Israeli forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the week of 09-15 March 2017.
A Palestinian civilian was killed in occupied Jerusalem, while 11 civilians, including 3 children, were wounded in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Israeli forces continued to target the border areas in the Gaza Strip.
During the reporting period, Israeli settlers killed a Palestinian civilian in occupied Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Israeli forces wounded 11 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, in the West Bank. The Israeli forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea and open fire at farmers in the border areas.
In the West Bank, in new crime of using excessive force, on Monday, 13 February 2017, Israeli officers killed Ibrahim Mahmoud Matar (25), from al-Mukaber Mount, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces claimed that Ibrahim entered the Israeli police office in Lions Gate (al-Asbat), took a knife out and then stabbed 2 Israeli soldiers. After that, Ibrahim was shot dead by another Israeli soldier.
On 10 March 2017, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian civilians, who were at the western entrance to Selwad village, northeast of Ramallah, and wounded 2 of them.
On 11 March 2017, a 16-year-old male was hit with a tear gas canister at his head, when Israeli forces raided Birzeit, north of Ramallah. Moreover, the Israeli forces fired live bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at Palestinian civilians.
On 11 March 2017, a Palestinian civilian was hit with a live bullet to the leg, when Israeli forces moved into Sabastiyia village, northwest of Nablus. During which, a number of Palestinian young men protested against them.
On 15 March 2017, 5 civilians, including 2 siblings, were wounded, when Israeli forces moved into al-Duhaisha refugee camp and al-Dawha village nearby, south of Bethlehem. One of whom was wounded as he was at the roof of his house in al-Dawhah village. when the wounded’s brother along with his 3 friends rushed to take him to the hospital, the Israeli forces opened fire at the car carrying them. As a result, 4 other civilians were wounded.
On the same day, a Palestinian worker, from al-‘Obaidiya village, east of Behtlthem, was wounded while he was near ” Mazmouriya” checkpoint, east of the city, attempting to go to his work in occupied Jerusalem.
On the same day, Fatmah Jabrin ‘Aye Abdul ‘Aziz Taqatqah (16) from Sahlet ‘Eid neighborhood in al-Fajjar village, south of Bethlehem, was shot by the Israeli forces. The Israeli forces claimed she attempted to carry out a ran-over attack in the intersection of “Gush Etzion” settlement complex, south of the city, but she was arrested. After that, Fatama was taken to “Shaare Zedek” Medical Centre in Jerusalem. Fatmah’s family refused the Israeli claims and said that she lost control of her vehicle.
In the Gaza Strip, in the context of targeting border areas, On 09 March 2017, , Israeli forces stationed in the vicinity of “Kissufim” military site established along the border fence between the Gaza Strip an Israel, northeast of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, fired several artillery shells and opened fire at agricultural lands in al-Qararah and al-Salqa Valley areas, west of the abovementioned border fence amidst firing several flare bombs, but no arrests were reported.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, On 14 March 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 3 nautical miles and chased them. As a result, the fishermen were forced to flee for fear of their lives, but neither casualties nor material damages were reported.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 80 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and its suburbs, and conducted 11 raids in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 80 Palestinian civilians, including 9 children and 4 women. Thirty five of them, including 5 children and 2 women, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Among those arrested was a Member representing Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) identified as Samira al-Halyqa (53).
In the Gaza Strip, on 15 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into the east of Gaza Valley (Johr al-Deek) in the central Gaza Strip. They leveled the lands adjacent to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel after which they re-deployed along the border fence.
Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem:
Concerning house demolitions, on Saturday, 11 March 2017, the Israeli Municipality obliged ‘Arafat Qara’een to self-demolish part of his family house in Wadi Helwa neighborhood, south of the Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. Al-Qara’een said that the part, which was demolished comprised of a 20-square-meter room used as a store built 2 years ago.
On 14 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied demolished an under-construction residential building in al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. The 250-square-meters building, which was comprised of 2 floors, belongs to Majdi Mostafa.
On the same day, Israeli forces demolished a house in Silwan village, south of East Jerusalem’s Old City. The house belongs to Mohamed Abu Saleh and was comprised of 2 rooms built in an area of 50 square meters. It should be noted that Mohamed along with his family comprised of 3 members, were intending to live in the house soon.
In the context of imposing restrictions on Palestinian associations, on 14 March 2017, Israeli forces raided the Mapping and Survey Office of the Arab Studies Society- Orient House in Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied Jerusalem. The police officers arrested the Office Director and maps and settlement expert, Khalil Tufakji, and took him to an unknown destination after confiscating his cell phone and some contents of the office. The Israeli police closed the office for 6 months upon an order from the Israeli Interior Minister, Gelad Ardan.
