Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Israeli government issues tenders for 198 new settlement homes in Hebron and Efrata (Gush Etzion bloc). Meanwhile, the Jerusalem municipality approves the planned relocation of the National Defense College to the Mount of Olives. Also, Israeli NGO Peace Now says that approval for settlement plans jumped 300% in 2012, and that under Netanyahu’s premiership, 40% of construction starts in settlements were in settlements located outside of the so-called blocs that Israel intends to keep under a final-status agreement. (AP, JP, YA 1/16)

In the Gaza Strip, the IDF fires warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials close to the border fence in the n. Gaza Strip, causing no injuries. In a separate incident, the IDF shells an open area 200 m from the border nr. Bureij, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, The IDF raids Aida r.c. in Bethlehem, opening fire on Palestinians with live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and tear-gas grenades, seriously wounding 1. The IDF says that Palestinian protesters threw stones and firebombs at the Separation Wall and Israeli forces. Palestinian news agencies report that the raid was in response to the Palestinians opening a hole in the bottom of the wall nr. Rachel’s Tomb. The IDF also demolishes sheep barns and sheds nr. Jericho; patrols in Tulkarm and 1 village each nr. Hebron, Jenin, and Jericho at night; conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village each nr. Hebron, Jenin, and Salfit at night. Meanwhile, an IDF investigation concludes that Israeli soldiers fired 80 bullets without justification when they mortally wounded a Palestinian man in al-Nabi Salih on 11/17 (he died on 11/19). Jewish settlers raze land nr. 2 separate settlements in the Jordan Valley and nr. Nablus in preparation for expansion. (MNA, WAFA 1/16; PCHR, PNN 1/17)

Israeli security forces dismantle Palestinian protest camp Bab al-Shams in the E1 zone nr. Jerusalem, after the Supreme Court authorizes the government to dismantle the site. Protesters were removed on 1/12, but the tents had remained. Separately, the High Court of Justice orders the state to refrain from evicting Palestinians from 8 villages in the s. Hebron Hills in an area the IDF has designated a firing zone for training. (REU 1/16; AFP, HA 1/17)

Dep. head of Hamas’s political bureau Musa Abu Marzuq says that the movement will not agree to dismantle the IQB as part of a prospective reconciliation deal with Fatah. He makes the comments in response to recent reports in al-Quds al-Arabi that Fatah is demanding Hamas dismantle its armed wing and integrate it into the PA security forces. (ToI 1/16)

The EU grants €100 m. to the PA and to UNRWA to provide essential services in the West Bank. Palestinian pres. Abbas announces that Saudi Arabia will give the struggling PA $100 m. to alleviate the PA’s financial crisis. (IMEMC, REU 1/16)