The number of reported Palestinian fatalities and injuries in 2018 is already more than double the total from 2017. This can mostly be attributed to clashes and protests in Gaza. More than 180 Palestinian civilians have died and almost 20,000 have been injured in 2018 across the Palestinian territories, while at least 37 Israeli injuries and one death have been reported.?
Palestinian groups have declared a ceasfire after a severe excalation in violence in the Gaza strip, Israeli sources have not yet confirmed a ceasefire is in place. Following a raid by Israeli military operatives into Khan Younis on 11 October, during which several Palestinians, a Hamas military commander, and one Israeli soldier were killed, Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza reponded with several volleys of rockets into souithern Israel on 12 October. The Iron Dome missile defence system incterceptted most of the more than 400 rockets, however Israel in turn has responded to rocket attacks with several airstrikes, targetting buildings including civilians buildings, a hotel and the Al Aqsa media centres. During the fighting 1 Palestinian man living in Israel and 7 Palestinian civilians inside Gaza were killed. The hostilities are the highest escalation of conflict since the 2014 war and pose a severe risk of de-stabilising the ongoing efforts at de-escalation between Hamas and Israel.?
On Friday 26 October, four people were killed by Israeli forces using live ammunition at protests along the border fence. In response Islamic Jihad forces launched 34 rockets into Israel, 17 of which were cuaght by Israel's Iron Dome defence system. Israel responded with 91 airstrikes. A ceasefire was brokered on 27 October. Following this, on 28 October, an airstrike killed three palestinian children aged 13 to 14. Israel claims they were placing a bomb near the border fence while residents claim the children were playing. On 29 October a Palestinian man was killed while participating in the 'naval march' protests, just off the coast of Gaza. Many more were injured after these events, while protests continue. Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Liberman is committed to stopping the the Great March of Return protests, which he states are a security threat. ?
? Mass protests have taken place on the Gaza-Israel border fence since 30 March. Protests escalated on 14 May, when some 60 people were killed and over 2,900 injured, the most in one day since 2014.? The 'Great March of Return' mass rallies are occurring to commemorate the 'Nakba' and to raise a multitude of grievances about issues including the relocation of the US embassy to Israel and the 11-year land and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip.?
People are frequently injured in the access restricted area (ARA) along Gaza's land and sea borders, also referred to as the Israeli buffer zone. Israeli patrol boats regularly fire towards Palestinian boats off the coast of the Gaza Strip, forcing them ashore. The number of incidents of fishers and farmers being fired on in the ARA near the perimeter fence has increased in 2018. Up to 429 incidences of shooting by Israeli forces in the ARA took place in the first eight months of the year, compared to 377 in all of 2017. Most of the eight 'naval marches' in 2018 attempting to break the blockade have been met by violence and live ammunition.?
West Bank and East Jerusalem
On 1 October, Palestinians across the West Bank, and Gaza began a general strike in protest of the Israeli Nationality law, passed in July. The strike includes commercial enterprises, governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as educational facilities. Already the strike has led to violent clashes between Israeli forces and protesters, injuring several people with tear gas and rubber coated bullets.?
Regular protests occur in the West Bank against Israeli policies and in solidarity with Gaza, often leading to clashes with Israeli military and civilian casualties. From 28 August to 10 September, Israeli forces injured 130 Palestinians, including 37 children, in multiple incidents in the West Bank. Of the injuries, 32 occurred during clashes with Israeli forces after Israelis entered religious sites in Palestinian areas and towns. Contested areas are particularly vulnerable to fighting and flare-ups during religous holidays. On 18 September, which was Yom Kippur, Israeli settlers supported by the IDF entered the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron to pray, leading to assaults on staff members and several injuries.?
Settler violence has increased in 2018, with a weekly average of at least five settler attacks, compared to an average of three per week in 2017. ?