Protection of Civilians Report | 10 - 23 April 2018
The series of mass demonstrations in Gaza, which began on 30 March in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’, continued during the reporting period. The demonstrations have taken place at five tent camps located about 600-700 meters from the perimeter fence with Israel. A few hundred demonstrators, out of tens of thousands, have approached and attempted to breach the fence, burnt tires, threw rocks and, according to Israeli sources, threw fire bombs and other explosive devices at Israeli forces, or placed them along the fence. The latter have used rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition, including by some one hundred snipers deployed along the fence.
As of the end of the reporting period, since the beginning of the protests, 34 Palestinians, including four children, had been killed by Israeli forces. In addition, five Palestinians were killed in Gaza in other circumstances and another two were shot and killed, after crossing the fence into Israel; their bodies are still being withheld by the Israeli authorities. Since 30 March, a total of 5,511 Palestinians, including at least 454 children, have been injured by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza.Of these, approximately 3,369 people (61 per cent) of the total injuries have been hospitalized, including 1,739 from live ammunition. There were no reports of Israeli injuries. The large number of casualties among unarmed Palestinian demonstrators, including the high percentage by live ammunition, has raised concerns about excessive use of force. Doctors at Shifa hospital in Gaza report treating wounds not witnessed since the 2014 escalation of hostilities, some of which may cause a lifetime disability. For more infographics and breakdowns.
During the reporting period, nine Palestinians, including one child, were killed by Israeli forces and 1,739 were injured in the context of the demonstrations in the Gaza Strip (included in the count above). The nine fatalities included eight men and a 14-year-old boy who, according to medical sources, was shot with live ammunition in the head, at around 50 metres from the fence. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process expressed outrage over the killing and called for an investigation. The Israeli military stated that it would conduct an inquiry into this incident. The Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, has called for the protection of Palestinian demonstrators and for urgent funding to meet critical humanitarian needs generated by the massive rise in casualties in Gaza since 30 March.
On several occasions on 12,17 and 18 April, Israeli forces launched multiple airstrikes and fired tank shells into Gaza, reportedly targeting military sites, resulting in the killing of one Palestinian member of an armed group and the injury of five others. In addition, damage to one house was reported.
In the West Bank, 331 Palestinians, including 49 children, were injured by Israeli forces during protests and clashes. About 85 per cent of these injuries occurred during clashes that erupted following protests in solidarity with the ‘Great March of Return’ in Gaza. Clashes in Kafr Qalil (Nablus) accounted for the highest number of injuries, followed by clashes near the DCO in Al Bireh (Ramallah) and Abu Dis town in Jerusalem. Most of the injuries (70 per cent) were caused by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment, followed by injuries by rubber bullets (20 per cent) and live ammunition (3 per cent). In another three incidents, 24 Palestinians, including two children, were injured during clashes with Israeli forces, following the entrance of Israeli settlers to various religious sites in the West Bank, triggering altercations and clashes with Palestinians.
Israeli forces conducted 183 search and arrest operations and arrested 203 Palestinians, including 24 children in the West Bank. More than a third of these operations triggered clashes with residents. The Hebron governorate accounted for the highest proportion of arrests (55) of whom four were children, and the highest number of operations (51).
Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 16 structuresin six localities in Area C, resulting in no displacement, but affecting the livelihoods of around 362 people. Eleven of the targeted structures were in the Area C parts of Shuqba and Jibiya villages (both in Ramallah), Al ‘Auja (Jericho) and in the Palestinian community of South ‘Anata Bedouins (Jerusalem). Of the targeted structures, four were used as classrooms and two as latrine facilities in a primary school serving 24 students in the herding community of Khirbet Zanuta in southern Hebron. One of the structures affected during the period, which was used as a classroom in the Jabal al Baba Bedouin community in Area C of the Jerusalem governorate, had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions. This demolition affected 290 persons, including 151 children. Jabal al Baba is one of the 46 Palestinian Bedouin communities in the central West Bank at high risk of forcible transfer. Additionally, Israeli forces demolished a car wash and a public playground for children, both located near Qalandiya checkpoint and Kafr Aqab affecting the livelihood of 86 people, and a workshop in Beit Anan village in Jerusalem (Area B), where they seized computers, printers and other equipment, reportedly on the grounds of incitement activities, impacting the livelihoods of 17 people.
On 23 April, the Israeli authorities demolished a house in Jenin city on punitive grounds, displacing seven people, including two children. The targeted house belonged to the family of the Palestinian, currently imprisoned, who participated in an attack in January 2018, in which one Israeli settler was killed. Since the beginning of 2018, two homes have been demolished or sealed on punitive grounds, displacing seven Palestinians.
The Israeli authorities issued at least 19 demolition and stop-work orders against structures belonging to three communities in Area C for lack of building permits. These included eleven inhabited houses in Khirbet Ghwein (Hebron), seven livelihood structures in Ni’lin, and a residential structure in the community of Jawaya in the Yatta area of Hebron.
Three Palestinians were injured by Israeli settlers, and Palestinian property was vandalized in eleven incidents of settler violence across the West Bank. On 10 April, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian man near Tell (Nablus). According to local community sources, in three separate incidents, around 140 olive trees on lands belonging to Palestinians from Rujeib, Burin and ‘Urif villages (all in Nablus) were vandalized by Israeli settlers, reportedly from Yitzhar and Bracha settlements. Additionally, in another five separate incidents, Israeli settlers punctured the tires of 113 Palestinian vehicles, sprayed “price tag” graffiti on the walls of ten Palestinian houses and set fire to a mosque in Lubban ash Sharqiya and Aqraba (both in Nablus), Rammun and Burqa (both in Ramallah), and Beit Iksa (in Jerusalem) villages. Two Palestinian students (11 and 12-years-old) were injured and their school bus and a house sustained damage in two separate incidents of stone and Molotov-cocktail throwing by Israeli settlers on roads near Dura (Hebron) and in the H2 area of Hebron city. Settler violence has been on the rise since the beginning of 2018, with a weekly average of five attacks resulting in injuries or property damage, compared to an average of three in 2017 and two in 2016.
According to Israeli media reports, four Israeli settlers, including one woman, were injured and four vehicles were damaged as a result of Molotov-cocktail and stone-throwing incidents by Palestinians on roads near Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem.
For the third successive week, rolling power cuts of up to 20 hours a day continue across Gaza, severely undermining the provision of basic services, including health and water and sanitation (WASH). The Gaza Power Plant has been completely shut down since 12 April, due to the lack of fuel, while the three Egyptian electricity feeder lines have not functioned since 10 February.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was open for three days (from 12 to 14 April) in both directions, allowing a total of 400 to enter and another 2,500 to exit Gaza. Since the beginning of 2018, the crossing has been opened on only thirteen days; eight days in both directions and five days in one direction. According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, more than 23,000 people, including prioritized humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross Rafah.