Protection of Civilians Report | 26 November – 9 December 2019

Biweekly highlights

Israeli forces shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, east of Khan Yunis (Gaza), and injured another eight Palestinians, including six children. The incident occurred on Friday, 29 November, when a group of youths approached Israel’s perimeter fence around Gaza and clashed with Israeli forces. According to Israeli sources, the youths burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices at the Israeli soldiers.

Another 90 Palestinians, including 36 children, were injured by Israeli forces near the perimeter fence between Gaza and Israel, during the “Great March of Return” (GMR) demonstrations, which resumed on 6 December after a three-week pause. Forty-four (44) of the injuries were hospitalized, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. Israeli sources reported that on several occasions, protesters approached the fence and threw explosive devices and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces, resulting in no Israeli injuries. Since the start of the GMR on 30 March 2018, 213 Palestinians, including 47 children, have been killed by Israeli forces during the protests.

While the cessation of hostilities has largely held since mid-November, on a few occasions, armed factions in Gaza fired rockets at southern Israel and Israel carried out airstrikes in Gaza, targeting military sites and open areas, resulting in two Palestinian injuries, including a woman. A number of military sites, houses and civilian facilities in Gaza and Rafah cities sustained damage. On 29 November, a member of an armed group succumbed to the injuries he sustained during the last escalation, bringing the number of Palestinian fatalities from the 12-14 November hostilities to 36, including at least 14 civilians, of whom eight were children.

On at least 13 occasions outside the protests and clashes, Israeli forces opened fire in areas adjacent to the perimeter fence and off the coast of Gaza, while enforcing access restrictions. No injuries were reported during these incidents. Israeli forces arrested two men near the perimeter fence, while they were reportedly attempting to cross into Israel.

On 30 November, Israeli forces shot and killed an 18-year-old Palestinian youth in Beit 'Awwa village (Hebron), reportedly after he threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli military patrol; the corpse has been withheld by the Israeli authorities. Another two Palestinians, including one child, were arrested during the same incident.

An additional 181 Palestinians, including at least 18 children, were injured by Israeli forces during multiple protests and clashes across the West Bank. Over half of these injuries were recorded on 26 November, during protests against a recent statement by the US Secretary of State about the legality of Israeli settlements, and in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, who are holding a hunger strike. The protests were also linked to the death of a Palestinian prisoner, held in an Israeli jail, who was suffering from cancer; Palestinian officials attributed the death to medical neglect. Most of the remaining injuries were recorded during search and arrest operations, regular demonstrations in Kafr Qaddum village (Qalqiliya) against access restrictions, and ad hoc clashes. Of all injuries, about 76 per cent resulted from tear gas inhalation requiring medical treatment and 19 per cent from rubber bullets.

Tensions rose in Hebron City after Israeli authorities announced on 1 December their intention to destroy a formerly-operational Palestinian market, closed by Israeli military order since 1994, and build a new Israeli settlement. In response, on 9 December, Palestinians held a comprehensive strike (including shops and schools) and carried out a protest in the city, which evolved into clashes with Israeli forces that resulted in three Palestinians injuries; Palestinian access to the area of the city where Israeli settlements compounds are located was restricted for several hours. Israeli policies and practices in the settlement area of the city have resulted in the forcible transfer of Palestinians from their homes and have undermined the living conditions of those who remain there.

Over 800 trees and 200 vehicles owned by Palestinians were vandalized in 11 separate incidents by assailants believed to be Israeli settlers; no Palestinian injuries were reported. Coinciding with the end of the annual olive harvest season, damage to (mostly olive) trees was recorded in Sebastiya (Nablus), Al Khadr (Bethlehem) and As Sawiya (Nablus) villages. In the latter village, which was attacked twice over the course of three days, Israeli settlers set up a tent near one of the targeted plots. Since the beginning of 2019, over 7,500 Palestinian-owned trees have been vandalized, reportedly by Israeli settlers. On 9 December, assailants slashed the tires of 189 Palestinian cars in the Shu'fat neighborhood of East Jerusalem and sprayed "price tag" graffiti in Hebrew on the walls of several buildings. Additional vehicles were vandalized or set on fire in the villages of Khallet Sakariya (Bethlehem), Deir Ammar and At Tayba (both in Ramallah).

Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished 22 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and one in East Jerusalem, displacing 49 people and otherwise affecting over 800 others. Half of the structures demolished in Area C had been previously provided as humanitarian assistance. Four of the localities affected by the demolition of ten structures are Palestinian Bedouin communities located in, or around an area planned for settlement expansion (the “E1” plan) and face the risk of forcible transfer. Another eight structures were located in areas declared closed for Israeli military training (“firing zones”); over 20 per cent of all structures targeted thus far in 2019 were located in firing zones, which cover about 30 per cent of Area C.

On 28 November, Israeli forces punitively demolished four homes and three water cisterns in Beit Kahil village (Hebron), in Area B, displacing 15 people, including six children. The structures belong to the families of four Palestinians accused of kidnapping and killing an off-duty Israeli soldier in August 2019. The incident triggered clashes with Israeli forces, which resulted in the injury of six Palestinians, including two children. This is the seventh punitive demolition incident so far this year, carried out citing “deterrence needs”. Punitive demolitions are illegal under international law.

At least six Israeli-plated vehicles were stoned and damaged by Palestinians, according to Israeli media reports. The incidents took place on roads next to Tuqu', Al Khader (both in Bethlehem), Beit Ummar (Hebron) and Huwwara (Nablus) villages, and Al Aroub camp (Hebron).

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
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