Protection of Civilians Report | 18 - 31 December 2018
Five Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli forces during the Friday demonstrations near the perimeter fence in Gaza, and 275 others were injured. Four of the fatalities, including a 16-year-old boy, were shot with live ammunition on 21 December, which recorded more violent clashes than in previous weeks. A balloon carrying an explosive device reportedly landed near a kindergarten in southern Israel but did not explode. The fifth fatality, a man with a mental disability, was shot in the head during a demonstration on 28 December. These bring to 180 the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza during protests since the start of the ‘Great March of Return’ on 30 March 2018. Of the people injured during the reporting period, 214 were hospitalized, 46 per cent of them hit by live ammunition, and the rest were treated in the field, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
On at least 34 occasions outside of the “Great March of Return” events, Israeli forces opened warning fire in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea in Gaza, resulting in one injury. Two fishing boats were sunk as a result of Israeli shooting near the Rafah coast; the fishermen were rescued by another fishing boat. On six occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza and carried our land-levelling and excavation operations in the vicinity of the perimeter fence, in the middle and the northern areas.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces opened fire at a vehicle approaching a road junction, killing one of the passengers, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy. The incident occurred on 20 December near the entrance to Beit El settlement (Ramallah). The driver of the vehicle and another two passengers were unharmed and were released shortly after the incident. According to Israeli sources, the driver did not heed the soldiers’ order to stop; the driver denies this. The Israeli authorities have announced the opening of an investigation. In a separate incident on 26 December, a Palestinian man was shot and injured, reportedly after he attempted to drive his vehicle over soldiers and settlers at Huwwara checkpoint (Nablus); no Israeli injuries were reported.
Twenty-two Palestinians, including at least two children, were injured by Israeli forces during clashes across the West Bank. Twelve of the injuries were recorded during ad hoc clashes at the entrance of Beita and Urif villages (both in Nablus) and Qalqiliya city; four during the weekly demonstrations against access restrictions in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya); and another four during search and arrest operations in Ad Duhaisha (Bethlehem) and Balata (Nablus) refugee camps. In total, Israeli forces conducted 163 search and arrest operations and arrested 187 Palestinians, including 17 children.
Citing the lack of Israeli building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or force people to demolish four Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing one family. One of the incidents occurred in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Mikhmas (Jerusalem), where a home and a donor-funded latrine were targeted. The other two structures demolished, one of them by their owners, were houses under construction in East Jerusalem. In 2018, Israel demolished or seized 459 Palestinian structures, a 10 per cent increase compared to 2017, displacing 472 people, the lowest such figure since OCHA began systematically recording demolitions in 2009.
Two main routes into Ramallah city remained closed through the end of the reporting period and long delays were reported at multiple checkpoints across the West Bank. The main entrances to Ramallah from the east (DCO checkpoint) and from the west (Deir Ibzi’ gate) were closed on 13 December, after Palestinians shot and killed two Israeli soldiers. On at least 63 occasions, Israeli forces set up ‘partial checkpoints’, which are not permanently staffed, for various periods of time, more than triple the average number of such incidents recorded since the beginning of 2018, and disrupting the access of people to services and livelihoods.
Twelve Palestinians were injured and at least 380 trees and 69 vehicles were vandalized in fourteen incidents of settler violence. Ten of the injuries were as a result of physical assault and two due to stone throwing. In one of the incidents (on 24 December), a group of settlers stormed into the Youth Against Settlement Center in the H2 area of Hebron city, clashed with Palestinians, injuring seven of them, and damaging a fence around the center. In another five incidents, settlers vandalized some 380 olive trees in the villages of As Sawiya, Burqa (both in Nablus), Turmus’ayya (Ramallah), Tarqumiya and Khirbet at Tawamin (both in Hebron), according to local community sources. Additionally, in Deir Sharaf, As Sawiya (both in Nablus), Yasuf (Salfit) and East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers punctured the tires of 69 vehicles, and sprayed “price tag” graffities on the walls of Palestinian houses. In 2018, OCHA recorded 265 incidents where Israeli settlers killed or injured Palestinians or damaged Palestinian property, marking a 69 per cent increase compared with 2017.
Four Israeli settlers, including a woman and a baby, were injured and at least 26 vehicles were damaged as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians, according to Israeli media reports. The incidents took place on roads near Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, and Jerusalem.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was opened for ten days in both directions and one day in one direction (entering Gaza only). A total of 1,934 people entered Gaza and 2,443 exited. The crossing has been almost continuously open, five days a week, since 12 May 2018.