The year 2013 ended with 20,000 Palestinians under siege in Yarmouk camp near the Syrian capital of Damascus. The camp has been under siege by the Syrian army since the summer without access to food, medicine or other supplies; 15 Palestinians in the area have died of starvation since September, according to the United Nations. The UN estimates that more than half of the registered Palestinian refugee population in Syria is currently displaced.
In the occupied West Bank, an 82-year-old Palestinian man from the village of Yabad near Jenin died on 29 December after Israeli soldiers refused to allow him to reach a hospital for treatment of pneumonia, according to the UN. Israeli forces severely restricted movement to and from the village, conducted several search-and-arrest operations and damaged 100 olive trees in response to stone-throwing by village youth at Israeli vehicles.
A 24-year-old man died in Israeli detention after he was shot by Israeli forces during a raid on Jenin refugee camp on 18 December, and a 27-year-old Palestinian man was shot and killed by Israeli forces the next day during a similar operation in Qalqiliya, according to the UN. Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier shot and killed a 15-year-old boy in Jalazone refugee camp in Ramallah on 7 December.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that Israeli forces killed 28 Palestinians in the West Bank in 2013, including at least 22 civilians, while Palestinians killed three Israeli soldiers and two civilians. The year 2013 saw the highest number of child fatalities by Israeli forces in the West Bank since 2006.
Israeli forces conducted a weekly average of 75 search and arrest operations in the West Bank in 2013 and by the end of the year, approximately 10,700 Palestinian-owned trees, including saplings, were cut down or otherwise damaged by Israeli settlers across the West Bank, an approximate increase of 25 percent from 2012. Israeli forces demolished 662 Palestinian structures in the West Bank in 2013, displacing 1,100 persons, a 10 percent and 24 percent increase, respectively, from the equivalent figures during 2012, according to OCHA.
The occupied Gaza Strip witnessed one of the most serious episodes of violence since the November 2012 ceasefire after a suspected Palestinian sniper shot and killed a civilian carrying out repair works along the Israeli side of the fence along the boundary with Israel on 24 December. Israel carried out a series of air strikes and shelling on Gaza, hitting a home in Maghazi refugee camp and killing a three-year-old girl. Another 16 civilians were injured in the attacks. On 20 December, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and injured another man as the two were collecting scrap metal near the fence along the Gaza-Israel boundary.
According to OCHA, Israeli forces killed six Palestinian civilians in Gaza and injured a further 76 in 2013, the lowest number of casualties since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000.
Gaza remained under siege at the close of the year; the shut-down of the Gaza power plant due to a lack of fuel has resulted in power cuts of up to 16 hours per day. Meanwhile, Rafah crossing, the sole point of entry and exit for the vast majority of Gaza’s nearly 1.7 million residents, was closed for 23 days during the month.