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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
3 February 2014




Key issues

One Palestinian killed and 55 injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Nearly 70 Palestinians displaced in the Jordan Valley as a result of demolitions by Israeli authorities.

Renewed cycle of attacks in Gaza and southern Israel: 10 Palestinians injured and extensive damage to homes and agricultural property.


WEST BANK


One Palestinian killed and 55 injured by Israeli forces; concern over increasing use of live ammunition

On 29 January, Israeli forces shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian laborer, from al-Jalazoun refugee camp (Ramallah), who was employed with a road rehabilitation project. The circumstances of the incident remains disputed. According to Israeli media, the Israeli army claimed that the man had opened fire at Israeli soldiers in the area, who shot him in response. According to testimonies by eyewitnesses collected by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the soldiers in the watchtower ordered the man to walk towards them and opened fire without reason. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli forces delayed the access of the ambulance that arrived to the site to evacuate the body for two hours.

The incident triggered multiple clashes with Israeli forces in the following days at the entrance of Al Jalazoun Refugee Camp, resulting in the injury of 21 Palestinians, including 16 (two of whom were children) by live ammunition. Since February 2013, there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli forces at the entrance to the camp, which so far resulted in the killing of a child and the injury of another 105, including 35 children.

Another 34 Palestinians, including 11 children, were injured this week by Israeli forces across the West Bank in several other clashes. Ten Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated metal bullets between 1 and 3 February next to Al Arroub refugee camp (Hebron), in clashes triggered by stone throwing at Israeli forces, which resulted in the injury of two Israeli soldiers. Another nine people, including five

children, were beaten and injured on 28 January in Al Issawiya neighborhood in East Jerusalem, in clashes that erupted during a police operation. Five Palestinians were injured in An Nabi Saleh village (Ramallah) in two clashes this week: on 31 January, a woman was injured in clashes during the weekly demonstration held against the expansion of the Hallamish settlement on the village’s land; two days later, another four Palestinians including a child were injured in clashes with Israeli forces at the entrance of the village. This week saw a sharp decline in the number of injuries in the weekly demonstration in Kufr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya), against the Israeli military’s long-standing closure of one of the village’s main routes (two compared to 23 last week); this could be attributed to the presence of UN OHCHR observers during the demonstration.

Of the 55 Palestinians injured this week by Israeli forces, over a third (19) were injured by live ammunition, another third by rubber-coated metal bullets, and the rest due to physical assault and tear gas inhalation. The Israeli army’s use of live ammunition in clashes with Palestinians has been on the rise since the beginning of 2014, resulting in a weekly average of eight injuries compared to a weekly average of four during the last three months of 2013, and a weekly average of one injury in 2012.


Four Palestinians injured and over 540 olive trees damaged in settler-related incidents

This week, there were seven reports of settler-related incidents that resulted in Palestinian injuries and damage to their agricultural properties.

On 30 January, three Palestinians, including a three-year-old child, from the city of Nablus were injured in clashes that erupted between Palestinians and the Israeli forces escorting a group of Israelis, who entered the city to pray at Joseph‘s Tomb. Another Palestinian woman was injured on 1 February in an incident of stoning Palestinian vehicles by Israeli settlers, while driving near Silwad village (Ramallah).

Also this week, Israeli settlers vandalized several agricultural properties across the West Bank. The gravest incident took place on 2 February around the village of Turmus’ayya (Ramallah), when Israeli settlers from the adjacent Adei Ad settlement outpost cut-down or otherwise damaged 425 olive saplings on land owned by a Palestinian family. Over the past ten years, Palestinian families whose agricultural land is in the vicinity of the outpost have been subject to violent attacks by Israeli settlers when accessing their plots, including physical assaults and damage to trees and property; about 900 trees belong to families from Turmus’ayya village have been damaged by Israeli settlers since 2006, when OCHA began recording settler attacks.

Over 115 other olive trees were damaged this week by Israeli settlers, including 75 olive saplings in Susiya, 27 olive trees in Beit Ummar (both in Hebron), and 14 olive trees in Madama village (Nablus). This brings the number of Palestinian-owned olive trees damaged by Israeli settlers in January 2014 to 1,429 trees, over 60 percent more than the monthly average in 2013 (889).

In Bethlehem governorate, Israeli settlers from Ibei Hanahal settlement outpost bulldozed around 200 dunums of land and installed a caravan on a plot of land next to the village of Kisan. The land is owned by three extended families from Bethlehem and Hebron, who report that systematic intimidation by Israeli settlers in the area reduced their access to the land and, eventually, forced them to stop cultivating it. However, they continued to attempt to access it to herd their livestock. Similarly, Israeli settlers from Sde Bo’az outpost installed a shed and planted olive trees on a 20-dunum plot of land, privately owned by two Palestinian families from Al Khader village. In recent years, the takeover and subsequent cultivation of private Palestinian land has become a recurrent modality of settlement expansion, undermining Palestinian livelihoods.

