Chronology 16 November 2007–15 February 2008

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VOL. 37


No. 3
P. 220
Chronology 16 November 2007–15 February 2008


The West Bank and Gaza remain effectively severed from each other following Hamas’s takeover of Gaza in 6/07, with Hamas controlling Gaza and Fatah the West Bank (see Quarterly Update in JPS 145). Tight Israeli restrictions on Gaza’s borders dating from 8/07 remain in place, including reduced fuel imports, a near-total ban on exports, and limited imports of basic goods. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) roadblocks in the West Bank divide the territory into 3 cantons, and Palestinian access to the Jordan Valley is limited. In Gaza, 30,000 Palestinians attend a Hamas-organized rally in Gaza City to protest ongoing Israeli archaeological excavations nr. al-Aqsa Mosque. Some 1,500 Palestinians attend a similar Hamas rally in al-Maghazi refugee camp (r.c.), also denouncing the upcoming U.S.-sponsored Annapolis peace summit, tentatively set for 11/26–27. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin, and in `Ayn Bayt al-Ma’ r.c. nr. Nablus, Salfit; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil`in nr. Ramallah (injuring 5). Jewish settlers fr. Elon Moreh nr. Nablus set fire to 50 nearby Palestinian olive trees. Hamas releases almost all of the approximately 450 Fatah mbrs. detained during demonstrations in Gaza City on 11/12. (NYT 11/16; OCHA 11/21; PCHR 11/22)


In an apparent assassination attempt, the IDF makes a failed air strike on a car carrying several Islamic Jihad mbrs. in Khan Yunis late in the evening; no casualties are reported. During the day, Palestinians fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging several cars but causing no injuries. Some 7,000 Palestinians attend a Hamas-sponsored rally in n. Gaza, protesting ongoing Israeli excavations nr. al-Aqsa Mosque. In the West Bank, Palestinians stone Jewish settler vehicles driving nr. Ramallah, damaging 1 but causing no injuries. (OCHA 11/21; PCHR 11/22)


The IDF makes an air strike targeting armed Palestinians nr. Khan Yunis, causing no reported injuries; levels land inside the Gaza border nr. the Erez crossing. In the West Bank, the IDF bulldozes a Palestinian road and barn in al-Walaja nr. the separation wall outside Bethlehem; raids, searches a secondary school in Azun nr. Qalqilya when staff is present but classes are not in session; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin and Nablus, in Abu Dis nr. Jerusalem, and nr. Bethlehem. During the day, the new PA policing unit in Nablus, deployed by Palestinian Authority (PA) PM Mahmud Abbas on 11/2 to enhance security in keeping with the road map, makes major arrest raids into `Ayn Bayt al-Ma’ r.c. (WT 11/19; OCHA 11/21; PCHR 11/22, 11/29)


In Gaza, an ailing 8-yr.-old Palestinian boy dies when the IDF denies permission to transport him through the Erez crossing to an Israeli hospital, despite his having the proper Israeli permits. The IDF fires on several al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbrs. attempting to infiltrate the border nr. Bayt Lahiya, killing 2 AMB mbrs.; raids Khan Yunis, firing on residential areas and then exchanging fire with Palestinian gunmen who confront them, killing 1 Palestinian (possibly armed), seriously wounding 1 Palestinian civilian, moderately wounding 2 gunmen. Palestinians fire 8 mortars at IDF bulldozers sent into the Erez industrial zone to level land; the IDF responds with heavy machine gun fire; no injuries are reported. Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. n. Gaza into Israel, causing damage at a cemetery but no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Tubas, partially demolishing a Palestinian home, firing on stone-throwing youths who confront the troops, wounding 9. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar nr. Nablus ambush, stone a Palestinian taxi driving nearby, heavily damaging the car but not injuring the driver. AMB gunmen protesting the upcoming Annapolis summit fire on a Jewish settler vehicle nr. Keddumim settlement outside Qalqilya, killing 1 settler. The Israeli High Court rules that the 3/07 purchase by Israelis of a Palestinian house overlooking Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron was illegal, stating that Israeli police may evict Jewish settlers who have since occupied the site. (IFM 11/19; PCHR 11/20; OCHA 11/21; PCHR 11/22, 11/29)


In Gaza, IDF bulldozers, tanks level land at al-Qarara nr. Khan Yunis. Palestinians nr. al-Bureij r.c. fire 4 mortars toward Israel, but all fall inside the Gaza border. Palestinians nr. Rafah fire 3 mortars toward Kerem Shalom crossing, causing no damage. In both cases, the IDF responds with heavy machine gun fire, causing no reported damage or injuries. Palestinians detonate a roadside bomb nr. an IDF patrol inside the Israeli border nr. Kissufim base, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm and nr. Hebron, Jenin, Qalqilya, Ramallah. (OCHA 11/21; PCHR 11/22)


Israel agrees to allow Gazans to export flowers and strawberries, now at peak harvest, via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing. The IDF sends troops into Abasan nr. Khan Yunis, where they exchange fire with Palestinian gunmen, wounding 3. A Palestinian bystander wounded during an 11/19 IDF raid on Khan Yunis dies. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Ramallah, and in Jenin town and r.c., Nablus. Jewish settlers fire on a Palestinian bus nr. Beit Lid Junction btwn. Nablus and Tulkarm, forcing the bus off the road but causing no injuries. In Jabaliya r.c., unidentified assailants blow up a patrol car belonging to the Hamas-affiliated Gaza police (by this date, the Hamas government in Gaza has dissolved the Executive Support Force, reorganizing members into 4 units that previously existed under the PA Interior Min.: police, internal security, national security, and naval police; see Quarterly Update for details), causing no injuries. At Ramallah’s Birzeit University, a large fight breaks out btwn. student groups affiliated with Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), leaving 1 student injured; the university suspends classes until 11/26 to contain the violence. (PCHR 11/22; OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29)


