Thursday, February 2, 2006

The IDF issues a military order restricting Palestinians entering Israel to using 11 West Bank border crossings, citing the need for “increased security”; the order also bars Israelis fr. escorting Palestinians through other checkpoints into Israel. The IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem (firing on residential areas) and in Nablus, Qabatya. Nr. Hebron, 2 armed Jewish settlers in a car intercept and board a Palestinian school bus, threaten the driver, beat several students, injuring 5; IDF soldiers fr. a post 100 m. away observe but only intervene after 40 mins. when the settlers call them to come arrest 1 Palestinian boy for throwing a stone at their car; the soldiers comply. In Gaza City, 20 Palestinian gunmen seal an EU office, demanding an apology for derogatory cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad run in the Danish press, then republished in Norwegian, French, and other European newspapers. Also in Gaza, the AMB releases a video statement warning that it plans to kidnap more foreigners in reaction to the cartoons, prompting European diplomats, aid workers to begin leaving the West Bank, Gaza. In Nablus, Palestinian gunmen kidnap a German teacher, thinking he is Danish or French; quickly turn him over to PA police once they realize their mistake. Fatah, Hamas denounce the targeting of foreigners. A Hamas mbr. is shot, wounded in Khan Yunis, possibly in retaliation for Hamas attacks on PA security force targets on 2/1. (IMEMC 2/2; NYT 2/3; HA 2/5; PCHR 2/9; HA 2/23)