509 / 15269 Results
  • January 24, 2011

    IDF troops make a brief incursion into c. Gaza northeast of al-Bureij r.c. to level land and clear lines of sight. In the West Bank, an IDF undercover unit enters Nabi Salih in the morning,...

    Read more
  • December 11, 2010

    Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of al-Bureij r.c. fire artillery shells at 2 Palestinians who...

    Read more
  • December 7, 2010

    The White House abandons efforts to persuade Israel to impose a 90-day settlement construction freeze and takes its generous package of diplomatic and security incentives off the table. The...

    Read more
  • November 22, 2010

    The Knesset passes (65-33, with 22 absent) a law that would require the government to hold a national referendum before ceding Israeli territory, potentially hindering the government’s ability to...

    Read more
  • November 3, 2010

    In the morning, Israeli drones make an air strike on a car driving w. of Gaza City, assassinating Army of Islam (AOI) senior mbr. Muhammad al-Nemnem, wounding 2 bystanders; Israel later accuses...

    Read more
  • September 28, 2010

    Israeli naval vessels intercept a catamaran of Jewish activists off the Gaza coast, escorting it to Ashdod port without incident (see 9/26). The IDF carries out air strikes on a group of armed...

    Read more
  • August 28, 2010

    IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials in the fmr. Jewish settlement sites nr. the border, wounding 2 Palestinians and 2 donkeys...

    Read more
  • December 12, 2009

    Before dawn, unidentified Palestinians fire several mortars or antitank missiles toward IDF troops on the central Gaza border inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF returns fire,...

    Read more
  • September 13, 2009

    The IDF makes an incursion into c. Gaza and searches farmland nr. al-Bureij r.c., arresting 3 Palestinians. (PCHR 9/17)

    In the West Bank, the IDF arrests a Palestinian nr. Pdu’el settlement...

    Read more
  • September 11, 2009

    The IDF makes an incursion into al-Bureij r.c. in central Gaza, detaining a Palestinian (who is released on 9/12). (PCHR 9/17)

    In the West Bank, the IDF patrols Qalandia r.c. nr. Ramallah,...

    Read more
  • August 4, 2009

    Israel allows 2,631 Palestinians to transit through the Rafah crossing (880 going into Egypt, 1,751 returning to Gaza). The UN reports that in the preceding wk., 2 Gazan boys (ages 8, 10) in al-...

    Read more
  • January 17, 2009

    With the 1/16 MOU in hand, along with a letter from European heads of state pledging to support the U.S.-led efforts outlined therein and a private message from Mubarak to the Israeli security...

    Read more
  • January 16, 2009

    In Washington, Livni and Rice sign the MOU on curbing arms smuggling, aimed at facilitating Israel’s acceptance of the EgyptHamas cease-fire offer (see 1/15). Anonymous Israeli military officials...

    Read more
  • January 15, 2009

    The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease...

    Read more
  • January 14, 2009

    Egypt announces that Gaza- and Damascus-based Hamas officials have agreed on a cease-fire offer to be present to Israel (see Quarterly Update). Israel agrees to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/15 to...

    Read more
  • January 12, 2009

    Olmert’s security cabinet revives discussion of opening phase 3 of OCL (see 1/9), agreeing to make a final decision whether to expand or wind down operations within 2–3 days, by which time the IDF...

    Read more
  • January 10, 2009

    Israel warns of an expanded ground war in Gaza and begins moving more tanks and reservists to the Gaza border. The IDF drops leaflets and sends out automated phone messages across Gaza, warning of...

    Read more
  • January 9, 2009

    The Israeli security cabinet reportedly begins internal debate on opening phase 3 of OCL, which would involve deep incursions into Gaza’s built-up areas to deal a crushing blow to Hamas. Israeli...

    Read more
  • January 8, 2009

    The UNSC passes (14–0, with the U.S. abstaining) res. 1860, calling for an “immediate, durable, and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” but not...

    Read more
  • January 7, 2009

    Israel agrees in principle to the 1/6 Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal, agreeing to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/8 to discuss details with Egyptian officials. On the ground, Israeli air, naval,...

    Read more
  • January 6, 2009

    Sarkozy and Mubarak, with U.S. support, jointly call for an immediate ceasefire followed by talks on Israel’s siege and Palestinian smuggling.

    Combat notes: IDF ground forces expand...

    Read more
  • January 5, 2009

    As OCL enters day 10, IDF ground forces tighten the circle around Gaza City and continue to operate against Palestinian rocketlaunching units across n. Gaza, still avoiding entering densely...

    Read more
  • January 4, 2009

    IDF ground forces backed by naval and air support continue to enter Gaza overnight, with troops taking up positions across n. Gaza (from which most Palestinian rockets have been fired),...

    Read more
  • January 1, 2009

    As OCL enters day 6, Israel announces that it will allow 443 foreign passportholders living in Gaza (mostly the spouses and children of Gazan Palestinians, including U.S., Russian, Moldovan,...

    Read more
  • December 30, 2008

    International diplomacy to end OCL clicks into gear with France proposing that Israel and Hamas impose a 48-hr. humanitarian truce to try to defuse the violence and restore the Gaza cease-fire,...

    Read more
  • December 29, 2008

    As Israel continues widespread air and naval bombardment of Gaza for a 3d day, Israeli DM Barak declares “all-out war” on Hamas. The IDF declares a 2-mi. buffer zone around the Strip a closed...

    Read more
  • December 27, 2008

    After early morning consultations with senior cabinet mbrs., the IDF launches its major offensive on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (OCL), at 11:25 A.M. local time (4:25 A.M. EST). Israeli DM Barak...

    Read more
  • June 19, 2008

    On the 1st day of the cease-fire in Gaza, no Israeli-Palestinian violence is reported inside the Strip. Israeli naval vessels, however, fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah,...

    Read more
  • June 15, 2008

    In Gaza, Palestinians fire 2 rockets toward Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF directs heavy machine gun fire across the border at the launch site, causing no reported injuries. In the...

    Read more
  • June 13, 2008

    Just before U.S. secy. of state Condoleezza Rice arrives in Israel for 6/15–16 mtgs. to encourage Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (see Quarterly Update), the Israeli Housing Min. announces...

    Read more

IDF troops make a brief incursion into c. Gaza northeast of al-Bureij r.c. to level land and clear lines of sight. In the West Bank, an IDF undercover unit enters Nabi Salih in the morning, arresting a 10- yr.-old Palestinian boy for throwing stones. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm and nr. Jenin. (PCHR 1/27; OCHA 1/28)

With the support of the majority of parliament, Lebanese pres. Suleiman taps Hizballah’s candidate, billionaire Sunni businessman Najib Mikati, as PM designate to form the next Lebanese government. (NYT, WP 1/25)

Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of al-Bureij r.c. fire artillery shells at 2 Palestinians who stray nr. the border fence, killing them; the IDF prevents the Palestinian Red Crescent Society fr. retrieving their bodies for 2 days. In 2 separate incidents, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials in the fmr. Jewish settlement sites, wounding 1. IDF troops also fire at Palestinian farmers who stray nr. the border fence n. of Bayt Hanun, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Tayasir village nr. Tubas. (JP 12/11; PCHR 12/16; OCHA 12/17)

The White House abandons efforts to persuade Israel to impose a 90-day settlement construction freeze and takes its generous package of diplomatic and security incentives off the table. The message comes days before senior Israeli and Palestinian negotiators plan to meet in Washington for further talks on the peace process and before U.S. Secy. of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to make a major Middle East policy statement on 12/10. (NYT, WP, WT 12/8)

The IDF makes a brief incursion e. of al-Bureij r.c. in c. Gaza to level lands along the border fence, firing on surrounding areas, causing no reported injuries. Unidentified Palestinians fire 2 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Late in the evening, the IDF responds with air strikes on a poultry farm nr. Khan Yunis (an alleged arms cache) and at a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, IDF escorts plain-clothed individuals into Rafat village nr. Salfit in the morning; the group pauses outside the local mosque, pointing at it and taking notes. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron and nr. Nablus, and patrols in Anabta village nr. Tulkarm. In Israel, 47 state-employed Israeli rabbis issue an open letter distributed in synagogues and religious journals saying that it is prohibited by the Torah to sell or rent a house or a field in the land of Israel to non-Jews. Netanyahu denounces the letter. (JP 12/7; WT, YA 12/8; PCHR 12/9; OCHA 12/10; JPI 12/17)

The Knesset passes (65-33, with 22 absent) a law that would require the government to hold a national referendum before ceding Israeli territory, potentially hindering the government’s ability to reach peace deals with Syria and the Palestinians; West Bank lands, which were never annexed by Israel, would not fall under the new requirement. (NYT 11/23)

The IDF troops make a brief incursion into c. Gaza to level lands along the border fence east of Bureij refugee camp (r.c.), firing on residential areas to keep Palestinians indoors, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Tulkarm in the morning without incident; conducts afternoon arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, in Jenin, and nr. Bethlehem and Ramallah. Jewish settlers fr. Shilo settlement nr. Ramallah, escorted by IDF soldiers, expel Palestinian farmers fr. a plot of land adjacent to the settlement. (PCHR 11/25; OCHA 11/26)

