The Month in Pictures: December 2014

Muhammad Abed, a five-year-old from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiyeh, recovers at a hospital after surgery on 28 December. The child was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet fired by Israeli Border Police after a school bus dropped him off in front of his home on 24 December.

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In the occupied Gaza Strip, which the United Nations warns will be potentially unlivable by 2020, the passing year closed as it had begun: under a comprehensive siege imposed by Israel in 2007 and enforced by Egypt’s dictatorship.

An Israeli airstrike on Gaza on 20 December — the first since the 51-day massive assault this summer — raised fears of renewed military conflict.

Israel has violated on a daily basis the 26 August ceasefire which ended nearly two months of intensive bombing and shelling, during which 2,257 Palestinians in Gaza were killed, including 539 children, according to the UN monitoring group OCHA.

A higher figure given by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza last year puts the total death toll from the July-August offensive at 2,310.

According to OCHA, there were 142 Palestinian families with at least three members killed during the assault.

Gaza closure

The Gaza Strip remains sealed — a weekly average of 428 people traveled out of Gaza and 21 people into the territory in December via Rafah crossing, the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of its residents.

A weekly average of nearly 4,250 departures and nearly 4,300 arrivals was recorded by OCHA in the first half of 2013 before the military coup that ousted Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi.

Construction materials are not being allowed into Gaza under a rebuilding regime that effectively leaves Israel in control of reconstruction in the devastated territory. Exports are not allowed out of Gaza, which remains under constant Israeli fire.

Meanwhile, lack of fuel has caused the sporadic shutdown of Gaza’s sole power plant, leaving the territory dependent on electricity purchased from Israel and Egypt. Scheduled power outages across Gaza last up to eighteen hours per day and, according to OCHA, the electricity crisis:

[I]s expected to result in a further worsening in the provision of basic services, including, among others, reduction in the duration and frequency of water provision to households; shortening of wastewater treatment cycles; increasing risk of flooding in case of heavy rainfall; suspension of non-urgent surgeries at hospitals; and damage to agricultural livelihoods, primarily poultry farms.

West Bank killings

In the occupied West Bank, the army killed three Palestinian youths with live fire during December and a Palestinian minister died during confrontations with Israeli forces during an olive tree planting event to mark International Human Rights Day.

In 2014, Israeli forces killed at least fifty Palestinians in the West Bank, which witnessed the largest military incursion in more than a decade this summer. Twelve children were among those killed and the total number of killings was nearly double that of 2013.

The Israeli military injured an average of 113 Palestinians in the West Bank per week this year, versus 72 per week the previous year. Children accounted for 20 percent of those injured, with a total of 1,190 child injuries, according to OCHA.

More than 20 percent of those injuries to children were caused by “live ammunition, and the remainder by rubber bullets, tear gas inhalation and physical assault,” according to the monitoring group.

There was also an increase in the rate of “search and arrest” operations — often late-night raids on family homes — during 2014, reaching nearly an average of 100 per week, up 25 percent from the year before.

According to OCHA, “2014 witnessed the highest Palestinian casualty toll [in the occupied territories] since 1967,” the year that Israel seized control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Elsewhere, Palestinian refugees in Yarmouk camp near the Syrian capital of Damascus also endured a full year of siege in 2014.

Chris Gunness, spokesperson for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, stated on 30 December that “Yarmouk and its surrounding areas have seen a serious escalation in armed conflict, including frequent, heavy exchanges of fire and the use of heavy weapons, which have repeatedly disrupted the distribution of life-saving humanitarian aid to the 18,000 civilians trapped in the area.”

More than half of the 560,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria are internally displaced within the country, with a further 14 percent displaced to neighboring countries, primarily Lebanon.

Palestinians climb between houses in the West Bank city of Hebron on 2 December after the military closed a checkpoint that was struck by a molotov cocktail.

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Israeli soldiers install a concrete slab at a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on 2 December. The checkpoint was closed for more than a week after a molotov cocktail was thrown at it.

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Israeli police arrest a Palestinian man as occupation authorities bulldozed Palestinian-owned shops under the pretext that they were built without a permit in Shuafat refugee camp near Jerusalem, 3 December. Palestinians in Jerusalem rarely receive building permits due to systematic discrimination.

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A concrete slab is installed along the Israeli-built wall in Shuafat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem on 3 December.

