Friday, March 18, 2005

The IDF imposes a curfew on Allar nr. Tulkarm, raids and occupies a girls school and 4 Palestinian homes as observation sites, detains 10s of Palestinians for interrogation; also conducts arrest raids, house searches in ‘Azun nr. Qalqilya, Dahariyya nr. Hebron; closes checkpoints into East Jerusalem before Friday prayers, fires tear gas and percussion grenades to disperse Palestinians waiting to cross; beats a Palestinian farmer tilling his land nr. the separation wall in Dayr al-‘Asal nr. Hebron; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at a nonviolent Palestinian demonstration against the separation wall nr. Bil‘in, seriously injuring a Palestinian, lightly injuring a foreign journalist with the Associated Press. Some 40 Jewish rabbinical students club, stone 8 Palestinian laborers working legally at Nachliel settlement, seriously injuring at least 5; Israeli police intervene but the settlers escape; police sources say the 8 Palestinians were “almost lynched.” Jewish settlers fr. Brakha settlement nr. Nablus ambush, beat, seriously injure a Palestinian truck driver passing the settlement. 10s of Jewish settlers fr. Halamish settlement occupy a plot of nearby Palestinian land housing the water spigots controlling the water supply to the settlement and nearby Palestinian villages. PA security officers seal a smugglers’ tunnel in Rafah; some Palestinians confront the officers with stones, causing no injuries; 1 Palestinian is arrested. (HA, MM 3/18; VOP 3/19; AYM 3/20; OCHA 3/23; PCHR 3/24)

Ma’ariv 3/18 reports that that the financial officer of the Greek Orthodox Church, Nikolaos Papadimas, who has power of attorney for Greek Orthodox Patriarch Irineos, recently signed a secret deal, without Irineos’s permission, to sell the church’s Omar Bin Khattab Square property in the Old City of Jerusalem to Jewish investors fr. abroad and then fled the country with his family, depositing $1.5 m. in a Tel Aviv bank account. The square is a valuable commercial area inside the Jaffa Gate, where 3 prominent Palestinian hotels and a number of shops are located. Irineos denies that he gave permission for the sale, meaning that, by church bylaws, the sale is void. (JAZ, MA, al-Quds, VOP 3/19 in WNC 3/28; HA, VOP 3/23; AP 3/24; NYT 3/25; PR 3/30; al-Quds, VOP 4/3 in WNC 4/4; NYT 4/4; Independent 5/10; HA 5/15; PR 5/18)