In the morning, Israeli drones make an air strike on a car driving w. of Gaza City, assassinating Army of Islam (AOI) senior mbr. Muhammad al-Nemnem, wounding 2 bystanders; Israel later accuses Nemnem of involvement in “attacks against Israeli and U.S. targets in the Sinai Peninsula.” The IDF makes a brief incursion into c. Gaza e. of al-Bureij r.c. to level land and clear lines of sight; an Israeli tank fires a shell at the surrounding area, but no damage or injuries are reported. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols without incident in al-Yamun village in the afternoon; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and in Nabi Salih. In East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces conduct early morning arrest raids, house searches in Silwan, detaining 5 Palestinians (including 4 children ages 13–16). Of note: Israel prevents fmr. PA PM and negotiations adviser Ahmed Qurai‘ from crossing into Jordan via the Allenby crossing, citing a previously unannounced decision by the government that from now on only Pres. Abbas and PM Fayyad would receive special treatment; Israeli security officials say the decision had to do with Qurai‘’s recent statements denouncing Israel’s settlement policy. The PASF for the 1st time arrests a Palestinian for selling goods made in a Jewish settlement, enforcing the PA’s 4/2010 law prohibiting the sale of settlement-produced products (see Quarterly Updates in JPS 156–57); the defendant is jailed in Bethlehem pending trial. (MNA, YA 11/3; NYT, PCHR, UNSCO 11/4; OCHA 11/5; OCHA, PCHR 11/11)

Israeli naval vessels intercept a catamaran of Jewish activists off the Gaza coast, escorting it to Ashdod port without incident (see 9/26). The IDF carries out air strikes on a group of armed Palestinians preparing to fire a rocket into Israel from an area nr. al-Bureij r.c. in c. Gaza (killing 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs.) and on the Nussayrat r.c. home of a Gaza Education Min. employee, causing heavy damage but no injuries. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials in the evacuated settlement sites near the border, wounding 1 deaf Palestinian. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols late at night, without incident in Qiffin village nr. Tulkarm; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. (CNN, JP, MNA, NYT 9/28; NYT, WT 9/29; PCHR 9/30; OCHA 10/1)

IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials in the fmr. Jewish settlement sites nr. the border, wounding 2 Palestinians and 2 donkeys. Late at night, the IDF sends troops into the no-go zone e. of Bureij r.c. in c. Gaza in pursuit of Islamic Jihad mbrs. operating near the border; the sides exchange fire and the IDF calls reinforcements and shells the area, lightly injuring 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Haris village nr. Salfit in the afternoon, conducting no searches and making no arrests; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Qalqilya, Ramallah, and nr. Hebron. (PCHR 9/2; OCHA 9/3)

Before dawn, unidentified Palestinians fire several mortars or antitank missiles toward IDF troops on the central Gaza border inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF returns fire, fatally shooting 1 Palestinian civilian outside his home in al-Bureij r.c., some 700 m from the border. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts latenight arrest raids, house searches in Hebron, Nablus. (OCHA, PCHR 12/16)

The IDF makes an incursion into c. Gaza and searches farmland nr. al-Bureij r.c., arresting 3 Palestinians. (PCHR 9/17)

In the West Bank, the IDF arrests a Palestinian nr. Pdu’el settlement; conducts latenight raids, house searches nr. Ramallah and Jenin, arresting 3 Palestinians (including a woman). More than 30 Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar settlement set fire to a field in Far‘ata village nr. Nablus. In a separate incident, Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar shoot at 2 Palestinian shepherds nr. the settlement, wounding 1. (OCHA, PCHR 9/17)

The IDF makes an incursion into al-Bureij r.c. in central Gaza, detaining a Palestinian (who is released on 9/12). (PCHR 9/17)

In the West Bank, the IDF patrols Qalandia r.c. nr. Ramallah, firing rubbercoated steel bullets, sound bombs, tear gas at stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, wounding 1 (possibly a bystander); fires rubber-coated steel bullets, sound bombs, tear gas at Palestinian and international activists taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Ni‘lin (10s suffer fr. tear gas inhalation) and at Palestinian activists, some of whom throw stones at IDF troops, taking part in a demonstration against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 2); conducts late-night raids, house searches nr. Nablus, Jenin, and Salfit, arresting 5 Palestinians. (PCHR 9/17)

On the 3rd Friday of Ramadan, the IDF continues to enforce age restrictions announced on 8/23 limiting Palestinian access to Jerusalem for prayers; an estimated 190,000 Palestinians enter the city, but as a result of intense crowding at Qalandia checkpoint, many other “qualified” Palestinians are prevented fr. entering, and 80 people (primarily women and children, and 20 of whom are hospitalized) are injured. (PCHR 9/17; OCHA Humanitarian Monitor 9/09)

Unidentified assailants fire 2 Katyusha rockets (the 1st in 6 mos.) fr. Lebanon into Israel, causing no reported damage or injuries. In retaliation, the IDF fires at least 14 missiles toward the port of Tyre and sends fighter jets across the border; no casualties are reported in either attack. (NYT, WP 9/12; JPI 9/24)

Israel allows 2,631 Palestinians to transit through the Rafah crossing (880 going into Egypt, 1,751 returning to Gaza). The UN reports that in the preceding wk., 2 Gazan boys (ages 8, 10) in al-Bureij r.c. were injured by UXO fr. OCL; 4 Palestinians were killed, 5 injured in tunnel collapses along the Rafah border. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night house searches in villages s. of Jenin, making no arrests; stages late-night arrest raids, house searches in Fasayil village n. of Jericho. A Hamas-affiliated PA prisoner dies in a Jordanian hospital, where he was transferred by the PASF on 6/30 with severe injuries apparently resulting fr. torture. (OCHA, PCHR 8/6, 8/13)

In Bethlehem, 2,325 delegates fr. the West Bank and 80 countries around the world open Fatah’s 6th General Conference in Bethlehem to vote on a new party platform and hold elections for party institutions for the 1st time in 20 yrs. (MM, alSharq al-Awsat 8/4; al-Ayyam, MM, MNA, NYT, WP 8/5; MNA 8/8; JPI 8/14)

With the 1/16 MOU in hand, along with a letter from European heads of state pledging to support the U.S.-led efforts outlined therein and a private message from Mubarak to the Israeli security cabinet received today, Olmert formally declares a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza effective 2:00 A.M. local time on 1/18 (7:00 P.M. 1/17 EST). Stressing that Hamas was not party to any of the pledges secured by Israel, Olmert states: “If [the Palestinians] stop firing, we will consider leaving Gaza at a time that is suitable to us,” but if they continue rocket fire (NYT 1/17), “the Israeli army will regard itself as free to respond with force.” Hamas denounces Israel for ignoring Egyptian efforts to broker an agreed upon truce.

Combat notes: Olmert’s announcement comes at the end of a day of “sporadic and intensive” fighting in Gaza. The IDF reports hitting more than 120 targets, mostly comprising a final massive bombardment of more than 100 tunnels along the Rafah border that lasts 10 hrs., but also including strikes on at least 10 rocket-launching sites, 5 groups of armed Palestinians, 3 Hamas outposts. In addition to Rafah, air strike target areas include Bayt Hanun, Gaza City (city center), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis. Heavy artillery and tank fire are reported in: Bayt Lahiya, Jabaliya, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah). In Bayt Lahiya, IDF shells (possibly including white phosphorous) hit an UNRWA school sheltering 1,600 Gazans, killing 2 Palestinian brothers (ages 4, 5) and wounding 36 Palestinians (including the boys’ mother, who loses both legs. Naval bombardments center on Khan Yunis. Ground engagements are reported in al-Bureij r.c., al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat r.c., al-Zahra’. Late in the evening, IDF troops pull out of al-Shuka (where troops seized positions on 1/14), with residents reporting many houses demolished and damaged, wide areas of agricultural land razed, and significant damage to the village infrastructure (water systems, etc.).

Palestinians fire 19 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, lightly injuring 5 Israelis (possibly all shock). The IDF reports 4 IDF soldiers seriously wounded in a friendly fire incident involving Israeli mortar fire, plus another 13 soldiers injured (3 seriously, 3 moderately, 7 lightly) in clashes with Palestinian gunmen over the previous 24 hrs., including 5 soldiers wounded by a Palestinian antitank round today.

With the truce ordered, the IDF put Israel’s comprehensive casualty toll for OCL at 3 (perhaps 4; see casualties chart in special document section for details) civilians and 10 soldiers dead, more than 100 soldiers and an unstated number of civilians injured. (This marks the 1st time the IDF has given estimates for comprehensive IDF casualties inside Gaza.) Gazan health officials estimate the Palestinian toll to be at least 1,200 killed and more than 5,000 wounded, though numbers are expected to change as rescue workers gain access to damaged areas.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows 62 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel gives no indication whether or how quickly it will ease restrictions on imports once the cease-fire goes into effect. (IDF, IFM 1/17; IFM, ITIC, NYT, QA, WP, WT 1/18; ITIC, JP, MM 1/19; JAZ 1/20; PCHR 1/22; FT 1/28; PCHR 1/29)

The IDF imposes a curfew on Hawara village s. of Nablus. (PCHR 1/22)

In Washington, Livni and Rice sign the MOU on curbing arms smuggling, aimed at facilitating Israel’s acceptance of the EgyptHamas cease-fire offer (see 1/15). Anonymous Israeli military officials state that OCL is “in its final act.”

