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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
31 January 2002
D i v i s i o n f o r P a l e s t i n i a n R i g h t s



Chronological Review of Events Relating to the
Question of Palestine
Monthly media monitoring review


January 2002


1

Israeli soldiers abducted a Palestinian in a covert operation in the Palestinian-controlled area adjacent to the settlement of “Netzarim” in the Gaza Strip. Earlier, Israeli troops had moved into the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin in the northern West Bank, and arrested five suspected Hamas militants. Gun battles between the IDF and armed Palestinians erupted as the army entered the town and as it withdrew shortly afterwards. Reports said no one was injured in the gunbattles. (AFP, DPA)

Prime Minister Sharon expressed his opposition to the idea of President Katsav’s addressing the Palestinian Council in Ramallah. Israel Radio quoted Mr. Sharon as saying that the affair had caused damage to Israel and his refusal was the end of the matter. Foreign Minister Peres also rejected the idea because he believed it harmed his ongoing talks with the Speaker of the Palestinian Council, Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) on implementing a ceasefire between the sides, the radio said. Former MK Abdel Wahab Darawshe was one of three people who had asked President Katsav to call, on behalf of the people of Israel, for a “hudna” – an Arabic term describing a ceasefire. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades said in a statement that it was signing up to Chairman Arafat’s call for an end to attacks on Israel. (AFP)

2

Ha’aretz reported that the US Government wanted Israel to take immediate measures to improve the lives of Palestinians following Chairman Arafat’s measures against Palestinian militants and a significant drop in attacks on Israelis. (Ha’aretz, XINHUA)

Foreign Minister Peres said that “if calm continue[d] for the next two or three days it would be a very good time to start the implementation of the Tenet plan”, adding that “Tenet does not call for seven days of quiet, but is meant to be started immediately”. However, a statement from the office of Prime Minister Sharon said that a meeting with Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the Prime Minister had “re-emphasized the need for seven days of complete quiet before implementation of the Tenet plan can begin,” adding that “the Prime Minister had ordered the immediate implementation of a series of measures to ease the current blockade with a view to facilitating the daily life of [Palestinian] civilians.” Israeli public radio reported the easing of the internal closure of Palestinian cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the reduction of the number of Israeli army checkpoints to allow for the freer movement of Palestinian vehicles. It said, however, that Israeli security officials had reported “numerous threats of attacks” and stressed that “the Palestinian Authority [was] still not working hard enough to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorist organizations.” Foreign Minister Peres was later quoted by Israeli radio as saying the alleviation of restrictions existed only on radio broadcasts. (AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

Israeli police arrested Palestinian human rights activist Mustafa Barghouti for entering East Jerusalem without a permit, witnesses and police said. Mr. Barghouthi, head of the non-governmental Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute, was taken into custody and detained for three hours at the American Colony Hotel after holding a news conference with European peace activists. (AFP, Reuters)

Palestinians began repairing the runway of Dahiniye Airport in the Gaza Strip, which IDF bulldozers had plowed up last month. Saudi Arabia’s Islamic Bank had contributed US$8 million to help cover the cost of renovations. Repairs of the runway and radar installation would take an estimated two months to repair, Israel Radio reported. (The Jerusalem Post).

The first 20 families moved into the “Har Homa” settlement in the Jabal Abera Ghneim area of East Jerusalem. According to contractors, another 200 units were expected to be ready in the near future. (Arutz 7)

3

The IDF handed back the bodies of three teenagers killed by tank fire in the northern Gaza Strip on 31 December. Palestinian security and medical officers accused the IDF of purposefully beating and stabbing to death the three teenagers after hitting them with tank shells. Dr Moaway Hassanein, the Chief of Casualty and Emergency Services for the PA, said all three had “knife wounds and were beaten.” The IDF denied there had been any stabbing. “The injuries were sustained in the context of combat. There was no willful damage to the bodies,” said army spokesman Captain Jacob Dallal. (AFP) The IDF said it was withdrawing from Jenin and a neighbourhood of Ramallah and would continue lifting certain restrictions on Palestinian areas. However, tanks remained stationed within a hundred metres of Chairman Arafat’s HQ in central Ramallah. The Defence Ministry said forces were also ordered to pull out of Nablus, but Palestinian security sources said there were no signs of a withdrawal. The Ministry said it also planned to end the encirclement of Qalqilya, Tulkarm and Hebron in the West Bank. (AFP, DPA)

Israeli commandos raided Hebron, arresting four men suspected of organising attacks on Israelis. A fifth Hamas militant was arrested in the West Bank village of Kufr Ruman, an IDF spokesman said. (DPA, Reuters) “France is shocked by the arrest [on 2 January] in Jerusalem of Mustapha Barghouti, a Palestinian figure known for his humanitarian and pacifist commitment,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman François Rivasseau told journalists in Paris. He added that the Government “deplored the violence committed against [Mr. Barghouti] and against others, including deputies of the European Parliament”. (AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

Russia urged Israel to lift a travel ban on Chairman Arafat. “We are convinced that Israel’s lifting of restrictions on Yasser Arafat’s movements, notably on travel to Bethlehem to participate in the celebration of Orthodox Christmas, would be in the interest of easing relations,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “In our contacts with the Israeli side, we are emphasizing that a rapid resolution to this problem would present a distinct advantage in terms of improving the general atmosphere and observing the principles of freedom of access to the holy sites,” the Ministry said. (AFP, Reuters)

Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, following a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher in Cairo, called for an immediate start of Israeli-Palestinian talks. “Negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians should resume without having to wait for that period of seven days, which can give extremists the opportunity to act,” she said. (AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation) Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, following a meeting with Chairman Arafat in Ramallah, said he had stressed in talks the day before with Prime Minister Sharon that Israel should refrain from taking actions that could undermine Palestinian efforts to impose calm in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Mr. Petersen also said it was “now more important than ever that the Palestinian Authority continue[d] its efforts to prevent new attacks and also continue[d] its crackdown on those who violate[d] the ceasefire,” adding that “the solution [was] two States: Israel and Palestine and security for all”. (AFP)

4

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told to reporters that “the Israeli withdrawals from Jenin and parts of Ramallah [were] certainly positive steps’, adding that the US thought it was “important that Israel continue[d] to take concrete steps to improve the day-to-day lives of Palestinians.” He said that as the PA moved in a “serious manner” on security, Israel should take more “appropriate” steps to ease restrictions on Palestinians. (AFP, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF killed an alleged Hamas member and arrested two suspects during an incursion with helicopter gunships, tanks and armored vehicles into the Palestinian-controlled West Bank village of Tell, southwest of Nablus. (AFP, Comtex Scientific Corporation, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

Following a meeting with Chairman Arafat in Ramallah, US envoy Gen. Zinni announced that Israeli-Palestinian security talks would resume with US participation. Senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat said the first meeting would take place on 6 January. Mr. Erakat also told reporters that Gen. Zinni “did not present any timetable for starting to implement the Mitchell and Tenet reports.” (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Following a meeting of Gen. Zinni with Prime Minister Sharon, Foreign Minister Peres and Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, the Israeli Government released a statement saying, “Israel’s position - that the only way to get Arafat to act is for the US and Europe to increase pressure on him - was presented at the meeting,” adding that the Israeli leaders had presented ways to progress toward a complete ceasefire, which would then make it possible to proceed to the stage of diplomatic negotiations. The Israeli leaders gave Gen. Zinni a detailed update on preparations they said Palestinian militant organizations were making to resume their suicide bombing campaign in Israel, Israel Radio reported. (DPA)

IDF announced that it had seized in international waters a ship, the “Karine A”, carrying 50 to 80 tons of rockets, mines, anti-tank missiles and other munitions that Israel claimed originated in Iran and were meant for the PA. Lloyd’s List revealed that the ship was registered in Iraq. Palestinian officials denied any link to the ship, dismissed the announcement a day after the seizure as propaganda timed to undermine Gen. Zinni’s mission and a pretext to keep up attacks on the PA, and called for a third party to investigate the details of the case. US officials acknowledged that the US had been involved in tracking the ship and said they had no evidence that the weapons were destined for the PA. (AFP, Arutz 7, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, The New York Times)

5

Gen. Zinni met with Palestinian and Israeli officials. Senior Palestinian negotiator and PA Minister Saeb Erakat drew his attention to the fact that the Israeli Government had not officially approved the Mitchell report. (AFP, Arutz 7, The Jerusalem Post, WAFA)

About 200 people participated in a torch light march from Prime Minister Sharon’s residence to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, calling upon President Moshe Katsav to address the Palestinian Legislative Council, as requested. (Arutz 7)

