Chronology 16 May - 15 August 2010

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VOL. 40

2010/11

No. 1
P. 208
Chronology
Chronology 16 May - 15 August 2010
ABSTRACT

16 May–15 August 2010

This section is part 107 of a chronology begun in JPS 13, no. 3 (Spring 1984). Chronology dates reflect Eastern Standard Time (EST).

For a more comprehensive overview of events, and regional and international developments related to the peace process, see the Quarterly Update on Conflict and Diplomacy in this issue.

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16 MAY

As the quarter opens, Israel’s siege of Gaza continues, with Israel barring all exports, most imports except limited humanitarian and consumer goods and small amounts of construction materials for UN-supervised projects, and most cross-border transit by individuals (with very limited exceptions for extreme medical cases, VIPs, and international NGO workers). The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enforces a 300-meter-deep no-go zone inside the full length of the Gaza border and limits the Palestinian fishing zone off Gaza to 500–1,000 m off the immediate Bayt Lahiya and Rafah coasts, and 3 nautical miles elsewhere. In the West Bank, the IDF raids Palestinian municipal inspector offices in al-Gazzazin in Hebron’s old city, sealing the office and evicting the staff (unarmed police who maintain public order); fires tear gas to disperse Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists conducting a nonviolent march to the separation wall outside Bayt Jala nr. Bethlehem, arresting 8 demonstrators. In Gaza, baton-wielding, Hamas-affiliated police beat and evict Palestinians fr. at least 25 homes in s. Rafah before bulldozing the houses, saying they were built illegally on government land; 31 families (190 individuals) are rendered homeless. (WT 5/17; NYT 5/19; OCHA, PCHR 5/20)

17 MAY

IDF troops make a brief incursion into the 350-m-deep no-go area inside the s. Gaza border e. of Khan Yunis leveling land to clear lines of sight. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus, Ramallah. Israeli border officials bar renowned American scholar and political activist Noam Chomsky fr. entering the West Bank via Jordan to give a lecture at Birzeit University, citing security concerns. (NYT 5/18; OCHA, PCHR 5/20; Znet 7/30) (see Quarterly Update for details)

18 MAY

Israel seals the West Bank and Gaza completely through 5/19 for the Shavuot holidays. For a 2d day, IDF troops make a brief incursion into Gaza e. of Khan Yunis to level land in the no-go zone to clear lines of sight. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinian, international activists who stage a nonviolent march to the border fence n. of Bayt Lahiya to protest Israel’s imposition of a no-go zone, causing no injuries. The UN reports that in the previous wk., a Palestinian teenager was seriously injured when he accidentally triggered unexploded IDF ordnance while working his family’s farm nr. the Gaza border fence. Hamas-affiliated police in Gaza execute 3 Palestinians convicted of murder. Jewish settlers who recently took possession of a Palestinian home in Bayt Safafa in East Jerusalem after winning a 12/09 court verdict beat a 90-yr.-old Palestinian woman and her 4-yr.-old grandson passing nr. the house. The Palestinian Authority (PA) circulates a list of 500 products made in Jewish settlements, saying anyone caught selling the goods will be fined and jailed; Israel threatens to confiscate VAT taxes collected on the PA’s behalf (transferred to the PA monthly) to compensate boycotted companies. (JTA 5/18; NYT 5/19; PCHR 5/20; OCHA 5/21)

19 MAY

Ansar al-Sunna, a Salafist militant group opposed to Hamas, fires a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on 2 open areas along the s. Gaza border and on a Hamas training site in central Bayt Hanun in n. Gaza; no casualties are reported, but significant damage to surrounding civilian buildings is noted in Bayt Hanun. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around East Jerusalem and nr. Bethlehem, Ramallah. (JP 5/19; PCHR 5/20; AFP, JP 5/21; OCHA, PCHR 5/27)

U.S. special envoy George Mitchell arrives in the region for 2 days of indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks, marking the first full round of “proximity talks” since their launch on 5/9. The sides continue to differ on the agenda for talks and which issues should be negotiated first. (CSM, IFM, WP 5/20; WSJ 5/21) (see Quarterly Update for details)

20 MAY

Israel releases Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Muhammad Abu Tir, who was among 60 Hamas-affiliated elected officials arrested by Israel after the 6/06 capture of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit (of the 60 at least 10 are still in custody). Hrs. later, Israeli security forces raid his home in Umm Tuba village s. of Jerusalem and order him to refrain fr. any public celebration of his release. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, Jericho. (AFP 5/20; OCHA, PCHR 5/27)

