Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Approximately 1,000 Israeli settlers visit Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus overnight, sparking clashes between their IDF escort and Palestinians from nearby Balata refugee camp; 1 Palestinian is injured and another is arrested. The IDF later says that a cell-phone bomb was planted at Joseph’s Tomb prior to the activists’ visit, but that Israeli soldiers detonated it safely, causing no injuries. Elsewhere in the West Bank, IDF troops arrest 12 Palestinians during late-night raids near Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus; and patrol near Hebron. Israeli settlers vandalize several Palestinian vehicles in Bayt Iksa village near Jerusalem, and enter ‘Azun village near Qalqilya, sparking clashes between their IDF escort and stone-throwing residents (28 Palestinians are injured). In East Jerusalem, Israeli police prevent Islamic Waqf staff from doing routine maintenance at Haram al-Sharif. (MNA, TOI, WAFA 1/16; JP 1/17)

The U.S. State Dept. announces that the Trump administration has decided to withhold $65 million from a $125 million transfer of aid to UNRWA. “There is a need to undertake a fundamental reexamination of UNRWA, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded,” a spokesperson says, explaining that the $65 million may be transferred after “future consideration” from the Trump administration. (JP, NYT, TOI 1/16; EI, HA, YA 1/17)

The Israeli authorities re-open the Kerem Shalom border crossing into Gaza, having closed it on 1/14 following Israeli air strikes in Gaza on 1/13. (MNA, WAFA, YA 1/16)