January 25, 2011

Ireland upgrades the status of the Palestinian representation in Dublin from a “delegation” to a “mission” and grants the mission head ambassador status. It does not recognize Palestine as a state or give the mission greater diplomatic privileges or immunities. Israel expresses its “regret.” (HA, YA 1/25; WJW 1/27)

OCHA reports that Israel has barred the import of industrial fuel for Gaza’s electricity plant for 2 weeks and is now internally discussing disconnecting Gaza fr. Israel’s electricity and water grid. (Gaza authorities have been able to keep electricity generation at 30% of demand by increasing the amount of fuel smuggling through tunnels fr. Egypt.) UNRWA reports that it has suspended 23 approved building projects in Gaza because of Israeli restrictions on gravel imports. Meanwhile, IDF troops make 2 brief incursion into Gaza e. of Gaza Valley village and e. of al-Maghazi r.c. to level land and clear lines of sight. Unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. OCHA reports that since 1/19, 3 Palestinians have been injured in tunnelrelated accidents (2 crushed transporting construction materials, 1 electrocuted). (JP 1/25; PCHR 1/27; OCHA 1/28)

Some 150,000 Egyptians of all socioeconomic backgrounds inspired by events in Tunisia answer a week of calls to attend a “day of revolution” antigovernment rally in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today (a national holiday to honor police), bringing blankets, food, and water and vowing to continue protests until Mubarak steps down, his government is dissolved, and parliament is disbanded. (The Muslim Brotherhood does not participate to allow the voice of the people to stay at the fore.) The government cuts cell phone and Internet service to limit international coverage and mobilization efforts via social networking sites. Late at night, government security forces raided the square firing tear gas and water cannons, beating some demonstrators, and arresting others in an unsuccessful effort to drive them out. After a paroxysm of retaliatory violence that kills 1 police officer and some looting in the National Museum on the square, protesters disengage and mobilize to call for nonviolence, notably creating a cordon around the museum to protect it. Parallel protests are held in Alexandria, Suez (where violent clashes kill 2 demonstrators), and several smaller towns, with larger protests called for Friday 1/28. By this date, there have also been several days of protests in Yemen calling for Pres. Saleh’s removal, citing economic ills, corruption, and rumors Saleh plans to install his son as his successor. (NYT, WP, WT 1/25; AFP, al-Masri al-Yawm 1/26; see also NYT 1/23; AFP 1/26; NYT 1/27)