*** Gazastreifen: Several thousand Palestinians, many of them schoolchildren, joined peaceful protests in the Gaza Strip along the border with Israel on Monday, forming human chains in some locations as part of a public campaign against the Israeli blockade. But the turnout was far smaller than had been expected, and fears in Israel that masses of Gaza residents might try to break through the border fence, as they breached the border with Egypt last month, proved unfounded. Shortly after the demonstrators dispersed, militants in Gaza fired a number of rockets at Israel. One landed outside an apartment block in the Israeli border town of Sderot. A boy, Yossi Yadlin Haimov, 10, was badly wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel and underwent surgery at a hospital in nearby Ashkelon. A woman and a baby were lightly wounded and were sent to a hospital for treatment. Also after the main protest ended, a group of Palestinian youths rioted at the Erez crossing on Gaza's northern border with Israel, throwing stones. They tried to approach the Israeli side and Israeli troops fired shots into the air to disperse them, an army spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity under army rules. She added that 49 Palestinians had been arrested, and that one Israeli officer had been lightly wounded in the confrontation. At least two Palestinians were wounded, according to Palestinian reports. [...] Das Niveau der Attacken ist in den letzten beiden Tagen merklich gestiegen. Der Angriff mit den Verletzten geht auf das Konto der PFLP und eine Fatah-Splittergruppe. Am Montag schossen zudem die Al-Aqsa-Brigaden drei Raketen auf Ashkelon und zwei auf Kfar Aza, die al-Quds-Brigaden feuern drei Mörsergranaten auf den Grenzübergang Kissufim. Am Abend beschiessen die PRC mit zwei Raketen und die PFLP mit Mörsergranaten israelsiche Grenzposten. Israelische Quellen berichten von zwei Qassam-Raketen auf Sderot in der Nacht zum Dienstag und heute werden bislang vier Raketenabschüsse gemeldet. Anat Meidan: Sderot’s war children - Monday’s rocket attack put an end to childhood of wounded boy and his sister + Kommentar: Hamas-linked Palestinian legislator Jamal al-Khudari has been working with colleagues in the Popular Committee Against the Siege to organize various mass nonviolent actions in the Strip. The latest, today, was a human chain along the length of the Strip. Members of the PCAS had previously expressed the hope that some 40,000 Gazans would take part. In the event, only a reported 5,000 did. The rainy weather did not help. [...] Trained terror activists and al-Qaeda operatives have recently entered the Gaza Strip through the breached border with Egypt, head of the IDF's Intelligence Branch Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin said Tuesday. In a briefing to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Yadlin stated that "the breaching of the border along the Philadelphi route has enabled Hamas to bring back to Gaza activists that were sent to undergo training in Syria and Iran, including snipers, explosives experts and engineers." [...] Fuel shortages and power outages in the Gaza Strip continue to affect civilians and institutions such as hospitals, and remain a part of daily life. Israel has capped the amount of industrial fuel allowed into the territory, and the sole power plant, which relies on diesel, can only produce about 55MW of electricity, though its capacity is 80MW. Earlier this month Israel also cut about 1 percent of the electricity it supplies directly to Gaza, exacerbating the problem. [...] Kommentar: It should not have come as a surprise that the Qassam rockets struck Sderot several moments after the Palestinian demonstration south of the Erez crossing died out. The small number of protesters the organizers managed to rally did not meet the expectations or the preparations of the Israeli security forces, and certainly not those of the media. But the lack of a story at Erez quickly changed with the horrifying scenes from Sderot - and with it so did the media's attention: The desperate situation of Gazan children under an economic siege moved to the immediate suffering of Sderot children, after one of them, Yossi Haimov, suffered injuries from Qassam rocket fragments to his shoulder. [...] The Palestinian government plans to connect more areas of the Gaza Strip to the Egyptian electricity grid, the head of the Palestinian Energy Authority said Tuesday, a move that would reduce the area's reliance on Israel for power. Abbas' energy chief, Omar Qattaneh, said the authority has secured financing from the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia for the $32 million project, which would be able to distribute up to 250 megawatts, or a large part of the area's needs. He said bids would be published in the coming days, and the project could be completed in 12 to 18 months.
