UN Report: Wave of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory
The Protection of Civilians report is published each week by the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The current report covers the period between October 13 – 19, 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 20 and 21 October, nine Palestinians including a 15-year-old child, and two Israelis were killed in ten separate incidents, according to media reports. The Palestinian fatalities include seven in stabbing and ramming attacks and alleged attacks in the West Bank and Israel; one shot near the perimeter fence in Gaza; and one who died of tear gas inhalation. One Israeli settler was reportedly killed in a hit and run incident and another Israeli was shot and killed by Israeli forces after being mistaken for a Palestinian. The circumstances of most of these incidents remain disputed.
- Punitive demolitions: on 20 October, Israeli forces demolished the internal walls and then sealed the main entrance of a house in Hebron, the family home of the perpetrator of an attack against Israeli settlers in November 2014. A demolition order was also issued against the family home of a suspected Palestinian perpetrator of an attack against Israeli settlers in October of this year, in Nablus city.
- United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, visited Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory on 20 and 21 October. “My visit reflects the sense of global alarm at the dangerous escalation in violence between Israelis and Palestinians. I am here to encourage and support all efforts to lower tensions and prevent the situation from spinning out of control”, said Mr. Ban. He added that “no society should have to live in fear. No society can afford to see its youth suffer in hopelessness”.
- The wave of violence across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and Israel continued during the reporting period (13-19 October) resulting in 16 Palestinian and three Israeli fatalities, and another 1,970 Palestinian and 19 Israeli injuries. The fatality toll between 1 and 19 October in the oPt and Israel reached 43 Palestinians and seven Israelis, while the number of injuries include approximately 5,100 Palestinians and 70 Israelis. The number of West Bank Palestinians killed (29) and injured (4,400) is the highest recorded in any equivalent period of time since 2005, when OCHA began documenting casualties. In Gaza, the number of casualties is the highest since the end of the 2014 hostilities.
- In addition to the ongoing intensified presence and checking procedures at West Bank checkpoints, following the Israeli Security Cabinet decision of 14 October, Israeli forces blocked several main streets leading to and from most Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. As of 21 October 38 obstacles, including 17 checkpoints, 20 cement blocks and one earth mound have been placed, directly impacting nine Palestinian neighborhoods. Israeli authorities also erected a concrete barrier partially separating the Jabal Mukkaber neighborhood from the adjacent East Talpiyot settlement. Search and checking procedures at the newly deployed checkpoints have resulted in long queues, which delayed and disrupted the access of people to services, including educational and health facilities, places of work, as well as holy sites.
- During the reporting period, three Israelis and ten Palestinians were killed and 16 Israelis and three Palestinians were injured in the course of 12 stabbing and alleged stabbing attacks or attempted attacks by Palestinians, one of which also involved shooting. The circumstances of some of these incidents remain disputed. Eight of these incidents occurred in the West Bank, including four in Hebron city, and four in the Jerusalem governorate (including three in East Jerusalem). The other four incidents were reported in the Israeli city of Ra’anana and in West Jerusalem.
- Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during clashes in the context of protests that took place across the West Bank and in a few spots along the perimeter fence around Gaza. Two Palestinian protestors were shot and killed in two separate incidents near the fence surrounding Gaza. The other two Palestinians were shot in the chest and killed in two separate incidents at the northern entrance to Bethlehem city and at the entrance of Beit Furik village (Nablus) in the West Bank.
- Additionally, on 19 October, a 65-year-old Palestinian woman died on her way to the hospital after suffering from tear gas inhalation which permeated her home during clashes that erupted in Al ‘Isawiya in East Jerusalem, and being delayed for about an hour at a newly established checkpoint controlling access from/to Al ‘Isawiya, according to Al Maqased Hospital. In the Gaza Strip, another Palestinian civilian man died of injuries he sustained the previous week while he was working in a factory near an area of clashes.