The IDF stormed the Kalandia refugee camp and arrested one Palestinian; IDF established new military checkpoints at the Boreen - Tal and Dair Sharaf - Nablus roads and at the Faroon junction near Tulkarm; Israeli frigates fired at Palestinian fishermen off the Gaza Strip causing damage to their equipment. (WAFA)

Chairman Arafat announced that Sari Nusseibeh had been added to the senior negotiating team. (AFP, Arutz 7, Ha’aretz)

6

“Kedumim” settlers bulldozed more than 100 olive trees in Kfar Qaddum, east of Qalqilya; the IDF penetrated 400 meters into Umm Al-Qurais, near Rafah, and uprooted more than 600 olive trees; in Hebron, a 13-year-old Palestinian was wounded by IDF gunfire, and another Palestinian suffered head injuries when “Kiryat Arba” settlers attacked him. (WAFA)

Israel formally requested extraditions of suspected assassins of Minister Ze’evy, Hamdi Koraan, 27, from Ramallah, and Bassel Assmar, 25, from Beit Rima. (Arutz 7)

The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that it would not interfere in a military operation, clearing the way for the demolition of the home of Yasser Assida in the village of Tell. (Arutz 7)

Five brothers aged 5 to 9 years old were killed in Bani Suhaylah, east of Khan Yunis, while their sixth brother and their parents were severely burnt in a fire in their tent. The family had to abandon their house in Al-Tufah neighbourhood bordering the “Gush Katif” block of settlements when it was targeted by the IDF. (AFP, CNN, DPA, WAFA)

Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, speaking in the village of Az-Zababida near Jenin, called on Israelis to demand that the Government of Prime Minister Sharon move toward peace, or elect a new Government that believes in peace and would work toward attaining it. The Latin Patriarch also called for the establishment of the State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. (Arutz 7, Ha’aretz, XINHUA)

Gen. Zinni convened a joint Israeli-Palestinian security meeting and proposed the implementation of the “Dahaniya outline,” which involved mutual steps to attain a ceasefire, as had been agreed upon in a meeting between Foreign Minister Peres and Chairman Arafat last September in the Al-Dahaniya airport. Gen. Zinni described the meeting as “positive and constructive.” He later concluded his four-day visit to the region by expressing a willingness to return again on 18 January, if there was no deterioration of the situation in the area. (AFP, Arutz 7, The Jerusalem Post, WAFA)

According to the latest monthly report, released by the Palestinian Prisoners Society, more than 300 Palestinians had been arrested by Israeli forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in December 2001, with the total reaching 3,500 held in 19 Israeli prisons. Abu Dis saw most arrests, with 55 students at the College of Science and Technology detained. (The Jerusalem Times)

7

The Israeli Government did not allow Chairman Arafat to attend the Greek Orthodox Christmas mass in Bethlehem. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement said Moscow “remains convinced that a positive decision in this regard would have created a reduction in tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.” (AFP, Arutz 7)

Israeli police arrested six young Palestinians from Abu Tor in East Jerusalem, accused of firebomb attacks against a yeshiva on the Mount of Olives. (Arutz 7)

Chairman Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that, during their meeting in Ramallah, Mr. Arafat had informed EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana that an internal panel of inquiry had been established to investigate the issue of the ship seized by Israel allegedly smuggling weapons for the PA. “All those who are implicated in the affair will be punished if proof is established”, Mr. Abu Rudeineh told reporters. He also said Chairman Arafat had told Mr. Solana he wanted the US, the EU, Russia and the UN to participate in an international inquiry in the affair and, in any case, the results of the PA internal inquiry would be passed to those international actors. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

According to news reports, the captain of the impounded ship “Karine A”, Omar Akkawi, in Israeli custody, said in an interview broadcast on Israeli television that the weapons’ shipment was earmarked for the PA and was ultimately to be landed in the Gaza Strip. He claimed he had received his instructions from PA officials. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Spokesman Richard Boucher said the State Department “want[ed] to know the facts before we start speculating and drawing grand conclusions” about the “Karine A” affair. (Reuters)

8

PA Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo told reporters the PA inquiry committee into the alleged weapon-smuggling ship affair would comprise the heads of Gaza Strip and West Bank public security, generals Abdel Razeq Al-Majaida and Haj Ismail Jabr, the head of military intelligence Mousa Arafat and military attorney-general Khalid Al-Qidrah. “We chose high-ranking military officers to ensure they had access to all the information and people necessary”, Mr. Abed Rabbo said, adding that the results of the investigation would be made public and would be conveyed to the US, the EU, Russia and the UN. He said Israel had rejected a Palestinian offer to cooperate in the investigation. Foreign affairs advisor to Prime Minister Sharon Daniel Ayalon told AFP it was “out of the question that Israel should agree to an operation designed to act as a smokescreen for the role of the Palestinian Authority in this affair, which it is attempting to cover up”. (AFP, DPA)

The previous week had been the quietest since the outbreak of the intifada in late September 2000, Yediot Aharonot reported, citing Israeli military sources. The sources said there had been a steady decline in the number of shooting and bombing attacks against Israeli targets and, as a result, “[n]ow the quiet is essentially complete”. (DPA)

The Saudi Development Fund would grant US$45 million to the PA, the Palestinian representative in Saudi Arabia Mustafa Al-Sheikh Dib told AFP. The money would be paid over the next three months in installments of US$15 million a month and would be used to pay the wages of PA employees. The grant had been offered during a recent visit by PA Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Shaath to Saudi Arabia. (AFP)

Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer was quoted by Israeli state radio as saying that Israel and the PA were “closer than ever to application of the Tenet and Mitchell plans”. The past week had been the calmest since the beginning of the intifada, the Minister said and recommended the dismantling of several isolated settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

According to Israeli radio, Prime Minister Sharon called for the US to add the Fatah, Tanzim, and Force-17 to the US lists of terrorist organizations. Israeli TV, meanwhile, reported that Mr. Sharon also wanted the PA to be treated as “an entity supporting terrorism”. (AFP)

A 24-year-old Palestinian, member of the PA security services, who had sustained serious head injuries during an IDF incursion into Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on 15 December 2001, had died of his wounds in an Egyptian hospital, Palestinian medical sources said. (AFP)

9

Two Palestinian gunmen disguised as police officers attacked the IDF post outside the kibbutz of Kerem Shalom, in southern Israel, across the Gaza Strip border from Rafah, killing one officer and three soldiers, before being shot dead themselves. The military wing of Hamas, Izz el-Din al-Qassam, claimed responsibility for the attack. General Doron Almog, IDF commander for southern Israel, accused Salah Shahadeh, allegedly a close associate of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, of planning the attack and demanded that the PA arrest him. Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said the responsibility lay “with the Palestinian Authority, which has not done enough to prevent this”, adding that the attack could have “serious consequences” for the tentative peace process. The Israeli Cabinet met and promised a response within 24 hours, without giving more details, Israeli radio said. The Palestinian leadership condemned the attack and vowed to crack down on any violation of the decreed ceasefire. In a statement it said such operations gave Prime Minister Sharon “an excuse to continue his military escalation and siege against our people”. The head of Palestinian public security for the Gaza Strip, General Abdel Razeq Al-Majaida, said his men were unable to effectively police the border because Israeli forces frequently shelled the area. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

Shortly after the attack near the kibbutz Kerem Shalom, IDF tanks shelled two abandoned Palestinian police positions in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said. The tank fire damaged the two border police posts east of Rafah, although no injuries were caused. Also, Israeli troops seized three Palestinian naval police stations in Mawasy, an area of the Gaza Strip where Palestinian villages stand next to Jewish settlements and which is under Israeli security control. The Israeli troops expelled some 10 police officers and confiscated a pistol. IDF said one of the Karem Shalom attackers was a member of the naval police. No shots were fired during the seizure of the police posts, whose staff liaise with the Israelis over the movements of Palestinian fishing vessels off the Gaza coast. Colonel Khaled Abu Al-Ula, of the Israeli-Palestinian liaison office in southern Gaza, called the move a “new Israeli aggression”. Later it was reported that three Israeli tanks and a bulldozer had moved some 500 metres into Palestinian territory near Gaza international airport and bulldozed a Palestinian security post. (AFP)

Regarding the attack by Palestinian gunmen on an Israeli military post near the Gaza Strip, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that President Bush believed “it continue[d] to be incumbent on Chairman Arafat to take immediate steps to arrest terrorist leaders and to dismantle the terrorist network that is present in the region”. Mr. Fleischer said the attack was “particularly disturbing” because it came at a time when the situation on the ground had been relatively quiet and amid recently stepped up US efforts to help the parties achieve peace. (AFP, Reuters)

