Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the week of 16-22, March 2017.
Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. 3 civilians, including a child, and 2 Israeli activists, were wounded. Israeli forces also conducted 70 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the southern Gaza Strip.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian children and wounded 3 others, including a child, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, they wounded two Israeli activists in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the sea and open fire at the farmers in the border areas. Moreover, the Israeli warplanes carried out many airstrikes against training sites belonging to the Palestinian armed groups.
In the West Bank, in a new crime of using excessive force, on 17 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed at the entrance to al-‘Aroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, a Palestinian child and seriously wounded another. The shooting occurred from a distance of 10 meters after two boys threw two Molotov Cocktails at an Israeli military vehicle stationed near the Israeli watchtower established at the entrance to the camp. The Israeli soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian civilians who hurried to rescue the two children in order to hinder saving their lives.
On the same day, Israeli forces wounded a Palestinian civilian when they raided Sebastia village, northwest of Nablus, so a number of Palestinian children and youngsters gathered to throw stones at the Israeli vehicles.
On the same day as well, two Israeli activists were wounded while participating in Kafr Qaddoum weekly protest, northeast of Qalqilya.
In the Gaza Strip, in a new crime of excessive use of force, on 22 March 2017, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and seriously wounded a young man after firing artillery shells at them when both civilians were near the border fence with Israel in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City. PCHR’s investigations emphasized that the shelling incident violates the principle of necessity and distinction, the use of force was excessive, especially the victims were only civilians and unarmed.
In the context of airstrikes, on 16 March 2017, Israeli warplanes carried out 2 airstrikes against two training sites belonging to the Palestinian armed groups, north and west of the Gaza Strip. As a result, the two sites sustained damages. The airstrikes caused strong explosions that rocked the area, so civilians, especially women and children, were terrified. However, no casualties were reported.
In the context of targeting border areas, On 18 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip an Israel, fired an artillery shell at a vacant land, north of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. As a result, 4 sheep grazing in the area were killed.
On the same day, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, opened fire at agricultural lands in the villages of Khuza’ah and ‘Abasan. No casualties were reported.
On 19 March 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence opened fire at agricultural lands in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea, On 17 March 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed off Rafah shore opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boat sailing there. However, no casualties were reported.
On 22 March 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed offshore, northwest of Beit Lahia village in the northern Gaza Strip, sporadically opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats and chased them. However, neither casualties nor material damages were reported.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 70 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and limited on into the Gaza Strip. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 58 Palestinian civilians, including 8 children. Five of them, including 3 children, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem. Among those arrested was a Member representing Hamas in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) identified as Mohammed al-Tol (60).
In the Gaza Strip, on 22 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into the eastern side of al-Qararah village, northeast of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. They leveled the lands adjacent to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel after which they redeployed along the border fence.
House Demolitions on grounds of collective punishment
On 22 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem, and stationed in al-Qunbor neighborhood. They surrounded a house belonging to the family of Fadi Qunbor, and then a cement mixing truck arrived and poured cement inside the house. The 2-stroey house used to shelter his wife and 4 children. It should be mentioned that Israeli forces killed the aforementioned civilian on 08 January 2017 when he ran over a number of soldiers in a bus station near “Armon HaNetziv” settlement, which is established on the above-mentioned village lands. As a result, a number of the soldiers were killed while the Israeli authorities so far keep al-Qunbor’s body in custody and refuse to hand it for burial.
Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied East Jerusalem:
In the context of house demolitions, on 11 March 2017, the Israeli Municipality demolished two barracks for horses and livestock belonging to Ayoub Shkeirat and Bassam Shkeirat in the village of Al-Mukaber Mount under the pretext of building without a permit.
Settlement Activities and settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:
In the context of Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property, on 16 March 2017, Israeli settlers from “Yitsihar” settlement and under the Israeli forces’ protection attacked Burin Secondary School, south of Burin village, south of Nablus village, and threw stones at the school outside walls and iron fence.
On 17 March 2017, Israeli settlers uprooted 75 olive seedlings from a land belonging to Haitham Abu Kafanah in al-Wad area in the north-western side of al-Sawiyah village, south of Nablus.
On 18 March 2017, Israeli settlers from “Kiryat Arba” settlement, east of Hebron, threw stones at a vehicle belonging to ‘Aref Jaber (48) from Jaber neighbourhood. As a result, the car’s windscreen was broken.
