Thousands of Palestinians gather along Gaza’s border to continue the Great March of Return for the 5th consecutive Friday. This week’s protests, dubbed the “Friday of Rebellious Youth,” are...
Along Gaza’s border, Israeli forces conduct a limited incursion to level land near al-Bureij refugee camp. IDF troops then arrest 4 Palestinian minors attempting to cross into Israel near the site...Read more
Hundreds of Palestinians across the oPt gather at protests against U.S. pres. Trump’s 12/6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. IDF troops violently disperse them at the Qalandia...Read more
Unidentified parties fire a rocket from Gaza toward Israel. It lands in an open area short of the border, causing no damage or injuries. An IDF tank shells and destroys a Hamas observation post...Read more
Unidentified assailants fire a rocket from Gaza into s. Israel; it lands in an open area, causing no damage or injuries. Late at night, the Israeli Air Force launches air strikes on 2 Hamas...Read more
PASF troops violently disperse dozens of former Palestinian prisoners outside a govt. building in Ramallah; there are no serious injuries. The former prisoners were protesting the fact that the PA...Read more
Less than 24 hours after unidentified fighters fired a rocket from Gaza into Israel, Hamas fighters open fire on an IDF patrol nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing minor damage to 1 vehicle, according to the...Read more
Along Gaza’s border, unidentified Palestinians open fire on Israeli forces doing maintenance work on the border fence nr. Rafah, hitting a military vehicle and causing minor damage. In response,...Read more
In a 5th day of cross-border violence in Gaza, Palestinian fighters fire 2 mortar shells into s. Israel overnight, causing damage and no injuries; Israeli forces respond with air strikes on 2...Read more
At least 4 rockets are fired from Syria into the Galilee area of n. Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries. Claiming it was a deliberate attack by Palestinian...Read more
In the Gaza Strip, around 200 Palestinians violently protest outside the UN’s headquarters in Gaza City against UNRWA’s 1/27 suspension of its cash assistance program. The protest was organized by...Read more
The Palestinian and Israeli negotiators agree on an open-ended cease-fire deal, which PA Pres. Abbas confirms in a brief televised address. The agreement contains 3 points: Israel will permit...Read more
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with strikes on around 53 targets, killing 12 Palestinians and injuring dozens more. Also, IDF troops stationed nr. the border shell areas across...Read more
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with air strikes on over 50 targets, killing 18 Palestinians and injuring dozens more. Also,IDF troops stationed nr. the border shell areas across...Read more
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with attacks on 41 targets, killing 11 Palestinians and injuring dozens. Israeli fighter jets and drones strike targets in n. Gaza, as well as nr....Read more
The IDF continues its assault on the Gaza Strip by air, land, and sea, killing 132 Palestinians. In one attack, Israeli artillery fire hits an UNRWA school serving as a shelter for the displaced,...Read more
The IDF continues attacks across the Gaza Strip, killing 18 Palestinians. Also, the IDF drops leaflets over Bayt Lahiya that tell residents to evacuate ahead of intensified attacks. In response,...Read more
As many as 35 unidentified gunmen attack an Egyptian checkpoint near the Rafah border, fatally shooting 16 Egyptian security officers and wounding 3. Some of the assailants then steal 2 armored...Read more
IDF troops make a brief incursion into n. Gaza nr. Bayt Lahiya for unknown reasons and are engaged by a Hamas border patrol unit, causing no initial casualties; the IDF troops call in artillery...Read more
Cross-border exchanges in Gaza continue overnight and throughout the day. The PRCs, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB), and a small Salafist group (the Abdullah Azzam Brigades) fire around 17...Read more
On the anniversary of the Nakba, 1,000s of Palestinians fr. the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria stage marches (mostly nonviolent, though some stone throwing) toward the Israeli border...Read more
In the West Bank, the IDF makes a major incursion into Silat al-Harithiyya nr. Jenin in the afternoon, storming 4 houses, arresting several Palestinians, and ordering all residents to surrender...Read more
The IDF continues heavy air strikes (including 1 missile dropped fr. a war plane and 13 missiles fired fr. helicopters and drones) and artillery attacks (more than a dozen) hitting at least 19...Read more
In retaliation for a 4/1 air strike that killed 3 senior Hamas mbrs., Hamas militants fire an advanced Russian-made laser-guided Kornet antitank missile fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a school bus...Read more
Palestinians fire several mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on several smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, killing 2 Palestinians...Read more
The IDF significantly increases attacks on Gaza for the 2d straight day, as international mediation efforts led by Egypt to secure a cease-fire also intensify.
