Settler-related incidents: Bracha settlers’ attacks on Palestinians continue
Six incidents of settler violence were recorded this week, in two cases, resulting in damage to property. This brings the total number of settler-related incidents resulting in casualties and property damage to 237 in 2014. Additionally, there were three incidents resulting in injuries or property damage to settlers.
Incidents this week involved settlers opening fire with live ammunition and vandalism in Burin (Nablus), and stoning Palestinian pedestrians and vehicles in East Jerusalem and Ramallah city. In one incident, on 17 August, settlers reportedly prevented Palestinian farmers from Hussan (Bethlehem) from reaching their land.
Similar to last week, two of this week’s incidents involved Israeli settlers from the Bracha settlement (Nablus). On 11 August, a group from this settlement entered the Palestinian village of Burin. Palestinians began to throw stones and the settlers responded by firing live ammunition. Later, Israeli forces intervened and fired rubber bullets and gas canisters at Palestinians causing several injuries. Also on 16 August, a group of Bracha settlers entered the village of Burin and destroyed street lamps that were newly installed by the village council, giving rise to clashes between settlers and Palestinian civilians. Israeli forces intervened by firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets at both Palestinians and settlers. No injuries were reported.
In his report to the Human Rights Council of 12 February 2014, the Secretary-General noted that ‘’attacks by settlers have occurred repeatedly in the same areas and often at the same times of year, raising concerns about the effectiveness of action by the Israeli authorities to prevent such violence. For example, Palestinian residents of Burin and neighboring villages in the Nablus governorate have repeatedly faced attacks on their person and property by settlers from the nearby Yitzhar and Bracha settlements.’’1
During the week, two incidents of land leveling of private Palestinian-owned land as well as ‘State’ land, for the benefit of settlements, were recorded in the governorate of Nablus.
In Nablus, on 11 August, Israeli bulldozers leveled land south of Qusra village for expanding Esh Kodesh outpost, and in the second instance in the last 40 days, leveled agricultural land east of the village of Burin, near the outpost of Giva’at Ronin and the settlement of Bracha.
During the reporting period, two settlers were injured. According to Israeli media, on 15 August, a settler was injured as a result of the stoning of his car near Halhul (Hebron). The following day, a settler traveling near Husan (Bethlehem) was reportedly injured by stones and a Molotov cocktail thrown at his vehicle. Following the incident, Israeli forces carried out search and arrest operations in the village. Israeli media also reported property damage to the house of a settler in East Jerusalem by a molotov cocktail, on 14 August.
Israel demolishes four structures including the homes of two suspects in Hebron
During the week, a total of six structures (threeresidential) were demolished in Hebron, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, all on 18 August. In total, 34 people including 20 children, were displaced and 10 otherwise affected. The demolition of two of the structures was implemented as punitive measures by the Israeli military, and the other two due to lack of Israeli-issued building permits.
The Israeli military carried out punitive demolitions of two houses and sealed a third house, belonging to three Palestinians in Hebron, suspected of abducting and killing three Israeli youths in June 2014. As a result, 18 people, including 9 children, were displaced. On June 30, and prior to the demolition of the aforementioned homes, Israeli forces had evacuated the families of two of the suspects from their apartments and conducted explosions, rendering the apartments uninhabitable. A total of 21 people were displaced due to the explosions of 30 June as well as the demolitions of 18 August. The demolitions follow a rejection by the Israeli High Court of Justice of petitions against this punitive action on 11 August. Of note, two of the suspects are still to be located and have not been charged or tried in a court of law.
Since occupying the West Bank, the Israeli army has demolished hundreds of houses as punitive measures against Palestinians who carried out attacks against Israelis, or who were suspected of involvement in such attacks. In 2005, the Israeli authorities officially suspended the policy of punitive demolitions following the recommendations of a military commission which found that the practice does not act as a deterrent.
The total number of punitive demolitions since 2005 is four. This year, the Israeli authorities resumed the practice on 2 July 2014, after 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.
In East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities demolished a structure composed of two housing units, on the grounds of the lack of an Israeli-issued building permit. This brings to 29 the total number of demolished residential structures in East Jerusalem since the beginning of the year. According to the owners, the units were built on land purchased in 1995. Two demolition orders were issued in 1999 and November 2013, which their lawyer succeeded in postponing, and no final demolition order was received prior to the demolition. Two families comprising 16 Palestinians, including 11 children, were displaced.
On the same day, in Al Walaja (Bethlehem) Israeli authorities demolished three structures: an agricultural room built as an extension to a cave, a bathroom and an animal shelter, for lack of an Israeli-issued building permit. The structures were all located within the Jerusalem municipality boundary. During the demolition, Israeli forces damaged/uprooted nine trees and caused damage to other belongings. In total ten family members were affected.