, where Israeli soldiers check people’s documentation and search their vehicles (as of the end of the reporting period). While this has resulted in prolonged delays, no cases of denial of access have been reported. Additional routes in the vicinity of Hebron city have been also controlled by new checkpoints, including the main entrances to Halhul, Dura and Idhna towns and Al Fawwar refugee camp, where Palestinian-plated vehicles are being stopped and inspected.

The vast majority of Hebron governorate’s residents have been subject to a series of additional movement restrictions, including preventing people 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.

Additionally, long delays were reported at the Qalandiya and Az Zayem checkpoints leading to East Jerusalem, both for pedestrians and cars, as well as cases of confiscation of permit for West Bank ID-holders.

In the same context, Israeli forces blocked the main entrances to the villages of ‘Izbet at Tabib, by placing an earthmound, and ‘Azzun (Qalqiliya), by closing the gate at the main entrance to the village, respectively (both in the Qalqiliya governorate), forcing over 9,500 residents to take long detours.

Retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers

This week recorded a series of incidents involving attacks and intimidation by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, most of which followed the announcement of the suspected abduction of the three Israeli youth. Ten such incidents resulted in Palestinian injuries or damage to their property, slightly above the weekly average of these incidents since the beginning of the year (7). Four incidents perpetrated this week by Palestinians resulted in damage to Israeli settler-owned property.

On 16 June, Israeli settlers gathered at two central road junctions in Bethlehem governorate (Gush Etzion roundabout and Al Khader junction) and blocked them. During the protests, settlers stopped two Palestinian vehicles and physically assaulted the drivers, injuring them, and damaged another car. There were also four incidents of stone-throwing by settlers at Palestinian-plated vehicles that led to the injury of three Palestinians near Qarne Shomoron settlement (Qalqiliya), and damage of cars near Yitzhar junction (Nablus), and Sur Bahir and Silwan neighborhoods (East Jerusalem). During the incident near Qarne Shomoron, settlers also uprooted Palestinian rain-fed crops planted on four dunums of land.

In three additional incidents, Israeli settlers reportedly set fire and damaged Palestinian agricultural property, including ten dunums of land planted with wheat near Giv’at Zeev settlement (Jerusalem); and an agricultural room and 50 olive trees in Husan village, in two separate incidents. Additionally (not included in the count), in the An Nabi Samuel village (Jerusalem) located in the closed area behind the Barrier, Israeli settlers bulldozed two dunums of uncultivated land, which Palestinians claim ownership over.

In four separate incidents between 10 and 15 June in the Hebron, Ramallah and Jerusalem governorates, Palestinians stoned or threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli-plated vehicles, injuring one Israeli (in At Tur in East Jerusalem) and damaging several cars, a bus and the Jerusalem light train.

Decline in demolitions

This week, the Israeli authorities demolished two Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, and another structure was demolished by its owner in the same context. The three demolitions were reported on 16 June in Al ‘Eizariya town (Jerusalem), including a vegetable stand (self-demolished) demolished on 15 June, affecting 15 people, and a car wash and a wooden structure, affecting eight people. This is a significant decline compared to the weekly average of structures demolished in 2014. For the third consecutive week, there were no displacements as a result of demolitions.




GAZA STRIP


Child killed during targeting of alleged militant; escalation in rocket firing and air strikes

On 11 June, the Israeli Air Force targeted an alleged member of an armed group riding on a motorcycle together with a ten-year old child, in the Beit Lahiya area. The man died instantly and the child, who sustained serious injuries, died three days later; two civilian bystanders were also injured. The last targeted killing in the Gaza Strip was reported in early March.

Following this incident and through the rest of the week, Palestinian armed groups launched a number of rockets at southern Israel. A few of the rockets, reportedly heading towards Ashkelon city, were intercepted in the air, while the rest landed in open areas, causing no injuries or damage. One of the rockets landed short and hit a house in Beit Hanoun town, resulting in two Palestinian injuries, including a 15-year-old girl.

In response, the Israeli military launched a series of air strikes targeting alleged military installations in Rafah, Khan Younis, Gaza and the middle areas, during which seven civilians, including a three-year-old child, were injured, and some 25 houses, a school, a clinic run by UNRWA, and a number of greenhouses sustained damage.

Gaza crossings with Israel partially closed

On 13 June, the Israeli authorities closed the two Gaza crossings with Israel for passengers (Erez) and goods (Kerem Shalom) until further notice, in response to Palestinian rocket fire. Only fuel transferred for public use was allowed via the latter crossing, which on a normal week handles an average of around 800 truckloads of imported goods (not including fuel). Shortages of certain food items (dairy products, fruits and animal feed), cooking gas and fuel are expected in the coming days, unless the crossing is reopened, but humanitarian food distributions are not expected to be impacted, unless the crossing is closed for over two weeks. Palestinian permit holders are prevented from leaving Gaza via the Erez passengers crossing until further notice, with the exception for pre-authorized urgent humanitarian cases and foreign nationals.






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