Thursday, March 13, 2014

In the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad is secured. A leader of the Palestinian group, Khaled al-Batsh, writes on Facebook that “intensive Egyptian contacts and efforts” mean a restoration of “the agreement for calm . . . in accordance with understandings reached [on 11/21/12] in Cairo,” a reference to the end of Operation Pillar of Defense. Hamas Dep. FM Ghazi Hamad says that Egypt deliberately ignored the govt. in Gaza and communicated directly with Islamic Jihad, a claim corroborated by an anonymous Egyptian security official. Following the cease-fire, the Popular Resistance Cmte. (PRC) fires 8 rockets into s. Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In response, the Israeli air force conducts air strikes against 4 sites in Rafah and Jabaliya, targeting a PRC training camp and Izzeddin alQassam Brigades sites, causing damage but no injuries, except in Rafah, where 3 civilians are injured. In the West Bank, IDF troops wound 2 Palestinians during a clash with mourners at a funeral in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron. The IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Qalqilya in the afternoon; patrols in 3 villages, al-‘Arub r.c. and al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron at night. (AFP, HA, MNA, REU, WAFA 13/3; PCHR 3/20)

Israeli science minister Yaakov Peri says that unless Palestinians agree to an extension of peace talks, it would be difficult for Israel to go ahead with a scheduled 4th prisoner release. Israeli FM Lieberman says that “negotiations should be extended to the end of the year at least.” Separately, Israeli authorities approve construction permits for 387 housing units in Ramat Shlomo settlement in East Jerusalem, part of the 1,500 unit-plan approved in 2/2012 by the Jerusalem municipality. Meanwhile, U.S. Secy. of State Kerry tells the House Foreign Relations Cmte. that PM Netanyahu’s insistence on a public statement of recognition from the Palestinians of Israel as a Jewish state is “a mistake.” (AIC, AFP 3/13; JP 3/14)