Settlement Activities and settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:
On 14 March 2017, Israeli forces confiscated a mobile house in Farosh Beit Dajan village. The house belongs to Tawfiq Abed al-Raheem Haj Mohamed, who works as Headmaster of the village’s school. The abovementioned house was built on an area of 25 square meters and shelters 8 members, including 3 children. Moreover, the bulldozer demolished a vegetable stall located in the village’s main street. The 30-square-meter stall belongs to Yaser Ibrahim Aub Murtada.
In the same context, on 10 March 2017, Israeli settlers, from “Rhalim” settlement, uprooted 143 olive trees from al-Sawiyia villages’ lands, south of Nablus. The land belongs to Haytham Ahmed Mohamed Abu Kafanah and Suhail Abed al-Raheem Suliman. Both of them are from the abovementioned village.
Restrictions on movement:
Israel continued to impose a tight closure of the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
The illegal 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 Israeli authorities impose measures to undermine the freedom of trade, including the basic needs for the Gaza Strip population and the agricultural and industrial products to be exported. For 9 consecutive years, Israel has tightened the land and naval closure to isolate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, and other countries around the world. This resulted in grave violations of the economic, social and cultural rights and a deterioration of living conditions for 2 million people. The Israeli authorities have established Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shaloum) as the sole crossing for imports and exports in order to exercise its control over the Gaza Strip’s economy. They also aim at imposing a complete ban on the Gaza Strip’s exports. The Israeli closure raised the rate of poverty to 65%. Moreover, the rate of unemployment increased up to 47% and youth constitutes 65% of the unemployed persons. Moreover, 80% of the Gaza Strip population depends on international aid to secure their minimum daily needs. These rates indicate the unprecedented economic deterioration in the Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, Israeli forces continued to suffocate the Palestinian cities and village by imposing military checkpoints around and/or between them. This created “cantons” isolated from each other that hinders the movement of civilians. Moreover, the Palestinian civilians suffering aggravated because of the annexation wall and checkpoints erected on daily basis to catch Palestinians.
- Use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations protesting settlement activities and the construction of the annexation wall
- Following the Friday prayer on 10 March 2017, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized demonstrations in Bil’in and Nil’in villages, west of Ramallah and al-Nabi Saleh, northwest of the city; at the entrance to al-Jaalzone refugee camp, north of the city; and in Kafer Qadoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, protesting against the annexation wall and settlement activities. Israeli forces forcibly dispersed the protests, firing live and metal bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. They also chased the protesters into olive fields and between houses. As a result, many of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises due to being beaten up by the Israeli soldiers.
- At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 10 March 2017, a number of Palestinian young men gathered and made their way to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. They gathered into the east of al-Shuja’iya neighborhood, east of Gaza City, and threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, who fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters at them. No casualties were reported.
Continued closure of the oPt
Israel continued to impose a tight closure on the oPt, imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli forces continuously tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and close all commercial crossings, making the Karm Abu Salem crossing the sole commercial crossing of the Gaza Strip, although it is not suitable for commercial purposes in terms of its operational capacity and distance from markets.
Israeli forces have continued to apply the policy, which is aimed to tighten the closure on all commercial crossings, by imposing total control over the flow of imports and exports.
Israeli forces have continued to impose a total ban on the delivery of raw materials to the Gaza Strip, except for very limited items and quantities. The limited quantities of raw materials allowed into Gaza do not meet the minimal needs of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces also continued to impose an almost total ban on the Gaza Strip exports, including agricultural and industrial products, except for light-weighted products such as flowers, strawberries, and spices. However, they lately allowed the exportation of some vegetables such as cucumber and tomatoes, furniture and fish.
Israel has continued to close the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing for the majority of Palestinian citizens from the Gaza Strip. Israel only allows the movement of a limited number of groups, with many hours of waiting in the majority of cases. Israel has continued to adopt a policy aimed at reducing the number of Palestinian patients allowed to move via the Beit Hanoun crossing to receive medical treatment in hospitals in Israel or in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also continued applying the policy of making certain civilian traveling via the crossing interviewed by the Israeli intelligence service to be questioned, blackmailed or arrested.
- Efforts to Create Jewish majority
Israeli forces escalated their attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property. They have also continued their raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and denied the Palestinians access to it:
- Shooting Incidents:
- In new crime of using excessive force, on Monday, 13 February 2017, Israeli officers killed Ibrahim Mahmoud Matar (25), from al-Mukaber Mount, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. Israeli forces claimed that Ibrahim entered the Israeli police office in Lions Gate (al-Asbat), took a knife out and then stabbed 2 Israeli soldiers. After that, Ibrahim was shot dead by another Israeli soldier. Luba al-Somari, Spokesperson of the Israeli police to the Arab Media, claimed in a statement on her Facebook page that “a Palestinian civilian, from al-Mukaber Mount, arrived via his car into Lions Gate (al-Asbat) area. He then left the area on foot through the same gate. In the meanwhile, the Israeli soldiers stationed in the area searched him in a room dedicated for soldiers, where he took a knife out and stabbed them.”