21 MAY

IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fatally shoot 2 armed Palestinian teenagers who infiltrate the border fence nr. Abasan; the IDF claims they are mbrs. of Hamas’s armed-wing, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB). The IDF sends troops 800 m into Abasan to raze a Palestinian house under construction, a poultry farm, and 2 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of agricultural land planted with olive and palm trees to clear lines of site. Later, IDF troops and armed Palestinians exchange fire across the Gaza border, leaving 1 IDF soldier wounded. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Ramallah. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall and land confiscations in Bil`in and Ni`lin nr. Ramallah, Dayr Nizam/al-Nabi Salih in the north central West Bank, and Bayt Jala and al-Ma`sara nr. Bethlehem. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, leaving scores suffering tear gas inhalation, injuring 5 Palestinians, and arresting 11 Israelis and internationals (including an Israeli journalist). (NYT 5/22; OCHA, PCHR 5/27)

In Jerusalem, Israeli police inform 4 PC mbrs. fr. the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform party—Khalid Abu `Arafa, Muhammad Abu Tir, Ahmad Atwan, and Muhammad Totah (all arrested in 6/06 as part of Israel’s round-up of Hamas-affiliated PC mbrs. and recently released after completing their sentences)—that Israel’s High Court has upheld a 9/09 ruling revoking their permanent Jerusalem residency status because their participation in 1/06 Palestinian elections constituted disloyalty to the state, warning that they will be deported to Gaza if they do not leave Jerusalem voluntarily (Abu Tir by 6/19, the others by 7/3). (NYT 5/22; PCHR 5/27; PCHR 6/7)

22 MAY

IDF troops on the Gaza border nr. the Erez crossing fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials fr. destroyed buildings in the Erez industrial zone, wounding 1 Palestinian. The IDF shoots and wounds a 2d Palestinian in a similar incident on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Lahiya. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Birzeit, nr. Bethlehem. (OCHA, PCHR 5/27)

23 MAY

Based on Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s 5/20 meeting with Mitchell (see 5/19) and a meeting today between Israeli and PA security officials, Israel announces plans to relax some restrictions on West Bank movement and access over the next 2 wks. as a goodwill gesture to support proximity talks. The promised moves include: removing 60 roadblocks (around 10% of total) across the West Bank, various steps to improve Palestinian tourism and trade, and lifting some restrictions on Israeli Palestinians access to the West Bank. (IFM 5/23; JTA 5/24; OCHA, WJW 5/27) (see Quarterly Update for details)

In Gaza, around 20 armed Palestinians vandalize and set fire to an United Nations Relief and Works Agency¬ (UNRWA) beachside summer camp for refugee children under construction w. of Gaza City, binding the caretaker and leaving him with a letter threatening UNRWA senior staff; Hamas denounces the attack; no group takes responsibility, but previously Islamist extremists have condemned UNRWA for corrupting Gazan youths by introducing them to activities they deem at odds with Islam. The Israeli navy fires on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging construction materials fr. former settlement sites nr. Bayt Lahiya, wounding 1 Palestinian. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids in and around Hebron and neighboring al-`Arub refugee camp (r.c.), in Jenin and Qalqilya, nr. Jericho and Ramallah. (IFM 5/23; NYT 5/24; OCHA, PCHR 5/27; NYT 6/29)

Israel begins a 5-day nationwide civil defense exercise to test the preparedness of civilians, emergency services, local authorities in case of war. Netanyahu stresses that the drill does not mean Israel is expecting or planning a major security engagement. (NYT 5/24)

24 MAY

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border nr. the Erez crossing fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging construction materials fr. destroyed buildings in the Erez industrial zone, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF enters Bayt Umar village nr. Hebron late in the evening, raiding and searching houses and randomly checking Palestinian IDs, firing rubber-coated steel bullets at stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, injuring 4; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem, nr. Hebron. (OCHA, PCHR 5/27)

25 MAY

Unidentified Palestinians fire 4 mortars fr. Gaza toward Israel; 3 land inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries, while 1 lands harmlessly in Gaza. Late in the evening, the IDF responds with air strikes on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border and on the destroyed Dahaniyya airport site in s. Gaza (causing no injuries), as well as on a Hamas building in Bayt Hanun (destroying it, damaging 26 houses, 23 shops, a clinic, the local municipal building, and a sports club nearby, injuring 15 Palestinian bystanders, and knocking out electricity to some areas). Unidentified Palestinians detonate a bomb hidden in a donkey cart by the Gaza border fence as an IDF border patrol unit on the Israeli side of the border passes, killing the donkey but causing no IDF injuries. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging construction materials fr. former settlement sites nr. the border twice during the day, causing no injuries; also fire warning shots at farmers who stray nr. the border fence nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing no injuries. Later, IDF troops make an incursion into the n. Gaza buffer zone nr. Bayt Lahiya to search the area, opening fire but causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Tubas and nr. Hebron, Nablus. Israel’s Jerusalem District Court upholds a decision to evacuate and seal the Beit Yonatan building in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, built without a permit in 2004 by the right-wing group Ateret Cohanim and housing 8 settler families. Hamas-affiliated police in Gaza say they have arrested several suspects in the 5/23 UNRWA arson. (HA, JP, JTA, UPI 5/25; JP, YA 5/26; OCHA, PCHR 5/27)

