Chronology 16 May - 15 August 2009
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16 MAY


As the quarter opens, Israeli-Palestinian cross-border violence in Gaza is moderate and rising, while, in the West Bank, violence remains low. Israel’s siege of Gaza, intended to pressure the Hamas government there, enters its 24th month, hampering efforts to maintain basic services and repair infrastructure and other damages fr. Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (OCL, 12/27/08–1/18/09; see JPS 151). Israel allows an average of 106 truckloads/day of humanitarian goods and commodities into Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing 6 days/week (far less than the 500 truckloads/day the UN estimates are necessary to meet Gazans’ basic needs); limited fodder and seed through the Qarni crossing; and enough fuel through the Nahal Oz crossing to maintain emergency services and run Gaza’s electricity plant at 69% capacity, as well as some cooking gas. Only very limited numbers of medical cases, employees of international organizations, and VIPs are allowed to transit through the Rafah and Erez crossings. Restrictions on Palestinian movement and access in the West Bank remain tight, with some 630 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) checkpoints and roadblocks dividing the territory into 3 cantons, and strictly limiting Palestinian access to Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley. Today, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron. (OCHA 5/20; PCHR 5/21)


17 MAY


IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on the al-Bura area e. of Bayt Hanun, causing no injuries. (OCHA 5/20; PCHR 5/21)


18 MAY


Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu begins a 2-day visit to Washington to discuss the peace process, Iran, bilateral relations, and Middle East regional affairs, holding his 1st mtg. with U.S. pres. Barack Obama at the White House. Obama privately presses for a total Israeli settlement freeze and endorsement of a 2-state solution, with Netanyahu demurring. The leaders emerge showing no signs of tensions, instead stressing shared goals of preventing Iran fr. developing nuclear weapons and achieving peace btwn. Israel and the Palestinians. (HA, IFM, WP, WT 5/18; NYT, WP, WT 5/19; NYT, WJW 5/21; WP 5/24; NYT 5/29; JPI 6/4; HA 6/11; see also NYT, WP 5/17) (see Quarterly Update for details)

In the West Bank, the IDF makes a rare daytime incursion into al-Khadir nr. Bethlehem, raiding 2 secondary schools while classes are in session, holding the students for several hours while searching for a wanted person; no arrests are made. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-‘Arub refugee camp (r.c.) and 3 villages nr. Hebron. (OCHA 5/20; PCHR 5/21)

A 5th round of Palestinian national unity talks (5/16–18) ends in Cairo without any progress. (Xinhua–New China News Agency 5/18; NYT 5/20) (see Quarterly Update for details)


19 MAY


Palestinians fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging a house in Sederot but causing no injuries. Late in the evening, IDF warplanes make at least 7 air strikes on Gaza, hitting at least 4 smuggling 196 Journal of Palestine Studies tunnels on the Rafah border (3 Palestinians working in tunnels are reported missing); a workshop in al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City, destroying it and heavily damaging a nearby marble factory, causing no casualties; a Hamas outpost nr. the border fence with Israel, causing no reported injuries; and a group of armed Palestinians in al-Zaytun neighborhood in Gaza City, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem. (OCHA, WT 5/20; PCHR, WT 5/21)

Palestinian Authority (PA) pres. Mahmud Abbas dissolves PA PM Salam Fayyad’s government and reappoints it, replacing 8 independent technocrats with Fatah members, none of whom are elected members of the Palestinian Council. (MNA 5/19; NYT, WT 5/20; NYT 5/21) (see Quarterly Update for details)


20 MAY


Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah coast, detaining 2 fishermen. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on Palestinian farmers working their fields nr. Bayt Hanun, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus and neighboring Balata r.c., nr. Bethlehem and Jenin. Palestinians report that over the previous wk., the IDF has bulldozed Palestinian land in Abu Dis, Azariyya, and al-Sawahara to expand the Container checkpoint southeast of Jerusalem, which obstructs travel btwn. the n. and s. West Bank; has confiscated 300 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of land southwest of Jenin, giving residents 45 days to evacuate. (PCHR 5/21; OCHA, PCHR 5/28)


