Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Israeli naval vessels intercept a Palestinian fishing boat that approaches the boundary of the permitted fishing zone off the Bayt Lahiya coast, damaging the boat, forcing the fishermen to jump into the sea, and then detaining them, taking them to Ashdod port in Israel for several hrs. of questioning, before releasing them to Gaza. A smuggling tunnel under the Rafah border collapses, killing 3 Palestinians. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Nablus. In East Jerusalem, Palestinians in Silwan report that during the previous wk., Israeli workers and archeologists resumed work on 2 archeological tunnels under the city leading to the al-Aqsa Mosque (see Quarterly Update in JPS 154). A group of right-wing Jews breaks into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to hold prayers marking Hanukkah, but Waqf officials ask Israeli police to intervene, and police remove them peacefully. Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem celebrating Hanukkah attack a number of Palestinian shops and residents in the Old City; Israeli security forces observe but do not intervene. The PASF crackdown on Hamas mbrs. in the West Bank winds down today, with the UN reporting at least 80 and as many as 300 detained. The Israeli High Court rules that a 2007-imposed ban on family visits by Gazans to Palestinians held in Israeli jails is valid. (OCHA, PCHR 12/16; PCHR 12/23; HA 12/31)