Quarterly Updates for (1 Jul 2019 — 30 Sep 2019)

Overview of violence

                The main cause of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since last May has been Israel’s violent response to the Great March of Return protests by the Gaza fence. By the end of the last quarter, a relative calm was agreed to between Israel and Hamas, with Hamas policing the area around the Gaza fence and discouraging Palestinian protest to keep the calm. Despite the relative calm, Israel killed 12 Palestinians by the fence this quarter, 1 of them a member of Hamas who was attempting to get Palestinians to leave the fence area. Israel later issued a statement saying that he was misidentified and his killing was a result of a misunderstanding by Israeli soldiers. Despite the incident, the situation remained relatively calm, with an August flare-up in Israeli violence toward Palestinians in Gaza, coinciding with the largest amount of casualties and largest exchange of rockets.

                18 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces this quarter, 16 less than last quarter’s 34. The majority of the Palestinians were killed in August when 12 were killed; 4 were killed in September and 2 in July. The number of Israelis killed by Palestinians were 2, both in August: 1 civilian and 1 soldier. The vast majority of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces resided in Gaza [12] during protests similar—but not directly related—to the Great March of Return protests by the Gaza fence. Of the 12 victims, all but 3 were shot by live ammunition. The last 3 were shelled by Israeli tanks and helicopters while protesting near the fence. 1 Palestinian was killed in Israel by Israeli forces after crossing from Gaza. 1 was shot to death after he ran over 2 settlers with his car near Bethlehem; his car overturned, indicating that he probably lost control of the car rather than intentionally killed the settlers. 2 Palestinians were killed in East Jerusalem: 1 by the Qalandia checkpoint, who was shot from a distance of 30 feet because she allegedly was wielding a knife; and 1 minor who was shot in the Old City after he stabbed 1 Israeli police officer. 1 Israeli girl was killed by an IED while hiking in the West Bank. 1 Israeli soldier was stabbed to death near the Efrat settlement. This quarter’s casualties brings the comprehensive death toll since the beginning of the 2d Intifada in 9/2000 to 11,305 Palestinians; 1,296 Israelis; and 73 foreign nationals (including 2 British suicide bombers).

                According to the United Nations (UN) Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, 3,172 Palestinians were injured by Israelis, including 957 in July, 1,013 in August, and 1,202 in September. 26 Israelis were injured by Palestinians during the same period. Like the Palestinian fatalities, the vast amount of injuries happened by the Gaza fence as the Great March of Return protest continued with Israel’s violent repression of the protests undeterred.

Air Strikes and Rockets

                After Israel killed 1 member of Hamas who was preventing Palestinians from reaching the Gaza fence, which Israel later apologized for (see above), Hamas responded by firing 2 rockets at Israel on 7/12, both of which landed in an open area and causing no damage. About 1 month later on 8/11, Israel said that an armed man opened fire at Israeli soldiers by the Gaza fence, causing no injuries; they responded by killing the man and shelling parts of Gaza near Bayt Hanun, causing damage but no injuries. This began an intense period of about 1 month, in which Israel and Gaza exchanged multiple rockets. On 8/16, 1 rocket was fired at Israel causing no damage, and Israel shelled areas in northern Gaza causing damage. The next day, 3 rockets were fired at Israel causing no damage, while Israel shelled parts of Gaza, causing damage for the 2d day in a row. After a short lull, the situation flared up again on 8/22 after 1 rocket was launched at Israel causing no damage, and Israel fired at Gaza causing damage. The pattern repeated on 8/26 and 8/27, with damage reported in Gaza and reports of 1 fire sparked by a rocket that landed in Israel. Hamas said it was not responsible for the rockets, to which Israel released a statement saying it would hold Hamas “responsible for everything that takes place in the Strip.” The situation flared up again 2 weeks later on 9/6, when Israeli forces shot and killed 2 Palestinian minors at the Gaza fence; 5 rockets were launched at Israel as a result, igniting 3 days rocket exchanges causing damage in Gaza. The hostilities culminated on 9/10 in rockets firing from Gaza toward Ashdod as Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a campaign event ahead of Israeli elections and was evacuated from the stage. Israel subsequently fired 15 missiles at Gaza causing extensive damage. Hamas said the group was not behind the rockets fired at Israel, but said they were a signal to both Hamas and Israel that something needs to change in the situation in Gaza.


