Protection of Civilians Report | 10 - 23 October 2017

Biweekly highlights

  • 38 Palestinians, 24 of them children, were injured by Israeli forces during clashes across the West Bank. Most injuries (30) were recorded during search and arrest operations in the following locations: Al Isawiya (see below) and At Tur neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; in the refugee camps of Al Jalazun (Ramallah), Askar (Nablus) and Ad Duhaisha (Bethlehem); and in the cities of Al Bireh (Ramallah) and Qalqiliya. Tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces in the latter clashes landed inside the Qalqiliya hospital, resulting in several patients being affected by severe tear gas inhalation. Another seven Palestinians were injured in clashes that followed the entry of an Israeli group to a religious site (Joseph’s tomb) in Nablus city. On 18 October, at the Gush Etzion junction (Bethlehem), Israeli forces shot and injured a 19-year-old Palestinian man, who, according to Israeli sources, attempted to stab a soldier.
  • A three days (17-19 October) strike was declared in the Al ‘Isawiya neighborhood of East Jerusalem, in protest of Israeli police operations in the vicinity of schools. Classes were suspended in ten schools affecting 6,000 students, as part of a strike declared by the parents’ committee. Recurrent search and arrest operations in this area have triggered clashes within the school vicinities, resulting in injuries and anxiety among children. During the reporting period, Al ‘Isawiya neighbourhood accounted for the highest portion of search and arrest operations in a single locality (13) in the Jerusalem governorate.
  • Another six Palestinians, including three children, were shot and injured by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip, during two protests next to the perimeter fence. On at least 16 additional occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards farmers and fishermen while enforcing access restrictions to land along the fence and to fishing areas, resulting in no injuries. In one of these incidents, four fishermen were forced to swim to Israeli naval boats, where they were briefly detained and one of their fishing boats was seized, and in another incident a fishing boat was destroyed by a missile fired by the Israeli navy.
  • On 18 October, the Israel authorities expanded the permissible fishing zone along the southern Gaza coast from six to nine nautical miles (NM) until the end of December, in the context of the sardine fishing season. Access to fishing areas beyond six NM along the northern coast of Gaza remains barred. The previous such extension was implemented in May-June 2017.
  • The olive harvest in a number of hotspots across the West Bank was disrupted by settler violence, which resulted in the physical assault and injury of two farmers, damage to 550 trees, and the theft of several tons of produce.  All but one of the nine documented incidents took place in areas in the vicinity of settlements, where Palestinian access is restricted by the Israeli authorities. The affected communities included Yanun, Qaryut and Burin (Nablus); Far’ata and Jit (Qalqiliya); Al Janiya and Al Mughayyir (Ramallah); and Al Khadr (Bethlehem). A number of additional incidents involving stone-throwing by settlers at Palestinian farmers were also reported. The olive harvest season, which takes place every year between October and November, is a key economic, social and cultural event for Palestinians. 
  • The olive harvest in the closed area behind the Barrier (‘Seam Zone’) in the Salfit governorate was also disrupted due to prolonged delays in the opening of agricultural gates. At least 170 farmers (half of them women and children) were directly affected due to the resulting reduction of the already limited time available to them to work in this area. To be allowed through one of these gates, farmers require a special permit, which are issued by the Israeli authorities, subject to security and land ownership checks, and are difficult to obtain.
  • Citing the lack of building permits, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 20 structures in nine Palestinian communities in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 60 people, including 35 children, and affecting the livelihoods of nearly 40 others. Two of the incidents occurred in Palestinian herding communities located in Massafer Yatta (Hebron), within an area closed by the Israeli military for training (‘firing zone 918’), exacerbating the coercive environment and creating pressure on residents to leave. Three of the targeted structures, including a residential shelter, a water cistern and one animal barrack, had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions. This brings the total number of donor-funded items destroyed or seized since the beginning of 2017 to 99. Israeli forces also closed by military order four broadcasting media companies in Nablus and Ramallah cities (Area A), and seized computers and equipment, reportedly on grounds of ‘incitement activities’.
  • Five Palestinians, including four children, were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli settlers in two separate incidents recorded in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2) and in the Old City of Jerusalem. Damage to Palestinian property was also reported in the latter incident, including to one coffee shop, to the doors, window and windshields of three parked vehicles and one motorcycle, and the locks of around ten shops were broken, affecting the livelihoods of over 30 people.
  • According to Israeli media reports, two Israelis, one of them a child, were injured, and several vehicles were damaged as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians. The incidents occurred in the Old City of Jerusalem, near Shuqba village in Ramallah and in the H2 area of Hebron city. Following the latter incident, Israeli forces declared the area closed for military reasons, shut down one of the checkpoints leading to the area for four hours, and conducted a search operation. Additionally, the light train segment running in Shu’fat neighborhood (East Jerusalem) sustained damage as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians.
  • During the reporting period, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was closed in both directions. During 2017, the crossing was partially opened for only 29 days. Over 20,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross, according to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza.