Posted on 23 October 2020

Protection of Civilians Report | 6 - 19 October 2020

  • The olive harvest season, which started on 7 October, was disrupted by people believed or known to be Israeli settlers in 19 incidents: 23 Palestinian farmers were injured, over 1,000 olive trees were burnt, or otherwise damaged, and large amounts of produce were stolen. In the outskirts of Burqa village (Ramallah), settlers stoned and physically assaulted Palestinian olive pickers on three occasions, triggering clashes. Israeli forces intervened in one of the clashes, injuring 14 Palestinians and leaving 30 trees burnt by tear gas canisters. The remaining injuries were recorded in farming areas near the town of Huwwara (Nablus) and the villages of Ni’lin and Beitillu (Ramallah). Next to the Israeli settlement of Mevo Dotan (Jenin), about 450 olive trees were set on fire and destroyed shortly after Palestinian farmers from Ya’abad village were attacked there by settlers and forced out by Israeli soldiers. A few hundred olive trees belonging to Palestinians from Saffa village (Ramallah), in the closed area behind the Barrier, were also set on fire and damaged. In another ten locations adjacent to settlements, farmers found that their olive trees had either been vandalized or harvested, and the produce stolen, when they were able to reach them. Several of the incidents took place in access-restricted areas, where the Israeli authorities allow Palestinians to enter two-four days during the entire harvest season. 
  • Another four attacks by people believed to be settlers were recorded. A one-year-old Palestinian was injured when the car he was travelling in was hit by stones in the Bethlehem governorate. In nearby Al Khader, 40 beehives were set on fire and burnt. In the Farsiya area of the northern Jordan Valley, Palestinian shepherds were physically assaulted by a group of settlers, and one of their sheep was killed. In Jalud village (Nablus), electricity poles and cables providing power to agricultural rooms were cut and damaged. 
  • The Israeli authorities announced an easing in the issuance of permits for Palestinian farmers to access their lands behind the Barrier for the olive harvest season. In a letter to an Israeli human rights group, HaMoked, the authorities indicated that those who had obtained a permit during the previous season would be automatically granted permits, which they must collect from Israeli District Coordination and Liaison (DCL) offices. This arrangement would not apply to people with ‘security objections’ raised against them. The DCL offices have been overcrowded in recent months, raising a concern about potential COVID-19 transmissions.
  • Eighty-five Palestinians, including at least 11 children, and two Israeli soldiers were injured in clashes across the West Bank (beyond the abovementioned harvest-related incidents). The vast majority of these injuries were recorded in the refugee camps of Al Am’ari, Al Jalazun (Ramallah), Al Arrub (Hebron), and Balata (Nablus), following search and arrest operations and stone throwing incidents. In Al Jalazun, soldiers shot large amounts of tear gas canisters at school children, who reportedly threw stones, following which they entered the school and locked students in classrooms. Five Palestinians were injured in clashes that erupted when they were ploughing land next to Elon More settlement, which Israeli settlers had attempted to take over and establish an outpost on. The remaining injuries were recorded in other clashes or during attempts to enter Israel through breaches in the Barrier. Overall, 21 Palestinians were shot by rubber bullets and ten by live ammunition, while the remaining people were mostly treated for tear gas inhalation. 
  • Israeli forces carried out 126 search-and-arrest operations and arrested 132 Palestinians across the West Bank. Half of the operations were recorded in the Jerusalem governorate, with the Al ‘Isawiya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem witnessing almost daily police activities, resulting in the arrest of 30 Palestinians, including 13 children.
  • On 16 October, a Palestinian armed group in Gaza fired a rocket towards southern Israel, hitting an open area and resulting in no injuries. On at least 30 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near the perimeter fence, and off Gaza’s coast, apparently to enforce access restrictions, resulting in no injuries. 
  • On 18 October, Israeli forces entered Gaza and bulldozed land at around 400 meters from the perimeter fence, east of Khan Younis, destroying several dunums of crops and irrigations systems. According to Israeli sources, the operations were aimed at destroying tunnels dug by Palestinian armed groups for military purposes.
  • In three incidents in Area C, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized eight Palestinian-owned structures for the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 12 people. Five of the structures were in two communities in the Massafer Yatta area of Hebron, which had been designated a ‘firing zone’ for Israeli military training. The remaining three were demolished in the community of Al Farisiya-Khallet Khader of the Jordan Valley on the basis of Military Order 1797, which allows for demolitions within 96 hours of the issuance of a ‘removal order.’ No incidents were recorded in East Jerusalem, where on 1 October, the Israeli authorities announced that they would suspend the demolition of inhabited homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • One Israeli was injured and nine Israeli-plated vehicles travelling inside the West Bank sustained damage when assailants believed to be Palestinians threw stones or bottles of paint at them, according to Israeli sources.