Thursday, May 15, 2008

Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories commemorate the Nakba by visiting the sites of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, holding somber rallies and moments of silence, and, in Qalandia r.c., releasing 1,000s of black balloons (1 for each day since the State of Israel was declared). In Gaza, the IDF begins digging a trench (around 300 ft. long, 10 ft. wide, 15 ft. deep) fr. an IDF post e. of Abasan to Khuza, firing on nearby residential areas, causing no reported injuries. IDF troops at the Erez crossing fire bullets, tear gas at 100s of Palestinians staging a nonviolent protest against the Israeli siege. IDF troops on the c. Gaza border e. of Juhur al-Dik fire on 3 Palestinian girls who stray nr. the border fence, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Taqou’ nr. Bethlehem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus. A Palestinian civilian wounded during the 5/4 IDF incursion into Khuza dies. (CNN 5/15; PCHR 5/22)

Under a deal brokered by the Arab League, the Hizballah-led opposition and Lebanon’s ruling coalition agree to open talks in Qatar on 5/16 to negotiate an agmt. on a cabinet and new electoral law, to be followed by election of consensus pres. candidate Gen. Michel Suleiman. Hizballah removes roadblocks leading to Beirut airport, allowing some flights to resume in the evening. (BBC 5/15; NYT, WP, WT 5/16; WP 5/18)