Israeli forces continued with systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for the week of 13 – 19 July, 2017.
Israeli forces killed 3 Palestinian civilians in the West Bank. 3 Palestinian civilians from Um al-Fahm were killed in an armed clash inside al-Aqsa Mosque yards. 35 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as Israeli forces continued to target Gaza’s border areas with no casualties reported.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed 6 Palestinian civilians. Three of them were killed inside al-Aqsa Mosque yards in occupied Jerusalem, while the three others were killed in the central and southern West Bank. Moreover, Israeli forces wounded 37 Palestinian civilians, including a child, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thirty two of them were in the West Bank and the 5 others, including a child, were in the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip continued to chase the Palestinian fishermen in the sea and to open fire at farmers in the border areas.
In the West Bank, on 14 July 2017, in excessive use of force, Israeli forces killed Bara’ Hamamda (18) and wounded 2 others during an Israeli incursion into al-Dheisha refugee camp, south of Bethlehem, for arrests.
On the same day, 3 Palestinian civilians from Um al-Fahm in Israel were killed when they entered al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and opened fire at the Israeli officers. They exchanged fire, due to which, the 3 Palestinians were killed immediately while 3 Israeli police officers were wounded. Two of the Israeli officers were pronounced dead later.
On 16 July 2017, Israeli officers killed Ammar Ahmed al-Tirawi (34), who is wanted to the Israeli forces, when they moved into Kufor Ein village, northwest of Ramallah. Gunfire was heard from a poultry farm in the eastern side of the village, after which the Israeli forces withdrew. The village residents hurried to the said area and saw blood in a greenhouse and in the main street, but found no corpse. Moreover, Israeli forces arrested the victim’s cousin and kept in the corpse in custody.
On 18 July 2017, Israeli forces killed Ra’fat Herbawi (29), from al-Karam valley neighbourhood, west of Hebron, after opening fire at his vehicle near Beit Aynoun intersection on bypass road (60). Israeli forces claimed that he attempted to deliberately run over a number of Israeli officers near the street. His corpse was taken by an Israeli military jeep to an unknown destination.
During the reporting period, in addition to the two wounded persons mentioned above, Israeli forces wounded 30 Palestinian civilians. Six of them sustained live bullet wounds, 17 sustained metal bullet wounds and 9 others were hit with sound bombs.
In the Gaza Strip, the border area witnessed peaceful protests against the illegal closure imposed on the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces used force against the protestors, as result, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded. Two of them was hit with live bullets and one was hit with a tear gas canister.
On 16 July 2017, 2 fishermen were wounded when Israeli forces stationed in the sea opened fire at a fishing boat on board of which were 3 fishermen sailing within the allowed fishing limits off Khan Yunis shore, south of the Gaza Strip. The 2 fishermen were transported to Nasser Hospital to receive the necessary medical treatment. Their wounds were classified as moderate.
In the context of opening fire at the border area, on 13 July 2017, Israeli forces stationed at the border fence, east of Gaza Valley, opened fire at the shepherds and farmers in the area. However, no casualties were reported.
Concerning attacks on fishermen, on 15 July 2017, Israeli gunboats opened fire sporadically at the Palestinian fishermen, northwest of Beit Lahia village, north of the Gaza Strip. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported. A similar attack recurred against the Palestinian fishing boats in the same area on 16 July 2017.
During the reporting period, Israeli forces conducted at least 58 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, and 8 others into Jerusalem and its suburbs. During these incursions, Israeli forces arrested at least 57 Palestinian civilians, including 5 children, 3 girls and a journalist. Twenty six of them, including 2 children and the 3 girls, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem and its suburbs.
Moreover, Israeli forces raided offices of Ramasat for TV services and Palmedia for media services in Hebron. They confiscated 4 hard disks from the first office and 6 others from the other.
