Protection of Civilians Report | 25 September – 8 October 2018
Ten Palestinians, including three children, were killed by Israeli forces during Friday demonstrations and clashes taking place near Israel’s perimeter fence in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’, and 882 others have been injured. Friday, 28 September, recorded the highest fatality toll in a single day (seven) since 14 May 2018, prompting a call by the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Jamie McGoldrick, "on Israel, Hamas and all other actors with the ability to influence the situation, to take action now to prevent further deterioration and loss of life.” Two of the child fatalities, boys aged 11 and 15, were shot in the head and chest with live ammunition, bringing to 39 the number of children killed in Gaza since the start of the protests on 30 March. Of the people injured on 28 September and 5 October, 402 were hospitalized, including 216 people (53 per cent) hit by live ammunition; the rest were treated in the field, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza. According to Israeli sources, a number of explosive devices were thrown at Israeli forces during the protests, none of which resulted in Israeli injuries.
In addition, one Palestinian child was killed and 189 injured in clashes with Israeli forces during the reporting period, in other activities taking place on an almost daily basis in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’. These activities have included the use of fireworks, loud speakers, sound bombs and tires burning during gatherings at night, near the fence; protests next to the Erez Crossing; and attempts to break the naval blockade, alongside demonstrations on the beach in northern Gaza, next to the fence with Israel. Israeli sources also reported a significant increase in the launching of incendiary kites and balloons towards Israel, which resulted in dozens of fires and limited property damage, but no Israeli casualties. Israeli forces conducted a number of airstrikes, some of which reportedly targeted people launching explosive or incendiary devices near the perimeter fence. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns since the beginning of the ‘Great March of Return’, see here.
On 2 October, a 74-year-old Palestinian man was shot and injured by Israeli forces in Al Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, and shortly after died of his wounds. The circumstances of the incident remain unclear: according to Palestinian human rights organizations, the man was shot while standing next to his house, approximately 2,000 meters from the perimeter fence, at a time when no demonstrations or clashes were ongoing.
On 7 October, the Israeli authorities reduced the permissible fishing zone along the southern coast of Gaza from 9 to 6 nautical miles (NM). According to Israeli sources, the restrictions came in response to ongoing incidents along the perimeter fence. The measure is having a direct impact on some 50,000 Palestinians who rely on fishing for their livelihoods.
On at least eight additional occasions outside the context of the ‘Great March of Return’, Israeli forces opened fire in the Access Restricted Areas (ARA) on land and at sea areas, off the coast of Gaza, injuring one fisherman and arresting two others. On seven occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza, and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations in the vicinity of the perimeter fence.
On 7 October, a Palestinian man killed two Israelis, a man and a woman, in a shooting attack in the industrial area of Barkan settlement (Salfit) in the northern West Bank, and injured another Israeli woman. The perpetrator, reportedly from Tulkarm city, who was employed in the settlement, escaped the scene unharmed. Since the beginning of 2018, nine Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the West Bank. Following the attack, Israeli forces searched the family house of the perpetrator and measured it, reportedly in advance of its punitive demolition; the mother and two sisters of the perpetrator were arrested. Israeli forces were deployed at all entrances to Tulkarm city, disrupting access to and from the city.
Also in the West Bank, 122 Palestinians, including 36 children, were injured by Israeli forces in multiple clashes. Thirty-six of the injuries occurred during multiple demonstrations held on 1 October across the West Bank in the context of a one-day strike in protest of the approval of the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People” the Israeli Parliament last July, as well as in solidarity with the Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar, which is at imminent risk of mass demolition. Another eleven people were injured during the following weekly demonstrations: in Ras Karkar (Ramallah), against the construction of a new settler road on privately-owned Palestinian land; in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) against settlement expansion and access restrictions; and in Bil’in and Ni’lin (both in Ramallah) against the Barrier and settlement expansion. Another 26 injuries were sustained in clashes that erupted in six search and arrest operations; overall, Israeli forces conducted 131 such operations, arresting over 132 Palestinians, including 16 children. Another 15 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces, following the entrance of Israelis to a religious site in Nablus city.
Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli Authorities demolished, or ordered to self-demolish four Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, affecting the livelihoods of 26 people. Two of the structures, including one provided in response to a previous demolition, were located in the Massafer Yatta area of the Hebron governorate, in an area designated as a firing zone for military training, where 1,300 residents face the risk of forcible transfer. Another structure was in an area of Hizma town, lying within the municipal boundary of Jerusalem, but separated from the rest of the city by the Barrier. Additionally, in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a Palestinian family was forced to self-demolish an extension of their house, affecting the livelihoods of eight people.
On 8 October, the Israeli authorities renewed requisition orders for land in Khan al Ahmar – Abu al Helu, to be used by Israeli forces during the demolition of the community. The same day, the Israeli authorities completed the drainage of a hazardous, sewage pool that had accumulated in the community due to leakage from a sewer pipe in Kfar Adumim settlement, since late September. On 5 September, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected all petitions related to its 24 May ruling, and, on 23 September, the Israeli authorities handed the community a letter informing residents that they must demolish all buildings no later than 1 October, or the authorities will enforce the demolitions in line with the court decision. In the letter, Israel also promised to provide assistance to those abiding by the order, including transportation to a relocation site.
The olive harvest season, which officially started in the beginning of October, was disrupted in a number of areas by settler violence, including the physical assault and injury of two farmers, damage to 190 trees and the theft of produce. A total of five incidents took place in Turmus’ayya (Ramallah), Burin, Haris and Al Lubban ash Sharqiya (all in Nablus), in areas in the vicinity of settlements, where Palestinian access is subject to the approval of the Israeli military. In an additional incident, Israeli settlers physically assaulted and injured a Palestinian in the Old City of Jerusalem. At least two incidents of stone-throwing by Israeli settlers resulted in damage to Palestinian-owned vehicles during the period. Settler violence has been on the rise since the beginning of 2018, with a weekly average of five attacks resulting in injuries or property damage, compared with an average of three in 2017 and two in 2016.
According to Israeli media reports, fourteen Israeli vehicles were damaged, as a result of stone-throwing by Palestinians in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron, Jerusalem and Salfit governorates.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened in both directions for nine days, and in one direction (into Gaza) for two days. A total of 1,178 were allowed to enter Gaza and another 3,116 people exited.