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Mass demolition displaces 66 in the Jordan Valley

On 30 January, the Israeli authorities demolished 36 structures, including 15 residential structures, in the Bedouin hamlet of Ein al Hilwa in the Jordan Valley (Tubas Governorate), on the grounds that they lacked Israeli-issued building permits.

Twelve (12) families, comprising 66 people, including 36 children, were displaced as a result. On the previous day, another six structures were demolished in Al Jiftlik (Jericho governorate), also in the Jordan Valley, displacing seven Palestinians. On 31 January, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley expressed deep concern over the Israeli authorities’ ongoing displacement and dispossession of Palestinians in Area C, particularly along the Jordan Valley, and called for a halt to demolitions.

These demolitions occur in the context of a significant rise in demolitions and displacement in the Jordan Valley during 2013, when the total number of structures demolished and people displaced more than doubled compared to 2012 (390 and 590 compared to 172 and 279 respectively), alongside a decrease in other parts of Area C. There are a total of 60 Palestinian residential areas located in Area C of the Jordan Valley, with an estimated 14,700 residents, some 6,000 of whom are registered refugees. The majority of these communities depend on herding and farming as their main source of income (52 communities) and face risk of demolition and displacement.

The EU expressed grave concern at house demolitions and called upon Israel to meet its obligations regarding the living conditions of the Palestinian population in Area C, including by halting the forced transfer of population and demolitions of Palestinian housing and infrastructure.



GAZA STRIP
Civilian injuries and extensive damage from Israeli airstrikes

Following a relative lull during the previous reporting period, hostilities again escalated between Palestinian armed groups and Israeli forces this week. On 31 January, Palestinian factions shot a number of rockets towards southern Israel, none of which caused injuries or damage. In response, the Israeli air force conducted a series of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, which, according to the IDF spokesperson, targeted buildings used for the production or storage of rockets. However, they resulted in 10 civilian injuries and significant damage to civilian homes, public services and agricultural property. One of the attacks, targeting a building in Beit Lahiya, resulted in the injury of two civilians; the death of approximately 1,200 small livestock , including 150 cattle, 400 rabbits, 600 pigeons, and 60 hens; and damage to adjacent structures, including five homes, two schools, an educational center and an office building. Another strike directed at a building inside Gaza city, ended with two women injured, as well as damage to four homes and a school. Finally, in a strike targeting a site northwest of Rafah, six civilians, including a child and a woman, were injured, and two homes, 13 greenhouses and a water well were damaged.

Earlier on the same day, Israeli forces opened fire at demonstrators approaching the fence separating Gaza and Israel, east of Jabaliya, at approximately 100 meters from the fence; seven civilians were injured, including four by live ammunition. At least three additional incidents involving the opening of warning fire by Israeli forces at civilians present in areas along the fence were recorded during the week, alongside seven other affecting fishermen at sea; no casualties or damage were reported. On 28 January, Israeli forces conducted two limited incursions into Gaza in areas up to 300 meters from the fence (southeast of al-Maghazi and east of Khan Younis) and withdrew after carrying out land leveling operations.



Rafah Crossing closed

Rafah Crossing remained closed for the exit and entry of people throughout the reporting period. The Crossing last opened on 27 January to facilitate the travel of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. Gazan’s ability to travel through the Rafah crossing has been severely curtailed since July 2013, following the restrictive measures by the Egyptian authorities along Egypt’s border with Gaza. During the reporting period, the Crossing opened for one day to allow 56 truckloads of construction materials to enter for project funded by the Government of Qatar. The previous week, some 215 truckloads of construction materials designated for the Qatari construction projects entered over the course of three days.

Limited increase in the entry of building materials for international projects

This week (26 January-1 February), nearly 1,000 truckloads of goods entered Gaza through Kerem Shalom Crossing, 13 percent more than during the previous week. The increase is mainly due to the entry of slightly greater amounts of basic construction materials for projects implemented by international organizations and approved by the Israeli authorities (142 compared to 48 truckloads the previous week). In 2013, an average of 190 truckloads of construction materials entered every week for these types of projects. Import of building materials for the private sector remains banned. This restriction, along with the halt in the smuggling of construction materials via the illegal tunnels under the border with Egypt, has resulted in a severe shortage of such materials, bring to a near-complete freeze in construction activities, and the loss of income for tens of thousands of families.

Also during the reporting period, 2.3 million liters of industrial fuel entered through the Kerem Shalom Crossing for the Gaza Power Plant, similar to previous weeks. With the GPP operating at only half capacity, fuel donated by the Government of Qatar is estimated to run out by the end of February. On 30 January, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that the main hospitals in Gaza only had approximately 13 percent of their fuel reserves left, which was anticipated to last for one week approximately. Some 33,000 litres of fuel funded by the Turkish Government as emergency assistance were distributed to the main hospitals on 2 and 3 February.

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