OCHA: Protection of Civilians Report; September 8 - 21, 2020

12:00 Sep 27 2020 Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT): Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Biweekly Highlights September 8 – 21, 2020

In two separate incidents in Jenin and Qalqilia governorates, northern West Bank, Israeli forces fired sound grenades and live bullets towards Palestinian workers trying to enter Israel through breached sections of the Barrier.<.b> In the former incident, on 18 September, a 54-year-old Palestinian dentist died of a heart attack as he was trying to flee the area; in the latter, a man was shot with live ammunition. The unauthorized crossing of workers through Barrier openings has been on the rise following the outbreak of COVID-19 last March. Since then, Israeli forces have injured at least 66 Palestinians in this context, including 23 by live ammunition.

Overall, nine Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces across the West Bank during the reporting period. Three of the injured were children, aged 13, 14 and 16, hit by rubber-coated steel bullets, fired during confrontations in Hebron city and the nearby Al-Arroub refugee camp. Israeli forces conducted 161 search-and-arrest operations, two of which, in Kafr Dan village (Jenin) and Tulkarem city, led to clashes, resulting in two injuries. The other three Palestinians were injured during the weekly protest in Kufur Qaddoum (Qalqilia) and another confrontation in the same area.

On 15 September, a Palestinian armed group fired several rockets at southern Israel, injuring three Israelis in Ashdod city. The firing was carried out during the signing of normalization agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in Washington, D.C. Subsequently, the Israeli Air Force carried out multiple airstrikes targeting military sites in Gaza, which resulted in no injuries. The hostilities followed the understandings reached on 31 August, which had brought three weeks of escalation to an end.

On at least eight occasions, Israeli forces opened fire near Israel’s perimeter fence with Gaza, and off its coast, resulting in no injuries, presumably to enforce access restrictions. On four occasions, Israeli forces entered Gaza and carried out land-levelling and excavation operations near the perimeter fence. In addition, the Israeli authorities arrested a patient at the Erez crossing while he was on his way to receive treatment, as well as at least five other people who were near the perimeter fence while they were reportedly attempting to infiltrate into Israel.

A 44-year-old man was injured in Gaza as an explosive remnants of war (ERW) detonated while he was farming his land. Since the beginning of 2020, at least two people have been killed and five others injured due to the detonation of ERWs.

Twenty-two Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or seized for the lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 50 Palestinians, and otherwise affecting about 200 people. Twelve of the demolitions, including eight carried out by the owners of the structures, were recorded in East Jerusalem. These have generated all displacements recorded in this period. So far this year, slightly over half of all demolitions in East Jerusalem (134) were carried out by the owners, following the issuance of demolition orders, to avoid higher fines and fees. The other ten structures were in Area C. Five of these were demolished in At Taybe (Hebron) and Beit Sira (Ramallah) on the basis of the Military Order 1797, which allows demolitions within 96 hours of the issuance of a ‘removal order’. On 10 September, the Humanitarian Coordinator raised concerns over the sharp increase in demolitions since the outbreak of the pandemic, and called upon the Israeli authorities to immediately halt this unlawful practise.

Some 550 Palestinian-owned trees were uprooted or otherwise vandalized, reportedly by Israeli settlers, in three incidents. The largest incident took place on land cultivated by three families from Biddya village (Salfit), where settlers bulldozed and destroyed 445 fruit trees, an agricultural structure and 1.7-km-long stone walls and iron fences. According to Israeli sources, the settlers claim ownership over the land and intend to establish a new settlement there, despite the lack of building permits or official approval. The other two incidents occurred in Areas B and C, near As-Sawiya village (Nablus), where some 100 olive trees were cut down or otherwise vandalized. Since the beginning of the year, nearly 5,000 Palestinian-owned trees, mostly olives, have been destroyed or damaged. The annual olive harvest season will officially start on 7 October, amid serious access restrictions to land near settlements and behind the Barrier.

Two Israelis were injured in the West Bank when assailants believed to be Palestinians physically assaulted them and stole their vehicles, according to Israeli sources. Additional seven Israeli-plated cars reportedly sustained stone-throwing damage while travelling on West Bank roads.

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