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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
28 April 2014



Key issues

Nearly 130 Palestinian civilians injured by Israeli forces across the oPt, mostly during clashes in East Jerusalem and Hebron city, and during airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Bedouin families in one community between Jerusalem and Jericho at possible imminent risk of forcible transfer.

Crossing between Gaza and Israel closed for ten days due to Jewish holidays and in response to Palestinian rocket firing.



WEST BANK

Over 100 injured in clashes with Israeli forces, mostly in East Jerusalem and Hebron

The two-week reporting period recorded dozens of violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces in a range of contexts across the West Bank, resulting in the injury of 110 Palestinians, including 24 children. While this represents an increase compared to the weekly average of injuries since the beginning of 2014, it remains significantly below the weekly average for 2013. Of this period's injuries, 45 were treated due to tear gas inhalation, 41 hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and five by live ammunition. Six Israeli soldiers and policemen were also injured during the clashes.

The largest number of injuries during this period (40) occurred during clashes in and around East Jerusalem, in connection to the entry of Israeli Jewish groups into the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. Most of these groups advocate for Israeli control over the compound or the reconstruction of the Jewish Temple there; the frequency of their visits to the site has significantly increased in recent months, and is taking place on an almost daily basis. The most serious clashes were recorded during one such visit on 20 April and an attempt to enter the compound of 16 April. Multiple other protests against this phenomenon, some of which evolved into confrontations with Israeli forces, were registered during the reporting period in other areas of East Jerusalem, as well as in adjacent towns, such as Abu Dis and Al 'Eizariya. Moreover, 36 Palestinians were reported detained in the context of these confrontations and clashes.

The other major locus of violence has been Hebron city, where 27 Palestinians, including 13 children, were injured. The majority of these injuries occurred on 16 and 17 April, in the Bab Az Zawiya area of the city, during clashes that erupted in the course of demonstrations commemorating the anniversary of the killing of a Palestinian political leader (Abu Jihad) in 1988 and the Palestinian Prisoners' Day. Another two clashes that took place in and around Palestinian schools located in the Israeli-controlled part of the city (H2) resulted in the injury of two children and the disruption of classes; the clashes reportedly began following stone throwing by schoolchildren at Israeli settlers and forces.

Additional demonstrations involving confrontations with Israeli forces were recorded across the West Bank, most of them resulting in no injuries. One such demonstration, however, held on 18 April in the village of Qaryut (Nablus) ended with the injury of 16 Palestinians, who required treatment due to tear gas inhalation. The demonstration was held to protest the recent publication by the Israeli authorities of a new planning scheme, allocating a large area in the vicinity of the village to Shilo settlement for the development of a touristic area.

During the two week reporting period Israeli forces conducted a total of 158 search and arrest operations in Palestinian villages and towns. At least six of these operations triggered violent clashes with local residents resulting in injuries, including nine people in Awarta (Nablus), five in Idhna (Hebron), one in Deir Nidham (Ramallah) and one in El Far'a refugee camp (Tubas).

Increase in Israeli settler attacks

A total of 18 attacks perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians were documented during the two week reporting period, up from a weekly average of five attacks since the beginning of the year. These incidents led to the injury of eight Palestinians and damage to hundreds of olive trees and saplings, among others. Two other incidents perpetrated by Palestinians resulted in the injury of five settlers and other Israelis.

Most injuries during this period occurred as a result of stone-throwing. On 18 April, five Palestinians, including a one-year-old child and an elderly woman, were injured when settlers threw stones at Palestinian-plated vehicles travellingnear ‘Imanuel settlement in the Salfit governorate. In two additional incidents on 16 and 20 April, settlers stoned Palestinian cars in the Bethlehem governorate and in East Jerusalem, damaging five vehicles. Two similar incidents perpetrated by Palestinians targeted Israeli vehicles driving near Tuqu’ village (Bethlehem) and in the French Hill settlement (East Jerusalem), injuring five Israelis.

Three other Palestinians were physically assaulted and injured by settlers, including an eight-year-old schoolgirl while on her way back from school in At Tuwani village in Hebron; and two men near Za’tara junction in Salfit and in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron City (H2). In another incident on 22 April, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces, which arrived to Al Lubban ash Sharqiya village (Nablus) after settlers attempted to enter the village. During the incident, Israeli forces handcuffed and physically assaulted a 17-year-old Palestinian, injuring him.

Palestinian reports indicated that settlers damaged at least 340 Palestinian-owned trees and saplings in five locations during the period. The largest incident affected 220 olive trees, which were discovered damaged in Huwwara village (Nablus), while most of the remaining trees were damaged in Ras Karkar in Ramallah (80 olive trees) and in Qarawat Bani Hasan in Salfit (around 30 trees).

Palestinian Bedouin families at imminent risk of forcible transfer; issuance of eviction and demolition orders continue

On 28 April, the Israeli authorities handed over eviction orders to three Palestinian families, comprising 29 people, including 18 children, in the Sateh al Bahr Bedouin community (Jericho). Additional families in the same community might be at similar risk, since a fourth eviction order, which contains no names, was also delivered to the community. The orders were issued on grounds that the community reportedly exists in an area designated as a "closed military zone". According to residents, Sateh al Bahr community has existed in its current location since the early 1970s. It includes 12 households, comprising 68 people, of whom 39 are children. The recent developments take place in the context of an Israeli plan to "relocate" most Bedouin communities across Area C of the West Bank to a limited number of sites. This plan will apply to the affected community, along with 18 communities (2,800 people) located in the eastern Jerusalem Governorate, in an area allocated for the expansion of Israeli settlements, including the El plan, as well as planned to be surrounded by the Barrier around Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

During the two-week reporting period, four Palestinian-owned structures were demolished on 28 April, a significant reduction compared to the weekly average of demolitions recorded since the beginning of 2014. None of these demolitions led to displacement compared to a weekly average of 28 people displaced since the beginning of 2014. The structures included an agricultural room and a fence, built on Palestinian land in Area C of Rafat village (Jerusalem), demolished by the ICA; and a house extension of two balconies, self-demolished by a family in Jabal al Mukabbir (East Jerusalem). Overall, 17 people, including six children, were affected.

