Chronology: 16 May 2011–15 August 2011
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CHRONOLOGY

16 MAY–15 AUGUST 2011

COMPILED BY MICHELE K. ESPOSITO This section is part 111 of a chronology begun in JPS 13, no. 3 (Spring 1984). Chronology dates reflect North American Eastern Standard Time (EST). For a more comprehensive overview of events related to the al-Aqsa intifada and of regional and international developments related to the peace process, see the Quarterly Update on Conflict and Diplomacy in this issue.

16 MAY

As the quarter opens, Israel maintains a tight siege on Gaza, aimed at unseating the governing Hamas authority. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enforces a 300-meter no-go zone inside the full length of the Gaza border and limits the Palestinian fishing zone off Gaza to 500–1,000 m off Bayt Lahiya and Rafah and 3 naut. mi. elsewhere. In the West Bank, governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), IDF operations and restrictions on Palestinian movement are relatively low. Today, the IDF patrols in Far‘un village nr. Tulkarm in the evening, firing tear gas and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, causing no serious injuries; patrols in Jit village nr. Qalqilya late at night. (PCHR 5/19; OCHA 5/20)

In Cairo, Hamas and Fatah open their first round of talks on implementing their 5/4/11 national reconciliation agreement that would reunite West Bank and Gaza institutions and prepare for new elections. (REU 5/16) (see Quarterly Update for details)

In a speech to the Knesset before leaving for the U.S., Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu lays out his conditions for accepting a Palestinian state, but still does not go far enough to satisfy minimum Palestinian demands, stating that “the root of the conflict is not the absence of a Palestinian state,” but rather “the refusal to recognize a Jewish state.” (HA 5/16; NYT, WT 5/17; WP 5/18; JPI 5/27) (see Quarterly Update for details)

Italy upgrades the status of the Palestinian representation in Rome from a delegation to a full diplomatic mission. (HA 5/16)

17 MAY

In an op-ed in the New York Times, PA pres. Mahmud Abbas publicly announces plans to put a resolution to the UNGA in 9/2011 calling for recognition of a Palestinian state on 1967 borders and admission of Palestine as a full member of the UN. (NYT 5/17)

In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night patrols, arrest raids, and house searches in 3 villages nr. Tulkarm. In East Jerusalem, Jewish settlers raid a school and beat students in their classrooms. (PCHR 5/19; OCHA 5/20)

At the close of 2 days of extensive talks in Cairo, Fatah and Hamas agree on a mechanism to implement their unity deal. No details are released. (MENA, WP 5/18)

18 MAY

In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-‘Arub refugee camp (r.c.) nr. Hebron and Kafr Haris nr. Salfit. (PCHR 5/19, 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

19 MAY

U.S. pres. Barack Obama gives a major speech on the Middle East meant to reassess U.S. priorities in the region, particularly in light of the recent prodemocracy uprisings (the “Arab Spring”). He speaks extensively about the peace process at the close of the address (including denouncing the Palestinian statehood initiative, urging against Hamas participation in a national unity government, and endorsing the 1967 lines with agreed land swaps as the basis of border negotiations) but does not offer a new U.S. peace initiative. Netanyahu immediately denounces the reference to 1967 lines, saying they would jeopardize Israeli security. (HA, MNA, MA, NYT, WP, YA 5/19; NYT, WP, WT 5/20) (see Doc. D1, Quarterly Update for details)

Israel’s Jerusalem planning commission approves construction of 1,600 new settlement housing units in East Jerusalem (Har Homa/Jabal Abu Ghunaym and Pisgat Ze’ev). In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Tulkarm, 3 villages nr. Ramallah, and 1 village nr. Jenin during the day and in Jericho and Birzeit nr. Ramallah late at night; conducts arrest raids nr. Bethlehem (targeting stone-throwing youths) and Qalqilya. (WAFA, YA 5/19; PCHR 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

20 MAY

Obama and Netanyahu hold a difficult but “productive” meeting at the White House to discuss the peace process, particularly their views on the 1967 borders as the basis of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Afterward, Obama stresses their points of agreement, while Netanyahu criticizes Obama as “unrealistic.” (CSM 5/20; NYT, WP 5/21) (see Quarterly Update for details)