Efforts to create Jewish Majority
Following the armed clash between the Palestinian civilians from Um al-Fahm and the Israeli officers in al-Aqsa yards on Friday morning, 14 July 2017, that resulted in the killing of 2 Israeli officers and the 3 Palestinians, dozens of Israeli intelligence and police officers and soldiers stormed al-Aqsa mosque and cordoned it off and denied the Palestinians access to the mosque. Moreover, they locked up all the Islamic Endowments’ (Awqaf) officers inside rooms, confiscated their cell phones and referred some of them to interrogation. Israeli forces closed all entrances to the Old City with metal barriers. As an unprecedented measure, the Israeli authorities banned the Islamic Call to Prayer (Adhan) in al-Aqsa mosque until Sunday noon, 16 July 2017, after which they declared they would gradually reopen the mosque after erecting 9 metal detector gates at al-Asbat, al-Majles and al-Selsela gates. However, they kept the remaining gates closed. The Muslim worshipers refused since then entering the mosque through those detector gates.
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.
Demonstrations in protest against the annexation wall and settlement activities
- Following the Friday prayer on Friday, 14 July 2017, dozens of Palestinian civilians and Israeli and international human rights defenders organized a protest in Bil’in and Ni’lin villages, west of Ramallah; al-Nabi Saleh village, northwest of the city, in protest 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 protesters into olive fields and houses. As a result, some of the protesters suffered tear gas inhalation while others sustained bruises as Israeli soldiers beat them up.
- At approximately 17:00 on Wednesday, 19 July 2017, dozens of Palestinian civilians organized a protest in the vicinity of Qalandiya military checkpoint at the northern entrance to occupied Jerusalem, in rejection to the Israeli authorities’ measures in al-Aqsa Mosque. The protestors threw stones and empty bottles at the Israeli forces stationed there. The soldiers fired live bullets, rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. As a result, 4 civilians were wounded; three of them sustained live bullet wounds to the lower limbs while the fourth one sustained a metal bullet wound to the hand. They were transferred to Palestine Medical Complex as the Palestinian Ministry of Health declared that.
- At approximately 15:30 on Friday, 14 July 2017, dozens of Palestinian young men made their way to the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of al-Buraij in the central Gaza Strip, protesting against the Israeli-imposed closure on Gaza. They gathered near the security fence, set fire to tires, raised the Palestinian flags and threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed along the abovementioned border fence. The soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, a Palestinian civilian from al-Nuseirat sustained a live bullet wound to the right knee (PCHR keeps the name of the wounded civilian). The wounded civilian was transferred to al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah and his medical condition was classified as moderate.
- At approximately 16:30 on the same Friday, dozens of Palestinian civilians gathered few meters away from the border fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, in response to calls for protests in the border area against the Israeli-imposed closure on Gaza. A number of the young men set fire to tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces stationed along the abovementioned border fence. The soldiers fired live bullets, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated metal bullets at them. The clashes continued until approximately 19:00 on the same day. As a result, a 17-year-old civilian sustained a live bullet wound to the left side of the waist and a 25-year-old civilian was hit with a tear gas canister to the head. They were transferred to the Indonesian Hospital in Jabalia. Their wounds were classified as moderate.
Arrests at military checkpoints:
- At approximately 22:20 on Friday, 14 July 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint on the main street leading to Salfit (near Ariel settlement). They searched Palestinian vehicles, questioned the passengers and checked their IDs. In the meantime, Islam Jameel Mohamed ‘Odah (22), from Tulkarm refugee camp, east of Tulkarm, was arrest
- At approximately 20:00 on Monday, 17 July 2017, Israeli forces established a checkpoint at the entrance to al-Yamoun village, west of Jenin. They searched Palestinian vehicles, questioned the passengers and checked their IDs. In the meantime, the Israeli forces arrested Abdullah Abu al-Hijah (25), and Abdullah al-Ja’bari (24).
- At approximately 08:00 on Wednesday, 19 July 2017, Israeli forces arrested Abed al-Muhsen Abed al-Raheem Sakafi (40), from Hebron. He was arrested at a checkpoint established at the southern entrance to the city.
