Sunday, January 20, 2019

In the West Bank, IDF troops arrest 21 Palestinians during late-night raids near Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Qalqilya, and Tulkarm; and patrol near Ramallah, Hebron, Tulkarm, and Qalqilya. Israeli settlers cut down 2 olive trees in a Palestinian grove near Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 4 Palestinians during a raid in Silwan. Along Gaza’s coast, IDF troops violently disperse a few hundred Palestinians gathering near al-Bureij refugee camp to continue the Great March of Return for a 3d day in a row; 1 Palestinian minor is injured. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Jabaliya refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries (1 fisherman is arrested). In Israel, Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian home for the 2d time in Lod. (MNA, WAFA 1/20; MNA, MNA 1/21; PCHR 1/24)

A Qatari diplomat says that the $15 million that was supposed to be transferred to Gaza last week is set to go through this week, following a relatively quiet day of protests on 1/18. “Due to the violence on the border, the Israeli government postponed it,” he says. “The agreement is subject to there not being too much violence, so last Friday they approved to do the third tranche.” (HA, JP, REU, TOI, YA 1/20)

YNet reports that PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah formally informed U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo that the Palestinians have decided to reject future U.S. financial assistance, including that which supports the PA security forces, in response to the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, which the U.S. passed into law in 10/2018 (see *S. 2946 of 5/24/18 at for details). That law, which is set to go into effect at the end of the month, forced the Palestinians to either accept future U.S. aid or open themselves up to terrorism lawsuits from individual U.S. citizens, inter alia. (JP, TOI, YA 1/20)

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lands in Chad to renew the diplomatic ties between Israel and Chad that were severed in 1972. At a joint press conference with Netanyahu, Chad’s President Idriss Déby says, ‘The purpose of your visit is to bring our two countries closer and to cooperate.” Netanyahu calls it the renewal of ties a “breakthrough” and a sign of Israel’s “rising standing” in the Muslim world. (HA, JP, TOI, TOI 1/20)

After unverified reports of Syrian air defenses intercepting an Israeli air strike near Damascus, several ground-to-ground projectiles are fired from Syria into northern Israel. They are all intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. Late at night, Israeli forces strike approximately 10 government weapons depots, intelligence sites, and other targets in Syria, killing 21 people, including 12 member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. An IDF spokesperson says that Iranian forces were responsible for the projectile launched into Israel earlier in the day. “This was planned in advance as an attempt to deter us from continuing to act against them,” he says. (HA, JP, TOI, YA, YA 1/20; JP, TOI 1/21; HA 1/22)