UN Protection of Civilians update: March 22-28, 2016
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs publishes a regular Protection of Civilians report. The current report covers the period between 22 – 28 March 2016. To view the complete version of the report, including a series of charts with the main indicators, please click here.
Latest Developments (outside of the reporting period):
On 31 March, in Hebron city the Israeli authorities demolished the family home of the suspected perpetrator of a stabbing attack, during which he was killed along with an Israeli settler.
- On 22 March, two Palestinians stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in Hebron city: one was shot dead and the other wounded by Israeli forces. Video footage of the scene, a few minutes after the incident, recorded an Israeli soldier shooting in the head the wounded suspect, who was lying on the ground, not posing any apparent threat. The soldier was detained by the Israeli authorities and is currently being investigated. The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process, Nickolay Mladenov, strongly condemned the “apparent extra-judicial killing”. The spokesperson for the UN office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights raised concerns that the killing may not be a lone incident. Since 1 October 2015, a total of 136 Palestinian suspected perpetrators, including 32 children, were killed by Israeli forces on the spot in their response to attacks and alleged attacks against Israelis in the oPt and Israel.
- Following the incident, Israeli forces banned until further notice the passage of Palestinian males between 15 and 25 years old through two nearby checkpoints controlling access to the H2 area of Hebron city. This comes in addition to other severe restrictions on Palestinian access to this area, in place since October 2015. During the week Israeli forces also eased movement restrictions imposed last week on Beit Fajjar village (Bethlehem), following an attack, which prevented most residents from exiting and entering the village.
- In the aftermath of the killing, Israeli settlers surrounded the house of, and reportedly threatened repeatedly, the Palestinian who filmed it. In his statement, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded the Israeli authorities of their duty to protect this man, a key eyewitness to the killing, from any reprisals.
- The Israeli Prime Minister instructed relevant authorities to stop returning the bodies of Palestinians suspected of perpetrating attacks against Israelis until further notice, according to the Israeli media. Currently the Israeli authorities are withholding the bodies of 14 such Palestinians who were killed in incidents that took place in the previous five months.
- Clashes with Israeli forces across the oPt resulted in the injury of 33 Palestinians, including 15 children.Seven of the injuries occurred next to the perimeter fence in the Gaza Strip, in the context of weekly protests, and the rest were in the West Bank. The majority of injuries were recorded during search and arrest operations. The latter included raids into the Arab American University of Jenin, a charity in Tulkarm city, and a primary school in Tell village (Nablus), all which involved property damage and the confiscation of computers and documents. On 21 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire towards areas near the fence and also towards Palestinian fishing boats at sea, forcing farmers and fishermen out.
- At least three settler vehicles, a bus and segments of the light train sustained some damage, in eight incidents of stone-throwing in the Bethlehem and Ramallah governorates and in East Jerusalem. This week, the Israeli authorities completed a six-meter-high fence along Road 60 next to Beit Ummar village (Hebron), reportedly aimed at preventing Palestinian stone-throwing at Israeli vehicles.
- In two incidents near the villages of Burin (Nablus) and Haris (Salfit), Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured two Palestinians. Additionally, a six-year-old child was injured in a hit and run incident by a suspected Israeli settler, on Road 60 near the junction leading to Yatta town (Hebron).
- The Israeli authorities demolished 60 structures due to the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, including 19, which had been provided as humanitarian assistance in response to previous demolitions. As a result, 95 Palestinians, including 40 children, were displaced. All but two of these structures were located in areas designated as “firing zones” for military training, which cover 30 per cent of Area C. The largest incident took place in Khirbet Tana (Nablus), the third wave of demolitions in this community in 2016. Following a visit to this community, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt,
- Robert Piper, warned of the risk of forcible transfer facing the community.
On 23 March, Israeli forces took over a house under construction in Hizma village (Jerusalem) and apparently converted it into a military observation point. According to the owner, Israeli forces have been using the house on a weekly basis since October 2015.
- On 29 March, an infant died due to hypothermia and a sibling was found in critical condition, according to the Ministry of Health, in Gaza. The children and their family are one of 1,150 families residing in temporary shelters and caravans donated as humanitarian aid to those whose homes were destroyed during the July-August 2014 escalation of hostilities.
- The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was closed in both directions during the reporting period. The crossing has been closed, including for humanitarian assistance, since 24 October 2014, except for 42 days of partial openings. Authorities in Gaza indicated that around 30,000 people with urgent needs, including around 3,500 medical cases, are registered and waiting to cross.