Monday, March 14, 2011

The Palestinian and Israeli media report rumors fr. anonymous Awarta residents that a Thai worker for the settler family murdered in Itamar on 3/11 had complained that the family owed him NIS 10,000 in wages and had threatened to kill the family; some sources (e.g., MNA 3/14) say the IDF rounded up all foreign workers in the settlement for questioning immediately after discovering the murders. Israeli authorities do not comment. Meanwhile, after Netanyahu criticizes the PA’s “weak” denunciation of the attack, Abbas makes another statement calling the killing “inhuman and immoral” and “a despicable act.” The IDF imposes a curfew on Awarta and orders all men age 15–40 to turn themselves in for questioning; of 300 who surrender, 32 are arrested. Jewish settlers mass at the entrance to Nabi Salih village and throw stones at Palestinian cars; the IDF observes but does not intervene. The IDF also conducts synchronized morning patrols in 5 villages n. and e. of Jenin; conducts evening and late-night patrols Jalazun r.c. and 2 villages nr. Ramallah, in al-Bireh, and 1 village nr. Tulkarm; conducts latenight arrest raids, house searches in another village nr. Ramallah. A day ahead of national unity demonstrations called for online, at least 3,000 young Palestinians rally in Gaza City calling for an end to divisions between Hamas and Fatah. (AFP, JP, MNA 3/14; NYT, WP 3/15; PCHR 3/17; OCHA 3/18)

After secretly securing approval of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on 3/13, Saudi Arabia and the UAE send some 2,000 troops, supported by a medical contingent fr. Kuwait, into Bahrain to shore up the govt. there. Saudi Arabia sought to intervene, fearing that Shi‘i protests in Bahrain could encourage Saudi Arabia’s own Shi‘i population in the oil-rich Eastern Province to rebel. The move marks the 1st time that the GCC council has mobilized a military force in response to domestic unrest and only the 2d time that it has mobilized a joint force (the 1st time was in defense of Kuwait when Iraq invaded in the 1990s). (AP, REU 3/14; NYT, WP, WT 3/15)