Saturday, November 17, 2012

The IDF’s attacks on the Gaza Strip continue, with reports indicating nearly 20 more Palestinians killed and as many as 300 Israeli air strikes during the day. As the Palestinian death toll approaches 50, with scores more wounded, Gaza’s hospitals feel the strain. IDF targets include the private homes of Hamas officials, police buildings, government buildings, and smuggling tunnels. Israel’s interior min. Eli Yishai says that the goal of the operation is to ‘‘send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.’’ Palestinian armed groups fire over 70 rockets into Israel, with Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepting 57 rockets, bringing the total of intercepted projectiles since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense to over 250. Sixteeen Israelis are injured. (REU, BBC, HA, MNA 11/17)

Tunisian FM Rafik Abdesslem makes a solidarity visit to the Gaza Strip, vowing that his government will take steps in the Arab League and UN to stop Israeli aggression. Most of the diplomatic focus is on tentative Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire. In Cairo, Egyptian pres. Morsi holds talks with Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar’s Emir Shaykh Hamad Bin-Khalifa al-Thani, Hamas leader Khalid Mishal, and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan ‘Abdallah Shalah. Dep. head of Hamas’s politbureau Musa Abu Marzuq says despite efforts to secure a temporary cease-fire, Israel and Hamas are both far from reaching an agreement. As part of a potential deal, Hamas officials are reported to be demanding an easing of the blockade and an end to the assassination of Hamas leaders. (Guardian, MNA, MNA, WP 11/17)

Palestinians demonstrate across the West Bank to protest the continued Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, with IDF forces wounding and arresting dozens, including in major clashes nr. Huwara checkpoint outside Nablus. The IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning, and in 2 villages nr. Salfit, 1 village nr. Ramallah, 2 villages nr. Qalqilya, Tulkarm, 3 villages nr. Hebron, and al-‘Arub refugee camp (r.c.) nr. Hebron, where IDF soldiers wound 1 Palestinian with live ammunition in clashes with residents, at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in Jenin, 1 village each nr. Hebron, Nablus at night. (MNA 11/17; PCHR 11/22)