UN report on the Protection of Civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories
Each week the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs publishes the Protection of Civilians report. The current report covers the period between 1 – 14 December 2015. 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 15 December, two Palestinian men were shot and killed by Israeli forces after ramming their vehicles into Israeli forces while the latter were conducting a search and arrest operation in Qalandiya Refugee Camp (Jerusalem), according to the Israeli media.
- The two-week reporting period (1-14 December) recorded 15 Palestinian attacks and alleged attacks, which resulted in the killing of 13 Palestinian perpetrators and alleged perpetrators, including two children (16 and 17 years old), and the injury of another child (16 years old). A total of 31 Israelis, including a baby and 13 members of the security forces were injured in these attacks. The incidents included eight stabbings and attempted stabbings, five ramming incidents, as well as two shooting incidents carried out by suspected Palestinians who fled the scene. Thirteen (13) of these incidents were reported in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and two in West Jerusalem. The circumstances of several incidents remain disputed. None of the perpetrators and alleged perpetrators reportedly belonged to any faction or armed group.
- According to Israeli media, the Israeli Ministry of Justice opened a criminal investigation into the shooting and injuring of a 16 year-old Palestinian girl accused of carrying out a stabbing attack in West Jerusalem on 23 November; reportedly the investigation will not address the shooting of the 14-year-old Palestinian girl killed in the same incident. This is the first such investigation being reported into the conduct of Israeli forces in responding to the wave of Palestinian attacks and alleged attacks which have taken place since 1 October 2015. These have resulted in the killing of 71 Palestinians and the injury of 23 others, raising serious concerns about possible excessive use of force and extrajudicial killing.
- Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinian men with live ammunition during three separate incidents in the context of a search and arrest operation in Ad Duheisha Refugee Camp (Bethlehem); during demonstrations near the fence surrounding Gaza,; and at the northern entrance to Hebron city.
- Another 1,409 Palestinians were injured in these and other clashes across the oPt, including 102 near the fence surrounding Gaza and the rest across the West Bank. The vast majority of injuries (1,290) took place in the context of protests against the longstanding occupation and related Israeli policies, including the withholding by the Israeli authorities of Palestinian bodies killed in recent months by Israeli forces. At least seven percent of the injuries in the West Bank and 43 percent of those in the Gaza Strip were caused by live ammunition, while most of the remainder were caused by rubber bullets or tear gas inhalation. Qalqiliya city continued to account for the highest number of injuries in a single locality (422): these include a large number of people not involved in clashes but treated for tear gas they inhaled while passing through the checkpoint controlling the single entrance to the city, or affected while in their homes in the vicinity of clashes.
- During the reporting period, Israeli forces arrested 365 Palestinians in the West Bank, over a quarter in the Jerusalem governorate, during 214 search and arrest operations. In the Gaza Strip, two Palestinian fishermen were arrested in the context of Israeli restrictions on access to the sea. A staff member of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society was also detained while exiting Gaza via Erez Crossing.
- The Israeli authorities destroyed with explosives two apartments in Shu’fat Refugee Camp (East Jerusalem) and Nablus city, home to the families of two Palestinians (one killed and another in custody) suspected of attacks against Israelis in 2014 and 2015. A total of 37 people (18 children) were displaced, including the two targeted families, along with the residents of five apartments adjacent to the Nablus home, which were severely damaged. Another three apartments adjacent to the home targeted in Shu’fat Camp sustained damage. Both incidents triggered clashes with Israeli forces resulting in the injury of 46 Palestinians. Since 1 October the Israeli authorities have carried out 14 such punitive demolitions, citing the need to deter Palestinians from carrying out attacks, displacing a total of 108 Palestinians, including 54 children (both in targeted and adjacent homes).
- Six residential structures, including donor-funded tents, and one commercial structure were demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem on the grounds of lack of building permits. The East Jerusalem demolitions occurred in Beit Hanina area and resulted in the displacement of two registered refugee families (16 people including 10 children). One of the Area C incidents took place in the herding community of Al Hadidiya in the northern Jordan Valley, which has seen repeated demolition or confiscation of structures since 25 November. During the period, three donor-funded tents provided as post-demolition humanitarian assistance were demolished and confiscated, displacing for the third time 15 Palestinians, including four children; another four donor-funded tents were confiscated. In a separate incident in the herding community of At Tabban (Hebron), Israeli forces confiscated materials provided by an international organization to rehabilitate seven houses: this is one of 14 communities in the Massafer Yatta area at risk of forcible transfer due to the designation of the area as a “firing zone”.
