Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 29 November – 12 December 2016
On 8 December, Israeli forces shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian youth at Za’tara checkpoint (Salfit), reportedly after he attempted to carry out a stabbing attack. This is the second such incident recorded since the beginning of 2016 at this checkpoint, which is located at a strategic junction, controlling the main traffic artery into the northern West Bank (Road 60), as well as to the Jordan Valley. A similar incident on 10 December at the Qalqiliya North checkpoint ended with the arrest of a 15-year-old Palestinian girl suspected of attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, no Israeli injuries were reported.
The Israeli authorities withheld the corpse of the Palestinian youth killed in the abovementioned incident, leaving a total 27 Palestinian corpses being held, some of which have been withheld for more than eight months.
On 4 December, the Palestinian Civil Defense in Gaza retrieved the bodies of four people from a smuggling tunnel under the border with Egypt, which collapsed on 27 November. Smuggling activities in this area largely came to halt since mid-2013, following the Egyptian authorities’ destruction or blockage of the vast majority of tunnels. Additionally, on 7 December, two Palestinian members of an armed group died and another one was injured following the collapse of a military tunnel, east of Gaza City.
Israeli forces injured 39 Palestinians, including 11 children, during multiple clashes across the oPt. Five of the injuries occurred during clashes in protests next to the perimeter fence in the Gaza Strip, near the closed Nahal Oz crossing. The rest of the injuries (34) occurred in the West Bank, mostly during search and arrest operations, the weekly demonstration in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), and during clashes with Israeli forces present at the Shu’fat refugee camp entrance (East Jerusalem). Additionally, four Israeli soldiers were injured by Palestinians in two separate stone-throwing incidents near Jaba’ junction (Jerusalem) and in Deir Nidham village (Ramallah), according to Israeli media reports.
In Gaza, on at least 24 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire at Palestinians present in or approaching the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and sea. On another occasion, Israeli forces entered Gaza and carried out a land-levelling operation. While no injuries were reported, the work of farmers and fishermen was disrupted.
Israeli forces conducted nearly 100 search operations and arrested around 120 Palestinians in the West Bank, including 29 children, of whom three were suspected of stone-throwing at Israeli forces present at the entrance of As Sawiya Boys School (Nablus). One of the operations targeted Al Quds University (Jerusalem), for the fourth time so far in 2016. In Gaza, six Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces, including four fishermen, a man trying to enter Israel illegally and a merchant on his way back to Gaza. One fishing boat was also seized.
Israeli authorities demolished or seized 17 structures in Area C and East Jerusalem on the grounds of lack of building permits, displacing 17 people and otherwise affecting nearly 356 others. Half of the targeted structures were in four Palestinian Bedouin and herding communities in Area C, including Susiya (Hebron), where parts of a solar system providing electricity to the community were seized. Susiya has pending demolition orders against most of its structures and faces a heightened risk of forcible transfer.
On four occasions, Israeli forces temporarily displaced for several hours each time, 85 people from two herding communities in the northern Jordan Valley (Khirbet ar Ras al Ahmar and Humsa al Bqai’a), during an Israeli military training exercise. In the former community, the Israeli authorities also seized a tractor and delivered a stop work order for an electricity network. Both communities are located in an area designated as a “firing zone” for military training; “firing zones” constitute nearly 30 per cent of Area C. So far in 2016, there have been 27 incidents of temporary displacement in these circumstances, forming part of the coercive environment pressuring the residents of affected communities to leave.
Also in Area C,the Israeli authorities issued demolition and stop work orders against two under construction homes and one retaining wall in Al Baqa’a and Beit Ummar, and against four residential and livelihoods structures in the Masafer Yatta area, all in Hebron. Additionally, the Israeli authorities seized four Palestinian-owned vehicles, including a bulldozer working on a donor-funded rehabilitation project in As Sawiya village (Nablus); a wastewater tanker in Einun (Tubas), and two private vehicles in Azzun Atma village (Qalqiliya), the latter for being suspected of involvement in transferring workers illegally into Israel.
In East Jerusalem, the municipality delivered demolition orders against 13 buildings in Al Bustan area of Silwan, for lacking Israeli-issued building permits, threatening to displace around 100 Palestinians. In recent years, Silwan has been the target of intense settlement activities, which include a plan for a tourist complex in Al Bustan, which, if implemented, would displace more than 1,000 Palestinian residents; additional hundreds of residents are at-risk of displacement due to eviction cases initiated by settler organizations.
Five Israeli settler attacks leading to Palestinian injury or damage to property were recorded during this period, including the vandalizing of at least 200 Palestinian-owned olive saplings in the village of Turmus’ayya (Ramallah). Another two incidents occurred in the Nablus area, including the physical assault of an elderly Palestinian man near As Sawiya village and crop damage when livestock was left to graze on a cultivated plot of land near Salim village. Another two settler-related incidents entailed stone-throwing at Palestinian vehicles near Nahhalin village (Bethlehem) and Deir Istiya village (Salfit), damaging two vehicles.
Israeli settlers connected a water network with the natural spring of “Ein al Sha’ra” in Madama village (Nablus), to pump water to Yitzhar settlement. A survey carried out by OCHA in 2011 found that thirty springs were under full settler control and inaccessible to Palestinians and another 26 springs were at-risk of settler takeover in the West Bank.
Israeli media reported four incidents of stone and Molotov cocktail throwing by Palestinians at Israeli-plated vehicles during the two week period, none of which resulted in casualties, but damages to several vehicles were reported.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was exceptionally opened on three days during the reporting period (10, 11 and 12 December) for humanitarian cases, allowing 2021 to leave and 1510 to return to the Gaza Strip. Approximately 20,000 people are registered and waiting to exit Gaza via Rafah, according to the Palestinian authorities in Gaza.