Combat notes: Early in the day, the IDF pulls back to the outskirts of Gaza City (with reports indicating that Tal al-Hawa has been devastated), but fighting intensifies again in the evening. Intensified IDF ground operations under cover of air strikes and heavy shelling are reported on the outskirts of Khan Yunis. The IDF reports hitting more than 50 targets during the day, including 15 rocket-launching sites, 13 groups of armed men, 4 suspected weapons depots, 2 smuggling tunnels, at least 1 mosque, Hamas’s Asda’ media center outside Khan Yunis (previously hit on 12/27). Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, alBureij r.c., the al-Fukhari area, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa; al-Tuffah), Izbat ‘Abid Rabbuh, Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis (white phosphorous suspected), alNasser (n. of Rafah), Rafah, the al-Satar al-Gharbi area (nr. Khan Yunis), and the alTannour area (e. of Rafah). Artillery and tank fire are reported in Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah (white phosphorous suspected), Gaza City (city center and al-Sudaniyya, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, Khan Yunis, al-Qarara, al-Shuka, Twam, Wadi alSilqa (white phosphorous suspected). Naval bombardments center on open areas w. of Khan Yunis and in the al-Mawasi area, and in s. Rafah. Ground engagements are reported in Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, the al-Fukhari area and nearby Ma’an, Gaza City, al-Mughraqa, al-Zahra’. At least 3 ambulances are hit trying to evacuate the dead and wounded in clashes in central Gaza nr. Shuhada junction and in al-Mughraqa.

In a highly publicized incident, IDF tank shells hit a Gaza City home, killing 4 young girls (3 sisters, 1 cousin). Father of the 3 sisters, Izzeddin Abu al-Aish, a prominent Gazan doctor who appears regularly as a commentator on Israeli TV, phones ITV channel 10’s live broadcast to beg for medical assistance for his injured family, reports that his daughters are dead. In addition, an IDF air strike targets a home receiving condolence visits in Gaza City’s al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhood, killing 10 Palestinians, wounding 7. Another air strike on a home in al-Bureij r.c. kills a mother and her 5 children, ages 7–15. Gazan medical officials put the Palestinian toll at 1,140 dead, more than 5,100 wounded (470 in serious condition).

Palestinians fire 22 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel. Areas hit include Ashdod and Kiryat Gat (where at least 3 Israelis are injured, 1 seriously).

Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows up to 109 trucks of humanitarian aid entry to Gaza during the 4-hr. lull. (AFP, AP, IDF, IFM, ITV, MA, MM, REU, XIN, Zaman 1/16; IFM, NYT, WP, WT, XIN 1/17; NYT 1/18; AY, DUS, ITIC, MM 1/19; PCHR, WT 1/22; PCHR 1/29; ITV, MM 2/4; NYT 2/5)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, Nablus; fires rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians who attend nonviolent demonstrations against OCL following Friday prayers in Hebron (injuring 4) and neighboring Bayt Umar (injuring 3), Issawiyya (injuring 4); fires live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 5 Palestinians, 4 with live ammunition); fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Ni‘lin (injuring 12 Palestinians, including 7 children). In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces beat and fire rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians protesting against OCL nr. al-Aqsa Mosque (injuring 1) and in Ras al-Amud neighborhood (injuring 1). (PCHR 1/22)

The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease-fire offer in Cairo, returns to Israel to brief the security cabinet. Olmert dispatches Livni to Washington to finalize a bilateral “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) regarding U.S.-led international efforts to halt arms smuggling into Gaza.

Combat notes: The IDF sharply escalates air, naval, and ground attacks across Gaza. IDF ground forces push deep into Gaza City under cover of air strikes and heavy tank and artillery fire. Residents report almost constant air, naval, artillery bombardment from 1:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. local time, and particularly heavy ground engagements in al-Atatra n. of the city and Tal al-Hawa neighborhood on the southern outskirts, as well as in Jabaliya r.c. Thousands of Gaza City residents attempt to flee the fighting, but many cannot leave their homes because of the intensity of Israeli fire. During the operations, Israeli troops surround the home of Hamas’s Mahmud Zahhar (in hiding), killing his security guards. Gaza City fighting eases slightly in the afternoon, but IDF troops remain in the city overnight. The IDF also takes up new positions in Bayt Hanun’s alFarta and al-Nazzaza quarters under cover of heavy shelling and gunfire, ordering residents of the 2 areas (some 20 families) to evacuate.

The IDF reports carrying out more than 80 air strikes today, hitting at least 23 rocket and mortar launching sites, 19 groups of armed Palestinians, 6 suspected weapons depots (including 2 mosques in Gaza City, 1 in Rafah), 4 tunnels, 1 radio station in Gaza City. Air strike target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Rimal, al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, Yibna r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah. UNRWA reports 100s of Palestinians fleeing areas of northeastern Rafah to escape heavy bombardments. Reports of Israel using white phosphorous munitions spike sharply, with confirmed use in 3 areas (Abasan, Khuza, al-Qarara) and suspected use in 5 areas (Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c.). Israeli naval bombardment concentrates on Khan Yunis and the neighboring al-Mahatin area. Closecombat fighting is reported around Jabaliya r.c.

In a major air strike on Jabaliya, the IDF assassinates Gaza’s acting Interior M Said Siyam in his brother’s home, along with his brother and nephew, Hamas internal security head for Gaza Salah Abu Sharah, 4 Palestinians in an adjacent home. In addition, IDF air strikes hit buildings in Gaza City housing UNRWA’s main food depot (3 white phosphorous missiles incinerate tons of food and medicine brought in during the humanitarian lulls); Palestinian Red Crescent Society offices and the adjacent al-Quds Hospital (both hit repeatedly over a 5-hr. period; the patient wing of the hospital is not targeted); and the shared media offices of Abu Dhabi TV, al-Arabiyya TV, Reuters, and the Russian TV channel Rusiya al-Yaum, causing serious damage and injuring 2 journalists. A number of other hospitals in Gaza City are damaged by Israeli mortar fire. Palestinian medical workers say the Palestinian toll is at least 1,090 dead (including 375 children, 150 women, 14 medical workers), more than 5,000 wounded.

Palestinians fire 15 rockets and 8 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring a 7-yr.-old Israeli boy in Beersheba and causing significant damage in 2 instances (both by Qassams in Sederot); at least 3 of the rockets are Grads (2 in and nr. Beersheba, 1 in Gadera).

The Palestinian toll is estimated to be at least 1,090 dead, more than 5,000 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: With diplomacy toward a cease-fire showing progress, Israel extends the daily humanitarian lull to 4 hrs./day, allowing in up to 170 truckloads of humanitarian aid; permits the Qarni crossing conveyor belt to resume operation for the 1st time since 12/27 for the import of grain. Israel also allows the ICRC and Palestinian Energy Authority to begin repairs to part of Gaza’s electricity network. (AFP, AP, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, MM, RFM, UNOSAT, YA 1/15; HA, IDF Radio, JP, MA, MM, NYT, REU, Scotsman, WP, WT, XIN, YA 1/16; IFM, NYT, XIN 1/17; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)

Citing unspecified security concerns, the IDF imposes a total closure on the West Bank through 1/17. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar attempt to close a road nr. Nablus to Palestinian traffic, stone Palestinian cars; the IDF forces them to leave. (IDF 1/15; PCHR 1/22)

Egypt announces that Gaza- and Damascus-based Hamas officials have agreed on a cease-fire offer to be present to Israel (see Quarterly Update). Israel agrees to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/15 to be briefed on the plan. Meanwhile, Israel’s intense air, naval, and ground assaults on Gaza continue.

Combat notes: Under cover of air strikes and heavy shelling, IDF troops take up new positions in s. Gaza’s al-Fukhari area nr. the Sufa crossing (occupying several homes and expelling the residents) and al-Shuka village; Israeli fire is so intense that rescuers cannot reach the wounded or retrieve the dead. The IDF reports carrying out approximately 120 air strikes today (70 of them after nightfall) that kill 10s of Palestinians. Targets include at least 24 groups of armed Palestinians, 16 smuggling tunnels, at least 10 suspected weapons depots (including a Rafah mosque), and 24 rocket launching sites (killing senior IQB cmdrs. Walid Za‘abud and Muhammad Dash nr. al-Zaytun). Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (areas northwest of the city and al-Nasser, al-Sabra, al-Sha‘af, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk, al-Zaytun), Khan Yunis, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., Twam, Yibna r.c. Heavy artillery and tank fire are reported in and around Bayt Lahiya (white phosphorous suspected), al-Bureij r.c., Gaza City (al-Sabra, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya town and r.c. Naval bombardment centers on Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighborhood.

Palestinians fire 14 rockets and 2 mortars, including 4 Grads (2 each in Ashdod and Beersheba), into Israel, causing no injuries. Gaza medical workers put the estimated Palestinian toll at 1,018 dead (including an estimated 300 children), 4,700 injured. The IDF reports 27 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 2 moderately, 24 lightly), mostly in ground fighting with Palestinians n. Gaza, including 7 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 1 moderately, 5 lightly) by a Palestinian antitank missile. The Israeli toll stands at 13–14 dead, more than 150 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows at least 108 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza during the lull. A group of Israeli human rights groups (including Amnesty International–Israel, B’Tselem Gisha, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel) characterize Israel’s restrictions on aid and access to Gaza by relief groups and medial workers as a “blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.” (AP, BBC, CBS News, HA, IDF, IFM, JAZ, MM, QA, REU, RFM, XIN 1/14; AYM, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, JAZ, MA, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 1/15; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and Jenin, in Bayt Sahur, and nr. Nablus. (PCHR 1/22)

Unidentified assailants fire 3 rockets fr. s. Lebanon into n. Israel. (Up to a dozen rockets total may have been fired, with others landing inside Lebanon). The IDF returns fire. No damage or injuries are reported. (MM, MNR 1/14; WP 1/15)

Olmert’s security cabinet revives discussion of opening phase 3 of OCL (see 1/9), agreeing to make a final decision whether to expand or wind down operations within 2–3 days, by which time the IDF believes ground forces will have done all they can from the open and suburban areas they currently hold to weaken Hamas’s ability and desire to fire rockets.

