Protection of Civilians Report | 27 February – 12 March 2018

Biweekly highlights

  • One Palestinian man was killed and another 50 were injured by Israeli forces, during clashes following the entry of armed Israeli settlers to Palestinian communities in the Nablus area on five occasions. Four of the incidents occurred around the settlements of Yitzhar and Bracha, which have been a longstanding source of systematic violence and harassment against residents of six surrounding villages. The fatality, a 22-year-old was killed and a 15-year-old child was injured with live ammunition, both were recorded on 10 March in ‘Urif village (Nablus). Similar clashes resulting in 44 Palestinian injuries took place in previous days also in ‘Urif, as well as in Burin and Einabus. The remaining four injuries were recorded during clashes following the entry of Israeli settlers, accompanied by Israeli forces, to Nablus city to visit a religious site (Joseph’s tomb).
  • Additional clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces resulted in the killing of a Palestinian man and the injury of another 478 people, including 219 children across the oPt. The fatality, a 24 year-old deaf man, was shot on 12 March during a demonstration in Hebron city. According to the Israeli military, the fatal shooting was in response to Molotov cocktail throwing; Palestinian eyewitnesses indicated that he was not involved in the clashes when he was shot. Fifty of the injuries during this period occurred in clashes near the perimeter fence around Gaza and the rest in the West Bank. The majority of the latter clashes occurred during the weekly demonstrations against settlement expansion and access restrictions in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), An Nabi Saleh and Al Mazra’a al Qibliya (both in Ramallah); in demonstrations against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the largest of which occurred in Al Bireh/DCO (Ramallah), in Hebron city, and at Huwwara checkpoint (Nablus); and in a protest against a military operation carried out by Israeli forces in Birzeit University (Ramallah). Additional clashes, which did not result in injuries, took place in Lubban ash Sharqiya school (Nablus), after Israeli forces prevented male students from entering their school, reportedly as a punishment for throwing stones at Israeli vehicles.
  • Israeli forces conducted 457 search and arrest operations and arrested 243 Palestinians, including 21 children in the West Bank. The Jerusalem governorate accounted for the highest portion of arrests (60), of whom twelve are children, and the Ramallah governorate accounted for the highest number of operations (84), which included the above-mentioned operation in Birzeit University (Ramallah).
  • Eight Palestinians were directly injured by Israeli settlers, and Palestinian property was vandalized or stolen in ten incidents of settler violence across the West Bank, in addition to the above-mentioned raids. Three of these incidents occurred also around Yitzhar and Bracha settlements in Nablus: the physical assault of three farmers and the damaging of a vehicle in Einabus; the vandalizing of 115 olive trees in Madama; and the stealing of a donkey in Burin. Another three incidents of stone-throwing at Palestinian vehicles resulted in the injury of three students travelling on a school bus near Salfit, and damage to two vehicles. On three separate occasions, Israeli settlers, reportedly from Havat Ma'on outpost, vandalized around 18 Palestinian-owned trees next to At Tuwani village (Hebron). The weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage has increased by 50% since the beginning of 2018, compared to 2017, and by 67% compared to 2016.
  • On 4 March, in the context of Israel’s continued enforcement of access restrictions, a 59-year-old Palestinian farmer was shot dead by Israeli forces while working his land near the perimeter fence surrounding Gaza, east of Khan Younis. According to a human rights group, the incident occurred at around 200 meters from the fence. On at least 31 additional occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire at farmers and fishermen in areas along the fence and at sea, resulting in no injuries. Since the beginning of 2018 there were at least 142 incidents of opening of fire at Palestinian farmers and fishermen reported in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA), resulting in 2 fatalities and 11 injuries. In one incident, eleven fishermen, including one child, were forced to take off their clothes and swim to Israeli naval boats, where they were detained and their boats and fishing nets seized. On five occasions, Israeli forces carried out land-levelling and excavation operations inside Gaza, next to the perimeter fence. Palestinian farmers reported that on 4 March, Israeli airplanes sprayed herbicides on farming land near the fence in northern Gaza.
  • On 10 March, one Palestinian was killed and two were injured, all members of an armed group, after a rocket that Palestinian armed groups in Gaza were attempting to fire from Beit Lahiya (Gaza North) towards southern Israel, exploded at the launch site.
  • The Israeli authorities demolished or seized eight Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, resulting in no displacement, but affecting the livelihoods of around 50 people. All the incidents occurred on the grounds of lack of building permits. Four of the targeted structures were in East Jerusalem (Silwan, Beit Hanina and Al ‘Isawiya) and the other four in Area C, in Al ‘Auja (Jericho) and Hizma (Jerusalem).
  • Following protracted litigation, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the evacuation of Israeli settlers from parts of a Palestinian-owned building (Abu Rajab) in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2), which were taken over in July 2017. Other parts of the building were taken over by settlers in 2012 and 2013. Policies and practices implemented by the Israeli authorities, citing security concerns, have resulted in the forcible transfer of Palestinians from their homes in Hebron city, reducing a once thriving area to a ‘ghost town’.
  • At least eight incidents of stone and Molotov throwing by Palestinians against Israeli-plated vehicles were reported across the West Bank, according to Israeli media reports, resulting in one Israeli injured and damage to seven vehicles. The incidents occurred on roads near Al Khadr and Husan (both in Bethlehem), near Tuqu’ and Al ‘Arrub refugee camp (both in Hebron) and near Jericho. In addition, damage was reported to the light rail in the Shu’fat area of East Jerusalem.
  • During the reporting period, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was opened only for one day in one direction, allowing 22 Palestinian to enter Gaza.  According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, more than 23,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross Rafah. Since the beginning of 2018, the crossing has been opened on only 7 days; four days in both directions and three days in one direction.