Palestine in Pictures: December 2019

Israeli occupation forces demolish a building on the pretext that it was built without a permit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya on 24 December.

Muhammed Qarout Idkaidek APA images

Israeli occupation forces killed one Palestinian in December.

The 18-year-old was shot and fatally wounded while approaching the Gaza-Israel boundary fence on 17 December. “The man has not been claimed by any armed faction and his body was withheld by the Israeli authorities,” the United Nations monitoring group OCHA stated.

Israel is holding the remains of more than a dozen Palestinians killed recently during alleged and actual attacks on occupation forces and Israeli civilians. The country’s highest court rubber-stamped its approval of the policy during 2019, rejecting a petition by several families whose relatives’ remains are being held by Israel.

Israeli forces killed more than 130 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza during 2019, 27 of them children.

Ten Israelis died as a result of Palestinian attacks during the same period. However, Israeli prosecutors have walked back the attribution of nationalist motives to the rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in February.

Great March of Return

The drop in Palestinian fatalities during December coincides with the scaling back of the Great March of Return demonstrations along Gaza’s boundary with Israel. The organizing committee announced during the month that the protests, held weekly since their launch in March 2018, will be held monthly and on national commemorations in 2020.

The protests had been suspended after Israel’s two-day bombing campaign in Gaza in November, during which 36 Palestinians were killed, eight of them children.

Gaza’s Great March of Return, launched on the annual Land Day commemoration, was organized in protest of Israel’s blockade on Gaza, which has been enforced for more than 13 years.

Protesters also demand their right to return to the lands from which their families had been forcibly displaced. Two-thirds of Gaza’s population of two million are refugees hailing from towns and villages now inside Israel.

More than 200 Palestinian civilians, including more than 40 children, have been killed during those demonstrations, and thousands more wounded by live fire.

International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court will likely examine Israel’s use of lethal force against unarmed protesters if a war crimes investigation moves forward.

In December, Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced the conclusion of her five-year preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine. Bensouda said she was satisfied that requirements to launch a war crimes investigation had been met.

She asked a panel of judges to rule whether the court has jurisdiction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Israel contests. The ruling will determine whether an investigation will be launched.

As of 9 December, Israeli forces had razed 585 Palestinian-owned structures in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of the year. Those demolitions displaced nearly 850 Palestinians.

Seven of those demolitions were punitive, which are illegal under international law.

During the same period, the Israeli military conducted more than 3,800 search and arrest operations in the West Bank and launched 59 incursions into Gaza.

On 1 December, Israeli authorities announced a plan to destroy a now-shuttered Palestinian market in Hebron, closed by Israeli military order for 25 years, and build an Israeli settlement in its place. Palestinians held a day-long strike the following week in protest.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

During December, assailants slashed the tires of nearly 200 Palestinian-owned cars in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem and sprayed Hebrew-language graffiti on the walls of multiple buildings.

More than 7,500 Palestinian-owned trees were vandalized by suspected Israeli settlers during the year, according to OCHA.

Mai Abu Ruwaida is treated at a Gaza City hospital on 7 December. The 23-year-old lost an eye after being injured by Israeli occupation forces during protests along Gaza’s eastern boundary the previous day.

Mahmoud Ajjour APA images

Palestinians confront Israeli occupation soldiers during a mass strike to protest settlement expansion and confiscation of Palestinian property in the West Bank city of Hebron, 12 December.

Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills

Fadel Nabhein poses for a picture with a falcon in his home in Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, on 9 December. Nabhein breeds and tames falcons and snakes in his home.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Palestinians harvest strawberries at a farm in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, on 11 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Palestinian protesters confront Israeli occupation forces during Great March of Return demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel boundary east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, on 13 December.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Israeli occupation forces confiscate produce being sold by Palestinians in the village of al-Hijra, south of Hebron, on 16 December.

Mosab Shawer APA images

A Palestinian woman stands next to her home near the site of an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 19 December. Warplanes attacked earlier in the day after Palestinians in the enclave fired a rocket towards southern Israel.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Palestinians of Kafr Laqif village protest against Israeli construction on their lands on 12 December. The farmers presented ownership documents to the Israeli authorities but were told that village land is considered “state land.” All Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law.

Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills

An athlete competes during the Palestine Boxing Championship in Gaza City on 20 December.

Mahmoud Ajjour APA images

Palestinians protest in front of Ofer military prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah, in solidarity with Ahmad Zahran, on hunger strike while being held without charge or trial by Israel under administrative detention orders, 19 December.

Ahmad Al-Bazz ActiveStills

A Palestinian woman with Down syndrome works on cross-stitch embroidery at the Right to Live association in Gaza City on 22 December.

Mahmoud Ajjour APA images

Palestinians protest against the occupation in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on 23 December.

Abedalrahman Hassan APA images

Christian Palestinians leave Gaza via Erez checkpoint to attend Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem on 24 December. One day earlier, Israel issued 193 permits to Christian Palestinians in Gaza to travel to the West Bank so they can worship at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity and attend midnight mass. Some 950 applications for permits had been submitted earlier in the month, a spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza told media.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Palestinians pose for a photo in front of a Christmas tree in Gaza City on 26 December.

Mahmoud Ajjour APA images

Protesters prepare to return a tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers during confrontations after a weekly demonstration against the expropriation of Palestinian in the village of Kfar Qaddum, near the West Bank city of Nablus, on 27 December.

Shadi Jarar’ah APA images

Palestinian women prepare maftoul — hand-rolled bulgur and wheat flour — in Gaza City on 30 December.

Mahmoud Ajjour APA images

Palestinians welcome the new year in Gaza City on 31 December.

Mohammed Zaanoun ActiveStills