Friday, February 18, 2011

Gaza’s Rafah crossing opens for the 1st time since 1/29/11 to allow Palestinians trapped in Egypt to enter Gaza. In the West Bank, the IDF enters Bayt Umar village nr. Hebron in the afternoon, searching a house and arresting a 10-yr.-old Palestinian for stone-throwing; patrols in 4 villages nr. Qalqilya, 2 nr. Ramallah, and 1 nr. Tulkarm during the afternoon and evening. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Nabi Salih/Dayr Nizam nr. Ramallah, and in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 8 Palestinians (including 3 children); 15 Palestinians (including 9 children) and 2 international activists are arrested. (Oxfam International 2/20; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25)

Before the UNSC vote reaffirming the illegality of Jewish settlements, U.S. Secy. of State Hillary Clinton phones Abbas to warn him that that U.S. aid could be cut if the vote goes ahead. In Ramallah, the PLOEC and FCC opt to go ahead with the vote saying, “The Palestinian leadership will reject American demands even if our decision leads to a diplomatic crisis with the Americans. We have nothing to lose.” The U.S. vetoes the res. (HA, REU 2/18; HA, WP 2/19; HA 2/20; WJW 2/24; JPI 3/4)

In Bahrain, security forces violently disperse a massive protest in Manama, wounding 10s. From this point, large antigovernment protests (1,000s to 10,000s) become nr. daily events. (NYT, WP 2/19; NYT 2/21)