Wednesday, December 26, 2018

In the West Bank, IDF troops shoot and injure a Palestinian driver after he allegedly attempts to ram a group of Israeli settlers at Huwwara checkpoint. They also arrest 5 Palestinians during raids near Bethlehem, Tulkarm, and Nablus; and patrol near Hebron throughout the day. Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian car repair shop near Nablus. Israeli settlers assault and injure a Palestinian shepherd working his land near Nablus. In East Jerusalem, a number of right-wing Jewish activists tour Haram al-Sharif. Israeli forces arrest 1 Palestinian during a raid in Silwan. Along Gaza’s border, Israeli forces conduct a limited incursion to level land near Bayt Lahiya. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Jabaliya refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries. (HA, JP, MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 12/26; PCHR 12/27; PCHR 1/3)

PA foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki says that he plans to initiate an application for the State of Palestine to obtain full membership at the UN during his next visit to New York City in 1/2019. The application, if accepted by the UN Security Council, would see Palestine’s status upgraded from non-member observer state. Later, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon says that Israel and the U.S. are already working together to “stop the [new Palestinian] initiative.” (JP, WAFA 12/26; TOI 12/27)

PA security forces seal off the entrances to the Palestinian Legislative Council building in Ramallah, preventing Hamas officials from holding a planned press conference. A PA official says that although Hamas claims they were attempting to hold a press conference, their true intention was to open a session of the PLC in protest of the 12/22 announcement of a new round of PLC elections. (JP, TOI 12/26)

The High Planning Committee of Israel’s Civil Administration meets for a 2d day to discuss proposals to expand Israel’s West Bank settlements. Between today and yesterday, they have advanced plans for 2,191 new residences in various settlements, 3 new industrial zones, and the retroactive authorization of 2 illegal settlement outposts. Separately, Israel’s Civil Administration announces plans to put together a new proposal for as many as 2,500 new settler residences at the site of the Givat Eitam outpost near Bethlehem, which is within the municipal boundaries of the Efrat settlement, but not contiguous to any of that settlement’s buildings. According to the Israeli NGO Peace Now, an expanded Givat Eitam would “block Bethlehem from the south, and prevent any development in the only direction that has not yet been blocked by settlements.” (HA, PCN, TOI 12/26)

Haaretz reports that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the IDF to declare an end to Operation Northern Shield, but to continue detecting and demolishing the cross-border tunnels allegedly built by Hezbollah. Some senior defense sources say that Netanyahu no longer has a political reason for a formal operation in the north now that he is running for re-election. Meanwhile, the IDF announces that it has uncovered and demolished a 5th cross-border tunnel and the Knesset votes to dissolve itself, officially triggering snap elections. (HA, JP, TOI 12/26; MNA 12/27)