Wednesday, February 2, 2011

In retaliation for rocket fire on 1/31, the IDF makes an air strike on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF arrests 3 Palestinian children (ages 13–16) for straying nr. the separation wall in Bil‘in; makes a late-night raid on a Palestinian home in al-Khadir nr. Bethlehem looking for a 12- yr.-old boy who threw stones at troops earlier in the day, assaulting a boy in the house and knocking him unconscious (he is taken by ambulance to a hospital for evaluation), roughly searching rooms, and allegedly stealing gold; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Ramallah. (AFP, YA 2/2; PCHR 2/3, 2/10; OCHA 2/11)

In Ramallah, the PA, which had banned anti-Mubarak protests in the West Bank, organizes 100s of Fatah mbrs. into proMubarak demonstrations, with the PAcontrolled media denouncing Egyptian opposition figure El-Baradei as a war criminal and CIA agent, calling him responsible for the war on Iraq. Later in the day, some 150 Palestinians in Ramallah organize a counterdemonstration in solidarity with the Egyptian people but are beaten and dispersed by PA riot police, who arrest 2 journalists and a human rights worker monitoring the rally. To date, the PFLP is the only Palestinian faction to come out in support of the Egyptian demonstrators. (JP 2/2; Human Rights Watch press release, NYT, WP, WT 2/3; NYT 2/4; WP 2/7) 

Yemen’s pres. Saleh pledges he will not run again when his term ends in 2013 or appoint his son to succeed him. In the past 10 days, he has also promised to lift the state of emergency imposed since 1992, raised the salaries of soldiers and civil servants, pledged to hire more college graduates, cut income taxes, imposed price controls, extended welfare payments to an additional 500,000 Yemenis, waived college tuition fees for students for the current year, and promised to reopen voter registration to enable some 1.5 m. Yemenis to register to vote. Today, Obama issues a statement welcoming Saleh’s reform steps. The opposition remains dubious, with many saying Saleh must step down immediately. Hereafter, protests shrink in size (from the 1,000s to the 100s) but increase in frequency, becoming near daily events in Sana’a and Aden through the end of the quarter. (NYT, WP 2/3; NYT 2/4)