March 12, 2011

In the West Bank, the IDF raids and searches Palestinian villages around Itamar settlement, particularly in Awarta village, in search for the killers of 5 settlers found murdered on 3/11, detaining at least 20 young men for questioning. At least 27 attacks on Palestinians and their property by armed Jewish settlers retaliating for the Itamar murders are reported in Nablus (10), Hebron (9), Qalqilya (6), and Ramallah (2). Incidents involved: rampaging through Palestinian areas (6 cases, including an attempt to kidnap 2 children); vandalizing homes, businesses, and community buildings (11, including an attempt to set fire to a mosque); stoning and vandalizing cars (10); and cutting down olive trees (1). Meanwhile, a statement released to the press claims responsibility in the name of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade of Imad Mughniyah; AMB officials deny any connection to the purported offshoot group. Netanyahu makes a televised address calling on settlers not to take matters into their own hands and to allow the IDF to search for the assailants, also calling on the PA to halt the incitement that encourages such attacks. Abbas issues a statement denouncing the killings. The IDF also conducts late-night patrols in Qalqilya and 3 nearby villages. (HA, JP 3/12; al-Hayat, JP, JTA, NYT, WP 3/13; PCHR 3/17; OCHA 3/18)

The Arab League calls on the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya and recognizes the rebels’ provisional govt., steps that NATO had requested as a precondition for Western intervention in Libya, where extremely heavy fighting continues. (NYT, WP, WT 3/13)

After Yemen’s opposition rejected (3/10) as insufficient a proposal by Pres. Saleh to discuss constitutional reform and again demanded he immediately step down, Saleh deploys troops to crush growing antigovernment protests, authorizing them to use water cannons, tear gas, live ammunition, and sniper fire. Over the next few days, injuries quickly rise into the 100s but demonstrations only grow, now involving 10,000s of protesters. (NYT, WP 3/13; WT 3/14; NYT 3/15, 3/16; NYT, WP, WT 3/17; WP 3/18; see also NYT, WP, WT 3/11)