Tuesday, February 28, 2017

IDF troops evacuate 9 homes slated for demolition in the West Bank settlement of Ofra and disperse hundreds of settler youths gathering to protest the move; 11 soldiers sustain light injuries and 2 settlers are arrested. Elsewhere in the West Bank, IDF troops shoot and injure a Palestinian at Huwwara checkpoint nr. Nablus overnight, accusing him of ignoring their commands. They also violently disperse Palestinian students from Birzeit University gathering outside Ofer Prison nr. Ramallah in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners; 6 youths are arrested. The IDF arrests 2 Palestinians during raids nr. Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron; and patrols nr. Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, and Hebron. Israeli settlers block a major road nr. Nablus and throw stones at any Palestinian vehicle that approaches. Armed Palestinians open fire on an IDF patrol nr. Bethlehem overnight, lightly injuring 1 soldier. In Israel, Israeli forces demolish several structures in the Bedouin communities Rahat and Ksifih nr. Beersheba. (HA, JP, MNA, WAFA 2/28; MNA, WAFA 3/1; PCHR 3/2)

The PA cabinet decides to hold the municipal elections scheduled for 5/13 in the West Bank only, indefinitely postponing elections in Gaza. A Hamas spokesperson calls the decision a “recipe for division.” Today’s decision follows a meeting between PA PM Rami Hamdallah and the head of the Central Elections Commission (CEC), in which they agreed that Hamas’s reticence to participate in the elections would make it difficult to prepare for balloting in Gaza. (JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA 2/28)

Israel’s State Comptroller Joseph Shapira releases his report on the Israeli govt.’s decisionmaking during Operation Protective Edge (OPE), the IDF’s codename for its summer 2014 assault on Gaza (see JPS 44 [1, 2]). The report concludes that PM Netanyahu and thenDM Moshe Ya’alon concealed key information about the war from ministers in the lead-up to the assault; they did not fully explore diplomatic means of de-escalating tension with Hamas and the other armed groups in Gaza. Additionally, the report said that the Israeli govt. had no set policies or strategies for dealing with Gaza; Israel’s cabinet had not held a single meaningful conversation about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza for 16 mos. prior to the assault; the IDF failed to destroy all of Hamas’s tunnels (only around half were destroyed); and that the IDF did not have specific orders or techniques for dealing with tunnels. The IDF rejects the accusation that it failed to collect sufficient intelligence, but acknowledges that there was room for improvement. Netanyahu criticizes the report, calling OPE a “great success.” (HA, JP, TOI 2/28)