OPT: Protection of civilians weekly report, 10 - 16 Jun 2009

Situation Report
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In a statement issued on 17 June, a group of 38 United Nations and non-governmental organizations expressed concern over Israel's ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip, calling to attention the sanction's indiscriminate nature: it affects a population of 1.5 million, including ordinary women, children and elderly. The statement called for unimpeded access for all humanitarian assistance in accordance with international agreements and universally recognized international human rights and humanitarian law standards.

- On 17 June, Israeli military forces carried out the demolition of three tents and twelve animal barracks, as well as damaged four tonnes of fodder in Ein El Hilwa, in the Wadi El Malih area of the northern Jordan Valley. Twenty people were displaced, including nine children.

- Also on 17 June, Israeli military forces demolished 15 structures for herding communities in Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley, three of which were residential tents. Three households were affected.

West Bank

Intra-Palestinian conflict spreads to the southern West Bank

In the northern West Bank, security-related activities by PA forces declined in comparison to recent weeks, with no casualties reported. The number of Palestinian arrests made by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces also significantly fell compared to last week (25 compared to 74). However, Intra-Palestinian violence, spilled into the southern West Bank governorates of Hebron and Bethlehem this week. On 15 June, a Palestinian man, allegedly affiliated with Hamas, died while in the custody of PA forces in the City of Hebron. According to the PA, the man died while attempting to escape by jumping from the second storey of the building where he was being held. However, eyewitness accounts reported by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights alleged the presence of torture marks on the body.

On the same day, PA security forces claimed to have dismantled a 35-kilogram bomb, and confiscated bomb-making equipment from a residential neighbourhood in the town of Ash Shuyukh (Hebron). Also during the reporting period, eleven Palestinians were arrested in Hebron and Bethlehem Governorates including four Hamas- affiliated members of the Bethlehem Municipal Council. Palestinian stone throwing at PA security forces was reported during one of the arrests in Bethlehem City, with PA security forces opening warning fire in response. No injuries were reported.

Israeli military activities: decrease in Palestinian casualties

There were eight Palestinians, including three children, injured this week by Israeli forces in the West Bank in various types of incidents. Two of the children were injured in anti?Barrier demonstrations in the villages of Bil'in and Ni'lin (Ramallah), and one was physical assaulted at a checkpoint. Four other Palestinians were also physically assaulted by Israeli forces, including two in an incident that took place after Israeli soldiers declared an agricultural area next to Safa village (Bethlehem) a closed military zone. The number of Palestinian injuries this week is more than 60% below the weekly average in the first quarter of 2009.

The number of IDF search operations during the week was roughly the same as previously, 139 searches compared to 137, and remains approximately 26% higher than the weekly average in the first quarter of the year (109). The northern West Bank governorates had by far the highest number of search operations—comprising almost 73% of all West Bank searches, during which Israeli forces searched mosques in Tulkarm city and Bala'a, as well as several retail shops in each location, among other locations. The number of people arrested by Israeli forces decreased from the previous week, with 56 searches compared to 85 in the previous reporting period.

Further easing of access

Recent weeks have seen measures by Israeli authorities that ease movement restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank; this week, the trend continued as Palestinian access restrictions to and from the cities of Nablus and Jericho were further relaxed. As of 16 June, Huwwara checkpoint is open for all Nablus city residents to enter and exit Nablus without permits, although random vehicular security checks by Israeli soldiers still take place. Prior to the easing of access restrictions, delays and long queues were regularly reported at 'Huwwara checkpoint for vehicles exiting Nablus.

In the central West Bank, during the week (15 June), most of the infrastructure at the Jericho DCO checkpoint at the southern entrance to Jericho City was removed. Israeli military personnel remain in place, but are reportedly not conducting security checks. In addition, the Hamra, Tayasir and Ma'ale Efrayim checkpoints increased their operating hours to 24 hours a day, seven days per week. However, permit requirements for vehicular movement through these checkpoints to the Jordan Valley remain in force.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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