Friday, March 12, 2010

In a 45-min. phone conversation, U.S. secy. of state Hillary Clinton sharply rebukes Netanyahu for the 3/9 Ramat Shlomo construction approval, demanding that Israel prove its desire to seek peace by revoking the plans, stating that the U.S. viewed his apology for the timing of the announcement alone as inadequate. She lists several additional steps the U.S. expects Israel to take to support the peace process and warns of consequences if Israel does not comply; no details are made public (State Dept. press release 3/12; WP 3/13; HA 3/15)

The IDF makes a day-long incursion 200 m into Gaza e. of Jabaliya, later moving s. toward Gaza City, to level land along the border fence to clear lines of sight. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Hanun fire on Palestinians scavenging construction materials from destroyed buildings, forcing them to flee, causing no injuries. Late in the evening, the IDF makes air strikes on a suspected weapons lab in Khan Yunis in retaliation for Palestinian rocket fire on 3/11, causing no reported injuries; Israeli naval vessels fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the Bayt Lahiya coast, forcing it to return to shore. Israel, fearing serious Palestinian protests after Friday prayers over the 3/9 Ramat Shlomo construction approval, imposes a general closure on the West Bank through 3/16 and deploys extra units of riot police around Jerusalem; no violence is reported. In an effort to halt weekly Palestinian protests against the separation wall, the IDF issues a military order declaring Bil‘in and Ni‘lin closed military zones on Fridays until 8/17. Today the order is ignored: Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists stage a nonviolent march to the separation wall in Bil‘in and a protest against the wall in Ni‘lin, where some of them throw stones at IDF troops. In both cases, IDF troops fire rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas (injuring 2 Palestinians in Bil‘in; arresting 1 Palestinian, 1 Israeli in Ni‘lin). The IDF also fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists staging a nonviolent protest against settlement expansion nr. Dayr Nizam/al-Nabi Salih (injuring 18); fires stun grenades and beats Palestinian and international activists demonstrating against the separation wall in al-Ma‘sara village s. of Bethlehem (injuring 2 Palestinians). Jewish settlers fr. Eli nr. Nablus uproot 40 Palestinian olive trees in nearby Qaryut village. (YA 3/12; OCHA, PCHR 3/18)