In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 14 – 20 April 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) found that a Palestinian civilian from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah died of his wounds. In addition, a Palestinian civilian was wounded by Israeli settlers in the south of Nablus. Responding to that incident, Israeli soldiers wounded three civilians, including two journalists.Also this week, Israeli forces raided houses belonging to activists in the peaceful resistance against settlements and ill-treated their families. In Gaza, Israeli forces bombarded a training site of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, and a nearby school and two homes were damaged.
Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian workers, farmers and fishermen in border areas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers and fishermen in the northern Gaza Strip, but no casualties were reported.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:
In the Gaza Strip, on 14 April 2011, medical sources at Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, announced that Mahdi Jumaa Abu Athreh, 22, from al-Shouka village in the southeast of Rafah, died of his wounds. According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 08:00 on Friday, 08 April 2011, Israeli forces fired two artillery shells at the vicinity of Gaza International Airport, wounding four civilians – one of whom was Abu Athreh.
On 16 April 2011, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at Tunis training site which is used by members of the Izziddin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and which is adjacent to Tunis Primary School in the east of al-Zaytoon neighborhood, east of Gaza city. The windows of the school broke as a result. Another Israeli plane fired a missile at Badr Site which is also used by members of the Izziddin Addin al-Qassam Brigades in the northwest of al-Shati refugee camp. Windows of apartments in nearby apartment buildings broke as a result. No casualties were reported as a result of these bombardments.
Also on 16 April 2011, Israeli gunboats positioned off al-Waha resort in the west of Beit Lahia town in the northern Gaza Strip, fired shells and opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats.
On 17 April 2011, Israeli forces positioned in observation towers along the border east of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian farmers who were on their farms in the east of Beit Hanoun. Palestinian farmers escaped in fear for their lives.
Prior to this week, on 05 April 2011, Israeli forces totally closed Karm Abu Salem commercial crossing for alleged security reasons. Accordingly, necessary needs required for more than 1.5 million civilians were not allowed into Gaza. The crossing was reopened on 13 April 2011 and was closed again on 19 April 2011 for Passover.
According to PCHR documentation, during the closure of Karm Abu Salem crossing, which is Gaza sole commercial crossing, the signs of a real crisis have been witnessed in the health sector due to the severe shortage in medicines and medical supplies. According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, more than 150 types of medications have run out, and another 44 types of medications are expected to run out within the next three months. The medications that have run out are important to treat patients. The shortage of these medications may lead to serious results and deaths. Expired medications include medicines necessary for patients suffering from Thalassemia and patients suffering from hepatitis, psychiatric medications and other important types. In the same context, 135 types of disposables and medical supplies have run out while 41 other types are about to run out and are barely enough for three months. The types that have run out include supplies required for diagnostic cardiac catheterization and therapeutic cardiac catheterization, supplies required for chemotherapy, surgical suture and other supplies.
In addition, the cooking gas crisis has been renewed due to the continued closure of Karm Abu Salem crossing. Gaza’s 29 cooking gas distribution stations have continued to be shut down and thousands of cooking gas cylinders have been accumulated in cooking gas distribution stations. According to the General Petroleum Corporation, since the beginning of the current month, only 210 tons of cooking gas (20 tons per day in average, representing 6.6% of Gaza daily needs of cooking Gaza) have been supplied to Gaza. Gaza needs 300 tons of cooking gas daily.
The Association of the Owners of Petroleum Products Companies stressed that the delivery of cooking gas to Gaza has been banned for 11 days and that cooking gas distribution stations ran out of cooking gas one month ago. It should be noted that the cooking gas crisis has been affecting Gaza civilians since last November. This crisis was created when the Israeli occupation authorities totally closed, on 04 January 2010, Nahal Oz crossing, which used to be dedicated for the delivery of fuel and cooking gas supplies to Gaza, and shifted fuel and cooking gas supplies to Karm Abu Salem crossing which is not technically equipped to receive Gaza’s needs of fuel. Karm Abu Salem crossing, with its maximum absorptive capacity, can receive only 200 tons of cooking gas per day. In view of the current closure, the delivery of the limited quantities of cooking gas allowed into Gaza has been banned.
Israeli attacks in the West Bank:
Israeli forces conducted 40 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. Israeli forces arrested 12 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children.
