Protection of Palestinian civilians update-Oct. 8, 2015
Each week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories publishes he Protection of Civilians report. The current report covers the period between 29 September – 5 October 2015. To view the complete version of the report, including a series of charts with the main indicators, please click here.
- The reporting period witnessed the most significant escalation in violent attacks and clashes across the West Bank, particularly in East Jerusalem, since June 2014. The current escalation resulted in multiple Israeli and Palestinian deaths and injuries, as well as property damage, large numbers of arrests, restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, and disruptions in the provision of services affecting Palestinians.
- Four Israeli settlers were killed by Palestinians in two separate attacks. On 1 October, Palestinian assailants shot and killed an Israeli settler couple while travelling with their four children on a road connecting Itamar and Elon Moreh settlements in the Nablus governorate; the children were unhurt. According to the Israeli authorities, Israeli forces “arrested members of the Hamas cell that perpetrated the attack”. On 3 October, a Palestinian man attacked an Israeli settler family in the Old City of Jerusalem, killing the father and injuring his wife and two-year-old child. Another Israeli man who came to their rescue was also killed; the perpetrator was shot and killed by Israeli security forces. The following day, a 15-year-old Israeli boy was stabbed near the Old City of Jerusalem by a suspected Palestinian. Numerous incidents of stone and Molotov-cocktail throwing at Israeli vehicles were reported during the week, resulting in injury to at least seven Israelis, including an infant, and damage to at least one vehicle.
- Four Palestinians, including a child, and the abovementioned perpetrator, were killed by Israeli security forces. On 4 October, a Palestinian youth was shot and killed by Israeli security forces in East Jerusalem while running from a group of Israelis who claimed he stabbed the abovementioned 15-year-old Israeli boy. On the same day, another Palestinian youth was shot and killed by Israeli forces during a protest against settler violence at a checkpoint near Tulkarem; and on 5 October, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by Israeli forces while clashes were taking place at Ayda Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. A senior Israeli army officer was quoted in media saying the killing of the Palestinian teenager was “unintentional.” This brings the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in 2015 to 28, compared to 45 in the equivalent period of 2014.
- 794 Palestinians (disaggregation by age and sex not yet available) were injured across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in clashes with Israeli forces during Palestinian protests and spontaneous gatherings at checkpoints and other friction points (nearly two thirds of the injuries) and during search and arrest operations (about a third of injuries). At least one member of Israeli security forces was also injured. Over 60 per cent of the injuries were recorded on 4 October following the killing of two Palestinians. The highest number was recorded in the Jerusalem governorate (491 injuries), followed by Ramallah (113), Nablus (70) and Jenin governorates (61). Around 10 per cent of the injuries were caused by live ammunition, 35 per cent by rubber bullets and 50 per cent by tear gas inhalation.
- Israeli forces carried out 110 search and arrest operations in the West Bank, of which ten led to clashes resulting in about a third of the total number of Palestinian injuries during the reporting period. One of the most violent such clashes took place in the Jenin Refugee Camp on 4 October, resulting in the injury of 55 Palestinians, including 11 by live ammunition, as well as the setting fire to one house, which was severely damaged. A total of 166 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank, the majority (83), including at least 14 children, in the Jerusalem governorate.
- At least 29 Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians resulting in injury or property damage were recorded this week, most of them reportedly in retaliation for the abovementioned Palestinian attacks. The attacks involved shooting, physical assault, stoning, throwing Molotov cocktails, and setting property on fire. At least 21 Palestinians were injured, including a 17-year-old boy stabbed in the H2 area of Hebron city, and a man was shot in Bethlehem. Significant damage to property was reported, including to 14 vehicles and at least 250 trees. Additionally, Israeli settlers carried out multiple protests at main road junctions, some of which reportedly included blocking roads with earth-mounds and acts of intimidation against Palestinians.
- On 4 October, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) declared a state of emergency following 14 attacks by Israeli forces and settlers against its ambulances and staff in the 72 hours preceding the declaration, according to PRCS. The following day, a number of Palestinian schools in the Jerusalem area cancelled classes citing safety concerns.
Israeli forces intensified their presence and access restrictions in the West Bank. Several checkpoints across the West Bank, which were previously only occasionally staffed became permanently staffed and over 120 additional ad-hoc (flying) checkpoints were deployed, intermittently blocking Palestinian traffic for varying periods of time, forcing people to wait or use long detours. Access to and from Beit Furik, Huwwara (both in Nablus), Shufa (Tulkarem), and Deir Nidham (Ramallah) villages, was severely disrupted. On 4-5 October, the Israeli authorities set up several ad hoc (flying) checkpoints at the main entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem prohibiting access of all Palestinians, except residents of the area and shop owners. Palestinian access to the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount was restricted to men and women above the age of 50 between 29 September and 3 October. On these days, which coincided with a Jewish holiday, Israeli settlers and other Israeli groups entered the site.
- Members of Palestinian armed groups fired several rockets towards southern Israel. On 29 September, a rocket fired from Gaza was intercepted by Israel and on 4 October, one rocket landed in southern Israel, with no injuries or damage reported. Israeli air forces fired multiple missiles at Palestinian armed groups’ military training sites northwest, south and in Gaza city, and north and west of Beit Lahia, with no injuries reported, however causing damage to a ferric tower.
During the reporting period, nine Palestinians were arrested after attempting to cross the perimeter fence into Israel without authorization. On two occasions, Israeli forces entered, leveled land and carried out excavations near the perimeter fence inside Gaza.
- The Rafah Crossing was exceptionally opened on 30 September for Palestinian pilgrims travelling back from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, allowing over 500 to return to Gaza. The Crossing has been continuously closed, including for humanitarian assistance, since 24 October 2014, except for 34 days of partial openings.