Combat notes: The IDF significantly increases attacks, particularly around Gaza City, and continues to send troops into Gaza. Palestinians report (AYM 1/12) heavy clashes with the IDF n. of Bayt Lahiya, in Daraj and al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhoods on the eastern boundary of Gaza City, and in Dahadih and al-Zaytun to the south of the city. Overnight, the IDF also sends troops back into Khuza (see 1/11) under heavy artillery fire (possibly including white phosphorous), occupying a number of homes as staging posts and prompting 1,000s of residents to flee their homes.

The IDF reports carrying out more than 120 air strikes (half of them after nightfall, targeting Gaza City), uncovering 1 boobytrapped home and 2 booby-trapped tunnels. Targets include the PA Interior Min. offices in n. Gaza, more than 35 tunnels on the Rafah border, homes of Hamas leaders, at least 22 mortar and rocket launching sites, at least 26 groups of armed men, at least 10 “Hamas outposts,” 2 suspected weapons depots and manufacturing facilities, 2 mosques, 2 hotels. Air strike target areas include Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (city center and Shaykh Ridwan, al-Sudaniyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., al-Shuka, Tal al-Za‘atar, the Twam area (northern outskirts of Gaza City), Yibna r.c. IDF gunboats shell Nussayrat, Rafah, a fishing port w. of Rafah. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Bayt Hanun, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, al-Mughraqa, Twam.

Israeli attacks are so intense that reliable updates on Palestinian casualty estimates are not possible. The IDF estimates killing at least 30 Palestinians in air strikes. UNRWA reports at least 19 Palestinian children killed and 52 children injured in nighttime operations (possibly overlapping with air strikes), 1 paramedic killed by tank fire in Jabaliya during the day. The IDF reports 8 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 1 moderately, 6 lightly) in various incidents, all after nightfall; 3 of the soldiers are injured when they trigger a setup in a booby-trapped house.

Palestinians fire 17 rockets and 7 mortars into Israel, with 1 rocket in Ashqelon and 1 in Sederot causing damage but no reported injuries.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes the daily 3-hr. humanitarian lull, allowing 120 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. UNRWA estimates that internally displaced Gazans number now 90,000: 30,000 seeking shelter in UNRWA schools; 60,000 in the homes of friends and relatives. (AP, AYM, BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, JP, MA, MM, al-Ra’i, REU, RFM, WP, YA 1/12; HA, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/13; AYM, HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/14; PCHR 1/15; BBC, WJW 1/16; ITIC 1/19)

In the West Bank, unidentified armed Palestinians fire on an IDF patrol nr. Kiryat Arba settlement, wounding 3. In response, the IDF raids, searches Palestinian homes nr. Kiryat Arba, making no arrests. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. (HA 1/13; PCHR 1/15)

Israel warns of an expanded ground war in Gaza and begins moving more tanks and reservists to the Gaza border. The IDF drops leaflets and sends out automated phone messages across Gaza, warning of an escalation in fighting.

Combat notes: IDF tanks and artillery pound Gaza throughout the day. The IDF reports making air strikes on about 120 targets, including the home of IQB head Ahmad Jabari (presumed to be in hiding), at least 15 rocket-launching sites, 21 suspected weapons depots (including a mosque and school in Rafah, the homes of several Hamas mbrs.), 16 tunnels, 3 Hamas outposts, 1 police station, and 2 vehicles allegedly transporting weapons. In Khan Yunis, an air strike destroys Gaza European Hospital’s fuel depot, electricity generator, and water supply system. Target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Gaza City (al-Nasser, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi, Nussayrat, Rafah. IDF ground forces engage in heavy exchanges with Palestinians in and nr. Bayt Lahiya. Heavy IDF tank and artillery fire are reported in Jabaliya (where 8 family mbrs. are killed by an IDF tank shell that lands outside their home), Khuza (possibly involving white phosphorus, burning 15 homes and 100s of individuals), Nussayrat, and Tal al-Hawa in Gaza City. The IDF claims to kill 16 armed Palestinians, including Hamas’s “leading authority on Grad rockets,” IQB cmdr. Amir Mansi, during a strike on a rocket-launching site. The estimated Palestinian toll reaches 820–840 dead.

Palestinians fire 9 rockets and 10 mortars into Israel, the fewest since OCL began on 12/27; 3 Grad rockets strike Ashqelon (each causing damage and light injuries, including shock), others land in open areas nr. Ashdod and in the Negev (causing no damage or injuries). The IDF reports 7 ground troops lightly wounded in various exchanges.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes a 3-hr. humanitarian lull to allow relief agencies to recover casualties and distribute food but does not allow new aid through Gaza’s crossings on the Sabbath.

Of note: The IDF reports that ground troops have been facing extensive tunnel networks inside the Strip, especially in Gaza City, which the Palestinian factions are using to try to ambush soldiers. IDF sources and Israeli journalists embedded with IDF troops report recent incidents in which Palestinian fighters tried to lure troops into a boobytrapped building in al-Zaytun; left a weapons cache rigged with explosives where the IDF would find it (the booby trap did not detonate); and sent a suicide bomber on a failed attempt to attack a group of soldiers. The IDF also acknowledges that it has rounded up and interrogated scores of Palestinians to gain knowledge of local Hamas positions and tactics. Israeli intelligence officers acknowledge phoning Gazans, sometimes overtly and sometimes pretending to be sympathetic Arabs fr. abroad, to gain information about conditions and locations of Palestinian forces on the ground. (AP, BBC, IDF, REU 1/10; IDF, NYT, WP, WT 1/11; MM, QA, WP 1/12; al-Akhbar, MM 1/13; NYT 1/14; PCHR 1/15; WJW 1/16; ITIC 1/19; JPI 1/23)

The IDF fires live ammunition at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in Bayt Awa nr. Hebron, seriously wounding a 13-yr.-old boy; fires live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians holding a similar protest in Sa’ir nr. Hebron, wounding 3 Palestinians; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in ‘Askar r.c. nr. Nablus, nr. Hebron. (PCHR 1/15)

The Israeli security cabinet reportedly begins internal debate on opening phase 3 of OCL, which would involve deep incursions into Gaza’s built-up areas to deal a crushing blow to Hamas. Israeli military and intelligence sources warn that the new goal would require deep, sustained incursions into Gaza’s densely populated areas, likely resulting in months of combat and heavy casualties.

Combat notes: Heavy IDF aerial, naval, and ground assaults across Gaza continue. The IDF reports carrying out more than 110 air strikes, in many cases to support troops battling on the ground. Targets include 20 “terror operatives” (possibly assassinations), more than a dozen rocket-launching sites and squads, more than 20 suspected weapons depots (including homes of 3 Hamas mbrs.) and other outposts, at least 10 homes and 1 apartment building, 2 tunnels on the Rafah border, a market in Bayt Lahiya, 1 ESF post in Gaza City, a mosque in Dayr al-Balah. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr alBalah, Gaza City (city center and al-Nasser, Shaykh Ridwan), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza, Nussayrat, al-Qarara, Rafah, Shati’ r.c., open areas in central Gaza.

At least 1 air strike on a residential area e. of Jabaliya involves white phosphorous munitions that cause extensive fire damage to 4 homes. Another air strike hits the rooftop of a Gaza City building housing the offices of some 20 international press agencies, destroying broadcasting equipment and wounding 1 journalist.

IDF ground forces take up new positions in Juhur al-Dik and al-Mughraqa in c. Gaza, and al-Shuka in s. Gaza (bulldozing 13 homes). Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Bayt Lahiya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, alTuffah, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya. Heavy closequarter combat is reported in Gaza City and nr. Bayt Lahiya, with Palestinians firing antitank weapons and mortars and sniping at ground troops, moderately wounding 1 IDF soldier and lightly wounding 7.

Palestinians also fire 30 rockets and 1 mortar into Israel (including several Grads that hit Ashqelon), causing no reported damage or injuries.

