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  • Author: Michele K. Esposito
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: 16 February–15 May 2010 This section is part 106 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 related to the al-Aqsa intifada and of regional and international developments related to the peace process, see the Quarterly Update on Conflict and Diplomacy in this issue. 16 FEBRUARY As the quarter opens, Israel's siege of Gaza continues, with Israel barring all exports, all but limited humanitarian imports, 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 along 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 conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, nr. Tubas. (PCHR 2/18) 17 FEBRUARY IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on Palestinians scavenging building materials fr. destroyed buildings n. of Bayt Lahiya, forcing them to flee but causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a livestock pen nr. Kiryat Arba settlement after the settlers filed a petition with the IDF asking for it to be removed; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-Am`ari refugee camp (r.c.) nr. al-Bireh and nr. Hebron, Jenin, Nablus. (PCHR 2/18, 2/24; OCHA 2/25) 18 FEBRUARY The IDF makes a day-long incursion into c. Gaza to level land inside the no-go zone e. of al-Maghazi and al-Musaddar, demolishing 3 Palestinian homes (displacing 13 residents), leveling 17 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of agricultural land, exchanging gunfire with armed Palestinians throughout the day (no injuries reported). In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Bayt Sira village w. of Ramallah in the evening, firing rubber-coated steel bullets at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, Ramallah. (OCHA 2/18; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) 19 FEBRUARY Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists (including Palestinian Authority [PA] PM Salam Fayyad, PA communications advisor Sabri Saydam, Fatah Central Comm. mbr. Nabil Shaath, PLO Exec. Comm. mbr. Taysir Khalid, Palestinian National Initiative party head Mustafa Barghouti, and the mayor of Geneva), some of whom throw stones at IDF troops, taking part in a nonviolent march to the separation wall in Bil`in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian and international activists, some of whom throw stones at IDF troops, taking part in protests against the separation wall in Ni`lin (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, stun grenades at Palestinians staging a nonviolent march to land located between Dayr Nizam and al-Nabi Salih recently confiscated for the expansion of Halamish settlement (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); conducts late-night patrols in Rumana village w. of Jenin. Hamas accuses Fatah of links to the 1/20/10 assassination of Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades founder Mahmud al-Mabhuh, saying that 2 Palestinian suspects in custody in Dubai in connection with the assassination, Anwar Shhaybar and Ahmad Hassanayn, were former Fatah security officers and current employees of a senior Fatah official. Fatah denies the accusation. (NYT 2/20; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) 20 FEBRUARY In Gaza, IDF troops on the s. Gaza border e. of al-Qarara exchange cross-border fire with armed Palestinians, causing no reported injuries; Israeli naval vessels then shell the area, injuring 3 armed Palestinians, damaging a mosque. IDF troops in observation towers on the Gaza border e. of Jabaliya fire on Palestinian farmers working land 400 m fr. the border (outside Israel's no-go zone), forcing them to leave. Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. Late in the evening, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire at Palestinian homes in Bayt Hanun for 40 mins., causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF opens fire on a Palestinian vehicle driving nr. Husan village w. of Bethlehem, wounding 3 Palestinians (ages 17–21), claiming they fired on an IDF patrol; fires tear gas, stun grenades at Palestinians attempting to reach their agricultural land inside a closed military zone nr. Hebron, injuring an 8-yr.