Location: Northern West Bank: villages and towns near Nablus and Jenin; Gaza Strip: al Mawasi sealed enclave; the sea at Gaza; al Mentar Commercial Crossing.
Chronology of Events
Week two of the redeployment of Israeli troops continues to see closures and curfews imposed across the OPT. The occupying forces have continued to cause damage to property belonging to Palestinian civilians. Palestinian civilians continue to be victims of attacks by Israeli settlers who go unpunished by the military.
Attacks by Settlers
On Sunday noon, 21 August 2005, about 50 armed Israeli settlers from Sanour settlement south of Jenin, which is intended to be evacuated, attacked a number of Palestinian houses in the neighbouring ‘Ejja villages. Palestinian civilians left their houses fearing that their houses would be burnt by settlers. Later, IOF intervened and drove the settlers away from the area.
At approximately 19:00 on Sunday, the 21st of August 2005, an Israeli settler who was riding a motorcycle on Habla road, south of Qalqilya, fired at a number of Palestinian workers who were in an agricultural nursery. One of the workers, Tahseen Sharif Yousef Shuraim, 43, was wounded by a live bullet to the left shoulder. According to eyewitnesses, an Israeli settler was seen leaving the area on his motorcycle.
In his testimony to PCHR, Shuraim said:
“At approximately 17:40 on Sunday, 21 August 2005, I was sitting in my agricultural nursery, which is located in the isolated area behind the Annexation Wall at “Alfeh Menasheh” settlement, south of Qalqilya. Suddenly, I felt that something hit my left shoulder. I put my hand on my shoulder and discovered that I was wounded by a live bullet. I did not hear the sound of the live bullet, which indicates that the gun was equipped with a silencer. I called for an ambulance, but IOF prohibited it from entering the area. Soon after, I moved towards an Israeli military checkpoint in the area, and from there I was transported in an ambulance of Palestine Red Crescent Society to Qaqilya Hospital.”
At approximately 08:00 on Monday, 22 August 2005, dozens of armed Israeli settlers from “Homesh” settlement, south of Jenin, raided the neighboring Seilat al-Zaher village. They seized the roofs of a number of houses. Later, IOF intervened and drove the settlers away from the area. It is worth noting that dozens of Israeli settlers came to “Homesh” settlement to foil its evacuation by IOF.
Closures and Curfews
On Tuesday morning, 23 August 2005, as IOF have started to evacuate “Homesh” and “Sanour” settlements at Nablus - Jenin road, south of Jenin, thousands of Israeli troops have been deployed along the road that links ‘Ejja village, south of Jenin, with al-Naqoura village, northwest of Nablus. Israeli troops have been deployed between the villages of ‘Ejja, Jaba’, al-‘Atatra, al-Fadoqawmiya and Seilat al-Zaher to the south of Jenin near “Sanour” settlement; and the villages of Bazaria, Burqa, Sabastia, al-Naqoura and Beit Emrin to the northwest of Nablus near “Homesh” settlement. IOF warned residents of these villages through megaphones not to leave their villages. They have also erected a number of checkpoints near these villages and an Israeli helicopter has been seen flying over the area. According to information available to PCHR, only 150 Israeli settlers live in each of the aforementioned settlement.
It is worth noting that IOF have recently established a number of iron gates along the main roads in the north of the West Bank. They have separated between villages and imposed restrictions on the movement of Palestinian civilians and medical crews.
Al Mentar Crossing
On Monday morning, 22nd of August 2005, IOF closed al-Mentar (Karni) commercial crossing, east of Gaza City. It was believed that this closure would continue for one or two days because of the evacuation of Israeli settlers from “Netzarim” settlement. The crossing is the only commercial one which links the Gaza Strip with Israel and the West Bank.
The Gaza Sea
On Monday, 22nd of August 2005, IOF prevented Palestinian fishermen from fishing in Sheikh ‘Ejlin area in the south of Gaza City due to the evacuation of Israeli settlers from Netzarim settlement.
At approximately 18:00 on Monday, the 22nd of August 2005, IOF moved into al Lahham quarter in al Mawasi area in Khan Yunis. They raided and searched a number of houses and surrounding land. They claimed that they discovered a bomb near an uninhabited house belonging to the Yousef Mohammed al Lahham. IOF conducted an explosion which damaged the house as a consequence. Two neighbouring houses and a kindergarten were also damaged: A 120-square-meter house owned by Sa’id Ibrahim al-Bayouk, in which 15 individuals live; a 100-square-meter house owned by Yasser Na’im al-Astal, in which two individuals live; and a kindergarten owned by Ahmed Mustafa al-Lahham.
Settlements and settlers are illegal under international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, the primary document governing the OPT, stipulates in Article 49 that the transfer of the population of the occupying power into the occupied territory is in breach of international law. The International Court of Justice confirmed in its 2004 judgment that settlements and settlement activity is illegal.
Freedom of movement is a right afforded to Palestinian civilians under the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as under established international treaties on human rights. Preventing free movement of people and goods interferes with the right to work, the right to health, the right to education, the right not to be held as a prisoner without a free and fair trial.