Monday, December 24, 2018

Hundreds of Palestinians gather along Gaza’s border fence near Jabaliya refugee camp to continue the Great March of Return and to cheer on a number of Palestinian fishing boats sailing in a symbolic challenge of the Israeli blockade. IDF troops and Israeli naval forces violently disperse the demonstrations, as well as similar protests along the border fence near Khan Yunis and Gaza City; at least 25 Palestinians are injured. In the West Bank, IDF troops violently disperse Palestinians gathering outside Ofer Prison to demonstrate in support of the Palestinians imprisoned inside; there are no serious injuries reported. IDF troops also arrest 2 Palestinians during raids in Jenin and Tulkarm; and patrol near Hebron, Nablus, Jenin, and Qalqilya. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 10 Palestinians during raids in Jabal Mukabir, al-Tur, and Shu‘fat refugee camp. (MNA, WAFA, WAFA 12/24; PCHR 12/27)

The heads of the parties in Israel’s ruling coalition announce their decision to dissolve the current Knesset and hold early elections on 4/9/19. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that the decision was unanimous and that he intends to bring new parties into the current coalition after the elections. Netanyahu reportedly made his decision to push for early elections on 12/22 after consulting with his lawyers and top aides about a variety of issues, including several stalled legislative initiatives and the percolating corruption case against him. Netanyahu also says that the IDF has asserted control over the northern border and that this is the “perfect” time for early elections. Later, the ruling coalition agrees with the opposition to suspend work on all legislation that they don’t agree on until the Knesset is dissolved. Meanwhile, a senior White House official says that Israel’s early elections are “one of many factors we are considering in evaluating the timing of the release of [the Trump administration’s long awaited Palestinian-Israeli] peace plan.” (HA, HA, MNA 12/24; HA, HA 12/25)