- Efforts to Create Jewish majority
Israeli forces escalated their attacks on Palestinian civilians and their property. They have also continued their raids on al-Aqsa Mosque and denied the Palestinians access to it:
Unprecedented Measures against Al-Aqsa Mosque
- Following an armed clash occurred in al-Aqsa Mosque yards between 3 Palestinians from Um al-Fahem City in Israel and Israeli police permanently stationed at the Mosque’s gates. As a result, two Israeli police officers and the 3 Palestinians were killed. After that, dozens of Israeli soldiers, police and intelligence officers raided the Mosque and completely cordoned off the mosque. They denied Palestinians’ access to the Mosque and locked the Islamic Awqaf officers in the Mosque’s rooms, confiscated their cell phones; and took some of them for investigation. According to PCHR’s investigations and eyewitnesses’ statement, at approximately 07:20, 3 Palestinian civilians identified as Mohamed Ahmed Jabareen (29), Mohamed Hamed Abed al-Latif (19) and Mohamed Ahmed Mufadel Jabareen (19), all from Um al-Fahem City, entered al-Aqsa Mosque via Hitah Gate and then opened fire at Israeli police officers stationed there. After that, the Palestinian young men headed towards the yard of the Dome of the Rock Mosque. In the meantime, the Israeli police officers and Palestinian men exchanged fire. As a result, the Palestinian young men were immediately killed while 3 Israeli police officers were wounded. Two of the Israeli police officers succumbed to their wounds later.
Following the armed clash occurred in al-Aqsa Mosque yards, the Israeli authority ordered to close all the Mosque gates and the Old City entrances. It also fully imposed closure in the area and deployed dozens of Israeli soldiers in the mosque, its yards and roads leading to it. The Israeli police officers vacated all the Palestinian worshipers from the al-Aqsa Mosque yards and then locked them in the Qibli (southern) mosque. They then raided the Mosque’s rooms and banned the calls to prayer (Adhan). The Islamic Awqaf officers were prevented from entering the Mosque and around 58 of them were arrested. The Israeli police officers raided al-Motaharah area inside the Mosque and damaged its contents.
A Palestinian young man, who was stationed in al-Aqsa Mosque yards during the clash, said that the Israeli forces locked in the Qibli (southern) mosque, searched them, checked their IDs, confiscated their cell phones and took some of them for investigation. Furthermore, the Israeli police officers raided the mosques and threw trash cans under the pretext of searching. The Islamic Endowments (Awqaf) Department confirmed the arrest of 58 of its officers. Firas al-Dibes, Public Relations and media officer at (Awqaf) Department, stated that the Israeli forces took them for interrogation in al-Muskubiya police center in West Jerusalem. The Israeli forces also arrested the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein, while performing the Friday prayer and arrested the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, ‘Akrama Sabri, for few hours and then released them on bail of NIS 10,000 after questioning them.
Lawyer, Ma’moun al-Hasheem, said that the court extended the detention of 3 Islamic Awqaf officers to next Monday. These officers were identified as Ayman al-Khaldi, Majed al-Tamimi and Tareq Sandoqah. It should be noted that the Israeli Intelligence Service released all the arrested persons except the abovementioned officers. The arrested officers were questioned about the attack and filming it, in addition their cell phones were confiscated.
Dozens of Palestinian young men performed the Friday prayer in Jerusalem’s streets and at the entrances to al-Aqsa Mosque and Old City because al-Aqsa Mosque was closed and (Adhan) was banned. In al-‘Amoud Gate area, the Israeli forces attacked Palestinian civilians present there, hit them, forcibly vacated the place and put iron barriers in the area to prevent the prayer. In the afternoon, Israeli forces arrested Rabah Abu Mizer and his two daughters Nirmeen and Aseel; his niece Asmaa; and Mohamed Abu Shosha from Jerusalem’s Old City. Moreover, Mohamed Jadallah, member of the National Labor Authority in Jerusalem, was arrested after raiding his house in Beit Safafa village. It should be noted that his arrest was extended in order to bring him before the court. Mohamed was accused of incitement.
- On Saturday, 15 July 2017, Israeli authorities continued the closure imposed on al-Aqsa Mosque for the 2nd consecutive day. They also banned calls to prayer (Adan) and entering the mosque. At dawn, Omar Kiswani, Director of the al-Aqsa Mosque, was allowed to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque and he walked into the Mosque for 10 minutes under the eyes of the Israeli officers. Omar Kiswani confirmed that the Israeli forces kept deploying in al-Aqsa Mosque yards, completely closed it and searched and damaged its contents.
