This week, PCHR documented 198 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) and settlers in the occupied Palestinian territory. This week witnessed an increase of Israeli violation regarding demolition and settlement activities in addition to settlers’ attacks and incursions. They were as follows:
As part of the Israeli shooting and excessive use of force:
In terms of excessive use of force, IOF wounded 44 Palestinian civilians, including 13 children and 2 women, on the 86th Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege protest (GMR) in eastern Gaza Strip. IOF shot and injured 5 civilians with live bullets and shrapnel; and 1 was deemed in serious health conditions, in addition to targeting protestors’ upper body with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. Among those injured, a young man and a child were both shot with rubber bullets in their right eyes. IOF maintained their policy of repression despite the general calmness and weak participation due to the weather conditions. Meanwhile in the West Bank, 5 Palestinian civilians were shot, including a child, in separate incidents. IOF opened fire at agricultural lands in 2 incidents and 1 at fishing boats in the Gaza Strip; no casualties were reported.
Under IOF incursions and house raids in addition to arresting Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 81 incursions into the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, enticing fear among civilians, arresting and/or injuring many others. During this week’s incursions, 64 Palestinians were arrested, including 7 children. In the Gaza Strip, IOF carried out 1 incursions into eastern Rafah.
Under the settlement expansion activities in the West Bank, including occupied Jerusalem, PCHR documented 6 demolitions, land razing and demolition notices by IOF, including demolishing 2 houses and seizing 5 others in Jerusalem. IOF also uprooted 3 residential tents in the northern valley and forced farmers to stop working in their agricultural lands in Nablus and the northern valley.
PCHR also documented 10 settler-attacks including a raid into al-Samou’ village and shooting, attacking and detaining a child in Jerusalem.
In terms of the Israeli closure policy, the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst closure in the History of the Israeli occupation of the oPt as it has entered the 14th consecutive year, without any improvement to the movement of persons and goods, humanitarian conditions and bearing catastrophic consequences on all aspects of life. Furthermore, IOF uses Erez Crossing that is designated for movement of individuals as an ambush to arrest Palestinians who obtain permits to exit via Israel. Meanwhile, the West Bank is divided into separate cantons with key roads blocked by the Israeli occupation since the Second Intifada and with temporary and permanent checkpoints, where civilian movement is restricted and they are subject to arrest. In this week, IOF established 50 temporary checkpoints and arrested 3 Palestinians.
- Violation of the right to life and to bodily integrity
- Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the Gaza Strip
On Friday, 27 December 2019, the 86th weekly Great March of Return (GMR) protest took off in eastern Gaza Strip, under the slogan “Martyrs’ Blood Draws the Freedom Path” on the anniversary of the 2018 Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, which continued for 23 days. IOF continued to use excessive force against protestors, which resulted in the injury of 44 civilians, including 13 children and 2 women.
At approximately 14:00, Palestinian civilians head towards the five GMR encampments in the eastern Gaza Strip to join the protest, which lasted until 17:00. This week’s protest was the last for 2019; the National Authority announced the suspension of GMR until the next Earth Day, celebrated on 30 March of each year, which would mark the second anniversary of GMR and declared that protests would thereafter take place on a monthly basis and on national events.
The incidents were as follows:
- Northern Gaza Strip: demonstrations took off in eastern Jabalia with little participation due to the weather. Some protestors attempted to throw stones at IOF stationed along the border fence. IOF shot and injured 2 civilians with rubber bullets.
- Gaza City: hundreds of civilians took part in protests at Malaka area in eastern Gaza City. No casualties were reported.
- Central Gaza Strip: dozens of young men headed to eastern al-Buraij refugee camp and gathered adjacent to the border fence at a range varying between 0 – 300 meters. The protestors threw stones and sound bombs at IOF, who responded with live and rubber bullets and tear gas canisters and pumped wastewater at the protestors. As a result, 2 civilians sustained rubber bullet wounds, including Sa’ed Ahmed Tawfiq Mahani (29), from Gaza City who was shot with a rubber bullet in his right eye. Mahani was transferred to Eye Specialty Hospital in Gaza City. Moreover, a number of civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
- Khan Younis: Hundreds of civilians joined today’s protests in Khuza’ah area in eastern Khan Younis. Dozens gathered near the border fence and attempted to throw stones and Molotov cocktails. IOF fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, 20 civilians, including 10 children and a woman, sustained rubber bullets while dozens suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
- Rafah: hundreds of protestors gathered in eastern al-Shawka neighborhood while others remained at the protest encampment where speeches and theatrical performances were held. Dozens attempted to approach the fence and set tires on fire and threw stones. IOF fired live, rubber bullets, and tear gas canisters at protestors. As a result, 20 civilians, including 3 children and a woman, were injured: 5 were shot with live bullets; one of them was deemed in serious condition; 12 were shot with rubber bullets; and 3 were hit with tear gas canisters. The wounded woman was identified as Huda Nayef Edwan (42) and she was shot with a live bullet in the head. Ahmed Ahmed Mesbah al-Hams (19) was deemed in serious condition after being shot with a live bullet in the lower extremities.