10

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country held the rotating EU presidency, accompanied by EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, told a news conference that the previous day’s attack on Israeli soldiers by Palestinian gunmen near the Gaza Strip was “a huge step backwards in the process of negotiations” and expressed his “total condemnation”. Minister Piqué said he regarded the current situation in the Middle East as being dramatic “but the last thing [we should do] is to sink into despair”. Mr. Solana said the second half of December had been “the best period in recent years from a security perspective” but the situation had once again deteriorated. Nevertheless, the EU would continue to work for peace and stability in the region. (AFP)

About a dozen IDF tanks and two bulldozers entered into the Rafah refugee camp before dawn and demolished or seriously damaged some 70 buildings, leaving some 120 families homeless. The IDF said the buildings had been razed because they had been used to fire at its troops and for smuggling arms but Palestinians saw it as retaliation for the previous day’s killing of four Israeli soldiers by Palestinian gunmen. Among the structures destroyed in the Israeli incursion reportedly were the homes of the two Palestinian gunmen who had been involved and lost their lives in the previous day’s attack. (AFP, AP, EFE, Reuters, XINHUA)

The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the “Jerusalem Brigades”, announced it was “not bound by any agreement or cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, as far as the ceasefire with Israel [was] concerned”, citing ongoing Israeli attacks on Palestinians as the reason, Al-Jazeera satellite television said. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

According to Ha’aretz, Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, who had been recently elected Chairman of the Israeli Labour party, was preparing a package of political ideas to present to the US Administration during his upcoming official visit to Washington. The ideas would focus on moving forward the diplomatic process with both the Palestinians and the Syrians by setting conditions that would ease the entry into the political process with the two sides. Mr. Ben-Eliezer would reportedly offer the Palestinians a “Gaza first” proposal, in which Israeli forces would withdraw to positions held before the intifada and Palestinian security services would assume responsibility for maintaining the quiet in the areas vacated by the Israeli troops. Through this gradual process the two sides would enter a political track leading to the implementation of the Tenet ceasefire plan and the Mitchell Committee recommendations, while forgoing the precondition of a seven-day total quiet demanded by Prime Minister Sharon. In recent weeks, Mr. Ben-Eliezer had been reportedly sending messages regarding this proposal to the chiefs of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub respectively, but they had neither accepted nor rejected the scheme. The Minister would like to persuade the US Administration to instruct its Middle East envoy Anthony Zinni to adopt his plans. (Ha’aretz, XINHUA)

President Bush told reporters his suspicions were growing that the arms shipment foiled by Israel was “headed to promote terror” and stressed that Chairman Arafat “must renounce terror, must reject those who would disrupt the peace process through terror and must work hard to get to the peace table”, adding that “once the evidence is in, those responsible need to be held to account”. Mr. Bush also vowed that the US would not disengage from the Middle East peace process and that he planned to send General Zinni back to the region “at the appropriate time”. (AFP, Reuters)

At a meeting with mayors from northern Israel and activists from his Likud Party in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Sharon said Chairman Arafat would remain confined to Ramallah until he arrested the assassins of Minister Ze'evy, Israel Radio reported. Mr. Sharon said Mr. Arafat would not be allowed to travel even if the ban took years and closures on other Palestinian areas were lifted. (XINHUA)

Secretary of State Powell told reporters the following on the question of the arms shipment intercepted by Israel: “the information we are receiving and developing on our own make it clear that there are linkages to the Palestinian Authority. I have not seen information that yet links it directly to Chairman Arafat.” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US had also seen evidence of complicity by Iran and Hezbollah. (AFP, Reuters)

Palestinians and Israelis, meeting in Stellenbosch near Cape Town in South Africa, at the invitation of President Thabo Mbeki, ended three days of talks with a call for peace negotiations to resume without conditions attached. The Israeli delegation included Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg, former Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin, but no officials from Likud. The Palestinian delegation included senior negotiator Saeb Erakat. (AP, The Jerusalem Times, Reuters)

11

Israeli tanks moved three kilometres into the town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, sealing off surrounding roads, Palestinian security sources said. Three tanks and armoured vehicles surrounded the Gaza Europe hospital. A 62-year-old Palestinian man died of a heart attack when the IDF opened fired on his home located near the hospital, medical sources said. There were no other casualties in the incident. A small Palestinian security position was also destroyed near the hospital. In the surrounding area, six Israeli tanks encircled a fuel station on Saladin road, the Gaza Strip’s main north-to-south highway. The IDF seized a building next to the fuel station and turned it into a gun tower, firing machine-guns on any Palestinian vehicle trying to approach Rafah from the north, security sources said. “The Palestinian Authority is warning this Israeli aggression will make a big explosion ... create more violence in the region,” Chairman Arafat’s Advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh told AFP, adding that the PA asked “the international community, especially the US, to stop the Israeli aggression and escalation which will destroy the international efforts for peace and quiet”. (AFP, Reuters)

The IDF said it had detained 11 Palestinians, eight suspected of arms smuggling and three suspected militants. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Washington Post)

More than 10 Israeli bulldozers supported by tanks and armoured vehicles tore up several sections of the runway of the Gaza International Airport before dawn. Palestinian eyewitnesses and security sources said the bulldozers had destroyed the entire 3.5-kilometre runway, in retaliation for the killing of four Israeli soldiers on 9 January. Col. Imad Farris, the commander of the elite Givati brigade, was quoted as saying “this action [at the airport] was to show a glimpse of what can and will be done in the future if the situation worsens”. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, Reuters, The Washington Post, XINHUA)

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it “deplored” Israel’s bulldozing of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip on 10 January, adding that “house destructions were prohibited under the Geneva Conventions”. (Reuters, The Washington Post)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

An UNRWA convoy headed by Director of Operations Lionel Brisson and accompanied by journalists was blocked by the IDF on the way to Rafah refugee camp where houses had been destroyed by the IDF a day before. After a 10-minute standoff the convoy turned back to reach its destination by a dirt road. UNRWA HQ in Amman issued an appeal for US$150 million to cover the deficit caused primarily by Israeli attacks on refugee camps. (AP, WAFA)

A Justice Ministry spokesman announced that Israeli Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein had decided to indict the Jerusalem Grand Mufti Akram Al-Sabri for meetings with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, as well as for incitement in statements made while abroad. One of the Grand Mufti’s assistants had been indicted on similar charges two weeks prior. (Arutz 7, The Jerusalem Post)

12

Israeli gunships and commandos hit Chairman Arafat’s private boat anchored on the coast of Gaza City and destroyed a small Palestinian naval police patrol boat, that was undergoing maintenance in the dock, a fuel storage facility and a fishing vessel formerly under the command of “Karin A” captain, Omar Akawi. The attack left the Palestinian navy without any working boats, a senior navy officer told the AFP. (AFP, Arutz 7, DPA, The Jerusalem Post, WAFA)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa and the Palestinian leadership condemned remarks by Secretary Powell on 11 January, in which he had described the latest Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip as “defensive actions.” (AFP)

13

An IDF soldier admitted shooting and seriously wounding a Palestinian in Hebron on 11 January in the mistaken belief that he was trying to seize a colleague’s weapon, Yediot Aharonot reported. (AFP)

The Palestinian intifada cost the recession-hit Israeli economy US$3.2 billion, equivalent to economic growth of four percentage points, the Bank of Israel said. (AFP)

14

According to the latest Israeli Interior Ministry figures, the settler population in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip currently stood at 214,000, or 5.2 per cent higher than the previous year. All settlements had experienced some growth, with the exception of “Emanuel” and the area near the Dead Sea. In 2000 the settler population had grown by 8 per cent. (Arutz 7)

Some 15 IDF bulldozers and large land movers guarded by hundreds of soldiers razed nine Palestinian houses in the Issawiya neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. Eight more demolition orders were held up pending an appeal by The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Police arrested two Israeli activists protesting the demolitions. Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau told Israel Army radio only one of the nine demolished houses had already been occupied. (AFP, Arutz 7, Ha’aretz, Reuters, WAFA)

An explosion in Tulkarm killed a Fatah activist in what Palestinians said was an assassination, though IDF denied its involvement. Hospital sources said he was killed while walking to work in the east of the town; Israeli security sources, quoted by Israel Army radio, said he was in a vehicle. Hours later one Israeli was killed and another seriously wounded in an attack near the “Kedumim” settlement, west of Nablus, with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claiming responsibility in a faxed statement to Reuters. (AFP, Arutz 7, Ha’aretz, Reuters, WAFA)

