In its Weekly Report On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for the week of 19– 25 May 2011, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights found that a Palestinian civilian was killed by Israeli forces near the border in the central Gaza Strip.A Palestinian civilian was wounded in the east of Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip. Two Palestinian boys sustained severe burns as a smoke bomb, left by Israeli forces in Hebron, exploded.
Israeli forces continued to target Palestinian farmers in border areas in the northern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces fired at Palestinian farmers in two separate incidents, but no casualties were reported.
In addition, Israeli forces attacked peaceful protests in the West Bank. Two demonstrators, including an international human rights defender, were wounded. Israeli forces arrested 11 demonstrators, including 10 Israeli solidarity activists and an international one.
Seventy olive trees in the vicinity of ‘Qidoumim’ settlement, northeast of Qalqilya, were uprooted by Israeli settlers. Three women activists were attacked at Zaatara checkpoint, south of Nablus, by Israeli settlers.
Israeli attacks in the West Bank:
During the last week, Israeli forces conducted 38 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, during which they abducted 15 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children. The abducted civilians include the mother of Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, who was deported to Syria.
In just one example of this week’s 38 incursions, on Thursday, 19 May 2011, at approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into al-Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron. They raided and searched the house of Nawwaf Abdul Latif Jawabra. Before withdrawing, they arrested Jawabra’s 16-year-old child, Mohammed, who is a student in the tenth grade. They drove Mohammed to ‘Kfar Etzion’ detention center, southwest of Bethlehem. Mohammed was placed under interrogation for allegedly stoning Israeli forces vehicles travelling on the main street near al-Arroub refugee camp. Ula Khalil, Mohammed’s lawyer, said that her client Mohammed was beaten by gun butts on his legs directly after he had been arrested and during the few first hours of his detention in ‘Kfar Etzion’ detention center.
The same night, at approximately 01:00, Israeli forces moved into Kafl Hares village, north of Salfit. They patrolled in the streets and raided and searched a house belonging to Abdullah Ibrahim Bouzeyeh, 42. Before withdrawing, they arrested Bouzeyeh who is a mathematics teacher in the nearby village of Qira.
Also this week, Israeli forces abducted at least 3 Palestinians at military checkpoints in the West Bank.
Israeli forces has continued to leave military remnants in residential and agricultural areas and in their vicinity. As a result, 2 Palestinian children sustained severe burns on Friday morning, 20 May 2011, when a smoke bomb left by Israeli forces in the southeast of Hebron exploded. According to eyewitnesses and field observation, members of the Daajneh family found a similar object on Sunday afternoon, 22 May 2011, while herding sheep in the same area. The Israeli police was informed about the object and arrived at the scene. They closed the area and exploded the object which caused a loud noise. White smoke rose from the object for nearly 40 meters.
It should be noted that landmines and military remnants left by Israeli forces cause severe suffering for Palestinians and shepherds in rural, nomad and remote areas where there are settlement activities or which are close to sites used for military training by Israeli forces especially in Yatta and Bani Na’im in the south and southeast of Hebron, al-Khan al-Ahmar in the east of Jerusalem, and south and north of the Jordan Valley in Jericho. Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed or wounded as a result of these military remnants.
Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip:
In the Gaza Strip, on 21 May 2011, Israeli forces stationed at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, killed a Palestinian by 2 artillery shells and opening heavy fire at him. An ambulance medic, who participated in recovering the body, said that they found the body approximately one meter far from the border fence. One of the area’s residents said that he heard the sound of 2 artillery shells and after 10 minutes, he heard heavy gunfire.
On 20 May 2011, Israeli forces stationed at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire near Palestinians participating in a peaceful demonstration heading to the said border fence, east of Abasan village to the east of Khan Yunis. As a result, a Palestinian was wounded by shrapnel of a bullet in the legs.
In the context of targeting the Palestinian farmers in border areas in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces opened fire twice at the farmers during the reporting period. On 24 May 2011, Israeli forces stationed at border fence, north of Shurrab lands in the northeast of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian farmers who were on their lands, which are approximately 650 meters far from the said border fence. On 25 May 2011, Israeli forces stationed on watchtowers at the border fence to the east of Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at the farmers on their lands, east of al-Qurman Street, al-Naayma Street and al-Masreyen Street in the east of Beit Hanoun. As a result, the Palestinian farmers were forced to leave their lands and escape fearing for their lives. However, no injuries or damages in their property were reported.
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.
In the context of the settlers’ attacks against the Palestinian civilians and their property located in the vicinity of ‘Gush Etzion’ and ‘Efrat’ settlement complex, southwest of Bethlehem, an old house belonging to Mohammed Saleh Abu Sawi from Artas village, south of Bethlehem, was deliberately attacked and damaged by a group of settlers living near the family’s land.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on Sunday morning, 22 May 2011, members of Abu Sawi family headed to their land and old house in ‘Khelet Ikhleil’ area, east of the said settlement complex and the head office of the so-called Israeli Civil Administration, to work in their land as usual. The family members were shocked that the house’s roof was completely destroyed; an attack that can only be done by the Israeli settlers, as the land’s location does not allow the entry of any Palestinian, excluding the land’s owners, who can pass after being searched and their IDs being checked. The house is only 200 meters far from the settlements’ fence and ‘Civil Administration’ head office, which is a military zone surrounded by watchtowers and surveillance cameras.
