Posted on 9 May 2019

Protection of Civilians Report | 23 April - 6 May 2019

Biweekly Highlights

  • Three days of intense hostilities in the Gaza Strip and Israel resulted in the killing of 25 Palestinians, including three children and two pregnant women, and four Israeli civilians; as well as the injury of 153 Palestinians and 123 Israelis. The escalation, which took place between 3 and 6 May, followed the wounding of two Israeli soldiers reportedly by a Palestinian sniper during the weekly “Great March of Return” (GMR) protests on 3 May, and the Israeli Air Force’s targeting of a Hamas post, which killed two Hamas members. Over the following days, Israeli forces struck around 320 targets in Gaza and Palestinian armed groups fired nearly 700 rockets and mortar shells at Israel. According to initial assessments, 41 housing units were destroyed in Gaza and another 16 were severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable. Some 13 education facilities, one health centre and various electricity networks were also damaged. An informal ceasefire understanding, achieved through Egyptian and UN auspices, came into effect in the early morning of 6 May and is holding, as of time of publication.
  • In addition, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, and injured around 370 others, in protests that took place near Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza in the context of the ‘GMR’ demonstrations on 26 April and 3 May. Of all Palestinians injured in the protests during the reporting period, 237 were hospitalized, including 91 injured by live ammunition, according to Palestinian medical sources. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns, see here.
  • On 30 April, the Israeli authorities reduced the permissible fishing zone along the southern coast of Gaza from 15 to 6 nautical miles (NM), in response to Palestinian armed groups firing of rockets from Gaza towards the sea. On 4 May, in the context of the escalation of hostilities, the Israel authorities prohibited all fishing off the Gaza coast. In addition, Erez passenger crossing and Kerem Shalom goods crossing, both controlled by Israel, have been closed for the movement of people and goods, with exceptions for specific travellers (internationals) and for the import of fuel for the Gaza Power Plant.
  • On 20 April, Israeli forces shot and injured a 20-year-old Palestinian man after he allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at Za’tara Checkpoint (Nablus); he died of his wounds on 27 April in an Israeli hospital and his body is still being held by the Israeli authorities. No Israeli injuries were reported in the incident. This brings to six the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in attacks and alleged attacks since the beginning of 2019. On a separate incident, on 29 April, a Palestinian man was shot and injured by Israeli forces near Ya’bad village (Jenin), allegedly after he opened fire towards an Israeli military post.
  • On at least 30 occasions, outside of the GMR protests and in the context of enforcing access restrictions, Israeli forces opened warning fire in the areas adjacent to the perimeter fence and off the coast of Gaza, causing three injuries. In one incident, two Palestinian fishermen were arrested and their boats were confiscated by Israeli naval forces. 
  • Overall during the reporting period, 63 Palestinians were injured in multiple clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank, a significant decline of around 63 per cent, compared with the average injured on a bi-weekly basis so far in 2019 (170). A total of 17 Palestinians were injured during clashes with Israeli forces, who were accompanying Israeli settlers to Nablus city to visit a religious site (Joseph’s Tomb). Another two Palestinians were injured in clashes that erupted during the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against access restrictions and settlement expansion. 40 Palestinians were injured in clashes in five search and arrest operations conducted by Israeli forces in Al ‘Eizariya, Abu Dis town and Qalandiya refugee camp (Jerusalem) and Qalqiliya city. Overall, Israeli forces conducted 141 such operations, four per cent of which resulted in clashes. 
  • Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 41 Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank, displacing 38 people and affecting 121 others. Of these, 37 were in East Jerusalem and four in Area C. On 29 April alone, the Israeli authorities demolished 31 structures in multiple neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, marking the highest number of structures demolished in a single day in East Jerusalem since OCHA began systematically monitoring demolitions in 2009. On 3 May, the Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Jamie McGoldrick, together with the Heads of UNRWA and OHCHR, issued a joint statement which called upon Israel to put an end to the destruction of Palestinian-owned property in East Jerusalem and for respect for international law. 
  • On 25 April, the Israeli authorities demolished a home in Az Zawiya village (Salfit), in Area B on punitive grounds, displacing a family of seven, including five children. The home belonged to the family of a 19-year-old Palestinian who was accused of killing an Israeli soldier and an Israeli settler, and injuring another soldier, near Ariel Israeli settlement (Salfit) on 17 March 2019. The perpetrator was subsequently killed by Israeli forces in a separate incident. This is the fifth such demolition since the beginning of 2019; compared to six in 2018 and nine in 2017.
  • Thirteen attacks attributed to Israeli settlers resulted in the injury of three Palestinians and damage to Palestinian property across the West Bank. In Kafr Ni’ma village (Ramallah), a group of Israeli settlers, some of whom were armed, physically assaulted and injured three Palestinian men, who were surveying land. Additionally, on five occasions over the past two weeks, Israeli settlers accompanied by the Israeli army, vandalized Palestinian property in Ein Harrasheh water spring and a public park in Area B of Al Mazra'a Al Qibliya village (Ramallah); according to local community sources, Israeli settlers threw stones at two houses, harassed Palestinians, and vandalized water pipes and park infrastructure. In ‘Urif village (Nablus), clashes erupted between settlers, the Israeli forces accompanying them, and Palestinians, after settlers stoned the boys’ school and surrounding houses. In five other incidents, Israeli settlers vandalized 51 olive trees, punctured the tires of twelve Palestinian vehicles, sprayed “price tag” graffiti on four Palestinian houses and caused damage to a shop in Burqa (Ramallah), Isla (Qalqiliya), Huwwara (Nablus), al Ganoub (Hebron) and in the H2 area of Hebron city. Since the beginning of 2019, the bi-weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties or property damage has witnessed a 40 and 133 per cent increase, compared to the biweekly average of 2018 and 2017. 
  • Israeli media reported nine incidents of stone-throwing by Palestinians at Israeli settler vehicles; one Israeli settler woman was injured, and several vehicles were damaged.
  • During the reporting period, the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt was open for three days in both directions and four days in one direction. A total of 2,662 people, including 1,451 pilgrims, entered Gaza, and 2,466 others, including 1,603 pilgrims, exited.