Members of the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Coalition, among them Yossi Beilin, Hanan Ashrawi and Yasser Abed Rabbo, met in the Norwegian diplomatic offices in the West Bank, where they declared a joint initiative to try to revive peace talks and decided to begin non-violent protest. (AP, Ha’aretz)

The former adviser to late Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, Baruch Levy, and PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Ziad Abu Zayad, called for immediate negotiations between the two sides and a summit between Prime Minister Sharon and Chairman Arafat “as a sign of good will”. They also proposed the creation of a Palestinian State based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, with Jerusalem as the joint capital of Israel and Palestine. Meanwhile, the recommendations of the Mitchell report needed to be implemented. Mr. Abu Zayad said that in the present difficult phase “a dramatic step” was needed and a meeting between Messrs Sharon and Arafat would have “great psychological influence on the people in this region”, adding that both peoples had had “enough of this situation, and want[ed] peace”. The meeting was organized by Austrian Defence Minister Herbert Scheibner, who said he would present a communiqué to the EU in Brussels. (DPA)

The United Arab Emirates had decided to rebuild Palestinian homes destroyed by Israel in the Gaza Strip on 10 January, the official news agency WAM said. The aim was to re-house 100 families left homeless, WAM reported, without giving a cost for the project. A Red Crescent Society delegation would visit the Palestinian areas soon to inspect the damage and prepare for the reconstruction work. (AFP, WAM)

15

The PA and Fatah said they would abide by the ceasefire, despite the Israeli assassination of a Fatah activist on 14 January. (DPA)

According to a statement issued by UNRWA, a Syrian committee had donated 15 million Syrian pounds (US$326,000) for the Palestinians left homeless following the Israeli demolition of houses in Rafah on 10 January. Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Peter Hansen, had been handed the check at the end of a five-day visit to Syria, the statement said. (DPA)

The Likud Bureau decided unanimously to reject Prime Minister Sharon’s statements supporting the eventual establishment of a Palestinian State. Bureau Chairman Uzi Landau, who is also Israel’s Public Security Minister, stressed the importance of remaining true to the principles of the party and promises made to the voters. (DPA, The Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz)

The PA issued a statement condemning the attacks by Palestinian militants, in which two Israelis had been killed in the West Bank. A 72-year old man, who held a US passport, had been killed in the town of Beit Sahour, and a woman had been shot dead near the settlement of “Givat Zeev”, south of Ramallah. “The Palestinian police had immediately started an investigation of the two incidents to know who carried out the two attacks. Those who did it will be taken to justice,” said the statement, reported by WAFA. US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said “the death of this American citizen underscores the necessity of bringing an immediate end to violence and moving quickly toward implementation of the Tenet security plan and the Mitchell committee recommendations, as we have called for for so long”. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

The PA said it had arrested Ahmad Saadat, the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), for his alleged role in the killing of Israeli Tourism Minister Ze’evy. Israeli diplomatic sources said the arrest was “fake”, intended to impress visiting US congressmen. The PFLP called for Mr. Saadat to be released “immediately”, describing his arrest as a “dangerous development”.” Ten Palestinian opposition groups meeting in Damascus strongly condemned the arrest and said they would continue attacks against Israel. (AFP, AP, DPA, Reuters)

Three Israeli border policemen were jailed after beating tens of Palestinians who were in Israel without permits during a raid in the Jaffa section of Tel Aviv, Justice Ministry spokesman Jacob Galanti told AFP. The three policemen were ordered by the municipal court to be jailed for three days of interrogation, while a fourth was under house arrest pending investigation, Mr. Galanti said. The three admitted to beating the Palestinians, while the fourth was indicted for minor procedural violations. (AFP, ITAR-TASS)

Some 30 international media organizations protested the Israeli Government’s refusal to renew press accreditations to about 70 Palestinian journalists, photographers and technicians. (AFP)

16

The European Commission said it was in the process of cataloguing damages caused by the IDF to buildings and infrastructure in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that had been financed by the EU or its individual Member States. A Commission spokesman said that, although the list would be presented to the Israeli authorities, there were no immediate plans to ask Israel for compensation. Incomplete estimates put the damage amount at some €10 million (US$8.8 million), the spokesman said. (AFP)

President Mubarak urged the EU and the US to play an even more “effective and objective” role in helping end the Palestinian-Israeli violence and bring the parties back to negotiations. During a meeting with visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country was holding the EU presidency, Mr. Mubarak said “one must not start from a vacuum with any new initiative, it would be only a waste of time, rather the Mitchell report and the Tenet plan must be activated.” (AFP)

According to Israel Radio, the Palestinian Council had unanimously extended an invitation to Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg to visit and address it in Ramallah. The details of the visit would reportedly be decided at a meeting to be held on 23 January in Paris between Mr. Burg and Palestinian Council Speaker Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala). Mr. Burg’s visit to the Council would be a reciprocal visit for Mr. Qurei’s Knesset visit in July 1999. (XINHUA)

Visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué met with Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres. At a joint conference with Mr. Piqué, Mr. Peres rejected the Spanish call for Israel to allow Chairman Arafat to leave Ramallah, saying Mr. Arafat would remain under virtual house arrest in the West Bank town until Israel was convinced that Minister Ze’evy’s killers were in jail. (AFP)

17

Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian militant overnight east of Nablus. Palestinians said an IDF special unit had set up an ambush close to the Askar refugee camp, just outside the area under Palestinian control, and shot Khamis Ahmed Ali Abdullah, 42, a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, in the back; he died a few hours later. Israel Radio only reported that Abdullah had been shot in a gunbattle with Israeli soldiers. (DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

The Israeli security cabinet approved a series of what was described as limited military measures in retaliation for the recent attacks by Palestinians. These measures included closures and blockades in various parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in order to prevent would-be attackers from leaving Palestinian cities. Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said the latest wave of attacks had been preceded by quiet and Israel had an interest in maintaining such a situation, without giving up on its right of self-defence. (AFP, Ha’aretz, XINHUA)

Following the Israeli security cabinet decision, the IDF tightened the blockades of Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarm, Jenin and Qalqilya. (AFP, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post, XINHUA)

At a meeting with Chairman Arafat in Ramallah, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué expressed the EU’s appreciation of Mr. Arafat’s efforts to maintain the ceasefire and combat terrorism. He said he had told Prime Minister Sharon the day before that the EU condemned Israel’s blockade, both “economic and physical, of the Palestinian territories, the destruction of infrastructure and settlement activity”, adding that “The European Union also condemns terrorism and assassination”. Mr. Arafat said there had been 24 days of calm after his ceasefire declaration on 16 December but Mr. Sharon had refused to open formal ceasefire talks until the violence had come to a complete halt, a position the EU has previously criticised as counter-productive. (AFP)

Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, at a discussion organized by the “Economist Conferences”, demanded a new Middle East policy by the European Union, saying the EU must stand up more firmly for its own economic interests. Among other things, he said it was not acceptable that an airport built primarily with EU funds be destroyed by Israel, as had been the case with the Gaza International Airport, stressing that the EU was a major importer of Israeli products. (DPA)

A Palestinian gunman shot dead six Israelis and wounded about 30 at a ballroom in the northern Israel city of Hadera, before being killed himself. Police sources said the attacker had fired rounds from an M-16 automatic rifle before being shot dead at a Jewish girl’s Bat Mitzvah, a religious celebration marking the passage into adulthood. Four of the injured were listed in serious condition. The gunman was a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which claimed the shooting was in retaliation for the death of one of its leaders on 14 January. The shooting reportedly brought the death toll since the beginning of the intifada to 1,145, including 875 Palestinians and 248 Israelis. Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said Israel would not remain indifferent when its people were killed and would respond “in a manner which will teach the Palestinian Authority a lesson they will not forget”. (AFP, Reuters)

18

A Palestinian teenager had been killed overnight by Israeli tank fire in the Gaza Strip, in an incident which left two other youths wounded, the head of Rafah hospital, Ali Moussa, told AFP. The three were on their way to work when they were hit by the shell near the Beit Hanoun (Erez) border crossing with Israel, Palestinian sources said. Israeli military sources said the three were thought to be Hamas members trying to infiltrate Israel. (AFP, DPA)

