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Source: Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
31 March 2014

Key issues

52 Palestinians were injured in the West Bank by Israeli forces.

Israeli settlers injured three Palestinians and damaged nearly 1,400 olive trees in the West Bank.

Fourteen (14) Palestinians were displaced in East Jerusalem and Jericho by the Israeli authorities.

In the Gaza Strip, two children died and nine others were injured in fire accidents or explosions of war remnants.


Widespread demonstrations and clashes on the anniversary of the “Land Day”

This week, Israeli forces injured 52 Palestinians, including 20 children, in several clashes across the West Bank, bringing the number of Palestinians injured in the West Bank during the first quarter of 2014 to 496, a significant decrease compared with 1,460 during the equivalent period in 2013.

Nearly two thirds of this week’s injuries (32) occurred between 28 and 30 March, in clashes with Israeli forces during demonstrations held on the occasion of the 38th anniversary of “Land Day” (commemorating a massive expropriation in 1976 of land owned by Palestinian citizens of Israel). The largest clashes took place in East Jerusalem, Beit Ummar (Hebron), and Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya). During the demonstrations, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli forces, who responded by firing live ammunition, rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas and sound canisters.

Additional clashes with Israeli forces were reported during the week in other locations, including at the entrance of Silwad village (Ramallah), resulting in four injuries; in Al ‘Isawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, during a search-and-arrest operation, resulting in two injuries; in Al Jalazun Refugee Camp (Ramallah) and in Aida Refugee Camp (Bethlehem), a total of nine people, including three children, of two households, were treated for tear gas inhalation after tear gas canisters shot by Israeli forces at Palestinian stone throwers in those areas penetrated their homes.

Also this week, a 16-year-old boy broke his leg when he fell while being chased by Israeli forces in ‘Iraq Burin (Nablus), near Bracha settlement, where he was collecting an edible wild plant (‘aqub, or Gundelia). Last week, Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old Palestinian boy while collecting the plant in an area behind the Barrier in south Hebron. The plant grows in the wild during March and is a source of income for many Palestinian farmers. At least five Palestinians were injured this month, either by Israeli forces or Israeli settlers, while collecting the plant in areas around Israeli settlements.

Three Palestinians injured and nearly 1,400 olive trees vandalized by Israeli settlers

This week OCHA recorded 12 settler related incidents, all against Palestinians, three of which resulted in Palestinian casualties and nine in damage to their property.

In one of the most serious incident this week, which took place on 30 March, an Israeli settler opened fire at and injured a 25- year-old Palestinian man who was fixing the wheel of his vehicle near Yitzhar junction (Nablus). The settler fled the scene. The livelihoods and security of residents of six villages around Yitzhar settlement have been undermined in recent years due to systematic attacks and intimidation by Israeli settlers.

On the following day, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured two other Palestinians; a 43-year-old man in Wadi El ‘Ein area near Al Bireh village (Ramallah) by a group of seven settlers from Pesagot settlement, and an 18-year-old boy who was also sprayed with pepper gas in Al Qirami area in the Old City of Jerusalem by other Israeli settlers.

Also this week, Israeli settlers uprooted or otherwise damaged a total of 1,390 olive trees and seedlings owned by Palestinians in several areas of the West Bank, bringing the total number of trees damaged by settlers since the beginning of 2014 to 5,362, compared with 2,530 in the equivalent period of 2013.

The largest incident this week took place on 27 March, when Israeli settlers from Adei Ad settlement outpost uprooted 1,200 olive seedlings on land owned by a family from Turmus’aya village (Ramallah). About 2,765 trees belonging to families from Turmus’ayya have been damaged by Israeli settlers since 2006, when OCHA began recording settler attacks. Of these, 2,325 were damaged during the past three months. (For more information on the impact of the Adei Ad settlement outpost please read ‘The Road to Dispossession: A Case Study – the Outpost of Adei Ad’ by Yesh Din)

On the same day, Israeli settlers from S’de Bo’az outpost uprooted 60 olive saplings owned by five farmers from Husan (Bethlehem), while settlers from Yitzhar uprooted 50 olive trees owned by two farmers from Huwwara village (Nablus), in an area next to the settlement that requires prior coordination to be accessed by its Palestinian owners. Additionally, settlers from Migron settlement outpost cut down 60 olive trees in land located in an area access to which requires prior coordination with the Israeli authorities, that belong to a family from Mikhmas village (Ramallah).

