The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OCHA)
Protection of Civilians Report for March 2 – 15, 2021
On 7 March, an explosion occurred in a Palestinian boat off the coast of Khan Younis, in Gaza, resulting in the death of three fishermen, two brothers and a cousin. The cause was initially attributed to the misfiring of a test rocket by Palestinian armed groups, who denied the claim. Following an investigation, the Interior Ministry in Gaza suggested that the fishermen had hauled up an Israeli drone in their nets, which had fallen into the sea and contained explosives. The Israeli authorities have denied any involvement in the incident.
Sixty-two Palestinians, including nine children, were injured by Israeli forces across the West Bank. Forty-one of them were injured in clashes in five villages in the Nablus governorate, which mainly involved stone-throwing by Palestinians and firing of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets by Israeli forces. Sixteen people were injured in other clashes that erupted during four search-and-arrest operations in Al Bireh city (Ramallah) and in the refugee camps of Ad Dheisheh (Bethlehem), Al Fawwar (Hebron) and Al Am’ari (Ramallah). The remaining injuries took place in the Bethlehem, Qalqilia and Jerusalem governorates, involving throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli-plated vehicles, a weekly protest and ad-hoc clashes. Overall, 35 Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation, nine were shot by live bullets, 12 by rubber bullets, and six were physically assaulted. In addition, a Palestinian shepherd sustained injuries when unexploded ordnance that he was handling detonated.
Two Palestinians and one Israeli soldier were injured on 8 March during a search-and-arrest operation in Tubas. Israeli sources said that a Palestinian was shot and arrested while trying to stab a soldier during the operation. Israeli sources reported that in another incident on the same day, a Palestinian woman was arrested in a settlement outpost near Ras Karkar village (Ramallah) after allegedly attempting to stab a female settler.
Israeli forces carried out 193 search-and-arrest operations and arrested 172 Palestinians, including 15 children, across the West Bank. The Ramallah governorate recorded the highest number of operations (48), followed by the Hebron (37) and Jerusalem governorates (35).
In Gaza, on at least 29 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire near the perimeter fence or off the coast, presumably to enforce access restrictions, injuring two fishermen and damaging their boat. On another three occasions, Israeli forces conducted land levelling near the fence. No injuries were reported.
Citing the lack of building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or seized 26 Palestinian-owned structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 42 people, of whom 24 were children, and otherwise affecting about 120. Seventeen of the structures, and all of the displaced people, were recorded in Area C. Two buildings were demolished in Ein Shibli village (Nablus), displacing 17 people, on the basis of Military Order 1797, which allows for demolitions within 96 hours of the issuance of a ‘removal order.’ The remaining displacement resulted from the demolition of four homes in At Tuwani and Khallet Athaba’ communities in Hebron, and in Beit Jala in Bethlehem. The livelihood of 20 people was affected by the demolition of a vegetable stall near Qalqilia city, while 16 were affected by the demolition of two uninhabited houses and the confiscation of one metal container in Isteih (Jericho). Two of the nine structures targeted in East Jerusalem was demolished by the owner.
Perpetrators known or believed to be Israeli settlers injured six Palestinians in the Hebron governorate and damaged Palestinian-owned property, including vehicles and trees. Four of the injured were physically assaulted in three incidents. Two boys, aged 13 and 14, were injured in two separate incidents in the H2 are of Hebron city and the Bir al ‘Idd area, respectively; in the latter incident, the donkey on which the boy was riding was stabbed. A man and a woman were attacked with clubs near the Mantikat Shi’b al Butum, where the man sustained severe head injuries. The remaining two injured were herders stoned and attacked with knives near Bani Na’im (Hebron) and three of their sheep were injured. On a number of other occasions in Hebron (Saadet Tha’lah) and Bethlehem (Kisan), Israeli settlers chased herders out of the area. At least 42 trees and saplings were uprooted in Kufur Qaddoum village (Qalqilia) and At Tuwani (Hebron); agricultural tools were also stolen in the Kufur Qaddoum incident. Palestinians reported that settlers had grazed their livestock on land belonging to Palestinians from Yanun village (Nablus), damaging olive trees, and attacked farmers working their land in Ein Samiya (Ramallah), damaging a tractor. According to Palestinian sources, Israeli settlers damaged at least five vehicles, a house and an agricultural structure in the villages of Jalud and Huwwara (Nablus) and Kafr ad Dik and Bruqin (Salfit).
On 10 March, five Palestinian boys, aged about 10, were held by settlers while picking wild herbs near the settlement outpost of Havat Maon in Hebron governorate. They were brought to Kiryat Arba police station by soldiers, who reportedly suspected that they had tried to steal parrots, before being released later that day.
Perpetrators believed to be Palestinians stoned and injured four Israelis in four incidents. These included two near the settlements of Rimonim (Jerusalem), and Gush Etzion (Bethlehem), and a driver who accidentally entered Al-‘Isawiya (East Jerusalem) and another at the entrance of Bidiya village (Salfit). Twenty-five Israeli-plated vehicles were damaged by stones while travelling on West Bank roads, according to Israeli sources.o