Saturday, August 23, 2014

In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with attacks on 41 targets, killing 11 Palestinians and injuring dozens. Israeli fighter jets and drones strike targets in n. Gaza, as well as nr. Gaza City, Khan Yunis, and Rafah, while IDF troops fire smoke bombs and live ammunition across the Israel-Gaza border in 1 location and Israeli artillery shelling hits 2 others. The armed Palestinian groups fire over 100 projectiles into Israel; of which, 3 land in urban areas, 73 land in open areas, and 17 are intercepted by Iron Dome batteries. Meanwhile, Hamas executes 4 alleged collaborators with Israel in the courtyard of a mosque in Jabaliya r.c. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts patrols in Hebron and 2 nearby villages, as well as 1 village nr. Ramallah. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces clash with a group of Palestinian youth outside a checkpoint nr. Shu‘fat, and 1 Palestinian is wounded when the soldiers open fire with tear gas and rubbercoated metal bullets. (AFP, AP, HA, MNA 8/23; PCHR 8/28)

Following talks between Hamas leader Mishal and PA Pres. Abbas in Doha on 8/21 and 8/22, Hamas publicly agrees to support Abbas’s application to join the ICC. According to PLO chief negotiator Erakat, only Islamic Jihad has not yet approved the document Abbas is asking all Palestinian factions to sign before he moves forward. (AFP, AP, MNA 8/23)

On the diplomatic front, Abbas travels to Cairo for talks with Egyptian pres. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. After their meeting, Abbas says “my main goal is for the truce talks to resume in Egypt as soon as possible.” In an interview on Egyptian television, Abbas says that he is planning a major diplomatic initiative and that he will present the plan to U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to visit the region in the coming days. The plan reportedly includes asking the UN to set a timetable for the Israeli occupation and signing the Rome Statue on behalf of the PA, which would give the ICC jurisdiction over cases relating to the occupation. For its part, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry releases a statement after the Abbas/al-Sisi meeting inviting the Israelis and Palestinians to return to Cairo for further cease-fire negotiations. (AJ, HA, WSJ 8/23)

Israeli PM Netanyahu holds talks with UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon. Netanyahu compares Hamas to ISIS, in reference to the group’s 8/22 execution of collaborators, and blames the group for the latest escalation in violence. (AJ, HA, REU 8/23)

In the evening, 2 rockets are fired from Lebanon into n. Israel. No group claims responsibility for the attack, though Lebanese military officials suspect a small, local Palestinian group. Late at night, 5 rockets are fired from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israeli military officials say that a Palestinian group, not Syrian govt. forces, is responsible. Between the 2 sets of rocket attacks, 8 Israelis are lightly injured. (DS, JP, REU 8/23; AFP, HA, YA 8/24)