In another incident affecting Palestinian agricultural property during the week, Israeli settlers from Havat Ma’on settlement outpost grazed their sheep on land planted with wheat and barley in Al Kharouba village in Masafer Yatta (Hebron). This is one of 12 communities located in area designated as a “firing zone” for military training (“Firing zone 918”), which are at risk of forcible transfer by the Israeli military.

Also this week, on 25 March, Israeli settlers raided the village of Kifl Haris (Salfit), damaged the door of a religious shrine and sprayed graffiti in Hebrew on its external walls. On 28 March, Israeli settlers from Qarne Shomron settlement stoned and damaged a vehicle travelling near Jinsafut junction (Qalqiliya).

During the period, new settlement activities involving the installation of caravans or tents affecting land that is privately-owned by Palestinians were reported in three locations: between Um Safa and Burham villages (Ramallah) near Ateret settlement; in Biddu village (Jerusalem) by settlers from Giv’on Hakhadasha settlement; and in Khallet an Nahla (Bethlehem) by settlers from Efrata.

Four Palestinian families self-demolished their homes in East Jerusalem

This week, four Palestinian families demolished their own homes, or structures added to them, in different areas in East Jerusalem (Shu’fat, Jabal Al Mukabbir, Beit Hanina, and At Tur), after receiving demolition orders from the Israeli authorities on the grounds that the structures lacked building permits. A total of 13 people, including at least seven children were displaced, and 19 others including ten children were affected as a result.

The phenomenon of self-demolition has become widespread, particularly among Palestinians in East Jerusalem, as a means to avoid payment of high fines that Israeli authorities would alternatively impose on them, in addition to the demolition of the home. During 2013, 16 Palestinian structures were self-demolished in East Jerusalem. It is almost impossible for Palestinians in East Jerusalem to obtain building permits due to inadequate planning, alongside extensive allocation of land for Israeli settlements.

Also during the week, Israeli authorities handed at least ten new demolition and stop-work orders against Palestinian residential and livelihood structures built without Israeli-issued building permits in Area C in Nablus, Jenin, Jerusalem and Tubas governorates.

Forty-four (44) Palestinian families (260 people, including 130 children) from three Jordan Valley herding communities in the Tubas governorate were forcibly evacuated or confined to their homes to make way for Israeli military training carried around their residences, on 26 and 27 February. During the trainings, the Israeli army fired live ammunitions and used tanks, reportedly causing panic among the residents, especially among children. A fourth affected community in the area (Al Aqaba village) reported that Israeli forces damaged their agricultural fields during the training.

Humanitarian Coordinator calls for an immediate halt to demolitions in East Jerusalem

On 26 March, Israeli authorities demolished a two-story building in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At Tur, including two apartments, a mosque, and a medical centre. The demolition was carried out on the grounds that the building had lacked an Israeli-issued building permit, though the owners had tried unsuccessfully for years to do planning work. The demolition resulted in the displacement of a Palestinian family of seven, including five children, and directly affected 24 others, including 10 children. According to doctors who managed the medical centre, medical equipment worth 250,000 NIS was buried under the rubble. On 28 March, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, James Rawley, reiterated his call for an immediate halt to demolitions until Palestinians have access to a fair planning and zoning regime that meets their needs. “These actions cause unnecessary humanitarian suffering and increase tension. They also run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law,” Mr. Rawley said. Displacement in East Jerusalem rose significantly is 2013, with nearly 300 Palestinians displaced, compared with 70 in 2012. So far in 2014, 85 Palestinians, including 45 children, have been displaced.

On the previous day, Israeli authorities demolished two structures, including one residential structure, in a part of Jericho City that lies in Area C, due to the lack of a permit. A family of seven, including four children, was displaced as a result.

Also this week, between 24 and 26 March, Israeli forces evacuated 30 families from four Bedouin communities in the Tubas governorate, some of them twice this week, for an average of seven hours each time, to make way for Israeli military training near their residences. The affected communities included Hammamat al Maleh - Al Meiteh, ‘Ibziq, Khirbet Yarza, and Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar. The Israeli military used tanks and live ammunition during the training, causing panic in the affected communities, particularly among the children, who stayed in nearby locations during the training.