*** Westbank: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday that he is not certain Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be able to reach a peace agreement by the end of 2008, as they committed themselves to doing in the November U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference. "We have a desire to reach an agreement within the year 2008," Olmert told a business conference in Tokyo, where he is making his first visit as prime minister. "I am not sure we will make it, but we are determined to make a giant step forward to end this dispute once and for all." Unterdessen looten und marodieren IDF-Milizionäre in der Westbank wie es ihnen gefällt: 15 Verhaftungen, Operationen in acht Orten, Schießereien, Schlachten mit Steinewerfern, Randalieren in Krankenhäusern und Geldbeschaffung [Israel Defense Forces troops seized the facilities of a Hamas-affiliated charity in the West Bank city of Hebron, saying it funneled money to the Islamic group's militant activities and recruited members to its ranks, the army announced Tuesday.] Zusätzlich wurde tagsüber Nablus besucht und sechs Verhaftungen getätigt. Nach Augenzeugenberichten wurden nach dem Verlassen des Lagerplatzes der Marodeure Blutlachen auf dem Boden gefunden. [...] The Palestinian education minister in the Ramallah-based caretaker government, Ibrahim Al-Abrash, told Ma'an on Monday that he submitted his resignation to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas two weeks ago. He said that he has not yet received the president's response. Al-Abrash said his resignation was related to what he views as a dire situation in the Palestinian society arena in light of the political separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as absence of any hope for a peaceful settlement with Israel. He said his resignation had nothing to do with rumored adjustments and changes in the caretaker cabinet headed by Salam Fayyad. There have been suggestions recently that the caretaker government will become a permanent government after having a shuffling of cabinet ministers. Abbas appointed the present government after firing the Hamas-Fatah unity government in the wake of Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. The president extended the term of the emergency cabinet after its one-month term expired, calling it a caretaker government. [...] The West Bank town of Jericho was connected to the Jordanian power grid on Monday in a move a Palestinian official said was meant to reduce dependence on Israeli electricity supplies. A Palestinian official responsible for the project said the connection cost $10 million and means the ancient town of Jericho and its surroundings no longer depend on Israeli electricity. "The aim of this step is to reduce our consumption of Israeli electricity and hook up with the Arab network," said Omar Kittaneh, head of the Palestinian Energy Authority. [...] Agriculture Ministry inspectors and the Border Police have confiscated some 120,000 eggs smuggled into Israel from the West Bank in recent weeks, warning that the eggs are dangerous to people's health.
*** Dümmstes Statement des Tages: Gaza demonstration "much ado about nothing" [E. Olmert]
*** Sonstiges: Vice Premier Haim Ramon told a Knesset panel Monday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wants to reach an agreement with West Bank settlers on the fate of the unauthorized outposts. In comments to the Knesset State Control Committee, Ramon warned that the government would dismantle the outposts by force if necessary. "We don't want a confrontation, but if there is no choice, the government will fulfill its obligations. [Vor einem Monat: "Olmert and Barak said they would use the coming six months to persuade the residents of Migron to leave the outpost voluntarily and move to another site, one that is legal and available. The state's representative, attorney Aner Hellman, added that if the negotiations over these months led to "substantial progress towards a voluntary evacuation," the state reserved the right to ask for more time to complete the process."] [Am 14.01.08: "Defense Minister Ehud Barak has reached an agreement with leaders of the settlement movement for the peaceful evacuation of 18 outposts in the West Bank, sources close to the minister told Haaretz."] [...] Former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Dan Shomron, who as an officer presided over the famous Entebbe rescue operation, died Tuesday at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. [...] Two Israel Defense Forces officers were injured Monday in an explosion at the Palmachim base in central Israel. The accident occured during the course of a test of weapons seized from the Lebanon-based guerilla group Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. One officer suffered serious wounds in the blast and lost his arm. A non-commissioned officer was moderately hurt. [...] The Kadima Party MKs on Monday convened the party management forum, which includes all party members that aren't ministers, and expressed harsh criticism against the negotiations on the fate of Jerusalem. The forum decided that the party would adopt a uniform stance against the division of the capital. The forum convened as peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians were underway, jumpstarted in November at a U.S.-hosted peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland. One of the core issues on the negotiating table is the fate of Jerusalem, parts of which the Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.