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Israeli police officers detain a Palestinian man inside a supermarket in Mishor Adumim settlement after a Palestinian boy allegedly stabbed two Israelis there on 3 December. The sixteen-year-old youth, from East Jerusalem, was shot and injured by an Israeli guard and arrested by Israeli forces.

Muammar Awad APA images

An employee of the dismissed Hamas government in the Gaza Strip works at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City as cleaning workers went on strike to demand payment of their salaries by the national unity government in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 4 December.

Mohammed Asad APA images

Palestinian youths block the path of an Israeli army jeep during a direct action in the West Bank village of Salem, near Nablus, on 5 December. For the first time in fourteen years, Palestinian farmers managed to sow their lands and till their soil located behind a settler bypass road.

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An Israeli soldier kicks an elderly Palestinian man during a protest marking International Human Rights Day in the village of Turmus Aya near the West Bank city of Ramallah on 10 December. Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein died during the protest after being beaten by Israeli forces and suffering tear gas inhalation.

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A Palestinian protester throws stones at Israeli troops during confrontations near Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah on 12 December.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Members of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, display weapons during a military parade in Gaza City marking the 27th anniversary of Hamas’ founding, 14 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images

The daughter of Ziad Abu Ein sits near the last olive tree sapling that the Palestinian Authority minister had planted before his death, after it was transferred to the Palestinian Authority headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 14 December. Abu Ein died during an olive tree planting action near the village of Turmus Aya after he was beaten by Israeli security forces and suffered tear gas inhalation.

Thaer Ganaim APA images

Three Israeli youths, all of them reportedly members of the right-wing Lehava anti-miscegenation group, are escorted to a Jerusalem court hearing on 15 December. The three are suspected of perpetrating an arson attack last month that targeted a bilingual Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem, badly damaging a classroom. “Death to Arabs” was among the Hebrew-language graffiti written on the school’s walls during the attack.

Muammar Awad APA images

A Palestinian girl mourns twenty-year-old Mahmoud Odwan, seen in poster, during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp on 16 December. The young man was killed during confrontations with Israeli soldiers in the Ramallah camp.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Israeli soldiers confront Palestinian protesters and international activists during clashes which followed a demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, near Ramallah, on 19 December.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Palestinians take part in a protest outside the Gaza City offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross demanding the release of their relatives held in Israel prisons, 22 December.

Mohammed Asad APA images

Palestinian workers cross the Shaar Efraim checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarm on their way to work in Israel on 22 December. The day prior, thousands of Palestinian laborers held a strike, refusing to cross the checkpoint in protest at the long lines and bad conditions inside the checkpoint.

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Palestinian women present their travel documents at Rafah crossing on 23 December. The crossing had remained closed for almost two months.

Ashraf Amra APA images

A family demolishes their own home in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Sawa in the Naqab (Negev) desert on 23 December. Israeli police ordered seven families to destroy their homes or be subjected to a police raid and fines.

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A Palestinian man dressed as Santa Claus celebrates in the West Bank city of Nablus on 24 December.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

Relatives mourn over the body of Tayseer Asmairi during his funeral in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on 24 December. Israeli forces shot dead Asmairi, a member of Hamas’ armed wing, after a firefight reportedly erupted along the Gaza-Israeli boundary.

Abed Rahim Khatib APA images

Palestinians hang a picture of a slain relative on the rubble of a destroyed home in the Shujaiya district of Gaza City, 25 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images

A home in the West Bank city of Nablus after it was raided by the Israeli military on 25 December. Hundreds of soldiers raided the city overnight, targeting homes in the Old City and al-Ain refugee camp, and arresting seven Palestinians. One family reported that soldiers stole nearly $18,000 from a bedroom during the raid.


Palestinians take part in a protest near the Erez crossing along the boundary with Israel to call for an end to the blockade and siege and in protest of the lack of rebuilding after the summer offensive, 29 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Employees of the dismissed Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip hold banners during a protest demanding their salaries in Gaza City, 30 December.

Mohammed Asad APA images

Mourners carry the body of seventeen-year-old Imam Dweikat during his funeral in the West Bank village of Baita, near Nablus, on 30 December. The Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli soldiers during confrontations near Tapuah settlement

Shadi Hatem APA images

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas lights a torch during a rally marking the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah on 31 December. Abbas signed on to twenty international agreements earlier in the day, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a day after a bid for an independent Palestinian state was blocked at the UN Security Council.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Palestinian youths play football in front of the rubble of houses destroyed during Israel’s summer assault in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, 31 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images