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  • September 9, 2011

    villages nr. Salfit, 1 nr. Qalqilya (firing percussion grenades to intimidate residents), and 1 nr. Ramallah; detains 4 Palestinian children nr. Qalqilya for stone throwing; conducts late-night...

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  • September 3, 2011

    U.S. admin. sources say Pres. Barack Obama’s admin. has “launched a last-ditch diplomatic campaign” to convince the Palestinians to abandon their statehood initiative at the UN by making it clear...

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  • August 21, 2011

    Israel and Hamas (assisted by Egyptian mediators) agree to restore their cease-fire, ending 4 days of cross-border violence. Hamas says it has secured the agreement of the smaller Palestinian...

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  • August 20, 2011

    Cross-border violence in Gaza enters its 3d day. Israel conducts 3 drone air strikes and 7 artillery strikes on Gaza, injuring 6 Palestinians (3 militants and 3 bystanders, including a woman and ...

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  • August 19, 2011

    Cross-border exchanges in Gaza continue overnight and throughout the day. The PRCs, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB), and a small Salafist group (the Abdullah Azzam Brigades) fire around 17...

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  • May 28, 2011

    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)....

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  • May 17, 2011

    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...

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  • May 16, 2011

    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...

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  • May 13, 2011

    The White House announces that U.S. special envoy George Mitchell has submitted his resignation, effective 5/20 (the day Obama is to meet with Netanyahu at the White House). Secy. of State Clinton...

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  • May 4, 2011

    Fatah/PA head Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mishal formally sign their national unity deal in Cairo. (MNA, YA 5/4; NYT, WP 5/5; MNA 5/11; OCHA, PCHR 5/12)

    In the West Bank, the IDF sends...

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  • May 3, 2011

    In Cairo, reps. of 15 small Palestinian factions initial the national unity deal agreed by Fatah and Hamas on 4/27. Fatah and Hamas plan to sign the text on 5/4. (WP, WT 5/4)

    In the West...

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  • February 11, 2011

    In East Jerusalem, a group of Jewish settlers stabs and beats 2 East Jerusalem Palestinians, killing 1 Palestinian and wounding the other; Israeli authorities confiscate the body of the man killed...

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  • February 10, 2011

    In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Bayt Dajan village nr. Nablus in the morning, photographing several homes, the local council building, and a mosque; patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah, firing...

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  • February 1, 2011

    The PA, under heavy criticism for the negotiation details revealed by the Palestine Papers, announces that it will hold Palestinian municipal, legislative, and presidential elections as quickly as...

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  • January 28, 2011

    Paraguay recognizes Palestine as independent state on the 1967 borders. (JP 2/5)

    In Gaza, 1,000s of Hamas supporters protest against the PA in light of the Palestine Papers revelations...

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  • January 25, 2011

    Ireland upgrades the status of the Palestinian representation in Dublin from a “delegation” to a “mission” and grants the mission head ambassador status. It does not recognize Palestine as a state...

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  • January 19, 2011

    IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in...

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  • January 14, 2011

    Guyana recognizes a “sovereign Palestine,” but says borders must be agreed with Israel. (JTA 1/14)

    In the West Bank, the IDF conducts afternoon patrols in numerous villages around Jenin and...

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  • July 29, 2010

    Arab League FMs meet in Cairo to debate whether to endorse a Palestinian move to direct talks with Israel, as strongly urged by the U.S. despite unresolved Palestinian concerns. The FMs ultimately...

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  • May 1, 2010

    Arab League FMs meeting in Cairo at Palestinian request re-endorse plans to begin proximity talks but stress that the Palestinians should not move to direct negotiations until Israel stops all...

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  • December 31, 2009

    Mbrs. of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claim responsibility for firing 2 manufactured Grad rockets fr. Gaza into Israel; the missiles hit nr. Netivot, causing no damage...

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  • December 29, 2009

    Some 1,000 international activists gather in Egypt in preparation for a 12/31 solidarity march to the Rafah border to mark the 1-yr. anniversary of Operation Cast Lead (OCL) and bring tens of...

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  • June 14, 2009

    Netanyahu gives a major policy speech on Israeli peace and security, drafted as a rebuttal to Obama’s 6/4 Cairo address and intended to inject a Zionist narrative (see Doc. C1). In an effort to...

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  • June 4, 2009

    In Cairo, Obama gives a major address calling for a “new beginning” in relations btwn. the U.S. and the Muslim world, acknowledging historic missteps btwn. the two, stressing mutual interests and...

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  • May 31, 2009

    In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin. During the day, as part of an ongoing campaign to arrest Hamas militants (at least 200...

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  • May 18, 2009

    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....

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  • May 7, 2009

    Israeli naval vessels fire on and detain a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of n. Gaza, ordering 3 fishermen to strip naked and swim to the gunboat and the 4th fisherman to accompany the...

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  • March 18, 2009

    In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Qabatya village nr. Jenin at midday in a car with Palestinian license plates to raid a cafe and arrest a wanted ´ Palestinian; demolishes 4...

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  • March 11, 2009

    Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Hamas denounces the fire, saying it comes at the wrong time as truce talks in Cairo are ongoing. Israeli naval...

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  • February 26, 2009

    Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel, causing no injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on 5 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, wounding 3 Palestinians (2 of them young children). In...

