During the month of May, Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank fatally shot two unarmed Palestinian teens in Beitunia village near Ramallah. Surveillance footage from the scene shows Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir being shot down about an hour apart without provocation on 15 May in an incident which the spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated “may amount to extrajudicial executions.”
Nuwara and Abu al-Thahir had participated in a protest in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails earlier in the day at the site where they were killed; the demonstration also marked Nakba Day, the annual commemoration of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine by Zionist forces.
Meanwhile in the occupied West Bank, more than a hundred people were displaced after their homes were destroyed by Israeli forces to make way for military trainings in the Jordan Valley, according to UN reporting.
The Gaza Strip remained under a tight siege that has been imposed by Israel and enforced by Egypt for several years; as of 26 May the UN reported that at least 10,000 people were waiting to pass the Rafah crossing into Egypt — the sole entry and exit point for the vast majority of Gaza’s nearly 1.7 million residents — including medical patients, students and holders of visas to third countries. Rafah crossing was open for only a few days during May, mainly for religious pilgrims.
Several Palestinian civilians were shot and injured by Israeli forces in the so-called buffer zone inside Gaza along the boundary with present-day Israel. The victims include a teenage boy who was collecting hay for animals approximately 400 meters from the boundary fence when he was shot in the back, resulting in a permanent disability, according to the UN. As of 26 May, 152 Palestinians had been injured by Israeli forces in Gaza since the beginning of the year.
The chronic fuel shortage forced most of Gaza’s 180 fuel stations to either close or limit operations to a few hours a day. The UN stated that “the increased shortages could be attributed to the closures of the Kerem Shalom crossing on the occasion of Israeli holidays (Passover, Remembrance Day and Independence Day), as well as to coordination issues between the Palestinian authorities in Gaza and Ramallah.”
Gaza’s power plant was operating at half of its working capacity due to a shortage of funding needed for the purchase of fuel, the UN reported mid-month. Since December the power plant has operated using fuel donated by Qatar, which is expected to run out by early July. The power plant’s reduced capacity has resulted in power cuts of up to 12 hours per day, “forcing people to rely on unsafe methods to light their houses,” the UN added; the human rights group Al-Mezan has recorded the deaths of 18 persons, including 16 children, in electricity-related incidents like house fires caused by candles lit during power cuts.
The situation for Palestinian refugees in Syria remained dire during the month of May; food distribution in besieged Yarmouk camp near Damascus was halted on 13 May after sniper fire killed two government personnel in the camp. Prior to that date, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, estimates that less that 25 percent of the minimum food needs of the approximately 18,000 civilians trapped in the camp have been met since January.