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  • Author: Michele K. Esposito
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: 16 February–15 May 2011 Compiled by Michele K. Esposito This section is part 110 of a chronology begun in JPS 13, no. 3 (Spring 1984). Chronology dates reflect Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). 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. LIMITED PREVIEW | PURCHASE FULL 16 FEBRUARY As the quarter opens, Israel maintains a tight siege of Gaza aimed at unseating the governing Hamas authority, in control since 6/2007. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) enforces a 300-m 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 naut. mi. elsewhere—restrictions that place 17% of Gaza's total landmass, including 35% of its viable agricultural areas, and 85% of the maritime areas allocated to the Palestinians under the Oslo accords off limits to Palestinians. In the West Bank, governed by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA), IDF operations and restrictions on movement and access continue but are relatively low. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Tulkarm before dawn and in Birzeit late at night; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus. (PCHR 2/17, 2/24; OCHA 2/25) Regionwide antigovernment protests, which toppled the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes last quarter, continue (see Quarterly Update in this issue and in JPS 159). In Bahrain, demonstrators for the 1st time shift fr. calling for a transition to a constitutional monarchy to calling for the ouster of the monarchy altogether. Syria sees its 1st hint of unrest when more than 500 protesters in Damascus spontaneously rally to the defense of a motorist being beaten by a police officer and refuse to disperse, chanting “The Syrian people will not tolerate humiliation” for more than 3 hrs. until Interior M Saed Samour personally goes to the scene to pledge to punish the policeman. Major clashes between govt. forces and protesters seeking regime change are reported in eastern Libya, while modest demonstrations in Yemen call for the president to step down. (NYT, WP, WT 2/17) 17 FEBRUARY Overnight, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on and shell a group of Palestinians nr. the n. Gaza border fence, killing 3 Palestinians; Palestinians say the 3 were unarmed men attempting to sneak into Israel to find work, but the IDF claims they were armed men preparing to lay explosive devices along the border. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 3 wells and an agricultural storehouse nr. a settler-only bypass road nr. Hebron; seals and patrols in Jit nr. Qalqilya during the afternoon. In Ramallah, some 1,000 young Palestinians hold a rally calling for national unity and reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. (AFP, WP 2/18; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) U.S. pres. Barack Obama phones PA pres. Mahmud Abbas to urge him to delay a 2/18 vote on a UN Security Council (UNSC) res. reaffirming that Israeli settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace or agree to a compromise UNSC presidential statement (less than a res.) criticizing settlements and urging the sides to resume negotiations. Abbas agrees to convene an emergency meeting of the PLO Exec. Comm. (PLOEC) and Fatah Central Comm. (FCC) to consider the matter. (HA 2/17; HA, MNA, NYT 2/18) (see Quarterly Update for details) After violence overnight (see 2/16), Bahrain's govt. declares martial law, deploying the military to the streets and warning of a “sectarian abyss”; the main Shi`i political party withdraws fr. parliament, protesting the acts of the minority Sunni leadership; and opposition groups call for massive demonstrations after Friday prayers on 2/18. (NYT, WP, WT 2/18) In Libya, protesters in 5 main cities observe a “Day of Rage” against Qaddafi, clashing with govt. forces, leaving at least 12 protesters dead and 10s wounded; the govt. cuts phone and Internet service and bars journalists to prevent coverage. Serious clashes in and around Benghazi continue on 2/18. (NYT, WP, WT 2/18; NYT, WP 2/19) 18 FEBRUARY Gaza's Rafah crossing opens for the 1st time since 1/29/11 to allow Palestinians trapped in Egypt to enter Gaza. In the West Bank, the IDF enters Bayt Umar village nr. Hebron in the afternoon, searching a house and arresting a 10-yr.-old Palestinian for stone-throwing; patrols in 4 villages nr. Qalqilya, 2 nr. Ramallah, and 1 nr. Tulkarm during the afternoon and evening. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil'in, Ni'lin, and Nabi Salih/Dayr Nizam nr. Ramallah, and in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 8 Palestinians (including 3 children); 15 Palestinians (including 9 children) and 2 international activists are arrested. (Oxfam International 2/20; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) Before the UNSC vote reaffirming the illegality of Jewish settlements, U.S. Secy. of State Hillary Clinton phones Abbas to warn him that that U.S. aid could be cut if the vote goes ahead. In Ramallah, the PLOEC and FCC opt to go ahead with the vote saying, “The Palestinian leadership will reject American demands even if our decision leads to a diplomatic crisis with the Americans. We have nothing to lose.” The U.S. vetoes the res. (HA, REU 2/18; HA, WP 2/19; HA 2/20; WJW 2/24; JPI 3/4) (see Quarterly Update) In Bahrain, security forces violently disperse a massive protest in Manama, wounding 10s. From this point, large antigovernment protests (1,000s to 10,000s) become nr. daily events. (NYT, WP 2/19; NYT 2/21) 19 FEBRUARY Israeli naval vessels intercept a Palestinian fishing boat off the n. Gaza coast, escort it to Ashdod, confiscate the boat, and release the fishermen. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 4 villages nr. Jericho, Qalqilya, Salfit, and Tulkarm in the afternoon, and 1 village nr. Tulkarm late at night. From Ramallah, FCC mbr. Tawfik Tirawi calls for a “day of rage” against the 2/18 U.S. veto; protests denouncing the U.S. are held in Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm. For safety, the U.S. consulate in East Jerusalem restricts staff movement for 3 days. (HA, Oxfam International, WP 2/20; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) In Libya, security forces in Benghazi open fire on some 20,000 mourners leaving funerals of antigovernment protesters killed in recent clashes, leaving at least 84 dead and scores injured and bringing the death toll in 3 days of clashes to as many as 200 dead and nearly 850 wounded in Benghazi alone. British embassy officials say they have received reports of govt. forces using heavy weapons and snipers against protesters. From this point, antigovernment demonstrations and fierce military repression escalate sharply, and opposition groups take up arms. (NYT, WP 2/20; NYT, WP, WT 2/21) 20 FEBRUARY Saying the Fatah-Hamas split has “gone on too long and should not continue,” PA PM Salam Fayyad offers to form an interim national unity govt. with Hamas and not to interfere with Hamas's rule in Gaza in the run-up to elections, if it agrees to take part in presidential and legislative elections in 9/2011. Elements within Fatah denounce the move. Hamas responds with skepticism. (AP, HA 2/21) (see Quarterly Update for details) In the West Bank, the IDF conducts daytime patrols in and around Jenin and in villages nr. Qalqilya and Tulkarm; conducts evening and late-night patrols nr. Qalqilya and Salfit. Jewish settlers uproot 270 olive trees fr. 2 Palestinian plots nr. Nablus. In Ramallah, some 3,000 Palestinians organized by Fatah protest the 2/18 U.S. veto, waving banners and shouting slogans against the Obama administration. (MNA, WP 2/21; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) 21 FEBRUARY In the West Bank, the IDF tears down Palestinian's tents in Khirbat Tana, where the IDF demolished homes and other structures on 2/9/11 (see Quarterly Update and Settlement Monitor in JPS 159); conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches, and patrols in 6 villages nr. Qalqilya, as well as nr. Bethlehem and Jenin. More than 80 Palestinian nonprofit organizations from the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip issued a statement calling on Fatah and Hamas to take practical steps toward ending their rift. (MNA 5/23; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) The Knesset passes the Foreign Govt. NGO Funding Transparency Law tightening requirements on groups that accept foreign funding, widely seen as an effort to undermine left-wing Israeli organizations. (MNA 2/23; WJW 2/24) (see Quarterly Update) After a week of violent clashes, the Libyan govt. has lost control of most of the eastern part of the country to armed antigovernment protesters. Qaddafi responds with overwhelming force, dispatching warplanes, helicopters, special forces, and heavily armed mercenaries (paid and flown in to Tripoli by the planeload in recent days to shore up the regime) to hunt down demonstrators. Fighting has also reached Tripoli, where there are reports of strafing fr. the air, combat in the streets, burning buildings, and looters ransacking police stations. Dozens of senior Libyan officials and diplomats resign in outrage, and widespread defections by the military nationwide are reported. (WP, WT 2/21; NYT, WP, WT 2/22) 22 FEBRUARY In the morning, the IDF makes 2 brief incursions into Gaza to level land along the border fence in s. Gaza to clear lines of sight. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials in the fmr. settlement sites, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 8 tents (home to 40 Bedouin) and 2 wells nr. Suissa settlement outside Hebron; sends some 40 undercover troops into Salim nr. Nablus, where they raid an apartment building and arrest a wanted Palestinian; patrols in and around Tulkarm, in Qalqilya, and in villages nr. Jenin in the morning, summoning 4 Palestinians to appear for questioning; conducts late-night patrols in al-Bireh, Qalqilya, and 2 village nr. Ramallah and Tulkarm. Jewish settlers fr. Bat Ayin nr. Hebron uproot at least 250 olive trees in nearby Jab'a village. (WT 2/23; PCHR 2/24; OCHA 2/25) After a televised speech in which Libya's Col. Qaddafi vows to hunt down and kill protesters “house by house,” 1,000s of his supporters take to the streets of Tripoli brandishing machetes and join trucks heading to outlying areas to conduct neighborhood searches. With most residents bunkered in their homes and media outlets cut off, the extent of the violence in the Tripoli area is unclear. Rights groups estimate that 519 Libyans have been killed, 3,980 have been wounded, and at least 1,500 have gone missing since violence erupted a wk. ago. Hereafter, fighting quickly devolves into bitter civil war. (NYT, WP, WT 2/23; NYT, WP, WT 2/2; NYT, WP, WT 2/25; NYT, WP, WT 2/26–3/1) In Bahrain, more than 100,000 protesters (a fifth of the population, mostly Shi'a) turn out for the largest prodemocracy rally to date in Pearl Square calling for the govt. and the monarchy to step down. (NYT, WP, WT 2/23) 23 FEBRUARY Fayyad reiterates his 2/20 national unity offer, saying the PA would forgo further U.S. aid for the sake of national unity if the U.S. went through with threats to suspend aid to the PA if Hamas joined the govt. Abbas and senior Hamas officials agree to discuss the idea. (JPI 3/11) (see Quarterly Update) At Abbas's request, Israel agrees to allow some 300 Palestinians fleeing Libya to enter the West Bank. In Gaza, Islamic Jihad and Hamas mbrs. detonate an explosive device by the border fence as an IDF patrol passes on the Israeli side, then fire 3 mortars at the troops, causing no injuries. IDF soldiers retaliate with tank and gunfire, killing 1 armed Palestinian and wounding 6 armed Palestinians and at least 3 bystanders (including 2 children). Late at night, the IDF makes 5 air strikes on buildings in central and southern Gaza, causing no injuries; in the 1 instance in which a building is occupied, Israeli intelligence units phone to warn the occupants to leave. An 11-yr.-old Palestinian girl is killed and 4 family mbrs. are wounded when explosives accidentally detonate in their Gaza home. The IDF makes a brief incursion into c. Gaza to level land along the border fence to clear lines of sight. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinian scavenging for construction materials in the fmr. settlement sites, wounding 2 Palestinian. Late in the evening, 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 patrols in 'Aqabat Jabir refugee camp (r.c.) in the morning, photographing historic sites; conducts late-night patrols in Birzeit and 1 village nr. Tulkarm; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches, and patrols in and around Jenin r.c. (DPA, HA, IsRN, JP, NYT, REU, WAFA 2/23; PCHR, WP 2/24; PCHR 3/3; OCHA 3/4)
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Gaza
  • Author: Rashid I. Khalidi
  • Publication Date: 08-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Palestine Studies
  • Institution: Institute for Palestine Studies
  • Abstract: THIS ISSUE OF THE JOURNAL carries an article, a report, and three essays which share a focus on recent events, as well as two substantial articles on historical topics with continuing relevance, about the Greek Orthodox and Armenian communities of Palestine.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Gaza, Armenia