On Thursday, 14 April 2011, Israeli forces sent Yasser Salem ‘Awawda, from al-Bireh village in the southwest of Hebron a one-week notice for the demolition of a stable and a water well established 4 and 10 years ago respectively, claiming that they were established without obtaining a ‘ license’ from Israeli forces. The order stated that if ‘Awawda did not respond, he would have to demolish them himself at his own expense. The stable is 200 square meters, while the well’s capacity is 250 cubic meters.
In the afternoon, on the same day, Israeli forces sent 8 other notices to Palestinian landowners ordering them to evacuate approximately 100 donums of farms in ‘al-Raihiya’ village, south of Hebron, claiming those ‘lands are closed and prohibited from entry’.
On Monday, 18 April 2011, Israeli patrols forced a number of farmers from ‘al-Raihiy’ village, south of Hebron, to leave their farms while they were working. The Israeli patrols chased the farmers and kept them away at gunpoint. Local council member, Mohammed Salman al-Tobasi said that Israeli forces broke into ‘Khelet al-Ma’aser’ area, north of al-Raihiy village in the southwest of ‘Hagai’ settlement. They chased and detained a number of civilians for over an hour, including an engineer who was there to conduct a land survey. The civilians were released after the army informed them that they are forbidden from approaching or working one their land, except with ‘permits’ obtained from Israeli forces. These measures came 4 days after Israeli troops issued confiscation orders to the owners of the land.
Israeli forces also raided a house belonging to Ahmed Khalil Abu Hashem, 43, Secretary of the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Ummar town, north of Hebron. Israeli forces held Abu Hashem and his nine-member family in one room. They ill-treated two of his sons, one of whom is a child. Abu Hashem told the PCHR fieldworker that an Israeli forces officer explicitly asked him to stop protests organized by the National Committee Against the Wall and Settlements especially in the vicinity of ‘Karmi Tsur’ settlement, south of Beit Ummar. Abu Hashem also reported that this raid is the twenty second one conducted by Israeli forces within fifty days and that these raids are aimed at forcing him to stop his peaceful activities against the wall and settlements.
At approximately 13:00 on Sunday, 17 April 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and families of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails organized a peaceful demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners on the occasion of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The demonstrators gathered near Oder prison, southwest of Ramallah. They chanted national slogans calling for national unity. They raised Palestinian flags and portraits of Palestinian prisoners. They then walked to the gate of Ofer prison. Israeli forces closed the gate and before demonstrators’ arrival, Israeli forces fired bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. The demonstrators responded by stoning Israeli forces. Ayman Ahmed al-Barghouthi, 20, was wounded by a sound bomb in the neck while other demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation or bruises because there were beaten by Israeli forces. In addition, Israeli forces arrested Fares Farouq Badr, 21, and led him to Ofer prison.
Israeli settlement activities:
Israel has continued its settlement activities in the West Bank in violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
At approximately 12:30, on Thursday, 14 April 2011, a number of Israeli settlers from ‘Bracha’ Settlement established on the lands of Iraq Burin village, south of Nablus, attacked farms and farmers in the eastern side of the village. A number of Palestinians confronted and stoned them. Moments later, Israeli troops came to support the settlers and fired gas canisters at the Palestinian civilians to disperse them. No injuries were reported.
On Monday, 18 April 2011, settlers from a settlement outpost in southern Yata, south of Hebron, released herds of sheep into the land of ‘Um al-Khous’ village south of Yata, in an attempt to damage Palestinian farmland. Israeli forces did not prevent or respond to this behavior.
According to information collected by PCHR and testimony of Mohammed Yusef al-Nawaj’a, a settler named ‘Yaqoub Talia’ and two other settlers, from ‘Yaakov Dalia’ settlement outpost established on confiscated lands from ‘Um al-Khous’ village, released a large number of cattle onto an area of 200 donums owned by Palestinian farmers, in an attempt to damage and destroy crops growing on that land. The wheat and barley farms belong to the al-Nawaj’a and ‘Awad families and are those families’ main source of livelihood. Al-Nawaj’a pointed out that settlers intentionally released hundreds of sheep into Palestinian farmland during the past weeks in different areas in Yatta, including in al-Msafer, Sosya, Janaba, Mneizel, Bir al-‘Ad and al-Tawamin villages, in order to destroy farms and pave the way for the confiscation of the land and annexation of those lands for Israeli settlements.
