Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 10 - 16 May 2016
Three Israelis, including two elderly women, were injured in two separate stabbing attacks in East Jerusalem. The Israeli police arrested the suspected Palestinian perpetrator in one of the incidents, while the perpetrators in the second incident fled the scene. An Israeli soldier was reportedly injured as a result of the explosion of a device at the Hizma checkpoint (Jerusalem); two Palestinians were arrested in connection with this incident. Since the beginning of April 2016, there has been a significant decline in the frequency of Palestinian attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis compared to previous months.
At least 78 Palestinians, including 32 children, were injured by Israeli forces during clashes across the oPt. The majority of the clashes occurred during demonstrations commemorating the 68th anniversary of what Palestinians refer to as the 1948 An Nakba. Tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces in two of the clashes set on fire and partially burned 30 trees in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) and part of a house in Kafr ad Dik (Salfit).
In another incident not involving clashes, a fire broke out next to Beit ‘Awa village (Hebron) following the firing of light flares by Israeli forces, resulting in the burning of around 250 dunums of land planted with olive trees. The circumstances remain unclear.
Israeli forces conducted 78 search and arrest operations and arrested 106 Palestinians in the West Bank, with the Jerusalem governorate accounting for the highest number of arrests (31). Two of these operations triggered clashes, which resulted in the injury of four Palestinians. In Gaza’s access restricted area on the sea, 12 fishermen, including four minors, were forced to take off their clothes and swim towards Israeli naval forces boats where they were taken into custody.
Israeli forces lifted the restrictions imposed since November 2015 on the access of non-resident Palestinians to certain parts of Hebron City via two key checkpoints (Container and Gilbert checkpoints); despite this easing, Palestinian movement within the settlement area of the city remains severely restricted. In East Jerusalem, the Israeli authorities banned two Palestinians from accessing Al Aqsa Mosque for two and three months, on grounds of being involved in protests against the entry of Israeli settlers to the site.
On 11 and 12 May, on the occasion of Israel’s Commemoration and Independence Day, the Israeli authorities declared a general closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, preventing permit holders to access Israel or East Jerusalem, except for urgent humanitarian cases and a few other exceptions. All commercial crossings were shut down.
The Israeli authorities handed over the corpses of two Palestinians, suspected of perpetrating attacks against Israelis, to their families. The corpses of another 13 Palestinians are still being withheld.
The Israeli authorities demolished or confiscated 16 Palestinian owned structures in Area C of the West Bank on grounds of lack of building permits. On 16 May, seven donor-funded residential containers were demolished and materials for another three were confiscated in the Palestinian Bedouin community of Jabal al Baba (Jerusalem). The latter is located in an area planned for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement (the E1 plan) and is one of 46 Bedouin communities in the central West Bank at risk of forcible transfer due to a “relocation” plan advanced by the Israeli authorities. Another six livelihood-related structures were demolished in the villages of Al Walaja (Bethlehem) and Deir al Ghusun (Tulkarem).
Two settler-related incidents resulting in injury or property damage were recorded during the week: in the H2 area of Hebron city, a Palestinian woman and her daughter were physically assaulted and injured by a group of Israeli settlers; and in Asfeer (Hebron), a Palestinian village located in the closed area behind the Barrier, around 30 settlers vandalized the fence of a house and harassed the family calling it to leave the area.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was exceptionally opened on 11 and 12 May, allowing 739 Palestinians to exit and 1,220 to enter Gaza, out of over 30,000 people, including around 9,500 medical cases, and 2,700 students, registered and waiting to cross. This followed 85 consecutive days of closure - the longest such period since 2007.