Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Overnight, Israel makes an air strike on Gaza, killing 1 Palestinian preparing to fire a rocket into Israel. Between dawn and mid-morning, Islamic Jihad fires 3 manufactured Grad rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing light damage and slightly injuring 1 Israeli. Later, unidentified Palestinians fire 7 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, some of which allegedly contain white phosphorous, causing no damage or injuries. Late in the evening, the IDF carries out several air strikes on training sites, rocket launching sites, and smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, causing no reported injuries. In the afternoon, suspected Palestinian assailants leave a bomb nr. Jerusalem’s central bus station and convention center that detonates, killing 1 British woman, injuring 38 Israelis; the PA immediately condemns the incident; no group claims responsibility. In the West Bank, the IDF blocks a funeral procession fr. using a main road in Bayt Umar village nr. Hebron, sparking a clash in which 2 Palestinian mourners are wounded by live ammunition and 4 are arrested. Hours later, the IDF sends undercover units into Bayt Umar to raid and search a gas station, beating the owners and confiscating a computer. Several hours after that, the IDF returns to block the main entrance of the village with cement blocks and sand barriers. The IDF also patrols in Jericho (photographing the Intercontinental Hotel) and 3 villages nr. Ramallah; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and in Tulkarm. (AFP, HA, IFM, IsRN, JTA, MNA, REU, YA 3/23; IsRN, JP, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 3/24; NYT, WT 3/25; PCHR 3/31; JPI, OCHA 4/1)

In Syria, security forces make a predawn assault on the main mosque in Dara‘a, where antigovernment protesters have taken refuge, killing 15. Clashes last throughout the day and spread to 4 nearby villages. Over the succeeding days, clashes spread to towns and villages across the nation, becoming nr. daily events but remaining relatively small (in the 1,000s) and uncoordinated. Hot spots include Baniyas, Hama, Homs, Idlib, Latakia (which was reported to be “near anarchy”), and the Kurdish zone. (Only a few protests are reported in Damascus.) Govt. forces routinely dispersed the rallies, violently killing around 100 nationwide by 4/4. Meanwhile, Syrian activists mobilize through online social networking sites to call for mass protests every Friday until the regime falls. (NYT, SANA 3/23; NYT, WP, WT 3/24; NYT, WP 3/26–28; NYT, WP, WT 3/29; NYT, WP 3/30; NYT, WP 3/31, 4/1; NYT 4/2, 4/3; NYT, WP 4/4; WT 4/5; NYT, WP 4/6; NYT 4/7; NYT, WP 4/8; WP 4/9; NYT, WP 4/9, 4/10)