Protection of Civilians Report | 28 August – 10 September 2018
Friday demonstrations and clashes near Israel’s perimeter fence around Gaza continued, resulting in three Palestinians killed, including two children, and 666 injured by Israeli forces. On two occasions during demonstrations that took place on 7 September, east of Rafah, Israeli forces shot with live ammunition two 16 years-old boys, who were in close proximity to the fence, killing one of them, and severely injuring the other, who died of wounds sustained the following day. Initial investigations and video footage suggest that none of the children were armed or threatened the lives of the Israeli forces. Since 30 March 2018, 31 children have been killed by Israeli forces, the majority whilst participating in the demonstrations. Of the people injured during the period, 260 were hospitalized, including 172 people hit by live ammunition; the rest were treated in the field. No Israeli casualties were reported. For cumulative casualty figures and breakdowns since the beginning of the demonstrations see here.
Another 50 Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces during two attempts by tens of boats that sailed from Gaza to break the Israeli naval blockade. The sailings, which took place on 2 and 10 September, were part of the Great March of Return demonstrations. The boats were stopped by the Israeli navy, which opened live fire and tear gas canisters towards the boats.
Also on 7 September, at the time of the Friday demonstrations, the Israeli air force shot at a group of Palestinians and a military observation post in northern Gaza, resulting in no casualties. The first attack reportedly targeted people trying to launch incendiary balloons into Israel, and the second, according to Israeli sources, was in response to the setting on fire of an Israeli military tower by an incendiary kite.
At least 15 incidents involving Israeli forces opening fire at Palestinians were recorded, in the course of enforcing access restrictions imposed on land and sea areas off the coast of Gaza, forcing farmers and fishers to leave the areas. Also, five fishermen were forced to take off their clothes and swim to Israeli naval boats, where they were detained and their boat was seized, according to Palestinian sources. Additionally, on one occasion, Israeli forces entered Gaza, and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations near the perimeter fence east of Gaza city. In three separate incidents, Israeli forces arrested nine people, including two children, who were near the perimeter fence; four of them have since been released.
On 3 September, Israeli forces shot and killed a 36-year-old Palestinian man, reportedly after he attempted to stab an Israeli soldier in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2); no Israeli injuries were reported. The incident occurred at the entrance to the Giv'at Ha'Avot settlement compound. The body of the alleged attacker is being withheld by the Israeli authorities, along with the bodies of at least another fifteen Palestinians killed in similar incidents in previous months.
In the West Bank, 130 Palestinians, including 37 children, were injured by Israeli forces in multiple incidents. Of the total injuries, 32, including eight children, were reported during clashes with Israeli forces following the entry of Israelis to religious sites in Palestinian towns. Another 27 injuries were reported during two demonstrations in the Ramallah governorate: in Bil’in, during what is a regular weekly protest against the Barrier and settlement expansion, and, in Ras Karkar, against the construction of a new settler road on privately-owned Palestinian land. Additionally, in the H2 area of Hebron city, Israeli forces physically assaulted and injured four teachers and fired tear gas canisters into the yard of a school compound, injuring 20 children; classes were suspended for the remainder of the day, affecting over 300 students. According to Israeli sources, this followed the throwing of stones from the school compound at Israeli forces patrolling near the school. Another 19 Palestinians were injured during clashes following seven search operations; overall, Israeli forces conducted 140 search and arrest operations and arrested 205 Palestinians, including twelve children.
Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 25 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 47 people, including 23 children, and affecting the livelihoods of another 108 people. Seventeen of the structures targeted were in Area C, with the two largest incidents recorded in the Bedouin community of Deir al Qilt (Jericho), located in an area designated as a firing zone, and in Barta'a ash Sharqiya village (Jenin), a town separated from the rest of the West Bank by the Barrier. The other eight structures were in East Jerusalem, five of them in an area of Al Walaja village lying within the Jerusalem municipality but separated from the rest of the city by the Barrier. Two of the reported demolition incidents, including the latter, triggered clashes with Israeli forces, resulting in twenty Palestinian injuries.
On 5 September, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected all petitions related to its 24 May ruling, which allowed the demolition of the entire Palestinian Bedouin community of Khan al Ahmar-Abu al Helu, located in Area C of the Jerusalem governorate. An earlier injunction against demolitions expired on 12 September, leaving the community, which is home to 35 families comprising 188 people, more than half of whom are children, at risk of mass demolition and forcible transfer. The UN has previously called on the Israeli authorities to end its demolition and relocation plans for the community, which would run counter to its obligations under international law.
On 4 August, in two separate incidents, Israeli forces displaced a total of five Palestinian families from two herding communities in the northern Jordan Valley, for 17 hours, to make way for Israeli military trainings. Both communities are located in areas designated as ‘firing zone’. Along with demolitions and access restrictions, this practice contributes to the coercive environment on these communities, placing their residents at heightened risk of forcible transfer.
Eleven attacks by Israeli settlers and other Israelis resulted in six Palestinian injuries and damage to Palestinian property. On 1 September near Yitzhar junction (Nablus), Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles, injuring four Palestinians, including a five-year-old child. In two separate incidents in the H2 area of Hebron city, Israeli settlers assaulted with pepper spray a 15-year-old Palestinian boy en-route home from school, and injured him, and stoned an on-duty ambulance, damaging it. A Palestinian bus driver was physically assaulted and injured by a group of Israelis in East Jerusalem. Some 90 Palestinian-owned olive trees were reportedly vandalized by Israeli settlers in four separate incidents in At Tuwani (Hebron), Al Lubban ash Sharqiya and Burin (both in Nablus). In another four separate incidents in Asira al Qibliya, Al Lubban ash Sharqiya, Madama, and Beita villages (all in Nablus), Israeli settlers vandalized Palestinian vehicles and homes, including the spraying of “price tag” graffitis. 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.
On at least fourteen occasions, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli-plated vehicles in the West Bank near Hebron, Bethlehem and Ramallah, causing damage to at least fourteen private vehicles, according to Israeli sources; three Israeli settlers were injured in three of these incidents near Ramallah and Bethlehem.
For four days during the reporting period, on the occasion of the Jewish New Year holiday, the Israeli authorities imposed a general closure on the West Bank. All West Bank ID holders, including workers and traders with valid permits, were prevented from entering East Jerusalem and Israel through all checkpoints, except for emergency medical cases, students and Palestinian employees of international NGOs and UN agencies.
On 5 September and through the end of the reporting period, the Israeli authorities closed the Erez crossing with the Gaza Strip, except for the movement of emergency cases for two days. The closure was reportedly imposed to repair the damage to infrastructure caused by Palestinians during the Friday demonstrations and, later, for the Jewish holidays.
The Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt opened in both directions for seven days, and in one direction (into Gaza) only for another five days. A total of 6,307 (including 3,229 pilgrims returning from Mecca) were allowed to enter Gaza and another 2,695 people exited.