Protection of Civilians Report | 24 April – 7 May 2018
The series of mass demonstrations along Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, which started on 30 March, continued for the seventh consecutive week. The demonstrations take place at five tent camps located about 600-700 metres from the perimeter fence with Israel. A few hundred demonstrators, out of tens of thousands, have attempted to breach the fence, burnt tires and thrown rocks at Israeli forces, and flown kites with flaming materials attached to them into Israeli territory. The latter have used rubber bullets, tear gas and live ammunition, including by snipers deployed along the fence. On 27 April, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Israel to ensure that its security forces do not resort to the use of excessive force and also called for those responsible to be held accountable: a significant decrease in the use of live ammunition was noted in the protests on 4 May. On 30 April, the Israeli High Court of Justice (HCJ) held a hearing in response to a petition submitted by two groups of NGOs, against the Israeli authorities’ opening-fire regulations in the context of the current demonstrations. The case is ongoing.
During the reporting period, six Palestinians, including one child were killed by Israeli forces and 1,216, including 201 children, were injured in the context of the abovementioned demonstrations. The fatalities include a journalist who died of wounds he sustained during the previous reporting period. In addition, six Palestinians were killed after reportedly crossing the fence into Israel including one child; four of the bodies are being withheld by the Israeli authorities.
Overall in the Gaza Strip, since the beginning of the protests, 40 Palestinians, including five children, have been killed by Israeli forces during the course of the demonstrations. In addition, 13 Palestinians, including one child, have been killed in other circumstances inside Gaza and near the perimeter fence between Gaza and Israel, six of whom reportedly while attempting or after crossing the fence into Israel. Their bodies are being withheld by the Israeli authorities. Some 8,536 Palestinians, including at least 793 children, were injured by Israeli forces, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza. Of these, 4,589 people (54 per cent) of the total injuries have been hospitalized, including 2,064 from live ammunition. There have been no reports of Israeli injuries. For more infographics and breakdowns.
On 5 May, six members of an armed group were killed, and three others were injured, when an explosive device went off in a house north of Deir Al Balah, in unclear circumstances. Several houses also sustained damage.
On at least 31 occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards farmers and fishermen while enforcing access restrictions on land along the fence and on fishing areas along the Gaza coast. In two of shooting incidents on land in Beit Lahiya and Khan Yunis, two people were injured. In a number of incidents, Israeli forces arrested 10 people, including five children, reportedly as they were attempting to enter into Israel through the perimeter fence. Five have since been released On several occasions on 27 April and 5 May, Israeli forces launched multiple airstrikes and fired shells into Gaza, reportedly targeting military sites, resulting in damage but no injuries.
In the West Bank, 230 Palestinians, including 26 children, were injured by Israeli forces during protests and clashes. About 91 per cent of these injuries occurred during clashes that erupted following protests in solidarity with the ‘Great March of Return’ in Gaza. Clashes in Al Lubban ash Sharqiya (Nablus) accounted for the highest number of injuries, followed by clashes near Qusra and near the DCO in Al Bireh (Ramallah). Half of the injuries were caused by rubber bullets, followed by injuries by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment (42 per cent) and live ammunition (4 per cent). In another incident on 26 April, Israeli forces fired tear gas canisters and sound bombs into the yard of Burin school (Nablus), during the students’ lunch break, triggering a suspension of classes for the rest of the day; at least 250 children were affected. According to Israeli sources, this followed the throwing of stones at Israeli settler vehicles.
On two occasions, Israeli forces displaced five families (29 people, including 17 children) from the herding community of Humsa al Bqai’a in the northern Jordan Valley, for eight hours each time, to make way for Israeli military training. The community also faces regular demolitions and access restrictions, giving rise to concerns over the risk of forcible transfer.
Overall, Israeli forces conducted 127 search and arrest operations and arrested 151 Palestinians in the West Bank. The Jerusalem governorate accounted for the single highest portion of operations (31) and arrests (39). Also, in Jerusalem, the Israeli police handed out orders banning three Palestinian staff of the Islamic Waqf from entering the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount compound for six months. In the Gaza Strip, on two occasions, Israeli forces carried out land levelling and excavation operations in the vicinity of the perimeter fence.
Citing the lack of building permits, Israeli authorities demolished or seized 30 structures in nine Palestinian communities in Area C, displacing 41 people, including 17 children, and affecting the livelihoods of nearly 90 others. Fourteen (14) of the targeted structures were in the 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. Thirty-five (35) people, including 14 children, were displaced, representing the largest displacement reported in one day since the beginning of 2018. Four of the structures were residential shelters that 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 2018 to 19. In another incident, Israeli forces also demolished a charcoal factory belonging to three Palestinian families in the Area B town of Ya’bad (Jenin), citing the violation of environmental regulations, affecting the livelihood of 15 people.
In the same context, in East Jerusalem, ten structures were demolished in five Palestinian communities, including four structures that were self-demolished by their owners in Silwan and Qalandiya. The seven structures demolished by the Israeli authorities included a three-storey building in Al Isawiya as well as six livelihood structures in Beit Safafa and Shu’fat. In total, eight people, including two children, were displaced and 91 others were affected. Overall, since the beginning of 2018, close to one quarter of demolished structures and people displaced or affected by demolitions in East Jerusalem were in Al Isawiya.
Two Palestinians, including a journalist, were injured by Israeli settlers, and Palestinian property was vandalized, in eight incidents of settler violence across the West Bank. On 29 April, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a female Palestinian journalist, while she was covering a land confiscation incident in Kafr ad Dik (Salfit). Also, in the Old City of Jerusalem, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a 23-year-old Palestinian man. In three separate incidents, suspected Israeli settlers punctured the tires of 17 Palestinian vehicles, and sprayed “price tag” graffiti on the walls of six Palestinian houses in Jalud (Nablus), Turmus’aaya and Deir Ammar (both in Ramallah) villages. In the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron city, Israeli settlers attacked and stoned three Palestinian houses, triggering clashes with the residents. In another incident, according to local community sources, Israeli settlers, reportedly from Yitzhar settlement, vandalized 14 trees and punctured the tires of an agriculture tractor located in Qusra village, in an area where Palestinian access requires special authorization by the Israeli authorities. 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 and two incidents involving Molotov cocktails by Palestinians against Israeli-plated vehicles were reported, resulting in damage to five private vehicles near Hebron, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, according to Israeli media reports.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was open for three days (from 28 to 30 April) in both directions and one day in one direction, allowing a total of 357 to enter and another 1,511 to exit Gaza. Since the beginning of 2018, the crossing has been opened on only 17 days; 11 days in both directions and six days in one direction. According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, more than 23,000 people, including prioritized humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross Rafah.