Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the week of 22 â 27 February, 2018.
Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian while arresting him when no danger to the soldiersâ life had been posed. 10 shooting incidents targeting the Palestinian fishing boats off the Gaza Strip Shore were also reported.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed 2 Palestinian civilians, including a fisherman, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.Â They also wounded 41 other civilians, including 9 children and 2 fishermen.Â In the Gaza Strip as well, the Israeli forces continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea and target the border areas.
In the Gaza Strip, on 25 February 2018, Israeli naval killed a Palestinian fisherman and wounded 2 others after opening at a fishing boat sailing within 3 nautical miles and damaging the boat.Â The two wounded fishermen were arrested and questioned before being released on the same day afternoon.Â PCHR condemns the ongoing Israeli attacks against the Palestinian fishermen aiming at targeting the livelihoods of fishermen and preventing them from sailing and fishing freely in the Gaza Strip.
As part of targeting the border areas, on 24 February 2018, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between Israeli and the Gaza Strip, east of Khan Younis, fired flare bombs over the border area, east of al-Qararah, and sporadically opened fire.Â They later declared they arrested 2 Palestinian civilians who attempted to sneak into Israel.
On 27 February 2018, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, opened fire at the shepherds forcing them to leave the area fearing for their lives.
Moreover, 24 Palestinian civilians were wounded, including 5 children, after the Israeli forces fired bullets and tear canisters at them directly during protests where the protestors threw stones at the soldiers stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel.Â These demonstrations are organized in protest against the U. S. Presidentâs decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and against the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip for the eleventh year.
As part of targeting fishermen in the sea, the Israeli forces continued to escalate their attacks against fishermen in the Gaza Sea, indicating to the on-going Israeli policy of targeting their livelihoods.Â In addition to the killing of the abovementioned fisherman, PCHR monitored 9 other incidents; 7 in north-western Beit Lahia and 5 others in Western Soudaniyah, west of Jabalia.
In the West Bank, on 23 February 2018, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian from Jericho while arresting him and declared his death only hour after his arrest.Â According to PCHRâs investigations and eyewitnesses, the Israeli forces moved into Jericho to carry out an arrest campaign.Â Yassin al-Saradih then rushed to his uncleâs house to know what was going on.Â The Israeli soldiers immediately started severely and brutally beating him throughout his body using rifflesâ butts and feet.Â In the morning, the Israeli forces declared his death after suffering seizures due to gas inhalation.Â The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees said quoting the Palestinian Doctor Rayan al-âAli who participated in the Anatomy of the body in the Forensic Medicine Institute âAbu Kabirâ said that al-Saradih was wounded with a bullet to the lower abdomen.
On 24 February 2018, 3 Palestinian civilians were wounded when Israeli soldiers moved into Salem village, northeast of Nablus, and a number of youngsters gathered to throw stones at the Israeli vehicles.Â In response, the soldiers opened fire at them wounding the three civilians.
On 24 February 2018, a civilian was wounded after the Israeli forces moved into al-Dheishah refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, to carry out an arrest campaign and a number of civilians protested against them.Â On the same day, a 15-year-old child was hit with a bullet to the right shoulder when settlers under the Israeli forcesâ protection attacked the northern outskirts of Burin village, south of Nablus, and the residents gathered to keep the setters away; thus, the Israeli soldiers opened fire at them.
On 27 February 2018, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when an Israeli police officer opened fire at a Palestinian car at the entrance to al-Laban al-Shaqriqyah, south of Nablus.Â As a result, the driver was hit with a bullet to his back and then taken to Qablan Medical Centre.Â He was then referred by an ambulance to Rafidia Governmental Hospital in Nablus where he underwent an urgent surgery and his condition was described as stable.
Moreover, 9 Palestinian civilians, including 3 children, were wounded after the Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrances to the Palestinian residential areas in the West Bank fired live bullets and tear gas canisters directly at them during protests and stone-throwing.Â These demonstrations are organized by Palestinian civilians in protest against the American Presidentâs decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and against the Israeli settlement activities and land confiscations.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 56 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During those incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 43 Palestinians, including 10 children and a woman, in the West Bank.Â Four of them were arrested in Jerusalem and its suburbs. Those incursions occur in light of the cold and rainy weather as the Israeli soldiers force children, women and elderly people to stay outside their houses for hours or locked families in one room, preventing them to move in addition to other acts of harassment and use of police dogs in house raids.
