Thursday, February 21, 2019

Along Gaza’s border, an Israeli drone bombs a Palestinian motorcycle near Rafah, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF does not comment on the strike. In the evening, hundreds of Palestinians gather along the border fence near Rafah to set tires on fire, throw stones, and otherwise continue the Great March of Return. IDF troops violently disperse the demonstrations, injuring 5 protesters. In 2 separate incidents off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Jabaliya refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers puncture the tires of 10 Palestinian vehicles and leave racist graffiti on nearby walls in Ras Karkar near Ramallah. Settlers also assault 2 Palestinian shepherds near Hebron and throw stones at a Palestinian school in nearby Urif village, causing no damage or injuries. Israeli forces fire tear gas at Palestinian students at a school in central Hebron; no serious injuries are reported. It’s unclear why the IDF attacked the school. They also deliver stop-work orders to a Palestinian home under construction in western Hebron; confiscate heavy equipment from a construction site in southern Hebron; and uproot approximately 300 olive tree seedlings from a Palestinian grove north of the city. Meanwhile, IDF troops arrest 3 Palestinians during late-night raids near Jenin, Hebron, and Salfit; and patrol in and around Tulkarm, Hebron, and Ramallah. In East Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians gather outside Haram al-Sharif to protest the recent Israeli incursions at the sanctuary; 4 are arrested when Israeli forces disperse the protests. Meanwhile, Israeli forces arrest 60 Palestinians across the city ahead of planned protests at Haram al-Sharif on 2/22. (MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/21; HA, JP, MNA, MNA 2/22; PCHR 2/28)

PA minister of finance Shukri Bishara says that the PA intends to pay all its employees on time in the coming months, but that some of the higher salaries might be reduced due to the 2/17 Israeli decision to make deductions from the monthly transfers of tax revenues to the PA. “We are coming on difficult days in the coming weeks, and we will handle the issue of salaries as wisely and fairly as possible,” he says. Meanwhile, senior Fatah official Mahmoud al-Aloul says that a committee has been formed to put together a list of Israeli products to ban from Palestinian markets in response to the Israeli deductions in tax revenue transfers. (TOI, TOI, WAFA 2/21)

Hosen L’Yisrael Party chair Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid Party chair Yair Lapid announce that they have agreed to run on a joint ticket ahead of the Israeli election on 4/9. Under their agreement, Gantz would serve as prime minister for two and a half years, then Lapid would take over the top job. Gantz is widely seen as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top challenger in the election, and this agreement is expected to strengthen his chances of becoming the next prime minister. (HA, JP, JP, YA 2/21)