Friday, July 18, 2014

The IDF continues its ground invasion, as well as air strikes in the Gaza Strip, killing 53 Palestinians, including 8 mbrs. of a single family killed in Bayt Hanun. IDF troops face resistance on the ground, in particular from fighters in al-Qassam Brigades and al-Quds Brigades, with both groups claiming attacks on IDF soldiers and positions inside the Gaza Strip. Palestinians fire more than 40 rockets into Israel, and Iron Dome batteries intercept several over Tel Aviv while 25 land in open areas, with no reports of casualties. In the West Bank, IDF troops shoot and injure dozens of Palestinians in a number of protests in solidarity with Gaza, including at Qalandia checkpoint, outside Ofer prison, in Biddu village nr. Jerusalem, and in Shuqba village nr. Ramallah. The IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Hebron at night; patrols in 3 villages each nr. Jericho and Ramallah, and 1 village nr. Salfit in the afternoon. IDF troops violently disperse Palestinian, Israeli, and international protesters at weekly demonstrations against Israel’s separation wall, settlements, and occupation in 3 villages nr. Ramallah (Bil‘in, Nabi Salih, and Ni‘lin). There are no serious injuries, except in Nabi Salih, where 1 is hit by a bullet, and Ni‘lin, where another is hit by a bullet. In East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces clash with Palestinians at Haram al-Sharif, 9 are taken to the hospital, including at least 4 injured by rubber-coated metal bullets. (AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU, YA 7/18; PCHR 7/19)

The Israeli security cabinet meets to discuss expansion of the ground operation, with Netanyahu saying that “since there is no way to deal with the tunnels only from the air, our soldiers are doing it now from the ground.” Meanwhile, Pres. Abbas asks France to lobby Hamas’s regional allies Turkey and Qatar to pressure the Palestinian group to accept a ceasefire. French FM Fabius meets Abbas in Cairo after flying out specifically to boost efforts at reaching a cease-fire. Abbas then heads to Turkey for talks with PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan. U.S. Pres. Obama, meanwhile, speaks with PM Netanyahu, underscoring Israel’s right to defend itself, but also stressing the risks of “further escalation.” In New York, the UNSC holds an emergency meeting at the request of Jordan, where it is announced that Secy.-Gen. Ban will head to the region the next day. Separately, EU foreign affairs chief Ashton publishes a statement, saying she is “very concerned” about the violence, “including the resumption of rocket fire into Israel and the Israeli ground operation.” (AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU, YA 7/18)

After concluding a 6th round of talks since the beginning of the 6-mo. interim period began on 1/20, reps. of Iran and the P5+1 powers agree to extend talks on Iran’s disputed nuclear program until 11/24. (REU 7/18)