In response to the Hadera killings, Israeli fighter jets fired missiles at the main security compound in Tulkarm, reducing the building to rubble. Hospital officials said one policeman had been killed and at least 40 people had been wounded. “Israel reserves the right to defend itself and will do so when and how it decides”, Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer said after the air raid. Tulkarm Governor Izzel El-Dein El-Sharif told reporters that tanks had also entered his city after the Israeli fighter jets finished their air strikes. In Ramallah, witnesses said eight Israeli armoured vehicles, including tanks, pushed to within 30 metres of Chairman Arafat’s office. The IDF said in a statement that its units had “tightened the encirclement” of Ramallah and taken up positions in several Palestinian-ruled areas in and around the city. Heated protests erupted outside Mr. Arafat’s offices and Israeli troops opened fire on Palestinian youths hurling rocks at their tanks. Six Palestinians were injured, one of them critically after being shot through the chest with a live bullet – he later died in hospital. Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian human rights activist based in Ramallah, said the Israeli tanks had practically occupied about 55 per cent of the town and thirteen neighbourhoods were under complete curfew. Palestinian sources said the IDF troops had moved into the properties of Marwan Barghouti, the West Bank head of Fatah, and Tawfiq Al-Tirawi, head of West Bank military intelligence. (AFP, EFE, Reuters)

Prisoners in Tulkarm’s jail, including members of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad, fled their cells when Israeli bombs blasted out the building’s doors and windows, Palestinian security officials told AFP. They did not say how many detainees escaped the jail building, part of the security compound linked to the Governor’s headquarters, which was bombed in retaliation for the Hadera shooting. The Governor said the prisoners were “under our control” and many had contacted the security services and offered to turn themselves in when the danger of Israeli air raids had passed. (AFP)

In an official statement released in Gaza City and carried by WAFA, the Palestinian leadership condemned the “serious operation against Israeli civilians in Hadera”. At the same time it said the retaliation against PA targets was a “veritable act of sabotage of the ceasefire and all the accords which we have concluded with Israel”. (AFP)

US Secretary of State Powell, on an official visit to India, condemned the Hadera killings and said “This kind of senseless violence ... keeps us from finding a way forward toward a ceasefire, and toward entry into the Mitchell peace plan, which will lead to negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, which will hopefully, at the end of those negotiations, lead to a Palestinian State”. The Hadera incident was also strongly condemned and the PA was asked to move more forcefully against terrorists by, among others, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country currently held the EU presidency; EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana; German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer; Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko; and French Foreign Ministry spokesman François Rivasseau. They all asked both sides to do everything to break the cycle of violence. (AFP, DPA, ITAR-TASS, Reuters)

Israeli undercover troops disguised as vegetable vendors had shot dead Fatah member Faraj Nazzal, 21, who was wanted by Israel, in a village near Ramallah, Palestinian eyewitnesses and security sources said. (XINHUA)

PA Minister and senior negotiator Saeb Erakat told Voice of Palestine radio that the PA urged the international community to intervene as soon as possible to stop the Israeli military plans to destroy the PA and the peace process. Chairman Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the situation in the region would explode “if Israel [kept] escalating military actions against the Palestinians”. He called upon the US to take greater responsibility in ending the escalation of Israel against Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (XINHUA)

The following statement was issued by the office of the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

19

IDF tanks entered the Um Al-Sharayet area in Al-Bireh, surrounded the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) complex and ordered its evacuation. Engineering units entered the building and placed explosives which were then detonated to destroy the building. In subsequent clashes eight Palestinians were injured. Among them a 19-year-old Palestinian was critically injured by a live bullet in the head during clashes with the IDF in Kalandia refugee camp. Chairman Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh demanded that the international community impose sanctions against Israel. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said Israel was depriving the Palestinian public of news and information and attacks on the media put journalists at risk by potentially undermining their civilian status and turning them into military targets. Paris-based Reporters sans frontières wrote to Israel’s Defence Minister to protest the destruction. Voice of Palestine later resumed broadcasting using facilities of private Palestinian radio stations. (AFP, DPA, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, WAFA)

20

Ma’ariv quoted Prime Minister Sharon as saying that “it is preferable that [Chairman] Arafat stays locked in Ramallah instead of being expelled from the [Occupied Palestinian] territories, as he could cause more harm outside.” (AFP)

Israel Radio reported that the Israeli General Security Service had recommended that the disputed holy site of Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif in the Old City of Jerusalem be opened to Jewish visitors, for the first time since September 2000. (XINHUA)

The Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa in a statement condemned the Israeli incursions into Palestinian self-rule areas and urged the world community to intervene more forcefully in the Middle East conflict. (AFP, DPA)

21

An Italian parliamentary delegation headed by the Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Gustavo Selva, visited Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the PA to publicize the Parliament’s resolution that international observers be placed in the PA areas. The delegation was also working to encourage other European parliaments to pass similar resolutions. (The Jerusalem Times)

Israel charged Jerusalem Grand Mufti Akrima Al-Sabri with incitement and with meeting with the leader of an enemy organization when he met Hizbullah leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, in Beirut last September, during an Islamic conference. Israel also requested the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate to take punitive action against its official spokesman, Archimandrite Atallah Hanna, for criticizing Israeli policy in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. (The Jerusalem Times)

IDF troops backed by helicopter gunships and tanks reoccupied Tulkarm, imposing a curfew, establishing checkpoints in the city and conducting house-to-house searches, in which a number of Palestinians were arrested. Israeli troops and tanks surrounded and then stormed two nearby refugee camps, Tulkarm and Nur Shams, killing one Palestinian in a firefight and leaving another brain dead. Israeli Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai told Israel Radio that while the operation in Tulkarm did not have a time limit, forces would not be staying in the PA autonomous area indefinitely and troops would withdraw upon completion of the mission. Chairman Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the PA would request an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss Israel’s actions. (Arutz 7, Ha’aretz, WAFA)

A Palestinian security officer was shot dead in clashes in the Al-Tirah district with Israeli forces who had moved into Ramallah, and another died later of his wounds. (AFP)

In Qalqilya, Israeli forces arrested three Palestinians on Israel’s most-wanted list. (Ha’aretz)

In Ramallah, Chairman Arafat met Russian representative to the PA Sergei Peskov and handed him an urgent message to President Putin with an appeal to help resolve the conflict in the Middle East, Interfax reported. At the same time, the Palestinian ambassador to Moscow, Khairi Al-Oridi, urged Russia to “accelerate its efforts to take the Middle East situation out of its impasse.” An official Russian statement said that Israel must stop using force against the Palestinians, who in their turn must refrain from any acts against the security of Israel. (AFP, DPA, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, Reuters, WAFA)

Chairman Arafat sent an urgent letter to the Prime Minister of Spain, the current EU President, calling for EU assistance to bring an end to Israeli attacks. (Arutz 7)

UN Special Coordinator Terje Rød-Larsen said in a statement that the reoccupation of Tulkarm “constituted a dangerous escalation that would lead to more loss of life on both sides,” and urged Israel to move straight into implementation of the Mitchell Committee recommendations. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The following statement was issued by the office of the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:
Muslim, Christian and Jewish religious leaders signed in Alexandria what was described as a first ever joint declaration condemning “killing innocents in the name of God.” (AFP)

22

Israeli troops backed by a tank and armoured vehicles stormed an apartment building in Nablus and killed four Palestinian militants. The IDF said they had found a bomb laboratory during the raid and the four Palestinians were top Hamas bomb-makers, who had been killed in an exchange of fire. Among those killed was reportedly Yusuf Saragazi, 40, the leader of the armed wing of Hamas. Nablus Governor Mahmoud Al-Alul said the men had been killed “in cold blood … in their beds”. Chairman Arafat’s adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the killings “a new Israeli crime”. IDF spokesman Olivier Rafowicz categorically rejected “any allegations that this operation was anything other than a legitimate operation against Hamas terrorists”. The Israeli troops arrested nine other suspects before withdrawing a few hours after they had entered the city. At the same time IDF forces were pulling out of Tulkarm, after having seized 20 suspects; they still maintained positions around the city. Israeli troops had also pressed ahead with overnight arrests in the areas of Bethlehem, Hebron and Ramallah, seizing another 12 people. (AFP, EFE, Reuters)

Following the Israeli raid, thousands of Hamas supporters marched on the Nablus headquarters of the Palestinian police to demand the release of Palestinian militants and the death of men accused of collaborating with Israel held there. The police fired teargas at the crowd, which burst through the prison gate, throwing stones and empty bottles. Two men were injured by bullets – one of them was later reported dead – and another three by stones. Palestinian police fired bullets into the air and at least one stun grenade at the crowd, which burned three police vehicles. At some point a senior police officer came out carrying what he said was the release order signed by Chairman Arafat for the brother of one of the Hamas men killed in the raid, who was promptly freed. (AFP, EFE, Reuters)

