Concern over potential wave of retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers
On Monday night, following the announced discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli youths, Israeli settlers gathered at several junctions in the southern West Bank (including Gush Etzion, Beit Ummar, north Halhul and Haggay settlement junctions) and threw stones at Palestinian-plated vehicles, causing minor damages.
A series of incidents were also recorded in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron city (H2), including the stoning of Palestinian houses; one of the incidents led to clashes with Palestinian residents, which resulted in the injury of one Palestinian, who was physically assaulted by an Israeli soldier who intervened. A similar incident earlier in the week (25 June) in the H2 area of Hebron, resulted in the injury of ten Palestinians, including two children and two women, who were physically assaulted by soldiers who intervened when Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian houses. Since the beginning of 2014, a total of 59 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank by Israeli forces during settler attacks. On 29 June, a 9-year-old Palestinian child was physically assaulted and injured by a group of Israelis in the Shu’fat area of East Jerusalem; according to witnesses, the latter tried to abduct the boy.
In another two incidents during the week, a group of Israeli settlers from Qedumim and Eli settlements reportedly cut down a number of olive trees belonging to farmers from the adjacent villages of Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) and Qaryut (Nablus). The precise scope of damage could not be assessed, as Palestinian access to both areas is restricted and requires prior coordination with the Israeli authorities. In the southern West Bank, Israeli settlers from Betar Illit settlement reportedly set fire to an agricultural room and damaged an irrigation network on a plot of land belonging to farmers from Husan village (Bethlehem). Also in the Bethlehem area, Israeli settlers from Bat Ayin settlement cut down 15 olive trees belonging to family from Beit Ummar village.
Movement restrictions in Hebron continue
Most of the access restrictions affecting Hebron residents that were imposed upon the start of the military operations have remained in place during the reporting period, despite some fluctuations.
Male residents of Hebron governorate aged between 16 and 50 continued to be prevented from crossing the Wadi an Nar checkpoint, which controls the single route available for most Palestinians between the central and southern West Bank, as well as from traveling to Jordan via the Allenby Bridge. Permits to access East Jerusalem, Israel and some settlement areas remain invalid. In addition, the Israeli Civil Administration announced this week that the upcoming measures aimed at facilitating Palestinian access to East Jerusalem during the month of Ramadan will not apply to Hebron’s residents.
While access restrictions around Hebron city were eased during most of the reporting period; on 30 June they were re-imposed, and in some cases tightened, following the finding of the three Israeli youths’ bodies. All entrances to Hebron city, and the adjacent towns of Halhul, Idhna and Tarqumiya, have been either totally blocked or are controlled by checkpoints.
Houses of two suspects of Israeli youths’ killings partially destroyed
Shortly after the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli youths, Israeli forces evacuated the families of the two individuals suspected of the killings from their respective apartments in Hebron city, and conducted explosions in both of them, partially destroying the apartments. Six persons, including four children, relatives of the two alleged perpetrators were consequently displaced. A one year old infant was injured by shrapnel of glass from the explosion of one of the houses and a boy (aged 16) was injured by a rubber-coated metal bullet in clashes that erupted following the explosion. 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.
Additionally, on 1 July, the Israeli High Court of Justice sanctioned the punitive demolition of parts of the house of the family of a Palestinian from Idhna village (Hebron) suspected of the killing of an Israeli police officer in April 2014. 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.
Demolitions and confiscations
This week there were no reports of demolitions in Area C of the West Bank, due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits. However, Israeli forces delivered stop-work orders against a number of residential and commercial structures in Area C of Tulkarm city and in Barta’a ash Sharqiya village (Jenin); a requisition order affecting dozens of dunums of land planted by Palestinians near Ma’ale Shomron settlement (Qalqiliya). Also this week the Israeli authorities confiscated 15 water tanks provided by an international donor to the Area C community of Khallet an Nahla in Bethlehem; another 11 tanks were damaged.
In East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities partially demolished an uninhabited building located in the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, on the “West Bank side” of the Barrier, due to the lack of permit. The structure was being renovated through a community-based initiative. Also in East Jerusalem, the Municipality demolished a commercial booth in the Old City.