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In the West Bank, Israeli forces razed structures put up by Israeli settlers at the Homesh settlement outpost where an Israeli settler was killed on 12/16. According to the Israeli military, Israeli settlers attacked soldiers and damaged vehicles at the site as the settlers tried to continue building. The Israeli forces did not demolish a yeshiva building built on the evacuated Homesh settlement outpost. No Israeli settlers were arrested. Palestinians were reported to have thrown stones at an Israeli bus near Hizma, injuring the bus driver who was hit by broken glass. Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles near Burqa, injuring 4 and causing damage. Israeli settlers also raided Ramin and Deir ‘Ammar; no injuries were reported. Elsewhere, Israeli settlers threw stones at Palestinian vehicles east of Hebron; no injuries were reported. Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinians protesting a raid in al-Bireh, no injuries were reported. Israeli forces also violently dispersed Palestinian minors throwing stones at Israeli soldiers east of Sa‘ir, injuring 1 with a rubber-coated bullet and arresting 5; they were all released later in the day. Elsewhere, Israeli forces also closed off the main entrance to Sabastia, placing large cement blocks on the road. 6 Palestinians were arrested during a raid in Sa‘ir; Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters during the raid, causing tear-gas related injuries. In East Jerusalem, Israeli settlers toured the Haram al-Sharif compound. Israeli forces arrested 1 Palestinian at the Damascus Gate plaza, claiming he had tried to commit a stabbing attack. In Gaza, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian agricultural lands east of al-Shuka. Israeli forces also fired tear gas at a landfill east of Dayr al-Balah; no injuries were reported. (HA, HA, JP, TOI, TOI, TOI, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 12/19; PCHR 12/23)

Israel said it had arrested 6 Palestinians in Silat al-Harithiya. The 6 are alleged to have been connected to the killing of an Israeli settler near the Homesh settlement outpost on 12/16. Israel also claimed to have found the weapon used to kill the settler and said that the arrested have links to Islamic Jihad. (AP, BBC, HA, HA, JP, MEMO, TOI, TOI, WAFA 12/19)

Israeli Kan news reported that the Israeli military had changed its policy to allow soldiers to open fire at Palestinians who throw stones at Israeli forces and flee. (MEMO 12/20)

Hamas MP Atef Odwa condemned the PA for sentencing 35 Palestinian activists in the West Bank. (MEMO 12/20)

At an Arab League meeting in Doha, Palestinian pres. Abbas calls for renewed negotiations with Israel for a 6-mo. period, provided that Israel freeze all West Bank and East Jerusalem settlement construction during that time. Responding to recent public Palestinian criticism over the increasing cost of living, Abbas also calls for an amendment to the 1994 Paris Protocol covering economic relations between Israel and the PA. At the meeting, Qatari PM Shaykh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani says that the 2002 Arab peace initiative (offering full normalization for full peace; see Quarterly Update in JPS 124) should be reviewed, though Abbas urges against withdrawing the initiative. Arab states agree to provide the PA with a monthly ‘‘safety net’’ of $100 m. to help bridge the PA budget deficit. The PA announces that it hopes to pay civil servants’ salaries for 11/2012 in the coming days. (AFP, JP, MNA, REU, ToI 12/9)

Israeli PM Netanyahu criticizes PA pres. Abbas for engaging with Hamas in reconciliation efforts. In Gaza, visiting Hamas leader Mishal says that it is time for Hamas and Fatah to put past mistakes behind them, though free and fair Palestinian elections should come first. (MNA, ToI 12/9)

In the Gaza Strip, the Hamas government releases Abu Hafs al-Maqdisi, leader of Salafist group Jaysh al-Ummah (Army of the Nation). The IDF fires warning shots at Palestinians collecting gravel and rubble close to the border fence nr. Bayt Hanun, wounding 1. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers throw stones at Palestinian vehicles in 2 incidents nr. Bethlehem and Hebron, injuring 1 Palestinian woman. The IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning, in 1 village nr. Ramallah and 2 villages nr. Tulkarm in the afternoon, and in 2 villages nr. Ramallah at night. The IDF also conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon, in Nablus and 2 nearby villages, and 1 village each nr. Bethlehem and Ramallah at night. (MNA 12/10; PCHR 12/13)

The death toll in clashes in Tripoli between Lebanese Sunni and Alawite militias hits at least 17, with over 100 wounded, in the worst case of spill-over violence in Lebanon from Syria’s civil war. (NYT 12/9)

Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to open phase 2 of OCL at its discretion by sending ground troops into Gaza “to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of operation, while taking control of some of [sic] rocket launching area used by the Hamas”; authorizes the call-up of 10,000s of additional reservists. The IDF does not immediately take action.

Israeli action: The IDF continues air strikes and naval bombardment of Gaza, carrying out 65 air strikes and hitting 65 individual sites. Target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Lahiya, Dahaniyya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Nussayrat, Rafah, Tal al-Za‘atar. Primary targets include the homes of more than 12 senior Hamas officials (including senior IQB official Imad Akel, who reportedly is killed along with 3 children nearby; and Haniyeh’s chief of staff Muhammad Madhun and fmr. PA Refugee Affairs M Atif Udwan, who are believed to be in hiding); a car carrying Hamas’s Gaza City military cmdr. Muhammad (Abu Zakariya) al-Jamal, assassinating him; the Rafah airport site (already heavily damaged by yrs. of IDF attacks); the American International School in al-Atatra in n. Gaza; a public works dept. building southwest of Gaza City; tunnels on the Rafah border; and suspected weapons depots across Gaza. The estimated Palestinian toll reaches 431 killed, more than 2,200 injured.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 26 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, including 10 rockets that strike nr. Ashqelon, 1 of which causes damage and lightly injures 2 Israelis.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF escorts 226 foreigners who opt to leave Gaza to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan; allows 64 truckloads of humanitarian goods into the Strip.

Of note: By this date, nearly all of Gaza’s police stations and government buildings have been destroyed. One senior Israeli security official states that “All of the offices and databases are gone. When all this is over, no civil servant will have an office to sit in.” (HA, IDF, IFM, ITV 1/2; AFP, AP, HA, IDF, Nation, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; Adalah 1/4; IFM, JP, PCHR 1/8; WT 1/22; JPI 1/23)

In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 5 Palestinians), Ni‘lin (wounding 1 Israeli, 3 Palestinians), and Jayyus (injuring 3 Palestinians; 1 is hit with live ammunition). In Jerusalem, 100s of Palestinians clash with Israeli police after Friday prayers. Small demonstrations against OCL are reported in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank (including Bani Na‘im nr. Hebron, Bethlehem, Hebron, Issawiyya, Ramallah, Shu‘fat r.c.). IDF troops shoot at protesters in Bani Na‘im, wounding 5. The PASF breaks up large rallies against OCL in Hebron and Ramallah, firing tear gas at demonstrators, ripping up pro-Hamas placards and flags, beating and arresting suspected Hamas supporters, injuring at least 10 Palestinians. (HA, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; PCHR 1/8)