The Month in Pictures: February 2016

A Palestinian child stands in a home raided by the Israeli army during a search-and-arrest operation in the West Bank city of Hebron on 29 February.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

At least 17 Palestinians were killed, including seven children, during the month of February and three Israelis were slain as an unprecedented phase of violence in the occupied West Bank that began last October showed no signs of ebbing.

Most Palestinians were slain during what Israel alleges were attacks or attempted attacks, mainly targeting occupation forces. But in several cases, no Israelis were injured during the alleged attacks in which Palestinians — including children Qusay Abu al-Rub, Nihad Waqed, Fuad WaqedNaim Ahmad Yousif Safi and Mahmoud Shaalan — were shot dead.

Six Palestinians were slain at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City during February, five of them during two separate armed attacks on Israeli Border Police, during which one officer was fatally wounded. Another man was killed by Border Police in a third incident; his apparent execution after an alleged stabbing was caught on video by an Al Jazeera camera crew who were filming in the area.

An off-duty Israeli soldier was killed by friendly fire during an alleged stabbing at the entrance to the Gush Etzion settlement bloc – the site of several other attacks in recent months. Another off-duty Israeli soldier who held US citizenship was fatally stabbed in a supermarket in a West Bank settlement; the alleged attackers, both 14, were shot and seriously wounded. They are the youngest Palestinians to have killed an Israeli since October.

Two Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy, were shot dead when Israeli soldiers opened fire on demonstrators during February.

Gaza Strip

Israeli forces fired at Palestinians on Gaza’s coast and along the boundary with Israel throughout the month.

A 5-year-old boy was killed and his brother, 6, seriously injured by unexploded ordnance that detonated in the Jabaliya area of northern Gaza. There are more than 7,000 explosive weapons across the territory left over from Israel’s military assault on Gaza in summer 2014.

An 11-year-old Palestinian boy in Gaza died of wounds he sustained in an Israeli air strike in 2011.

Egypt opened Rafah crossing — the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza — for three days during February, allowing more than 1,000 Palestinians into Gaza, and nearly 2,500 Palestinians, mainly patients and students, to exit the territory.

“The crossing has been closed, including for humanitarian assistance, since 24 October 2014, except for 42 days of partial openings,” according to OCHA. “Authorities in Gaza indicated that over 25,000 people with urgent needs, including around 3,500 medical cases, are registered and waiting to cross.”

Home demolitions, arrests

In the West Bank, Israel demolished the highest number of Palestinian structures in a single month since 2009, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA, which reported  235 such demolitions.

More than 500 Palestinians have been displaced by home demolitions this year, as of 22 February.

“The number of structures demolished and people displaced since the start of 2016 is equivalent to more than half of the demolitions and displacement in the entire 2015,” OCHA stated during the middle of February.

“More than a third of the structures targeted since the beginning of the year were provided as humanitarian assistance to families in need,” OCHA added.

Israel meanwhile arrested more than 600 Palestinians, including 140 children, in the West Bank and Gaza during the month of February, according to Palestinian rights groups.

More than 4,000 Palestinians have been arrested since October.

Syria bombings

Seven children were among dozens of Palestinians killed in a bombing in Damascus on 21 February. More than 140 people were killed that day during explosions in the capital and the city of Homs; the Islamic State claimed responsibility.

Workers were able to distribute humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees in the southern suburbs of Damascus for the first time in seven months during February.

But UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, has been unable to access Yarmouk camp on the outskirts of the capital since late March; fighters with the Islamic State infiltrated the camp at the beginning of April 2015.

UNRWA meanwhile stated its concern for 20,000 “inaccessible” Palestinians in southern Syria which its staff is unable to reach to distribute humanitarian aid.

Palestinians living in several areas of active hostilities risk being shot and must navigate checkpoints operated by government forces and various armed groups to seek out assistance.

“In the course of the war in Syria, several Palestine refugee camps have been engulfed by the armed conflict, as armed groups have approached or entered the camps, triggering armed responses from government forces,” UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told The Electronic Intifada.

“The affected camps include Ein al-Tal in northern Syria, Yarmouk, Khan Eshieh, Khan Dannoun in rural Damascus, and Deraa camp, Muzeirib and Jilin in southern Syria. All sides have deployed in and around Palestine refugee camps heavy weapons with indiscriminate effect,” he added.

Of the approximately 450,000 Palestinians believed to remain in Syria, 95 percent are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance, according to UNRWA.

Palestinians in Gaza City protest in solidarity with hunger-striking journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, held without charge or trial by Israel, 2 February.

Mohammed Asad APA images

A Palestinian woman walks next to the remains of her home after it was demolished by Israeli bulldozers in the village of Khirbet al-Halawah, south of the West Bank city of Hebron, on 2 February. Israeli forces demolished approximately two dozen buildings the area, leaving several families homeless. The area was declared a military zone in the 1970s and for decades Israel has tried to force out Palestinian residents.

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Israeli Border Police arrest an Israeli member of Combatants for Peace during a protest against the occupation on the Jerusalem-Hebron highway in full view of Israeli settlers, Beit Jala, West Bank, 5 February.

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Palestinians display their dogs during the first show organized by local breeders in Gaza City, 5 February. More than 30 breeds were represented at the show.