Abdel al-‘Azim Slhub, Chairman of Awqaf Council; and Wasif al-Bakri, Acting Chief Judge of Jerusalem and President of Sharia Court of Appeals in Jerusalem, stated that the Israeli forces searched the offices of the Islamic Endowments (Awqaf) Department, manuscript center and Islamic Museum, the office of the Acting Chief Judge, clinics and mosques. Abdel al-‘Azim Slhub clarified that the Islamic Museum and the office of Acting Chief Judge contain historical archives, manuscripts and documents for Jerusalem going back to 800 years in history and other archives representing the political, popular and economical Jerusalem’s history.
The Israeli forces continued the closure of the Old Jerusalem’s gates and deployed dozens of Israeli soldiers in the area. They just allowed Jerusalemites to enter the city and checked their IDs before allowing them to enter. The Old City was almost empty, and all shops were closed. It should be noted that the Israeli forces obliged Palestinian traders in Sultan Suliman Street to close their shops and prevented the movement of public and private vehicles in streets adjacent to Old Jerusalem’s walls.
At approximately 19:00 on the same day, clashes erupted in ‘Ain al-Louza neighborhoods in Silwan village, south of occupied Jerusalem’s Old City. The Israeli forces indiscriminately fired sound bombs, flare bombs and rubber-coated metal bullets at Palestinian young men, who threw Molotov cocktail and fireworks at Israeli forces and Israeli settlers’ vehicles. Moreover, the Israeli forces raided a house belonging to Jaber al-‘Abasi and severely hit his two sons Mohamed (17) and Hatem (15).
- On Sunday, 16 July 2017, Israeli authorities installed 9 metal detector gates at three gates to the mosque and closed the remaining gates (Hitah – Malek Fisal – al-Ghawanmah – al-Hadeed – al-Mutaharah – and al-Qattaneen). Five gates at al-Asbat Gate; 2 at al-Majles Gate and 2 at al-Silsilah Gate. Palestinian worshipers; Omar Kiswani, Director of the al-Aqsa Mosque; Wasif al-Bakri, Acting Chief Judge of Jerusalem and President of Sharia Court of Appeals in Jerusalem; and the Islamic Awqaf officers were denied access to al-Aqsa Mosque via the metal detector gates and stressed their right to enter the Mosque unconditionally. As a result, dozens of Palestinian civilians performed the prayers at al-Asbat Gate with Sheikh Omar Kiswani and Wasif al-Bakri. The Israeli forces attempted to attack them several times, chased them, pushed them and hit them with batons. Before al-‘Isha prayer, the Israeli forces put iron barriers at the entrance to al-Asbat gate in order to prevent Palestinian civilians from accessing the Old City, yet, the worshipers performed the prayer. The Palestinian Red Crescent crews stated that around 18 civilians sustained bruises, 3 of them were taken to the hospital. The Israeli Intelligence Service made a call with the Islamic Awqaf officers and informed them about a decision preventing them from entering al-Aqsa Mosque until further notice. Among those officers were Mohamed al-Dabagh, Samir al-Qabani, Khalil al-Tarahoni, Hamza al-Nabali, ‘Amer al-Salfiti, ‘Emad ‘Abdeen, Majd ‘Abdeen and Abdul ‘Aziz al-Halisy according to Firas al-Dibes, Public relations and media officer at (Awqaf) Department.
- At approximately 22:00 on Tuesday, 18 July 2017, Israeli forces attacked thousands of Palestinian worshipers after they performed ‘Isha prayer at al-Asbat Gate. They heavily fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters at them and hit them with batons. As a result, dozens of worshipers sustained bruises, among them was Sheikh ‘Akrama Sabri, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine and President of the Supreme Islamic Commission. Sheikh ‘Akrama Sabri sustained sound bomb shrapnel wounds to the legs.