Movement and Access

Haram al-Sharif Compound

                As Israel continues to violate the status quo of the holy places in Jerusalem, the Islamic Waqf sought to push back against an Israeli decision to allow Jewish people to worship at the Haram al-Sharif compound in commemoration of Tisha B’Av, on the same day of Eid al-Adha. The Waqf closed all other mosques except for the al-Aqsa Mosque and called for Muslims to attend the service at the Haram al-Sharif compound on Eid, which fell on 8/11. In the days leading to the Waqf’s call for mass prayers, Jewish worshippers in large numbers toured the Haram al-Sharif compound, verbally abusing Muslim worshippers. On 8/11, thousands of Muslim worshippers prayed at the compound in celebration of Eid al-Adha; however, at around 9.30 a.m., they were forcefully removed by Israeli forces to make way for some 1,300 Jewish worshippers. 61 were reportedly injured, with 15 worshippers needing hospitalization. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Iran, and the Palestinian Authority (PA) condemned Israel for allowing Jewish worshippers access to the compound in violation of the status quo and for forcefully removing the Muslim worshippers. In the aftermath of the clashes that ensued, Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan said on 8/13 that he wishes to change the status quo by allowing Jewish worshippers access to the compound, stating that such a change would have to be achieved politically. Jordan quickly condemned Security Minister Erdan’s suggestion that the status quo could be changed. The PA issued a statement underscoring that the Haram al-Sharif compound “is a red line and will not be touched in any way.” 1 week after the Eid clashes, the Jordanian foreign ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador to the country for a reprimand over Israel’s behavior toward the holy site, which the Jordanian king is the custodian of. (for more on the status quo of the holy sites in Jerusalem see Jerusalem and the Trump Administration: Transforming the Status Quo.)

Movement Between Gaza and West Bank

                After a 2-year legal battle, a 6-year-old Palestinian boy residing with his grandparents and 1 older brother in Gaza was allowed to move to the West Bank where his immediate family lives. His mother, who is from Kafr Malik, and 5 of his siblings were allowed by Israel to leave Gaza for the West Bank after his parents were divorced in 2017, but Israel refused the youngest from leaving because he was registered as living in Rafah. Israel has a draconian set of rules regulating movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank. Haaretz reported in September that there are 2,671 Palestinians from Gaza living in the West Bank without Israeli permits and that the Israeli government is seeking to halt movement of Palestinians from Gaza to the West Bank. According to the Haaretz report, Israel considers Palestinians from Gaza residing in the West Bank without Israeli permits “illegal aliens.” According to the Oslo Accords, Gaza and the West Bank is 1 territorial unit and thus, a Palestinian residing in Gaza cannot be considered an “illegal alien.” The PA health minister Mai al-Kaila also said this quarter that 40 percent of travel permit applications for Palestinians in Gaza to travel to East Jerusalem or the West Bank for medical reasons were rejected.

                The Israeli government also obstructed the 2d leg of the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)-recognized Palestine Cup from being carried out in the West Bank as only 5 of the players from the Rafah team in Gaza were allowed to travel to the West Bank for the game. The 1st leg of the game was played in Rafah on 6/30 and the 2d leg was originally scheduled for 7/3, but was postponed due to Israel only giving a permit to 1 player from the Rafah team. The Palestinian Football Association then rescheduled the game for 9/25, but it was ultimately canceled as an Israeli court on 9/23 denied an appeal from the remaining players to be allowed to travel for the game. The winner of the bout would have represented Palestine in the Asian Champions League.

Movement Between Jordan and West Bank

                The Allenby crossing between the West Bank and Jordan was closed for some 36 hours on 8/10 and 8/11 due to Eid al-Adha.

Gaza Crossings

                The Rafah crossing was open for 60 days this quarter and had 22,750 entries and 24,325 exits, with the majority in July. The Erez crossing had 54,000 crossings in total, most of which were in July. The vast majority of the Erez crossings were by merchants at around 36,000, while around 9,100 were by patients and their companions. The number of crossings at Erez were down from 43,000 last quarter. The Kerem Shalom crossing for imports and exports of commodities saw 112 truckloads of exports and 22,846 of imports. Most of the imported commodities were for construction—around 8,000 truckloads—followed by food products—around 5,000. In addition, some 83 million liters of fuel and some 17 million kilos of cooking gas entered Gaza, up from 71 and 16.95 from last quarter.