Israel allows a shipment of lamb into Gaza through the Sufa crossing (permanently closed as of 10/28/07). The IDF fatally shoots an unarmed Palestinian (reportedly suicidal) who approaches the border fence nr. Qarni crossing. In the West Bank, the IDF uproots a grove of 150 olive trees nr. Salfit. (OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29)


The IDF enters the Erez industrial zone on the n. Gaza border and levels the remaining buildings and factories, builds sand berms to block the road from the zone into Gaza, shells Palestinian residential areas near the zone (reportedly using flechette shells), killing 2 Palestinians. Troops are still operating in the zone at the end of the day. In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil`in (injuring 2) and al-Ma`sara s. of Ramallah (injuring 4). In Khan Yunis, some 15,000 Hamas supporters participant in a nonviolent march to protest the upcoming Annapolis summit. (OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29)


The IDF fires on a Palestinian fisherman nr. the n. Gaza border, wounding him; fires a missile at armed Palestinians nr. Khan Yunis, missing them. In the West Bank. 7 Jewish settlers fr. Keddumim, angry over the AMB shooting of a settler on 11/19, rampage through the nearby Palestinian village of Funduk, vandalizing houses and cars; the IDF observes but does not intervene. Several Jewish settlers occupying the Homesh settlement site in the n.-central West Bank (evacuated under the 2005 disengagement) ambush a Palestinian minibus, beat the 12 passengers (including 5 children ages 18 mos.–7 yrs.). (OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29; NYT 12/8)


IDF troops encamped in the Erez industrial zone since 11/23 fire on local Palestinians who stray nr. the zone, wounding 1. Palestinians fire 4 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds with tank fire, wounding 4 armed Palestinians, 2 bystanders. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Tulkarm r.c. to ambush a car carrying wanted AMB mbrs. Muhammad Qawzah and Mushir Mansouri, mortally wounding Qawzah (he subsequently bleeds to death over an hr.), and wounding Mansouri; conducts arrest raids in and around Nablus, nr. Ramallah (ambushing and detaining Birzeit University student council pres. Fadi Hamad). Jewish settlers fr. Beit Hadasah in Hebron vandalize a nearby Palestinian school, breaking windows, breaking down walls, attempting to set fire to the building, uprooting trees outside; settlers have previously tried to occupy the school to establish a new outpost. (NYT 11/26; OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29)


IDF troops in the Erez industrial zone fatally shoot 2 armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nearby, wound and arrest a 3d; fire a shell at Palestinian resistance mbrs. e. of Jabaliya, killing 1 armed Palestinian, wounding another armed Palestinian, 2 bystanders. Hamas mbrs. fire 3 mortars and a rocket fr. n. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF responds with an air strike on the launch site, killing 1 Hamas mbr., wounding 4. As the Annapolis mtgs. open, at least 15,000 right-wing Israeli demonstrators protest in Jerusalem against any possible concessions by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert to the Palestinians. In Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad host a conference on Palestine, attended by Hamas’s top leaders (including Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmud Zahar), vowing to “not relinquish a centimeter of Palestine” or recognize Israel’s right to exist. (NYT, WP, WT 11/27; OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29)


Following a dinner in Washington on 11/26, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush opens a 1-day international summit in support of the peace process in Annapolis, MD. Israel, the PLO present a “joint understanding” pledging to resume comprehensive negotiations on 12/12, with the goal of concluding a final status agreement by the end of 2008 (see special document section, Quarterly Update for details). (NYT, WP, WT 11/28; WP 11/29)

Overnight, the IDF sends troops into al-Shuka nr. Rafah, firing on Palestinians who attempt to flee, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 3, arresting 10. During the day, the IDF makes an air strike on a Hamas training camp nr. Khan Yunis, causing damage but no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units in a car with Palestinian license plates into Azun to arrest a wanted Palestinian; troops fire on stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, wounding 4. In al-Bureij r.c., unidentified assailants detonate a roadside bomb nr. a Hamas-affiliated police patrol, seriously injuring 3 policemen and destroying their vehicle. In Gaza City, an estimated 100,000 Hamas supporters hold a nonviolent protest against the Annapolis summit; around 5,000 Hamas supporters hold a similar nonviolent protest in Dayr al-Balah. In the West Bank, PA police violently disperse (using tear gas, batons, warning shots) 100s of Palestinians attending anti-Annapolis protests sponsored by Hamas and the AMB in Ramallah (causing no serious injuries) and by Hizb al-Tahrir (a small, unarmed, pan-Islamic group) in Hebron (killing 1 Hizb al-Tahrir supporter, wounding 3 other Palestinians). The Popular Resistance Committees (PRCs; a Gaza-based umbrella group comprising mbrs. fr. all factions acting independently) send a bulletin to media outlets, vowing to increase rocket attacks on Israel to protest the summit. Inside Israel, some 10,000 right-wing Israelis march to Olmert’s home to protest any possible concessions to the Palestinians. (NYT, WP, OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29; CSM 1/22)