During the month of January Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank shot at and attempted to abduct Palestinian children and in the Tulkarem-area village of Shufa, ran over a five-year-old boy.
A “security coordinator” in the Kiryat Arba settlement in the city of Hebron opened fire on Palestinian children on 4 January. Six days later, another Israeli “security coordinator” for Beit Haggai settlement near Hebron shot at Palestinian children playing with snow, injuring a fourteen-year-old boy with live ammunition, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.
A Palestinian man was shot by an Israeli settler while cultivating his land near the Bethlehem-area village of Khirbet al-Nahla on 24 January and Israeli settlers kidnapped and physically assaulted a Palestinian man northeast of Hebron the same day, OCHA reported. The following day settlers broke into the vehicle of a Palestinian man near Jenin and attempted to stab him, injuring his hand.
While Israeli civilian attacks on Palestinians last month received little to no mainstream media coverage, a 21 January stabbing attack perpetrated by a Palestinian on a Tel Aviv bus, during which at least a dozen passengers were injured, made international headlines.
Uniformed Israeli forces also fired on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and present-day Israel.
In the first Palestinian fatality recorded in the West Bank this year, a seventeen-year-old boy from Yatta near Hebron was shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces and killed on 14 January during a reported car theft attempt.
A second youth, nineteen-year-old Ahmad al-Najjar, was killed after Israeli soldiers opened fire on a group which reportedly threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli settler vehicles driving on a bypass road south of Nablus, according to the Ma’an News Agency.
Meanwhile, in the Bedouin town of Rahat in the south of present-day Israel, the deaths of two residents as a result of violence by police sparked protests in Palestinian communities throughout the country.
Israeli forces shot at and injured Gaza fishermen, who were additionally fired on and had their boats confiscated by Egyptian naval forces. Both Egypt and Israel arrested Palestinians attempting to flee Gaza — under comprehensive closure and siege since 2007 — in search of work, OCHA reported during the month.
Meanwhile, UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, announced last week that due to a budget shortfall, it was freezing aid to thousands of Gaza residents made homeless by Israeli violence last summer.
“People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble, children have died of hypothermia,” Robert Turner, UNRWA’s director in the Gaza Strip, said, referring to two infants who died of cold exposure during a winter storm that struck the region last month.
The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt — the sole point of exit and entry for the vast majority of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents — was exceptionally opened in both directions from 20 to 22 January, OCHA reported. In 2014 the crossing was closed for 207 days — or 57 percent of the year — according to the monitoring group.
Gaza remains subjected to scheduled electricity outages of up to eighteen hours per day due to lack of fuel for the operation of the Strip’s sole power plant. The plant lacks both fuel and fuel storage capacity after Israel destroyed two of the plants’ large fuel tanks last summer, OCHA stated.
The International Committee of the Red Cross provided fuel to four of Gaza’s main hospitals on 14 January to support the operation of basic services during power cuts.
One meal per day
Meanwhile, in Syria, UNRWA warned late last month that it has been unable to successfully deliver aid to Yarmouk camp near Damascus since 6 December. Approximately 18,000 civilians remain in what was formerly the largest population center of Palestinian refugees in Syria, as well as home to several hundred thousand Syrian nationals.
Yarmouk has been under siege since December 2012 and has been cut off from the electricity supply since July 2013. UNRWA says that residents are living on one meal per day and released photos and video on 30 January showing that people have dug into the camp’s streets to collect untreated ground water and are burning clothes for warmth.