                Israel closed all of its crossings for Palestinians except for humanitarian and medical cases for the Jewish new year from 9/29-10/1.


                The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) began cutting electricity in some Palestinian villages and cities in the West Bank as collective punishment on 9/22, claiming that the PA owed the company $484 million. The PA acknowledged a debt to the IEC, but said it was $215 million. By the end of the quarter, the cuts in electricity were affecting the Jericho and Ramallah areas for about 2 hours a day.




                This quarter, Israel demolished or seized 140 Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, displacing 102 and affecting 10,127. 31 of the demolished structures were located in East Jerusalem, 95 in Area C, and 10 in Area A. The majority of the demolitions, 66, were carried out in July, 22 in August, and 48 in September. Israel claimed it demolished 130 of the structures due to lack of permits (21 of 1,485 construction permit applications were approved by Israel between 2016 and 2018) and that the 10 structures were demolished in Area A because they were too close to the separation wall. By the end of the quarter, there was a 42 percent increase in structure demolition by Israel compared to the 1st 3 quarters of 2018.

                Among the demolitions of Palestinian property this quarter was 1 of the largest this decade on 7/22, as Israeli forces demolished 10 apartment buildings housing 70 units in Sur Bahir, located in Areas A and B on both sides of the separation wall. This highly publicized demolition that included some 700 Israeli police officers and 200 Israeli soldiers drew condemnation from many international organizations and countries. During the demolitions, several Palestinians were injured by Israeli forces while protesting. Israeli forces also detained the Palestinian owner of 1 of the buildings for several hours; upon his release, he was banned from the neighborhood until 7/25. Most of the buildings were still under construction and were housing 17 Palestinians with 350 other Palestinians owning stakes in the buildings. They had PA approval and were under PA jurisdiction as they were in Areas A and B; however, Israeli claimed that they were built too close to the separation barrier. The PA called the demolitions a war crime and said it would refer the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Palestine Liberation Organization also warned that Israel was setting a precedent by using the buildings’ proximities to the separation barrier as an excuse. 2 days after the demolitions, the U.S. blocked a draft statement at the UN condemning the demolitions brought by Kuwait, Indonesia, and South Africa.


                Israeli police forcefully evicted 1 Palestinian family from their home in Silwan on 7/10, handing the building over to Israeli settlers after the settler organization Elad won a lawsuit against the family. Elad had, prior to winning this latest lawsuit in Israeli court, lost several other lawsuits against the family, in part because of their use of fraudulently manufactured contracts claiming the organization had bought the building. In the end Elad, managed to acquire the building by gaining the rights to the house using Israel’s Absentees’ Property Law. The Palestinian family says that they have been ordered to pay Elad 472,000 NIS ($143,000) and the Jerusalem district court 50,000 NIS ($15,000).

                Later in September, another Palestinian family of 18 was evicted from their house in Silwan after an Israeli court ordered the eviction on 9/20. The family had been fighting for their right to live in their home for 30 years as the Jewish National Fund tried to have them evicted with backing from Elad. Like the aforementioned case, the settler organizations used the Absentees’ Property Law in the Israeli legal system to have the Palestinian family evicted in favor of Israeli settlers. The UN estimates that 877 Palestinians are threatened by eviction in East Jerusalem.

Destroying Palestinian Property from Below

                Palestinian families in East Jerusalem also complained about further destruction of their property due to Israeli excavations under areas of Silwan, causing major cracks in Palestinian-owned homes and creating fears that the buildings might collapse. The excavations are partly funded by the Elad organization and officially seek to recreate a route taken by Jewish pilgrims to the 2d Temple, but this is widely believed to be an excuse to Judaize East Jerusalem by forcing Palestinians from East Jerusalem homes like the eviction lawsuits.

New Settlements in the West Bank

                On 7/30, the Israeli security cabinet approved 715 housing units in Palestinian towns in Area C. It was the 1st time since 2016 that Israel approved Palestinian housing units in Area C; however, it is unclear if the approvals were for new construction or for the legalization of buildings already constructed. At the same time, the security cabinet approved more than 6,000 new settler units. The Israeli transportation minister Betzalel Smotrich said the approval of the 715 Palestinian housing units was a way for Israel to extend sovereignty in the West Bank and “to stop the creation of a Palestinian state inside the country.” PA prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said that it was not for Israel to approve Palestinian construction in the West Bank, and that approving Palestinian housing units along with settler units “is aimed at deceiving international public opinion, legitimizing the settlements and attempting to equate Palestinian construction on their lands with the colonial settlement construction that steals the land.”

