Monday, December 16, 2013

In the Gaza Strip, IDF troops open fire on Palestinian farmers close to the border fence nr. Jabaliya r.c., wounding 1. Off the coast nr. Bayt Lahiya, Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Tulkarm in the morning, and in Tubas and in 1 village each nr. Jenin and Salfit at night; patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin and in Qalqilya and 1 nearby village at night. Separately, Israeli forces notify Bedouin families nr. Bethlehem that they must evacuate their homes before military exercises are conducted. (MNA 12/16; PCHR 12/19)

Israel opens Kerem Shalom crossing with Gaza to allow for entry of fuel and goods, and exit for 7 truckloads of strawberries and flowers bound for Europe. Israel also allows cement and gravel for UN projects to enter. (WAFA 12/16)

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Council announces that Israelis and Palestinians will be offered an unprecedented assistance package in the event of a final status peace deal. The incentives, under the bracket of “Special Privileged Partnership,” include political, economic, and security support. The EU also says that it is ready to contribute to post-conflict arrangements as part of ensuring any deal’s long-term viability. (HA 12/13; WAFA 12/16)

Israeli, Lebanese, and UN military officers meet to defuse tension following fatal crossborder gunfire the previous day. A statement from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says that the Lebanese soldier who killed an Israeli soldier was acting alone. Israeli DM Ya’alon says that the Lebanese authorities promised to punish the shooter. (AFP, AP, REU 12/16)

UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos issues an appeal at a meeting of donor countries in Geneva for $6.5 billion for Syria and its neighbors, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, each of which host significant populations of Syrian refugees. Separately, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres cites Turkish officials’ estimate that the number of Syrian refugees in the country will reach 1.5 m. by the end of 2014. (REU 12/16)

The Muslim Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Alliance in Egypt announces that it will call for a boycott of the constitutional referendum scheduled for 1/2014. Spokesperson Hamza alFarawy says that the group rejects “any vote under military rule.” (AFP 12/16)

EU foreign ministers release a statement pledging to suspend some sanctions on Iran as soon as the IAEA verifies that Tehran has begun limiting its nuclear activities, in accordance with the 6-mo. interim agreement signed in 11/2013. Meanwhile, Iranian FM Zarif calls U.S. Secy. of State Kerry to protest the expansion of sanctions on 12/12. (AP, REU 12/16)