At least 35 Palestinians are killed during the day, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to around 795 dead and 3,300 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: The UN and other relief groups resume humanitarian aid transfers after receiving assurances fr. the Israeli government that they will not be targeted. During today’s 3-hr. humanitarian lull, Israel allows 41 trucks carrying food and medicine into the Strip. (Committee to Protect Journalists, Daily News, IDF, MA, MM, YA 1/9; IDF, NYT, WT, WP 1/10; NYT 1/11; PCHR 1/15)

Israel seals the West Bank through 1/10 citing unspecified security concerns. The IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL after Friday prayers in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron (injuring 2), Hawara s. of Nablus, Hebron (injuring 4), Issawiyya, Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem; also fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists attending weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 3 Palestinians, arresting 5), Jayyus (injuring 9, including 2 wounded by live ammunition, which is not used at the other rallies), Ni‘lin (injuring 5 Palestinians); conducts late-night house searches in Azmut nr. Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Shilo nr. Ramallah beat and fire on 2 Palestinians collecting water at a well nr. the settlement, wounding 1. (IDF 1/9; PCHR 1/15)

The UNSC passes (14–0, with the U.S. abstaining) res. 1860, calling for an “immediate, durable, and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” but not outlining an implementation or enforcement mechanism (see Doc. A8). Israel says it will not halt its operations until a Hamas cease-fire can be guaranteed. Meanwhile, Egypt begins intensive bilateral talks with Israeli and Hamas envoys to mediate a cease-fire.

Combat notes: The IDF carries out another 60 air strikes across Gaza, with heavy bombing of the Rafah border. Targets include more than 18 homes of senior IQB members (all believed to be in hiding), “a number of armed operatives” assassinated (not named), several groups of armed men, 15 tunnels (including some homes believed to be covering entrances to tunnels), 11 suspected weapons depots (including 1 mosque in n. Gaza), 15 rocket-launching sites, the PASF headquarters and PA Youth and Sports Min. offices in Rafah, and an Islamic Jihad office in Abasan. Target areas include Abasan, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (city center, al-Nasser), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Nussayrat, Rafah. Heavy naval shelling of Dayr al-Balah and the nearby al-Qur’an area of c. Gaza is also reported. As ground operations continue, the IDF begins moving a small number of reservists into the Strip for the 1st time since OCL began. Heavy artillery and ground fire is reported in Abasan, Gaza City (al-Sha‘af, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, alZaytun), al-Qarara. Late in the evening, IDF troops withdraw from al-Qarara; residents report at least 20 homes destroyed since the IDF took up positions in the city on 1/6.

Palestinians fire at least 15 rockets and 1 mortar into Israel, lightly injuring 4 Israelis. Areas hit by rockets include Ashdod, Ashqelon, Beersheba (4 Grads), Ofakim.

The Palestinian toll, including bodies recovered during the humanitarian lull today (see below), reaches at least 758 dead and more than 3,100 injured. In addition, a Ukrainian woman (married to a Gazan) and her toddler are killed by an IDF shell in Gaza City, becoming the 1st foreign casualties inside Gaza (1 Egyptian was killed on the Rafah border on 12/28). Today, 3 IDF soldiers are killed and 14 are wounded (1 seriously, 1 moderately, 12 lightly) during clashes inside Gaza, bringing the Israeli toll to 13–14 dead and more than 100 injured.

Humanitarian notes: IDF soldiers fire on relief workers in 3 incidents in which the UN and ICRC had fully coordinated their movements with the IDF in advance (providing the IDF with the license plates of the vehicles, giving precise times and routes of travel, and using clearly marked vehicles) and received IDF assurances that travel would be safe. One UN driver is killed and 2 other UN employees and 1 ICRC employee are wounded. The UN and other groups scale back or suspend aid deliveries to Gaza, citing security concerns.

During the humanitarian lull, the IDF allows ICRC workers back into a heavily damaged residential block of al-Zaytun (see 1/7), where they rescue 103 injured Palestinians who have been stranded since 1/5 and report finding 40–50 bodies, fearing that more dead and injured may be trapped under demolished homes. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports (WP 1/9) new evidence that IDF soldiers stationed outside the destroyed houses were aware people were trapped but denied aid. UN Undersecy. Gen. for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes urges Israel to investigate, calling (WP 1/9) it “a particularly outrageous incident” and “absolutely horrifying.”

Israel allows 223 Palestinian dual nationals to exit Gaza via the Erez crossing for Jordan (see 1/2).

The UN estimates that 20,000 Gazans have been internally displaced by the fighting. (AP, HA, IDF, IHY, JP, MA, NYT, UNIS, YA 1/8; AFP, Daily Star, IDF, IFM, ITARTASS, MET, NYT, RFM, UNIS, WP, WT 1/9; AFP, AP, NYT, WT 1/12; AYM, JP, NYT, WT 1/13; IHY, MM 1/14; PCHR 1/15; WJW 1/16; NYT 1/17; ITIC 1/18; JPI 1/23)

In the West Bank, the IDF fatally shoots a Palestinian who allegedly attempts to set fire to a gas station outside the Ma’ale Adumim settlement e. of Jerusalem; fires live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron, seriously wounding 2 (including a 12-yr.-old boy); fires live ammunition at Palestinians protesting against the separation wall in Bil‘in, wounding 1; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Qabatya nr. Jenin. (PCHR 1/15)

The PFLP General Command fires 4 rockets fr. s. Lebanon into Israel, 3 of which explode near Nahariya, lightly wounding 4 Israelis (5 others are treated for shock). The IDF fires 5 shells the border as a “measured response” and intensifies surveillance overflights of s. Lebanon. Hizballah, the Lebanese government, and Fatah and Hamas reps. in Lebanon condemn the fire, assuring Israel they have no intention of opening a 2d front. The Lebanese army and UNIFIL pledge to step up surveillance in s. Lebanon (ITV, MM, MNR, RFM 1/8; Guardian, HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT, SFR, al-Watan, YA 1/9; YA 1/10; AFP, AP, NYT, WT 1/12; HA, MM 1/15; JPI 1/23)

Israel agrees in principle to the 1/6 Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal, agreeing to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/8 to discuss details with Egyptian officials. On the ground, Israeli air, naval, and ground attacks continue across the Strip, “tightening the noose” around Gaza’s population centers. IDF reservists begin to complete their training and deploy to staging areas on the Gaza border. IDF officials say that since Israeli troops entered Gaza on 1/3, Hamas and other Palestinian fighters have largely pulled back into the cities and refugee camps, sniping and engaging IDF troops on the edges of densely populated areas but not coming out to engage directly.

Combat notes: The IDF carries out more than 40 air strikes on targets across Gaza, hitting the PA presidential compound in Gaza City (already hit several times), 14 rocketlaunching sites, more tunnels on the Rafah border, 9 homes allegedly hiding smuggling tunnels, 4 groups of armed Palestinians, 1 Hamas outpost, 1 suspected weapons depot, 2 mosques (Bani Suhayla, Khan Yunis). Target areas include Abu Middayn (c. Gaza), Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan), the al-Fukhari area (nr. Khan Yunis), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Khuza, Ma’an (e. of Khan Yunis), al-Maghazi, Nussayrat, Rafah, the Western Sawahira area (c. Gaza). Particularly heavy IDF artillery fire and exchanges of gunfire are reported in al-Atatra, the al-Salatin area northwest of Bayt Lahiya, the Izbat ‘Abid Rabbuh area e. of Jabaliya, alQarara, and al-Zaytun in Gaza City. In the afternoon, the IDF drops leaflets on houses nr. the Rafah border, ordering residents to evacuate their homes; aerial bombing there begins after dark.

Palestinians fire 17 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, lightly injuring 2 Israelis; around a dozen are Grads that land in Ashdod and Ashqelon, the rest are Qassams that land closer to the Gaza border. With IDF troops now in control of open areas around Bayt Hanun and Bayt Lahiya, most rocket and mortar fire is coming from densely populated urban areas.

At least 29 Palestinians are killed today, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to at least 682 dead and 3,085 injured. One IDF soldier is moderately wounded, 8 are lightly wounded in exchanges with Palestinians inside Gaza.

Humanitarian notes: In the afternoon, the IDF observes a 3-hr. cease-fire nr. Gaza City to allow 80 truckloads of humanitarian aid to enter the Strip and to give Gazans an opportunity to seek food, fuel, and medical care. Some Israeli gunfire is reported (WP 1/22) during the lull, leaving at least 2 Palestinian girls (ages 2, 7) dead and their father and sister wounded. Aid groups say the imports do not come close to relieving the dire crisis. Moreover, Palestinians are reportedly (NYT 1/8) running low on cash to buy supplies because Israel has barred the import of currency; banks are closed because of the fighting; and ATMs do not work because of the lack of electricity.

The ICRC reports finding 16 bodies (7 women, 6 children, 3 men) and 18 seriously wounded Palestinians (including 4 emaciated children too weak to stand) in a cluster of destroyed houses in Gaza City’s al-Zaytun neighborhood. The ICRC received specific reports of these casualties on 1/3, but the IDF had barred ambulances and rescue workers fr. reaching the site; international aid workers finally enter the area with donkey carts to evacuate the wounded, ignoring IDF efforts to chase them away. The ICRC later attempts to return to the area to remove the bodies and check reports of additional casualties but is blocked by the IDF. The ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva issues a rare denunciation of Israel, calling (WP 1/8) the IDF’s handling of the incident “unacceptable,” stating that it had “failed to meet its obligations under international law to care for and evacuate the wounded.” (AP, Arutz 7, AYM, BBC, HA, IDF, JP, MA, MM, REU, RFM, RIA, YA 1/7; IDF, IFM, IHY, JP, MA, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 1/8; WP 1/14; PCHR 1/15; NYT 1/17; ITIC 1/18; WP 1/22)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron; fires rubbercoated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades to disperse Palestinian and international activists demonstrating against OCL in Ni‘lin; no injuries are reported. (PCHR 1/8, 1/15)

Sarkozy and Mubarak, with U.S. support, jointly call for an immediate ceasefire followed by talks on Israel’s siege and Palestinian smuggling.

