In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 12– 18 May 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that two Palestinian children were killed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.The child who was killed in the Gaza Strip was mentally disabled and was killed by a shell fired by Israeli forces. A child in the West Bank sustained serious wounds by the explosion of a suspicious object left by Israeli forces.
In addition, Israeli forces used excessive force against peaceful demonstrations commemorating the Palestinian Nakba, injuring 144 civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The wounded include 47 children, 5 women and 4 journalists.
Israeli attacks on Nakba protests:
On 15 May 2011, Israeli forces used excessive force to disperse participants in peaceful demonstrations commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. As a result, 144 Palestinian civilians, including 47 children, 5 women and 4 children, were wounded. In the Gaza Strip, 105 people were wounded, including 31 children, 3 women and 3 journalists. In the West Bank, 38 civilians were wounded, including 16 children, 2 women and a journalist. PCHR strongly condemns the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and calls upon the international community to immediately take action to compel the Israeli government to stop its systematic crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Israeli forces also abducted 6 demonstrators in a peaceful demonstration that Palestinians organized near Qalandya checkpoint to commemorate the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.
Israeli forces imposed a total closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, the incidents occurred as follows:
At approximately 10:30 on Sunday, 15 May 2011, dozens of Palestinians began gathering approximately 1700 meters south of Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. People had gathered to participate in activities commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. At approximately 11:30, dozens of Palestinians headed towards the border fence near Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing. Ten minutes later, Israeli forces stationed at the border fired 4 arterially shells in the area where the Palestinians were gathering. Simultaneously, Israeli soldiers on watchtowers opened fire at the demonstrators. Israeli forces continued intermittently firing until evening, while helicopters hovered over the area also firing heavily at the area surrounding the demonstrators. Additionally, dozens of tear gas canisters and bombs which released a smoke were fired, causing fainting and neurological symptoms. As a result, 103 Palestinians were wounded and dozens suffered from gas inhalation. Thirteen of them were transported to al-Awdah Hospital in Jabalya, 6 ones were transported to Balsam Hospital in Beit Hanoun, and 84 ones were transported to Martyr Kamal Odwan Hospital in Beit Lahia. The wounded included 27 children, 3 women and 3 media personnel.
The media workers who were wounded are: Hussein Abdul Jawad Karsou’, 36, from al-Thalathini Street in Gaza City. He works as a freelance journalist and cameraman for al-Shoroq Media Institution and also managing a page of Gazan News Agency on Facebook. He was wounded by a bullet to the left leg; Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed Othman, 25, a freelance cameraman, from Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. He was wounded in the chest; and Aasem Mohammed Shihadah, 25, a cameraman of the National Media Company. He suffered from gas inhalation due to firing bombs which released toxic smoke.
Additionally, three members of the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s (PRCS) medical staff suffered from suffocation and fainted: Ahmed Abu Foul, 30, Director of PRCS’s volunteers; ‘Atiyah Morad, 25; and Ramadan Hoso, 28.
At approximately 15:00, Israeli forces stationed at the border fence, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire near dozens of Palestinians participating in a peaceful demonstration in the eastern part of ‘Abasan village, east of Khan Yunis. As a result, two Palestinians were moderately wounded and were transported to the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis to receive medical treatment.
In Ramallah, at approximately 13:30 on Sunday, 15 May 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians gathered at the entrance of Qalandya refugee camp, north of Jerusalem, and headed towards Qalandya checkpoint, which separates Ramallah from Jerusalem. The demonstrators threw stones and empty bottles towards Israeli soldiers, who had been heavily deployed near the checkpoint since the early morning. Israeli forces immediately fired rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at the demonstrators. As a result, 26 civilians, including 11 children and a woman, were wounded and were transported to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive necessary medical treatment. Medical sources stated that the majority of injuries were in the upper parts of the body. Israeli forces, using undercover units, abducted 6 Palestinians; one of whom had been wounded in the head.
Also at approximately 13:30, dozens of Palestinian students from Bir Zeit University and dozens of Palestinians from surrounding villages gathered in the center of Bir Zeit village to organize a peaceful demonstration on the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. They walked in the streets, chanted national slogans and raised Palestinian flags. Then they walked to Attara checkpoint, north of Bir Zeit village, where Israeli forces were hiding behind cement cubes. Israeli forces closed the checkpoint and demonstrators stoned Israeli forces that responded by firing bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. Dozens of demonstrators suffered from gas inhalation as a result and others sustained bruises as they were beaten by Israeli forces. They were all treated on the spot.
In Hebron, Palestinian civilians organized peaceful demonstrations in the center and south of town, at the northern entrance of the town, and at the entrances of Beit Ummar, Bani N’eim, Zeef villages and the Fawwar refugee camp. As a result of clashes with Israeli forces, 12 civilians, including 5 children and a woman, were wounded. In addition, a number of civilians fainted from tear gas inhalation, and others sustained bruises due to violent beating.
