Thursday, February 17, 2011

Overnight, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on and shell a group of Palestinians nr. the n. Gaza border fence, killing 3 Palestinians; Palestinians say the 3 were unarmed men attempting to sneak into Israel to find work, but the IDF claims they were armed men preparing to lay explosive devices along the border. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 3 wells and an agricultural storehouse nr. a settler-only bypass road nr. Hebron; seals and patrols in Jit nr. Qalqilya during the afternoon. In Ramallah, some 1,000 young Palestinians hold a rally calling for national unity and reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. (AFP, WP 2/18; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25)

U.S. pres. Barack Obama phones PA pres. Mahmud Abbas to urge him to delay a 2/18 vote on a UN Security Council (UNSC) res. reaffirming that Israeli settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace or agree to a compromise UNSC presidential statement (less than a res.) criticizing settlements and urging the sides to resume negotiations. Abbas agrees to convene an emergency meeting of the PLO Exec. Comm. (PLOEC) and Fatah Central Comm. (FCC) to consider the matter. (HA 2/17; HA, MNA, NYT 2/18)

After violence overnight (see 2/16), Bahrain’s govt. declares martial law, deploying the military to the streets and warning of a “sectarian abyss”; the main Shi‘i political party withdraws fr. parliament, protesting the acts of the minority Sunni leadership; and opposition groups call for massive demonstrations after Friday prayers on 2/18. (NYT, WP, WT 2/18)

In Libya, protesters in 5 main cities observe a “Day of Rage” against Qaddafi, clashing with govt. forces, leaving at least 12 protesters dead and 10s wounded; the govt. cuts phone and Internet service and bars journalists to prevent coverage. Serious clashes in and around Benghazi continue on 2/18. (NYT, WP, WT 2/18; NYT, WP 2/19)