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villages nr. Salfit, 1 nr. Qalqilya (firing percussion grenades to intimidate residents), and 1 nr. Ramallah; detains 4 Palestinian children nr. Qalqilya for stone throwing; conducts late-night patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah (fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, causing no serious injuries) and 1 nr. Jenin; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. 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 al-Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, causing no serious injuries. Jewish settlers fr. Esh Kodesh settlement nr. Nablus uproot 45 olive trees on nearby Palestinian land. (PCHR 9/15; OCHA 9/16)

After Friday prayers, 1,000s of Egyptian protesters besiege the Israeli emb. in Cairo, tear down the wall recently built outside (see 9/3), scale the building to rip down the flag, gain access to the offices, and throw documents into the street. Egyptian security forces collect the ambassador, his family, and other staff who are away from the emb. and secure them at the airport for evacuation to Israel. The 6 employees inside the emb. lock themselves in an office and await rescue. Egyptian riot police arrive in 50 APCs and fire tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters, who respond with stones and Molotov cocktails. Heavy clashes continue overnight, with riot police unable to secure the embassy. (WP 9/10; NYT, WP 9/11)

U.S. admin. sources say Pres. Barack Obama’s admin. has “launched a last-ditch diplomatic campaign” to convince the Palestinians to abandon their statehood initiative at the UN by making it clear that the U.S. will veto and by presenting (soon, via the Quartet) a proposal for renewed talks as an alternative. The sources say that the Quartet proposal is aimed primarily at swaying UN member states to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution and is not expected to result in a resumption of serious peace talks. (NYT 9/4).

The IDF conducts afternoon and evening patrols in Jenin and 4 nearby villages, 2 village nr. Tulkarm, and 1 nr. Hebron; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron. In Israel, as many as 400,000 Israelis turn out nationwide (more than 300,000 in Tel Aviv) for protests calling for social justice. July 14th movement organizers had called for a million-person march today to revive the Saturday protests, which fell off after the 8/18 Elat attack. After the rally, demonstrators begin taking down tent camps, as organizers switch attention to forming local committees to press for social reforms. (WP 9/4; PCHR, WJW 9/8; OCHA 9/9; Foreign Policy [Internet] 9/12; see also NYT 9/1)

Egypt, in effort to improve relations with Israel by strengthening border security, begins an operation to close smuggling tunnels under the Rafah border. Meanwhile, the Israeli emb. in Cairo hires contractors to erect a 12-ft. wall around the emb. in effort to deter the 100s (and sometimes 1,000s) of Egyptian who have gathered outside since the 8/18 Elat incident to protest the deaths of 3 Egyptian soldiers. (WP 9/4, 9/5)

Israel and Hamas (assisted by Egyptian mediators) agree to restore their cease-fire, ending 4 days of cross-border violence. Hamas says it has secured the agreement of the smaller Palestinian factions and will enforce a moratorium on rocket and mortar fire. A PRC spokesman says, however, that the PRCs will not abide by the cease-fire. Before the new cease-fire goes into effect, unidentified Palestinians fire as many as 27 rockets (including 5 Grads) and 2 mortars into Israel, damaging an empty school but causing no injuries. The IDF carries out 6 air strikes and 2 artillery strikes on the rocket launch site, empty Hamas training sites, and a police station, injuring 12 Palestinians (3 militants and 9 bystanders, including 5 children). In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids and house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem. (JP, PCHR, YA 8/21; NYT, WP, WT, YA 8/22; WP 8/23; PCHR 8/25; OCHA 8/26)

An Israeli military delegation arrives in Egypt to discuss the preliminary findings of its investigation of the deaths of the 3 Egyptian soldiers, securing a new Gaza cease-fire (agreed later in the day), and repairing bilateral relations. U.S. asst. secy. of state for Near Eastern affairs Jeffrey Feltman and UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process Robert Serry are also in Cairo to help mediate. Around this time, Israeli DM Ehud Barak sends the message to Egypt’s transitional military council that they may skirt provisions of the 1979 peace treaty and send as many troops, armored vehicles, and helicopters into the Sinai as necessary to restore order and guarantee border security. In Cairo, 100s of Egyptian protesters keep up a demonstration outside the Israeli emb., calling for the amb. to be expelled and the emb. removed. (NYT 8/22; WP 8/23; NYT 8/27)

Cross-border violence in Gaza enters its 3d day. Israel conducts 3 drone air strikes and 7 artillery strikes on Gaza, injuring 6 Palestinians (3 militants and 3 bystanders, including a woman and child). The PRCs, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas fire as many as 64 rockets (including at least 7 Grads) and 18 mortars, killing 1 Israeli and wounding 6 in Beersheba, lightly injuring 3 Israelis in Ofakim when a rocket hits a house, and injuring 3 Palestinian laborers in Ashdod (2 seriously). Israeli naval vessels fire 3 times on Palestinian fishing boats off the Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. IDF soldiers on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Hanun fire warning shots at Palestinian fishermen on the beach nr. the no-go zone, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF carries out a major late-night raid on Hebron, sending 100 military vehicles into the area fr. 3 directions and rounding up some 120 Palestinians, mostly Hamas members and supporters, marking the largest West Bank arrest operation since 2003; those arrested include Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Muhammad Abu Jheisha and leading figures of several Hamas-affiliated charities. Jewish settlers fr. Migron outpost nr. Ramallah beat a 12-yr.-old Palestinian boy tending sheep nearby. (JP, YA 8/20; JAZ, JP, NYT, WP 8/21; MNA 8/22; IFM, PCHR 8/25; OCHA 8/26)

In Cairo, crowds outside the Israeli emb. grow steadily into the 1,000s overnight and throughout the day. Israel issues a formal expression of regret for the deaths of the Egyptian soldiers, but Egyptian leaders say it is inadequate. Egypt briefly threatens to recall its amb. fr. Israel, but backs down following international intervention to calm tensions. Israel shelves discussions of a major military strike on Gaza given the crisis with Egypt. (WP 8/20; NYT, WP 8/21; NYT 8/27; WP 8/28)

Cross-border exchanges in Gaza continue overnight and throughout the day. The PRCs, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB), and a small Salafist group (the Abdullah Azzam Brigades) fire around 17 rockets (including at least 4 Grads) and at least 2 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring 2 Israelis and damaging a religious seminary and a synagogue. The IDF carries out at least 25 air strikes (warplanes and drones) and 5 artillery strikes, killing at least another 7 Palestinians (5 militants and 2 bystanders, including 1 child) and wounding at least 40; the attacks include the targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad’s senior military cmdr. Mu’ataz Quraiqe‘ in Gaza City, also killing his brother and 2-yr.-old son. (The other 4 militants killed, including senior PRC cmdr. Samed Abed, apparently were targeted after firing rockets.) Other targets include smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, the main waste treatment facility in Nussayrat refugee camp (r.c.) in central Gaza, and numerous Hamas facilities and suspected weapons storage facilities across the Strip. With air strikes continuing into the evening, Hamas’s military wing, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), declares that it no longer considers itself bound by a unilateral cease-fire that had been in place since the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 1/2009. Israeli officials discuss the possibility of launching an all-out offensive on Gaza. A Hamas mbr. injured in an 8/15/11 Israeli air strike on Gaza dies. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Jenin and 1 each nr. Jericho, Qalqilya, and Ramallah. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Kafr Qaddum, Ni‘lin, and al-Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers beat and fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 1 Palestinian. (JP, MNA, YA 8/19; NYT, WP 8/20; IMEU, JAZ 8/21; PCHR 8/25; OCHA 8/26; NYT 8/27)

In Cairo, 100s of Egyptians angry over Israel’s killing of 3 soldiers in the Sinai on 8/18 gather outside the Israeli emb., demanding Israel’s amb. be expelled. Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF; the interim military leadership) summons the Israeli amb. to demand an apology and call for an investigation into the killings. The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for pres., Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh, calls the incident an Israeli act of war, saying the SCAF should abrogate the 1979 peace treaty. (NYT, WP 8/20)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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

The White House announces that U.S. special envoy George Mitchell has submitted his resignation, effective 5/20 (the day Obama is to meet with Netanyahu at the White House). Secy. of State Clinton appoints Mitchell aide David Hale as interim special envoy. (NYT, WP 5/14)

In Jerusalem, Israeli police and settlement security guards outside Beit Yonatan in Silwan fire on stone-throwing Palestinian youths, seriously wounding a Palestinian teenager walking some distance away. Numerous clashes are also reported, particularly around East Jerusalem, as Palestinians demonstrate in commemoration of the Nakba. In the Jordan Valley, a Palestinian boy is injured when he accidentally triggers IDF UXO. 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, injuring 2 Palestinians (including 1 child) and 1 international activist; 2 Palestinians and 2 Israeli activists are arrested. (WP 5/15; PCHR 5/19; OCHA 5/20)

Heeding calls fr. Palestinian organizers on Facebook, 100s of Jordanians in Amman and 1,000s of Egyptians in Cairo rally after Friday prayers in support of Palestinian rights. (AP, DPA, Huffington Post 5/13)

Fatah/PA head Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mishal formally sign their national unity deal in Cairo. (MNA, YA 5/4; NYT, WP 5/5; MNA 5/11; OCHA, PCHR 5/12)

In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into ‘Araba village nr. Jenin, surrounding a home and arresting a wanted Palestinian; makes a late-night incursion into Siris village nr. Jenin, surrounding a home, firing percussion grenades, ordering all men to leave the house, checking their IDs, and arresting 1; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in ‘Azun, Bayt Liqya, and Tubas. A Hamas mbr. dies in a Cairo hospital of injuries received during IDF shelling of Rafah on 4/8. Hamas authorities in Gaza execute a Palestinian convicted of collaborating with Israel and sentenced to death in 10/2009. (PCHR 5/5)

In Cairo, reps. of 15 small Palestinian factions initial the national unity deal agreed by Fatah and Hamas on 4/27. Fatah and Hamas plan to sign the text on 5/4. (WP, WT 5/4)

In the West Bank, Jewish settlers illegally enter Nablus to pray at Joseph’s Tomb and refuse to leave, barricading themselves inside the tomb and sparking stone-throwing clashes with Palestinians. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron, arresting Hamas-affiliated fmr. PC mbr. Issa alJabari. Palestinians report the arson of a mosque in Hawara nr. Nablus, blaming Jewish settlers. OCHA reports that since 4/27, 3 Gazan children have been injured when they accidentally triggered unexploded IDF ordnance (UXO). (WP 5/4; PCHR, WJW 5/5; OCHA 5/6)

In East Jerusalem, a group of Jewish settlers stabs and beats 2 East Jerusalem Palestinians, killing 1 Palestinian and wounding the other; Israeli authorities confiscate the body of the man killed and return it to the family with orders to hold the burial immediately, with no more than 10 family mrbs. present to prevent rioting (the family complies). In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 3 villages nr. Ramallah, 2 nr. Qalqilya, and 2 nr. Tulkarm in the afternoon and evening, and in 1 village nr. Qalqilya late at night; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus. Palestinians (accompanied by Israeli and international activists in some areas) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Dayr Nizam/Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters; 3 Palestinians are injured, and 3 are arrested. (PCHR 2/17; OCHA 2/18)

Early in the day, with massive antigovernment protests expected in Egypt after Friday’s midday prayers, rumors spread that Mubarak has left Cairo for his residence in Sharm al-Shaykh under pressure from the army. Soon after, the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces issues communiqué no. 2 indicating that the military is in effective control of the country and will oversee “the peaceful transfer of authority . . . towards a free democratic community that the people aspire to,” and pledging not to take action against protesters for demonstrating against the government. Timed with lateevening prayers, VP Suleiman confirms that Mubarak has “decided to relieve himself of his position as president and the supreme military council has taken control of the state’s affairs,” ending the 82-yr.-old leader’s 30-yr. rule. Flag-waving crowds in Tahrir Square and nationwide erupt in celebration. (AHR, NYT 2/11; NYT, WP, WT 2/12)

In Gaza, 1,000s of Hamas supporters rally to celebrate Mubarak’s fall, calling on the next Egyptian government to open the Rafah border and reconsider Egypt’s relations with Israel. In the West Bank, the PA continues to bar rallies in solidarity with Egyptian protesters, but 100s of Palestinians spontaneously honk horns and cheer in the streets when news of Mubarak’s exit broadcast. (NYT 2/12)

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Bayt Dajan village nr. Nablus in the morning, photographing several homes, the local council building, and a mosque; patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths in 1 incident, causing no serious injuries; patrols in 2 villages nr. Tulkarm in the afternoon, checking Palestinian IDs but making no arrests. (PCHR 2/17; OCHA 2/18)

Early in the day, Egyptian military and ruling party officials announce that Mubarak will make a televised address later in the day and “meet the demands of the protesters.” The statement’s title, “communiqué no. 1 of the army command,” and accompanying TV footage showing DM Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and military chief of staff Gen. Anan chairing a meeting of senior army officers without Mubarak or Suleiman present spark rumors that the military has staged a coup. Raising expectations, Gen. Anan and Gen. Hassan al-Roueini (military cmdr. of Cairo) separately go to Tahrir Square to tell protesters that “all your demands will be met today.” When Mubarak gives his statement, however, he only turns over powers to Suleiman temporarily and makes some constitutional amendments, but vows again not to step down before his term expires and that he will oversee the reform process. Suleiman follows with a separate speech telling Egyptians to “go back home and to work. Do not listen to foreign[ers] whose aim is to . . . weaken Egypt.” The immediate reaction of protesters listening to the addresses in Tahrir Square is deep anger and frustration, with demonstrators chanting “Leave! Leave! Leave!” as Mubarak’s speech unfolds. Senior military officers soon after tell the Egyptian press that the speeches were not seen in advance by the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces and were “in defiance of the armed forces.” (AP, Huffington Post, NYT, WP 2/10; NYT, WP, WT 2/11)

The PA, under heavy criticism for the negotiation details revealed by the Palestine Papers, announces that it will hold Palestinian municipal, legislative, and presidential elections as quickly as possible, pledging to set dates within a wk. (NYT 2/2)

UNRWA reports that it has been forced to suspend another 26 Gaza construction projects because of Israeli limits on gravel imports (see 1/25). In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in a village nr. Ramallah in the morning; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Jenin town and r.c. and nr. Hebron. A Palestinian court in Nablus finds a Palestinian guilty of selling land to an Israeli, sentencing him to 10 yrs. in jail. (PCHR 2/3; OCHA 2/4; JPI 2/5)

Jordan’s King Abdullah dismisses PM Samir Rifa‘i and his cabinet in response to widespread protests by Jordanians inspired by demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia. He taps Maruf al-Bakhit, a popular retired general and fmr. amb. to Israel, to form a new cabinet. (NYT, WP 2/2)

In Cairo, 100,000s of Egyptians join protesters in Tahrir Square for the March of Millions, as similar protests are held around the country. (Little violence is reported.) Protesters hold fast to demands that Mubarak resign, rejecting his offers over the past 2 days to reshuffle his cabinet, to open talks with El-Baradei, and not to seek reelection when his formal term ends in 9/2011. Meanwhile, the U.S. and EU have stepped up diplomatic efforts to pressure Mubarak to begin an “immediate transitional process leading to democratic elections,” without explicitly calling on Mubarak to step down. Mubarak, outraged, today hardens his positions and escalates violence to break up the protests, while the international community steps up diplomatic efforts (especially U.S. talks with Egyptian military figures) to put him in check. (NYT, White House press release, WP, WT 2/1; JP, NYT, WP, WT 2/2; Human Rights Watch press release, NYT, WP, WT 2/3; NYT, WP, WT 2/4; NYT, WP 2/7; see also YA 1/31)