                A week later, Israel again approved new settler housing units, this time some 2,300. Israel’s decision to approve the housing units, which are at various stages in the approval process, drew condemnation from the European Union and the UN, which both urged Israel to halt settlement construction. Days later on 8/8, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would approve 650 new settlement housing units as collective punishment for the killing of 1 Israeli settler, who was found dead near the Gush Etzion settlement. On 8/26, after an Israeli was killed in the West Bank, Prime Minister Netanyahu again ordered settlement construction of 300 units near where the Israeli was killed by the Dolev settlement.

                In mid-September, 2 days before the Israeli elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government approved legalizing the Mevo’ot Yeriho settlement in the Jordan Valley, but left final approval to the next elected Israeli government.

                Peace Now released a report in mid-July detailing how 31 settlement outposts, predominantly agricultural, have been erected since 2012 and that they have shown no signs of being evacuated by the Israeli government. 16 of the 31 settler outposts were established after 2017, when U.S. president Donald Trump took office. Peace Now reported that some of these outposts are working with Israeli settlement councils, although they are deemed illegal by the Israeli government.

                An Associated Press investigation found that the Falic family, which owns Duty Free Americas, has given more than $5.6 million to settler organizations operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The family donated to the settler organizations though their 2 foundations, Falic Family Private Foundation and the Segal Foundation.

Enforcement of Anti-Palestinian Policies in East Jerusalem

                Israel’s aggressive policing of activities in East Jerusalem perceived to be connected to the PA led to a soccer tournament being banned this quarter by the Israeli public security minister Gilad Erdan. Erdan claimed that the soccer tournament, which had been taking place for years, was organized by the PA. On 8/18, as this year’s tournament was about to commence, Israeli police ordered the players to disperse and equipment was confiscated. The police order was signed by Erdan and said that the “event will be held on behalf of and/or is sponsored and funded by the Palestinian Authority.” The organizers, the Burj al-Luqluq Society, denied that it had any connection to the PA and charged Erdan with wanting to erase everything Palestinian from East Jerusalem.


                Haaretz reported in late August that Israeli police had arrested more than 340 Palestinians from Issawiyya over a 2-month period since June. Of the 340 arrests, 5 had criminal charges against them; the rest were released shortly after their arrests. Israel conducts nightly raids in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank arresting several Palestinians every night, the vast majority of whom are released shortly after without charges. Israeli police started intensely policing the neighborhood daily in the beginning of June, leading to clashes with local Palestinian youth protesting against the intensified raids and checkpoints. After the Haaretz reporting, Israeli police agreed to limit its violent engagement with the neighborhood if the local parents committee promised not to start a strike by closing down the local schools. However, Israeli police restarted its aggressive policing of the neighborhood by the end of the quarter. The UN said the daily raids resulted in 138 injuries to Palestinian residents between June and August, including 95 from rubber-coated bullets, 20 from tear gas inhalation, and 20 from physical assault.


                On 7/22, Israel tried to deport a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem to Jordan via the Allenby crossing, but Jordan refused to allow him entry, thus foiling Israel’s deportation attempt. The man who was born in Algeria to Palestinian parents and who has been living in East Jerusalem since he was 12 was arrested in January for not having an Israeli-issued residency permit to live in East Jerusalem. He was then detained without a trial for some 7 months until Israel tried to deport him when the Israeli interior ministry rejected his application for family unification with his wife and child who are both Israeli citizens. After the failed attempt to deport the man, he was taken back to an Israeli prison where he was still held by the end of the quarter.


                1 Palestinian-owned butcher shop was closed by Israeli police for 15 days as punishment because the owner allegedly had hired 1 Palestinian from the West Bank who did not have an Israeli-issued permit to work in East Jerusalem.

