Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (02 – 08 February 2017). 5 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, were wounded in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, while Israeli warplanes carried out 4 airstrikes against civilian objects and sites related to Palestinian armed groups.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces wounded 5 Palestinian civilians, including 4 children, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces carried out airstrikes against civilian objects, training sites and watcher towers belonging to the PAletinian armed groups. Israeli forces also continued to chase Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea and open fire at farmers in the border areas.
In the West Bank, on 02 February 2017, 3 children were wounded when Israeli forces moved into al-Masaken al-Sha’biyah neighbourhood, northeast of Nablus, to carry out an arret campaign. A number of Palestinian youngsters and children’s gathered to throw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli vehicles. In response, the Israeli soldiers fired live and metal bullets at them, wounding the three children.
On 03 February 2017, an 18-year-old youngster was wounded when the Israeli forces opened fire at a number of children and youngsters protesting against Israeli forces’ establishing a checkpoint, east of Beit Foriq village, east of Nablus.
In the Gaza Strip, in the context of opening fire at peaceful protests, on 03 February 2017, Israeli forces wounded a Palestinian child with a bullet to the abdomen when they opened fire at dozens of youngsters and children gathered to throw stones at the Israeli soldiers near the border fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip, east of al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip.
In the context of targeting Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Sea, on 02 February 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed off the north-western Gaza Strip Shore heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats and chased them. The shooting recurred at the Palestinian fishing boats in the aforementioned area on 03,04,05,06 and 07 February 2017.
On 03 February 2017, Israeli gunboats stationed off the sea, west of al-Soudaniyah, west of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip heavily opened fire at Palestinian boats and chased them. The shooting recurred in the same area on 04 and 08 February 2017.
On the same day, the Israeli gunboats opened fire at the Palestinian fishing boats stationed off Rafah shore in the southern Gaza Strip. The shooting recurred in the abovementioned area on 04 February 2017.
On 05 February 2017, the Israeli gunboats stationed off Khan Younis shore in the southern Gaza Strip heavily opened fire in the vicinity of Palestinian fishing boats within the limited fishing area.
In the context of targeting border areas, on 05 February 2017, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel opened fire at the agricultural lands in al-Shokah village, east of Rafah City.
On 06 February 2017, Israeli forces fired two artillery shells at a training side belonging to al-Qassam Brigades, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported, but the site sustained serve damages. The Israeli force also heavily opened fire at the border area, east of al-Bura area in the northern Gaza Strip as well. On the same day, Israeli forces opened fire at the agricultural lands, east of Kuza’ah, al-Fukhari and al-Qararah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli forces later fired flare bombs, east of Khan Younis, amidst sporadic shooting, which recurred in the same area on 07 and 08 February 2017.
On the same day, Israeli forces stationed along the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired artillery shells at vacant lands, east of al-Shuja’iyah, and a military site belonging to al-Qassam brigades in Jabal al-Rayess area, east of al-Tufah neighbourhood, east of Gaza City.
On the same day, the Israeli forces fired artillery shells at a site belonging to the Palestinian armed groups, east of al-Maghazi in the central Gaza Strip. As a result, the site sustained material damages. On the same day, the Israeli forces fired an artillery shell at a land in the vicinity of the Landfill, east of Deir al-Balah. They then opened fire at the lands and houses in the area, causing severe damages to a house. The shooting recurred in the area on 08 February 2017.
In the context of airstrikes, on 06 February 2017, Israeli warplanes carried out 2 airstrikes targeting with 4 missiles a training site belonging to al-Qassam Brigades on Salah al-Deen Street, east of Jabalia, and another one apposite to the Equestrian Club, southwest of Beit Lahia.
On the same day, an Israeli warplane fired a missile at a poultry farm on al-Karamah Street, east of al-Shujaiyah. As a result, it was completely destroyed and all the poultry died in addition to damages in an adjacent poultry farm.
On 07 February 2017, Israeli warplanes fired a missile at a military site belonging to al-Qassam Brigades, northwest of al-Sifa area, northwest of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported, but the site sustained severe damages.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 79 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank while 10 others were carried out in East Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 59 Palestinian civilians, including 2 women. Twenty-two of them, including a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces carried out a limited incursion into the northern side of the Agricultural School, north of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, and levelled lands.