26 MAY

Unidentified Palestinians fire 1 Qassam rocket, 2 mortars fr. Gaza toward Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the mortars land inside Gaza. The IDF responds with air strikes on the abandoned Dahaniyya airport site and a target in Bayt Hanun in the n. (seriously injuring 2 Palestinians). The Israeli navy fires on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging construction materials in former settlement sites nr. the border (wounding 1) and in the former Erez industrial zone (wounding 2). In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Jala, nr. Hebron. (OCHA, PCHR 5/27; NYT, WP 5/30; PCHR 6/3; OCHA 6/4)

27 MAY

Israel warns that it will not allow passage to a flotilla of 8 boats organized by the Free Gaza Movement (FGM) and a Turkish organization, Humanitarian Relief Fund (going by the acronym IHH), currently en route to Gaza in an effort to defy Israel’s siege and deliver 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid, saying it will send Israeli naval commandos to intercept the boats and escort them to Ashdod port, where the 100s of activists onboard would be deported. The U.S. urges restraint. (NYT, WP, WT 5/28) (see Quarterly Update for details)

IDF troops on the Gaza border nr. the former Nahal Oz crossing fire on armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence, injuring 7; the Palestinians respond with mortar fire, causing no injuries. The IDF also makes air strikes, directs tank fire at an area s. of Qarni crossing in response to mortar fire fr. the area; 2 Palestinian civilians, no Israelis are injured in the exchange. In the West Bank, the IDF makes a predawn raid on a Palestinian home in `Arab al-Ramadin village nr. Hebron, firing tear gas in the home (8 family mbrs. are evacuated to a medical center for treatment); conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron (including arresting a 12-yr.-old boy, who is released on 5/28). (YA 5/28; PCHR 6/3; OCHA 6/4)

Israel charges 2 Israeli Palestinians, Ameer Makhoul (dir. of Ittijah, a union of Arab organizations in Israel) and Omar Said (also a pro-Arab advocate), with espionage for allegedly passing information on the location of IDF facilities to Hizballah, a charge the men deny. (WP, WT 5/28)

28 MAY

Late at night, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no injuries. The IDF retaliates with 5 air strikes on the Dahaniyya airport site (hitting previously destroyed buildings, causing no injuries) and on a suspected weapons factory in the al-Zaytun neighborhood of Gaza City (destroying it but causing no injuries). In the West Bank, the IDF partly opens Route 443 between Jerusalem and Ramallah to Palestinian traffic for the 1st time in 8 yrs., but Palestinians will still have to go through several checkpoints and will not be allowed to take the road all the way into Ramallah (see Quarterly Update in JPS 155 for background). Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall and land confiscations in Bil`in, Ni`lin, and Dayr Nizam/al-Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, leaving scores suffering tear gas inhalation, injuring at least 2 Palestinians, and arresting 4 Israelis. Jewish settlers fr. the unauthorized outpost of Beit Yonatan nr. Silwan retaliating for the 5/25 Jerusalem District Court decision harass a group of Palestinian women, sparking a stone throwing clash between the settlers and local Palestinians; the IDF intervenes, firing tear gas and beating back the Palestinians, including a pregnant Palestinian woman who miscarries as a result. Jewish settlers fr. Karnei Shomron nr. Qalqilya stone Palestinian vehicles on the Qalqilya–Nablus road, breaking the windows of 1 car, injuring 4 Palestinians. (YA 5/28; NYT, WP 5/29; JP 5/30; PCHR 6/3; OCHA 6/4)

29 MAY

In response to the 5/28 rocket fire, the IDF carries out 2 air strikes on a suspected weapons factory in n. Gaza and a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinians staging a nonviolent march protesting settlement expansion, injuring 2 Palestinians (one a journalist). For a 2d day, Jewish settlers fr. Beit Yonatan harass a group of Palestinian children, sparking a stone throwing clash; the IDF intervenes, beating back Palestinians, moderately injuring 2. (JP 5/30; PCHR 6/3; OCHA 6/4)

30 MAY

Three Israeli navy missile ships make first contact with 6 boats fr. the FGM-IHH flotilla late at night in international waters, warning them that they are approaching Israeli waters and must either turn around or divert to Ashdod port; the activists respond that they will continue on to Gaza, stating they are unarmed civilians. (The other 2 boats remain in Cyprus because of poor weather.) In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Ramallah. (NYT, WT 5/31; PCHR 6/3; OCHA 6/4)

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