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




Key issues

55 Palestinian civilians injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two-thirds of them by rubber coated metal bullets.
Over 1,000 olive trees and saplings uprooted by Israeli settlers.
A Bedouin community in the I area, east of Jerusalem, at heightened risk of displacement.


WEST BANK

Over 40 Palestinians injured in clashes, the majority by rubber-coated metal bullets

A total of 43 Palestinians were injured during the week by Israeli forces in multiple clashes across the West Bank, with nearly 70 percent of the cases caused by rubber-coated metal bullets. At least two of the people injured by this ammunition during the week, were hit in the head. The Israeli army's rules of engagement allow the shooting of these bullets only at the lower part of the body. In 2013, the number of Palestinian injuries by rubber-coated metal bullets in the West Bank doubled compared to 2012 (1,518 vs. 757 people, making for 41 percent of the injury cases in 2013 compared to 25 percent in 2012.

The most serious clashes took place on 21 February in Hebron City, in a protest against the longstanding closure of the main street in the Old City (Ash Shuhada Street) for Palestinian use. During the incident, protestors threw stones at Israeli forces staffing one of the checkpoints controlling access to the street, while the soldiers responded by shooting rubber-coated metal bullets, injuring 14 Palestinians, including three children (aged 8, 13 and 14). The Israeli authorities impose severe restrictions on Palestinian movement in Hebron's Old City to provide security to Israeli visitors, as well as settlers residing in the city. These restrictions have contributed to the displacement of thousands of Palestinian residents from this area in the past 13 years, and the deterioration of the living conditions of those who stayed.

Stone throwing at Israeli forces positioned next to Al Jalazun refugee camp (Ramallah), and subsequesubsequent clashes, continued during this week. In one of the incidents, on 21 February, Israeli forces injured nine Palestinians, four of whom were shot with live ammunition, and three with rubber-coated metal bullets, including one head injury. The frequency and intensity of clashes in this location have intensified in recent months, following Israeli forces' killing of a 15-year-old boy resident of the camp in December 2013 and a worker from the camp in January 2014.Clashes also took place this week in An Nabi Saleh village (Ramallah), resulting in the injury of six Palestinians, including five children aged between 12 and 17 years. Over the past few years, residents of the village have been holding weekly demonstrations, protesting the expansion of the adjacent settlement of Halamish on private Palestinian land.

Tensions and clashes continued to run high during the week on the main road next to Tuqu' village and Teqoa settlement, in the eastern part of the Bethlehem governorate. Two of this week's clashes resulted in the injury of two men by Israeli soldiers, one of whom was hit with live ammunition in his leg and the other who lost an eye after being shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet. Many of the incidents in this area recorded in recent weeks involve stone-throwing by Palestinian children at Israeli vehicles and soldiers along the main road, as well as clashes around settler attempts to take over land.


Four Palestinians injured and over 1,000 olive trees and saplings uprooted in settler related incidents

On 20 February, armed security guards of Yitzhar settlement, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, arrived at Burin village's secondary school (Nablus) during school hours, following claims of stone-throwing against settlers in the area. This triggered clashes between the students and the Israeli settlers and soldiers, which resulted in the injury of a 12 year-old boy hit by a tear gas canister, and a teacher treated for tear gas inhalation. The security and livelihoods of residents of Burin, along with residents of around ten other villages in the area, have been undermined in recent years due to systematic attacks and intimidation by settlers from the adjacent Yitzhar and Bracha settlements.

According to Palestinian sources, in two separate incidents during the week, a Palestinian child (aged 9) and a man were injured after being run over by settlers, in the Israeli-controlled areas of Hebron City (H2) and near Za'tara/Tapuach junction (Salfit), respectively. Also this week, a two year-old Israeli girl was hit and injured by a stone thrown by a Palestinian in the old city of Jerusalem.

During the week, there were six attacks perpetrated by Israeli settlers resulting in damage to Palestinian property. Four of these incidents involved the uprooting or damaging of trees and saplings: 700 newly-planted saplings in Turmus'ayya village (Ramallah) by Israeli settlers from Adei Ad settlement outpost; 320 olive trees and saplings in two incidents in Susiya village (Hebron); and 30 olive saplings and grape vines west of Al Khader village (Bethlehem), reportedly by settlers from Sde Boaz settlement outpost. In the other two incidents, settlers slashed the tires of 30 Palestinian-owned vehicles in Beit Safafa neighborhood (Jerusalem), and killed six sheep belonging to a shepherd from Jinsafut village (Qalqiliya).


No demolitions during the week; stop work orders targeted a Bedouin community in the El area

There have been no reports of demolitions during the week in Area C or East Jerusalem, compared to a weekly average of 16 structures since the beginning of the year. However, the Israeli authorities issued stop-work orders against 18 residential structures funded by international donors in the Bedouin community of Jabal al Baba in the Jerusalem governorate, placing over 120 people at risk of displacement. The community is located in an area planned for the expansion of the Ma'ale Adummim settlement and its territorial connection to East Jerusalem (the E-1 plan).

The Israeli authorities issued similar orders against residential structures in the Ibziq Bedouin community in the Jordan Valley. In the same area, on 26 February, three families (22 people, including 13 children) in the Bedouin community of Hammamat el Maleh/Al Burj were displaced for about nine hours to make way for Israeli military exercises, and another three families were verbally informed to stay in their homes during the training. Since the beginning of the year there have been at least four military trainings in the Jordan Valley resulting in the temporary displacement of approximately 350 people.



GAZA STRIP

Protest near the fence results in 12 civilian injuries

No Palestinian rocket firing at southern Israel or Israeli air strikes within the Gaza Strip were reported this week. However, the increased tension recorded since mid-December 2013 in the Access Restricted Area (ARA) along the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip continued during the week. On 21 February, during a protest against access restrictions to the ARA that took place east of Jabaliya, Israeli forces shot and injured 12 civilians, including two children, half of whom were hit by live ammunition, and the other half by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. The shooting took place after the demonstrators arrived at a 50 meters distance from the fence and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers. This type of incident has been on the rise since the beginning of the year, resulting in the injury of 40 civilians, or over 70 percent of all civilian injuries in the ARA.

Earlier on the same day, two other Palestinians, including a 12-year-old herder, were shot and injured in an open area east of Rafah, at approximately 400 meters from the fence, according to a Palestinian human rights group. On at least two occasions, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered approximately 15 meters inside Gaza and conducted land leveling operations. Also this week, Israeli forces detained five Palestinians in the ARA, reportedly while attempting to access Israel for work.

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. In another incident, Egyptian patrol boats opened fire towards Palestinian fishing boats approaching the Egyptian border west of Rafah, forcing them towards the north. No injuries or damage were reported in any of the aforementioned incidents.


Rafah Crossing update

The Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt was opened only for two days during the week, exclusively for the departure of pilgrims to Mecca (around 500), and the return of at least 360 other people. Since the beginning of February, the crossing opened on just eight days. By contrast, during the first half of 2013, before the start of the Egyptian restrictions, the crossing was opened on all but five days, allowing an average of 1,860 people to cross per day. Prior to July 2013, Rafah functioned as the primary exit and entry point to the Gaza Strip for Palestinians, due to the long-standing restrictions imposed by Israel on movement via Erez Crossing.

Due to the recurrent closures of Rafah crossing, the number of applications for permits to access medical care in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Israel through the Erez crossing during January 2014 was twice as many as in January 2013 (1,538 vs. 796), and the highest since 2008, according to WHO. The increase was also attributed to the growing shortage of drugs in Gaza hospitals, especially for chemotherapy treatment. About 88 percent of these applications were approved.


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