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

Key issues

Israeli forces injure 70 Palestinians in West Bank clashes.
Increased attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property.
Israeli authorities displace two families in East Jerusalem
Israeli forces injure four civilians near the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

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.

Israeli settler violence on the rise

During the week, OCHA recorded 10 incidents involving Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or damage to their property, with no incidents against Israeli settlers for the second consecutive week.

Five of this week's incidents occurred in settlements in the Nablus governorate. On three occasions, Israeli settlers from Itamar settlement raided the adjacent village of Beit Furik and areas surrounding it. In one incident, they physically assaulted and injured a 30-year-old Palestinian man while collecting an edible wild plant in the Khirbet Tana they stoned and injured an 11-year-old boy while playing on a street. On 23 March, settlers from Bracha settlement stoned a Palestinian researcher for an Israeli human rights organization while he was filming settlers attacking Palestinian workers rehabilitating an agricultural road in Area B in the village of Burin (Nablus). The road rehabilitation, which is funded by international donors, has been subject to several similar attacks in previous weeks, leading to the suspension of the project for 45 days, after the Israeli authorities designated the area a closed military zone. Israeli forces, who were escorting the workers this week, reportedly did not intervene to stop the settler attack. In the same area, a group of Israeli settlers from Yitzhar settlement attacked an isolated house on the outskirts of the village, and vandalized 35 olive trees and saplings in adjacent plots, the same day. Other settlers from the same settlement reportedly cut-down or vandalized 50 olive trees in the village of Huwwara (Nablus) on land near Yitzhar settlement, which can be accessed by its Palestinian owners only after prior coordination with Israeli forces.

On the same day, a Palestinian farmer from the village of Mikhmas (Ramallah) was stoned and beaten with batons by a group of masked persons, reportedly Israeli settlers, while cultivating his land adjacent to Migron settlement outpost, along with other farmers. Some settlers were evacuated from Migron settlement in August 2012 following an Israeli Supreme Court ruling to dismantle the outpost in August 2011.

On 24 March, in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers slashed the tires of 34 Palestinian-owned vehicles, and sprayed anti-Arab graffiti on a bus parked there. A similar incident took place on 24 June 2013 in the same area.

Israeli authorities displace two families in East Jerusalem

On 19 March, two Palestinian families from the neighborhood of Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem were displaced following the demolition of their homes due to the lack of Israeli issued building permits, for the second and third time respectively. In one incident, the Israeli authorities demolished a residential caravan and an external bathroom that belonged to a family of four people. The family had erected the structures in July 2013, following the demolition of their two-storey house in May 2013 in the same area. The other incident involved another residential caravan along with an animal structure, which belonged to a family of four, who installed the caravan earlier in the month after being forced to self-demolish another residential caravan that had been provided by a donor in response to an earlier demolition of the family's residence in January 2012.

There were no demolitions in Area C this week. The Israeli authorities issued at least 13 demolition and stop-work orders including against seven residential structures and three animal structures in Beit Anan village (Jerusalem) and Arab ar Ramadin ash Shamali (Qalqiliya), as well as against water and electricity networks, some of which are donor funded, and were designed to serve the community of Khirbet Tell al Khashaba (Nablus).

On 23 March, Israeli forces verbally notified 18 Palestinian families (nearly 140 people) from the community of 'Ibziq (Tubas) to evacuate their homes on 25 March and on 2 April 2014 for nine hours to make way for scheduled military trainings in the area.

Four civilians injured in Access Restricted Areas

The Gaza Strip is back to calm this week, following a week of escalated hostilities that resulted in the killing of a 52-year-old woman and the injury of seven others including three children either by rockets that fell short in Gaza or by Israeli air strikes. However, four civilians, including a child, were injured on 21 March, after being shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces. The casualties occurred at approximately 100 metres from the perimeter fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israel in Jabalia, in the context of stone-throwing at Israeli forces during the weekly protest against the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip since 2007. Also this week, Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinians near Kerem Shalom Crossing southeast of Rafah, but no injuries were reported.

On at least one occasion this week, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire at fishermen approaching the Israeli-imposed six-nautical-mile fishing limits for Palestinians, forcing them to the shore; no injuries were reported.

Rafah Crossing remains closed

The Egyptian authorities continued to limit Palestinians' movement through the Rafah Crossing to pilgrims only, as has been the case since 6 February. This week, the Crossing was opened on 23 and 24 March, exclusively for the departure and return of pilgrims to Mecca, with 796 and 251 passengers crossing in each direction, respectively. According to the Border and Crossing Authority in Gaza, there are thousands of people, including medical cases, students and holders of visas to third countries stranded in Gaza and waiting to cross into Egypt.

Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings back to pre-escalation operations

Erez passenger crossing with Israel resumed pre-escalation operations on 19 March. On 13 March, following the escalation of hostilities, the Israeli authorities had limited the functioning of the Crossing to the exit and entry of urgent humanitarian cases and international staff, who had coordinated their travel in advance.

Kerem Shalom cargo crossing also resumed pre-escalation functioning on 19 March. The Crossing was closed completely between 13 and 15 March, then operated partially for the entry of fuel, including for the Gaza Power Plant (GPP), between 16 and 18 March. During the reporting period,some 1.7 million litres of fuel entered Gaza for the GPP, allowing the plant to operate at half capacity, producing 60 Megawatts (MW) of electricity. The GPP was forced to shut down completely on 15 and 16 March, due to fuel shortages and the closure of Kerem Shalom, resulting in power outages of up to 18 hours per day throughout the Gaza Strip. Power cuts are currently at 12 hours, and continue to disrupt daily life inside Gaza, particularly access to basic services including water, waste water and medical services.

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