Friday, March 9, 2012

Israeli drones makes an air strike on a car in Gaza City, assassinating Zuhair al-Qaissi, top military cmdr. the Popular Resistance Comms. (PRCs) and senior PRC mbr. Mahmoud Hanani, and seriously wounding 1 civilian bystander. Israel accuses Qaissi of plotting a cross-border attack similar to the 8/2011 Elat attack from Egypt. In response, Islamic Jihad and the PRCs fire at least 6 Qassam rockets, 4 Grads, and 2 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Later, Israel carries out 2 more air strikes on a rocket-launching team e. of Gaza City, killing 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs. Late in the evening Israeli warplanes make 3 air strikes on separate targets nr. Gaza City, striking a residential area (lightly injuring 2 civilians inside their home), targeting a garage under an apartment building (injuring 3 civilians, including a child), and targeting a group of armed Palestinians, killing 1 Islamic Jihad mbr. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 6 villages nr. Ramallah in the morning; 3 villages nr. Jenin in the evening (firing tear gas and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths who confront them in 1 instance, causing no injuries); and 1 village nr. Tulkarm late at night. Palestinians (accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil’in, Nabi Salih, and Ni’lin; demonstrations in Bil’in and Nabi Salih also call for solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Similar protests area also held in Bayt Dajan nr. Nablus and Kafr Qaddum nr. Qalqilya. IDF soldiers fire live (Nabi Salih only) and rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, causing no reported injuries; 1 American activist is arrested. Jewish settlers fr. Eli settlement nr. Nablus uproot 40 nearby Palestinian olive trees. Jewish settlers fr. Metzad settlement nr. Hebron uproot 240 newly planted Palestinian olive and fruit trees nearby. (JP 3/9; NYT, WP, YA 3/10; PCHR 3/15; OCHA 3/16)

As the armed conflict in Syria escalates, Hamas officials in Lebanon meet with Hizballah leaders to urge them to back away from supporting the Asad regime, warning that continued support for a regime that kills innocent civilians would undermine Hizballah’s reputation. (NYT 4/6)