The number of Palestinian civilians killed by the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last year topped 1,500 — the highest number since the occupation began in 1967. By most other measures, the Palestinians’ lives under the occupation also took a turn for the worse, as reflected in the annual overview by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The 2014 report released Thursday is entitled “Fragmented Lives.” It translates into numbers the sense of a severe decline in the Palestinians’ personal and communal security.
The report notes higher casualties, a greater use of live ammunition to put down demonstrations in the West Bank, increased numbers of Palestinians displaced from their homes — both in Gaza and the West Bank — increased numbers of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and a greater number of incidents in which settlers injured Palestinians. The comparison is to the two previous years.
There was also an increase in the number of incidents in which Palestinians injured settlers. By other measures such as freedom of movement and access to land there was no particular deterioration, but the violation of these rights was still apparent.
James Rawley, the coordinator of humanitarian affairs for the occupied territories, noted that without these Israeli violations there would be no need for the humanitarian aid sent by countries around the world.
All told, last year Israeli security forces killed 2,312 Palestinians — 2,256 Gazans and 56 residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Another two Palestinians were killed by other Israelis, putting the number of Palestinians killed at 2,314.
In Israel’s war against Hamas and its allies in Gaza last summer, 2,220 Gazans were killed. According to a UN task force, 1,492 of them were civilians, including 551 children and 299 women.
The report does not mention how many of those killed in the West Bank and Jerusalem were unarmed civilians and how many were killed on suspicion they had harmed Israelis or were killed during attacks on Israelis.
According to the report, 85 Israelis were killed; 66 soldiers during the Gaza war, when four Israeli civilians including one child were killed in Israel. In the West Bank and Jerusalem, 15 Israelis were killed by Palestinians, but it was not noted how many were civilians or members of the security forces.
Last year 17,125 Palestinians were wounded — more than 11,000 from IDF weapons fire in Gaza. (The tally of Palestinian wounded does not include victims of shock and emotional trauma.)
In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces wounded 6,028 Palestinians, 1,112 of them (18 percent) by live fire — a considerable increase in the use of live fire from previous years, the report notes.
In 2013, just 3 percent of Palestinians wounded in the West Bank were hit by live fire; in 2012 the number was 2 percent. Meanwhile, 43 percent of Palestinians wounded in 2014 were hit by rubber-coated bullets.
The largest number of wounded last year — although not from the use of live ammunition — was in Jerusalem: 2,850. The Hebron area ranked second at 1,150.
Last year, 105 incidents in which Israelis harmed Palestinians and their property were documented, compared with 92 in 2013 and 98 in 2012. There was also a sharp increase in the number of reported incidents in which Palestinians harmed Israelis — 87, compared with 39 in 2013 and 35 in 2012.
Last year 5,258 Palestinians were jailed in Israel on suspicion of or convictions for security offenses, compared with 4,227 in 2013 and 4,451 in 2012. Also in 2014, the monthly average of administrative detainees not on trial or denied the right to present a defense rose to 327 from 132 in 2013 and 245 in 2012. The monthly average of Palestinian children detained by the army fell to 185 from 197.
Due to the Gaza war the number of Palestinians displaced from their homes increased sharply. All told, 9,465 homes were totally destroyed during the war (compared with 3,425 in the Gaza war in the winter of 2008-09).
Another 9,644 homes were heavily damaged and 98,421 were lightly damaged. At the end of December, 100,000 Gaza Palestinians were still living away from home in rental housing, UN shelters, tents or trailers. Due to the housing shortage, which the war worsened, Gaza needs the construction of about 100,000 housing units.
There was also an increase in the number of Palestinians in Area C (the West Bank area under full Israeli control) whose homes were demolished — 1,215, compared with 1,103 in 2013 and 879 in 2012. In East Jerusalem, 98 Palestinians lost their homes in 2014 due to house demolitions by the Jerusalem municipality, about the same number as in 2013.
In Area C there was a 31 percent rise in demolitions of Palestinian structures donated by European countries. The IDF and its Civil Administration destroyed 118 such structures in 2014 compared with 90 in 2013 and 79 in 2012.
On the other hand, there was a decline in the number of impounded humanitarian-aid items donated by international organizations — 25 impounded by the IDF and Civil Administration compared with 67 in 2013. The items were often water tanks, hygiene items and other sanitation supplies.
The report, which provides advice to Israel on changing its policy and actions, is even more targeted at other countries, most of which fund the activities of UN organizations. “Third states share responsibility for ensuring respect for international humanitarian law in the [occupied Palestinian territories] and for promoting compliance with human rights obligations,” the report states.
In what can be construed as a call for more concerted diplomatic action against Israel, the report adds that these third countries “should take all necessary actions stemming from that responsibility.”
Amira Hass tweets at @hass_haaretz
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