Friday, November 16, 2012

Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense against Gaza enters its 3d day, leaving another 11 Palestinians dead and bringing the Palestinian death toll since 11/14 to 30, around 1/3 civilians. Intense levels of Israeli air strikes continue, with 40 attacks before dawn and at least 200 overall during the day; reports estimate some 500 targets struck by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) since the operation began. The IDF bombs Gaza’s Ministry of Interior building and the offices of Hamas’s acting PM Ismail Haniyeh. Palestinian armed groups fire a total of 190 rockets into Israel, including a rocket that lands in an open area nr. Gush Etzion settlement bloc s. of Jerusalem, causing no damage or injuries. The Israeli cabinet approves Israeli DM Ehud Barak’s requests to mobilize 75,000 reservists. Israel’s FM Avigdor Lieberman states that the 2 goals of the operation are to restore deterrence and destroy long-range missiles. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Palestinians hold demonstrations to protest the attack on Gaza, including a rally of hundreds of Hamas activists in Ramallah. IDF forces injure dozens of Palestinians in the solidarity protests, seriously wounding 1 man in Kafr Qaddum village nr. Qalqilya with a tear-gas canister to the head. (AP, HA, Guardian, JP, MNA 11/16)

Internationally, there is a mixture of support for Israel’s actions and caution regarding escalation. The U.S. Senate unanimously passes a resolution expressing support for Israel’s ‘‘right to act in self-defense.’’ UK foreign secretary William Hague warns Israel against staging a ground incursion into Gaza. Egyptian PM Hesham Kandil visits the Gaza Strip, during which time Israel temporarily stops its attacks. Egyptian pres. Mohamed Morsi condemns Israel’s operation and pledges Egyptian support for the Palestinians. Meanwhile, UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay condemns Israel’s aerial bombardment of Gaza as well as Palestinian rocket fire. (HA, Guardian, JP, MNA, REU 11/16)

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning, 1 village nr. Qalqilya in the afternoon, and 1 village nr. Ramallah, 2 villages nr. Salfit, and 1 village nr. Jericho at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in Tulkarm in the afternoon, and in Hebron and 1 nearby village, and 1 village nr. Ramallah at night. Israeli soldiers violently disperse Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals taking part in weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the Israeli occupation and land confiscations held in 4 villages nr. Ramallah (Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, al-Nabi Salih, Budrus), 1 village nr. Bethlehem (al-Ma‘sara), and 1 village nr. Qalqilya (Kafr Qaddum). There are no serious injuries, except in Bil‘in, where 2 Palestinians are wounded by a tear-gas canister and rubber-coated steel bullet respectively, and in Kafr Qaddum, where 1 Palestinian is wounded by a tear-gas canister. (PCHR 11/22)

Egyptian security forces say that unidentified militants fire 3 rockets into Israel from the Sinai Peninsula nr. Rafah. No damage or injuries are reported. (MNA 11/16)

In Amman, Jordanian protests over rising fuel prices continue for a 4th day. Protesters clash with security forces, and a rally of several thousand passes off largely peacefully; chants include demands for the departure of King Abdallah II. (WP 11/16)