Protection of Civilians Report | 24 October – 6 November 2017

Biweekly highlights

  • On 30 October, Israeli forces detonated an underground tunnel, reportedly located under the fence separating Gaza and Israel, killing 12 members of Palestinian armed groups and injuring another 12. This is the largest number of fatalities recorded in a single incident since the 2014 hostilities. On 5 November, the Israeli military retrieved from the tunnel five of the corpses, none of which was handed over to their families in Gaza. Another five staff of the Palestinian Civil Defence were injured during a search and rescue operation at the incident location.
  • UNRWA announced that on 15 October it discovered what appeared to be a tunnel underneath one of its schools in Gaza. According to the Agency, it took all the necessary measures to render the school safe, allowing the resumption of its operation ten days later. UNRWA demanded from all relevant stakeholders’ full respect for the neutrality and inviolability of UN premises at all times.
  • On 31 October, Israeli forces shot and killed a 29-year-old Palestinian man and injured his sister, who were traveling on Road 465 near Halamish settlement (Ramallah). According to Israeli sources, the soldiers opened fire at the vehicle after the driver continued travelling despite being ordered to stop. The Israeli authorities reportedly opened a criminal investigation into the circumstances of the case. The body of the man, who is from Deir Ballut village (Salfit), was withheld for three days.
  • 29 Palestinians, nine of them children, were injured by Israeli forces during clashes across the oPt. Eighteen injuries were recorded in the context of search and arrest operations in refugee camps, including: Al Jalazun (Ramallah); Qalandiya (Jerusalem); Ad Duhaisha and Ayda (Bethlehem); Balata (Nablus); and Jenin; as well as in the cities of Al Bireh (Ramallah) and Hebron. In total, Israeli forces conducted 166 search and arrest operations and arrested 179 Palestinians. Another 11 injuries were reported during the weekly demonstration against access restrictions in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), and during four protests next to the perimeter fence surrounding Gaza.
  • On at least 15 occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards farmers and fishermen while enforcing access restrictions to land along the fence and to fishing areas; two fishermen were injured and arrested and their boat was confiscated. On two 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. Two Palestinians, including one patient, were reportedly arrested by Israeli forces at the Israeli-controlled Erez crossing.
  • Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished five structures in two localities, partially located in Area C, affecting the livelihood of nine households. These include four livelihood workshops in Barta’a ash Sharqiyeh (Jenin), a village located in the closed area behind the Barrier (the ‘Seam Zone’), and one agriculture structure in Al ‘Arrub refugee camp (Hebron).
  • Another agriculture structure in the community of Ad Dawa (Nablus) was also destroyed after being hit by a tank shell during a military training exercise, impacting the livelihoods of nearly 100 people. The community is located in an Israeli-declared ‘firing zone’. In recent years, the residents have abandoned their dwellings in this community, primarily due to settler violence and intimidation, and are accessing it only for farming.
  • Life in three communities in another ‘firing zone’ in southern Hebron has been disrupted by intense helicopter exercises near their homes. The affected communities were Tuba, Sfai and Majaz, located in an area known as Massafer Yatta. As a result, some of the shelters’ covers and animal fodder have blown away, and children have suffered fear and trauma.  Firing zones cover almost 30 per cent of Area C and are home to around 6,200 people in 38 communities, who face high levels of humanitarian need.
  • In mid-October, a ruling by an Israeli court paved the way for the demolition of four buildings in the Kafr ‘Aqab area of East Jerusalem, on grounds of lack of permits. The buildings, which comprise around 100 housing units, six of which are inhabited, are located on the route of a planned road designed to lead to Qalandiya checkpoint. As a result, six households comprising 25 people including 13 children are at risk of displacement. The execution of the demolitions was subsequently put on hold until December, following issuance of a temporary court injunction. Kafr ‘Aqab is located within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, however, since 2002 it was physically severed from the rest of the city by the Barrier, and receives almost no municipal services.
  • Eight incidents of intimidation and theft of produce by Israeli settlers were reported in the context of the ongoing olive harvest. Seven of these incidents took place in areas in the vicinity of settlements, where Palestinian access is subject to ‘prior coordination’ with the Israeli authorities. The affected communities included Deir al Hatab, As Sawiya, Deir Sharaf and Huwwara (Nablus); At Tuwani (Hebron); Sinjil (Ramallah); and Al Jaba’a (Bethlehem). Since the beginning of this year’s olive harvest season in October, at least 1,073 Palestinian-owned trees have been vandalized, reportedly by Israeli-settlers. A number of additional incidents involving stone-throwing by settlers at Palestinian farmers were also reported.
  • Two Palestinian were injured and an irrigation network was vandalized by Israeli settlers. The injuries occurred in the context of two incidents involving physical assault in the Old City of Jerusalem, and near Ein al Beida community in the northern Jordan Valley. In an additional incident in the latter area, a group of Israeli settlers dismantled around 1,000 meters of water pipes from an irrigation network, and throw them in a trench near the border with Jordan, according to Palestinian eye witnesses. The pipes were installed as part of a donor-funded humanitarian project to support farmers in the area, who regained access to their private land, following an Israeli High Court ruling.
  • According to Israeli media reports, one Israeli settler was injured, and several vehicles were damaged as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron governorates. Additionally, the light train segment running in Shu’fat neighborhood (East Jerusalem) sustained damage as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians.
  • On 1 November, the Hamas authorities handed to the Government of National Consensus control over the Gaza-side of the Erez, Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings. As a result, longstanding restrictions imposed by the Hamas authorities have been eased. This step is part of the national reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, reached on 12 October. During the reporting period, the Rafah Crossing controlled by Egypt remained closed in both directions.