Monday, January 7, 2019

Unidentified Palestinians fire a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel overnight, and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts it near Ashqelon. In response, the Israeli Air Force conducts air strikes on 2 Hamas sites near Bayt Lahiya, reportedly destroying 1 property and damaging another in the vicinity of both. Also along Gaza’s border, Israeli forces conduct limited incursions to level land near Dayr al-Balah and Bayt Lahiya and open fire on Palestinian farmland near Rafah, causing no damage. In the West Bank, IDF troops shoot and injure a Palestinian minor at a checkpoint near Nablus. An IDF spokesperson says she was acting suspiciously, ignoring the soldiers’ orders and warning shots, and that the incident is suspected to be an attempted “suicide by cop.” IDF troops also shoot and injure 3 Palestinians during clashes sparked by an arrest raid in al-Bireh; arrest 13 Palestinians and issue 1 arrest summons during late-night raids near Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem; and patrol near Hebron throughout the day. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 3 Palestinians during raids in Issawiyya and the Old City. (HA, HA, JP, JP, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, YA 1/7; PCHR 1/10)

There are reports in the Israeli and Palestinian press that the 3d transfer of Qatari money into Gaza, which was planned to go forward this week, is being delayed indefinitely. Some reports indicate that the Israeli authorities ordered the delay in response to the rocket fire today. The Israeli authorities previously allowed 2 transfers of $15 million each, on 11/8/18 and 12/6/18. They previously agreed to allow 6 total monthly transfers of $15 million to help pay the salaries of civil servants working for the Hamas-run government and to support families in urgent need in Gaza. In the evening, UN special coordinator Nickolay Mladenov reportedly informs Hamas that the transfer is set to go forward within 48 hours, so long as the relative calm in Gaza holds. (JP, MEMO, TOI, TOI, YA 1/7; C10, JP, JT 1/8)

After PA security forces withdraw from the Rafah border crossing in the morning, Hamas security forces retake control of the Gaza side of the crossing. The Egyptian authorities then announce that the crossing “will be limited to only the arrival of individuals and the entry of goods” into Gaza. An Egyptian official in Cairo says he does not expect the crossing to be closed completely, despite widespread rumors and speculation to the contrary. “Egypt recognizes the importance of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the Rafah crossing is an important access point for Palestinians,” he adds. The PA announced the withdrawal on 1/6 amid a week of escalating tensions between Hamas and Fatah. Later, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad says that the withdrawal is only the first step in Fatah’s plan to return the PA to power in Gaza. “There will be other measures… to annihilate the authority of division and status quo,” he says. Separately, a Fatah spokesperson accuses Hamas of detaining more than 1,000 Fatah members in Gaza, including 500 who were allegedly arrested in the past 24 hours. He alleges that the arrests are meant to undermine Fatah’s planned 54th anniversary celebration in Gaza this month. (AFP, EI, TOI, TOI, WAFA 1/7; JP, REU, TOI 1/8)

The Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza announces the arrest of 45 Palestinians alleged to have collaborated with Israel. (JP, TOI 1/8)