Protection of Civilians Report | 5-18 December 2017
The reported period witnessed a wave of protests, clashes, rocket firing and airstrikes across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), resulting in eight Palestinian fatalities and nearly 2,900 injuries, including at least 345 children; seven Israelis were also injured. The unrest, which followed a United States’ announcement on 6 December recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, raises concern because of its potential to escalate into a new round of hostilities.
In the Gaza Strip, three Palestinian civilians, all men, were shot and killed by Israeli forces and 658 other civilians, including 79 children, were injured during protests and clashes. The incidents, which took place daily next to the perimeter fence, involved stone throwing at Israeli forces deployed on the Israeli side, who fired live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas canisters towards protesters. The three killings occurred in two separate incidents, on 8 December east of Khan Younis and on 15 December east of Gaza city. One of the fatalities in the latter incident was a 29-year-old man who had his two legs amputated in 2008 after being wounded in an Israeli airstrike. Over a third of those injured during the clashes (223) were shot with live ammunition, and the rest were either hit by rubber bullets or tear gas canisters, or inhaled tear gas and needed medical treatment.
In response to the almost daily firing of projectiles from Gaza towards southern Israel, the Israeli air force launched a series of airstrikes targeting military sites in Gaza, killing three Palestinians, including a civilian and two members of an armed group, and injuring 25 civilians, including nine children. The civilian fatality was a 54-year-old man, injured on 8 December, in an airstrike on a site in Beit Lahia, who died of a heart attack shortly afterwards. In addition to the targeted sites, several residential buildings and two schools sustained moderate to minor damage. Most Palestinian projectiles fell short inside Gaza, injuring a Palestinian woman and a child, and damaging one school. One of the projectiles landed in the town of Sderot, Israel, causing damage to a kindergarten.
Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and another 2,222, including 254 children, were injured during daily protests and clashes that took place in the same context across the West Bank. Both fatalities, men aged 19 and 29, were hit on 15 December, during clashes at the DCO checkpoint (Ramallah) and in Anata town (Jerusalem), respectively. In the former incident, the Palestinian youth stabbed and injured an Israeli Border Police officer and was subsequently shot and killed. Most of the injuries (70 per cent; 1,556 people) were caused by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment, followed by injuries by rubber bullets (20 per cent; 447), and live ammunition (4 per cent; 82). Jericho city accounted for the highest number of injuries, followed by Tulkarm, Al Bireh (near the DCO checkpoint, Ramallah) and near Huwwara checkpoint (Nablus). In East Jerusalem, protests took place almost daily, mostly at Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the old city, where heavy Israeli police was deployed, with clashes resulting in 90 Palestinian injuries.
On 10 December, a 24-year-old Palestinian man stabbed and injured an Israeli security guard at the Central Bus Station in West Jerusalem and was subsequently arrested.
Israeli forces conducted 162 search and arrest operations across the West Bank and detained 364 Palestinians, including 63 children. At least 50 of the operations triggered clashes, resulting in six Palestinian injuries. On 12 December, a 60-year-old Palestinian woman died of a heart attack in Az Zubeidat village (Jericho) after a stun grenade fired by Israeli forces exploded next to her house during a search and arrest operation.
In an area of Anata village lying within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities destroyed two residential structures under construction on grounds of lack of Israeli-issued building permits. This has affected three families comprising 17 people, 11 of whom are children. Another uninhabited structure in Ras Al Amud area of East Jerusalem, was demolished by its owner to avoid fines, affecting one Palestinian household.
While no demolitions were recorded in Area C during the reporting period, the Israeli authorities issued demolition and stop-work orders against at least 17 Palestinian-owned structures, citing lack of building permits. The targeted structures included two classrooms in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Abu Nuwar (Jerusalem), whose residents are at risk of forcible transfer due to the coercive environment imposed on them.
In two separate incidents, Israeli settlers, reportedly from Yitzhar (Nablus), vandalized agricultural property and one home in two Palestinian villages. One of the incidents occurred in an agricultural area of Qusra village, where Palestinian access requires special authorization by the Israeli authorities, and resulted in damage to 45 olive trees and a water tank. In the other incident, Israeli settlers attacked a house in Burin village, causing damage to solar panels. A Palestinian man was physically assaulted and injured by Israeli settlers in the Old City of Jerusalem; and another man was injured from stone throwing at his vehicle while travelling on road 60 near Yitzhar settlement (Nablus).
Seven incidents ofstone throwing and Molotov-cocktail throwing by Palestiniansagainst Israeli-plated vehicles were reported by Israeli media, resulting in damage to five private vehicles and two buses near Hebron, Ramallah, and Jerusalem, and to the light rail in the Shu’fat area of East Jerusalem.
On 19 December, the Israeli authorities closed the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings in the Gaza Strip for one day, citing security concerns while military operations were ongoing. Nevertheless, humanitarian workers, staff of international organizations and holders of family unification permits, were allowed through Erez, and cooking gas and fuel through Kerem Shalom.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was exceptionally opened on three days during the reporting period (16-18 December) in both directions, allowing 1,827 people to leave Gaza and another 630 to return. According to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza, more than 20,000 people, including humanitarian cases, are registered and waiting to cross Rafah.