- On Wednesday, 19 July 2017, the Islamic Endowments (Awqaf) Department issued a decision to close all the mosques in occupied Jerusalem neighborhoods and villages on Friday and perform the Friday prayer in front of al-Aqsa Mosque’s Gates. The decision came as a rejection for installing metal detector gates. On Wednesday, following the Friday prayer, Israeli forces surrounded the worshipers while shouting slogans, hit them with batons and fired sound bombs at them. They also severely hit two Palestinian young men and then arrested them. The arrested civilians were identified as ‘Esam al-Shaloudi and Ahmed Abu Ghanem. In the evening, the Israeli forces surrounded the protesters, who were present in front of al-Majles Gate, and assaulted them. In the meantime, the Israeli forces arrested the Islamic Awqaf officer Tareq al-Hashlamoun and Amjad al-Smeri. At al- Maghrib and al-‘Isha prayers, thousands of Palestinian worshipers headed to al-Asbat and Hetah Gates and performed the prayers in the presence of a large numbers of Israeli soldiers. Thirty minutes before Maghrib prayer, the Israeli police officers prevented the worshipers from entering Jerusalem’s Old City in order to deny access to al-Aqsa Mosque’s Gates. A group of Palestinian worshipers were forced to perform the prayer in front of Jerusalem’s Old City Gates. The Israeli forces also arrested Iyad al-Taweel while he was present in al-Asbat Gate area.
Recommendations to the International Community
PCHR warns of the escalating settlement construction in the West Bank, the attempts to legitimize settlement outposts established on Palestinian lands in the West Bank and the continued summary executions of Palestinian civilians under the pretext that they pose a security threat to the Israeli forces. PCHR reminds the international community that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been rendered homeless and lived in caravans under tragic circumstances due to the latest Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip that has been under a tight closure for almost 10 years. PCHR welcomes the UN Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334, which states that settlements are a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions and calls upon Israel to stop them and not to recognize any demographic change in the oPt since 1967. PCHR hopes this resolution will pave the way for eliminating the settlement crime and bring to justice those responsible for it. PCHR further reiterates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are still under Israeli occupation in spite of Israel’s unilateral disengagement plan of 2005. PCHR emphasizes that there is international recognition of Israel’s obligation to respect international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law. Israel is bound to apply international human rights law and the law of war, sometimes reciprocally and other times in parallel, in a way that achieves the best protection for civilians and remedy for the victims.
- PCHR calls upon the international community to respect the Security Council’s Resolution No. 2334 and to ensure that Israel respects it as well, in particular point 5 which obliges Israel not to deal with settlements as if they were part of Israel.
- PCHR calls upon the ICC in 2017 to open an investigation into Israeli crimes committed in the oPt, particularly the settlement crimes and the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip.
- PCHR Calls upon the European Union (EU) and all international bodies to boycott settlements and ban working and investing in them in application of their obligations according to international human rights law and international humanitarian law considering settlements as a war crime.
- PCHR calls upon the international community 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 international community and United Nations to take all necessary measures to stop Israeli policies aimed at creating a Jewish demographic majority in Jerusalem and at voiding Palestine from its original inhabitants through deportations and house demolitions as a collective punishment, which violates international humanitarian law, amounting to a crime against humanity.
- PCHR calls upon the international community to condemn summary executions carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians and to pressurize Israel to stop them.
- PCHR calls upon the States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC to work hard to hold Israeli war criminals accountable.
- PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligations under article (1) of the Convention to ensure respect for the Conventions under all circumstances, and under articles (146) and (147) to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions to ensure justice and remedy for Palestinian victims, especially in light of the almost complete denial of justice for them before the Israeli judiciary.
- PCHR calls upon the international community to speed up the reconstruction process necessary because of the destruction inflicted by the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
- PCHR calls for a prompt intervention to compel the Israeli authorities to lift the closure that obstructs the freedom of movement of goods and 1.8 million civilians that experience unprecedented economic, social, political and cultural hardships due to collective punishment policies and retaliatory action against civilians.
- PCHR calls upon the European Union to apply human rights standards embedded in the EU-Israel Association Agreement and to respect its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights when dealing with Israel.
- PCHR calls upon the international community, especially states that import Israeli weapons and military services, to meet their moral and legal responsibility not to allow Israel to use the offensive in Gaza to test new weapons and not accept training services based on the field experience in Gaza in order to avoid turning Palestinian civilians in Gaza into testing objects for Israeli weapons and military tactics.
- PCHR calls upon the parties to international human rights instruments, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), to pressurize Israel to comply with its provisions in the oPt and to compel it to incorporate the human rights situation in the oPt in its reports submitted to the relevant committees.
- PCHR calls upon the EU and international human rights bodies to pressurize the Israeli forces to stop their attacks against Palestinian fishermen and farmers, mainly in the border area.
Fully detailed document available at the official website of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.