21 MAY


Israel removes the tiny unauthorized settlement outpost (4 families) of Maoz Ester nr. Ramallah in what is seen by some Israelis (Israel Radio 5/21) as Netanyahu “throwing a bone” to Obama, who urged Netanyahu in their 5/18 mtg. to halt settlement construction. Hrs. later settlers begin to rebuild on the site, which has been evacuated and rebuilt twice before. (Israel Radio News 5/21; NYT, WT 5/22; OCHA, PCHR 5/28)


22 MAY


Overnight, the IDF sends troops into Gaza to engage a group of armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence, fatally shooting 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs.; the deaths bring to 22 the number of Gazans killed by the IDF since the 1/18/09 cease-fire. Later in the day, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine detonates a roadside bomb on the Gaza border fence as an IDF patrol passes, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin (firing live ammunition and stun grenades at homes, injuring a Palestinian woman); fires tear gas at stone-throwing Palestinians demonstrating against the separation wall construction in Bil‘in; fires live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Ni‘lin (injuring 10 Palestinians, 2 with live ammunition). Jewish settlers burn 10s of d. of Palestinian crops nr. Yitzhar settlement nr. Nablus, block firefighters fr. reaching the scene. A Jewish settler is found dead nr. Eli settlement btwn. Ramallah and Nablus; the circumstances of his death are unclear. (NYT, WP 5/23; OCHA, PCHR 5/28)


23 MAY


Israeli warplanes drop boxes of leaflets across Gaza announcing that the IDF is expanding its self-declared “buffer zone” fr. 150 to 300 meters along most of the Gaza border, making more agricultural land inaccessible; 1 box hits a house, injuring a child. In the West Bank, the IDF shoots, seriously wounds an unarmed Palestinian teenager who strays nr. Shavei Shomron settlement nr. Nablus; patrols in Nur Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm, firing on stone-throwing youths who confront them, wounding 3; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Jenin. Jewish settlers fr. Elkana settlement nr. Salfit vandalize a Palestinian home and intimidate the residents. (OCHA, PCHR 5/28; OCHA 6/1)


24 MAY


In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in Issawiyya outside East Jerusalem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Balata r.c., Nablus. (OCHA, PCHR 5/28)


25 MAY


In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, neighboring al-‘Arub r.c., and Tubas. In Jerusalem, several Jewish settlers attempt to access the al-Aqsa Mosque compound but are blocked by Palestinians; the IDF intervenes, violently beating several Palestinians, arresting 2 Palestinian teenagers, and extracting the settlers. Nr. Hebron, at least 20 Jewish settlers fr. Bet Yatir and Ma’on attack Palestinian shepherds nearby, moderately injuring 4. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar stone Palestinian cars traveling nearby. (OCHA, PCHR 5/28)


26 MAY


Israeli naval vessels approach within 500 m of Rafah beach, arrest 2 fishermen on 1 of 12 small boats in the area. The UN reports that in the previous wk. an 8-yr.-old Palestinian boy in Gaza was injured by unexploded IDF ordnance (UXO); 7 Palestinians were killed in tunnel-related incidents (6 in collapses, 1 electrocuted); and unidentified Palestinians fired “several” rockets and mortars into Israel causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night patrols in 4 villages nr. Jenin; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c., Balata r.c., in Nablus, and nr. Bethlehem and Hebron. A Jewish settler violently beats a Palestinian woman waiting for a taxi nr. Zatara checkpoint outside Nablus; IDF soldiers manning the checkpoint observe the beating for 15 min. before intervening and ordering the settler to leave the area. (OCHA, PCHR 5/28)


27 MAY


Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishermen off the Bayt Lahiya coast, detaining 2 boats and arresting 4 fishermen. Overnight, in the West Bank, the IDF removes 2 settler tent outposts nr. Hebron; settlers vow to reoccupy and expand the sites. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Aqabat Jabir r.c. nr. Jericho, Balata r.c., and Nablus, and nr. Hebron, Jenin, and Tubas. (NYT, PCHR, WP 5/28; OCHA, PCHR 6/4)

U.S. special envoy George Mitchell meets with Netanyahu’s senior advisers in Britain to follow up on the issues discussed in the 5/18 Obama-Netanyahu mtg. The Israelis offer a partial settlement freeze that would allow continued construction to accommodate natural growth, but the U.S. continues to demand a stop to all settlement activity. (NYT 5/28; WP 6/2) (see Quarterly Update for details)

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