|Clashes spread across the West Bank; one Palestinian killed and over 550 injured
Widespread protests and violent clashes erupted between Palestinian residents and Israeli forces throughout East Jerusalem, following the abduction and killing of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy from Shu’fat neighborhood of East Jerusalem on 2 July. The Palestinian boy was burned alive by a group of Israelis, reportedly in retaliation for the abduction and killing of three Israeli youths near Hebron whose bodies were found on 30 June. The unrest spread to other parts of the West Bank. As a result, nearly 570 Palestinian civilians were injured by Israeli forces, including 31 Palestinians by live ammunition, 290 by rubber-coated bullets, 60 by tear gas canister, 146 due to tear gas inhalation, and 36 due to physical assault. Clashes were also recorded at different locations inside Israel.
The majority of the clashes during the reporting period took place in East Jerusalem, during which 453 Palestinians were injured, including 275 (60%) in Shu’fat neighborhood. Seventeen Israeli force members were also injured by stone-throwing by Palestinians during these clashes. Infrastructure of the Jerusalem light rail in Shu’fat and Beit Hanina neighborhoods was set on fire by protestors.
Israeli military operations, including raids on Palestinian villages and search-and-arrest operations, continued this week. Israeli forces raided several villages, mainly in the northern West Bank, triggering further clashes with Palestinian residents. In addition, Israeli forces conducted at least 86 search-and-arrest operations, during which 153 Palestinians were arrested, the majority (66) from Jerusalem governorate. In one such operation in Jenin refugee camp, Israeli special forces killed an 18-year-old Palestinian man; the circumstances of the killing remain disputed.
Most access restrictions on Palestinians from Hebron lifted; Ramadan access to Jerusalem curtailed
As of 7 July, Israel lifted most of the movement restrictions on access to East Jerusalem and Israel that were imposed on Palestinians from the Hebron governorate, following the abduction of the three Israeli youths on 12 June. These applied to 23,000 workers with permits and 3,700 businessmen. In addition, all Palestinians from Hebron are now allowed to travel to the central and northern West Bank via the Wadi Nar checkpoint, as well as to Jordan, and those who meet the Israeli age criteria will be now allowed to enter East Jerusalem for the Friday prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque.
Estimates provided by the Israeli authorities indicated that on the first Friday of Ramadan (4 July), around 11,000 Palestinian worshippers holding West Bank IDs entered East Jerusalem through the checkpoints around the city. This is around 90 per cent decline compared to the numbers of worshippers who crossed in the first Friday of Ramadan 2013. Access restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities, in particular on Hebron residents are considered to be the reason of this decline. On the first Friday of Ramadan, only Palestinian men over 50 and women over 40 who hold West Bank IDs, excluding residents of Hebron, were allowed to enter Jerusalem through four checkpoints (Qalandiya, Gilo, Shu’fat and Zeytoun) without permits to visit Al Aqsa mosque. In 2013, men above 40, women and girls of all ages, and boys below 12 were allowed access.
Most of the young men (under 50) who were able to cross the checkpoints had either commercial or work permits; according to field reports, the ones who proceeded to the Old City of Jerusalem were denied access and turned back at one of the flying checkpoints deployed in and around the Old City on the grounds that they are under 50 years of age. As a result, thousands prayed on the surrounding streets of Jerusalem’s Old City. According to media reports, a few thousands attended the noon prayers comparing to hundreds of thousands (200-250,000) in 2013 (Jerusalem).
Spike in confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli settlers
Violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers erupted throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, triggered by the discovery of the bodies of the three Israeli youths and the subsequent abduction and killing of the 16-year-old Palestinian boy, resulting in a number of injuries and property damage on both sides.
Multiple attacks by Israelis settlers and other Israelis against Palestinians were recorded across the West Bank, including incidents of physical assaults, stone-throwing at Palestinian vehicles and houses, gathering at the entrances of Palestinian villages, blocking roads, setting a livelihood structure on fire, and spraying anti-Arab graffiti, among others. There was also a reported attempt to abduct another Palestinian boy. The majority of the incidents took place near Israeli settlements, as well as inside Palestinian communities in East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem.
Eleven of all the incidents recorded resulted in the injury of 13 Palestinians, including three women and another 17 incidents caused damage to Palestinian tens of vehicles and houses. In one incident, an Israeli shot and injured a Palestinian man near the northern entrance of Ar Ram town (Jerusalem).
Also during the period, six Israelis were injured as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians at Israeli vehicles travelling on roads in the Jerusalem and Jericho governorates. Another Israeli woman sustained injuries after being sprayed with pepper gas by Palestinians in the Old City of Jerusalem. Also in Jerusalem, Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at a house in Beit Hanina that has been taken over from Palestinians by Israeli settlers two years ago, at Beit Amos settlement in Silwan, at an Israeli military base near Al ‘Isawiya and another near ‘Anata. Molotov cocktails were also thrown towards Israeli forces in Shu’fat and at Rockfeller Museum.
Additionally, five new settlement outposts, erected in memory of the Israeli teens, were reported in the strategic E1 area to the east of Jerusalem, in the Gush Etzion block, and on lands that belong to the Palestinian villages of Halhul, Beit Einoun and Surif in Hebron governorate. In the latter incident, Palestinian residents protested the settler takeover of land, during which a Palestinian man was attacked and severely injured by Israeli settlers. On 7 July, the caravans in the two settlement outposts in Beit Einoun and Surif were removed by the Israeli police and army forces.
Demolitions in Ramadan and punitive demolition of a Palestinian house;
The Israeli authorities demolished seven Palestinian structures built without Israeli-issued building permits in Area C of the West Bank on 3 July; and partially damaged another structure in Area A as a punitive measure on 2 July. These are the first demolitions recorded since the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan; in previous years demolitions were suspended or declined significantly during this month. Overall, eight people, including four children, were displaced and 49 were otherwise affected by this week’s demolitions.
On 2 July, Israeli forces partially destroying with explosives a house in Idhna (Hebron) belonging to the family of a Palestinian suspected of killing an Israeli policeman in April; the demolition was executed a day after the Israeli High Court sanctioned it on punitive grounds. As a result, eight people, including four children, were displaced, and eight others affected. Two 13-year-old boys were injured by an unexploded ordnance left behind by the Israeli forces after this incident. The Israeli authorities officially suspended the policy of punitive demolitions in 2005, and apart from a house in East Jerusalem in 2009, did not demolish any houses in this manner until the policy was revived this week.
The seven structures in Area C included five animal shelters, a guest room and an oven, in Al ‘Aqaba village in Tubas, affecting 41 people, including 21 children. Also in Area C, the Israeli authorities ordered the demolition of 17 houses, five livelihood structures, a community center and a mosque in Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah and Jericho governorates; and confiscated a bulldozer owned by the Palestinian Ministry of Public Works, while it was being used for opening an agricultural road near Migdalim settlement (Nablus). In addition, Israeli forces raided a dairy factory associated with an Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron city and confiscated its equipment. Raids on Islamic associations, allegedly linked to Hamas, have been taking place in the context of Israeli military operations launched following the abduction of the three Israeli youths