UN: 2014 deadliest year for Palestinians in occupied territories
In a recently released report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the year 2014 has proved to be the deadliest for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1967.
Described as “devastating” by UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley, the year witnessed the highest civilian death toll in both of the occupied territories, with 2,314 Palestinians killed compared to 39 in 2013.
“Continued occupation undermines the ability of Palestinians to live normal lives,” Rawley said. “Were these factors removed and related policies changed, international humanitarian assistance would not be necessary here.”
The violence spiked during the second half of the year, due to the 51 day Israeli offensive on Gaza between 7 July and 26 August-the deadliest escalation in hostilities since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967. 1,500 civilians, including 551 children and 299 women were killed in that period, with over 11,000 injured.
There was also a marked increase in fatalities in the West Bank, as a result of the hostilities in Gaza and from tension in East Jerusalem, which spiked after the kidnapping and murder of 15 year old Mohammed Abu Khdeir by Israeli settlers.
58 Palestinians in the West Bank were killed, the highest since 2007, while 6,028 were injured, mostly from rubber coated metal bullets.
The unrest in East Jerusalem in October and November, as a result of the almost daily confrontations surrounding the Al Aqsa Compound, also affected settlers, with five killed in November by two Palestinian men.
The report, titled Fragmented Lives, documented the number of internally displaced Palestinians in the occupied territories. At the height of hostilities in Gaza, half a million people were forced to relocate, with the number dwindling down to 100,000 by the end of December.
The report listed the main reasons for displacement in the West Bank as down to the continuous “Israeli settlement expansion, contrary to international law, at the expense of the housing, livelihood and development needs of Palestinian communities.”
In Area C of the West Bank, which is under full military control by the Israeli occupation, almost 1,000 Palestinians lost their homes due to demolishment carried out by Israeli authorities.
In East Jerusalem, 208 Palestinians were displaced and 98 structures demolished. Residents of the area are at risk of displacement due to home demolitions, inability to build, forced eviction and takeover of their property by settler organizations.
Regarding the detention of Palestinians for allegedly security offences, there was a rise of 24 percent. Despite the increase of children killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, to 13 compared to four in 2013, the report’s findings state that there was a six percent decrease in the military detention of minors. A monthly average of 185 children were imprisoned in Israel’s military jails, as opposed to 197 in 2013.
A total of 12 Israeli settlers were killed in the West Bank, an increase from four in 2013, whereas the number of Israelis killed as a result of the Gaza offensive was 66 Israeli soldiers and five civilians.