At approximately 17:45 on Tuesday, 19 April 2011, 20 settlers from ‘Givat Arousa’ settlement outpost, which is an extension of ‘Bracha’ settlement, south of Nablus, attacked Palestinian houses in Khelet al-‘Aqareb area in the eastern side of Bourin village. A number of Palestinians confronted and threw stones at the settlers. A settler dressed in black fired live ammunition at Brucelee Dakheel Abdul Aziz ‘Eid, 36, from a distance of 10 to 15 meters. ‘Eid was wounded by two bullets to the right elbow and the pelvis. Later, Israeli troops arrived, opened fire and fired sound and gas canisters at the Palestinians. Two Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation. They also attacked journalist Majdi Shtayya by hitting him on his face with their guns. As a result, he sustained bruises in the face and hemorrhaging of the nose. Additionally, the soldiers pushed journalist Nasser Shtayya to the ground. Both journalists work for AP news agency. Israeli forces attacked Zeid Mohammed Mostafa Omran, 46, as a result, he sustained a fracture to the left leg and bruises to the back and chest. He also lost US $900 after Israeli forces confiscated his wallet.
Israeli Annexation Wall:
In the West Bank, during the reporting period, Israeli forces used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrations organized in protest to Israeli settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall in the West Bank. As a result, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in Bil’in weekly protest in the west of Ramallah.
Following the Friday Prayer on 15 April 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians, international and Israeli human rights defenders and a number of Palestinian politicians organized a peaceful demonstration in Bil’in village, west of Ramallah, in protest of the construction of the annexation wall. This demonstration coincided with the ninth anniversary of the arrest of PLC member Marwan al-Barghouthi. The demonstration started from the center of Bil’in village and demonstrators walked in the streets of the village and chanted national slogan. They raised Palestinian flags and yellow flags carrying the portrait of Vitorio Arrigoni, the Italian solidarity activist who was murdered in Gaza. The demonstrators then walked towards the annexation wall. Israeli forces made a barrier of barbwire approximately 100 meters far from the wall. Before demonstrators’ arrival at the barrier, Israeli forces closed the barrier and fired bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. Israeli forces also sprayed wastewater at the demonstrators and chased them in olive fields. Two Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded and many others suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Also following the Friday Prayer on 15 April 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Ne’lin village, west of Ramallah, in protest against the construction of the annexation wall. This demonstration coincided with the anniversary of the death of Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) and the eve of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The demonstrators walked in the streets of the village and chanted national slogans. They raised Palestinian flags and portraits of Nael and Fakhri al-Barghouthi who are held in Israeli jails. They then walked towards the wall. Israeli forces closed the gate established on the wall with barbed wire. When the demonstrators tried to cross the wall to the land located behind it, Israeli forces prevented them. The demonstrators responded by stoning Israeli forces who responded by firing bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. Israeli forces also chased demonstrators into olive field. Many demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation as a result.
Also following the Friday Prayer on 15 April 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah, in protest against the wall and settlement activities. This demonstration coincided with the ninth anniversary of the arrest of PLC member Marwan al-Barghouthi, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) and the eve of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. The demonstrators walked in the streets of the village and chanted national slogans, expressing their refusal to the occupation and its arbitrary actions. They held Palestinian flags and portraits of some prisoners. They then walked to the lands that settlers from ‘Halmish’ settlement try to seize.
In the morning of the same day, Israeli forces closed off the entrances of the village to prevent Palestinian and international demonstrators from having access to the mentioned lands. As the demonstrators attempted to access the land, Israeli forces prevented them. Israeli forces fired bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. Israeli forces also sprayed wastewater at the demonstrators and chased them. Many demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation. In addition, Israeli forces arrested two international solidarity activists whose identities have not been known so far. They also transformed the roof of a house belonging to Helmi al-Tamimi into military barracks. They withdrew from the village at approximately 16:50.
Recommendations to the international community:
Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made a number of recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the International Committee of the Red Cross increase its staff and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the facilitation of family visitations to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The PCHR stated that they appreciate the efforts of international civil society, including human rights organizations, bar associations, unions and NGOs, and urge them to continue their role in pressuring their governments to secure Israel’s respect for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to demand Israel end its attacks on Palestinian civilians.
For the full text of the report, click on the link below: