Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Israeli security officials say they now believe that a renegade Islamic Jihad cell fr. Jenin, commanded fr. outside the territories, was responsible for the 2/25 bombing. IDF severely beats a Palestinian at a checkpoint nr. Hebron; demolishes 10 shops built without permits in Bardala, ‘Ayn al-Bayda; blows up a workshop in al-Yamun nr. Jenin that it claimed was a Hamas weapons factory; issues military orders for the demolition of 1 Palestinian home, 3 wells in Wadi Fukin nr. Bethlehem; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Nablus, nr. Tulkarm. Jewish settlers fr. Ma’ale Shomron nr. Qalqilya beat a Palestinian. PA Interior M Nasr Yusuf takes part in a ceremony in Jenin r.c., marking the opening of a new security headquarters there; al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbrs. fire in the air to protest that the PA security services did not coordinate Yusuf’s visit with them; Yusuf, local AMB head Zakariyya Zubaydi meet at the Jenin headquarters to discuss the issue, with Yusuf saying such incidents would not be tolerated. The PA says it has arrested a total of 6 Palestinians in connection with the 2/25 Tel Aviv bombing. (MM, VOI, VOP 3/1; PR 3/2; JAZ, VOP 3/2 in WNC 3/3; PCHR 3/3; NYT 3/6)

British PM Tony Blair hosts a 1-day conference aimed at encouraging and supporting PA reform, strengthening PA governance in advance of Israel’s disengagement fr. Gaza in mid-7/05. The U.S., EU, and World Bank agree to lead an international effort to coordinate “institutional renewal” in the Palestinian territories. (AFP, AP, BBC, MM 3/1, ITAR-TASS, JAZ, MENA, VOP 3/1; Independent, MM, NYT, PR, WP, WT 3/2; DUS, ITAR-TASS, JP, MENA, al-Quds al-Arabi, VOI, VOP 3/2 in WNC 3/3; HA, MM, WJW 3/3; HJ, VOP 3/6 in WNC 3/7; MM 3/9; JPI 3/11; see also WP 2/26)

According to the U.S. State Dept.’s annual report on human rights, the Palestinian population of Israel and the occupied territories has reached 5.3 m., for the first time exceeding the Israeli Jewish population of 5.2 m. (Electronic Intifada 3/1)