Protection of Civilians Report | 29 October - 11 November 2019
In the early hours of 12 November, the Israeli Air Force targeted and killed a commander of the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) group and his wife, while they were sleeping in their home. The incident triggered an escalation in hostilities between Israel and various Palestinian armed factions, excluding Hamas, which lasted for about 48 hours. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza, 34 people were killed during these attacks, including 23 men, eight children and three women. Among the fatalities were eight members of the same family, reportedly killed in an attack targeting a senior PIJ operative. The MoH also reported that 111 Palestinians were injured, including at least 41 children and 13 women. In Israel 77 people, including women and children, were reportedly hospitalized from shock and various injuries. On the morning of 14 November, an informal ceasefire brokered by the UN and Egypt was announced and appears to be holding.
On 2 November, a 27-year-old Palestinian civilian man was killed and another one was injured during a series of Israeli air strikes targeting military sites and open areas across the Gaza Strip. The two men were hit south-west of Khan Younis, while inside an agricultural structure that according to Israeli sources was used for military purposes. During the two preceding days, a Palestinian armed group had fired several rockets towards southern Israel, one of which hit a building in Sderot town, resulting in damage.
The ‘Great March of Return’ demonstrations near Israel’s perimeter fence with the Gaza Strip continued, resulting in the injury of 396 Palestinians, including 171 children, by Israeli forces. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 102 of the injuries, including 39 children, were shot with live ammunition. Israeli sources reported that improvised explosive devices, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli forces, and that there were several attempts to breach the fence; no Israeli casualties were reported.
On at least 30 occasions, Israeli forces opened fire in areas adjacent to the perimeter fence and off the coast of Gaza, while enforcing access restrictions; no injuries were reported. In a separate incident, two Palestinian fishermen were arrested, and their boat was confiscated by Israeli naval forces. In another incident, Israeli forces arrested one Palestinian child when he reportedly attempted to infiltrate into Israel through the perimeter fence. Israeli forces also carried out three incursions and land-levelling operations near the perimeter fence.
On 11 November, Israeli forces shot and killed a 22-year-old Palestinian man during clashes at the entrance of Al 'Arrub Refugee Camp (Hebron). UN Special Coordinator, Nickolay Mladenov, stated that video footage of the fatal incident suggests that the man killed did not pose any threat to the Israeli forces at the time he was shot. The Israeli authorities have opened a criminal investigation, according to Israeli media reports. The clashes erupted during a demonstration commemorating the 15th anniversary of the death of the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat.
56 Palestinians, including at least 17 children, were injured by Israeli forces during multiple protests and clashes across the West Bank. The largest clashes were recorded during the above-mentioned demonstration in Al ‘Arrub Camp; in the weekly protest against settlement expansion and access restrictions in Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya); and during a protest in Surif village (Hebron) against land confiscation. Overall, Israeli forces conducted 84 such operations, three of which have led to clashes resulting in injuries.
Additionally, 285 school children and 35 teachers were treated for tear gas inhalation, after Israeli forces shot tear gas canisters and sound bombs into the yards of two school compounds in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron city (H2), on three separate occasions. According to various Palestinian sources, only one of the incidents (on 3 November) was preceded by stone-throwing at Israeli forces by Palestinian children.
Almost daily Police operations in the Al Isawiya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, most of which resulted in confrontations and arrests, have disrupted the daily life of some 18,000 Palestinians. On 2 November, a two days strike was declared by the parents’ committee in all the neighbourhood’s schools, protesting police violence. While the total number of injuries during the clashes could not be confirmed, the injury of an eight-month-old infant and a pregnant woman by tear gas inhalation has raised particular concern. Nineteen residents, including seven children, were arrested. High levels of tensions and violence in Al Isawiya have been ongoing since last June.
Two Palestinians, a 15-year-old boy and a 37-year-old woman, were shot and injured by Israeli forces in two separate incidents, reportedly after they attempted to stab Israeli forces; no Israeli was injured. The incidents occurred on 28 and 30 October in the Old City of Jerusalem and in the H2 area of Hebron City, respectively. The two suspected perpetrators were arrested. Near Qaffin village (Tulkarm), Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian man with live ammunition, after he tried to cross the Barrier without a permit.
Citing the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, the Israeli authorities demolished or forced people to demolish, 19 structures in Area C and East Jerusalem, displacing 49 Palestinians, and otherwise affecting 61 others. Six of these structures, including four previously provided as humanitarian aid, were in herding communities located in areas declared closed for military training (“firing zones”). Another three structures (all residential) were located in Palestinian Bedouin communities to the east of Jerusalem, next to an area planned for the expansion of the Ma’ale Adummim settlement (the E1 plan). Nine structures were demolished in East Jerusalem, including a home self-demolished by its owners in Al Isawiya. The number of structures demolished so far this year (513) represents almost 33 per cent increase, compared with the equivalent period in 2018.
The olive harvest was disrupted in a number of areas across the West Bank by Israeli settler violence, which resulted in the damage of at least 1,050 trees, and the theft of several tons of produce. Nine of the documented incidents took place near settlements, where Palestinian access is restricted by the Israeli authorities. The affected communities included Qaryut, Burin, Al Lubban ash Sharqiya and in Deir al Hatab (all in Nablus); Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya); Mas-ha (Salfit) and Umm Safa (Ramallah). Another seven settler incidents were reported in the villages of Yatma, As Sawiya and Burin (Nablus), Kafr Qaddum (Qalqiliya) and Yasuf (Salfit). The olive harvest, which takes place every year between October and November, is a key economic, social and cultural event for Palestinians.
An additional five settler attacks resulted in Palestinian injuries and property damage. A Palestinian man was injured and three Palestinian vehicles sustained damage as a result of stone throwing in three separate incidents on West Bank roads. Israeli settlers also vandalized at least 32 vehicles and sprayed “price tag” graffiti on three houses in two separate incidents in Tublas (Jerusalem) and Qabalan (Nablus) villages. In Qarawat Bani Hassan (Salfit), Israeli settlers reportedly damaged a barrack and set fire to 400 bales of hay. So far in 2019, OCHA has recorded 299 incidents where Israeli settlers killed or injured Palestinians or damaged Palestinian property, compared 213 and 124 incidents in the equivalent periods of 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Israeli media reported six incidents of stone-throwing by Palestinians at Israeli settler vehicles. Two settlers were injured and several vehicles were damaged. So far in 2019, OCHA has recorded 93 incidents where Palestinians killed or injured Israeli settlers and other Israeli civilians or damaged their property, a decline compared to the number of incidents in the equivalent periods of 2018 (141 incidents) and 2017 (211 incidents).