Friday, March 19, 2010

Overnight, the IDF carries out 6 air strikes on smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, 2 open areas nr. Khan Yunis, and a metal workshop in Gaza City in retaliation for the fatal 3/18 rocket strike; 2 Palestinian civilians are wounded in Rafah. After unidentified Palestinians fire another Qassam rocket into Israel during the day (causing no damage or injuries), the IDF carries out air strikes on a Hamas facility nr. Dahaniyya airport (11 Palestinians injured) and on smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border (injuring 14). In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists staging nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil‘in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation), Budrus village nr. Ramallah (1 Palestinian injured; 3 Palestinians, including 2 journalists arrested), Dayr Nizam/ al-Nabi Salih (11 Palestinians injured), and Ni‘lin (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); protesters in Ni‘lin throw stones at IDF troops, but the other demonstrations are nonviolent. Palestinians also demonstrate against the separation wall at the Qalandia checkpoint, setting fire to tires and throwing stones and bottles at IDF troops, who respond with rubber-coated steel-bullets, injuring 3 and arresting 1. The IDF also carries out late-night arrest raids, house searches in Qalandia r.c. nr. Ramallah. Jewish settlers burn a wooded area of Palestinian land nr. Bet Ayn settlement nr. Hebron. (JP, NYT, YA 3/19; HA, WP 3/20; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)

At a meeting in Moscow, the Quartet issues a strong statement “condemning” Israel’s Ramat Shlomo construction plan, “recalling that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community,” and reiterating that Israel was obligated irrespective of Palestinian reciprocity to “freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem.” (WP 3/19, 3/20; NYT 3/21)