-old Palestinian boy; raids and seals (until 2/28) 2 Palestinian organizations in Sur Bahir nr. Jerusalem; imposes a late-night curfew on, conducts house searches in al-Zubaydat village nr. Jericho. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron throw stones and bottles at Palestinian houses in nearby Wadi Husayn, injuring a 7-yr.-old Palestinian boy. Jewish settlers fr. Shilo settlement n. of Ramallah seize 10 d. of Palestinian agricultural land to expand their settlement. (PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) 21 FEBRUARY IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on Palestinians scavenging construction material from destroyed buildings 400 m fr. the border, forcing them to flee; no injuries are reported. Shortly after, the same IDF unit shells the area where the Palestinians had been scavenging as well as a Palestinian home in Bayt Lahiya, causing damage but no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Bayt Rima nr. Ramallah during the day; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. Some 50 Jewish settlers break into the ancient Na'aran synagogue in Palestinian-controlled area A in Jericho to hold religious services, declaring their hopes of “renewing Jewish settlement in Jericho” (see Quarterly Update for details); the IDF removes the settlers, arresting at least 35. Jewish settlers escorted by IDF troops enter Kafr Haris village n. of Salfit to perform Jewish prayers at monuments in the village. (HA 2/22; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu adds 2 key West Bank Jewish shrines, the Tomb of the Patriarchs (known as al-Ibrahimi Mosque to Palestinians) in the center of Hebron and Rachel's Tomb just inside Bethlehem, to Israel's national heritage sites, allocating $1 m. for their maintenance and repair as part of a $100 m. project to refurbish and link 150 national heritage sites, creating a “historical biblical trail [to] educate the next generation about Jewish and Zionist history.” The PA condemns the action. (IFM 2/21; PCHR, WT 2/22; NYT 2/23; JPI 3/4) (see Quarterly Update for details) 22 FEBRUARY Palestinians protesting Netanyahu's 2/21 decision to add sites in Bethlehem and Hebron to Israel's national heritage roster clash with IDF troop in Hebron; no serious injuries are reported. IDF troops conduct late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-Fara`a r.c. s. of Tubas and nr. Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah. In Gaza, the IDF makes a day-long incursion to level land along the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Lahiya to clear lines of sight. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar settlement nr. Nablus uproot 45 Palestinian olive trees in nearby Burin village; the IDF imposes a curfew on the village while the settlers work. Palestinians report (PCHR 2/24) that in the previous wk. Israel's Jerusalem planning comm. convened to discuss a plan to build 549 settlement housing units on 153 d. of Bayt Safafa land s. of Jerusalem as part of a 4-stage settlement expansion plan, though no decisions were taken; the plan (several parts of which were approved before Netanyahu declared a temporary settlement freeze in 11/09; see Quarterly Update for background) is aimed at reinforcing the separation of Jerusalem from the s. West Bank. (NYT, WT 2/23; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) 23 FEBRUARY In the West Bank, low-level clashes between Palestinian protesters and the IDF continue in Hebron for a 2d day, with no serious injuries reported. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm. The UN reports that in the previous wk., the IDF demolished 1 Palestinian home nr. Hebron; 1 Palestinian died of electrocution in a smuggling tunnel nr. the Rafah border. (PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25; NYT 2/26; PCHR 3/4) 24 FEBRUARY The IDF makes a brief incursion 700 m into the al-Fukhari area of s. Gaza to level 60 d. of agricultural land. In the West Bank, low-level clashes between Palestinian protesters and the IDF continue in Hebron for a 3d day, with no serious injuries reported. The IDF demolishes 6 wells w. of Jenin that provide water to 47 greenhouses and 456 d. of agricultural land; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Ramallah. (NYT 2/26; OCHA, PCHR 3/4).
