Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Gaza cease-fire comes into effect at 9 P.M. local time, officially bringing an end to Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense after 8 days of attacks, which saw the IDF hit around 1,500 targets and Palestinian armed groups fire around 1,500 projectiles (420 intercepted by Iron Dome). One hundred and fifty-eight Palestinians are dead, an estimated 60% of whom were civilians, while 6 Israelis were killed—4 civilians and 2 soldiers. The cease-fire deal is jointly announced by Egyptian FM Mohamed Kamel Amr and U.S. secy. of state Clinton at a press conference in Cairo. U.S. pres. Barack Obama speaks with Israeli PM Netanyahu to commend him on accepting the deal, stating that the U.S. will use the cease-fire to help Israel tackle issues such as weapons smuggling into Gaza. Obama also personally thanks Egyptian pres. Morsi for his efforts to secure a truce, comments Clinton echoes at the Cairo press conference, saying Morsi showed responsible leadership. Netanyahu tells the Israeli public that he hopes for an extended cease-fire but that tougher action might be necessary in the future. The cease-fire is not a signed agreement between Israel and Hamas, but includes pledges transmitted via Egypt to end Palestinian rocket and mortar fire and other cross-border attacks into Israel, and Israeli incursions into Gaza and assassinations. The sides also agree to further negotiations mediated by Egypt toward easing the Gaza blockade. Hamas chief Khalid Mishal says that Hamas will respect the truce but respond to any Israeli violations, and thanks Egypt for its role in securing the cease-fire. Mishal and Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip mark the cease-fire as a victory for the resistance. The UNSC issues a statement urging both Israel and Hamas to respect the cease-fire, and deploring the loss of civilian lives during the 8-day exchange. (AFP, Guardian, HA, MNA, REU 11/21)

During the day, before the cease-fire is implemented, the IDF attacks numerous targets in the Gaza Strip, killing around 20 Palestinians. A Palestinian-fired rocket wounds 4 Israeli soldiers. Unidentified Palestinians plant a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus, which injures two dozen Israelis, mostly lightly or moderately. Numerous groups claim responsibility for the attack, which is praised by Hamas as a natural response to Israeli aggression. In the hours after the ceasefire comes into force, Palestinians fire around a dozen rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, causing no injuries. (HA, MNA, REU 11/21)

In the West Bank, the IDF opens fire on Palestinian protesters in numerous locations, as demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza continue. In clashes by Ofer prison nr. Ramallah, the IDF shoots 2 Palestinians in the legs with live ammunition. Serious clashes are reported in Hebron, Nablus, and Ramallah. The IDF also conducts house searches and arrest raids in Nablus and 2 nearby villages, Balata r.c. in Nablus, Hebron and 3 nearby villages, 2 villages nr. Jenin, and 3 villages nr. Ramallah at night. (REU 11/21; PCHR 11/29)