Mohammed Asad APA images

Palestinians confront Israeli forces in the northern West Bank town of Qabatiya, near Jenin, on 6 February. Days earlier, three young men from the town attacked a Border Police patrol in Jerusalem, killing an officer. The youths were all shot dead during the incident and the Israeli military raided Qabatiya and subjected it to several days of closure.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, distributes blankets to Palestinian families at Yalda near Damascus during the second week of February. Blankets were in critical need during low winter temperatures.


Muhammad Al-Qiq, a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike, is seen in a hospital the town of Afula in northern Israel on 8 February. Al-Qiq launched his strike in late November after he was arrested from his West Bank home; Israel held him without charge or trial until Israel’s high court froze his detention order on 4 February after al-Qiq’s health deteriorated. Despite this, the court did not allow him to go free and Al-Qiq continued his hunger strike for three more weeks, demanding transfer to a Palestinian hospital, before reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities.

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A Palestinian woman in the West Bank city of Ramallah donates money during a fundraising campaign to rebuild the homes of Jerusalemite Palestinians slain during alleged attacks on Israelis, 8 February. Israel has demolished the homes of several such families throughout the West Bank, an act of collective punishment that constitutes a war crime.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Palestinian citizens of Israel call for the release of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner Muhammad al-Qiq outside HaEmek hospital in the northern Israeli town of Afula on 9 February.

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Fighters with the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, carry the body of their comrade Marwan Maarouf, 27, during his funeral in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on 9 February. Maarouf died when a tunnel collapsed in the Gaza Strip, Hamas said, in the fourth such incident over the past few weeks, killing more than 10 fighters.

Abed Rahim Khatib APA images

A woman from the small community of Ein Kurzliya in the West Bank’s Jordan valley prepares bread amid her scattered belongings following an Israeli demolition of houses and animal shelters in the area, 10 February. 

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Israeli forces use a mechanical digger along the boundary with the southern Gaza Strip in an attempt to discover tunnels, 11 February.

Yasser Qudih APA images

The mother (center) of Palestinian youth Omar Jawabreh mourns during her son’s funeral at al-Arroub refugee camp on 11 February. The 16-year-old was slain by a bullet when Israeli soldiers fired on youths who were throwing stones at invading forces in the camp two days earlier.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

Palestinians await permission to enter Egypt at the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on 13 February. Egypt partially opened the crossing for two days; the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza has been closed since late October 2014, with only rare exception.

Mohammed Dahman APA images

Israeli forces recover the belongings of Kilzar al-Uweiwi, 18, who was shot dead after allegedly attempting to stab an Israeli soldier in the West Bank city of Hebron on 13 February.

Wisam Hashlamoun APA images

The relatives of Palestinian Kilzar al-Uweiwi, a Palestinian teenager who was shot dead by Israeli forces a day earlier during an alleged stabbing attack, mourn over her body ahead of her funeral in the West Bank city of Hebron on 14 February. A Palestinian public prosecutor said that the 18-year-old could have survived her wounds sustained a day earlier had she not been left to bleed to death.

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An Israeli police sniper installed at the top of the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on 17 February.

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A protester sits on top of an Israeli army jeep during a protest marking 11 years of popular struggle against the wall in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah, on 19 February.

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An Israeli flag hangs from a building in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem on 21 February. An Israeli government-backed group has seized Palestinian properties in the neighborhood to convert them into settler homes and tourist facilities.

Oren Ziv APA images

A Palestinian man surveys a ransacked home after it was raided by Israeli soldiers during an arrest operation in al-Askar refugee camp, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, on 23 February.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

Mourners carry the bodies of Omar Ahmad Omar and Mansour Yasser Abdulaziz Shawamra, both 20 years old, during their joint funeral in the West Bank village of al-Qubeiba, near Ramallah, on 23 February. The two were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli Border Police at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on 14 February. No Israelis were injured during the incident. Shawamra was reportedly an officer with the Palestinian Authority security forces.

Shadi Hatem APA images

Palestinians sit in a house after it was partially demolished by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Deir Samit, south of Hebron, on 23 February. The army demolished two houses belonging to the families of two Palestinian prisoners who allegedly carried out attacks against Israelis in Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion.

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A Palestinian boy looks at the Israeli settlement of Carmel from the Bedouin village of Umm al-Khair, in the Hebron area of the southern West Bank, on 23 February.

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Hebrew-language graffiti in the shuttered Old City of the West Bank city of Hebron reads: “For clearing away settlements, we will kill Arabs!” 24 February.

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A Palestinian worker waits to cross the Israeli-controlled Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank cities of Ramallah and East Jerusalem in the early hours of 25 February.

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Israeli Border Police search a Palestinian youth at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem’s Old City on 25 February.

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A Palestinian man argues with Israeli Border Police during a protest against the closure of Shuhada street in the heart of the Old City in the West Bank city of Hebron, 26 February. Some 150 protesters gathered to mark the 22nd anniversary of the closure of the street by the Israeli army in 1994, following the Ibrahimi mosque massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein, an American-born Israeli settler who killed 29 Palestinian worshippers.

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Palestinians in Gaza City take part in a symbolic funeral for Omar Nayef Zayed on 29 February. The former prisoner who escaped from Israeli captivity more than two decades earlier was found dead inside the Palestinian mission in Sofia, Bulgaria, days earlier. His family alleges the man, who was facing extradition by Israel, was assassinated.

Mohammed Asad APA images