Posted on 23 May 2019

Protection of Civilians Report | 7 - 20 May 2019

Latest Developments

  • For the second time in two weeks, on 23 May, the Israeli authorities reduced the permissible fishing zone along the southern coast of Gaza from 15 to 10 nautical miles (NM), reportedly in response to Palestinians releasing incendiary balloons into Israel.

Biweekly Highlights

  • In the Gaza Strip, one Palestinian, aged 24, was killed on 10 May east of Rafah, and around 425 others were injured, in protests that took place near Israel’s perimeter fence in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’ (GMR) demonstrations. Over 47 per cent of the reported injuries were hospitalized, including 56 people hit by live ammunition. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns, see here.
  • On at least 21 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, including a farmer and a fisherman.  On three occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza, near Beit Hanoun (Gaza North), Deir al Balah (Middle Area) and Rafah, and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations near the perimeter fence.
  • In the West Bank, Israeli forces injured 24 Palestinians, including four children, during protests and multiple clashes, representing a significant decline of around 85 per cent, compared with the average injured on a bi-weekly basis so far in 2019 (155). A total of six Palestinians were injured during ad-hoc clashes with Israeli forces near Bab al Amud area of the Old City of Jerusalem. Another two Palestinian men were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli forces after they tried to cross the Barrier without permits, near the Beit Hanina area of East Jerusalem. On 10 May, two Palestinian ambulances were denied access, and two paramedics were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli police, after they were stopped and prevented from entering the Old City of Jerusalem; this followed coordination with the Israeli authorities in the context of eased restrictions on access to East Jerusalem during the Muslim month of Ramadan. Another Palestinian man was injured in clashes that erupted during the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against access restrictions and settlement expansion. Another three Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces following the entrance of Israeli settlers to Ein Harrasheh spring area in Area B of Al Mazra'a al Qibliya village (Ramallah). Two Palestinians were also arrested.
  • In the West Bank, Israeli forces conducted 81 search and arrest operations and arrested 110 Palestinians. The Hebron governorate accounted for the single highest proportion of operations (21) and the Jerusalem governorate accounted for the highest number of arrests (30).
  • On six occasions, Israeli forces displaced 125 Palestinians (80 per cent women and children) from two herding communities, Tell al Khashaba (Nablus) and Humsa al Bqai’a in the northern Jordan Valley, for 7 to 20 hours each time, to make way for Israeli military training. The families had to stay out in the open or in neighboring communities, in most cases overnight, leaving their sheep and livestock behind. On 16 May, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, filed a petition with the Israeli High Court of Justice against the evacuation of Humsa al Bqai’a community. On 22 May, the Israeli Court rejected the petition. Both communities face regular demolitions and access restrictions which, along with repeated temporary displacement due to military training, gives rise to concerns over the risk of forcible transfer of residents.
  • Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished a Palestinian-owned livelihood structure located in Area C of Haris village (Salfit), affecting one family of seven members, including four children.
  • The Israeli authorities announced the easing of access restrictions on the occasion of the Muslim month of Ramadan, which started on 6 May. These include the issuing of some 150,000 family visit permits for East Jerusalem and Israel, while men above the age of 40, children under 16, and females of all ages are allowed into East Jerusalem for Friday prayers without permits. Residents of Gaza are not eligible for Ramadan permits. On the first and second Fridays of Ramadan, 10 and 17 May, Israeli forces allowed about 75,744 and 92,188 Palestinians, respectively, into East Jerusalem through three surrounding checkpoints for prayers, according to the Israeli DCL. This is compared to nearly 39,300 and 87,085 Palestinians on the first and second Friday of Ramadan in 2018.
  • On 13 May, Israel re-opened both the Israeli-controlled Erez passenger crossing and Kerem Shalom goods crossing for the movement of people and goods, following tight restrictions accompanying the recent escalations, as well as the general closure which ensued during the Israeli national holidays.
  • Thirteen Israeli settler attacks were reported during the period, resulting in seven Palestinian injuries and 60 Palestinian-owned trees vandalized or set on fire. Three of the incidents occurred in the vicinity of Asira al Qibliya, Qiryat and Yanun villages (all in Nablus), Marda (Salfit), reportedly by settlers from Yitzhar, Shilo, Itamar, Ariel and Mitzpe Ya’ir settlements who vandalized five trees, at least 50 cultivated dunums of land and one vehicle. Another three arson attacks, reportedly by Israeli settlers, resulted in extensive damage to cultivated lands and at least 20 olive trees in Asira al Qibliya and Burin (both in Nablus) and Izbat Shufa (Tulkarm) villages. Since the beginning of 2019, OCHA has recorded the reported uprooting, burning or vandalizing of 1,845 trees by Israeli settlers, representing a 44 and 22 per cent decrease, on a monthly average, compared with 2018 and 2017 respectively. In the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron city, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured three Palestinians, including two children, in four separate incidents. Additionally, according to the Village Council of Qaryut (Nablus), on 20 May, Israeli settlers from Eli dumped sewage water on Palestinian land cultivated with olive trees; 10 dunums and 40 olive trees were affected. Another four Palestinians were physically assaulted and injured by Israeli settlers in two separate incidents in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the Old City of Jerusalem.
  • On at least three occasions, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli-plated vehicles in the West Bank near Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ramallah, causing damage to at least three private vehicles, according to Israeli sources; no injuries were reported