Combat notes: IDF ground forces expand operations in s. Gaza overnight, surrounding Khan Yunis (taking up positions in Abasan and al-Qarara, where heavy artillery fire is reported). Fighting intensifies in and around Gaza City, with the IDF tightening its cordon around the city and making forays into built-up areas for the first time. Heavy exchanges are also reported on the edges of the Dayr al-Balah and al-Bureij r.c.s in c. Gaza. IDF air and naval bombardments continue, with the IDF reporting strikes on 40 targets, including 8 smuggling tunnels, more than 10 groups of gunmen, 16 suspected weapons storage and production facilities, 5 rocketlaunching sites. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Rimal, al-Tuffah, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya r.c., Juhur al-Dik, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi, Nussayrat, al-Qarara, Rafah, Shati’ r.c., Yibna r.c. One IDF air strike targets the home of Hamas’s chief rocket engineer Imad Siyam; Israel claims he is assassinated, but there is no independent confirmation.

In the single deadliest attack since OCL began, a mortar attack by IDF ground forces in Jabaliya hits outside at an UNRWA school being used as a shelter, killing 42 Palestinians and wounding around 55 civilians (15 critically; 1 of whom dies on 1/12, bringing the comprehensive toll in this attack to 43). The dead include 2 wanted Hamas mbrs. passing through the area and 40 civilians in and around the school, including 16 children (most of whom were lined up outside the building as UN workers registered their entry). Another IDF airstrike on a residential area of al-Bureij r.c. injures 7 UN workers at a medical clinic.

Palestinians fire 30 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, including 1 Grad rocket that lands in Gadera, 28 mi. n. of Gaza, lightly injuring a 3-mo.-old Israeli child and marking the farthest rocket strike to date.

At least 85 Palestinians are killed during the day, bringing the toll to around 640 Palestinians killed, 2,900 injured; 1 IDF soldier is killed, 9 are wounded in clashes with Palestinians, bringing the Israeli toll to 10–11 dead.

Humanitarian notes: Israel says it will open “humanitarian corridors” into Gaza beginning 1/7 to prevent a humanitarian crisis, halting attacks for 3 hrs. every other day (in practice, they occur daily) in predetermined areas where Palestinians could receive needed food and supplies. Save the Children warns that Gazan children are at particular risk for hypothermia because there is no electricity or fuel to provide heat in the freezing cold, and many families are keeping windows open to prevent injuries if they shatter during Israeli bombing raids. (AP, AYM, BBC, Dept. of State press release, HA, IFM, ITV, JAZ, REU, WP 1/6; AYM, Hurriyet, JAZ, MM, NYT, QA, RFM, RIA, WP, WT 1/7; IFM, MM, NYT, PCHR, QA, WJW, WP 1/8; MM, YA 1/9; NYT 1/11, 1/12; JP 1/14; NYT 1/17; HA 1/21; WP 2/7)

As OCL enters day 10, IDF ground forces tighten the circle around Gaza City and continue to operate against Palestinian rocketlaunching units across n. Gaza, still avoiding entering densely populated areas. Troops deploy to segment the Strip into 3 main operational zones: a northern zone running fr. the n. Gaza border south to Netzarim Junction (the Qarni Crossing–Netzarim settlement line drawn on 1/4); a central zone fr. Netzarim Junction to Khan Yunis; and a southern zone fr. Khan Yunis to the Rafah border. While IDF troops are still entering Gaza, IDF reservists have not yet been sent in.

Meanwhile, French pres. Nicholas Sarkozy begins a regional tour to press for a 48-hr. humanitarian cease-fire, meeting with Mubarak in Cairo and Olmert in Israel).

Combat notes: In Gaza City, residents and medical workers report that IDF troops are concentrated in the al-Shuja‘iyya, al-Tuffah, and al-Zaytun neighborhoods (al-Zaytun is a strategic high point, providing a view over the breadth of the Strip) and that fighting is so intense (involving heavy Israeli tank and helicopter fire) that bodies of the dead have been left lying in the street and ambulances are unable to reach the area. IDF troops occupy at least 3 high-rise buildings in eastern areas of Gaza City as observation posts, expelling the residents and exchanging heavy gunfire with Palestinian gunmen. Israeli aircraft drop leaflets over Gaza City warning residents to evacuate their neighborhood; 1,000s of Gazans report receiving automated phone messages form the IDF saying “We are getting rid of Hamas.”

In addition to carrying out air strikes in support of advancing ground troops, the IDF reports making 40 air strikes targeting tunnels on the Rafah border, weapons caches, homes of senior Hamas and PFLP mbrs. (most of whom are in hiding), the Gaza airport site. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (the center city, al-Tuffah, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, alZaytun), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Khuza, the al-Mawasi area (w. of Khan Yunis), Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c. (nr. Rafah), Shati’ r.c., al-Shuka, Yibna r.c. (nr. Rafah).

Of particular note: A home in Gaza City’s al-Zaytun neighborhood, where the IDF placed 110 Palestinians it had rounded up on 1/4, is hit by an air strike and repeatedly shelled, killing at least 30 mbrs. of an extended family (including 5 children age 4 and younger) and wounding scores; the IDF bars relief workers fr. reaching the scene until 1/7. A shell fired from an Israeli naval vessel hits a Palestinian home in Shati’ r.c., killing a family of 7 asleep in their beds. A late-night air strike hits an UNRWA school in Shati’ r.c. being used as a shelter, killing 3 members of a single family. The IDF also makes air strikes hitting the offices of the Hamas-affiliated al-Risala for a 2d time (see 1/3). Photographs and live footage of the ongoing operations clearly show IDF artillery firing white phosphorus shells on densely populated areas, though Israel denies using the munitions. The IDF fires flechette shells on residential areas nr. Bayt Hanun, killing at least 1 Palestinian, wounding at least 3.

Palestinians fire 28 rockets, 5 mortars into Israel, hitting Ashdod, Ashqelon, Beersheba, Sederot, and Shaar Hanegev, damaging an empty kindergarten in Ashdod, injuring 2 Israelis in Shaar Hanegev.

More than 40 Palestinians are killed today (almost half of them children), bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to 550 dead, 2,500 injured. The Israeli toll reaches 9–10 dead, more than 70 wounded: 3 IDF soldiers are killed, 24 wounded (4 seriously) by friendly fire when their unit is hit by an Israeli tank shell outside Gaza City; an IDF officer is killed during an exchange of fire in n. Gaza, possibly by an IDF tank shell; 6 IDF soldiers are wounded in clashes with Palestinians nr. the e. Gaza border.

Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 80 truckloads of food, medicine, and medical equipment into Gaza, but the UN says much more is needed. Relief agencies (including the ICRC, UNRWA, and UNSCO) warn that two-thirds of the Strip is still without power, suffering freezing winter temperatures; 250,000 Gazans are without any running water; and water supplies for another 500,000 Gazans are expected to run out within days because of lack of fuel for pumps and backup generators. Shifa hospital, which has been running fully on generators for 3 days, warns that it has only a 2-day supply of generator fuel. (BBC, CNN, IDF, IDF Radio, MM, NYT, REU, RFM, UNIS, UNOSAT, WT 1/5; AFP, BBC, Guardian, HA, IDF, IFM, Israel Radio News, MA, MM, NYT, WP, WT, YA 1/6; IFM, PCHR, WJW, WT 1/8; Committee to Protect Journalists, MM, YA 1/9; NYT, WP 1/10; NYT 1/17; WP 1/27; BBC 2/23)

The IDF arrests 2 12-yr.-old Palestinians at an OCL protest nr. Hebron; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem and in al-Bireh, Ramallah. Clubwielding PASF officers violently disperse a protest against OCL by students attempting to march fr. Ramallah’s Birzeit University to a main IDF checkpoint at Atarot. (PCHR 1/8)

IDF ground forces backed by naval and air support continue to enter Gaza overnight, with troops taking up positions across n. Gaza (from which most Palestinian rockets have been fired), surrounding Gaza City, retaking the former Netzarim settlement site nr. the Gaza coast south of Gaza City, and bifurcating the Strip into e. and w. (cutting a swath roughly from the Qarni and Nahal Oz crossings to Netzarim on the coast, driving 1,000s of residents from Juhur al-Dik, al-Mughraqa, and al-Zahra’ with heavy artillery and tank fire), but not entering dense urban areas.

Combat notes: IDF-Palestinian ground fighting is described as “fierce,” characterized by heavy IDF artillery fire and heavy Palestinian sniping and mortar fire. Because the IDF stays out of built-up areas, there are few reports of close-quarter combat or heavy exchanges of gunfire. While ground troops concentrate in the north, Israeli air strikes and naval bombardment focus equally on the north and south, hitting more tunnels on the Rafah border and targeting Hamas leaders for assassination. (The IDF claims to assassinate Hamas rocket cmdr. Hussam Hamdan and IQB and long-range rocket cmdr. Muhammad Hilu in Khan Yunis, senior IQB mbr. Muhammad Shalbush in Jabaliya, but there is no independent confirmation.)