Efforts to create Jewish majority
In the context of house demolitions and notices, On 07 February 2017, the Israeli Municipality destroyed a residential building in Beit Hanina neighbourhood, north of the city, under the pretext of building without a license. The 4-storey building belongs to ‘Adel Abu Sneinah and Zakaria ‘Anati.
On 08 February 2017, the Israeli municipality destroyed an under-construction building in Beit Hanina neighbourhood as well belonging to Ayman Abu Rmeilah upon an order by the Israeli municipality to stop the construction works.
Settlement activities and Israeli settlers’ attacks against Palestinian civilians and their property:
On 06 February 2017, Israeli forces moved into Berdala village, east of Tubas in the Northern Valley and confiscated 3 diggers and a civilian car. Those vehicles were reclaiming agricultural lands in the area to serve dozens of farmers and land owners.
Om 07 February 2017, Israeli forces uprooted 4 tents; two of which were residential and sheltered 7 persons, including 5 children, while the other 2 were used for grazing sheep. They also destroyed a Tabun oven “clay oven”, kitchen and bathroom in Kherbet al-Ras al-Ahmar in the Northern Jordan Valley belonging to ‘Ezzat Bani ‘Odah. On the same day, Israeli forces levelled a livestock barn belonging to Bassam ‘Ali Redwan Foqaha in Kardalah village in the Northern Jordan Valley.
in the same context, on 06 February 2017, Khaled Hussein Mohammed Salah from Barqah village, northwest of Nablus, was surprised that Israeli settlers uprooted 150 olive trees and 550 almond trees from his land and a nearby land belonging to Mahmoud ‘Abdel ‘Aziz Daghlas and Basem Mohammed Baker Daghlas in al-Qbeyat area, northeast of the aforementioned village, which is 300 meters away from the fence of evacuated “Homash” settlement.
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 Friday, 03 February 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, and 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 as Israeli soldiers beat them up.
- At approximately 15:00 on Friday, 03 February 2017, around 30 Palestinian young men made their way to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel and gathered on Um Hasaniyah Hill, east of al-Buraij in the central Gaza Strip. They threw stones at the Israeli soldiers stationed along the abovementioned border fence behind sand barriers. The soldiers fired lived bullets at them in response. As a result, ‘Ali Nabil ‘Ali Weshah (17) from al-Maghazi sustained a live bullet wound to the abdomen. An ambulance of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) transferred him to Shuhadaa’ al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah as his injury was classified as moderate.
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.
House demolitions and demolition notices:
- On Tuesday, 07 February 2017, the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem, accompanied with Israeli soldiers damaged a residential building in Beit Haninah neighbourhood, under the pretext of non-licensing. Sari al-‘Enbitawi, one of those affected by the demolition, said that the abovementioned building belongs to ‘Adel Abu Isneinah and Zakaria ‘Anati. The building is comprised of 4 apartments from which 4 of them were sold to Ghaith, Abu Nijma, Al-‘Enbitawi and Showaki families. Al-‘Enbitawi also added that in the morning, the Israeli municipality bulldozers along with special forces surrounded the building to demolish it, but the residents could head to the Israeli court, which ordered them to pay NIS 20,000 to delay the demolition. The Israeli Court then ordered the families to pay 50,000 instead. When the families headed to pay the fine, the Post refused to take it under the pretext that this is a large amount of money and requires special measures. As a result, the Israeli bulldozers demolished the building.
- On Wednesday, 08 February 2017, the Israeli municipality in Jerusalem accompanied with Israeli soldiers damaged a residential building in Beit Haninah neighbourhood, under the pretext of non-licensing. Eyewitnesses said that the Israeli municipality bulldozers demolished a building, which is under construction and belongs to Ayman Abu Rimilah in Tal al Foul area in the aforementioned neighborhood, after surrounding it. It should be noted that the building was built many years ago and upon a decision issued by Israeli Municipality to stop the construction works.
Settlement activities and attacks by settlers against Palestinian civilians and property
Israeli forces attacks:
- At approximately 09:00 on Monday, 06 February 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with military vehicles, the Commander of the Jordan Valley and an officer of the Construction and Organization Department in the Israeli Civil Administration moved into Bardalah village, east of Tubas village in the northern Jordan Valley. The Israeli forces confiscated 3 diggers, 2 of which belong to al-Jara’ie Company, while the third digger belongs to ‘Abed al-Ghafar Abed al-Raziq. They also confiscated a private car belonging to Husain Nemer Sawaftah and an ID and license belonging to Majd Faisal Mousa Kamil. Furthermore, the Israeli vehicles were reclaiming an agricultural road in the area to serve dozens of farmers and lands’ owners. Israeli forces took the confiscated diggers to “Majula” settlement and arrested Husaim Nemer Sawafta (28).
- At approximately 08:30 on Tuesday, 07 February 2017, Israeli forces accompanied with 2 bulldozers, and a vehicle of the Construction and Organization Department in the Israeli Civil Administration moved into Kardalah village, in the Northern Jordan Valley, southeast of Tubas. The bulldozers demolished a livestock barn belonging to Basam Ali Redwan Faqha.
- Around the same time, Israeli forces accompanied with 2 bulldozers and a vehicle belonging to the Construction and Organization Department in the Israeli Civil Administration moved into Kherbit al-Ras al-Ahmar in the Northern Jordan Valley, east of Tubas. The bulldozers demolished 4 tents, 2 of which were used as residential tents, in which 7 members, including 5 children, lived. Whereas the other 2 were used for breeding sheep. Each tent is built on an area of 50 square meters and donated by Acted institution.
Moreover, the Israeli forces demolished the following facilities:
- A 100-square-meter iron fence;
- 10-square-meter Tabun oven;
- 20-square-meter kitchen; and
- mobile bathroom.
All of the abovementioned facilities belong to Ali ‘Ezaat Bani ‘Odah.
- On Saturday, 04 February 2017, a group of Israeli settlers from “Yitzhar” settlement, under the protection of Israeli soldiers and the settlement’s guard, attacked Salama Saleem Yousef ‘Oda (56) and Mohamed Yousef Jameel ‘Odah, whose family is comprised of 4 children, his wife and his son-in-law. All of them are from Hawarah village, south of Nablus. The settlers also broke the windshield of a car driven by Salama ‘Odah. Salama Saleem Yousef ‘Odah said to PCHR’s fieldworker that
“At approximately 16:00 on Saturday, 04 February 2017, while I was in my land known as Kafet al-Faras, in the western side of Hawara village, and near the house of Mohamed Yousef Jameel ‘Odah. The abovementioned civilian was breeding his sheep along with his wife and their 4 children. They were about 30 meters away from their house. I saw a group of 15 Israeli settlers from “Yitzhar” settlement, including the settlement’s guard, whom I know, and 3 other Israeli soldiers wearing military uniform and carrying their firearms. In the meantime, the Israeli settlers cursed the family, so the wife took her daughters and went to their house. Meanwhile, Mohamed and his son Youssef stayed in the area and then Mohammed’s son-in-law, Mohamed Fawaz ‘Odah, and I joined them. I approached them, and then the Israeli settlers threw stones at us. When we tried to defend ourselves, the three soldiers pointed their firearms, ordering us to move away. Due to the stone-throwing, I sustained wounds to my hand and right leg. In addition, my farm vehicle’s windshield was broken. When the Israeli settlers withdrew from the area, I headed to Ibin Sina Hospital to receive medical treatment.”
- At approximately 15:30 on Monday, 06 February 2017, Khalid Hussain Mohamed Salah, from Barqa village, northwest of Nablus, headed to his agricultural land in “al-Qabibat” area, northeast of the abovementioned village. Khalid’s land is about 300 meters away from the fence of the evacuated “Homesh” Khalid was surprised that Israeli settlers uprooted around 150 olive trees and 50 almond trees from his agricultural land. They also uprooted around 300 almond trees from his neighbor’s land, Mahmoud Abed al-‘Aziz Deghles; and around 100 almond trees from his other neighbor’s land, Basem Mohamed Baker Deghles.
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;
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