Among those arrested this week was the wounded child Mohammed Fadel al-Tamimi (15) from al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of Ramallah.Â Mohammed was wounded on 15 December 2017 with a rubber bullet that settled in his head while participating in a peaceful protest at the main entrance to the abovementioned village.Â The doctors conducted him several complacted and long-hour surgeries to successfully remove the rubber bullet and swallows in the brain, ear, nose and throat.Â However, doctors had to remove part of the skull and supposed to conduct him a surgery to repair the skull on 05 March 2018.Â The Israeli forces released Mohammed after questioning him on the same day he was arrested.
In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces conducted two limited incursions into east of al-Qararah village, east of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip and east of al-Salqah Valley village, north of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip.Â The vehicles levelled and combed the lands along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel amidst Israeli sporadic shooting.Â However, no casualties were reported.
Efforts to Create Jewish Majority in occupied East Jerusalem:
As part of targeting the religious holy sites in the city, the Christian community unanimously declared the closure of the Holy Sepulcher Church in occupied East Jerusalemâs Old City until a further notice to protest the decision by the cityâs municipality to impose property tax (Arnona) on church-owned properties.Â The Israeli municipality claimed that the debts on 887 church-owned properties stood at over $190 million, without specifying the time frame that the debts accumulated.Â This closure is considered the second of its kind in the Church history as the first was on 27 April 1990 when the doors of the Church were closed for 48 hours to protest the âAteret Cohnimâ settlement Membersâ seizure of the Hospitality Palace in the Monastery of Saint John, who is King of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, next to the Church after two weeks of the seizure and failure of all efforts to expel them.Â Christian denomination shares the areas and quarters as identified for each inside the Church according to the Status Quo, which is a decree issued by the Ottoman Empire in 1852 and still applicable.Â The decree was set to preserve the rights of each sect and religious group in Jerusalem in general and in the Sepulcher Church in particular, and to identify how each sect shall use its area.
As part of restricting the work of Palestinian organizations, on 24 February 2018, the Israeli forces banned organizing a dinner party for journalists working in occupied East Jerusalem that was supposed to be held in Philadelphia Restaurant on al-Zahraaâ Street in the center of the city.Â They closed the restaurant until the next day morning, preventing the dinner in the restaurant or in any other place under the pretext of being organized by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.Â According to the ban decision, this activity is organized by âa terrorist movementâ and the ban came upon an order by the Jerusalem Command Chief.Â The Israeli forces also arrested Director of Eilia Association for Media, Ahmed al-Safadi, and the restaurantâs owner, Zuhair Izheiman, while they handed Shadi Mutawer, Secretary of Fatah Movement in Jerusalem, and âAwad al-Salaymah, Member of Fatah Movement in Jerusalem, summonses to interrogate them.
Settlement Activities, Demolitions, and Settlersâ Attacks against Palestinian civilians and their Property:
As part of the Israeli settlersâ attacks against the Palestinian civilians and their property, on 23 February 2018, a group of Israeli settlers from âBrachaâ settlement and ââArousaâ outpost established in the northern outskirts of Burin village, south of Nablus. The Israeli settler threw stones at Palestinian civiliansâ houses. As a result, the villageâs residents gathered and confronted the settlers, but no casualties were reported.Â The settlersâ attacks recurred in the area on the next day under the protection of the Israeli forces that opened fire at the civilians resulting in the injury of a child with a bullet to the right shoulder.
On 23 February 2018 as well, the settlers threw stones at a Palestinian civilian car near Barqah village, northwest of Nablus. As a result, a civilian was hit with a stone to the head.
Use of Force against Demonstrations in Protest against the U.S. Presidentâs Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel:
Upon calls for demonstrations protesting against the U.S. President Donald Trumpâs Presidential Decree to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. Embassy to it, Palestinian civilians organized protests against the decision throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As a result, 33 civilians, including 8 children, were wounded.Â (This number does not include the number of those wounded during the incursions into the West Bank, and targeting fishermen in the Gaza Strip.)Â It should be mentioned that PCHR keeps the names of wounded persons for fear of arresting them. The demonstrations were as follows:
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:
Following this consensus, 2 members of Joudah and Nusseibah Families, who have the keys of the Church and responsible for opening and closing it, closed the door of the Church until a further notice.Â Meanwhile, Christian tourists resented after arriving in the city to visit the Church and tomb of Jesus Christ and finding the church doors closed.Â The Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the Knesset expressed its intention to consider a bill that would allow the Israeli authorities to expropriate lands sold by churches since 2010 and the Israeli municipalityâs intention to collect the Arnona property tax from the churches.