Abu Sawi family said that the attack included destroying the roof of the house, which was built in the fifties of the last century. The house consists of 4 rooms built of stones and ceiled by wood and iron. Besides, there is a well near the house. The family stated: ‘This is not the first time that their property had been attacked by settlers and Israeli forces, in addition, the Israeli settlers used to throw dead dogs inside the well.’ They pointed that: Israeli forces closed the entrance leading to the land through the ‘Civil Administration’ three years ago, due to which, they were obliged to stop their car away from the house and go to the land on foot. Their car was attacked by the Israeli soldiers under the pretext that it is close to the military position.
At approximately 09:00 on Sunday, 22 May 2011, a group of Israeli settlers from ‘Taffouh’ settlement, south of Nablus, attacked 3 Palestinian women from Iskaka Women’s Charitable Association, from Iskaka village, east of Salfit.
In her testimony to PCHR field worker, Ms. Ahlam Adnan Harb said:
‘On Sunday morning, 22 May 2011, 2 members of the Association and I headed to Za’tarah intersection, as we intended to go to Ramallah. Once we arrived at the intersection, we found approximately 15 settlers standing there, some of whom were armed. They approached and started stoning us; however, we escaped the stones and were not harmed. Israeli forces were supporting the settlers in their attack and did not prevent them, in addition, they pointed their guns at us. We wanted to stop a car to leave the area, but they were chasing us and prevented us from leaving. We tried to defend ourselves. In the meanwhile, a Palestinian civilian standing at the intersection saw us and ran towards us. As a result, we retreated immediately for fear of the eruption of clashes between the Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers. This attack against Palestinians and their property has repeatedly taken place at this intersection because of the presence of the Israeli settlers there and the soldiers’ support to them.’
Some settlers from ‘Qidoumim’ settlement, northeast of Qalqilya, uprooted 70 olive trees belonging to Mohammed Abdul Latif Hamid Ishtiwi, from Kafr Qaddoum village. Ishtiwi did not know when the incident took place, as he can’t reach his land unless by a permit from Israeli forces.
In his testimony to PCHR field worker, Ishtiwi said:
‘At approximately 08:30 on Sunday, 22 May 2011, I went to plough my land named ‘Barous Valley’, southeast of Kafr Qaddoum, plot 27. I went with the ploughman, as I had a permit to enter the land. Once we arrived, we were shocked that 70 olive trees, which were planted 7 years ago, had been uprooted. The land’s area is 15 dunums and is located near Qidoumim settlement, i.e. approximately 150 meters far from the settlement. It is also located near an outpost at Odlah Mountain, which is part of Qidoumim settlement. The settlers carried out the attack, as they are close to the land. Besides, Palestinians are not allowed to enter the land except by a permit from the Israeli side. After I saw my land, I phoned the Village Council and the Red Cross, who came to the site and photographed it. However, the Israeli soldiers came, dismissed them and prevented them from photographing. We spent half an hour before we were dismissed by Israeli forces. Later, I filed a complaint to the Red Cross and Ariel Police.’
Israeli Annexation Wall:
In the West Bank, 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, two demonstrators, including a Palestinian civilian and an international solidarity activist, were wounded. In addition, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international human rights defenders participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank suffered from tear gas inhalation, and bruises as they were beaten by Israeli forces.
Following the Friday Prayer on 20 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. The demonstrators then walked to the annexation wall. Israeli forces made a barrier of barbed wire approximately 100 meters far from the wall. Before demonstrators’ arrival to 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 sprinkled wastewater at the demonstrators and chased them in olive field. As a result, Ibrahim Abdul Fattah Birnat, 29, was hit by a tear gas canister in the back, while dozens of demonstrators, including Mohammed Suleiman Yassin, 20, suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Also following the Friday Prayer on 20 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 to 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 that responded by firing bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at demonstrators. Israeli forces also chased demonstrators in olive field. 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 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 held Palestinian flags. Then they walked to 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, an unknown international activist was hit by a tear gas canister in the right hand. Besides, many demonstrators suffered from tear gas inhalation and sustained bruises. Additionally, Israeli forces arrested 11 unknown activists, including 10 Israeli solidarity activists and an international one, and transported them to an unknown destination.
At approximately 16:00 on Saturday, 21 May 2011, dozens of Palestinian civilians and international and Israeli human rights defenders organized a peaceful demonstration in Iraq Burin village and neighboring villages, south of Nablus. They walked to the lands that settlers try to seize in the southern side of the village, west of ‘Bracha’ settlement. Before the demonstrators reach the said lands, Israeli forces fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 7 demonstrators, including Amir ‘Aref Qadous, 15, Adham Kamal Faleh Qadous, 20, and two international activists, suffered from tear gas inhalation.
Recommendations to the international community:
Due to the number and severity of Israeli human rights violations this week, the PCHR made several recommendations to the international community. Among these were a recommendation that the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, as the guardian of the Fourth Geneva Convention, should increase its staff and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including the facilitation of family visitations to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
The PCHR appreciates the efforts of international civil society, including human rights organizations, bar associations, unions and NGOs, and urges 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: