Israeli occupation forces (IOF) continued to violate Palestinians’ human rights and commit crimes against civilians and their properties, conducting raids into Palestinian cities without regard to the state of emergency declared across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) in the efforts put forward to combat the spread of Coronavirus, despite that 8 deaths by said virus were announced in Israel along with hundreds of reported cases. Meanwhile, settlers backed up by IOF continued to seize more Palestinian land and attack civilians and their property.
This week, PCHR documented 97 violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL) by IOF and settlers in the oPt. As the state of emergency enters its 3rd week, as well as the extreme Israeli restrictions on movement of individuals, have hindered our fieldwork team’s ability to cover all incidents in the oPt and were forced to collect information via phone from trusted local sources. As such, this report is a comprehensive record of Israeli violations of human rights against Palestinians in the oPt, as IOF continues its attacks against civilians despite the exceptional circumstances that have overcome the whole world in the face of a life-threatening viral pandemic.
I. IOF shooting and violation of right to bodily integrity: in excessive use of force against protests in the West Bank, IOF shot and killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another one on 22 March 2020, as IOF opened fire on their car by the Ni’lin village entrance, western Ramallah. IOF wounded 3 other Palestinian civilians, including two children while violently disrupting civilians and protests in Qalqilia and Ramallah; PCHR documented 8 other shooting incidents were IOF used live bullets and tear gas canisters during raids into several Palestinian cities, causing several cases of suffocation.
In the Gaza Strip, 2 shootings by IOF were reported against the agricultural lands in the southern and central Gaza Strip while 2 shootings were reported against Palestinian fishing boats off the northern Gaza Strip shore. No injuries were reported.
II. IOF incursions and arrests of Palestinian civilians: IOF carried out 59 incursions into the West Bank. Those incursions included raids of civilian houses and shootings, inducing fear among civilians, and attacking many of them. During this week’s incursions, 51 Palestinians were arrested, including 6 children. Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip, IOF conducted a limited incursion into eastern Khan Younis.
III. Settlement expansion activities and settlers’ attacks: PCHR documented 4 IOF operations in the West Bank: razing in Salfit; 2 notices to halt construction at solar-cell plant; another notice to halt construction at a civilian house in the Northern Valley; and demolition of a wall in an agricultural land in Jenin.
PCHR also documented 13 settler attacks: 5 civilians assaulted, cutting trees and vandalizing Palestinian vehicles in Hebron; vandalizing and uprooting trees and vandalizing a water tank in Nablus; various properties vandalized across the West Bank mainly in the Northern Valley, Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron.
IV. Israeli closure policy and restrictions on freedom of movement: Israeli authorities continued to impose restrictions on Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing and West Bank Crossings under the pretext of confronting the fast-spreading Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These restrictions were declared on Wednesday, 11 March 2020, and still in effect, except for humanitarian cases. This comes at a time when the Gaza Strip still suffers the worst blockade 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 or 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, on Tuesday and Wednesday, 23 and 24 March 2020, IOF threw out hundreds of Palestinians workers at checkpoints and points within the Annexation Wall without contact or coordination with the relevant Palestinian authorities. On 19 March 2020, thousands of Palestinian workers went into Israel on the promise employers granted that they would be given proper and healthy accommodation, who did not fulfill the commitments they made after the outbreak of Coronavirus in Israel. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the workers were kept in inadequate and unsanitary housing conditions amidst the Coronavirus outbreak in Israel. After some workers showed signs of illness and coronavirus symptoms, IOF left them at checkpoints between Israel and the northern West Bank without undergoing examinations in the Israeli or Palestinian hospitals. The Palestinian authorities called upon all workers to return home and quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Meanwhile, IOF continued to divide the West Bank 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.
I. Violation of the Right to Life and Bodily Integrity
a) Excessive Use of Force against Protests in the West Bank
- At approximately 13:00 on Friday, 20 March 2020, IOF stationed at the northern entrance established at Kufur Qaddoum village’s land, north of Qalqilia, suppressed a protest in which dozens of Palestinian civilians participated. IOF chased the young men who gathered in the area. IOF clashed with the young men and fired rubber bullets, sound bombs, and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a 63-year-old civilian was shot with a rubber bullet in the right leg and a16-year-old child was shot with a rubber bullet in the right hand.
b) Shooting and other Violations of the Right to Life and Bodily Integrity
- At approximately 04:30 on Wednesday, 09 March 2020, IOF reinforced with military SUVs moved into Bethlehem via al-Nashash military checkpoint. They removed the cement cubes established by Palestinian security services in al-Khader village’s road, to isolate the city from other cities in light of the procedures taken by the Palestinian authority to put an end to Coronavirus. Large Israeli forces moved into al-Dheisha refugee camp, which is also isolated. They raided and searched 3 houses, blew up their doors, attacked the inhabitants and arrested 3 former prisoners, who were released few months ago. IOF cuffed the detainees’ hands and legs, and forced them to wear protective clothing and masks. The detainees were Identified as: Mustafa Atiyah al-Hasanat (22), Yazan Yusuf al-Bal’awi (22), and Ramez Yusuf al-Laham (22). In the meantime, dozens of young men gathered on the camp’s empty streets due to the PA’s directions and threw stones, Molotov Cocktail, and empty bottles at IOF soldiers and the latter responded with tear gas canisters. As a result, many civilians vomited and suffocated due to tear gas inhalation.
- At approximately 15:35, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of Khan Younis, opened fire at agricultural lands in eastern al-Qararah village, northeast of Khan Younis, adjacent to the border fence. No casualties were reported.
- At approximately 15:05 on Saturday, 21 March 2020, IOF stationed along the border fence, east of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip, heavily opened fire at the border area, adjacent to the border fence. As a result, farmers whose lands are adjacent to the border area panicked. No casualties were reported.
- At approximately 04:10 on Sunday, 22 March 2020, IOF gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia, west of al-Sudaniya area, west of Jabalia in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 – 3 nautical miles. Israeli gunboats also fired artillery shells. As a result, the fishing nets that belong to a number of fishermen sustained damage. Fishermen also panicked and fled away. No casualties were reported.
- At approximately 16:20, on the same Sunday, IOF moved into Burin village, southeast of Nablus. A number of Palestinian children gathered and threw stones at IOF vehicles and the latter responded with tear gas canisters to disperse them. As a result, a number of children suffocated due to tear gas inhalation and they received medical treatment on the field.
- At approximately 17:00 on the same Sunday, IOF moved into al-‘Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem, and deployed in the neighborhoods. They established checkpoints and searched civilians’ vehicles. In the meantime, a number of Palestinian young men protested in the vicinity of al-Araba’in Mosque and threw stones at IOF soldiers. The soldiers fired tear gas canister at them. As a result, many civilians suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. IOF arrested Qais Haitham Mustafa (13) and Dawoud ‘A’ed Atiyah (13).
- In new crime of excessive use of lethal force, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded another on Sunday, 22 March 2020, as IOF opened fire at their vehicle by the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah.
- According to investigations conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), at approximately 22:00 on Sunday, IOF stationed at the entrance to Ni’lin village, west of Ramallah, fired live bullets at a Palestinian vehicle carrying 2 civilians while coming from Ramallah. As a result, the driver was killed while the passenger was wounded. The wounded civilian managed to flee and go to the Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah. It turned out later that he sustained shrapnel wounds throughout his body.
IOF surrounded the vehicle for over half an hour while the driver was inside. Afterwards, an Israeli ambulance arrived and took the driver to an Israeli hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The civilian killed was later identified as Sufian Nawaf ‘Abed al-Haleem al-Khawaja (31), and the wounded was his cousin Mohamed Bader al-Khawaja (20). They were returning from the outskirts of Ramallah after buying foodstuffs for their families, in preparation to implement the Palestinian Authority decision to abide all citizens to their homes in a measure to combat the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
IOF claimed that they opened fire towards the suspects after they hurled a rock at them, but information obtained by PCHR’s fieldworker pointed out that when the two civilians arrived at Ni’lin village entrance, they saw an Israeli police vehicle and for fear of being stopped because their car was illegal, they turned their vehicle and made their way towards al-Mohalhel road. This road is designated to enter the village, despite that, IOF opened fire at their vehicle, killing one of them and wounding the other without any justification as they posed no threat or danger to the Israeli soldiers and police officers’ lives. It should be noted that IOF still holds Sufian al-Khawaja’s body.
- At approximately 14:00 on Monday, 23 March 2020, IOF moved into Furik village, northeast of Nablus. A number of Palestinian children gathered and threw stones at IOF vehicles. IOF fired tear gas canisters at the m to disperse them. As a result, a number of children suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They received medical treatment on the field.
- At approximately 16:20, IOF moved into Burin village, east of Nablus. A number of children gathered and threw stones at IOF vehicles and the latter fired tear gas canisters to disperse them. As a result, a number of children suffocated due to tear gas inhalation. They received medical treatment on the field.
- At approximately 00:00 on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, IOF moved into Deir Netham village, northwest of Ramallah and stationed in the vicinity of the village’s entrance. A number of Palestinian young men protested and threw stones and Molotov Cocktail at IOF and the latter chased the protestors and fired rubber bullets, sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a 16-year-old child, from Deir Abu Mash’al, was wounded. The child was transferred to Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah to receive medical treatment.
- At approximately 08:50 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, IOF gunboats stationed northwest of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, chased and heavily opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats sailing within 2 nautical miles. As a result, fishermen were forced to flee fearing for their lives; no casualties were reported. At approximately 17:50 on the same Wednesday, fishermen managed to remove a fishing boat belonging to Samer Husam Mohammed Baker (30), from al-Shati refugee camp, and took it to Gaza sea port. The boat’s engine was broken and its structure was targeted with several live bullets during the above mentioned attack.
- At approximately 2:00 on the same Monday, an Israeli infantry unit moved into al-Tabaqah village, south of Dura, south of Hebron. They patrolled the main road and fired a tear gas canister near a house before they withdrew from the village. No casualties were reported.
II. Incursions and Arrests
Thursday, 19 March 2020:
- At approximately 00:00, IOF moved into Qalqilia. They raided and searched Khalil Majdi Abu Samra’s (25) house and arrested him.
- At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into ‘Arraba, southwest of Jenin. They raided and searched Ayham Abdulah Abu Salah’s (25) house and arrested him.
- Around the same time, IOF reinforced with several military vehicles, moved into southern Hebron. They raided and searched Mohammed Abdullah Abu Dawoud’s (19) house and arrested him.
- At approximately 03:00, IOF moved into Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Solwan, south of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Ahmed Eyad al-Rajabi’s (17) house and arrested him.
- At approximately 17:00, IOF moved into Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Ra’fat Sameeh Najeeb’s (30) house and arrested him. After a few hours, IOF released him on condition that banning his entry to al-Aqsa Mosque for a week.
- At approximately 18:00, IOF moved into Deir Abu Mish’al village, northwest of Ramallah. They raided and searched several houses and arrested (5) civilians: Ibrahim Tayseer, Mousa Tabkh, Abdullah Abdul Naser, Yousef Abdul Jawad, and Mohammed Abdul Jawad.
- At at approximately 21:00, IOF moved into Ras al-‘Amoud neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Haitham Hisham al-‘Abbassi’s (29) house and handed him a summons to refer to al-Maskoubeya investigation center, west of the occupied city.
- IOF carried out (10) incursions in Azoun in Qalqilia, Seelat al-Thuhr, south of Jenin, Sebastia, Barqa, Marin, northwest of Nablus, Aseera al-Shamaleya and Yaseed villages, north of Nablus, al-Fawwar refugee camp, al-Samoua’, Yatta villages in Hebron. No arrests were reported.
Friday, 20 March 2020:
- At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Falameya village, east of Qalqilia. They raided and searched several houses and arrested (5) civilians: Ahmed Taleb Abu Thaher (31), Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Thaher (27), Anas Ghassan Abu Thaher (24), Ahmed Hayad Abu Thaher (31), and Mohammed Rif’at Abu Thaher (34).
- At approximately 16:00, IOF severely beaten and arrested Yousef al-Shawish (15), while present around the entrance of Bab Hatta neighborhood, one of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City’s neighborhoods.
Saturday, 21 March 2020:
- At approximately 20:00, IOF moved into Wdi al-Jooz neighborhood, east of the occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City. They raided and searched Mohammed Abu Shousha’s (24) house and arrested him.
IOF carried out an incursion in Alar village in Tulkarem. No arrests were reported.
Sunday, 22 March 2020:
- At approximately 16:00, IOF stationed at the entrance of al-Fawwar refugee camp, south of Hebron, arrested Oday Issa Younis (22), and released him after two hours.
- At approximately 18:30, IOF stopped and arrested Mahmoud Mohammed Fayez and Khamees Naser Khamees, on a temporary military checkpoint in the entrance of Aboud village. Both of them are from Abu Mish’al village, northwest of Ramallah.
- At approximately 21:30, IOF stationed at the entrance of al-Zaweya village, west of Salfit, arrested (3) civilians from the village. The arrestees are: Nour Ameen Abu Laila, Ibrahim Hasan Shuqair, and Mo’taz Mashhour Shuqair.
- IOF carried out (4) incursions in Azoun and Qalqilia, in Qalqilia governorate; Hares and Derastya in Salfit. No arrests were reported.
Monday, 23 March 2020:
- At approximately 01:30, IOF moved into Azoun, east of Qalqilia. They raided and searched Mahmoud Mohammed Ghannawi’s (47) house and arrested him.
- At approximately 01:40, IOF moved into Snirya village, southeast of Qalqilia. They raided and searched two houses belonging to Mamdouh Ghaleb Barri (36) and Alaa Sadeq Omar (26) and arrested them.
- At approximately 14:00, IOF arrested (4) civilians while sanitizing Bab al-Asbat (Lion’s Gate) one of the occupied East Jerusalem’s gates, to prevent Corona Virus, and confiscated their equipment. IOF took them to al-Qishla investigation center and investigated with them for several hours before releasing them on condition that come to continue investigation on the next day. The arrestees are: Mohamed al-Dabbagh, Mahmoud al-Salayma, Zeyad Sharifa, and Ehab Abdul Latif.
- At approximately 19:00, IOF moved into al-‘Isawiya village, northeast of occupied East Jerusalem. They raided and searched Reda Mohammed Obaid’s (16) house and arrested him.
- IOF carried out an incursion in Kafr al-Deek in Salfit. No arrests were reported.
III. Settlement Expansion and Settler Violence in the West Bank
a) Demolition and Confiscation of Civilian Property for Settlement Expansion Activities
- On Monday, 23 March 2020, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into al-Khafafeesh area, southeast of Nablus. The military construction vehicles levelled area No. (13), to expand “ Shvut Rachel” settlement and connect it with “Shilo” settlement and other settlement outposts located in the eastern side.
- At approximately 13:20 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, IOF moved into Kherbet al-Dir in northern Jordan Valley and handed 2 notices to stop construction works for a solar cells project donated by GVC institution, and for Mohamed al-Sawafta’s house.
- At approximately 14:00, IOF backed by military construction vehicles moved into Um al-Rayhan village, southwest of Jenin. The military construction vehicles demolished a 200m wall in Mohamed ‘Ali Zaid al-Kilani’s agricultural land, under the pretext of non-licensing and being in Area C.
b) Israeli Settler Violence
- At approximately 05:30 on Thursday, 19 March 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Sosiya” settlement, which is established on the confiscated Palestinians lands, attacked Yatta city in southern Hebron. The settlers cut 3 olive trees belonging to al-Nawaj’a family and threw stones at Palestinians’ houses and tents, and no injuries were reported.
- At approximately 18:00, Israeli settlers, from “Kiryat ‘Arba’” settlement, east of Hebron, threw stones at Palestinians’ vehicles traveling on the Bypass road (60), causing fear among the vehicles’ drivers and passengers. Neither injuries nor damage were reported.
- At approximately 14:00 on Friday, 20 March 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Homish” settlement, attacked the northern outskirts of Barqah village, northwest of Nablus. The settlers uprooted forest trees funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. The settlers also damaged Mohanad Yaseen’s water tank. In the meantime, Palestinian young men gathered and confronted them.
- At approximately 15:30, Israeli settlers, from “Homish” settlement, attacked Mostafa Abu Za’bal, from al-Fandoqumiyia village, south of Jenin. Abu Za’bal was working in his plot of land on Nablus-Jenin Road. The settlers beat him and stole his horse.
- At approximately 13:30 on Sunday, 22 March 2020, Israeli settlers set up a number of tents and caravans near a settlement outpost established on Khelet Hamad area in northern Jordan Valley, in an attempt to expand the settlement outpost.
- At approximately 11:00 on Monday, 23 March 2020, Israeli settlers, from “Homish” settlement, on Nablus-Jenin Road, northwest of Nablus, attacked and threw stones at Palestinian vehicles traveling on the road. As a result, Hasan Nayif al-Qadi’s vehicle sustained damage and the rear window was broken. Hasan fled towards Silat al-Daher village and the settlers stole his vehicle. The Palestinian Liaison recovered the vehicle later.
- At approximately 17:00, Israeli settlers, from “Kawkab al-Sabbah” settlement, which is established in ‘Ain al-Samiyia area, east of Ramallah, attacked Arwa’ Mohamed al-Na’san (35), from al-Moghair village, northeast of the city. Al-Na’san was severely beaten and attacked with stones while present in his agricultural land located near the settlement. As a result, he sustained bruises throughout his body and received treatment at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
- At approximately 17:30, Israeli settlers, from ‘Ain al-Helwa area in northern Jordan Valley, attacked a farmer Moheeb Fathi ‘Eliyan Daraghmah (30) while breeding livestock. As a result, he sustained bruises throughout his body and received treatment at Tubas Turkish Government Hospital.
- At approximately 18:00, Israeli settlers, from “Price Tag group”, attacked the outskirt of Ma’dama village from the southern side. They threw stones at Palestinians houses. The residents confronted them and forced them to leave.
- At approximately 12:30 on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, Israeli settlers moved into Um Safa village, northwest of Ramallah, and attacked Naji Mohamed Tanatra’s agricultural land. Tanatra was working in his land when the settlers beat him with a sharp tool. As a result, he sustained deep wounds in his back and received treatment at Palestine Medical Complex in Ramallah.
- At approximately 14:30 on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, Israeli settlers attacked the outskirt of Nablus from the northern side and threw stones at Mohanad Mohamed Hejjah’s house, causing material damage.
- At approximately 17:30, settlers, from “Price Tag group”, attacked the outskirt of ‘Ainabous village from the northern side. They threw stones at Palestinians houses. The residents confronted them and forced them to leave.
- At approximately 09:00 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds while present near Metar Crossing, west of al-Dahiriyia village in southern Hebron, and forced them to leave. As a result, Sa’ied Mahmoud Khdirat (33) sustained bruises.