Sunday, April 22, 2012

Israeli naval commandos raid a Liberian ship off the Gaza coast, suspecting of carrying weapons for “antiIsraeli militants,” but releases it after finding no arms. Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF stages a morning raid into Kafr Ra’i village nr. Jenin, photographing and ordering residents to abandon a protest tent they recently set up to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. The IDF also conducts morning patrols in Jericho and 1 nearby village, 2 villages nr. Jenin (in 1 instance firing tear gas and stun grenades at stonethrowing youths who confront them), and 1 each nr. Qalqilya and Ramallah; afternoon patrols in Qalqilya and 3 villages nr. Jenin, Jericho, and Ramallah; late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin; and late-night patrols in Jericho (firing tear gas and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths who confront them) and 1 nearby village. (JP 4/22; WP 4/23; PCHR 4/26; OCHA 4/27)

Israeli PM Netanyahu appoints a small ministerial panel (himself, DM Barak, Vice PM Moshe Ya’alon, and Minister-without-Portfolio Benny Begin) intended to legalize 3 unauthorized settlement outposts (Bruchin, Rachelim, and Sansanna) located on what Israel has classified as “state land” in the West Bank. Netanyahu previously pledged to bring the issue of the 3 outposts (which received initial approval from previous governments in the 1980s and 1990s but were never given final approval or permits for construction) “to the government for approval.” Netanyahu says the panel will deal only with these 3 outposts and has no relation to a separate committee, headed by Judge Edmund Levy, that was created earlier in 2012 to “examine the legal issues” of all the unauthorized outposts. However, the wording of the panel’s written mandate is potentially broader, stating its role is to “resolve the issues” of “settlements that are now unauthorized outposts and which were constructed years ago on state land with state funds or with initial agreements from state bodies.” By this definition, two-thirds of the 105 unauthorized outposts could be retroactively legalized. (JPI 5/4)

The state-operated Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company terminates its 2005 contract to ship gas to Israel, stating that Israel has not paid its bill in 4 mos. and that the decision to suspend shipments immediately “has nothing to do with anything outside o the commercial relations.” Israel denies this, calling the move politically motivated. (NYT, WP 4/23; JPI 5/4)

In Washington, Pres. Obama tours the Holocaust Memorial with Jewish-American Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, stating in an address afterward that: “Too often the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents . . . , and we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.” Weisel follows with comments highly critical of Obama, asking: “How is it that [Syrian pres.] Asad is still in power. How is it that the Holocaust’s No. 1 denier, [Iranian pres. Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, is still a president?” (WT 4/24)