Also during the week, four other communities in the same area, Al ‘Aqaba village (Tubas), Khirbet Tell al Khashaba (Nablus), and Ash Shuna and Khallet Al Fuleh areas of Al Jiftlik village (Jericho), the residents of which were not evacuated, were also affected by five Israeli military trainings near their homes and within their agricultural fields, causing damage to the fields in the first two, and affecting residents’ access to services, including health and schooling, in the others.


Six civilians injured during protests near the fence

For the second consecutive week, no armed clashes, rocket firing or airstrikes were reported in the Gaza Strip or southern Israel. However, three demonstrations that took place in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA), near the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel, evolved into clashes between Palestinian civilians and Israeli forces, resulting in the injury of six people.

One of the clashes occurred on 28 March in a protest in the ARA east of Jabalya, against the Israeli-imposed restrictions on the Gaza Strip and Palestinians living there. During the confrontations, demonstrators threw stones at Israeli forces, who fired live ammunition and teargas canisters in response, injuring an 18-year-old Palestinian civilian with live ammunition. Similar clashes took place the previous day near the fence south-east of Beit Hanoun, during a demonstration on the occasion of “Land Day”; five Palestinian civilians were treated for teargas inhalation.

Also during the week, Israeli forces detained two civilians who attempted to cross into Israel, and, on at least two occasions, entered with tanks and bulldozers approximately 200 meters inside Gaza to conduct land-leveling operations.

Additionally, on at least four occasions this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning shots towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching or exceeding the Israeli-imposed six-nautical-mile fishing limit; no injuries were reported.

On 26 March, Israeli naval forces opened fire at two boats suspected of smuggling goods near Rafah and attempted to arrest their passengers, injuring two of them. An exchange of fire between Israeli naval forces and armed Palestinians, reportedly located at the shore during the incident, was reported. No arrests were reported, but the two boats were burned. The circumstances of the incident remain unclear.

Two children die in an accident related to the electricity crisis

On 26 March, two girls, 1 and 4 years old, died when a fire broke out in their house in Rafah, caused by the use of candles to light the house, during a power outage; two of their sisters (6 and 10 years old) were injured. Due to the longstanding electricity deficit, exacerbated by the shortage of fuel, due to the lack of funding, to operate the Gaza Power Plant (GPP) at full capacity, people suffer from scheduled power outages of up to 12 hours per day. To cope with the long blackouts, some households have resorted to mobile generators, which are unreliable due to their dependence on scarce fuel and spare parts and can be particularly unsafe. Those who cannot afford generators rely on more basic means, such as candles, which entail even higher risks. (For more on Gaza’s electricity crisis – its cause and impact, see our updated Fact Sheet ).

    Seven children injured by Explosive Remnants of War

    Eleven (11) civilians, including seven children, were injured this week due to the explosion of Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in two incidents on 30 March in Rafah and Khan Younis. One of the incidents resulted in the injury of six children, including one severely injured, while handling the fuse of a most likely Gaza faction rocket. The other incident occurred when an ERW detonated in the hands of a boy in an open area west of Khan Younis. Between 2009 and 2014, a total of 19 civilians, including 12 children were killed, and 132, including 78 children, were injured in incidents involving ERWs.

Rafah Crossing temporarily re-opened for humanitarian cases

Between 29 and 31 March, after 51 consecutive days of almost total closure, the Egyptian authorities re-opened the Rafah Crossing in both directions for the entry and exit of humanitarian cases, including patients, students, and foreign passport and visa holders to third countries. During these days, over 2,200 people left to Egypt and about 400 others returned to Gaza. Despite this, thousands of people in the same circumstances are reportedly stranded in Gaza and waiting to cross into Egypt. The Crossing was last opened for humanitarian cases on 6 February, only pilgrims to Mecca were allowed to travel during the 51-day closure of the crossing.

On 25 and 26 March, the crossing was partially opened in one direction for the entry of nearly 800 stranded travelers at the Egyptian side of the crossing, most of whom were pilgrims.

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