Posted on 4 February 2021
Protection of Civilians Report | 19 January - 1 February 2021
Latest development (outside the reporting period)
- On 3 February, the Israeli authorities demolished or confiscated 21 structures in Humsa al Bqai’a, two days after the previous operation took place, as described below. The two military operations displaced 60 people, including 35 children.
Highlights from the reporting period
- Two Palestinians reportedly tried to stab Israeli forces and were subsequently shot and killed. On 26 January, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy tried to stab a female Israeli soldier near the settlement of Ariel (Salfit), according to Israeli sources, and was then shot and killed; while Palestinian media outlets suggested that this was not a stabbing attempt, Israeli media outlets indicated that the soldier had to be treated for light injuries. On 31 January, a 36-year-old Palestinian man ran towards Israeli soldiers, near the Gush Etzion settlement area (Bethlehem), reportedly holding an improvised weapon, and was shot and killed.
- A total of 25 Palestinians were injured across the West Bank in clashes with Israeli forces. Sixteen of the injuries were sustained in the village of Deir Abu Mash’al (Ramallah), during a search-and-arrest operation that followed the injury of a 15-year-old Israeli girl (see below) as a result of stone throwing at Israeli-plated vehicles. Two other injuries were sustained in search-and-arrest operations in the cities of Qalqiliya and Tubas, and another one in Zeita village (Tulkarm). The remaining six were injured in protests against settlement activities near Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya), Beit Dajan (Nablus) and Deir Jarir (Ramallah). Nineteen of those injured were treated for tear gas inhalation, three were hit by rubber bullets, two were physically assaulted, and one was shot with live ammunition.
- Israeli forces carried out 159 search-and-arrest operations and arrested 177 Palestinians across the West Bank. The Jerusalem governorate recorded the highest number of operations (35), mostly in East Jerusalem, followed by the Hebron governorate (26).
- On 19 January, a rocket was shot by Palestinians from Gaza towards Israel, landing in an open area. Israeli forces subsequently fired shells along Israel’s perimeter fence, reportedly targeting military posts; one shell hit a Palestinian house in the Al Maghazi refugee camp, injuring a man and causing damage.
- On at least 18 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near the perimeter fence on the border with Gaza, or off Gaza’s coast, presumably to enforce access restrictions, resulting in the injury of one person in northern Beit Lahiya. The Israeli authorities arrested a man at the Erez Crossing while he was accompanying his wife for treatment in East Jerusalem.
- On 23 January, 47 people, including 19 children and 15 women, were injured as a result of an explosion in a house in Beit Hanoun town (Gaza). The house reportedly belonged to a member of a Palestinian armed group, and was being used to store explosives. Multiple civilian structures, including 172 houses, three schools, a hospital and a police station, were damaged; and, according to the Shelter Cluster, over 1,000 people were negatively affected.
- The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was officially opened in both directions on 1 February for four days. It had been closed for the preceding two months.
- Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 69 Palestinian-owned structures, displacing 80 people, and otherwise affecting nearly 600. All but one of the demolished structures, and all people displaced, were recorded in Area C of the West Bank. Forty-five structures, about 70 per cent, were in four Jordan Valley communities. One structure was demolished in Al Walaja village (Bethlehem), within the Israeli-defined municipal boundary of Jerusalem.
- In Humsa al Bqai’a (Jordan Valley), 25 residential and animal shelters were confiscated on 1 February, displacing 55 people, including 32 children; most of the structures had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to a mass demolition in the same community on 3 November 2020. Residents were reportedly told that their confiscated structures would be returned if they relocate, to Ein Shebli, within 24 hours. Most of the affected community resides in an area designated by the Israeli authorities as “firing zone”, hence closed for military training.
- Other demolitions and confiscations were carried out in the southern West Bank. In the community of Umm Qussa, located in a declared military zone in Hebron, a mosque and a water cistern were demolished, and a water network was damaged under Military Order 1797, which allows for demolitions after 96 hours of the issuance of a ‘removal order.’ The network damage has affected 450 residents’ access to water. Also in Hebron, in Khashem ad Daraj, five families received temporary eviction orders on 31 January, instructing them to leave their residences for four days, to make way for military training.
- The Israeli authorities uprooted and destroyed thousands of trees near the city of Tubas, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. The trees had been planted eight years ago as part of a project supervised by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture. The Israeli authorities also bulldozed nearly 1,000 privately-owned trees in the Khallet an Nahla area in Bethlehem. Both incidents took place on the grounds that the land had been declared ‘state land.’
- Seven Palestinians were injured and hundreds of Palestinian-owned trees, and an unknown number of vehicles, were vandalized by perpetrators known or believed to be Israeli settlers. Four of the injured, including a child, were stoned, or physically assaulted, while they were travelling on Road 60 in the Ramallah governorate. The other three were physically assaulted in separate clashes with settlers in Hebron, one during a sit-in protest in Khirbet at Tawamin community, and the other while settlers were bulldozing land in Dura in an apparent attempt to take it over. According to various Palestinian sources, some 450 olive trees and saplings were uprooted or cut down, Mantiqat Shi'b al Butum, Adh Dhahiriya and al Baq’a (Hebron), in Shufa (Tulkarm) and in Kafr ad Dik (Salfit). Villagers in Kafr ad Dik, Sarta (Salfit) and the Ash Shuyukh area (Hebron) reported damage to fences, agricultural structures and gates and the stealing of agricultural tools. Several Palestinian vehicles were stoned and damaged, some while travelling near Bethlehem and Qalqiliya, others when settlers reportedly stoned cars and houses in the villages of Kifl Haris and Yasuf (Salfit).
- Five Israelis were injured by perpetrators believed to be Palestinians, according to Israeli sources. One of the injured, an ultra-orthodox student, was stabbed and lightly injured outside the old city of Jerusalem, and the four, including a girl, were stoned near the villages of Burin (Nablus) and Kifl Haris (Salfit) and while travelling on West Bank roads. A total of 26 Israeli-plated vehicles were reportedly damaged, mainly when hit by stones.