Paraguay recognizes Palestine as independent state on the 1967 borders. (JP 2/5)

In Gaza, 1,000s of Hamas supporters protest against the PA in light of the Palestine Papers revelations about negotiation concessions, particularly on the right of return. In the West Bank, around 2,000 Palestinians in Hebron and smaller groups in other cities attend Fatah-organized rallies in support of Abbas and against al-Jazeera. Also in the West Bank, a group of 100 armed Jewish settlers hiking nr. Khirbat Safa nr. Hebron is confronted by stone-throwing Palestinian youths, prompting 1 Jewish settler to open fire, killing 1 Palestinian teenager and wounding a 2d, marking the 2d such shooting in 2 days. Jewish settlers fr. Yonatan outpost in the East Jerusalem environs attack nearby Palestinian houses; accompanying IDF soldiers fire tear gas and stun grenades to keep Palestinians at a distance, sparking a fire that lightly damages 1 home. Meanwhile in the West Bank, the IDF patrols in villages nr. Ramallah, Tulkarm; enters Jayyus village nr. Qalqilya, searching 1 home but making no arrests. Palestinians (accompanied by Israeli and international activists in some areas) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in and Ni‘lin. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 2 Palestinians. PA General Intelligence units detain leading Hizb al-Tahrir mbr. Mus‘ab Abu Arqub after Friday prayers in Dura nr. Hebron. (WP 1/29, MNA 1/30; PCHR 2/3; OCHA 2/4)

Across Egypt, 100,000s of protesters heed the call to observe a “Friday of rage” in Egypt, launching massive demonstrations after midday prayers. Protesters burn the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) headquarters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Police stations and NDP offices are torched in several of Cairo’s middleclass neighborhoods and poorer quarters, as well as in Alexandria, Suez, Port Said, Damietta, Damanhour, and other areas of Upper Egypt and Sinai; prisoners in several jails are freed. With regular police already largely having withdrawn fr. the street, not wanting to confront protesters, Mubarak sends out security and plain-clothes police who violently clash with demonstrators and target journalists, killing as many as 300 and injuring as many as 2,000. Protesters in Cairo and Alexandria overwhelm the security police by dusk, forcing Mubarak to withdraw them to regroup and send the army and tanks into the cities to impose a curfew; but when protesters ignore the curfew, the army does not act. Later, Mubarak appears on state TV and, in effort to appease critics and quell protests, pledges to speed up his program of political and economic reforms, announcing that he has dissolved his cabinet, appointed a new PM to form a new government, and named military intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman as his 1st ever VP, but protesters vow to remain in the streets until he steps down. The U.S. issues its first warnings that it will review its $1.56 b. in annual aid to Egypt depending on how events unfold in the coming days, pressing its contacts within the Egyptian army to avoid violence. Abbas, however, phones Mubarak to assure him of the PA’s support for Egypt’s security and stability. (IHS Global Insight, Middle East Research and Information Project, NYT, WP 1/29; MNA 1/30)

In Jordan, where criticism of the king is banned, 1,000s of demonstrators inspired by events in Egypt and Tunisia turn out after Friday prayers in Amman and cities across the kingdom to demand the resignation of PM Samir al-Rifa‘i and his cabinet, dissolution of the parliament, and a new round of free and fair elections. (The last parliamentary elections held in 11/2010 were widely criticized as fraudulent.) (NYT 1/29; NYT, WP 1/30; WP 2/1; NYT 2/2)

Ireland upgrades the status of the Palestinian representation in Dublin from a “delegation” to a “mission” and grants the mission head ambassador status. It does not recognize Palestine as a state or give the mission greater diplomatic privileges or immunities. Israel expresses its “regret.” (HA, YA 1/25; WJW 1/27)

OCHA reports that Israel has barred the import of industrial fuel for Gaza’s electricity plant for 2 weeks and is now internally discussing disconnecting Gaza fr. Israel’s electricity and water grid. (Gaza authorities have been able to keep electricity generation at 30% of demand by increasing the amount of fuel smuggling through tunnels fr. Egypt.) UNRWA reports that it has suspended 23 approved building projects in Gaza because of Israeli restrictions on gravel imports. Meanwhile, IDF troops make 2 brief incursion into Gaza e. of Gaza Valley village and e. of al-Maghazi r.c. to level land and clear lines of sight. Unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. OCHA reports that since 1/19, 3 Palestinians have been injured in tunnelrelated accidents (2 crushed transporting construction materials, 1 electrocuted). (JP 1/25; PCHR 1/27; OCHA 1/28)

Some 150,000 Egyptians of all socioeconomic backgrounds inspired by events in Tunisia answer a week of calls to attend a “day of revolution” antigovernment rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today (a national holiday to honor police), bringing blankets, food, and water and vowing to continue protests until Mubarak steps down, his government is dissolved, and parliament is disbanded. (The Muslim Brotherhood does not participate to allow the voice of the people to stay at the fore.) The government cuts cell phone and Internet service to limit international coverage and mobilization efforts via social networking sites. Late at night, government security forces raided the square firing tear gas and water cannons, beating some demonstrators, and arresting others in an unsuccessful effort to drive them out. After a paroxysm of retaliatory violence that kills 1 police officer and some looting in the National Museum on the square, protesters disengage and mobilize to call for nonviolence, notably creating a cordon around the museum to protect it. Parallel protests are held in Alexandria, Suez (where violent clashes kill 2 demonstrators), and several smaller towns, with larger protests called for Friday 1/28. By this date, there have also been several days of protests in Yemen calling for Pres. Saleh’s removal, citing economic ills, corruption, and rumors Saleh plans to install his son as his successor. (NYT, WP, WT 1/25; AFP, al-Masri al-Yawm 1/26; see also NYT 1/23; AFP 1/26; NYT 1/27)