- Shooting and other violations of the right to life and bodily integrity
- At approximately 06:30 on Sunday, 29 December 2019, IOF gunboats opened heavy fire and chased Palestinian fishermen while at sea west of Khan Younis despite the fact that they were within the allowed fishing area, which is up to 15 nautical miles. The shooting continued on intervals for 3 hours, which terrorized fishermen who had to flee to shore. No damage was reported.
- At approximately 11:00 on Sunday, IOF fired live bullets at the bypass road near al-Shurfa area in Taqou’ village, east of Bethlehem while Palestinian civilians were in the area. According to eyewitnesses, IOF hid behind trees and fired at passer-byers. No injuries were reported. The incident reoccurred the following evening at approximately 13:00.
- At approximately 18:00 on Sunday, IOF stationed at the border with Gaza, east of Khan Younis, opened fire at agricultural lands east of al-Qarara village. No casualties were reported.
- At approximately 23:30 on Sunday as well, IOF moved into Nabuls city from its northern, north eastern and south eastern entrances in protection of a fleet of busses carrying settlers en route to pray at Joseph’s Tomb east of the city. Palestinian children and boys gathered during the raid and threw stones and empty bottles at IOF who responded with live and rubber bullets, tear gas canisters and sound bombs. Dozens suffocated due to tear gas inhalation and received treatment in the field, while Nazem Moayad Nazem ‘Ashour (19) sustained a rubber bullet in the left thigh and another superficial bullet in the mouth. He was transferred to Rafidia Government Hospital for medical treatment.
- At approximately 14:00 on Monday, 30 December 2019, IOF arbitrarily fired tear gas and sound bombs at Palestinian civilians at al-Fowar Refugee Camp, south of Hebron, under the pretext that stone throwers attacked IOF. As a result, a 20-year-old was hit with a sound bomb in the face and transferred to Hebron Hospital, while others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
- At approximately 16:00 on Monday, 30 December 2019, Israeli police opened fire at a vehicle after it had chased it from Beit Jala all the way to western Bethlehem. The driver was detained. According to an eyewitness statement to PCHR fieldworker, Mohammed Khlaed Abaid (25) was driving his vehicle while his mother, Karima Shaheen (53), was in the passenger seat in Beit Jala. Israeli police chased him and opene3d fire at his vehicle which startled him and caused him to run into a wall. His mother sustained bruises while Mr. Abaid was detained.
- At approximately 07:00 on Tuesday, 31 December 2019, IOF stationed at the border with Gaza, east of Khan Younis, opened fire at agricultural lands east of al-Qarara and Khuza’a villages. No casualties were reported.
- At approximately 01:55 on Wednesday, 01 January 2020, IOF moved into Tubas. During the raid, a group of Palestinians gathered and confronted IOF vehicles with stones and empty bottles. IOF responded with live and rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs. As a result, Qassam Suhaib Abu-Siaj (17) was shot with a live bullet in his left thigh and transferred to the hospital. Others suffocated due to tear gas inhalation and were treated in the field.
- At approximately 02:35, IOF raided Jenin. During the raid, a group of Palestinians gathered and confronted IOF vehicles with stones and empty bottles. IOF responded with live and rubber bullets, tear gas and sound bombs. As a result, Jamil Nabil Awwad (22) was shot with a rubber bullet in his left leg and was taken to hospital. Also during the attack, IOF raided and searched civilian houses and arrested 3 civilians: Ibrahim Nathem Turkman (21); Omar Amer Abu-Salama (20); and Baker Hilal al-Sabe’ (27).
- Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities
- Early on Sunday, 29 December 2019, IOF gave Rami Najib Foqha a notice to halt work on his 10-dunum-land, located at Hamma area in the northern valleys east of Tubas, under pretext of being a heritage area.
- At approximately 09:30 on Monday, 30 December 2019, IOF, along with a guard from “Shavei Shomron” settlement, raided agricultural lands in Kilet al-Bireh area, an 80-dunum land located on plot number 4, approximately 25 meters away from the settlement. IOF forced a group of farmers to leave the land. The farmers were there with the mayor, Mohammed Azem, to plant apricot trees and fence the land to protect it from hogs and the Israeli settlement expansion schemes. It should be mentioned that the farmers were working under a project funded by the Development Center of Palestine in partnership with Oxfam and it targets at least 30 farmers. IOF claimed that the farmers were expelled because they were in areas C and in an area classified as a nature reserve, despite that the Palestinian farmers have documents that prove their ownership.
- On Wednesday, 01 January 2020, IOF seized five houses and a water pipeline in al-Montar area in Bdiyat al-Quds, east of occupied East Jerusalem, as a prelude to establish a settlement outpost in the area. Yunis Ja’far, Chairman of Al-Montar Land Defense Committee, said that IOF moved into al-Montar area and seized five houses of Mohamed Omar ‘Abed al-Qader, Zaki Khalil ‘Abed al-Qader Ja’far, Khalil ‘Abed al-Qader Ja’far, Mohamed Maher al-Sarkhi, and Hani Shaker al-Sarkhi. He added that IOF seized a water pipeline and threatened to withdraw another one from al-Sawarha area. It should be noted that Israeli settlers recently set up caravans and water tanks in the area. According to local sources, Israeli authorities intend to establish a wall surrounding occupied East Jerusalem to isolate it from other Palestinian governorates. According to the Oslo Accords signed by the Israeli government and the PA, Badiyat al-Quds is classified as Area C, which is under Israeli civil and security control while the PA is responsible for education and health. It should be noted that Israeli authorities established settlements and military training sites as well as natural reserves on 70% of Badiyat al-Quds while the remaining 30% was declared as a closed military zone.
- At approximately 10:00, Israeli Jerusalem Municipality vehicles demolished 2 houses in Khalaila neighborhood in Silwan village, south of the occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. According to Khaled Abu Tayieh, Chairman of Silwan Land Defense Committee, the Israeli Municipality bulldozers backed by IOF demolished Yazeed Khalilah and Mohanad ‘Abed Khalilah’s houses in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem, under the pretext of non-licensing. Abu Tayieh clarified that Yazeed’s 1-story house was built on an area of 100 sq.m 7 months ago and sheltered 8 persons, while Mohanad’s 100sq.m house sheltered his wife and 2 children. He added that the Israeli authorities did not give enough time for the families to get their contents out and left them outside in the cold.
- At approximately 13:00, IOF moved into al-Hadaf area, east of Beit al-Dajan village, northeast of Nablus. IOF prevented Mizyed ‘Abed al-Qader al-‘Absi from plowing his 10-dunum land, under the pretext of being in Area C. IOF confiscated 2 agricultural tractors and took them to “Makhora “settlement in Northern Jordan Valleys.
- At approximately 14:29, IOF accompanied with construction vehicles moved into Khelet Abu Salah in Tubas. They demolished and confiscated three residential tents of Ibrahim Sa’ied Zayid Abu Daher and Zainab Suliman Abu Daher. It should be noted that Ibrahim and Zainab received those tents from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society after IOF demolished their tents and barns on 23 December 2019.
- Israeli Settler Violence
- At approximately 22:00 on Sunday, 29 December 2019, a group of settler vehicles raided al-Samou’ village, south of Hebron, under heavy IOF protection. The settlers surrounded an old church in the city center and prayed there. In the meantime, IOF closed the city center and its main road and enforced a curfew on civilian movement. They stayed there for an hour and a half and then left the area. No attacks against civilians were reported.
- At approximately 21:00 on Monday, 30 December 2019, settlers’ guards fired live bullets and sound bombs at a group of Palestinian young men in Baten al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan village, south of occupied East Jerusalem. This happened after a verbal altercation and a quarrel erupted between the settlers and the neighborhood’s residents. Eyewitnesses said that settlers’ guards beat and randomly fired live bullets and sound bombs at Palestinians in Baten al-Hawa neighborhood. The guards also detained Adam Mahmoud Abu Rmoz (17), severely beat him and handed him to IOF while he was bleeding from his face and head. It should be noted that the IOF moved into the neighborhood, provided protection for the settlers, beat the neighborhood’s residents, and fired sound bombs at them. As a result, Zuhair Sami al-Rajbi (49) sustained sound bombs shrapnel wounds in his mouth and foot. He was then taken to a medical center for treatment. Following the attack, a large IOF fore moved into Batern al-Hawa neighborhood, where they raided and searched dozens of houses. Additionally, they arrested and investigated Mahdi Yunis Jaber (20), Waleed al-Sha’ir, and Yusof Bassam al-Rajbi (21).
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