Friday, March 18, 2011

Palestinians in Gaza fire an antitank missile at an IDF patrol inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries. During the day, Palestinians also fire 10 mortars toward Israel in 2 barrages, causing no damage or injuries; some of the mortars land inside Gaza. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts synchronized morning patrols in Tulkarm and several nearby villages; patrols in alBireh and neighboring al-Am‘ari r.c., and in 3 villages nr. Jericho and Ramallah. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Nabi Salih/Dayr Nizam. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 4 Palestinians, including 2 children. A Jewish settler deliberately attempts to run down a Palestinian nr. the Hawara checkpoint nr. Nablus, moderately injuring him; the IDF does not intervene. Jewish settlers fr. Taffuh settlement attempt to seize a plot of nearby Palestinian agricultural land but are sent away by the IDF. Jewish settlers close Jit intersection nr. Qalqilya with burning tires, blocking the main Qalqilya-Nablus road. In separate incidents, Jewish settlers fr. Keddumim and Karnei Shomron settlements stone Palestinian vehicles nr. Qalqilya. In East Jerusalem, Palestinians clash with Israeli border police in Silwan, leaving at least 1 Israeli officer injured. (IsRN, JP 3/18; WP 3/19; PCHR 3/24; OCHA 4/1)

After 2 days of clashes with protesters, arrest raids targeting opposition figures, and imposition of a nighttime curfew in Manama, Bahrain’s troops demolish the giant pearl monument in Pearl Square in a symbolic crushing of antigovernment protesters. No further demonstrations are reported this quarter. By 3/20 observers describe daily life returning to normal (schools and stores reopen, traffic moving) but note “a sense of political paralysis.” Saudi, UAE, and Kuwaiti forces remain in the country through the end of the quarter. (WP 3/19; NYT 3/21)

In Syria, govt. forces violently disperse protests (ranging in size fr. the 100s to the 1,000s) held after Friday prayers in Baniyas, Dara‘a, Damascus, and Homs, fatally shooting 6 protesters and wounding 10s. Though protests are small, the govt. response is harsh and tensions are high. (NYT, WP 3/19)

In Yemen, govt. troops and supporters open fire for more than 20 minutes on protesters demonstrating after Friday prayers in Sana’a, leaving at least 47 dead and 100s injured but failing to disperse the crowd. Afterward, the govt. declares a state of emergency, allowing authorities to curtail civil rights and monitor communications. Over the next 5 days, Yemen’s ambassador to the UN, several other ambassadors, the country’s most influential military commander Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar (a relative and very close ally of Pres. Saleh), and 4 other generals resigned in protest, and Saleh’s own tribe and another key tribal leader called on him to step down. Saleh also fires his cabinet in an apparent attempt to preempt a mass resignation to protest recent deadly clashes. Popular protests also continued. (NYT, WP 3/19; NYT, WP 3/20–21; NYT, WP, WT 3/22–23; NYT, WP 3/24)