Protection of Civilians Report | 6 - 19 November 2018
Two days of intense hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel resulted in the killing of 15 Palestinians and one Israeli, the destruction of, or damage to, dozens of homes. The escalation, which took place between 11 and 13 November, was triggered by clashes between an Israeli under-cover unit carrying out an operation in Khan Yunis and a Hamas military unit, during which seven members of the unit and one Israeli officer were killed. The incident was followed by intense rocket firing at Israel and airstrikes throughout Gaza. An informal ceasefire reached on 13 November, with the support of Egypt and the UN, has held through to the end of the reporting period.
Palestinian armed groups fired more than 400 rockets at various localities in southern Israel, killing a West Bank Palestinian man and severely injuring at least one Israeli woman. The majority of rockets fell in open areas or were intercepted, but some damaged a number of homes, a kindergarten, an industrial building and a gas depot in various Israeli localities. According to Israeli sources, more than 20 Israeli civilians suffering from minor to moderate injuries, including smoke inhalation, were evacuated to hospitals, and at least 15 families were displaced following damage to their homes. In addition, an Israeli soldier was seriously injured when Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at a bus used by the military near the perimeter fence surrounding Gaza.
Extensive Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip killed seven Palestinians, including at least two civilians, and injured 27 others, including five children; 33 housing units were destroyed or severely damaged and their residents displaced. The civilian fatalities included two men, one of them a farmer, killed while working on his land. Three members of the same family were injured as a result of shrapnel from Israeli missiles falling on their house. Shelter Cluster partners distributed mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets and other items to 39 displaced or affected families. According to Israeli sources, some 150 sites and facilities serving military factions, including a number of buildings located in residential areas, among them a Hamas-affiliated TV station and a hotel, were targeted and destroyed.
One Palestinian man was killed in the ongoing “Great March of Return” demonstrations near Israel’s perimeter fence around Gaza, and 265 were injured and hospitalized. The man killed was shot by Israeli forces during a protest east of Rafah on 9 November. Another Palestinian died on 7 November of wounds sustained during protests in late October. Over 50 injuries occurred during protests against the naval blockade at the beach in the northern Beit Lahiya area, and most of the remainder during the weekly Friday demonstrations. Nearly half of the hospitalized injuries were hit by live ammunition, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Since the beginning of November, there has been a decline in violence during the protests, including a decrease in the launching of incendiary devices and in attempts to breach the fence; the organizing committee has been calling on demonstrators to avoid reaching the fence or clashing with Israeli forces. Another Palestinian man, not involved in demonstrations, was shot and killed by Israeli forces on 8 November east of Maghazi Refugee Camp, as he approached the perimeter fence.
Two Palestinian fishermen were shot and killed in two separate incidents on 7 and 14 November by Egyptian and Israeli naval forces. The incidents occurred off the coast of Gaza in Rafah and Beit Lahia.
In the West Bank, 63 Palestinian children and nine adults were injured by Israeli forces during four separate raids into schools, one of which also involved Israeli settlers. The affected schools are located in the H2 area of Hebron city (two schools), in Tuqu’ (Bethlehem) and ‘Urif villages (Nablus). The raid into the latter school involved some 50 Israeli settlers, reportedly from Yitzhar settlement, who stormed the school accompanied by Israeli forces; according to an Israeli media report, this raid was in response to previous attacks by Palestinians. Two of the injuries (adults) were by live ammunition, nine by rubber bullets and the rest were treated for tear gas inhalation. Since the beginning of 2018 there has been a significant increase in incidents involving the entry of Israeli forces and settlers into Palestinian schools.
Another 73 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces in multiple clashes and search-and-arrest operations across the West Bank. Of the total, 27 injuries were recorded during demonstrations in Ras Karkar village (Ramallah), protesting the construction of a new road on Palestinian-owned land serving Israeli settlers. Clashes resulting in an additional 15 injuries erupted after Israeli settlers entered Nablus city to visit a religious site (Joseph’s tomb). Search-and-arrest operations in Al Bireh city and Abu Qash village, in Ramallah, and in Jenin and Balata (Nablus) refugee camps, led to another 17 injuries.
On 14 November, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy stabbed and injured an Israeli policeman in East Jerusalem, and was subsequently shot and died of his wounds six days later. In a separate incident on 6 November, a Palestinian woman was shot and injured by Israeli forces, reportedly after she attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at the entrance of the Kfar Adumim settlement (Jerusalem).
Four Palestinian men were injured after being shot with live ammunition by Israeli soldiers positioned in an observation tower next to Abud village (Ramallah). The incident occurred on 18 November when the men reportedly ignored the Israeli forces’ orders to stop their vehicle.
A Palestinian man died of wounds sustained in earlier clashes with Israeli forces, following an assault by Israeli settlers into a Palestinian village. The clashes occurred on 26 October in Al Mazra’a al Qibliya village (Ramallah), after Israeli settlers entered a newly-built public park in Area B of the village, where Palestinians had been gathering to protect the park following previous settler attacks. This is the second Palestinian killed in this incident.
At least 11 Israeli settler attacks resulted in Palestinian injuries and/or damage to Palestinian property. In one incident in the old city of Hebron, settlers blocked and stoned a Palestinian ambulance while it was on its way to evacuate a patient, following coordination with the Israeli authorities; this is the third such incident in the past three months. Attacks also included the physical assault of three farmers who were working on their land in Susiya village (Hebron); the vandalizing of 21 vehicles in Kafr ad Dik (Salfit), Burin, Za’tara and Huwwara (Nablus), and Beit Eskaria (Bethlehem); and the stoning of a number of houses in Urif (Nablus). Following a series of similar incidents in previous weeks, Israeli settlers vandalized and reportedly attempted to set fire to a park in Al Mazra’a al Qibliya village (see previous item). In an additional incident in West Jerusalem (not included in the count), unknown assailants physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian woman and her two children.
Twenty Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, on the grounds of a lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 20 people. Four of the targeted structures, located in three Area C communities, had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions.
On 18 November, the Hamas authorities in Gaza lifted the restrictions on the exit of permit holders and foreign nationals via the Erez crossing. The restrictions were imposed on 12 November, following the Israeli under-cover operation, and severely impacted the access of aid workers, businessmen, and journalists, among others. The pre-existing registration requirements however remain in place.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was opened in both directions throughout the reporting period, except for four days. A total of 1,356 people entered Gaza and 2,545 exited. The crossing has been almost continuously open five days a week since 12 May 2018.