Following the closure of the Sepulcher Church, the Heads of Churches in the city published a statement condemning the Israeli latest steps intended to take against the church and dubbing the steps as a systematic campaign against the Christian community in the holy land.Â The statement reads that: â We are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing status quo.â the Statement continues: â These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and privileges of the churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem.âÂ The statement was signed by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilus III, Armanian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, and Bishop Francesco Patton.
This closure is considered the second of its kind in the Church history as the first was on 27 April 1990 when the doors of the Church were closed for 48 hours to protest the âAteret Cohnimâ settlement Membersâ seizure of the Hospitality Palace in the Monastery of Saint John, who is King of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, next to the Church after two weeks of the seizure and failure of all efforts to expel them.Â âIssa Misleh, Spokesperson of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, said that away from the two closures, the Church doors have been always open and never witnessed any closure, except suspension of prayers in times of war or earthquakes.Â The East and West Christian community jointly pray and worship in the Sepulcher Church that was established on the Calvary, where Jesus was crucified according to Christiansâ beliefs, and includes the holy tomb of Jesus Christ. The Christian faith shares the areas and quarters as identified for each inside the Church according to the Status Quo, which is a decree issued by the Ottoman Empire in 1852 and still applicable.Â The decree was set to preserve the rights of each sect and religious group in Jerusalem in general and in the Sepulcher Church in particular, and to identify how each sect shall use its area.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher has a Monastery for Catholics, another for Greek Orthodox, a third for the Latin and a fourth for Armenians. As for the Copts, they have a Monastery and Church of St. Anthony (Deir Mar Antonios) established outside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.Â Moreover, Monastery of the Sultan, which is located on the roof of the Church of St. Helen, is for the Ethiopian Orthodox while the Syriac Orthodox performs their prayers according to the Status Quo in Monastery St. Mark, which is a temple for Armenians near the Holy Sepulcher. The decision to close the church until a further notice aims to force the Israeli municipality to withdraw its decision of imposing taxes estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars because of the churchâs religious status among the Christians who visit it from all over the world. The property of the Christian church are around 32% of the Old Cityâs area in East occupied Jerusalem. In addition to the prayer and worship places, this percentage includes about 130 institutions, 10 schools, 4 hospitals and other estates.
Â Israeli settlersâ attacks
âAli âAlawnah said to PCHRâs fieldworker that: âAt approximately 16:30 on Friday, 23 February 2018, my friend Abed âAlawnah and I were returning from Nablus to our village Jabiâ via Aâbedâs car. When we approached Burqah village, I asked by friend to park the car because I want to relieve myself, so he stopped the car. I opened the carâs door to step out when surprisingly around 8 Israeli settlers, 2 of them were armed, came out from behind a hill located in âHomeshâ settlement and then threw stones at us. As a result, I was hit with a stone to my head and started bleeding. After that, I came back to the car, and my friend drove the car away to Jabiâ village. My friend then took me to Dr. Zaid Fashasha Clinic, where my wounds were redressed and I had 2 stitches. I felt dizzy and pain in my head, so we headed to Jabiâ Medical Center and told them what happened to me. After that, Jabiâ Medical Center demanded a PRCSâs ambulance and then took me to Dr.Khalil Suliman Hospital in Jenin, where I conducted medical examinations and X-ray.â
Recommendations to the International Community
PCHR warns of the escalating settlement construction in the West Bank, the attempts to legitimize settlement outposts established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the continued summary executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they pose a security threat to the Israeli forces. PCHR reminds the international community that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been rendered homeless and lived in caravans under tragic circumstances due to the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight closure for almost 11 years. PCHR welcomes the UN Security Councilâs Resolution No. 2334, which states that settlements are a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and calls upon Israel to stop them and not to recognize any demographic change in the oPt since 1967.Â PCHR hopes this resolution will pave the way for eliminating the settlement crime and bring to justice those responsible for it. PCHR further reiterates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation in spite of Israelâs unilateral disengagement plan of 2005.Â PCHR emphasizes that there is international recognition of Israelâs obligation to respect international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law.Â Israel is bound to apply international human rights law and the law of war, sometimes reciprocally and other times in parallel, in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for the victims.
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Christopher Carlson is a full-time student of Religious Studies at Mount Mercy University, USA. He has been with the IMEMC since 2013. (email@example.com)