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jalal Al Husseini
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: Over the last sixty years, UNRWA's relationship to the Palestinian refugees it serves has undergone profound changes. Faced with the difficult task of adapting a humanitarian regime to a highly politicized environment, the agency has had to thread its way through the diverse and sometimes conflicting expectations of the international donor states, the Arab host countries, and the refugees themselves, who from the start were deeply suspicious of UNRWA's mandate as inimical to the right of return. Against this background, the article traces the evolution of the agency's role from service and relief provider to virtual mouthpiece for the refugees on the international stage and, on an administrative level, from a disciplinary regime to emphasis on community participation and finally to the embrace of a developmental agenda. Although UNRWA's presence, originally seen as temporary, seems likely to endure, the article argues that financial and political constraints are likely to thwart its new agenda. SINCE BEGINNING OPERATIONS in May 1950, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has emerged as the main stakeholder in the Palestinian refugee issue. The traditional provider of education, medical care, relief, and social services to the Palestine refugees (today numbering almost 5 million in UNRWA's five fields of operation), it has more recently assumed new responsibilities in infrastructure and camp improvement. As the only existing UN agency created to serve a single national refugee population, its main institutional specificity lies in its unparalleled exposure to that population, with the vast majority of its local staff being refugees themselves. UNRWA's close proximity to Palestinian refugee society has lent itself to controversial and contradictory assessments. On the one hand, it has enabled its staff to adapt efficiently to the refugees' evolving needs and made for impressive operational achievements, including the spread of literacy throughout the entire refugee population, the absence of epidemics, quick responses to emergency situations, and vocational and other training for tens of thousands of refugees. In so doing, it has actively helped “prevent conditions of starvation and distress among refugees and to further conditions of peace and stability” in the Middle East. On the other hand, this very proximity has led to charges, especially in the United States and Israel, that the agency has become hostage to the refugees' political claims, thus contributing to perpetuating the problem. UNRWA's constant efforts to guarantee the politically neutral nature of its activities while adjusting its mandate in keeping with the refugees' changing needs and aspirations have been a defining characteristic of its sixty years in operation. Over the years, it has gradually endeavored to promote the refugees' self-reliance either as actors integrated into the host economies or as partners in the delivery of various services, particularly in the refugee camps. More recently, expanding this participatory emphasis, it has started to apply a human development approach to the full range of its activities as a means of helping the refugees achieve their full potential. UNRWA's programs, as well as the operational norms and regulations it has adopted in order to structure its working relations with the refugees, have been greatly affected by its evolving perceptions of them, as will be seen below. THE POLITICAL LIMITATIONS OF ECONOMIC APPROACHES TO THE REFUGEE ISSUE UNRWA's approach to the Palestine refugees long bore the stamp of the first phase of its operations in the 1950s, when it endeavored to fulfill the goals ascribed to it by UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949. Article 7 states that UNRWA was to “carry out in collaboration with local governments the direct relief and works programs as recommended by the Economic Survey Mission (ESM).” The ESM's recommendations involved giving the refugees, mostly unemployed farmers and unskilled workers, the opportunity to work “where they were” by involving them in a program of temporary small-scale public works (terracing, afforestation, road construction, irrigation works, and other engineering schemes) that would help them become self-reliant. This program, fully funded by UNWRA, was to constitute a first step toward their “reintegration” into the host state economies, according to the ESM; their longer-term integration required large-scale economic development schemes that could only be borne by the interested governments themselves. In the meantime, UNRWA was to consult with these governments “concerning measures to be taken by them preparatory to the time when international assistance for relief and works projects is no longer available.” As early as mid-1951, UNWRA had shifted to a new approach, emphasizing more ambitious development schemes designed in cooperation with the host governments to directly “resettle” or “re-establish” the refugees in those countries. This would be achieved by expanding the latter's absorptive capacity through various medium- to large-scale housing, agricultural, and infrastructural projects; loans or grants for the establishment of small enterprises; training for occupations where there was a shortage of indigenous trained workers; and assistance for migration abroad. By 1957, however, the failure of the approach was clear: the number of refugees who had become fully self-supportive since 1950 stood at a mere 24,000, whereas 933,000 persons were still dependent on UNRWA services.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Aid
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: InternationalA1. John Holmes, UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Briefing to the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East, Geneva, 26 February 2008 (excerpts)Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 37, no. 4 (Summer 2008), p. 159Documents and Source Material John Holmes's briefing emphasizes the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza resulting from Israeli restrictions on the movement of people and goods. Holmes was appointed Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in January 2007 by UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Kimoon. The full text is available online at www.ochaonline.un.org.
  • Topic: Security, Humanitarian Aid, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Geneva, Middle East