Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Hundreds of Palestinians gather along Gaza’s border to continue the Great March of Return near Gaza City. Amid the protests, armed Palestinians shoot and injure an Israeli soldier. Israeli artillery and air forces then strike a number of Hamas sites near al-Bureij refugee camp, Rafah, and Jabaliya refugee camp, killing 1 Palestinian and injuring at least 4 others. The incident comes hours after a similar exchange near Jabaliya, during which armed Palestinians fired on IDF positions along the border fence and Israeli tanks shelled and destroyed a Hamas post in the area. No injuries are reported in that earlier incident. Meanwhile, IDF troops stationed along the border fence open fire on Palestinian farmers working near Gaza City and Rafah, causing no damage. In 2 separate incidents off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Bayt Lahiya, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, IDF troops conduct raids in al-Khadir village near Bethlehem, sparking clashes with stone-throwing residents; there are no reported injuries. The IDF then temporarily seals off all the entrances to the village. IDF troops shoot and injure 3 Palestinians during similar clashes in Tell and Burin near Nablus; arrest a Palestinian minor in central Hebron when he is found to be in possession of a knife; arrest 5 more Palestinians during late-night raids in and around Hebron, Nablus, and Bethlehem; and patrol near Hebron and Nablus. Israeli forces uproot 60 olive trees in a Palestinian grove near Jerusalem and 30 more in a Palestinian grove outside Bayt Umar near Hebron. (HA, HA, JP, JP, MNA, MNA, MNA, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, YA 1/22; EI, MNA, MNA 1/23; PCHR 1/24)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspends the planned transfer of $15 million in Qatari funds to Gaza in response to the shooting of an Israeli soldier along Gaza’s border earlier today (see above). The transfer was originally set to go forward last week, but it was temporarily postponed in response to another incident of violence along the border fence. Meanwhile, Haaretz reports that Islamic Jihad in Palestine fighters were responsible for both shooting attacks and that they were motivated, in part, by an ongoing disagreement with Hamas. Later, a Hamas official says that Netanyahu’s order to suspend the transfer constitutes a “crime” that could spark an “explosion” of violence. (TOI 1/22; HA, JP, MNA 1/23)

One day after reports of violent protests at Ofer Prison, the Israeli press reports that a number of Palestinian prisoners at Ofer are refusing meals in protest of conditions in the prison. Later in the day, Israeli prison guards raid a number of cells in Ofer, sparking a 2d day of violence; more than 100 Palestinians are injured. (EI, MNA, TOI 1/22)

UN special coordinator Nickolay Mladenov reports that UNIFIL peacekeepers have not been given access to any of the tunnels the IDF uncovered in the context of its Operation Northern Shield in late-12/2018 and earlier this month. He does not say whether or not the Lebanese government or Hezbollah is responsible for the delay. (JP 1/22; AP, HA 1/23)

The Italian government pledges €1.5 million (approximately $1.7 million) to UNRWA to support Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.  (MNA 1/22)