Protection of Civilians Report | 29 January – 11 February 2019
Two Palestinian children were killed by Israeli forces during the ‘Great March of Return’ protests in the Gaza Strip, another two Palestinians died of wounds sustained previously, and 530 were injured. The two boys (14 and 17-years-old) were shot with live ammunition and killed on Friday, 8 February in two incidents near the fence. According to human rights groups, both incidents occurred between 60-250 meters from the fence and the two boys posed no threat to Israeli forces. On the same day, according to Israeli sources, Palestinians threw explosive devices at Israeli forces and attempted to breach the fence into Israel, resulting in no Israeli injuries. The other two fatalities, both men, succumbed to wounds sustained in previous demonstrations on 18 and 29 January, including a demonstration at the beach held to protest the naval blockade; one of the fatalities was shot with live ammunition and the other one was struck by a tear-gas canister. These bring the number of Palestinian fatalities sustained during the Gaza protests since March 2018 to 263, including 49 children. Of those injured during the reporting period, 248 were hospitalized, including 64 people hit by live ammunition; the remainder were treated in the field, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
On at least 40 occasions outside of the protests, Israeli forces opened warning fire in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea in Gaza. One Palestinian was injured in one of the incidents. Additionally, five Palestinian boys were detained, reportedly as they were attempting to infiltrate into Israel. On three other occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations in the vicinity of the perimeter fence.
Two Palestinians, including one worker and one member of the Palestinian security forces died, and two other security members were injured, following inhalation of a toxic-gas, reportedly spread by Egyptians inside a smuggling tunnel southeast of Rafah, on 10 February. Although most smuggling tunnels have been destroyed or blocked by the Egyptian authorities since 2013, reportedly some remain operational.
In the West Bank, two Palestinians, including a girl, were shot and killed, and one boy was injured, by Israeli forces in two alleged attacks near Israeli checkpoints. On 30 January, an Israeli private security guard shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian girl at the Az Zaayyem checkpoint (Jerusalem), allegedly after she attempted to carry out a stabbing attack; her body has been withheld by Israeli forces. On 4 February, Israeli forces shot and killed a 20-year-old man and injured a 16-year-old boy; according to Israeli media, the casualties occurred after they threw a handmade explosive device near Al Jalama checkpoint (Jenin), while riding a motorcycle. No Israeli injuries were reported in either incident. Since the start of 2019, three Palestinians, including one child, have been killed by Israeli forces in attacks or alleged attacks carried out in the West Bank.
A 19-year-old Israeli female from Teqoa settlement was stabbed and killed in a forest on the outskirts of West Jerusalem on 7 February. A Palestinian man arrested the following day by Israeli forces during an operation in Ramallah is accused of the killing. According to media reports, an autopsy of the body indicates that the woman was raped before being killed.
In the West Bank, 35 Palestinians, including at least eleven children, were injured by Israeli forces during protests and clashes. Almost half of the total injuries (16) were recorded during the weekly demonstration against settlement expansion on Palestinian land in Al Mughayyir village (Ramallah), where Israeli settlers killed a male resident and injured nine others during the previous reporting period (26 January). Another 13 Palestinians were injured in clashes during search and arrest operations in Biddu and Al ‘Eizariya villages (both in Jerusalem), Jenin refugee camp and in Al Bireh and Abu Shukheidim villages (both in Ramallah). Overall, Israeli forces conducted 163 search and arrest operations and arrested 117 Palestinians, including nine children. Of the total injuries during the reporting period, 34 per cent were caused by live ammunition, 31 per cent by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment, 31 per cent by rubber bullets, and the remaining 4 per cent by other means.
Also in the West Bank, Israeli forces deployed at least 68 ‘flying’ ad-hoc checkpoints and, on at least 80 occasions, staffed and carried out checks at ‘partial checkpoints’ (checkpoints not regularly staffed), increasing delays and travelling times and disrupting the access of people to services and livelihoods. This represents a 110 per cent increase compared to the weekly average in 2018. In a separate incident, three Palestinian female teachers were denied access to their school by Israeli forces through Beit Iksa checkpoint (Jerusalem), who claimed that their names were not on the relevant list at the checkpoint, the only access point to and from Beit Iksa village.
Fifteen structures were demolished or seized in East Jerusalem and Area C on the grounds of a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 39 Palestinians and affecting the livelihoods of some 70 others. Seven of the ten structures targeted in East Jerusalem, all residential, were demolished by their owners following the receipt of final demolition orders, reportedly to avoid incurring additional fines. The other five structures were located in Area C. Overall, 48 structures have been demolished or seized by Israel in the West Bank since the start of 2019.
On 6 February, Israeli forces displaced, for up to 14 hours, some 400 Palestinians in the northern Jordan Valley during Israeli military training exercises. This disrupted the livelihoods and access to services of two herding communities located in an area designated as a “firing zone”: Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar and Hammamat al Maleh. Communities located in such zones are affected by a coercive environment placing their residents at risk of forcible transfer.
Also in Area C of the northern Jordan Valley, the Israeli authorities uprooted approximately 500 trees, leveled four dunums of cultivated land and caused damaged to an irrigation network, on the grounds that the area is ‘state land’. The incident occurred on 6 February in Bardala village (Tubas) and affected the livelihood of seven families. In a similar incident, during the previous reporting period, on 22 January, the authorities uprooted 1,250 Palestinian-owned trees in Safa village (Hebron) next to the Bat Ayin settlement.
Around 425 additional trees and 14 vehicles were vandalized, and one Palestinian was injured, in attacks by Israeli settlers. Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a 20-year-old Palestinian man near the village of Jibiya (Ramallah). A total of 425 Palestinian-owned trees were vandalized by Israeli settlers in three separate incidents in At Tuwani and Sa’ir (both in Hebron) and Jalud (Nablus), according to local Palestinian sources. Additionally, in another four separate incidents, Israeli settlers punctured the tires of 14 Palestinian vehicles and sprayed offensive graffiti in Al Lubban ash Sharqiya and Huwwara villages (both in Nablus) and in Al Khalayleh, Jerusalem, and tried to set fire to a mosque in Deir Dibwan village (Ramallah). The uptrend in settler violence recorded in recent years has continued since the beginning of 2019, with a weekly average of seven attacks resulting in injuries or property damage, compared with an average of five in 2018 and three in 2017.
Two Israeli settlers, were injured, and at least three vehicles were damaged, during various stone-throwing incidents by Palestinians, according to Israeli media reports, on roads near Ramallah and Jerusalem.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open in both directions. A total of 1,125 people entered Gaza and 3,191 exited. Since the beginning of the year, the crossing has opened for 28 days.