Also in the same context, Israeli forces intentionally obstructed the work of many media workers, directly attacking some of them, preventing others from performing their work and driving others out of the scenes of events, while they were covering events. As a result, Najeh Diab al-Hashlamon, 48, a cameraman of APA (an American news agency), was wounded by a bullet to the left foot. Al-Hashlamon was transferred to Hebron Public Hospital for medical treatment. In addition, the glass of the car of Samih Salem Shahin, 40, a camera man of AFP, was crushed after Israeli forces fired at the car.
Al-Hashlamon told a PCHR fieldworker that at approximately 15:00 on Sunday, 15 May, he was in ‘Talaat al-Zahed’ Street, north of the old city of Hebron. He was close to the wall in the street and was filming a group of soldiers while firing at Palestinian demonstrators to the east of ‘Talaat al-Zahed’ Street. In the meanwhile, he was shot by a bullet to his left foot. Al-Hashlamon said that he was clearly seen to Israeli soldiers who were just 8 meters far from him.
Shahin told the PCHR fieldworker that after he finished his work, he headed to his Hyundai Avante car which he parked near al-Jazaer Preliminary School to the east of the end of al-Zahed Street, but he found that the windows of his car were crushed by bullets fired by Israeli forces.
On Sunday morning, 15 May, Israeli forces raided many roofs of houses in Hebron and Beit Ummar village and transformed them into military sites. Dozens of snipers took positions on these roofs to target Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful demonstrations. The recognized houses occupied by Israeli forces belong to Tayseer Zahdeh, Imad Abu Shamseyeh, Hashem al-Izzeh, Mohammed Ali Abdul Haq al-Jaabari, Mohammed Abdul Muttaleb Abu Sneina, Mahmoud Saleh Abu Ayash, Khaled Ismail Sadeq Sabarna, Mohammed Hamdi Abu Maria and Badr Hussein Alqam.
At approximately 16:45, a peaceful demonstration was organized in Azzoun village, east of Qalqilya, to commemorate the anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. The demonstrators walked towards the entrance of the village where Israeli forces where intensively deployed in the area over night. There were 10 military vehicles and many infantry soldiers. As the demonstrators arrived at the entrance of the village, they clashed with Israeli forces. Demonstrators stoned Israeli forces that responded by firing tear gas canisters and sound bombs at the demonstrators. At approximately 18:00, a force from the Palestinian National Forces arrived at the scene and convinced the demonstrators to leave the area. No casualties were reported.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:
In the Gaza Strip, on 15 May 2011, Israeli forces used excessive lethal force to kill a mentally disabled Palestinian child near Nahal Oz border crossing, east of Gaza City. The child was killed by a shell fired at him by Israeli forces. Medical crews found the child’s body nearly 300 meters to the west of Nahal Oz crossing. The body was taken to al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. According to statements given to a PCHR fieldworker by the forensic medicine department, the boy was hit by shrapnel from a shell to the chest and the head.
Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen at Gaza sea. Israeli forces fired at Palestinian fishing boats, but no casualties were reported.
Israel has continuously closed all border crossings of the Gaza Strip for over three years. The illegal Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
The cooking gas crisis which has erupted last November has continued to affect the Gaza Strip. 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.
It should be noted that the Israeli occupation authorities have worked over the past three years to make Karm Abu Salem crossing, which is not appropriate for commercial purposes, as Gaza’s major and sole crossing.
Israeli attacks in the West Bank:
In the West Bank, on 13 May 2011, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. The child was killed when a bullet was shot at him from the direction of two houses which were occupied earlier by Israeli settlers in the center of Silwan. They boy was walking on a dirt road and was between 10 and 15 meters from the two houses when he was shot. It should be noted that members of a private security agency and members of the Israeli Border Guards provide protection to settlers who seized the two houses.
On 13 May 2011, a Palestinian child was seriously wounded by the explosion of a suspicious object left by Israeli forces in the Jordan Valley in the northeast of the West Bank.
Israeli forces conducted 20 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 15 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children.
Israeli forces have established checkpoints in and around Jerusalem, severely restricting Palestinian access to the city. Civilians are frequently prevented from praying in the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
There are approximately 585 permanent roadblocks, and manned and unmanned checkpoints across the West Bank.
Israeli Annexation Wall:
Israeli forces continued to use force against peaceful protests against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank. Three demonstrators, including a child and an international human rights defender, were wounded. Israeli forces abducted 10 demonstrators, including 2 Israeli solidarity activists.
Israeli forces have continued to attempt to crack down peaceful protests and to prevent international human rights defenders from participating in peaceful assemblies against settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall. As part of these attempts, Israeli forces abducted 4 protesters, including 2 Israeli solidarity activists.
