Wednesday, November 23, 2011

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians hunting for birds in the fmr. Nisanit settlement area nr. the Erez crossing, forcing them to flee. For the 3d straight day, Israeli naval vessels fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the s. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. Late at night, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border make a brief incursion into areas n. of Bayt Lahiya, searching the area and opening fire, but causing no reported damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF escorts Jewish settlers into Nablus late at night to pray at Joseph’s Tomb, raiding several Palestinian homes. (PCHR 11/24; PCHR 12/1; OCHA 12/2)

The PA warns that unless Israel releases VAT taxes (suspended on 11/1/11 in violation of the 1994 Oslo Accord), it will be unable to pay civil servants salaries on 12/1 (affecting around one-third of Palestinians) and PA services would likely be disrupted. PA PM Salam alFayyad states: “With each passing day, the [PA] becomes weaker, and it is fast approaching the day when it becomes completely incapacitated.” The UN, U.S., and Quartet have each contacted Israeli PM Netanyahu in recent days to urge him to restore the transfers, with Quartet special envoy Tony Blair stating today: “Only those who oppose peace and Israeli-Palestinian cooperation benefit from the withholding of PA funds.” A Netanyahu aide says that if the PA pledges not to pursue membership in any more UN organizations and backs off planned reconciliation talks with Hamas, Israel would probably restore the transfers, saying, “The idea is to influence Palestinian decision making.” (NYT 11/24; WP 11/28)

Smugglers attempting to sneak into Israel fr. Egypt clash with Egyptian border police inside Egyptian territory (killing 2 border police) and then cross into Israel where they exchange fire with IDF soldiers (causing no reported injuries) before fleeing back into Egypt and escaping. (WP 12/3)