Sunday, January 6, 2019

Unidentified Palestinians fly an incendiary device from Gaza into southern Israel attached to a cluster of balloons, where it lands in an open area in the Sdot Negev Regional Council. IDF troops detonate the device, causing no damage or injuries. In response, the Israeli Air Force conducts 3 air strikes on Hamas sites in Khan Yunis, Gaza City, and Bayt Hanun, causing extensive damage. Also along Gaza’s border, IDF troops violently disperse Palestinians gathering to continue the Great March of Return near al-Bureij refugee camp; 1 Palestinian is injured. They also open fire on Palestinian farmland near Rafah, Gaza City, Bayt Hanun, and Jabaliya refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, following the shooting attack on an Israeli settler vehicle at the nearby Beit El checkpoint on 1/5, IDF troops conduct raids in al-Bireh overnight, confiscating surveillance tapes and sparking clashes with stone-throwing residents of the area throughout the day; several Palestinians are injured (1 critically). They also arrest 5 Palestinians and issue 1 arrest summons during late-night raids near Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron, and Tubas; and patrol near Hebron and Nablus. Israeli settlers uproot 60 olive and almond trees from a Palestinian grove near Hebron. (HA, JP, TOI, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, YA 1/6; PCHR 1/10)

Following a week of increasing tensions between Fatah and Hamas, the Fatah-dominated PA announces plans to remove its staff from the Rafah border crossing on 1/7. “This decision comes in the light of recent developments and brutal practices of the de facto gangs,” reads the PA statement. “Since we took over the Rafah crossing, Hamas has been obstructing the work of our crew there. We had to bear a lot in order to give the opportunity for the Egyptian effort to end the division.” The PA took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing in the context of the 10/12/17 Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement, which was never fully implemented. (JP, REU, WAFA 1/6)

U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman says that the Trump administration’s long-awaited Palestinian-Israeli peace plan will likely not be released for at least several more months. “We want to release it a way that gives it the best chance of getting a good reception,” he says, adding that the upcoming Israeli elections on 4/9 are “a factor, but not the only factor.” Meanwhile, U.S. national security advisor John Bolton meets with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Following the meeting, Bolton says that the U.S.-Israel relationship has never been stronger than it is now under Netanyahu and U.S. president Donald Trump. (HA, JP, JP, TOI 1/6)

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says that Egypt’s military coordination with Israel is at its “closest ever.” He adds, “We have a wide range of cooperation with the Israelis.” (AJ, CBS, HA 1/6)