- Arrests and Incursions:
- On Thursday 09 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Ahmed Abed al-Nasir and arrested him.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Yazan Siyam and Hamza Sha’lan.
- On Monday, 13 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into ‘Ain al-Louza, al-Sowieh and al-Thawri neighbourhoods in Silwan village. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested 8 civilians, 6 of whom are from ‘Ain al-Louza neighbourhood and one is from al-Thawri neighbourhood, while the last one is from al-Sowieh neighbourhood.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched a house belonging to Wael Abu Rammouz (32) and arrested him.
- On Monday, following the killing of Ibrahim Matar, Israeli forces raided his family house in al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. They searched the house and damaged its contents. After that, they arrested 4 of his family members, including his father, Mahmoud Matar (49), his mother (47), his brother, Rida(29) and his relative Matar Jameel Matar(42).
- On Tuesday, 14 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched 2 houses belonging to Mo’min Ma’moun Muhasin (15) and Isma’il Tawfiq Muhasin (17) and arrested both of them.
- On Tuesday, Israeli forces moved into Hizmah village, east of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Ahmed ‘Afif ‘Askar, Mohamed ‘Afif ‘Askar, Abdullah Mashhour ‘Es’aied, Nasri Maqboul and Ihab Nasri Maqboul.
- On Wednesday, 15 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested 7 civilians. PCHR keeps the names of arrested persons.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses, from which they arrested Mohamed Ra’fat Dari, Ahmed Abu Irmilah and Isma’il Muhasin.
- On Wednesday, Israeli forces moved into Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched houses and arrested Omar Firas al-A’war (20).
- In evening, Israeli authorities arrested a journalist, Samah Doweek from her house in Ras al-‘Amoud neighbourhood. They raided and searched her house and confiscated some contents. It should be noted that Samah was previously arrested and served 6 months in the Israeli jails on charges of incitement through Facebook.
- On Saturday, 11 March 2017, the Israeli Municipality obliged ‘Arafat Qara’een to self-demolish part of his family house in Wadi Helwa neighborhood, south of the Old City, under the pretext of non-licensing. Al-Qara’een said that the part, which was demolished comprised of a 20-square-meter room used as a store built 2 years ago.
- On Tuesday, 14 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with a digger and the Israeli Municipality’s crews moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. They stationed in al-Dahrah area, where they imposed a security cordon around an under-construction residential building. After that, they completely demolished the house under the pretext of non- licensing. Mohamed Abu al-Humus, Member of the Follow-up Committee in al-‘Issawiyia village, stated that the 250-square-meters building, which was comprised of 2 floors, belongs to Majdi Mostafa.
- On Tuesday, Israeli forces accompanied with a digger and the Israeli Municipality’s crews moved into Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. The digger demolished 2 rooms belonging to a family of Mohamed Ameen Abu Saleh under the pretext of non- Mohamed’s father said that the Israeli forces demolished their house, which was comprised of 2 rooms built on an area of 50 square meters, without warning them. One room was built 18 years ago, while the second was built 5 years ago. It should be noted that Mohamed and his family comprised of 3 members were intending to live in the house.
- Closure of Arab Studies Society’s Mapping
- On Tuesday early morning, 14 March 2017, large forces of the Israeli Special Police raided the Mapping and Survey Office of the Arab Studies Society- Orient House in Beit Hanina neighborhood, north of occupied Jerusalem. The police officers arrested the Office Director and maps and settlement expert, Khalil Tufakji, and took him to an unknown destination after confiscating his cell phone and some contents of the office. The Israeli police closed the office for 6 months upon an order from the Israeli Interior Minister, Gelad Ardan. Luba al-Somari, Spokesperson of the Israeli police to the Arab Media, claimed that this order came, “after the police received information that the Palestinian Authority had activated an office in Jerusalem to be used as a mapping and survey office for record-keeping and monitoring and following the Palestinian lands in Jerusalem in addition to following up Israel’s changes to various related fields.” According to the Israeli claims, Tufakji “restored the office’s former work under the cover of an office for geographic consulting. Moreover, the office, which is funded by the PA, was in constant contact with the Palestinian security services in Ramallah. The office was transferring names of those interested in selling lands and estates in East Jerusalem and if there were suspicions of counterfeiting or intentions to sell lands and estates to Israelis, the Palestinian security services initiated immediate investigations in this regard in violation of the application of the West Bank and Gaza Strip transitional period agreements (limitation of activities).” It should be mentioned that Tufakji is one of the most important Palestinian experts in land confiscation and settlement issues in occupied Jerusalem. He works on exposing the Israeli policies and measures, which violate the international humanitarian law in the oPt in general and occupied Jerusalem in particular.
- Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property
- At approximately 09:30 on Tuesday, 14 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with a crane and a bulldozer moved into Farosh Beit Dajan village. They confiscated a mobile house (caravan). The house is located near the village’s mosque and belongs to Tawfiq Abed al-Raheem Haj Mohamed, who works as Headmaster of the village’s school. The abovementioned house was built on an area of 25 square meters and shelters 8 members, including 3 children. The family lived in the house 3 months ago before the Israeli forces confiscated it without warning. Moreover, the bulldozer demolished a vegetable stall located in the village’s main street. The 30-square-meter stall belongs to Yaser Ibrahim Aub Murtada.
- At approximately 08:30 on Friday, 10 March 2017, Al-Sawiyia village’s council, south of Nablus, declared that there is a permit for farmers allowing them to plow their lands in Khelit Wasel area, near “Rhalim” settlement, north of the village. Following that, Haytham Ahmed Abu Kafanah, from the abovementioned village, contacted Radi al-‘Atiyani (60), from Yasouf village, who has been serving in this land for the past 2 years, and told him to go to the land for plowing it. The 5-dunums planted with 140 olive trees. When Radi entered the land, he found all trees were uprooted. He then informed Haytham, who immediately came and informed the Palestinian Liaison about what happened. Abu Kafanah said that he owns around 50 dunums planted with olive trees located between “Rhalim” and “Eli” settlements. He added that he can only access to 10 of these dunums, which are located inside the village, while the others threatened with confiscation.
Suhail Abed al-Raheem Suliman, from the abovementioned village and whose land located near the Israeli settlement’s houses, said that around 3 olive trees were uprooted from his 6 dunums. He added that in 2003, the Israeli settlers uprooted all the trees planted in his dunums.
Recommendations to the International Community
PCHR emphasizes the international community’s position that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation, in spite of Israeli military redeployment outside the Gaza Strip in 2005. PCHR further confirms that Israeli forces continued to impose collective punishment measures on the Gaza Strip, which have escalated since the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, in which Hamas won the majority of seats of the Palestinian Legislative Council. PCHR stresses that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and the international humanitarian law, especially the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land and the Geneva Conventions. Israel is bound to apply the international human rights law and the law of war sometime reciprocally and other times in parallel in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for victims.
In light of continued arbitrary measures, land confiscation and settlement activities in the West Bank, and the latest 51-day offensive against civilians in the Gaza Strip, PCHR calls upon the international community, especially the United Nations, the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention and the European Union – in the context of their natural obligation to respect and enforce the international law – to cooperate and act according to the following recommendations:
- PCHR calls upon the international community and the United Nations to use all available means to allow the Palestinian people to enjoy their right to self-determination, through the establishment of the Palestinian State, which was recognized by the UN General Assembly with a vast majority, using all international legal mechanisms, including sanctions to end the occupation of the State of Palestine;
- PCHR calls upon the United Nations to provide international protection to Palestinians in the oPt, and to ensure the non-recurrence of aggression against the oPt, especially the Gaza Strip;
- PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to compel Israel, as a High Contracting Party to the Conventions, to apply the Conventions in the oPt;
- PCHR calls upon the Parties to international human rights instruments, especially the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to pressurize Israel to comply with their provisions in the oPt, and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the concerned committees;
- PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligations to ensure the application of the Conventions, including extending the scope of their jurisdiction in order to prosecute suspected war criminals, regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the place of a crime, to pave the way for prosecuting suspected Israeli war criminals and end the longstanding impunity they have enjoyed;
- PCHR calls upon States that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction not to surrender to Israeli pressure to limit universal jurisdiction to perpetuate the impunity enjoyed by suspected Israeli war criminals;
- PCHR calls upon the international community to act in order to stop all Israeli settlement expansion activities in the oPt through imposing sanctions on Israeli settlements and criminalizing trading with them;
- PCHR calls upon the United Nations to confirm that holding war criminals accountable in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a precondition to achieve stability and peace in the regions, and that peace cannot be built on the expense of human rights;
- PCHR calls upon the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council to explicitly declare that the Israeli closure policy in Gaza and the annexation wall in the West Bank are illegal, and accordingly refer the two issues to the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Israel to compel it to remove them;
- PCHR calls upon the international community, particularly the UN, in light of its failure to the stop the aggression on the Palestinian people, to at least fulfil its obligation to reconstruct the Gaza Strip after the series of hostilities launched by Israel which directly targeted the civilian infrastructure;
- PCHR calls upon the United Nations and the European Union to express a clear position towards the annexation wall following the international recognition of the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, as the annexation wall seizes large parts of the State of Palestine;
- PCHR calls upon the European Union to activate Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which provides that both sides must respect human rights as a precondition for economic cooperation between the EU states and Israel, and the EU must not ignore Israeli violations and crimes against Palestinian civilians;