IDF troops on the s. Gaza border e. of Abasan fire warning shots at Palestinians staging a nonviolent march to the border fence to protest Israel’s imposition of a no-go zone, wounding 1 Palestinian. Late at night, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border shell and fire on a Palestinian teenager nr. the c. Gaza border fence e. of al-Bureij r.c., killing him. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah, 1 nr. Salfit, and 1 nr. Tulkarm. Nr. Hebron, 2 Palestinian children are injured when they accidentally trigger unexploded IDF ordnance. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in and Ni‘lin nr. Ramallah, Nabi Salih in the north c. West Bank. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 1 Palestinian and 1 international activist; 10 Israelis and 1 international are arrested. (PCHR 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

21 MAY

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in and around Tulkarm and in 1 village nr. Jenin during the day; makes a late-night raid into Kafr Ra‘i village nr. Jenin, detaining 2 Palestinians and taking them to a military court in nearby Salem village to testify as witnesses in the case against another Palestinian; makes a late-night raid into Ramallah, searching a home and ordering the owner to appear for questioning. The IDF also fires tear gas, stun grenades at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists staging a nonviolent march through Iraq Burin village nr. Nablus to nearby Brakha settlement to protest the settlers’ seizure of village lands to expand the settlement. The Israeli human rights group Peace Now reports that in late 4/2011, the Israeli DMin. approved construction of 294 settlement housing units in Beitar Ilit (south and west of Jerusalem), saying tenders for the construction should be issued soon. (UPI 5/23; PCHR 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

22 MAY

Obama gives a major address to the American Israel Public Affairs Comm. (AIPAC). While he restates his belief that discussion of final borders should take the 1967 lines as the starting point for negotiations, he clarifies that agreed land swaps would be necessary and would certainly result in “a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967,” stating that any controversy over his 5/19 speech was “not based on substance.” (JTA, NYT, WP, WT 5/23) (see Quarterly Update for details)

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah and 1 nr. Jericho; patrols in al-Jarushiyya village nr. Tulkarm, randomly stopping cars and checking IDs; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around al-‘Arub r.c. and nr. Tulkarm; searches the home of Hamas politburo mbr. Aysha Dar Suleiman in ‘Arura village nr. Ramallah, arresting her. Jewish settlers heavily damage a Palestinian home located between the Gush Etzion and Efrat settlements nr. Bethlehem. Jewish settlers fr. Tafuh settlement s. of Nablus attack 3 Palestinian women traveling on the Nablus–Ramallah road. Jewish settlers fr. Keddumim settlement uproot 70 olive trees fr. neighboring Kafr Qaddum village. (PCHR 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

23 MAY

Netanyahu addresses AIPAC, leaving aside discussion of the peace process to praise areas of bilateral cooperation. (IFM 5/23; JTA 5/24) (see Quarterly Update for details)

PA PM Salam Fayyad suffers a heart attack while visiting the U.S. for his son’s college graduation. He is given immediate catheterization to open a clogged artery and is discharged on 5/25 after 2 days of observation. (NYT, WP 5/24)

A Palestinian is killed and another is injured when a smuggling tunnel on Gaza’s Rafah border with Egypt collapses. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts synchronized patrols in 2 villages nr. Tulkarm in the morning; raids and searches a business in Silat al-Dahir nr. Jenin, without giving cause; conducts late-night patrols in Nabi Salih, firing tear gas and warning shots at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries. Jewish settlers attempt to set up a new settlement outpost in Jerusalem’s E1 development area. (HA 5/23; PCHR 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

24 MAY

Netanyahu is warmly received at a joint session of Congress, where he gives a charged speech portraying the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as rooted in the Palestinians’ unwillingness to accept a Jewish state, pledging that Israel would make “painful” concessions if the Palestinians accept terms they have long rejected. (IFM 5/24; JTA, NYT, WP, WT 5/25) (see Doc. C3 Quarterly Update for details)

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at farmers working nr. the border n. of Bayt Hanun, forcing them to flee. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin during the day and 1 nr. Tulkarm at night; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in ‘Ayn Bayt al-Ma’ r.c. and another village nr. Nablus. (PCHR 5/26; OCHA 5/27)

25 MAY

Egypt announces that as of 5/28 the Rafah crossing (closed since 1/29/11) will be open permanently, allowing Palestinians with passports to cross into Egypt from 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. daily, except for Fridays and holidays (see Quarterly Update for background). Several high-ranking Israeli officials (including the speaker of the Knesset) attend the dedication ceremony for an apartment complex in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood as Israel’s newest Jewish settlement, Ma’ale HaZeitim. Meanwhile, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at farmers who stray nr. the fence, forcing them to flee. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron. (HA, IsRN, JTA, MENA 5/25; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 5/26; PCHR 6/2; OCHA 6/3)

