During the reporting period, the Israeli forces wounded 4 protestors, including a Norwegian human rights defender and member of the board of directors of Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center, in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces continued to fire at the Palestinian fishing boats in order to minimize the allowed fishing area to 3 nautical miles instead of 6 nautical miles.
During the reporting period, the Israeli forces continued to systematically use excessive force against peaceful protests organized by Palestinians and Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West Bank and other protests in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in the Israeli jails. As a result, dozens of protesters suffered from tear gas inhalation and other sustained bruises.
In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli forces continued to chase the Palestinian fishermen in the sea. PCHR’s fieldworkers documented 4 shooting incidents on Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing 3 nautical miles off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia in the north of the Gaza Strip. As a result of the attacks, the fishermen were obliged to flee back to the shore fearing of being wounded or arrested. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported.
It should be noted that on Thursday, 21 March 2013, the Israeli forces announced reducing the allowed fishing area from 6 to 3 nautical miles. Israel allowed the Palestinian fishermen to sail 6 nautical miles off the Gaza Strip’s shore following the cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel last November.
During the reporting period, the Israeli forces conducted at least 37 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank. During these incursions, the Israeli forces arrested at least 26 Palestinians, including 6 children.
In the Gaza Strip, on 24 March 2013, the Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of al-Musaddar village to east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, arrested Zeyad Sami Abu Ghuraba, 17, from al-Mussader village, when he attempted to cross the border into Israel.
Restrictions on Movement:
Israel continued to impose a tightened 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 Israeli-imposed closure of the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip. The illegal closure has caused not only a humanitarian crisis, but a crisis of human rights and human dignity for the population of the Gaza Strip. Recently-declared measures to ease the closure are vague, purely cosmetic and fail to deal with the root causes of the crisis; the root causes can only be addressed by an immediate and complete lifting of the closure, including lifting the travel ban into and out of the Gaza Strip and the ban on exports. Palestinians in Gaza may no longer suffer from the same shortage of goods but, as long as the closure is allowed to continue, they will remain economically dependent, unable to care for themselves, and socially, culturally and academically isolated from the rest of the world.
The Israeli forces have continued to impose severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinian civilians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continue to be denied access to Jerusalem.
During the reporting period, the Israeli forces completely closed the commercial border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel. They closed Karm Abu Salem crossing from Sunday, 24 March 2013 – Wednesday, 27 March 2013, because of the Jewish holidays. This closure negatively affected the entry of goods, construction materials and medical consignments in the Gaza Strip. It also had a negative impact on the living conditions of the Palestinian civilians. The Israeli forces also imposed comprehensive security restrictions due to the Jewish Holiday of Passover. As a result, dozens of thousands of Palestinian workers were denied access to their work in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem. Moreover, the Palestinian traders were denied access to Israel and/or travel via the border crossings between the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
Israel has continued its settlement activities in the oPt, in violation of international humanitarian law, and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.
On 21 March 2013, dozens of settlers, coming from a number of settlement outposts established in the center of the old city of Hebron in the center of the town, erected big tents and amusement park games in the Ibrahimi Mosque’s garden in the center of the old city, for celebrations of the Jewish holiday, Passover.
On the same day, Israeli forces started bulldozing tracts of land of approximately 550 dunums in area, belonging to members of Salah family in Batten al-Ma’si area, southern of al-Khader village, south of Bethlehem. The Israeli forces issued a decision two months ago ordering that 114 settlement units be built in the area in order to expand “Tel Hitamar” settlement outpost, established on lands of al-Khader village.
On 22 March 2013, Israeli forces issued a decision confiscating approximately 3 dunums of the lands of al-Jalama village, northern Jenin, approximate to the commercial crossing between the West Bank and Israel, under pretext of expanding the crossing and also for security necessities. The land is the property of Saleh Abu-Farha.
On 23 March 2013, Israeli forces, accompanied by military vehicles, raided the agricultural lands surrounding “Susiya” settlement, established on Palestinian civilians’ lands eastern of Yatta, southern of Hebron. The soldiers were deployed in the area and banned Palestinian farmers from accessing their lands under pretext that these areas are closed military zones. The Israeli forces assaulted Palestinian civilians after they refused to leave their lands, and arrested one of them.
On the same day, a number of settlers from “Havat Gilad” settlement outpost, established on Palestinian civilians’ lands western of Nablus, gathered by Nablus – Qalqilya road. The settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles as they were passing by the aforementioned road.
On Sunday, 24 March 2013, dozens of settlers, coming from a number of settlement outposts established in the center of the old city of Hebron, central Hebron, raised Israeli flags on historical monuments and ancient ruins in the old city as well as al-Sahla, al-Shuhada Street and the Ibrahimi Mosque’s playground.
On Sunday, 24 March 2013, the Israeli authorities issued a military decision ordering that dozens of dunums in Kherbat al-Dair area, southwestern of Bethlehem, be confiscated. The goal of the confiscation of these lands is for the construction of 70 new housing units, in order to link “Betar Illit” settlement, established on lands of Housan, Nahalin and Foukein valley villages, to “Jfot” settlement, which would lead to an almost comprehensive closure of the village, depriving dozens of families from accessing their agricultural lands in Kherbat al-Dair area.
On 26 March 2013, the Israeli forces prohibited Palestinian civilians from reconstructing the eastern entrance to Yatta village, south of Hebron, which is linked to bypass road (60), under pretext that it falls under area (C) which goes under Israeli jurisdiction according to the Oslo Accords of 1993 and it is forbidden to make any changes in these areas without obtaining prior permission from the concerned Israeli authorities.