Hamas said in a statement that the Israeli raid that killed four of its members in Nablus was a “massacre” that would “open the door widely for a fierce war that [would] reach Zionist gangs everywhere, using all methods”. Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar told reporters in Gaza that “The awful crime that the Israeli occupation army carried out in Nablus will never pass unpunished”, adding that Hamas would ask all Palestinian factions to reevaluate their decision to cease fire. (AFP, DPA, Reuters, XINHUA)

In a statement carried by WAFA, the Palestinian leadership warned the Israeli people that Prime Minister Sharon was leading them “into the abyss” with his moves aimed at destroying the peace process. “The military solution adopted by Sharon’s Government to solve the conflict with our people will not bring to Israel security, stability, and peace”, the statement said, adding that the only way to do so was to implement internationally approved accords and for Israel to withdraw from the entire Occupied Palestinian Territory. (AFP)

Israel had caused damage worth some €20 million (US$18 million) to Palestinian projects funded by EU taxpayers, the European Commission said. That figure did not include the destruction of the Voice of Palestine radio station in Ramallah by Israeli helicopter gunships last weekend, Commission spokesman Gunnar Wiegand noted. Some €9.3 million of the total damage was to the Gaza International Airport. Other EU-funded structures totally destroyed included three Palestinian civil police camps in the Gaza Strip worth €2 million. A spreadsheet entitled “Physical damage inflicted by IDF attacks on EU-funded development projects”, presented to EU ambassadors, also listed damage to a forestry project, a counter-terrorism forensic laboratory, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, two schools, sewage, irrigation, road repair and housing projects. “We regret and reject this destruction of infrastructure ... as we have denounced the destruction of [Palestinian] homes”, said Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country currently held the rotating EU presidency. He dismissed the argument put forward by the Israeli authorities that the destruction was dictated by security needs and said the EU Member States would study the list and would adopt “the measures which we consider timely”. (AFP, Reuters)

A Palestinian gunman opened fire in downtown West Jerusalem during the evening rush hour, wounding at least 20 people, five of them seriously, before police shot him dead. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for the shooting and said it was “in response to all the Israeli attacks and assassinations”. An adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, Dore Gold, said Israel would “respond appropriately in a manner that [would] eliminate this ongoing threat to the people of Israel”. (Reuters)

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the US “absolutely condemn[ed]” the terrorist attack in West Jerusalem, which resulted in the death of two Israeli women and the injuring of dozens of other innocent people. He called once again upon Chairman Arafat “to dismantle the organizations that do these things” and make sure that they cannot carry out attacks, rather than wait for them to decide not to do so. The US continued to oppose Israeli incursions into areas under Palestinian control and welcomed reports that Israeli troops were pulling out of Tulkarm. Mr. Boucher dismissed reports that Gen. Zinni would resign and said the US Middle East envoy would go back to the region when it was deemed “appropriate and useful for him to do that”. (AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

Speaking to reporters in Madrid, where he met officials of the Spanish EU presidency, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called for “an end to terrorist actions on the one hand and on the other hand for the use of force to be moderated”, adding that Russia, the EU and the US were in permanent contact with the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority and these efforts should continue, despite the lack of success, as there was no alternative. (Reuters)

In a statement released in Gaza, UN Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Terje Rød-Larsen expressed “horror” over the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence. He condemned “in the strongest terms” the shooting at Israelis in West Jerusalem, as he had earlier in the day condemned the killing of Palestinians in Nablus, warning that such actions led only to escalation and further violence. “Each loss of life is another tragic turn in a dance of death that can only produce more grief and more pain”, Mr. Rød-Larsen said. (UN News Centre, XINHUA)

A statement issued in Gaza City by the Coalition of National and Islamic Forces, including the Hamas and Fatah, called for a “general mobilization” against Israel, urging the security forces and the entire Palestinian people “to join the intifada committees to confront the Zionist invasion and blockade”. The coalition also urged Chairman Arafat to release the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ahmed Saadat. (AFP)

In a letter addressed to Chinese President Jiang Zemin Chairman Arafat appealed to China to use its influence, working together with the international community, to press ahead with efforts to stop the worsening of the situation in the Middle East and salvage the region’s peace process. The letter was handed by Mr. Arafat to the director of China’s office in Palestine Wu Jiuhong during a meeting they had. Briefing the Chinese President on the current situation, Mr. Arafat said in the letter that actions by Israeli troops in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had crossed all “red lines” and the situation was in danger of getting out of control. He also said that the Palestinian side, in the best interests of the Palestinian people and security and stability in the Middle East, would continue to honor its commitment to the ceasefire, despite the fact Israeli tanks and armoured cars remained just around him and his office. (DPA, XINHUA)

23

Speaking at a centre promoting Jewish-Arab understanding, US ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer appealed to ordinary Israelis and Palestinians to mobilize for peace and not rely on the US or other intermediaries, such as the EU, the UN or Russia, to end their conflict for them. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post, Reuters)

Following a meeting with Foreign Minister Peres in Strasbourg, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said the situation in the Middle East was “very dramatic and we have to see how to get out of the circle of violence”. Addressing the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly later in the day Mr. Peres warned that “If [Chairman] Arafat doesn’t bring an end to terrorism, terrorism will bring an end to him” and put the blame for the latest violence and the stalled peace process firmly on the PA. He called further on Chairman Arafat to “become a leader” and establish his credibility. Mr. Peres said he had urged Mr. Solana for greater US-EU coordination on the Middle East. (AFP, Reuters)

French lawmakers applauded the speakers of the Knesset and the Palestinian Council, Messrs. Avraham Burg and Ahmed Qurei, as they shook hands warmly during a visit to the French National Assembly in Paris. Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said a joint meeting he had with them was “reason to hope that one day a Palestinian and an Israeli State will coexist in peace and dignity”. Mr. Burg stated his determination to accept an invitation to address the Palestinian Council in Ramallah, even if it meant that he would eventually lose his post as Knesset Speaker. Prime Minister Sharon told Israeli radio that there had been a coalition decision banning such a visit and Mr. Burg should respect that decision. Mr. Qurei said recent Israeli incursions into areas under Palestinian control could destabilize the entire Middle East and called for international intervention to bring both parties to the negotiating table. (AFP, XINHUA)

Israeli bulldozers demolished two houses under construction by Palestinians in the Beit Hanina neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, despite Palestinian accusations that such demolitions were politically motivated. The Israeli municipal authorities said they had ordered the demolitions because “[t]he houses were built illegally and were unpopulated”. PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Ziad Abu Zayyad said this act was part of the Israeli policy “to suffocate the Palestinians in East Jerusalem to transfer them in order to strengthen the Judaization programme of Jerusalem”. Israeli Army Radio said the municipality had razed a total of 14 homes during the current month. (Reuters)

US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Secretary of State Powell had telephoned Chairman Arafat “to make clear once again to him the need for accountability over the [arms shipment] affair and the need to take steps to rein in the groups that perpetrate violence”. Chairman Arafat’s advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh had earlier said that Mr. Arafat had asked Secretary Powell during the telephone call to send General Zinni back to the region. (AFP, Reuters)

24

Israeli troops had shot dead a Palestinian intelligence officer in Ramallah, Palestinian security sources said. The IDF claimed it had no knowledge of the officer’s death but said he could have been killed in an overnight exchange of fire between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen in the city. Two Palestinians were killed in an explosion in the southern Gaza Strip, near the “Kfar Darom” settlement. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said the two men were PFLP members headed for the settlement. Other reports maintained that the two were farmers wrongly suspected of preparing an attack and killed by an Israeli tank shell. According to Palestinian officials, a special IDF squad had seized two Palestinians in Hebron. Both had been wounded but one was later released, medics said. (AFP, EFE, Ha’aretz, Reuters, XINHUA)

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country held the rotating EU presidency, told EFE he believed a return to the negotiating table was “practically impossible”, as Israelis and Palestinians “focused on actions and violent reaction and in the relative aspects of security”. Much work needed to be done to get the peace process out of the “dead-end street” where it was stuck, Mr. Piqué said. Despite the pessimistic findings from his recent tour of the region, the Minister stressed that there was no alternative to negotiations and eventual peace. (EFE)