On 23 April, the Israeli authorities verbally informed three households to demolish their own structures in Humsa al Buqai’a community (Jordan Valley); and photographed tents in Jabal al Baba community (Jerusalem); no demolition took place by the end of the reporting period in either place. In addition, stop-work orders were delivered to one residence and one animal shelter in Khirbet al Fakheit community in south Hebron, in a closed military area for military training (Firing Zone 918).

GAZA STRIP


13 civilians injured and civilian property destroyed in new round of Israeli airstrikes

A new cycle of rocket firing by Palestinian armed factions and Israeli airstrikes was recorded between 21 and 23 April. The latter resulted in the injury of 13 Palestinian civilians, including five children, and significant damage to Palestinian property.

While no Israeli casualties or property damage were reported as a result of Palestinian rocket firing towards southern Israel, several rockets exploded at the launching site or fell short and landed in Gaza; one of them resulted in the injury of a Palestinian civilian in Gaza city and in damage to a house.

On 21 April, the Israeli Air Force attacked three separate sites in Al-Nusairat refugee camp, Deir Al Balah and Khan Younis. The former attack targeted a livestock barn, which was completely destroyed, killing 18 sheep, 10 chickens, 10 rabbits and a cow, and damaged an adjacent barn and the windows of five houses. Another air strike, carried out on 23 April in one of the most densely populated areas of Beit Lahiya, targeted two alleged members of a Palestinian armed group riding a motorcycle, injuring them, alongside 13 civilian bystanders, including five children; ten houses and seven stores were damaged.

On several occasions during the period, Palestinian armed groups also attacked Israeli military vehicles patrolling along the fence or conducting land-leveling operations inside Gaza, resulting in no casualties.

In addition, during the two-week reporting period, four Palestinian civilians were shot and injured by Israeli forces in the access restricted areas (ARA) along Gaza’s perimeter fence with Israel. Three of these civilians were reportedly collecting scrap metal and rubble in the vicinity of the former Erez Industrial Zone in northern Gaza when shot, and another person was shot during a demonstration against access restrictions that evolved into clashes with Israeli forces. Three Palestinian youth were detained by Israeli forces, while reportedly attempting to cross the fence into Israel looking for work.

Finally, on at least 19 occasions during the reporting period, Israeli naval forces fired warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or crossing the Israeli-imposed six-nautical-mile fishing limit. While no injuries were reported three fishing boats and fishing equipment were damaged. According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, on one occasion, on 24 April, Israeli soldiers reportedly ordered two fishermen to jump into the water and swim towards the navy boat before arresting them and confiscating their boat and fishing equipment; while the fishermen were released the same day, the boat and the equipment were not returned.

Rafah Crossing remained closed for humanitarian cases


During the reporting period, the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was closed for special (also known as humanitarian) cases, as has been the case since 31 March. Between 20 and 23 April, the crossing opened exceptionally to allow 1,671 pilgrims to return to Gaza and another 893 pilgrims to exit.

Since the beginning of 2014, the crossing had opened only on 11 days for the exit of people included in one of four categories: medical cases, students, people with visas to third countries and foreign nationals. In April, a total of around 4,500 people (mainly pilgrims to Mecca) were allowed to cross through in both directions, compared to around 56,000 people, in June 2013, before the reduced operation of the Crossing.




During the reporting period, the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel was totally closed for seven days, due to Jewish holidays and weekends, and for three days (22-24 April) in response to Palestinian rocket firing. During the latter days, however, the Israeli authorities allowed the entry of fuel, as well as 49 other truckloads of goods. The operation of the Erez passenger crossing was also reduced to a minimum during most of the reporting period — allowing only the exit of urgent humanitarian cases and the return of Palestinians to Gaza. The crossings resumed normal operations as of 27 April.

Kerem Shalom, is the only operating crossing point for goods in the Gaza Strip, apart from the Rafah crossing, which serves only for the entry of limited amounts of building materials for specific projects. On average, around 250 truckloads of goods, including fuel, foods and medical supplies enter Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing every day. The dependence of Gaza’s population on the functioning of this Crossing has increased dramatically since July 2013, following the halt in the smuggling of goods via the illegal tunnels between Egypt and Gaza; yet the average number of truckloads entering has not changed. Therefore, the closure of the Crossing for several consecutive days, as occurred during the reporting period, has a highly disruptive impact. In addition to the fuel and electricity shortages, the closure of Kerem Shalom exacerbates shortages of cooking gas and some food items, such as dairy products and fruits.

Power shortages continue

On 15 April, the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) resumed the operation of a second turbine, after four days of complete shutdown. On 11 April, the GPP was forced to shut down one of the two operating turbines, in anticipation of the closure of Kerem Shalom crossing due to Jewish holidays and the resulting reduction in fuel supply. Currently, the GPP is operating two out of four turbines, producing around 60MWs. Daily power cuts remain at up to 12 hours per day.

Overall, the last two weeks saw a decline in the volume of Qatari-funded fuel entering for the GPP through the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Since the beginning of April, an average of 332,000 liters of fuel were delivered at the GPP per day, compared to around 510,000 delivered per day since mid December 2013. This decline is primarily due to administrative challenges in the purchase of fuel by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah (which received the Qatari donation and delivers the fuel to Gaza), compounded by the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing during the Jewish holidays.



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