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus and nr Jenin; conducts late-night patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah. (PCHR 1/20, 1/27; OCHA 1/28)

Lebanon introduces a draft of a major United Nations Security Council res. for debate that urges the international community to denounce Israeli settlement activity, using wording that artfully pieces together official U.S. statements on settlements to make it harder for the U.S. to object or veto. The U.S. ultimately urges Abbas to suspend discussion of the draft until a Quartet meeting on 2/5, suggesting the Quartet might issue a statement confirming 1967 borders as the basis of final status negotiations and condemning Israeli settlement construction. (NYT 1/20)

At an Arab economic summit in Sharm al-Shaykh, Arab leaders pledge $2 b. to shore up regional economies and generate jobs in hopes of preventing the spread of antigovernment riots like those in Tunisia. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait each pledges $500 m., with 11 other states pledging the other $1 b. Observers say however (see NYT 1/20) that leaders are acting more out of a desire to secure their leaderships than to reform and develop their economies, noting that none of the similar initiatives agreed at the last economic summit in 2009 have been implemented. By this date, numerous self-immolations (some fatal) and antigovernment protests have taken place in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen since the fall of Ben-Ali on 1/14, citing Tunisia as inspiration. In response to the Yemeni riots, the most severe to date, Pres. Ali Abdullah Saleh has cut income taxes in half, imposed price controls on basic goods, raised salaries for the army, and vowed his son will not succeed him, while the EU has announced an additional $19.5 m. in support to Sana’a for poverty programs. Today, an Egyptian Facebook group begins calling for massive street protests in Cairo on 1/25 to mark a “day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption, and unemployment.” (WT 1/19; NYT 1/20; NYT, WT 1/25; see also al-Bawaba 1/17; NYT, WP 1/18)

Guyana recognizes a “sovereign Palestine,” but says borders must be agreed with Israel. (JTA 1/14)

In the West Bank, the IDF conducts afternoon patrols in numerous villages around Jenin and Qalqilya; conducts latenight patrols nr. Ramallah; and conducts late-night arrest raids and house searches in Hebron. Palestinians (accompanied by Israeli and international activists in some areas) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Dayr Nizam/Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters; 2 Palestinians (including 1 child), 1 Dutch activist, and 1 Israeli are injured. (PCHR 1/20; OCHA 1/21)

Fearing massive protests later in the day, Tunisia’s Ben Ali declares a state of emergency in the morning, dissolves his government, and pledges early elections within 6 mos. Within hours, he and his family flee Tunisia for Saudi Arabia, where they are granted asylum. Ben Ali’s close ally, PM Muhammad Ghannouchi, assumes temporary control, saying he will move the government quickly toward elections. Protesters denounce his attempt to take control and demand his ouster for attempting to perpetuate Ben Ali’s corrupt regime, noting that constitutionally power should transfer to the head of parliament. In Cairo, a small group of Egyptian protesters gathers outside the Tunisian emb. in solidarity with Tunisian demonstrators, but also calling Mubarak a “fraud” and calling for his ouster. Police surround and outnumber them, but there is no violence. (NYT, WP 1/15; NYT 2/24)

Arab League FMs meet in Cairo to debate whether to endorse a Palestinian move to direct talks with Israel, as strongly urged by the U.S. despite unresolved Palestinian concerns. The FMs ultimately endorse the idea of direct talks but support Abbas and the PLO’s refusal to open direct talks immediately, stating that when and how direct talks resumed is “a matter for the Palestinian side to decide.” Arab League Secy.-Gen ‘Amr Musa reveals that Abbas today received a letter fr. Obama containing “some guarantees” regarding direct talks but that clarifications were necessary; neither the PA nor the U.S. confirmed the existence of a letter. (JAZ 7/29; NYT, WP 7/30)

In Jerusalem, Jewish settlers escorted by Israeli police evict an extended Palestinian family (49 individuals, including 22 children) fr. a building in the Old City’s Muslim quarter, claiming ownership of the building. UN special envoy Serry denounces the takeover as “provocative . . . at a critical time in the international community’s efforts to move the peace process forward.” The Palestinian tenants appeal their eviction, and the case is referred to an Israeli court. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches Hebron, nr. Bethlehem. (OCHA 7/30; NYT 7/31; PCHR 8/5; OCHA 8/13)

Arab League FMs meeting in Cairo at Palestinian request re-endorse plans to begin proximity talks but stress that the Palestinians should not move to direct negotiations until Israel stops all settlement construction beyond the 1967 borders. (NYT 5/2; WT 5/3)

The IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, international activists staging a nonviolent march protesting Israel’s separation wall and settlement activity in Hebron (no serious injuries reported); conducts synchronized late-night house searches in 5 villages northeast and 1 village southwest of Jenin, making no arrests; conducts other latenight arrest raids, house searches in Tubas, nr. Ramallah. (OCHA, PCHR 5/6)

