Thursday, February 21, 2013

In the West Bank, tensions continue over hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners: Near Ramallah, 29 Palestinian protesters are injured by rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes with the IDF. There are also clashes at Huwara checkpoint nr. Nabus, causing no serious injuries. Meanwhile, a Jerusalem court sentences hunger-striker Samer Issawi to 8 months in prison for violating the terms of his 10/2011 amnesty deal. Issawi gets credit for time served and is scheduled for release in 3/2013. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village each nr. Jenin and Ramallah in the morning, in 1 village nr. Hebron in the afternoon, and in 1 village each nr. Ramallah and Tulkarm at night. The IDF also conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Jenin at night. Jewish settlers vandalize some 70 Palestinian-owned trees nr. Hebron. Palestinian and international activists demonstrate nr. Hebron to call for the opening of a route closed for the past 12 years linking Hebron city with three nearby villages; the IDF violently disperses them, causing no serious injuries. In the Gaza Strip, IDF forces carry out a limited incursion into the border area nr. Khan Yunis to level farmland and clear lines of sight. Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen off the north Gaza coast, causing no serious injuries, and then again on fishermen nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing one moderate injury. (MNA 2/21; PCHR 2/28)

The union of West Bank teachers declares a day’s general strike across the territory in response to recent remarks by the PA finance minister about reductions in due salary increases, as well as ‘‘fragmented’’ monthly wages that have left public sector workers without their full salaries for more than three months. (MNA 2/20)

Israel’s Energy Ministry reveals that it is granting U.S. company Genie Energy a license to explore for oil and gas in the occupied Golan Heights. (FT 2/21)

A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant that could enable Tehran to speed up its accumulation of material needed for a nuclear weapon. The IAEA report also says that since 12/2012, Iran has been converting refined uranium to powder for the production of reactor fuel. (HA, REU 2/21)