Protection of Civilians Report | 26 February - 11 March 2019
12 March: In two incidents, Israeli forces shot and killed two Palestinians, aged 41 and 23, in the cities of Hebron (H2) and Salfit respectively.
Friday demonstrations and clashes along the perimeter fence in Gaza, during the reporting period, resulted in the killing of two Palestinians, both aged 23, and injury to 556 others; one Palestinian, aged 22, also died of wounds sustained on a previous Friday, 22 February. The two Palestinians were shot with live ammunition during the protests in the Deir al Balah and Rafah area, respectively, on 1 and 8 March. Since the beginning of protests in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’ on 30 March 2018, 193 Palestinians have been killed and 26,625 injured. Of the injuries during the reporting period, 269 were hospitalized, including 79 people injured by live ammunition, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Following the launching of projectiles, incendiary balloons and explosive devices by Palestinians towards Israel, a number of Israeli air strikes and shelling targeted military sites, reportedly belonging to Palestinian armed groups, and ports, damaging two sites and three fishing boats.
One 15-year-old boy was killed on 6 March in additional protests and activities in the context of the ‘Great March of Return’, in addition to the injury of 66 Palestinians. These include demonstrations on the beach next to the perimeter fence in northern Gaza, alongside a flotilla of boats which tried to break the naval blockade, and night activities near the fence, involving the throwing of explosive devices at Israeli forces.
On at least 32 occasions, outside of the demonstrations, Israeli forces opened warning fire in the Access Restricted Areas enforced by Israel on land and off the coast of Gaza. In three incidents, four Palestinian fishermen were injured, seven other fishermen were arrested, and two boats were confiscated by Israeli naval forces. In another incident, Israeli forces arrested two Palestinians when they reportedly attempted to infiltrate into Israel through the perimeter fence. On three occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations near the perimeter fence, in the Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun areas.
In the West Bank, three Palestinians were killed and two members of Israeli forces were injured, in two incidents. In the early hours of 4 March, Israeli forces shot and killed with live ammunition two Palestinian men, aged 20 and 22, while they were travelling by car on the main road near the village of Kafr Ni’ma (Ramallah). The Israeli authorities say the incident was a deliberate ramming attempt; Palestinian local sources indicated that the two Palestinian men, along with another who was arrested, accidently crashed into a military jeep, causing injury to two members of Israeli forces. The bodies of the two Palestinians are still being withheld by the Israeli authorities. On 10 March, another Palestinian driver, aged 22, was shot and killed by Israeli police at a flying checkpoint on Road 90 in the Jericho area when the car he was travelling in allegedly ignored police orders to stop. Two other passengers fled the scene: the Israeli authorities have opened an investigation in the belief that the driver failed to stop because the passengers were involved in criminal activity. The reported fatalities bring to ten the number of Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli forces so far in the West Bank since the beginning of 2019.
Three children, aged between one and four, died after their house in the As Salaymeh neighborhood in the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron, caught fire on 5 March. As access to the area for ambulances and fire brigades requires prior coordination from the Israeli authorities, rescue services were delayed, according to Palestinian sources.
Overall during the reporting period, 26 Palestinians were injured in multiple clashes with Israeli forces across the West Bank, a significant decline of around 82 per cent, compared with the average injured on a bi-weekly basis so far in 2019 (146). A total of 13 Palestinians were injured in clashes that erupted in the weekly protest in Kafr Qaddum village (Tulkarm) against the expansion of Israeli settlements. Eight other Palestinians sustained injuries in another protest in Beit Sira (Ramallah), calling for the release of the bodies of the two Palestinians who were killed near Kafr Ni’ma. Also, five Palestinians were injured in clashes in two search and arrest operations conducted by Israeli forces in Nablus city. Overall, Israeli forces conducted 173 such operations, 45 per cent of which culminated in clashes. Half of the injuries were caused by tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment, nearly 38 per cent by rubber bullets, eight per cent by physical assault and four per cent by live ammunition. In addition, Israeli forces uprooted 135 olive trees belonging to Arub refugee camp and the Khallet ad Dab’a area, claiming they were planted on state land.
Seven attacks attributed to Israeli settlers resulted in the injury of three Palestinians and damage to Palestinian property. In Jaba’ village (Jerusalem), Israeli settlers stoned a Palestinian vehicle travelling on Road 60, injuring two, and in the H2 area of Hebron city pepper sprayed and injured another Palestinian. Also, in three incidents, residents of Burin and ‘Urif (both in Nablus) and Far’ata (Qalqiliya), reported that settlers damaged around 50 Palestinian-owned olive trees. In the same incident in ‘Urif, clashes erupted between settlers and the Israeli forces accompanying them, and Palestinians, after settlers stoned the boys’ school and surrounding houses. In another incident in the village of Far’ata, Palestinians reported that settlers from Gilad outpost placed a number of dead livestock in a well; Palestinians have filed a complaint with the Israeli authorities.
In another incident, Israeli settlers from Susiya settlement (Hebron) destroyed a section of a 200-metre-long fence surrounding agricultural land, a gate and ten water tanks in the Khirbet at Tawamin area; the owner has filed a complaint with the Israeli police. Also in the Jordan Valley area, a settler-owned dog attacked and injured a calf belonging to a Palestinian family in ‘Ein al Hilweh community. Two other incidents were reported involving harassment by Israeli settlers of international activists accompanying children to Qurdoba school in the H2 area on 10 and 11 March. Israeli police present at the location dispersed the settlers and the activists.
A total of 18 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished, displacing 42 people and affecting 67 others, with all but one, demolished for the lack of Israeli-issued permits. Of the structures, 12 were in Area C and five in East Jerusalem. The remaining structure was a house demolished on 7 March on punitive grounds in Area B in Kobar village (Ramallah). It belonged to the family of a Palestinian who was arrested and charged with carrying out an attack in December 2018 which killed two Israeli soldiers. This is the second such demolition since the beginning of 2019; in 2018, six residences were demolished on punitive grounds. In an incident on 7 March, Israeli forces confiscated materials donated for seven latrines in Arab ar Rashaydiya Bedouin community (Bethlehem).
Palestinians caused damage to three vehicles belonging to Israeli settlers in three incidents, according to Israeli media reports. In the incidents on 26 February and 6 March, three Israeli vehicles sustained damage by stones thrown by Palestinians while travelling near At Tur and Hizma (both in Jerusalem) and Deir Qaddis (Ramallah). Israeli forces conducted search and arrest operations following the incidents.
Pilgrims travelling to Mecca were allowed to exit for the first time in five years through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which was open in both directions for nine days during the reporting period. A total of 1,413 people entered Gaza and 3,948 others exited, including 1,559 pilgrims.