Protection of Civilians Report | 14-27 August 2018

Biweekly Highlights

  • Friday demonstrations and clashes near Israel’s perimeter fence around Gaza continued for the twenty-second successive week, resulting in two Palestinians killed and 733 injured. During demonstrations that took place on 17 August in the Rafah and Deir al Balah areas, Israeli forces shot with live ammunition and killed two men, 27 and 28-years-old. Of those injured, 325 were hospitalized, including 141 people hit by live ammunition, and the rest treated in the field. No Israeli casualties were reported. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns since the beginning of the demonstrations see here. On 21 August, for the first time since the start of the demonstrations, Israel’s Military Advocate General announced the opening of criminal investigations into the killing of two Palestinian demonstrators in previous months.
  • According to Israeli sources, on 20 August, a Palestinian man breached Gaza’s perimeter fence into Israel, opened fire at an Israeli patrol, and was subsequently shot and killed by Israeli forces. The man was an employee of an international NGO providing medical assistance in Gaza; he was off-duty at the time of the incident and no information clarifying the circumstances of his death have been shared with the NGO.
  • At least 15 incidents involving Israeli forces’ opening fire at Palestinians in the course of enforcing access restrictions imposed on land and sea areas off the coast of Gaza were recorded, resulting in two Palestinians injured, including one child and forcing farmers and fishers to leave the area. In two separate incidents, six fishermen were forced to take off their clothes and swim to Israeli naval boats, where they were detained and their three boats and fishing nets seized, according to Palestinian sources. Restrictions on access to the sea continue to affect the livelihood of over 50,000 Palestinians who depend on the fishing industry sector as their main source of income. Additionally, on two occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza, and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations near the perimeter fence east of Gaza and east of Khan-Younis.
  • On 15 August, Israel lifted the tightened restrictions on the entry and exit of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza that were imposed on 9 July, and increased the permissible fishing zone from 3 back to 6-9 nautical miles from the coast. The restrictions were adopted in response to the launching of incendiary kites and balloons from Gaza towards Israel, which have resulted in extensive property damages in Israel.
  • On 27 August, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that the Israeli authorities must cancel the policy of denying relatives of Hamas members exit permits to leave the Gaza Strip to receive medical treatment in the West Bank. The ruling followed a joint petition submitted by Palestinian and Israeli human right organizations against this policy.
  • On 27 August, the Israel authorities lifted restrictions, which had been imposed on 19 August and limited the exit of Palestinians through Erez crossing to urgent medical cases only. The crossing is accessible only to a limited number of people eligible for exit permits, including patients, businessmen, and staff with international organizations, while the majority of the population is prohibited from leaving. 
  • In the West Bank, 29 Palestinians, including five children, were injured by Israeli forces in multiple clashes. Clashes during the weekly demonstration against access restrictions in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) accounted for the highest number of injuries, followed by clashes near Bab az Zawiyah area in Hebron city. Overall, Israeli forces conducted 114 search and arrest operations, three of which triggered clashes, resulting in seven Palestinian injuries. Most of the injuries (22 injuries) were caused by rubber bullets, followed by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment (five injuries), and by and physical assault (three injuries).
  • On 17 August, in East Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed a 30-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, reportedly after he attempted to stab an Israeli policeman. The incident occurred at one of the entrances to the Haram ash Sharif/ Temple Mount compound in the Old City; no Israeli injuries were reported.
  • On 28 August, the Israeli authorities demolished a home in Kobar village (Ramallah), in Area B, on punitive grounds, displacing a family of six. The home belonged to the family of the 17-year-old Palestinian who, on 26 July 2018, killed an Israeli settler in the settlement of Adam (Jerusalem governorate), and was subsequently killed by another settler. On 26 August, the Israeli authorities delivered a punitive demolition order against two floors of a building in Al Amaari refugee camp (Ramallah), belonging to the family of a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli soldier during a search and arrest operation in May 2018. Since the beginning of 2018, four homes were demolished on punitive grounds, compared to nine in the entire 2017 and 29 in 2016.
  • Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli Authorities demolished or seized three Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, affecting the livelihoods of 34 people. One of the structures seized in Al Khader (Bethlehem) was an agricultural storage unit that was provided as humanitarian assistance in response to a previous demolition. A school under construction in the community of Zanuta (Hebron), aimed at replacing a school serving 40 children that was seized in April 2018, was issued a demolition order.
  • Additionally, citing Israeli environmental regulations, the Israeli authorities demolished two structures in a charcoal factory located near Ya’bad town (Jenin), in Area B, and destroyed over ten tons of wood, affecting the livelihoods of two families. This the third incident of this kind taking place in this area since 2016.
  • On 13 August, the Israeli authorities seized a four-by-four vehicle serving a mobile health clinic in the Masafer Yatta area in southern Hebron, forcing residents to travel longer distances to access primary health care services. The grounds for the seizure remain unclear. The vehicle, which was used to transport the clinic’s staff and equipment, was provided by an international NGO. The Massafer Yatta area is designated as a “firing zone” for military training and its 1,300 residents face risk of forcible transfer.
  • Twelve attacks by Israeli settlers resulted in six Palestinian injuries and extensive damage to Palestinian property. In two separate incidents, on 19 and 23 August at Za’tara and Yitzhar junctions (Nablus), Israeli settlers stoned Palestinian vehicles, injuring five Palestinians, including a 16-year-old child, and damaging over 50 cars. The attacks occurred in the aftermath of a car accident between Palestinian and Israeli vehicles in the area, during which an Israeli was killed. In the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a 50-year-old deaf Palestinian woman. Some 160 Palestinian-owned olive trees were reportedly vandalized by Israeli settlers in four separate incidents in Ras Karkar (Ramallah), Al Lubban ash Sharqiya and As Sawiya (both in Nablus) and Sheikh Jarrah (East Jerusalem). In another four incidents, Israeli settlers punctured the tires of 44 Palestinian vehicles, sprayed “price tag” graffiti on the walls of a Palestinian house and damaged a water well in Aqraba and ‘Asira al Qibliya  (both in Nablus), Sinjil (Ramallah), and Al ‘Isawiya (East Jerusalem). Additionally, four Israeli activists providing protective presence to Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area, were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli settlers. 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 with an average of three in 2017 and two in 2016.
  • At least five incidents of stone-throwing by Palestinians against Israeli-plated vehicles were reported, resulting in damage to five private vehicles near Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Ramallah, according to Israeli media reports.
  • The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened in both directions for six days, and in only one direction for another two days. A total of 2,896 (including 112 pilgrims return from Makkah) were allowed to enter Gaza and 1,832 exited (including 438 pilgrims). The crossing has been almost continuously open since 12 May 2018.