|Escalation in violence: four Palestinians killed and 53 injured by Israeli forces
The heightened level of violence observed in the West Bank since the beginning of the year continued during the week. In two separate incidents, Israeli forces killed four Palestinians, including a boy and a member of an armed group. This brings the total number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank so far in 2014 to nine, compared to six in the equivalent period in 2013. Another 53 Palestinian civilians and two Israeli soldiers were injured during the week.
On 19 March, Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old boy near the Barrier in Ar Ramadin village in south Hebron. According to information collected by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the boy was shot after he crossed the Barrier through an opening and attempted to flee upon the arrival of the forces. Witnesses indicated that the boy, together with two friends, was collecting a wild edible plant that grows in the area at the time of the incident. The other two boys were arrested and released the following day. Israeli military sources indicated to the media that the boy was shot while trying to damage the Barrier. The Israeli authorities opened a criminal investigation into this incident.
The other incident resulting in fatalities occurred in the early hours of 22 March during a military operation in Jenin Refugee Camp, reportedly aimed at arresting a member of an armed group. The latter was shot and killed while trying to flee after an exchange of fire with the Israeli forces, during which two Israeli soldiers were injured and the house was shelled and partially destroyed; two family members were injured while being evacuated from the house. Two hours later, another two men were shot and killed at the same site. While according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) the two were unarmed civilians who tried to evacuate the body of the killed militant, Israeli military sources claimed in the media that they were also members of armed groups who opened fire at the Israeli forces. The killings triggered violent clashes with residents of the camp, resulting in the injury of another 11 civilians.
Another 16 Palestinians, including two infants (3 and 10 months old) who suffered from tear gas inhalation, and 13 others were injured by rubber-coated metal bullets in Ayda Refugee Camp (Bethlehem) in multiple clashes, which started on 21 March after Palestinian youths created an opening in the Barrier and set on fire an Israeli watch tower next to it. Israeli forces raided the camp several times in the following days triggering violent clashes with the residents. Also in the Bethlehem governorate, Israeli forces injured another five Palestinians, including an 8-month-old infant, who suffered from tear gas inhalation, in several clashes with residents in Tuqu' village. Israeli forces maintain a permanent presence at the entrance to the village, which is adjacent to a school, reportedly to prevent stone-throwing at Israeli settler vehicles travelling along the nearby road.
Clashes during protests against the recurrent entry of Israeli right—wing groups, escorted by Israeli forces, to the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in East Jerusalem continued during the week. Five Palestinians were beaten with batons and injured by Israeli forces during the clashes. 125 Palestinians were injured in confrontations in this context since March 2013.