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
- At approximately 12:40, on Friday, 17 March 2017, Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized a protest in the center of Kufor Qaddoum village, northeast of Qalqiliyah, and then made their way to the eastern entrance of the village in protest against closing that entrance since the beginning of al-Aqsa Intifada with an iron gate. When the protesters approached the entrance, Israeli forces fired live bullets, metal bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 2 Israeli activists (not identified) were hit with 2 metal bullets to the hand and face.
- Following the Friday prayer, 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.
House Demolition on Grounds of Collective Punishment
- On Wednesday morning, 22 March 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with large numbers of border guards, police officers and Intelligence officers moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of Jerusalem and stationed in al-Qunbor neighborhood. The soldiers surrounded a house belonging to Fadi Ahmed Hamdan Qunbor and close the roads to it. They also prevented the vehicles and civilians from entering the main street in the neighborhood. Following that, the a cement mixer truck arrived at the area and began pouring the cement inside the abovementioned house. The house is comprised of two floors; the first of which is comprised of a room, bathroom and kitchen while the second is comprised of a living room in which Qanbar’s wife and 4 children (the eldest son is 7 years old and the youngest is 9 months) lived. It should be noted that on 08 January 2017, Israeli forces killed Fadi Qanabr (28) after he ran over Israeli soldiers, who were at a bus station near “Armon HaNetziv” settlement established on the lands of the abovementioned village. He killed a number of them, and his body is still under the Israeli custody.
The Israeli forces previously took punitive measures. In a dangerous precedent, on Tuesday, 10 January 2017, the family of Fadi al-Qunbar received orders to suspend their residencies (withdrawing the blue IDs), in addition to cancelling family reunion applications of other relatives following the run-over attack carried out by Fadi in “Armon Hanatziv” settlement. Fadi’s family said to PCHR’s fieldworker that Israeli forces raided Fadi’s family house and handed them 12 orders issued by the Israeli Interior Minister to suspend the residency and reunion applications of several family members, The people who received such orders are:
- Menwa Qunbar- Fadi’s mother: A decision to suspend her residency in Jerusalem.
- Suha Qunbar- Fadi’s sister: A decision to suspend her residency in Jerusalem.
- Murad Aweisat- Suha’s husband: A decision to cancel his “reunion” application as well as cancelling the reunion applications and residency of their two children (Nagham 11, and Wadi’a, 17).
- Dia’ Aweisat (21)-Fadi’s nephew (Hind’s son): A decision to suspend his residency and cancel his “reunion” application.
- Manal Qunbar- Fadi’s sister in law (Sami’s wife): A decision to suspend her residency and cancel his “reunion” application.
- Ahmad Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
- Mohammad Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
- Salah Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
- Zakaria Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
- Younes Hussein Qunbar- Fadi’s cousin.
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:
- Arrests and Incursions:
- On Thursday, 13 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into Silwan village, south of occupied Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested ‘Arafat Abu al-Hamam (42) and Mohamed Ali Abu Tayieh (22).
- On Monday, 20 March 2017, Israeli forces moved into al-‘Issawiyia village, northeast of occupied Jerusalem. They raided and searched houses from which they arrested Mohamed Ramzi Muhasin (13), Ahmed Nasir Muhasin and his twin brother Mohamed (13). The arrested children were then taken to Salah al-Deen Street police station for interrogation.
- Home Demolition:
- On Monday, 20 March 2017, a large force of Israeli soldiers accompanied with the Israeli Municipality crews and 2 bulldozers moved into al-Mukaber Mount village, southeast of occupied Jerusalem. They stationed in Shuqirat neighbourhood and then surrounded two barracks. The two bulldozers demolished the barracks under the pretext of non-licensing. The first 80-square-meter barrack belongs to Ayoub Shuqairat and was built of tin plates 5 years ago. Ayoub said that on Wednesday, 15 March 2017, the Israeli Municipality crews hung a demolition notice to the barrack, and on 20 March 2017, the barrack was demolished. The second 150-square-meter barrack belongs to Basam Shuqirat and was built of tin plates 2 years ago. The two barracks were used for sheltering livestock and horses.
- Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property
- Israeli Settlers:
- At approximately 10:30 on Thursday, 16 March 2017, a group of Israeli settlers made their way from “Yitzhar” settlement, under the Israeli forces’ protection, and headed to Burin Secondary School, south of Nablus. The settlers threw stones at the school’s walls and fence, causing fear among students. A number of the village residents then gathered to protect the students. Therefore, the Israeli settlers and forces withdrew from the village and no casualties were reported.
- On Thursday, 16 March 2017, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian taxi driver while working south of occupied Jerusalem. The diver, Fadi ‘Abed (41), from Shurffat village in occupied Jerusalem, said that two Israeli settlers stopped him while driving in Talbeyout area and asked him to drive them to Herzl Mount in West Jerusalem. While on their way, the Israeli settlers told Fadi that they want to go to Kiryat Yovel. When they arrived there, one of them approached Fadi and hit him with a bottle on his head. Meanwhile, the other settler started to severely beat him, but Fadi could not defend himself due to the continuous beating, so he started bleeding. After that, Fadi noticed another driver in the area who saw him. The other driver intervened and managed to arrest one of the Israeli settlers while the other settler attempted to flee. The Israeli police then arrived at the area and arrested the runaway settler. Fadi added that he went to Tsh’ari Tsedeq Hospital, where he under medical test, which revealed that Fadi sustains fractures in the nose and bruises and wounds to the face and head.
- On Friday, 17 March 2017, Israeli settlers uprooted around 75 olive seedlings from a land belonging to Hitham Ahmed Mohamed Abu Kafanah in al-Wad area, in the north-western side of al-Sawiah village, south of Nablus. They also damaged the fence surrounding the land. Abu Kafanah said to PCHR’s fieldworker that: ” At approximately 15:00 on Saturday, 17 March 2017, My family and I headed to my land in al-Wad area, in the north-western side of al-Sawiah village, which is 400 meters away from “Rahlim” settlement. We headed there to plough the land and take care of the olive seedlings which I planted 3 years ago. When we arrived at the land, which I have not visited it for 3 months; I was surprised that the olive seedlings were uprooted by the Israeli settlers. They also destroyed the fence surrounding the land and took it. My 12.5-dunum land was fully planted with around 75 olive seedlings.”
- On Saturday, 18 March 2017, a number of Israeli settlers from “Kiryat ‘Arba’” settlement, east of Hebron, threw stones at a vehicle belonging to ‘Aref Jaber (48), from Jaber neighbourhood. As a result, the vehicle’s windshield was damaged. It should be noted that at the time of the assault, the Israeli settlers were under the Israeli protection.
- On Sunday, 19 March 2017, Israeli settlers chased Mousa ‘Oyoyi, from al-Sawnah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem. They also attempted to attack him while leaving his work in the Mahane Yehuda Market in West Jerusalem. Mousa said that:
“While leaving my work place at the Mahane Yehuda Market in West Jerusalem, I got in my car as usual. When I stopped at a traffic light in the area, one of the settlers gave me a strange look, may be because I looked like an Arab. I continued to drive, but noticed through the car’s mirror that the same settler was chasing me, so I tried to avoid him. However, I was stuck in a traffic jam in the area. Meanwhile, the settler approached me, so I took down the window and closed the doors of my car, and I asked him what you want from me, but he started insulting me. However, I neglected him and closed my car’s window again and then drove away as I felt something wrong will happen. Few minutes later, I arrived at al-Anbiyiaa’ Street in West Jerusalem and found again the same settler, accompanied with three other settlers, chasing me. Two of the three settlers were driving motorcycles and tried to open my car door while I was inside it. One of them then pointed a knife at me, so I panicked and my car collided with a bus in the area. The Israeli settlers then fled away. I miraculously survived, but sustained wounds due to the collision.”
- At approximately 11:00 on Wednesday, 22 March 2017, a number of Israeli settlers from “Yitzhar” settlement, south of Nablus, attacked with stones a number of civilians identified as Musheer Reziq Qadous (35) and Akram Ibrahim ‘Emran (45). Musheer and Akram were ploughing Musheer’s land, which is 200 meters away from the abovementioned settlement using a tractor driven by As a result, Musheer was hit with a stone to his leg. The abovementioned 4-dunum land is planted with olive trees and within Areas classified as Area ©. The land’s owner could not enter his land without obtaining a permit from the Israeli forces. They usually get a permit for 2 days only in the year; a day for harvesting and the other for ploughing the land.
- 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;