January 18, 2011

Israeli authorities indicate they intend to close the Qarni crossing into Gaza (used to import wheat, animal fodder, and construction aggregates) permanently within weeks and reroute these imports through the Kerem Shalom crossing. OCHA reports that Israel has allowed no grain or fodder imports to Gaza for a week and that wheat reserves are nearly depleted. Gaza hospital officials report that because of a dispute between PA Health Min. officials in Ramallah and Gaza, transfers of medical supplies to Gaza hospitals have dropped off dangerously, increasing the number of medical supplies that are totally out of stock in the Strip. Meanwhile in Gaza, armed Palestinians detonate a buried explosive device inside the northern border as an IDF patrol on the Israeli side passes, causing no casualties. The IDF troops fire 7 tank shells at the area, killing 1 Palestinian and wounding 2; the IDF claims the men were militants, whereas Palestinians claim they were innocent bystanders scavenging for construction material in the area. Unidentified Palestinians later fire 4–5 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF also makes a brief incursion into n. Gaza to level land and clear lines of sight along the border fence e. of Jabaliya. A Palestinian dies of injuries sustained on 1/15 when Egyptian authorities blew up a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts synchronized morning patrols in 3 villages nr. Jenin; patrols in Hijja village nr. Qalqilya late at night; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus. (JP 1/18; WT 1/19; PCHR 1/20; OCHA 1/21)