Mbrs. of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claim responsibility for firing 2 manufactured Grad rockets fr. Gaza into Israel; the missiles hit nr. Netivot, causing no damage or injuries. Egypt allows a token delegation of around 85 international activists to cross into Gaza to demonstrate with Gazans for an end to Israel’s siege, while in Cairo, Egyptian authorities disperse another 1,000 international activists calling on Egypt and Israel to open the Gaza border. Inside Israel, about 1,000 Israeli Palestinian and Jewish peace activists march to the Erez crossing in solidarity with the internationals in Egypt. Israeli police arrest a Jewish settler teenager connected to the outlawed right-wing group Kahane Chai suspected in the 12/11 arson of a mosque in Yasuf. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 2 animal shelters on a Palestinian farm located nr. an unauthorized Israeli settlement outpost northeast of Hebron, saying they had been erected illegally; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Shavei Shomron and Einav settlements set up an outpost on a hill nr. Nablus overlooking the spot where a settler was ambushed and killed on 12/24. Jewish settlers at another settlement outpost northwest of Hebron raze 1,500 d. of surrounding Palestinian agricultural land, saying they plan to build a park and swimming pools. (JP 12/31; NYT, WP 1/1; HA 1/2; OCHA, PCHR 1/6; WJW 1/7)

Some 1,000 international activists gather in Egypt in preparation for a 12/31 solidarity march to the Rafah border to mark the 1-yr. anniversary of Operation Cast Lead (OCL) and bring tens of thousands of dollars of humanitarian aid into Gaza, but Egypt vows to keep the border closed. French activists protest outside the French emb. in Cairo, while American activists visit the U.S. emb. Israel allows 3 container shipments of glass into Gaza for the first time since 6/07; says it will allow 3 containers of glass per day for 5 days a week for the next month (a total of 81 containers are allowed in as of 2/9, about 90 percent of what Israel had pledged). In the West Bank, Jewish settlers fr. Bet Ayn nr. Hebron attempt to force 2 Palestinian shepherds grazing their sheep on nearby Palestinian land to leave the area; when they refuse, 1 settler opens fire, hitting 1 shepherd in the shoulder; the IDF arrests both Palestinians while they are receiving medical care from paramedics. (NYT, PCHR 12/30; OCHA, PCHR 1/6; OCHA 2/11)

In Cairo, Mubarak and Netanyahu hold a 3-hr. mtg. to discuss the peace process. Afterward, Egyptian FM Ahmad Abu al-Ghayt publicly praises Netanyahu for raising new ideas for advancing the peace process. (NYT 12/30; HA 12/31; AFP, al-Dustur 1/5)

The Lebanese army directs symbolic anti-aircraft fire at 4 Israeli warplanes that violate Lebanese air space in s. Lebanon. (WT 12/30)

Netanyahu gives a major policy speech on Israeli peace and security, drafted as a rebuttal to Obama’s 6/4 Cairo address and intended to inject a Zionist narrative (see Doc. C1). In an effort to appease Obama, he for the 1st time agrees to support the creation of a Palestinian state, but only under a host of conditions that would essentially redefine Palestinian sovereignty. (IFM 6/14; NYT, WP, WT 6/15; WJW 6/18; JPI 6/26)

The badly decomposed body of a Palestinian shepherd missing since 4/21/09 is found 50 m fr. the n. Gaza border fence nr. Bayt Hanun, raising speculation that he was fatally shot by the IDF when he strayed nr. the border. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin (firing on residential areas, causing no injuries), Jerusalem. Jewish settlers attack a 10-yr.-old Palestinian boy in Silwan nr. Jerusalem; when the boy’s family intervenes, 30 settlement guards fr. settlements in the area join in the attack, beating another 4 Palestinians. A Palestinian dies in an Egyptian hospital of injuries received in an IDF drone strike on Jabaliya r.c. during OCL. (OCHA, PCHR 6/18)

In Cairo, Obama gives a major address calling for a “new beginning” in relations btwn. the U.S. and the Muslim world, acknowledging historic missteps btwn. the two, stressing mutual interests and respect to combat stereotypes. He refers to Israel’s “occupation” as “intolerable” and notes the “daily humiliations—large and small” that Palestinians suffer, but also stresses the U.S.’s “unbreakable bond” with Israel. On the sidelines, Obama meets privately with Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak to discuss the peace process and Iran. (IFM 6/4; NYT, WP, WT 6/5; NYT 6/6; NYT 7/10)

In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes about a third of the Jordan Valley Bedouin community of Khirbat al-Ras al-Ahmar, razing 15 residential structures, 30 animal pens, 18 traditional ovens, displacing 128 Palestinians who have resided in the area since the 1960s, including 66 children, confiscating a tractor and water tank; fires rubber-coated steel bullets at stone-throwing Palestinians demonstrating against the separation wall in Bil‘in; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus. Right-wing Jewish settlers send a letter to an IDF general threatening him and his children, and equating soldiers who evacuate settlement outposts with Nazi collaborators. PASF officers and Hamas mbrs. exchange fire in Qalqilya (see 5/31), leaving 2 Hamas mbrs., 1 PASF officer dead. (Yedi’ot Aharonot 6/4; NYT 6/5; NYT 6/6; HA 6/8; OCHA, PCHR 6/11)