                During the shooting of an Israeli TV show about the Israeli police in East Jerusalem, Israeli police planted a gun in 1 Palestinian family’s home in Issawiyya. The episode was filmed in November 2018 when the family’s home was searched by Israeli police. The family received a document stating that nothing was found during the search but after the show aired, acquaintances of the family alerted them to the fact that an M-16 was found in the cellar of their house. While the Israeli police apologized for the incident, it exposes the way in which Israeli culture depicts Palestinians as a threat.

Herbicides Sprayed over Gaza

                A report by the University of London-based research agency Forensic Architecture documented what Palestinians in Gaza long have complained about: that the Israeli-sprayed herbicides damage their crops. Israel has long sprayed the “buffer area” with herbicides allegedly for security reasons, but the herbicides are carried by the wind into Gazan agricultural fields. According to Forensic Architecture, Israel has sprayed the area more than 30 times in the last 5 years, causing “unpredictable and uncontrollable damage” in Gaza.

Al-‘Araqib in Israel

                The Bedouin village al-‘Araqib in the Negev desert was demolished 10 times this quarter: The 1st time was on 7/23 and the last was on 9/2. Al-‘Araqib has now been demolished a total of 157 times since 2010, when Israel 1st demolished the village. Between the 1st and the last time the village was demolished this quarter, the Israeli state won an appeal in an Israeli court, allowing the state to collect some $372,000 from 6 of the village residents for the cost of demolishing their homes.


Palestinian Prisoners

                1 Palestinian prisoner died in solitary confinement in Nitzan prison on 7/16 after having been arrested on 6/19. According to the 31-year-old man’s family, he had no prior health problems. Israeli authorities said they believed that the man died of a stroke, but the head of the Palestinian prisoners’ affairs committee did not believe their story. The man had not been charged with any crime and was still in the process of being interrogated by Israeli forces when he died. Later in September, 1 47-year-old Palestinian man suffering from cancer died in an Israeli prison. PA prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said the man died because of Israeli medical neglect.

                1 Palestinian man arrested on 9/26 was hospitalized on 9/28 and said to be in critical condition after being interrogated by the Shin Bet. According to his lawyers who saw him at the hospital on 9/29, he was unconscious when he arrived and suffered a fractured rib cage, bruises, signs of beatings, and kidney failure. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) called for an investigation into the interrogation, saying that torture is illegal under Israeli law. By the very end of the quarter, the Israeli ministry of justice said it would launch an investigation into the interrogation conducted by the Shin Bet.

                The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) said it does not have to translate regulations into Arabic, citing the Nation-State Law that made Hebrew the only official language of Israel. ACRI had requested that the IPS translate its regulations as most Arabic speakers are not fluent in Hebrew and therefore will not be able to read their rights, a request that IPS rejected.

                The conflict between Palestinian prisoners and the IPS, which started early this year, continued as the IPS refused to operate the public phones installed in Ketziot and Ramon prisons because the prisoners in Ramon prison refused to give up their cell phones. Prisoners are also demanding to be allowed 5 calls per week rather than the 3 that the IPS has suggested. On 9/2, some 200 prisoners started a hunger-strike demanding that jamming devices installed by the IPS in Ramon prison be removed as they fear that the jammers can cause cancer. While the hunger strike was called off 1 day later because the IPS made promises, a different hunger strike by 23 prisoners in other Israeli prisons started on 9/11, making similar demands. On 9/16, the number of hunger-striking prisoners had risen to almost 100. The hunger-strike ended on 9/25 after the IPS aggressively policed the hunger-strikers by putting them in isolation cells. The concession the IPS made was allowing the prisoners to decide which days they wanted to utilize the public phones rather than being allocated a day by the IPS.

                2 Palestinians hunger-striking against being held on administrative detention by Israel ended their hunger strikes—1 after 67 days—as Israel promised to set a day for their release. According to Addameer, there were 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons in September, including 425 in administrative detention, 190 children, and 43 women.

                Israeli forces summoned 3 very young Palestinian children for interrogation this quarter. 1st, 1 4-year-old boy from Issawiyya in East Jerusalem was summoned for interrogation after he allegedly threw a stone at a police vehicle. The boy was allowed to be interrogated with his father present on 7/30. The following day, another boy from Issawiyya, aged 6, was interrogated for throwing a beverage at a police vehicle. The day after that, on 8/1, an 8-year-old girl was summoned for interrogation for allegedly harassing an Israeli settler in Hebron.