- During the week, a total of 1,917 Palestinians, including 223 children, were injured during these clashes, of them 28 per cent in Gaza and the rest in the West Bank. Protests and clashes in the Gaza Strip took place next to the perimeter fence, near Erez and Nahal Oz Crossings, east of Al Bureij Refugee Camp and northwest of Beit Hanoun. In the West Bank, the highest number of injuries was recorded in the Hebron Governorate (397 or 27 per cent), followed by Jerusalem (344 injuries), Qalqiliya (272 injuries), Ramallah (197), Bethlehem (178), and 107 injuries in Nablus, Tulkarem and Jenin. About seven percent of the injuries in the West Bank and 25 percent in the Gaza Strip were by live ammunition, while most of the remainder by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation (only people receiving medical assistance are counted as injured). On 18 October, two schools located in the access restricted area near Gaza’s perimeter fence had to be evacuated due to the clashes that took place in their vicinity.
- Palestinians set fire to Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus city on two occasions. Molotov cocktails were thrown at the site during Palestinians clashes with Israeli forces who came to the houses of the Palestinians suspected of being involved with the 1 October killing of a settler couple. In the second incident, Palestinians set fire to the site after Israeli settlers who came to the site, accompanied by Israeli forces, left the area. The Palestinian authorities condemned the arson attacks and opened an investigation.
- On 16 October, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the oPt,Makarim Wibisono, expressed grave concern and deep sadness over the intensification of violence in recent weeks, and noted that “there are concerns of excessive use of force against Palestinians by Israeli security forces in the context of clashes, and cases of suspected Palestinian assailants shot and killed rather than arrested following attacks on Israelis, have been reported.”
The Israeli authorities issued seven punitive demolition orders, against the family homes of suspected Palestinian perpetrators of attacks against Israeli settlers in June and October of this year. These include three in Nablus city, two in Silwad village, one in Surda village (both in Ramallah) and one in Qalandiya refugee camp (Jerusalem). On 18 October, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition against another punitive demolition order issued previously against a house in Hebron, the family home of the perpetrator of an attack against Israeli settlers in November 2014.
On 19 October, Israeli settlers under police escort evicted three Palestinian households from a building in the Silwan area of East Jerusalem, following a protracted legal battle over ownership of the property. In addition to the occupation of residential buildings, settlement activities in Silwan include archaeological excavations and the operation of the City of David National Park and Visitor’s Centre. Settlement expansion in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem in recent years, including in Silwan, has resulted in the displacement of Palestinian families, increased restrictions on Palestinian movement, and increased friction with Israeli forces, who are deployed in greater numbers to protect Israeli settlers.
- At least eight Israeli settler attacks were recorded during the week, resulting in at least nine Palestinian injuries , including three children, in addition to one international, and damage to houses and vehicles.Half of the incidents were recorded in the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron city (H2) and the adjacent settlement of Kiryat Arba’. In some of the latter incidents Israeli settlers were accompanied and supported by Israeli forces, according to eye witnesses. Most of the incidents involved the throwing of stones, firebombs, and bottles by Israeli settlers at Palestinian houses.
- On six occasions Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip and carried out land leveling and excavation activities northeast of Beti Hanoun and Beit Lahia, southeast of Maghazi Refugee Camp and east of Bureij Refugee Camp. On two occasions, members of Palestinian armed groups opened fire at Israeli military vehicles, with no casualties reported.
- On 15 October, three Palestinians were shot and injured by Egyptian forces inside a smuggling tunnel, southeast of Rafah. The Egyptian forces had previously detonated an underground tunnel connecting Gaza to Egypt, south of Rafah. Smuggling activities along the border with Egypt have largely come to halt since mid 2013, following the Egyptian authorities’ destruction or blockage of the vast majority of tunnels in this area. Reportedly, only a few tunnels have remained partially operational.The Rafah Crossing was exceptionally opened on 15 October for Palestinian stranded in Egypt, allowing around 1814 Palestinians to return to Gaza. The Crossing has been continuously closed, including for humanitarian assistance, since 24 October 2014, except for 37 days of partial openings. On 13 October, Erez Crossing with Israel closed for few hours reportedly due to protests held in close proximity to it and related damaged sustained by some of its facilities.