In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin. During the day, as part of an ongoing campaign to arrest Hamas militants (at least 200 already detained) and confiscate their weapons, PA security forces (PASF) conduct a latenight raid into Qalqilya to arrest 2 wanted Hamas mbrs., sparking a heavy exchange of gunfire that leaves 6 Palestinians dead (3 PASF officers, 2 Hamas mbrs., and the owner of the building raided) and 4 PASF officers and 1 bystander wounded, marking the deadliest clash in the West Bank btwn. the 2 factions since 6/07. The PASF imposes a day-long curfew on Qalqilya. PA pres. Abbas, PM Fayyad praise the PASF for doing “their national duty” and vow to “strike with an iron fist against anyone harming the interests of the Palestinian people,” calling Hamas mbrs. “outlaws.” Hamas supporters in Gaza take to the streets in protest; Hamas-affiliated police arrest Fatah activists; and the Hamas leadership threatens to pull out of national unity talks in Cairo scheduled to resume in 7/09. (NYT, OCHA, WP, WT 6/1; OCHA, PCHR 6/4; Jerusalem Report 6/6; WP 6/26)

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)

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)

Israeli naval vessels fire on and detain a Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of n. Gaza, ordering 3 fishermen to strip naked and swim to the gunboat and the 4th fisherman to accompany the gunboat to Ashdod port; the fishermen are released in the evening. IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on residential areas of al-Shuka, moderately wounding a Palestinian woman. In the West Bank, an IDF soldier is killed in a friendly fire incident nr. Ramallah. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bethlehem. (OCHA 5/13; PCHR 5/14)

At an emergency session in Cairo, the Arab League states unanimously reject the Obama admin.’s request as relayed by King Abdallah (see 4/21) to amend the 2002 Arab League initiative by dropping demands for the Palestinian right of return as a means of jumpstarting comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace talks. (Irish Times 5/8; NYT 5/12; see also AP, UPI 5/6)

In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Qabatya village nr. Jenin at midday in a car with Palestinian license plates to raid a cafe and arrest a wanted ´ Palestinian; demolishes 4 Palestinian homes in Azariyya nr. Jerusalem, in the E1 area marked for expansion of Ma’ale Adumim settlement, displacing 42 Palestinians. Late in the evening, the IDF conducts synchronized late-night incursions into Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah, and Zatara village nr. Bethlehem to raid and search the homes of 8 senior figures affiliated with Hamas (fmr. PA Dep. PM and Education M Nasser al-Din al-Sha‘ir in Nablus; Reform and Change Palestinian Council legislators Nizar ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Ramadan and ‘Assam Nu‘man Salhab in Hebron; Ayman Husayn Darghma in Ramallah; Khalid Tafish Thwayb in Zatara; Reform and Change office director for Ramallah and al-Bireh Mazin al-Rimawi in Ramallah; senior Hamas leader Adnan Ahed Asfur and al-Najah University prof. Issam Rashid al-Ashqar in Nablus), arresting them for their “ongoing efforts to restore the administrative branch of the Hamas terror organization in the [West Bank].” The moves come as an Israeli Justice Min. comm. debates limiting the privileges (e.g., visitation, phone calls, study groups) of Hamas prisoners in Israel. Some 40 Hamas-affiliated legislators have been arrested since Shalit’s capture in 6/06, most of whom remain in detention. Hamas views the moves as Israel’s attempts to pressure it to make concessions in the ongoing Cairo prisoner exchange talks. The IDF conducts additional late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus, and nr. Hebron, Jenin, and Tulkarm. Mbrs. of Kiryat Arba settlement’s private security service detain a Canadian journalist and a fieldworker for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem as they pass nr. the settlement, holding them until the IDF arrives to question them; they are released 4 hrs. later. (OCHA 3/18; PCHR 3/19; NYT, WP, WT 3/20; OCHA 3/24, 3/25; PCHR 3/26; JPI 4/3)

Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Hamas denounces the fire, saying it comes at the wrong time as truce talks in Cairo are ongoing. Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah coast, forcing them to return to shore. Late in the evening, the IDF makes 2 air strikes on Yibna r.c. nr. the Rafah border, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts morning patrols in Tulkarm; opens fire on 2 Palestinian teenagers throwing stones at Jewish settler vehicles nr. Ramallah, wounding 1, arresting the other; maintains the curfew on, continues occupying and searching homes in Bayt Umar (see 3/10) until withdrawing in the afternoon, making no arrests; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in villages around Jenin, in and around Ramallah, and in Bethlehem. (PCHR 3/12; WT 3/13; OCHA 3/17, 3/18; PCHR 3/19)

Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel, causing no injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on 5 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, wounding 3 Palestinians (2 of them young children). In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night house searches nr. Jenin, but makes no arrests. A Palestinian teenager is killed and 2 are wounded when they accidentally trigger IDF UXO at a site nr. Tubas used by the IDF for live fire exercises. Israel begins construction of 65 new housing units on 3.5 d. of Palestinian land in the Arab al-Sawahara neighborhood of East Jerusalem, expanding Talpiot settlement. (HA 2/26; NYT, WP 2/27; OCHA 3/3, 3/4; PCHR 3/5, 4/29)

U.S. envoy George Mitchell begins his 2d regional tour with planned stops in Turkey, Israel, Ramallah, and Cairo. He stresses U.S. support for a 2-state solution and a halt to Israel’s settlement construction. (IFM 2/26; NYT, WP 2/27)