The Israeli Public Committee Against Torture and the Palestinian human rights organization LAW petitioned the High Court of Justice of Israel, demanding an end to the Israeli Government’s policy of targeted killings. The petitioners argued that the policy was “patently illegal” and that everyone involved in it “from the most junior to the most senior [were] violating the unequivocal standards of international law, and crossing the line into the realm of war crimes”. According to the petition, Israel had admitted to assassinating 21 Palestinian militants, while the Palestinians claimed Israel had killed 51. In these attacks, 20 passers-by had also died, the petitioners said. Their attorney wrote that international law stipulated that only an independent court had the right to sentence a defendant to death. Moreover, since there was no death sentence in Israel, “the policy of targeted killings [was] a policy of bypassing the courts, bypassing the rules of justice, and bypassing the limits of punishment which have been democratically determined”. (The Jerusalem Post)

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said that President Bush “understands the reasons” why Israel had confined Chairman Arafat to his Ramallah HQ. He added that the President believed it was “up to Chairman Arafat to demonstrate the leadership to combat terrorism, because this [was] a threat not only to Israel, but a threat to Chairman Arafat”. (Reuters, XINHUA)

In a missile strike in the Gaza Strip an Israeli helicopter gunship killed Bakar Hamdan, described by the IDF as the Hamas military commander in Khan Yunis and held responsible for attacks on Israelis. Two other militants were seriously wounded in the incident. A senior Hamas official in Gaza called the killing “a drop in the sea of Israeli crimes” and vowed “painful” retaliation, saying the Israeli Government was fully responsible for what would happen to the Israeli people. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

During a parliamentary debate on the Middle East, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller said in Copenhagen that the creation of a Palestinian State would be “the best guarantee for the security of Israel”. He called on Israel to “lift the blockade of Palestinian territory, end collective punishments, stop the liquidation [of Palestinians] and the destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure”. He stated that Denmark was determined to revive the Middle East peace process when it assumed the EU presidency in July 2002 and said it planned to organize a peace conference with the participation of high-ranking Israeli and Palestinian officials, but not Messrs. Sharon and Arafat. The Foreign Minister said his Government also hoped to organize a donors’ conference, noting the need to “boost aid efforts, discuss ways of optimizing aid to the Palestinians and eliminating corruption and waste within the Palestinian administration”. A resolution adopted earlier by the Danish Parliament urged Israelis and Palestinians to renounce violence and resume negotiations based on the recommendations of the Mitchell report and the UN Security Council resolutions. (AFP)

Amnesty International began a mission to investigate human rights concerns in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the areas under the PA jurisdiction, including unlawful killings of Palestinians and Israelis, closures and house demolitions. “Injustice and repression have proved that they cannot stop these attacks,” said AI delegates leaving for Jerusalem. “Justice and human rights are the only way forward and we call on Israel to choose it.” Mustafa Barghouti, president of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, stressed the importance of international delegations visiting Palestine in supporting non-violent resistance to occupation and providing an alternative to the international protection force vetoed in the UN Security Council, especially in the framework of the Grassroots International Protection for Palestinians (GIPP). (AI press release MDE 15/010/2002, Al-Ahram Weekly)

25

Israeli commandos raided the Area A village of Taluza in the West Bank overnight, arresting two Hamas activists on Israel’s wanted list, according to the IDF. (Reuters)

Following a suicide bombing in a Tel Aviv pedestrian mall, which resulted in the death of the bomber and the injuring of at least 14 people – three of them seriously, Prime Minister Sharon’s foreign policy adviser Danny Ayalon said the PA was again to be held responsible for “continuing a policy of terror”. In a statement carried by WAFA, the PA said it condemned any action that harmed Israeli civilians. (AFP, Reuters, XINHUA)

IDF withdrew its tanks from the Al-Tireh neighbourhood of Ramallah but continued to occupy about one third of the town, with tanks still deployed in two Ramallah districts in its north and south. Israeli tanks also remained deployed in the street housing Chairman Arafat’s HQ, just outside the centre of Ramallah. (AFP, DPA)

Asked if Israel should “provoke the collapse of the Palestinian Authority by provisionally re-occupying the West Bank”, 58 per cent of Israelis replied negatively, 38 per cent positively, and four per cent said they had no opinion. The poll of 501 people was published by Yediot Aharonot and had a margin of error of 4.5 per cent. (AFP)

In his opening speech at an emergency meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Al-Quds/Jerusalem Committee in Marrakesh, King Mohammed VI of Morocco said “Israel’s aggressive acts do not allow any more the silence of the international community”. He called for “rapid intervention” by the UN Security Council “to avoid catastrophes in the Middle East and the whole world, by obliging Israel to respect international law”. The Head of the PLO Political Department Farouk Kaddoumi read out a statement by Chairman Arafat, in which the latter said 2,000 Palestinians had died and 42,000 had been wounded since the beginning of the intifada and called for the protection of the Palestinians against Israel’s “barbaric war” that aimed to destroy his authority. The one-day meeting was expected to issue a final statement calling for an end to Israeli action against Palestinians. (AFP, Reuters)

Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen, Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country currently held the EU presidency, said “There may be certain sectors of the American Administration and public opinion that share the Israeli Government’s opinion of Arafat. We do not share that opinion.” “The Palestinian National Authority is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”, he added. Mr. Piqué declined to comment on reports that the US was considering cutting links with the PA, dismissing them as “speculations”. (AFP, DPA)

“We continue to give a strong message to Chairman Arafat that he must act and we continue to review our policy with respect to the Palestinian Authority and Chairman Arafat”, US Secretary of State Powell told reporters, adding that “[a]ll kinds of options are out there”, without providing details. (AFP, Reuters)

A 19-year-old Palestinian died in hospital from the wounds he had sustained when he had been shot in the face with a rubber bullet by Israeli soldiers staving off a crowd marching to Chairman Arafat’s Ramallah office on 18 January. (AFP)

Israeli warplanes attacked Palestinian security installations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip killing one security officer and wounding some 50 other people. Israeli fire also killed two Palestinians near Khan Yunis. Israeli settlers killed a 55-year-old Palestinian who was working at his farm next to the “Pedu’el” settlement, southwest of Salfit. (WAFA)

50 Israeli combat reservists announced in newspapers they would no longer comply with orders to serve in settlement areas, willing to take the consequences for their action, as they were unwilling to take part in the “occupation and conquest” and “in the war for the peace of the settlements.” “We will not continue to fight beyond the Green Line in order to rule, to expel, to destroy, to blockade, to assassinate, to starve, and to humiliate an entire people,” they wrote. (Arutz 7, The Jerusalem Post)

26

A Palestinian patient died in an ambulance stopped at an IDF roadblock near Tulkarm. Another Palestinian was wounded by Israeli fire in Ramallah and bled to death. (WAFA)

The Secretary-General of the Palestinian Cabinet Ahmad Abdel Rahman, stated that the PA would not be able to carry out its obligations without Israeli withdrawal and lift of closure imposed on the Palestinian leadership. (WAFA)

27

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinian policemen while they were on duty in Jenin, and a 14-year-old Palestinian in Nablus. Also, missiles were fired at Palestinian security posts in the Gaza Strip. (WAFA)

The Paris-based European Jewish Congress repeated its demand for the EU to freeze the PA funds. (DPA, Ha’aretz)

On the recommendation of the Investigation Commission charged with enquiring into the “Karine A” ship case, Chairman Arafat ordered the detention of Brig.-Gen. Fuad Shobaky, of the Military Financial Administration; issued a detention memorandum against Col. Fathi Alrazem, Deputy Chief of Naval Police, and Adel Awadallah (Al-Mughrabi), both of whom were believed to be out of the country; and dismissed Col. Fathi Alrazem. (WAFA)

The Israeli Government said it would oppose a bill annulling peace agreements with the Palestinians. (Ha’aretz)

“We reject the latest position of the US Administration implicating the PA in the arms cargo affair, it is an unacceptable position,” senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP, referring to US Vice President Cheney directly implicating Chairman Arafat in the smuggling affair on ABC TV. In their messages to the US Administration, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia also expressed their concern that marginalizing Chairman Arafat was unfair and dangerous. (AFP, Reuters)

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Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg decided that he would address the Palestinian Council in Ramallah, but “not now.” Speaking at a special Knesset session to mark its 53rd anniversary, he publicly denounced Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. “An occupying people, even if it was led into being an occupier against its will, ends up being harmed by the occupation and its stains, which change and disfigure it,” Mr. Burg said. (AFP, Arutz 7)

