Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Approximately 1,000 Palestinians gather along Gaza’s northern shore to continue the Great March of Return and to cheer on 20 Palestinian boats sailing in a symbolic challenge to the Israeli blockade. IDF troops and Israeli naval forces violently disperse the demonstrations; 23 Palestinians are injured (1 critically). The Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza states that the critically injured Palestinian was a farmer working in the area, and not a protester. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Jabaliya refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers chase a number of Palestinian shepherds off their land near Jericho. IDF troops arrest 11 Palestinians during late-night raids near Jenin, Hebron, Ramallah, and Nablus; and patrol near Hebron and Bethlehem. Israeli forces dismantle and confiscate 2 makeshift Palestinian residential structures near Bethlehem. (WAFA 1/29; PCHR 1/31)

A Palestinian succumbs to injuries sustained when IDF troops opened fire on protesters along Gaza’s border fence on 1/25. This brings the death toll stemming from the Great March of Return to 200. (MNA, WAFA 1/29; PCHR 1/31)

PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah submits on behalf of his government his resignation to PA president Mahmoud Abbas. “[Hamdallah and his government] will continue to serve our people wherever they are and shoulder all its responsibilities until a new government is formed,” according to a PA statement. Abbas later accepts Hamdallah’s resignation, requesting that he continue to serve until a new government is formed. It’s unclear when that will be. (JP, MNA, NYT, TOI, TOI, WAFA, WAFA 1/29; MNA 1/30)

The Egyptian authorities open the Rafah border crossing for passage in both directions for the first of 2 planned days. They have largely kept the crossing closed since 1/5. (ALM 1/31)

One day after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention not to renew the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH)’s mandate, PLO secretary-general Saeb Erakat calls on the UN to deploy a permanent international force in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The UN should “guarantee the safety and protection of the people of Palestine” until “the end of Israel’s belligerent occupation,” he says. Separately, Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide says that Netanyahu’s “one-sided” decision to not renew the TIPH’s mandate is “worrying” and that if could “mean that the implementation of an important part of the Oslo Accords is discontinued.” (AP, YA 1/29; TOI 1/30)

Widely seen as one of the greatest challenges to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former head of the IDF Benny Gantz officially launches his campaign ahead of the 4/9 Israeli elections. “Under my leadership, the government will strive for peace and will not miss an opportunity to bring about regional change,” he says, pledging to strengthen the “settlement blocs and Golan Heights” and build a “united Jerusalem.” Netanyahu later criticizes Gantz’s speech as just “another speech by [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid. Whoever says he’s neither right nor left, is left.” (HA 1/29; YA 1/30)

A senior Japanese official pledges $341,348 in support of 4 humanitarian projects in Gaza. (MNA 1/31)