Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore; they detain and confiscate 1 fishing boat and arrest 1 fisherman. Later in the day, Israeli naval vessels fire on another group of fishing boats, forcing them to flee, damaging 1 boat, and confiscating 5 trawling nets. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts synchronized patrols in 2 villages nr. Tulkarm in the morning; patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon (firing tear gas and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries); conducts late-night patrols in Nur al-Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm; and conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus. Israel’s Jerusalem planning comm. approves plans for the right-wing settler group Elad to build a new archeological tourism center in Silwan, East Jerusalem in the Western Wall yard opposite al-Aqsa Mosque. The complex will include offices, museum and conference space, an underground car park, and 2 underground “archeological tunnels” that will run north under the Mughrabi gate and south under the area housing the Umayyad Caliphate palaces (which Israel calls the Temple of Solomon). (JP 2/14; WT 2/15; PCHR 2/16; OCHA 2/17)

Three Iranians are arrested as they flee a mysterious explosion in their Bangkok apartment. One of the men throws grenades at a taxi that refuses to stop for him and at approaching police, seriously injuring himself only. The 2d man is arrested at Bangkok airport attempting to leave the country. The 3d makes it out of Thailand but is detained when he lands in Malaysia. Israel and the U.S. suspect the bombings are linked to the 2/13 Indian and Georgian attacks and earlier incidents in Thailand (see 1/13) and Azerbaijan (see 1/24), but they have no evidence the men were plotting against Israeli or Jewish targets. Thai police and outside experts doubt, but do not rule out, an Israeli connection, saying the operation was very amateurish and the men could have been arms runners or involved in other illegal activity in Bangkok. (NYT, WP 2/15; WP, WT 2/16)