|Escalation in clashes during protests against Israeli military operations in Gaza
Clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces in the context of protests against the ongoing Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip escalated during the week. An upward trend in clashes and casualties has been ongoing since 13 June: first in the context of the massive search and arrest operations that followed the abduction and killing of three Israelis (2 children and one youth), which the Israeli authorities attributed to Hamas, and then in the context of protests in the aftermath of the abduction and killing of a Palestinian child by Israelis.
In total, this week Israeli forces killed one Palestinian and injured at least 464 others, including 69 children, in multiple incidents across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The number of injuries represents an over two-fold increase compared to the previous reporting period, when the protests began.
This week also recorded a sharp increase in injuries by live ammunition compared to the previous week, 143 vs. 56, accounting for nearly a third of all injuries; 35 of those injured by live ammunition were children. Of the remaining injuries, 249 (54 per cent) were hit by rubber or rubber-coated metal bullets, while most of the rest were physically assaulted or treated due to tear gas inhalation. During the clashes, Palestinians threw stones, and, in some cases, Molotov cocktails and fireworks, resulting in the injury of nine members of Israeli forces, according to Israeli media sources.
During one of the clashes that took place on 21 July at the northern entrance to the town of Ar Ram (Jerusalem), Israeli forces shot with live ammunition and killed a 22-year-old Palestinian man. Initial reports indicate that Palestinians had been throwing Molotov cocktails at the time of the incident. This incident brings the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank since the beginning of 2014 to 21, compared to nine in the equivalent period of 2013.
The incident with the largest number of injuries (61) occurred on 18 July in East Jerusalem, at Al Aqsa mosque compound, in clashes following protests against the military operation in Gaza.
Decline in settler violence; serious attack recorded in Hebron city
The number of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian injuries or damage to their property declined this week compared to the weekly average since the start of 2014 (3 vs. 7). Palestinian stone throwing at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank continued.
On 19 July, a group of about 40 Israeli settlers stoned three Palestinian houses in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron city (H2), and subsequently physically assaulted their residents and sprayed them with pepper spray: six Palestinians, including two children and an elderly man were injured. Some 6,000 Palestinians living in the vicinity of Israeli settlements in Hebron’s old city, have been subject to systematic harassment and violence by Israeli settlers, compounding the impact of the access restrictions to and within the area imposed by the Israeli authorities.
In another incident on 15 July, Israeli settlers threw stones at a Palestinian-plated vehicle driving on Road 60 near Sinjil (Ramallah), leading to the injury of a 62-year-old man and causing damage to his vehicle.
During the period in four separate incidents, four Israeli settlers, including an infant and a woman, were injured as a result of stoning by Palestinians of Israeli-plated vehicles travelling on roads in the Jerusalem, Ramallah and Hebron governorates.
No demolitions recorded; three families receive punitive demolition orders
No demolition was recorded this week in Area C or East Jerusalem. In previous years, the month of Ramadan had seen a halt or significant reduction in demolitions.
On 16 July, the Israeli authorities served punitive demolition orders for the family homes of three Palestinians suspected of the abduction and subsequent killing of three Israeli youths in Hebron, in June 2014. The demolition orders state that the measure “aims to deter potential terrorist attacks and to help maintain security in the area.”
questioning, and none have been tried or charged in connection to the incident.
Shortly after the discovery of the bodies of the Israeli youths on 30 June, Israeli forces evacuated the families of two of the suspected perpetrators from their apartments and conducted explosions in both of them, partially destroying the apartments. Six people, including four children, were consequently displaced. According to an IDF spokesperson cited in the Israeli media, the explosions were carried out in order to blow up the doors, fearing that they might be booby-trapped. If implemented, the demolitions will result in the displacement of an additional 28 people, including 13 children.
These punitive demolition orders follow the Israeli High Court of Justice’s sanctioning of a punitive demolition, which was carried out on 1 July 2014, of parts of the house of the family of a Palestinian from Idhna village, Hebron, suspected of killing an Israeli police officer in April 2014.
With the exception of one such demolition in East Jerusalem in 2009, punitive demolitions were halted in 2005 following recommendations of a military commission that found that the practice did not act as a deterrent.
Tight restrictions on access to East Jerusalem for the Ramadan prayer continue
According to Israeli authorities, the estimated number of Palestinian Muslims who crossed checkpoints (Qalandiya, Gilo, Shu’fat, Zeytoun, As Sawahira ash Shariqiya and Ash Sheikh Sa’d) to access Al Aqsa mosque compound on the third Friday of the month of Ramadan was significantly lower this year compared to last year. The Israeli authorities estimate that some 16,301 people crossed the checkpoints leading to East Jerusalem on Friday, 18 July, as opposed to approximately 114,416who crossed on the same occasion last year.
The sharp decrease is attributable to the stringent access restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities. Access was restricted to Palestinian men over 50 and women over 40. In 2013, men above 40, women and girls of all ages, and boys below 12 were allowed access without permits. Also, as was the case last week, Palestinians under 50 who managed to cross the checkpoints with work or commercial permits, as well as male Jerusalem ID holders, were systematically turned back at multiple flying checkpoints in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. As a result, thousands prayed in the streets surrounding Jerusalem’s Old City.
On 15, 16 and 17 July, Israeli settlers and other Israeli groups, accompanied by Israeli forces entered the Aqsa mosque compound. On 16 July, Israeli forces prevented Palestinian Muslims from entering Al Aqsa mosque compound, for several hours, while settlers/Israelis were allowed entry.