The IDF reports hitting 45 sites and carrying out 40 air strikes during the day, striking a produce market in Gaza City, several mosques, a medical building and 3 mobile clinics in Shati’ r.c. run by a Danish charity, homes of at least 4 Hamas mbrs. (most of whom have gone into hiding), and suspected weapons depots across Gaza. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Daraj, Tal al-Hawa, al-Tuffah, al-Yarmuk, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya, Juhur al-Dik, Khan Yunis, al-Mughraqa, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., al-Shuka, al-Zahra’. After dark, IDF troops conduct door-to-door searches on the outskirts of Gaza City.

Palestinians fire 29 rockets (including at least 12 Grads) and 5 mortars into Israel, hitting Ashdod, Ashqelon, Netivot, Ofakim, and Sederot; 1 house in Sederot is damaged and 1 Israeli woman lightly injured. 

At least 47 Palestinians (including 4 paramedics) are killed and 400 wounded (including 3 paramedics) during the day; 1 IDF soldier is killed, 1 is seriously wounded in a heavy exchange of gunfire nr. Jabaliya; 15 IDF soldiers are wounded (3 seriously) by Palestinian mortar fire inside Gaza. The UN and Palestinian medical workers estimate the Palestinian toll to have reached at least 507 dead, 2,400 injured. The Israeli toll stands at 5–6 killed, more than 40 injured.

Humanitarian notes: The Israeli FMin. announced a new joint office of the FMin. and Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, called the Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Center (HACC), to coordinate humanitarian organizations operating on aid transfers to the Strip. The UN reports that shortages of fuel, electricity, and water are worsening. Gazan hospitals report drastic shortages of anesthesia, surgical equipment, heaters, spare parts. (AP, BBC, IDF, JAZ, National Public Radio, OCHA, REU, WT 1/4; IDF, IFM, NYT, RFM, UNOSAT, WP, WT 1/5; BBC 1/6; IFM, PCHR 1/8; WP 1/27)

In the West Bank, the IDF fatally shoots 1 Palestinian demonstrator who attempts to climb the separation wall nr. Qalqilya; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-Arub r.c. nr. Hebron, nr. Jenin. Israel’s High Court rules that the IDF may seal 2 floors of the home of the East Jerusalem Palestinian who killed 8 students at the Mercaz HaRava yeshiva in Jerusalem in 3/6/08, even though the gunman was killed during the attack and sealing the home would serve only to punish his extended family; another floor of the home will not be sealed because it is being rented to an unrelated family. (PCHR 1/8)

As OCL enters day 6, Israel announces that it will allow 443 foreign passportholders living in Gaza (mostly the spouses and children of Gazan Palestinians, including U.S., Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Turkish, and Norwegian passport-holders) to leave on 1/2, raising concerns that a major ground incursion into Gaza is imminent.

Israeli actions: The IDF continues air strikes and naval bombardment of Gaza, hitting at least 70 targets and carrying out at least 40 air strikes. Primary targets include the PA parliament building, Justice Min., Education Min., the headquarters of the PA presidency in Gaza City, homes of several other Hamas and PRC cmdrs., tunnels on the Rafah border, suspected weapons depots, 2 mosques in Jabaliya r.c., a fishing harbor w. of Khan Yunis, a water reservoir in Bayt Hanun. Target areas include Abasan, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Hanun, al-Bureij r.c., Gaza City, Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat, al-Qarara, Rafah, Tal al-Za‘atar. By day’s end, the Palestinian toll is at least 412 dead.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 59 rockets (at least 10 of them fired by Islamic Jihad) and 1 mortar into Israel, with 1 longrange rocket hitting an apartment building in Ashdod (causing heavy damage but no major injuries) and 3 in open areas outside Beersheba (causing no damage or injuries). Beersheba municipal official Shimon Krief says that city emergency workers received only 18 calls from concerned citizens during incoming rocket warnings today, stating “People are relaxed.” Beersheba hospital reports that since the city first came under rocket fire on 12/30, it has treated 10 Israelis for moderate physical injuries and 154 for stress, adding that “with each attack, we’ve gotten significantly fewer patients.”

Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 60 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) warns that humanitarian needs are growing sharply despite the limited entry of aid, noting severe shortages of water, cooking gas, electricity. Israeli human rights groups issue an appeal to DM Barak to restore fuel shipments to Gaza to allow proper functioning of hospitals, water services, and so on.

Of note: Air strikes today include an attack on the home of Hamas’s Nizar Rayyan, a cleric and chief liaison btwn. Hamas’s political and military wings, in a densely populated residential area inside Jabaliya r.c., assassinating him and killing his 4 wives and 11 of his 12 children, causing heavy damage to surrounding buildings; Rayyan is the most senior Hamas official to be killed since Israel assassinated Abd al-‘Aziz Rantisi in 2004 and one of the only Hamas figures who has not gone into hiding since OCL began. (AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IDF, REU 1/1; Bloomberg, HA, ITV, NYT, REU, WP, WT 1/2; IDF 1/3; NYT, WP 1/4; MM, QA 1/6; IFM, PCHR 1/8)

The IDF seals the West Bank through 1/3, citing unspecified security concerns. IDF troops at Ni‘lin checkpoint fire rubbercoated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at mbrs. of a funeral procession that refuses to lower a Palestinian flag while going through the crossing, injuring 2 Palestinians; 1 tear gas canister lands inside a nearby Palestinian home, sparking a fire that guts the 1st floor. (IDF 1/2; PCHR 1/8)

International diplomacy to end OCL clicks into gear with France proposing that Israel and Hamas impose a 48-hr. humanitarian truce to try to defuse the violence and restore the Gaza cease-fire, with humanitarian groups, Egypt, the EU, the Quartet, and the U.S. opening mediation channels (see Quarterly Update). Israel’s security cabinet meets to discuss the French proposal but does not formally respond.

Israeli actions: The IDF conducts 70 air strikes on Gaza, while the Israeli navy continues shelling from the sea, killing at least 10 Palestinians and wounding 40, bringing the death toll to about 370. The IDF reports hitting 110 individual sites, with primary targets being tunnels on the Rafah border, suspected weapons factories and rocket-launching sites, civil and naval police stations, and groups of resistance mbrs. In Gaza City, at least 20 air strikes hit Haniyeh’s offices, PA Interior Min., and main PA government complex in Gaza City, all of which had been targeted previously; 1 air strike hits an ambulance, killing 1 paramedic, seriously wounding a doctor and the driver. Part of Gaza’s main power grid is also hit, cutting all power to Gaza City. A fuel depot in Rafah is destroyed. In al-Bureij r.c., a mosque and health clinic are hit. In Khan Yunis, a money exchange is destroyed. At least 7 homes across the Strip are targeted. Target locations include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City, Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi (c. Gaza), al-Mughraqa, al-Qarara, Rafah. The IDF launches a YouTube channel to broadcast declassified videos of its operations in Gaza, “other footage of interest to the international community” (JPI 1/8) and begins regular briefings for Internet bloggers worldwide.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 41 rockets, 10 mortars into Israel, damaging 1 home in Sederot and causing several light injuries (excluding shock); 1 rocket lands in Beersheba, 25 mi. fr. the Gaza border, marking the farthest strike to date; 2 other long-range rockets land in Ashdod. Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 93 trucks into Gaza (50 carrying medical supplies and food donated by aid groups; 43 carrying commercial goods), but Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital says it is out of 150 kinds of medicine and 230 other medical supplies, including gloves, scissors, sterilization equipment, nitrogen for anesthesia. Fuel shipments are still cut off; Gaza’s power plant shuts down for lack of fuel. (BBC, HA, Independent 12/30; IDF, IFM, NYT, REU, UNOSAT, WP, WT 12/31; JP, PCHR 1/1; ITV 1/2; IDF 1/3; WP 1/4; IFM 1/8; NYT 1/13)

In the West Bank, a Palestinian worker in Mod’in Ilit settlement, angry over Israel’s war on Gaza, stabs, wounds 4 Jewish settlers before being shot and wounded by a paramedic who arrives on the scene. The IDF fires live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron, wounding 3 (including teenagers ages 13, 14); makes simultaneous afternoon incursions into Beita and Hawara villages nr. Nablus, imposing curfews through 12/31; conducts simultaneous late-night raids, house searches on 4 villages nr. Jenin, firing on residential areas in all cases, causing no injuries and arresting only 1 teenager; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Abu Dis and Jalazun r.c. nr. Ramallah, and nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm. (PCHR, WJW 1/1)

As Israel continues widespread air and naval bombardment of Gaza for a 3d day, Israeli DM Barak declares “all-out war” on Hamas. The IDF declares a 2-mi. buffer zone around the Strip a closed military zone and continues amassing tanks and troops there, indicating further preparations for a ground invasion. Israeli military officials speaking anonymously say they have expanded the IDF’s target list to include Hamas’s support network and symbols of Hamas power, stating that “there are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorists against Israel” and that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”

Israeli actions: The IDF reports hitting 100 sites today, including more Islamic University buildings (including the engineering dept., library); homes and offices of Hamas leaders; PA government buildings (including the Interior Min., Finance Min., Foreign Min., Labor Min., Construction and Housing Min., and a PA presidential guest house); Bani Suhayla’s municipal building; the alZawiyya Mosque in Jabaliya r.c. and Omar Bin al-Khattab Mosque in al-Bureij r.c.; more civil and naval police stations; more tunnels along the Rafah border; the headquarters of Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV; Gaza’s port (for a 2d day); and 1 Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades training site. Target areas include Abasan, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (city center, al-Rimal, al-Sabra, Shaykh Ajlin, Tal al-Hawa), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah, Shati’ r.c., Tal al-Za‘atar. Just before strikes on Rafah, Israeli Military Intelligence makes 10,000 automated calls to Rafah residents warning of pending air strikes, breaks into Palestinian radio broadcasts to urge residents across Gaza to move to city centers. Palestinian medical officials report at least 364 Palestinians dead, 1,500 wounded since 12/27.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 66 rockets, 14 mortars into Israel (twice as many as in the previous 24 hrs.), killing 3 Israeli civilians (1 each in Nahal Oz, Ashdod, Ashqelon; 1 of them an Israeli Palestinian) and wounding 5 (3 of them Israeli Palestinians), with 2 rockets hitting 23 mi. north in Gan Yavne/Ashdod. A Palestinian mortar hits an IDF base in Netivot, s. and e. of the Nahal Oz crossing, killing 1 IDF soldier (a Druze), seriously wounding 1, lightly injuring 4. The Israeli toll stands at 4–5 dead, about 20 injured. Reports circulate (e.g., NYT 12/30) of Hamas gunmen executing at least 5 accused collaborators with Israel inside hospitals; the 5 had been jailed for collaboration and transferred to hospitals after being wounded in IDF air strikes on jails.

Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 40 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza; Egypt allows 23 truckloads of emergency goods in, some wounded out through Rafah. International aid groups (including Amnesty International, the UN) say aid transfers are insufficient, warn that the death toll is rising in part because of lack of medicines and medical supplies, food, and fuel.

Of note: One Israeli air strike heavily damages the UN Special Coordinator’s Office (UNSCO) headquarters in Gaza City, prompting the UN to issue a formal complaint. Egyptian TV reports that captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit has been wounded in an Israeli air strike in recent days; Hamas does not comment. (BBC, CNN, HA, Houston Chronicle, IFM, REU, White House press briefing, YA 12/29; BBC, IDF, Independent, NYT, WP, WT 12/30; IDF, UNOSAT 12/31; JP, PCHR, WJW 1/1; ITV 1/2; IDF 1/3; NYT, WP 1/4; WT, UNOSAT 1/5; IFM 1/8; Committee to Protect Journalists 1/9)

In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubbercoated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in Issawiyya, Shu‘fat r.c., al-Tur neighborhood in East Jerusalem, causing no serious injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in East Tura village nr. Jenin, Hebron. (PCHR 1/1)

After early morning consultations with senior cabinet mbrs., the IDF launches its major offensive on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (OCL), at 11:25 A.M. local time (4:25 A.M. EST). Israeli DM Barak acknowledges (WP 12/28) that OCL has been planned for several months, stating that the aim is “to strike Hamas severely so as to change the situation from its base,” cautioning that “it won’t be short.”

Israeli actions: After an initial “shock and awe campaign” lasting 3 min. and 40 sec., with 64 warplanes hitting more than 50 targets across the Strip, the IDF conducts periodic air strikes throughout the day, recording a total of 170 sorties against 150 targets, killing at least 228 Palestinians, wounding more than 700 (140 seriously), marking the highest single-day death toll and Israel’s largest offensive in the territories since 1967. The midday timing of the initial onslaught, just as schools let out for lunch, increases the number of civilian casualties, including an estimated 25 women and children. Israeli Military Intelligence sends automated calls to 20,000 Palestinians across the Strip warning of further air strikes targeting anyone with weapons or guns.

Targets struck are primarily civil police stations, military training bases, Hamas-related command-and-control centers, suspected weapons depots, and sites believed to manufacture rockets. Target areas include Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (the city center and al-Daraj, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, alTuffah, al-Zaytun neighborhoods), Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Mughraqa (s. of Gaza City), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., and al-Zahra’ (c. Gaza nr. Jabaliya).

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 59 rockets (including some that reach the farthest north to date), 19 mortars into Israel during the day, killing 1 Israeli civilian in Netivot, wounding 4. (The fatality may have occurred before the official launch of OCL.)

Humanitarian notes: Gaza’s hospitals report (BBC 12/27) overflowing wards and not enough surgeons or supplies to cope. Egypt temporarily opens the Rafah crossing to allow transportation of some wounded to Egyptian hospitals.

Of note: During the initial “shock and awe,” the IDF hits a police academy graduation ceremony in Gaza City, killing at least 60 new civil police recruits and the chief of Palestinian police Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Jabber. Other targets include Gaza City’s main jail (the Saraya, holding Hamas opponents, hitting only the gates), the PA Preventive Security headquarters in Gaza City, the PA security compound in Rafah (southern headquarters of the PASF, PA Internal Security Service, and PA civil police), PA naval police facilities in n. Gaza and Khan Yunis, Palestinian Telecommunication Company offices in n. Gaza, a Gaza City mosque identified by the IDF as “a base for terrorist activities,” Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV station, the agriculture control dept. in Khan Yunis, numerous police stations and training sites, at least 9 homes, several workshops (considered rocket-manufacturing sites), and Hamas’s Asda’ media center outside Khan Yunis. One IDF airstrike on a PA ministry building kills 8 Palestinian students at an adjacent UNRWA training center, wounding 19 others (8 seriously). Hamas and Palestinian human rights groups in Gaza estimate that the dead include around 165 civil police officers (including those at the graduation ceremony) and Hamas’s central district governor, Abu Ahmad Ashur. Some targets are hit with U.S.-supplied GBU-39 bunkerbusting munitions received as recently as 9/08 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 150 and the “Israeli Arsenal” document in this issue’s Special Focus section). (al-Arabiyya TV, BBC, HA, IDF, JAZ, Middle East News Agency [Cairo], Palestine News Agency, YA 12/27; AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IFM, JAZ, NYT, Radikal, REU, WP, WT, XIN 12/28; JP, NYT, Zaman [Ankara] 12/29; PCHR 1/1; BBC 12/30; UNOSAT 12/31; JP, WJW 1/1; WP 1/4; Eurasia Daily Monitor [online], NYT, UNOSAT 1/5; IFM, JPI 1/8; NYT 1/11)

In other Israeli-Palestinian violence, the IDF fires tear gas, percussion grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in the East Jerusalem suburbs of Anata, Issawiyya, Shu‘fat r.c. An E. Jerusalem Palestinian, reportedly angry over events in Gaza, injures an Israeli border police officer in a deliberate hit and run in the city. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Jenin. (HA 12/28; PCHR, WJW 1/1)

On the 1st day of the cease-fire in Gaza, no Israeli-Palestinian violence is reported inside the Strip. Israeli naval vessels, however, fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the coast of Rafah, forcing them to return to shore. Hamas removes armed mbrs. fr. posts along the border with Israel. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in Qalqilya; raids several Palestinian homes in Hebron, detains and photographs 30 residents for no apparent reason; conducts latenight arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus and in Jenin town and r.c., Qabatya. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar nr. Nablus block a road, stone Palestinian cars driving in the area, burn 800 d. of Palestinian olive groves, stone local Palestinians who attempt to reach the area to put out the fires; the IDF observes but only intervenes to detain Palestinians who arrive to extinguish the fire. Jewish settlers fr. Tapuach settlement nr. Salfit burn 48 d. of nearby Palestinian crops. A Jewish settler seriously injures a 70-yr.-old Palestinian man in a deliberate hit-and-run along the Qalqilya-Nablus road outside Qalqilya; the IDF evacuates him to an Israeli hospital. In Gaza City, unidentified gunmen fire on the offices of a Hamas-affiliated newspaper, causing damage but no injuries. In al-Bureij r.c., Hamas-affiliated police raid, fire in the air to disperse a wedding party, claiming attendees were playing pro-Fatah songs; no injuries are reported. (MM 6/19; AHR, NYT, WP 6/20; OCHA 6/25; PCHR 6/26)

In Gaza, Palestinians fire 2 rockets toward Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF directs heavy machine gun fire across the border at the launch site, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha r.c.; issues a military order confiscating 356 d. of Palestinian land e. of Tubas for construction of an IDF training facility. Unidentified gunmen fire on a group of Hamas-affiliated policemen outside a police office in Gaza City, causing no injuries. Hamas-affiliated police make a 2d attempt to arrest a wanted Fatah mbr. in al-Bureij r.c. (see 6/12), but are again attacked by neighbors and Fatah supporters and are forced to retreat. (OCHA 6/18; PCHR 6/19)

Israeli, Syrian negotiating teams open a 2d round of indirect peace talks in Istanbul. (MM 6/16; AFP, MM, NYT 6/17)

Just before U.S. secy. of state Condoleezza Rice arrives in Israel for 6/15–16 mtgs. to encourage Israeli-Palestinian negotiations (see Quarterly Update), the Israeli Housing Min. announces approval for construction of 1,300 new settlement housing units in Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Qalqilya and nr. Salfit; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 2); fires tear gas, percussion grenades at a similar protest al-Ma‘sara (injuring 5). Jewish settlers enter Nablus to pray at Joseph’s Tomb without prior coordination with the IDF; the IDF evacuates and arrests them. The IDF also sends tanks into Gaza e. of al-Maghazi r.c. to level land along the border fence. In Gaza’s al-Bureij r.c., Hamas-affiliated police attempt to arrest 2 wanted Fatah mbrs., but are attacked, forced to retreat by neighbors and Fatah supporters; no serious injuries are reported. (WT 6/15; MM 6/16; OCHA 6/18; PCHR 6/19)