Protection of Civilians Report | 13 - 26 February 2018
On 17 February, two Palestinian children 15 and 17 years old were killed, and another two children injured when Israeli forces opened fire at a group of Palestinians approaching the fence southeast of Rafah, reportedly to cross into Israel through the fence. On the same day, four Israeli soldiers were injured when an explosive device went off near the fence east of Khan Younis. Following this incident, Israeli forces launched multiple strikes reportedly targeting military sites and open areas inside Gaza. Three houses adjacent to these targets sustained damage. Palestinian groups fired a number of projectiles towards southern Israel, one of which hit and damaged an Israeli house.
An 18-year-old Palestinian fisherman was killed and another two injured, when Israeli naval forces opened fire at a fishing boat off the coast of Beit Lahiya, in Gaza, on 25 February. According to an army spokesperson, the fisherman was sailing beyond the permitted zone and refused to stop after several warnings. On at least 22 additional occasions, Israeli naval forces opened warning fire towards fishermen sailing in the access restricted area (ARA) at sea, resulting in the injury of another fisherman. So far in 2018, there have been at least 68 shooting incidents at sea, resulting in the above fatality and eleven injuries.
On 22 February, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli soldiers during a search and arrest operation in Jericho city. Video footage shows the man running with a large object towards a group of soldiers, who shot him at close range, and then physically assaulted and dragged him into a military vehicle. The Israeli authorities announced the opening of a criminal investigation. The body has been withheld by the Israeli authorities. This brings to five the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in search and arrest operations since the beginning of 2018, compared to nine in 2017. In addition to the above, Israeli forces conducted 258 search and arrest operations across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, of which at least 61 triggered clashes with Palestinians and resulted in 55 injuries.
A Palestinian man died of wounds sustained in a demonstration during the previous reporting period, and 384 Palestinians, including at least 115 children, were injured by Israeli forces in demonstrations and clashes during this period. The fatality, 18-years-old, was originally injured during a demonstration that took place on 16 February, next to the perimeter fence in Gaza. Of this period’s injuries, 74 occurred in clashes near Gaza’s fence and the rest were in the West Bank. Most of the latter occurred during the weekly demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), An Nabi Saleh, Ni’lin, Bil’in and Al Mazra’a al Qibliya (all in Ramallah), and in ad hoc demonstrations against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the largest of which occurred in Al Bireh (Ramallah) and at Huwwara checkpoint (Nablus). Other injuries were reported during clashes at the entrance of Beit ‘Ummar and Al ‘Arrub refugee camp (both in Hebron); and after Israeli forces intervened following confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli settler groups (see below). Of all injuries, 59 were caused by live ammunition, 102 by rubber-bullets and 205 by medically-treated tear-gas inhalation or direct hits by tear gas canisters.
In the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian children (6 and 11-years-old), were injured following the detonation of an unexploded ordnance (UXO). The incident occurred in Jabalia (Gaza North), after one of the children tampered with an UXO found on the ground, triggering its explosion.
The Israeli authorities demolished or seized 20 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, displacing 18 people, including 10 children, and affecting the livelihoods of some 70 others. All the incidents occurred on the grounds of lack of building permits. The majority (15) of targeted structures were in East Jerusalem and five were in the Area C communities of Al Baqa’a, Al Bowereh and Khirbet al Hasaka, in Hebron, and Jabal al Baba Bedouin community in the Jerusalem governorate. Three of the targeted structures in Area C had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions.
Sixteen Palestinians were injured and Palestinian property lost or damaged in attacks and raids by Israeli settlers. Four of the incidents occurred in Einabus and Asira al Qibliya villages (Nablus), reportedly by settlers from Yitzhar, Bracha and their surrounding outposts: they involved the physical assault and injury of a 91-year-old man, the killing of 17 sheep and theft of another 37, and the vandalizing of a house. In the same area, five Palestinians were injured by soldiers during clashes that erupted after Israeli settlers raided the village. In the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron city, Israeli settlers stoned three Palestinian houses and, in subsequent clashes, injured six Palestinians, including two children. Another four Palestinian men were physically assaulted and injured by settlers in four separate incidents elsewhere in the West Bank. Six Palestinian-owned vehicles were also damaged in five stone-throwing incidents. Settler violence has been on the rise since the beginning of 2018, with a weekly average of six attacks, compared to an average of three in 2017 and two in 2016.
According to Israeli media reports, at least thirteen incidents of stone-throwing by Palestinians against Israeli-plated vehicles were reported, resulting in damage to five Israeli-owned vehicles. The incidents occurred on roads near Umm Safa and Sinjil (Ramallah), near Tuqu’, Beit ‘Ummar and Al ‘Arrub refugee camp (Hebron) and near Al Khadr (Bethlehem). In addition, damage was reported to the light rail in the Shu’fat area of East Jerusalem.
During the reporting period, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was open in both directions for two days and one day in one direction allowing 1665 people to cross (1317 exits, 348 entries). According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, more than 23,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross Rafah. Since the beginning of 2018 the crossing has been opened on 6 days and in 2017 on 36 days, some of these days, the crossing opened in one direction only.
Electricity outages across the Gaza Strip continued for up to 20 hours a day, severely disrupting the provision of services. This represents a slight increase in power cuts compared to the previous period, attributed to a complete halt in electricity supply from Egypt, reportedly due to technical malfunctioning of the three feeder lines.