In a telephone conversation with President Mubarak, President Bush had expressed “disappointment” with Chairman Arafat, including Chairman Arafat’s failure to crack down on terrorism, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters. Mr. Fleischer said that Chairman Arafat had “missed [an] opportunity” for Palestinian statehood by pursuing violence and weapons. Mr. Fleischer also said President Bush had written letters to the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia laying out a case against the PA in the “Karine A” arms smuggling operation. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

The following statement was issued by the EU Council of General Affairs Ministers meeting in Brussels:

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During a joint press conference in Vienna with Foreign Minister Ferrero-Waldner of Austria, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the following,

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah, in an interview, pointed out what he called the US’s indefensible position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said the US had “a duty to follow its conscience to reject repression” and humiliation of Palestinians. (AFP, The New York Times, Reuters, The Washington Post)

An EU letter to Israel calling for an end to Israeli destruction of EU-financed projects in the West Bank and Gaza would include a call for reparations, Spanish Foreign Minister Piqué told reporters. Separately, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Noam Katz said Israel had informed the EU it would try to avoid targeting EU-financed Palestinian projects when it retaliated for attacks on Israelis. (DPA, Reuters)

The Russian Foreign Ministry, in a statement, called “on the PA to take steps to put an end to terrorist attacks,” while noting that Moscow was “convinced that Israel’s security [could] not be guaranteed exclusively by the use of force. It [was] essential to look for political solutions and to set up a dialogue with the Palestinian Authority’s leadership”, the statement said, adding that Foreign Minister Ivanov had spoken by telephone with Secretary of State Powell, Foreign Minister Peres, Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa, Spanish Foreign Minister Piqué representing the EU and French Foreign Minister Védrine to discuss the latest “disturbing trends” in the Middle East. (AFP, DPA, Reuters)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, in an interview with XINHUA, said Israel’s siege of Chairman Arafat was “unconducive to ending the Palestinian-Israeli bloodshed.” Political adviser to President Mubarak Osama Al-Baz told XINHUA that “facts have proven that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s policies have failed. Such policies did not bring about security for Israel or achieve anything else, but led to more deaths of innocent people on both sides.” (XINHUA)

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called on the UN and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to take urgent steps to prevent “continuing Israeli terror” against the Palestinians. Speaking at the opening of a media conference in Tehran aimed at supporting the intifada, he criticized “Israeli state terrorism” and US support for Israel. He also called for an international war crimes tribunal to be set up by the UN to investigate the killing of Palestinian civilians by Israeli security forces. (AFP, IRNA, Reuters)

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Defence Minister Ben-Eliezer, speaking to reporters after talks with President Mubarak at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, said Israel was committed to the peace process with the Palestinians, despite surging violence, but did not have a “real partner for negotiations”. President Mubarak said there was no alternative to Chairman Arafat, who, he believed, was ready to help quell the violence. Mr. Mubarak said he and Minister Ben-Eliezer had agreed to continue to exchange views on resolving the conflict and he has given Mr. Ben-Eliezer a message for Prime Minister Sharon. (DPA, Reuters)

The Knesset, by a 32-10 vote, rejected a proposed bill that would rescind the 1993 Oslo Accords and subsequent agreements with the Palestinians. (EFE)

Arab Interior Ministers, at the end of their conference in Beirut, strongly condemned terrorism “in all its shapes and forms” and denounced “the state terrorism Israel is waging on the Palestinian people”. “[We support] a distinction between it [terrorism] and the right of people to various forms of struggle in order to liberate their land”, the closing statement said. (DPA, Reuters)

Following a closed UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, the Council President made the following press statement:

After meeting US Secretary of State Powell in Washington, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana said pressure should continue to be put on Chairman Arafat to fight terrorism but the EU considered that the PA “continue[d] to be the interlocutor, the only interlocutor elected by the [Palestinian] people and we would like to maintain that”. “Everybody has to make an effort that that representation is real and that the capability of that interlocutor can be a reality”, Mr. Solana added. (AFP)

A spokesman for the Spanish EU Presidency said that consultations were being held on convening a Middle East peace conference, in response to a proposal by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi presented by the latter in his capacity as acting Foreign Minister at the EU Foreign Ministers meeting in Brussels on 28 January. No date, place or agenda for such a meeting had been established yet. ANSA news agency reported that the proposal involved an invitation to Israeli and Palestinian officials to participate in talks during the next EU Foreign Ministers meeting at Caceres, Spain, on 8-9 February. The agency quoted “unnamed sources” saying US and Russian officials, as well as representatives of Arab States and the UN Secretary-General, would also be invited. (AFP)

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Prime Minister Sharon said in an interview with Ma’ariv that he regretted Chairman Arafat had not been “liquidated” during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. In response, PA Minister and senior negotiator Saeb Erakat said the statement reflected that Mr. Sharon was trying to finish what he had started in 1982 and revealed what kind of Israeli Government the Palestinians were dealing with. “We strongly condemn such statement and ask the United States to stop Sharon before it’s too late”, Mr. Erakat said, adding that the US “should stop treating the Sharon Government and Israel as a country that is above the law”. Israeli Government spokesman Raanan Gissin stated that “Today Israel’s policy is not to harm [Chairman Arafat] personally”. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Piqué, whose country held the rotating EU presidency, said that, if the reported remarks were accurate, he deplored them and they warranted rejection. (AFP, BBC, Reuters)

According to Ha’aretz, a group of former Israeli reserve generals and senior defence officials, headed by Brigadier General Effi Eitam, had drafted a “security-political plan” envisaging a massive reoccupation of Palestinian towns in a bid to cleanse them of “terrorists and weapons”. Recommendations laid down in the plan also envisaged the destruction of the PA and, possibly, the assassination of Chairman Arafat, the paper said. The proponents of the plan, which predicted that uncompromising military action could change the strategic situation within a week, said they had support for their proposals at the highest IDF echelons. The group reportedly planned to enter the Israeli political arena as a new, right-wing political party and would present its plan to the public in the coming weeks. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli forces killed two Hamas militants who had ambushed a convoy headed for the “Gush Katif” settlement block in the southern Gaza Strip; no one in the convoy had been hurt. Shortly after the attack, two mortar shells hit one of the “Gush Katif’ settlements, injuring one Israeli, the IDF said. According to Palestinian witnesses, Israeli forces had entered the nearby Khan Yunis refugee camp after the mortar attack and detained 10 Palestinians at a Gaza Strip checkpoint. A 19-year-old Palestinian had died from wounds he had sustained in an Israeli raid on the Kalandia refugee camp earlier this month, Palestinian hospital officials said in Ramallah. The Palestinian had been shot in the head during an Israeli search for suspected militants and was buried in Jerusalem. (AFP, Reuters)

The Swedish Government said it had decided to increase development assistance to the PA to SEK165 million (about US$15.5 million) in the current year, from SEK140 million last year. The Government said in a statement that the purpose of this development assistance was “to promote peaceful development, support the growth of an independent and democratic Palestinian State and to alleviate the effects of the current crisis on its population”. At the same time, at the request of the parties, the Government had decided to prolong by a further three months its participation in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), ten of the 91 members of which were Swedish. (AFP, Swedish Foreign Ministry Press Release dated 31 January 2002)

After a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Washington, Secretary Powell said President Bush remained committed to his vision of Israel and a Palestinian State co-existing peacefully in the Middle East, despite rising violence in the region. He told reporters the US had not given up hope and would continue to work “with both sides in as balanced a way as we can to get back to a process that will lead to a ceasefire and to negotiations that we must have in due course... to arrive at a peaceful solution to this crisis”. Mr. Powell also said the US was applying more pressure on Chairman Arafat to clamp down on the violence and deal with the “Karine A” arms smuggling affair. King Abdullah said he was convinced President Bush would not walk away from the Middle East and that he was genuinely concerned about Palestinian suffering. He also said he believed “the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, are just sick and tired of the cycle of violence and want a way out”. (AFP)

UNRWA appealed for emergency funds of US$117 million to help relieve the hardship facing 1.4 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In an appeal to donors issued in Geneva, the Agency said it wanted to use the cash for food aid, medical care and job programmes in 2002. The statement said that many thousands of Palestinians had lost their livelihoods because of closures imposed on their communities and there were now 72 permanent Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank and nine in the Gaza Strip. Destruction of agricultural crops had added to the hardship and half of the people living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory lived in acute poverty. More than 4,500 refugees had been left homeless by the demolition of their shelters in the Gaza Strip. By mid-January, more than half of the 843 Palestinians killed were refugees registered with UNRWA, and 29 children enrolled in UNRWA schools had also died. (AFP, Reuters)

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