Following the Friday Prayer on 13 May 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Bil’ein village, west of Ramallah, in protest to the construction of the annexation wall. This demonstration coincided with the 63rd anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba. The demonstrators were raising the portraits of martyrs Jawaher and Basem Abu Rahma and carrying a big key with number 63 on it, representing the years of Nakba. Besides, there was a cart carrying old people and children, who were wearing the Palestinian traditional clothes, showing that they were returning to their homeland. The demonstrators then walked towards the annexation wall. Israeli forces made a barrier of barbwire approximately 100 meters far from the wall. Before the 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. As a result, 2 Palestinians, including a child, were wounded, while dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises. The wounded:
Also following the Friday Prayer on 13 May 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. They then walked towards the wall. Israeli forces closed the gate established on the wall with barbwire. 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 that responded by firing bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. Israeli forces also chased demonstrators in olive fields. Many demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation as a result.
Also following the Friday Prayer on the same day, 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 construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities. The demonstrators walked in the streets of the village and chanted national slogans, expressing their refusal to the occupation and its arbitrary actions. They also raised the Palestinian flags. They then walked towards the lands that settlers from ‘Halmish’ settlement try to seize. Israeli forces closed off the southern entrance 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. As a result, the American activist, Christian, 23, was hit by a tear gas canister in the head, due to which he was transported to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah for medical treatment. Besides, many demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises in this incident, including Hala Ayoub al-Tamimi, 45, who sustained bruises in the back, and Helmi al-Tamimi, 29, a cameraman of the Public Committee against the Wall. In addition, Israeli forces abducted 4 demonstrators, including 2 Israeli solidarity activists, and transported them to ‘Benjamin’ police station, southeast of Ramallah.
Israeli settlement activities:
Israeli forces continued settlement activities and Israeli settlers continued their attacks in the West Bank. Israeli settlers continued their attacks against Palestinian civilians and property.
On 14 May 2011, a number of settlers from ‘Gilad’ settlement attacked three Palestinian farmers from Jeet village, northeast of Qalqilya. The Palestinians were attacked while they were going to their work. The attack took place before the eyes of Israeli forces.
In his testimony to PCHR field worker, Ayoub Yamin said:
‘At approximately 16:00 on Saturday, 14 May 2011, my brother Firas, my cousin Morad and I went to our land named ‘Khelet al-Shaqfan’ located in the west of the village, to cut the thyme saplings. Once we arrived, we were shocked when seeing 3 Israeli soldiers standing on the highest area of the land. They took our IDs and told us that it was so difficult to work that day without obtaining coordination although we go there every day without any coordination. While we were talking to them, 3 Israeli settlers attacked us and said that we don’t have any land there. When they asked us if this land is ours or not, we replied saying yes. As a result, they took our tools and started cutting an almond tree near us. They then chased us using stones until we got out of the land. We did not return there and decided not go there anymore.’
On Sunday 15 May 2011, a number of Israeli settlers from ‘Kiryat Arba’ settlement, southeast of Hebron, attacked a house belonging to Abu S’ifan family, who lives in al-Hsein valley adjacent to the wall of the said settlement. They tried to set fire to the house, which threatened the lives of the house’s residents.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 18:00, while some children of the family of Hosni Abdul Hai Matariya (Abu S’ifan) were playing in the yard of their house, in which 11 individuals live, a group of Israeli settlers living in the said settlement threw 4 fire bottles towards the house. One of the bottles hit the roof, the second fell a meter away from the house, while the third and fourth ones fell into the yard. As a result, the children were terrified and ran into the house. Besides, some rugs in the yard were burnt.
When the house’s residents noticed the fire, they extinguished it with the help of their neighbors and called a patrol of the Observer Mission of the ‘Temporary International Presence in Hebron,’ which arrived 40 minutes later.
Abu S’ifan stressed that 4-5 Israeli settlers were on the wall adjacent to his house directly. They carried out their attack, which could have caused a disaster. He pointed that although two observers of the Temporary International Presence came to his house to know what had happened and prepare a report about it, 15 minutes later, the same settlers attacked the house again by stones and empty bottles. All of this happened despite the presence of military observation points adjacent to and surrounding the settlement.
On 17 May 2011, a number of Israeli settlers raided the Orphanage School in occupied East Jerusalem. The settlers attacked the students in classrooms. Later, the Israeli police raided the school and abducted the headmaster, Ibrahim Shawar, and the deputy headmaster, Isam al-Tawil, for investigations.
Recommendations to the international community:
Due to the number and sevrity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the European Union activate Article 2 of the Euro-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that Israel must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel. PCHR further calls upon the EU states to prohibit import of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The PCHR calls on the international community to recognize the Gaza disengagement plan, which was implemented in September 2005, for what it is – not an end to occupation but a compounding of the occupation and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
For the full text of the report, click on the link below: