Thursday, March 15, 2012

Retaliating for Palestinian rocket fire on 3/14, the IDF carries out 2 air strikes on training sites in Gaza. Unidentified Palestinians fire at least 2 rockets in response. No injures are reported in the exchange. IDF soldiers at the Qalandia crossing detain a Palestinian leaving Jerusalem for the West Bank, suspecting him of involvement in the stabbing and wounding of an IDF soldier on Jerusalem’s light rail train earlier in the day. The IDF also demolishes a Palestinian home and animal farm in Qalqilya; uproots olive and almond trees on 30 d. of confiscated Palestinian agricultural land nr. Hamra settlement (nr. Nablus); patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah (synchronized), 1 nr. Qalqilya, and 1 nr. Tulkarm in the morning; and in 3 villages nr. Jenin (synchronized) and 1 nr. Ramallah late at night. Palestinian rights activists report that the health of administrative detainee Hana Shalabi is deteriorating after 30 days on hunger strike (see 2/16/12). Dozens of Palestinians rally outside Ofer prison in solidarity with her; IDF troops fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, stun grenades to disperse them. (JP, YA 3/15; WP, WT 3/16; PCHR 3/22; OCHA 3/23)

After Syrian pres. Asad issues a statement reiterating his position that opposition forces must first halt their fire before his forces would cease fire, Hizballah chief Nasrallah issues a statement saying that both sides should cease fire simultaneously. The statement is seen as Hizballah’s 1st cautious attempt to tone down its support for the Asad regime since Arab Spring protests in Syria began in 1/2011. Days after this, Nasrallah calls on Asad to undertake “serious and genuine” reform efforts, stating that it is the duty of all “whose hearts are throbbing with sympathy for the Syrian people” to seek a political solution to the problem (a statement seen as a rebuke to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, which wanted to arm the Syrian opposition forces to overthrow Asad). (NYT 4/6)