Chronology 16 November 2009 - 15 February 2010




            As the quarter opens, Israel’s siege of Gaza continues, with Israel barring all exports, all but limited humanitarian imports, and most cross-border transit by individuals (with very limited exceptions for extreme medical cases, VIPs, and international NGO workers). Violence in the West Bank is low and restrictions on Palestinian movement between major population centers have eased noticeably. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are on hold as Palestinian Authority (PA) Pres. Mahmud Abbas refuses to resume negotiations until Israel implements a comprehensive settlement freeze (which Israel rejects).Today in Gaza, 4 Palestinians are injured when a smuggling tunnel under the Rafah border collapses. In the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Tubas, in Bayt Fajjar nr. Bethlehem, and in Qalandia refugee camp (r.c.) nr. Ramallah. Of note, 6 IDF soldiers refuse orders to dismantle structures at an unauthorized settlement outpost; they are relieved of duty pending a court-martial hearing. (NYT 11/17; OCHA, WP 11/18; PCHR 11/19)




            The Israeli Interior Min. approves construction of 900 new housing units in Gilo settlement in East Jerusalem, precipitating sharp criticism from the White House not only for the Gilo project but for “the continued pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes” in Jerusalem; UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon “deplores” the decision. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron (evicting 1 Palestinian family from their home, occupying it as an observation post), Jericho, Nablus. In the Jerusalem environs, Israeli forces demolish 2 Palestinian homes (1 in Wadi Qaddum, housing 30 Palestinians; 1 in Bayt Hanina, displacing 11 Palestinians). (IFM, NYT, OCHA, PLONAD, WP, WT 11/18; PCHR 11/19)




            New York State assemblyman Dov Hikind leads a delegation of 50 Jewish Americans to lay the cornerstone of a new settlement housing project (Nof Zion) in the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukabir in East Jerusalem (see Quarterly Update for details). Meanwhile, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home and store in Issawiyya (14 residents) on the outskirts of Jerusalem, 4 Palestinian structures in other Arab areas of East Jerusalem, including Silwan. In the West Bank, the IDF searches greenhouses nr. Jenin, looking for unlicensed wells; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm and nr. Jenin. Also in East Jerusalem, an Israeli youth stabs, wounds a Palestinian laborer in Ramat Eshkol settlement. The IDF also makes 2 incursions into s. Gaza nr. Abasan and Khuza to bulldoze land along the border fence, clearing lines of sight. Late in the day, unidentified Palestinians fire a rocket into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In response, the IDF makes air strikes on 2 smuggling tunnels along the Rafah border (injuring 1 Palestinian) and on a Hamas training site in Khan Yunis (destroying 2 structures). (NYT, XIN 11/19; PCHR 11/25; JPI 11/27)




            In the West Bank, the IDF stages synchronized late-night raids on the homes of 5 PA intelligence officers in villages nr. Nablus and Salfit, detaining the men (including the PA’s Salfit regional intelligence cmdr. Lt. Col. Muhammad `Abd al-Hamid Bani Fadil), marking Israel’s first arrest of senior PA security officials in 3 yrs.; the IDF also relays to the PA a request to turn over a 6th intelligence officer, but the PA does not comply; the Israeli DMin. confirms the arrests but refuses to comment, with Palestinian security sources speculating (YA 11/20) that Israel was pressuring the PA to back off investigation of a suspected collaborator; all 5 are released on 11/20 after talks between Israel and the PA. The IDF alsostages synchronized late-night house searches in 3 villages w. of Jenin, making no arrests. IDF undercover units traveling in a car with Palestinian license plates enter Bil`in village, arrest a Palestinian on an Israeli wanted list. (YA 11/20; OCHA, PCHR 11/25)




            In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at stone-throwing Palestinians taking part in weekly protests against the separation wall in Bil`in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation) and against Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Ni`lin (injuring 3 Palestinians); fires stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian and international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in al-Ma`sara s. of Bethlehem (injuring 3 Palestinians, including a 9-yr.-old boy); conducts late-night arrest raids on several coffee shops nr. Qalqilya, detaining 3 PA security officers and 3 teenagers (including a 14-yr.-old boy). In Hebron, Jewish settlers fr. Ma’on in Hebron beat 4 Palestinian youths tending sheep nearby, chasing them off the land; Jewish settlers fr. Carmiel attack and vandalize a Palestinian home nearby, attempting to drive the Palestinian family off the land. (OCHA, PCHR 11/25)




            In Gaza, unidentified Palestinians fire a rocket into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF retaliates with air strikes on 2 suspected weapons factories and a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, injuring 8 Palestinians (2 seriously, 2 moderately, 4 lightly) and damaging another 2 factories and 4 homes nearby. Hrs. later, Hamas announces that it has secured renewed pledges from all Gaza factions to halt all rocket and mortar fire toward Israel, to preserve the stability in Gaza and prevent further Israeli retaliation, though the factions say they will respond to any IDF incursion into Gaza. (YA 11/21; HA, WT 11/22; WT 11/23; OCHA, PCHR 11/25; WJW 11/26)




            In the West Bank, the IDF makes a late-night incursion into Bayt Liqiya nr. Ramallah, patrolling the streets and firing rubber-coated steel bullets at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no reported injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, Qalqilya. (OCHA, PCHR 11/25)




            Unidentified Palestinians fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Late in the evening, the IDF carries out air strikes on smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border in retaliation, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Qalqilya; conducts late-night patrols inside Jenin town. Jewish settlers stone Palestinian vehicles traveling on the Nablus–Qalqilya road nr. Havat Gilad settlement. The UN reports that in the previous wk., 2 Palestinian militants werekilled mishandling explosives, and 1 Palestinian was killed and 1 injured in a smuggling tunnel collapse on the Rafah border. (Jewish Telegraphic Agency 11/23; OCHA, PCHR 11/25)




            In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Salfit and nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin. (OCHA, PCHR 11/25; PCHR 12/3)




            In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Qalqilya and nr. Nablus, Salfit. (PCHR 12/3; OCHA 12/9)
            Netanyahu declares a 10-mo. halt to all new residential housing approvals and construction in West Bank settlements, though building in East Jerusalem and work on 2,900 West Bank housing units currently under construction and any “public buildings essential for normal life” (e.g., schools, synagogues) in West Bank settlements would proceed. The U.S. welcomes this move as “significant.” PA PM Salam Fayyad says that the offer is not enough, the PA insists on a total settlement freeze. (IFM 11/25; NYT, WP, WT 11/26)