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Israel (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Pressure Builds Over Settlements

Settlement at Modi'in Illit in West Bank (Photo: AP)

Syria Live Coverage: The Fighting Near Aleppo's Historic Mosque
Tuesday's Israel (and Beyond) Live Coverage: 1st Rocket Fired from Gaza Since November's War

2004 GMT: Egypt. Ahram Online's summary of clashes in Mansoura, with dozens injured since Monday, since protesters called for a campaign of civil disobedience:

1758 GMT: Bahrain. In court today, leading human rights activist Zainab AlKhawaja lost her appeal on charges relating to attempting to enter Pearl Roundabout, and now faces a one-month prison sentence.

With her arrest on this charge imminent, Zainab left the court and within hours, was holding a one-woman protest outside King Hamad's palace, demanding the release of Mahmood Al Jaziri's body. Mahmood died last week of wounds sustained on February 14th, when security forces shot him in the head with a tear gas cannister. Activists have been staging multiple protests over the past 5 days demanding his body be released.

Maryam AlKhawaja translates the sign as: "You've arrested our fathers & children, even our bodies. Let your palaces hear, we don't fear your prisons". Shortly after that picture was taken, Zainab was arrested.

1346 GMT: Bahrain 7 people from Sitra, including 3 minors, have been sentenced to 10 years each on charges of: 1) Attempted Murder of Two Policemen, 2) Attacking a Policeman, and 3) Damaging a Police Car and Possession of Molotov Cocktails. The 7 were arrested last year in house raids on 15 February, along with 13 others who were today acquited of the charges.

The Bahrain Center for Human Rights claims that "during the trial ... no physical evidence that indicated wrongdoing on the part of any of the 20 prisoners". It adds:

Police arrested these twenty people from two houses following multiple house raids. One of the houses raided was in the village of Mehazza and the other was in the village of Sufala. During the violent house raids there were no arrest warrants presented.

The incident as per a police report occurred at 8:00 PM, and all were arrested at 9:00PM the same day, indicating an excessively fast investigation.

The judge who sentenced the men was Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Khalifa, a member of the ruling family.

1122 GMT: Tunisia. Amidst an ongoing political crisis, the ruling Islamist party, Ennahda, has agreed to hand control of some key ministries to independent factions in order to facilitate the formation of a new government.

The party leader, Rached Ghannouchi, stated that "We confirm the 'neutralization' of the four sovereign ministries," believed to be the Interior, Justice, Foreign and Defence Ministries.

0853 GMT: Bahrain. Police fire tear gas at houses in Abu Saiba on Tuesday night:

0803 GMT: Israel and Palestine. The text of the statement of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to the Palestinian faction Fatah, claiming responsibility for Monday's rocket that hit southern Israel (see 0733 GMT):

In response to the murder of the Palestinian prisoner in an Israeli prison on Saturday, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade said: "Our belief in the justice of our natural right to resist the Zionist Occupation and as a preliminary response to the assassination of the heroic prisoner Arafat Jaradat, we announce our responsibility for the Grad rocket firing on the city of Ashkelon at six o'clock on the morning on Tuesday.

0733 GMT: Israel and Palestine. A Hamas spokesman has denied that a rocket fired at southern Israel on Monday was launched from the Gaza Strip.

“This is only a lie. None of the Gaza Strip factions claimed responsibility for firing that missile, and the government is checking all the details,” Ehab al-Ghussein said in a statement.

The rocket, which caused no casualties, hit a road near the southern city of Ashkelon. It was the first to strike Israel since November's cease-fire between West Jerusalem and Hamas after an eight-day war.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, affiliated with Fatah --- the leading Palestinian faction in the West Bank --- claimed responsibility for firing the rocket: “We must resist our enemy by all available means. We stress our commitment to armed struggle against the Zionist enemy.”

The Palestinian newspaper Al Watan says the rocket was fired from Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

0720 GMT: Israel. The European Union’s diplmoats in East Jerusalem and Ramallah have raised the possibility of  economic sanctions against Israeli-backed settlements in the West Bank.

The consuls general, in the non-binding Heads of Mission report for 2012,   call for a raising of awareness "about problematic implications of financial transactions including foreign direct investments, from within the EU in support of settlement activities, infrastructure and services.”

Seven of the report’s 10 recommendations concern direct or indirect sanctions by the EU on bodies and organizations involved in construction in the settlements, including encouragement  of European divestment from the settlements. The consuls also write that the EU should ensure strict application of its free trade agreement with Israel, so that products manufactured in settlements do not benefit from preferential treatment. Products made in the settlements would be labeled as such at sales points.

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