Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The donors’ Ad Hoc Liaison Comm. (AHLC) holds a regular semiannual meeting in Brussels to discuss the state of the Palestinian economy, PA budget priorities, and donor assistance. The AHLC expresses concern that the growth of the Palestinian economy slowed significantly in 2011 and that the PA budget deficit has grown dangerously, largely because donor contributions have fallen and Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement and access have not been adequately reduced. While acknowledging PA efforts to maintain a stable economy, the AHLC warns that the PA cannot be successful without increased donor support and positive actions from Israel. (Europa 3/31)

The IDF makes a pre-dawn incursion into n. Gaza to level land and clear lines of sight along the border fence nr. Bayt Lahiya, firing on nearby agricultural areas to keep Palestinians away, causing no injuries. In the evening, unidentified Palestinians fire 1 Qassam rocket and 2 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night patrols in Tulkarm and 1 village nr. Jericho. (YA 3/21; PCHR, YA 3/22; PCHR 3/29; OCHA 3/30)

A 24-yr.-old French man of Algerian descent, Mohammed Merah, claims responsibility for the shootings in and around Toulouse (see 3/19/12) and barricades himself in his apartment in a tense stand-off that includes exchanges of gunfire, leaving 2 police officers wounded. Merah confirms that he carried out the attacks to protest French foreign intervention in Afghanistan, as well as to avenge the deaths of Palestinian children killed by the IDF in Gaza. While Merah claims to have received al-Qa`ida training and had been on French and U.S. government watch lists, the French authorities believe he acted alone and had no serious link to alQa`ida or other groups. (NYT 3/22)