Protection of Civilians Report | 19 December 2017 – 1 January 2018
On 3 January, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli forces in clashes that erupted during a demonstration in Deir Nidham village (Ramallah).
The wave of protests and clashes across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), which started on 6 December following the United States’ recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, continued during the reporting period, albeit at a lower rate. Overall, since the beginning of the protests, 14 Palestinians were killed and 4,549 were injured by Israeli forces; injuries during this period constitute about 56 per cent of all injuries during 2017.
In the Gaza Strip, three Palestinian civilians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the abovementioned protests, and 280 were injured; another two civilians died of wounds sustained in similar incidents during the previous reporting period. The incidents, which took place next to the perimeter fence between Gaza and Israel, involved stone throwing at Israeli forces deployed on the Israeli side, who fired live ammunition, rubber coated bullets and tear gas canisters towards protesters. The three fatalities, all men, occurred in two separate incidents on 22 and 30 December, east of Jabalia, Gaza city and east of Deir al-Balah. The other two fatalities, also men, died of wounds sustained on 8 and 17 December. Of the recorded injuries, at least 27 were children, over a third (103 people) were hit by live ammunition, and the rest were either treated for tear-gas inhalation or directly hit by tear gas canisters.
1,386 Palestinians, of whom at least 226 were children, were injured by Israeli forces in clashes, the majority (93 per cent) in the context of the abovementioned protests. The largest numbers of injuries during protests were recorded in Nablus city, followed by Jericho city, Al Bireh city (Ramallah) and Abu Dis town (Jerusalem). Most other injuries were recorded during search and arrest operations, the largest of which took place in Qalqiliya city and in Aqbat Jaber refugee camp (Jericho). Similar to the previous reporting period, the majority of the injuries (68 per cent) were caused by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment, followed by injuries by rubber bullets (21 per cent).
Across the West Bank, Israeli forces conducted 170 search and arrest operations and detained 214 Palestinians, including at least 18 children. More than a third of these operations triggered clashes with residents. Another three Palestinians, including a woman and a child, were arrested in three separate incidents while attempting to carry out stabbing attacks against Israeli forces (two cases) and carrying explosives on the body (one case), according to Israeli sources.
Palestinian armed groups in Gaza fired a number of projectiles at southern Israel, two of which landed inside Israel, damaging one building. The majority of the projectiles were intercepted in the air by Israeli missiles or dropped-short inside the Gaza Strip. These incidents were followed by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strips, which resulted in damage to a number of sites, reportedly belonging to Palestinian armed groups.
On at least 22 occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards farmers and fishermen while enforcing access restrictions to land along the fence and to fishing areas along the Gaza coast; four fishermen were detained, including one injured by live ammunition. One boat was confiscated. On five occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza, near Khan Younis and the middle area, and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations in the vicinity of the perimeter fence.
Israeli authorities demolished or seized five structures in Area C and East Jerusalem on grounds of lack of building permits, displacing five Palestinians, and affecting another 33. Three of the targeted structures, including one demolished by their owners following receipt of demolition orders, were in East Jerusalem, and the other two structures in the Area C parts of Tarqumiya (Hebron) and Al Walaja (Bethlehem) villages.
Also in Area C, the Israeli authorities issued demolition and stop work orders against eight donor-funded structures in the village of Bani Na’im (Hebron), including a school, a health clinic, a mosque and five residential structures; three of these structures were funded by the oPt Humanitarian Fund.
On 21 December, the Israeli police forced a Palestinian family to remove their belongings from a storage shop in the Old City of Jerusalem, and handed it over to an Israeli settler organization, which claims ownership. The eviction followed protracted proceedings at Israeli courts, where the family unsuccessfully challenged its eviction, claiming it was a protected tenant. At least 180 Palestinian households in East Jerusalem have eviction cases filed against them. Most of these cases were initiated by Israeli settler organizations, based on ownership claims, as well as claims that the residents are no longer ‘protected tenants’
The Israeli military blocked a number of access routes to and within the Massafer Yatta area of Hebron, and issued a military order requiring Palestinians to obtain permits to cross the new obstacles. The new restrictions have disrupted the access of some 1,400 residents in 12 communities to services and livelihoods. These communities are located in an area designated by Israeli as closed for military training (firing zone 918) and are considered at high risk of forcible transfer. In the central West Bank, on 1 January, the Israeli army re-opened the main checkpoint controlling access to Ramallah from the east (DCO checkpoint), after being blocked for seven consecutive days.
On 29 December, a 9-year-old Palestinian girl, sick and with special needs, died on her way to a hospital in Nablus city, after being denied access by Israeli soldiers at the ‘Awarta checkpoint (Nablus). According to the girl’s family, after arguing with the soldiers for about half an hour, they took a detour through Huwwara checkpoint, which was also blocked due to ongoing clashes, but after a long delay they managed to cross it. About 90 minutes after leaving they home in Awarta village they arrived at the hospital, where the girl was pronounced dead; normal travel time between the village and the hospital is 15 minutes.
At least eight attacks by Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian injuries or property damage were reported. Four of these incidents were reportedly perpetrated by settlers from Yitzhar settlement against residents of Madama and Burin villages (Nablus), involving damage to 62 trees, the physical assault of two men and the raiding of a school. Following the latter incident, Israeli forces intervened, clashing with students and injuring 11 of them. Another 22 Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces following the entrance of Israeli settlers to the Joseph’s Tomb site in Nablus city. Three Palestinian vehicles and a house sustained damage in two separate incidents of stone and Molotov-cocktail throwing by Israeli settlers in Ya’bad (Jenin) and Beit Safafa (East Jerusalem).
At least eleven incidents ofstone-throwing by Palestiniansagainst Israeli-plated vehicles were reported, resulting in damage to five private vehicles near Hebron, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, and to the light rail in the Shu’fat area of East Jerusalem, according to Israeli media reports.
During the reporting period, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was opened for one day on 19 December in both directions, allowing 569 people to leave Gaza and another 92 to return. According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, more than 20,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross Rafah.