26 MAY

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Jericho, 3 villages nr. Qalqilya, and 2 villages nr. Ramallah during the day; in 1 instance (in Bayt Liqya nr. Ramallah), troops fire live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at stone-throwing Palestinian youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar settlement nr. Nablus beat a Palestinian shepherd grazing his flock nr. the settlement, severely injuring him. (PCHR 6/2; OCHA 6/3)

27 MAY

The IDF conducts late-night patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah, 3 nr. Salfit (issuing 1 Palestinian orders to appear for questioning). Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters and spray waste water on them, injuring 1 Palestinian and accidentally starting 2 fires damaging 1 Palestinian home and burning an olive grove; 2 Palestinians and 4 internationals are arrested. (PCHR 6/2; OCHA 6/3)

Six members of the Italian contingent of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are wounded when their convoy detonates a roadside bomb planted along their route outside Sidon in s. Lebanon. No group takes responsibility. (NYT, WP 5/28; DS 5/29)

28 MAY

Egypt reopens the Rafah crossing as planned, permitting most Palestinians to cross freely for the first time in 4 yrs. (men ages 18–40 are the only group required to secure visas to enter Egypt). Unidentified Palestinians fire a homemade Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel for the 1st time since 4/18, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF bars Palestinian farmers fr. working their land nr. Bet Ayn settlement nr. Hebron; conducts late-night patrols in Bil‘in, sounding sirens and firing stun and flash grenades to intimidate residents; conducts late-night patrols without incident in Qalqilya; makes late-night arrest raids, house searches in ‘Aqabat Jabir r.c. nr. Jericho and Nur Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm. The IDF also fires tear gas, stun grenades at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists staging a nonviolent march through Iraq Burin village nr. Nablus to nearby Brakha settlement to protest the settlers’ seizure of village lands to expand the settlement; 3 internationals are arrested. (AFP 5/28; MNA, NYT, WP 5/29; PCHR 6/2; OCHA 6/3)

In Qatar, Abbas briefs Arab League FMs on the recent speeches by Obama and Netanyahu. The FMs agree to support the Palestinians’ UN statehood bid in absence of a viable alterative. Abbas then goes to Cairo to brief Egypt’s acting government. (REU, WAFA 5/28; MENA 5/30) (see Quarterly Update for details)

29 MAY

The IDF bulldozes 8 wells in Kafr Dan village nr. Jenin; conducts morning patrols in 3 villages nr. Jericho, Ramallah, and Tulkarm; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem. (PCHR 6/2; OCHA 6/3)

30 MAY

The IDF conducts a major late-night operation targeting Islamic Jihad in and around Jenin, raiding and searching the homes of at least a dozen local Islamic Jihad figures (arresting all but 1) and raiding, searching, and confiscating the files of 2 charities affiliated with Islamic Jihad. The Jenin offices of the Palestine People’s Party are also searched. During the day, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian construction company building in Jinsafut nr. Qalqilya; sends undercover units in a civilian vehicle with Palestinian license plates into al-Bireh to raid and search a restaurant, arresting 4 Palestinians and seizing surveillance tapes; conducts early morning patrols in Silat al-Dahir nr. Jenin (photographing old houses and alleys), Iraq Burin nr. Nablus (firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at stone-throwing youths who confront them, seriously wounding 1), and Tulkarm; conducts afternoon and evening patrols in ‘Azun nr. Qalqilya (without incident) and in Bayt Liqya and Nabi Salih (in both cases firing live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries); conducts late-night patrols in Alar nr. Tulkarm and late-night arrest raids, house searches in ‘Azun. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar set fire to Palestinian crops s. of Nablus; the IDF hinders Palestinian fire crews from reaching the scene. The IDF escorts 1,600 Jewish worshipers to visit Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus; some 200 Israelis who did not have authorization for the visit sneak in with the group, refuse to leave, and are forcibly removed by soldiers. (MNA 5/30; PCHR, WJW 6/2; OCHA 6/3)

At a massive rally in Istanbul commemorating the 1st anniversary of Israel’s 5/2010 attack on the aid flotilla to Gaza that killed 9 Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara, the flotilla organizers, the U.S.-based Free Gaza Movement (FGM), and the Turkish charity Humanitarian Relief Foundation (known by its Turkish acronym IHH), announce plans for at least 1,500 activists and 10 boats to set sale in late 6/2011 as part of the “Freedom Flotilla II” to break the Gaza siege. Israel denounces the effort as supporting “a designated terrorist group” (Hamas) and warns it will use force if necessary to halt the flotilla. (DPA, REU 5/30) (see Quarterly Update for details)

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