Thursday, February 13, 2003

The IDF lifts the sealing of the territories imposed on 2/10, but maintains curfews in many areas; fires on a group of Palestinians allegedly attempting to plant a roadside bomb nr. Netzarim settlement, killing 2 or 3, capturing 1; fatally shoots 1 Palestinian in a separate incident nr. Netzarim; kills 2 Palestinians during a demolition operation in Rafah; conducts massive arrest raids targeting Islamic Jihad, Hamas in Jenin, Qalqilya, Tulkarm; raids the Jenin courthouse, arresting 2 Palestinians. (HA 2/13; PCHR 2/20)

A delegation of 50 senior American Jewish leaders (including Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations [CPMAJO] exec. vice dir. Malcolm Hoenlein, fmr. CPMAJO chmn. Ron Lauder), accompanied by 2 reps. of Sharon, meets in Almaty with the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, as well as senior ministers fr. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the regional senior execs. of U.S. energy companies. Israeli diplomats serving in the region also take part. The Jewish delegation says that its aim is to “begin a dialog of civilizations” with Muslim leaders to head off a “clash of civilizations”; that it is bringing messages of support from. Bush, Powell, Sharon; that Bush has been “personally involved and supportive in preparations for this mission.” Hoenlein notes that CPMAJO made a similar trip to Uzbekistan in 1996 that led to the establishment of Israeli-Uzbek diplomatic relations in 1997, noting that “sometimes we can have access in places before the Israeli government.” (HA 2/13; see also HA 2/12)