- The Israeli authorities served three Palestinian families with eviction orders in the Silwan neighbourhood of East Jerusalem to be implemented within 20 days. This follows an Israeli court ruling in favour of the ‘Ateret Cohanim settler organization, which claims ownership over the building. The same organization also initiated legal proceedings against another three families in the same neighbourhood. According to the Israeli human rights organization Ir Amim, around 130 Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are subject to legal proceedings in the context of settlement activities in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods.
- In Area C, the Israeli authorities bulldozed a farming area next to Shufa village (Tulkarm), on the grounds that it is “state land”, and in the process destroyed a large tomato greenhouse, 4.5 dunums of land planted with spinach, as well as an irrigation network, and uprooted and confiscated 150 olive and 40 lemon trees. The affected property was the main source of income for nine families, comprising 59 people. According to Peace Now, in October of this year, the Israeli authorities declared 30 dunums of land in the villages of Jinsafut (Qalqiliya) and Deir Istiya (Salfit) as “state land”, for the retroactive legalization of structures as well as new construction in the Israeli settlement of Karnei Shomron.
- On 4 and 7 December, Israeli forces fired a number of shells towards Fukhari area east of Khan Younis and at a military training site south-east of Gaza city, causing damage to a few adjacent houses; the context of these incidents remains unclear. Additionally, on at least 15 occasions, Israeli forces opened fire towards Palestinians in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) at land and sea, resulting in no casualties or damage, and entered Gaza on two occasions, during which they carried out land leveling and excavation activities.
- Palestinian armed groups in Gaza fired several rockets towards Israel, all of which landed in Gaza. On two occasions, Palestinian armed groups opened fire at Israeli military vehicles near the fence surrounding Gaza, and Israeli forces responded with heavy machine-gun fire; no injuries were reported.
- On 8 December, 14 Palestinians were reportedly trapped for four hours in a smuggling tunnel running under the border between Gaza and Egypt, which collapsed before a Palestinian rescue crew succeeded in reaching them. Seven sustained injuries.
- Two Palestinians (one holding Israeli citizenship) were injured in two separate Israeli settler attacks,including the driver of an Israeli bus who was physically assaulted near the settlement of Betar Illit (Bethlehem) and a herder who was attacked by an Israeli settler’s dog in the northern Jordan Valley. Additional incidents of takeover of property, obstruction of Palestinian movement and intimidation were reported, including preventing children and teachers from reaching their school in the H2 area of Hebron city.
- During the reporting period, three Israeli settlers were reportedly arrested and are currently under interrogation in connection to the arson attack in Duma village on 6 September, which killed three members of the same family and critically injured another.
- In addition to the aforementioned Israeli injuries, six Israeli settlers, including an infant, were injured as a result of stone throwing at vehicles travelling in the Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah governorates in the West Bank.
- The Hebron governorate remained the area most affected by movement restrictions, resulting in long delays and disruptions in the access of large segments of the population to services and livelihoods. All routes (including dirt roads) leading to the main traffic arteries (Roads 60, 356, 35 and 317) have remained either entirely blocked for vehicular movement, or are controlled by flying checkpoints deployed most of the time. The entirely blocked include three of the main roads into Hebron city, as well as the main entrances to As Samu’, Bani Nai’m and Al Arrub refugee camp. Palestinian access to the settlement area within the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron City (H2) has also remained severely restricted, including a ban on the entry of males between 15 and 25 years of age to some areas (Shuhada street and Tel Rumeida), except for those residing there.
- Palestinian movement in certain parts of the northern and central West Bank continues to be affected by checkpoints and other movement obstacles. Two of the main routes into Tulkarm city were blocked with iron gates following a shooting incident on 9 December, and have remained closed since then. In Ramallah, the checkpoint controlling the main access route into the city from the east (DCO checkpoint) was closed in both directions on two days, while in the rest of the governorate, Palestinians continue to be affected by the closure of other main access roads, including: a segment of the Old Road 60; the eastern entrance to Ein Yabrud (servicing 40 villages); and the main entrances to the villages of ‘Abud, Sinjil and Al Mughayir. For four days during the reporting period, the Israeli army closed An Nabi Saleh partial checkpoint, directly affecting five villages in the area (~17,000 people). In the Jerusalem governorate, around 20,000 Palestinians continue to be affected by the closure of the main entrance to Ar Ram town, and a permanent checkpoint placed at one of the entrances to Hizma village. In East Jerusalem, seven of the new checkpoints and roadblocks deployed in October 2015 were removed during the reporting period, leaving a total of eight obstacles in place, affecting access to and from the neighbourhoods of Issawiya, Sur Bahir and Jabal al Mukkabir.
- The Egyptian-controlled Rafah Crossing was opened in both directions on 3 and 4 December, allowing a 1,526 people to exit and 860 to enter Gaza. The Crossing has been closed, including for humanitarian assistance, since 24 October 2014, except for 39 days of partial openings.