Combat notes: The IDF...Read more
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
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
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
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
Thousands of Palestinians gather along Gaza’s border to continue the Great March of Return for the 5th consecutive Friday. This week’s protests, dubbed the “Friday of Rebellious Youth,” are dedicated to the 37 Palestinians killed since the March began on 3/30. IDF troops violently disperse the demonstrations in multiple locations; 3 Palestinians are killed and at least 150 are injured. After hours of Israeli sniper fire, the IDF considerably escalates its crackdown on the protests with artillery shelling and air strikes on 6 Hamas sites across Gaza, causing damage and injuring 4 Palestinians. An IDF spokesperson later says the strikes were a response to the “terrorist actions and extensive attempts to breach Israeli territory earlier today.” In the West Bank, IDF troops violently disperse Friday protests against Israel’s occupation, settlements, and separation wall in Hebron, Kafr Qaddum near Qalqilya, and Ramallah; 2 Palestinians are injured. They also arrest 1 Palestinian during a raid near Bethlehem and patrol near Hebron and Qalqilya. Israeli settlers slash the tires of a number of Palestinian vehicles near Nablus overnight, and chop down 12 olive trees in a Palestinian grove outside ‘Urif near Nablus. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces clash with stonethrowing Palestinians in al-‘Izzariya; 1 Palestinian is arrested and 1 is wounded. A Palestinian demolishes his own car park in Silwan to avoid paying Israeli demolition fees. (EI, HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA 4/27; YA 4/28; PCHR 5/3)
Along Gaza’s border, Israeli forces conduct a limited incursion to level land near al-Bureij refugee camp. IDF troops then arrest 4 Palestinian minors attempting to cross into Israel near the site of the incursion, and violently disperse Palestinian protesters throwing stones at the border fence near the main Great March of Return tent camp outside Khan Yunis (1 Palestinian is injured). Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Jabaliya refugee camp, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, Israeli forces carry out the punitive demolition of the Jenin home of a Palestinian imprisoned in connection with the 1/9/18 killing of an Israeli settler. Meanwhile, Israeli settlers damage 20 Palestinian vehicles and spray-paint “Death to Arabs” on a nearby wall in Bayt Iksa. Some of the same settlers vandalize more Palestinian property in Rammun village near Ramallah later in the day. IDF troops arrest 1 Palestinian during a raid in Bethlehem, and patrol near Nablus, Hebron, and Qalqilya. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 5 Palestinians during raids in Silwan, Issawiyya, and the Old City. (MNA, TOI, WAFA 4/23; PCHR 4/26)
A deaf Palestinian succumbs to injuries sustained on 4/1 when the IDF violently dispersed peaceful protesters along Gaza’s border. A Palestinian witness to the shooting says that the deceased was walking away from the border fence when an Israeli sniper shot him in the back of the head. His death brings the death toll stemming from the Great March of Return to 36. (HA, MNA, WAFA 4/23; EI 4/24; PCHR 4/26; HQ 5/5)
A mortar fired from Syria lands in the Israelioccupied Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries. IDF artillery then shell the area from which the mortar was fired, causing an unclear amount of damage or injuries. “The IDF sees the Syrian civil regime as responsible for all that happens on its territory, and will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel or the security of its citizens,” the IDF states after the exchange. (HA, YA 4/23)
Palestinian diplomats file a formal complaint against Israel with the UN office in Geneva responsible for monitoring the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The complaint alleges that Israel has violated the convention in a variety of ways, including the parallel justice systems for Palestinians and settlers in the West Bank. “Not only is the purpose of the settlement regime discriminatory in itself, it is further maintained by a system of discriminatory measures, severely depriving Palestinians of their fundamental rights,” one diplomat says. (MNA 4/24)
Hundreds of Palestinians across the oPt gather at protests against U.S. pres. Trump’s 12/6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. IDF troops violently disperse them at the Qalandia checkpoint, central Jerusalem, Abu Dis village, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Hebron, Jericho, Qalqilya, and along Gaza’s border near al-Bureij refugee camp; 11 Palestinians are injured. Meanwhile, IDF troops arrest 8 Palestinians during late-night raids near Ramallah, Hebron, and in Biddu (East Jerusalem). Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats near Khan Yunis, causing no damage or injuries. Along Gaza’s border, Israeli forces fire sound bombs and artillery at Palestinian lands and other property near Gaza City and Khan Yunis, causing no serious damage. (HA, TOI, WAFA, YA 12/20; PCHR 12/21; PCHR 12/28)
Palestinian diplomatic delegations discuss the future of the peace process with local officials in Moscow and Beijing. PLO executive committee member Salih Ra‘fat says that the delegations are part of the Palestinians’ efforts to gather support in the wake of U.S. pres. Trump’s 12/6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Both Russia and China have expressed interest in becoming more active in the peace process, and the Palestinians are looking to replace the U.S. as sole mediator. (HA, TOI, WAFA 12/20)
U.S. pres. Trump threatens to cut economic aid to any country that votes in favor of a UNGA resolution rejecting his 12/6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which is set for a vote on 12/21. “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” he says. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.” (AP, HA, TOI, YA 12/20; HA 12/21)
Unidentified parties fire a rocket from Gaza toward Israel. It lands in an open area short of the border, causing no damage or injuries. An IDF tank shells and destroys a Hamas observation post east of al-Maghazi refugee camp. Israeli artillery also target a site east of Gaza City, causing a fire to break out; there is no major damage or injuries. Separately, IDF troops stationed along the border fence arrest 2 Palestinians attempting to cross from Gaza into Israel near Rafah, and open fire on Palestinian lands near al-Bureij refugee camp, causing no damage. In East Jerusalem, approximately 524 Israeli settlers tour Haram al-Sharif in the morning, commemorating the Jewish holiday Sukkot. Some of the settlers reportedly pray at the sanctuary. In the West Bank, the Israeli authorities shut down al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron to Muslim worshippers to make way for Sukkot-related activities at the site. IDF troops arrest 16 Palestinians and issue 1 arrest summons during late-night raids in and around Hebron, Jerusalem, Qalqilya, Bethlehem, Nablus, Salfit, and Jenin, and patrol near Tulkarm and Hebron. In Israel, approximately 30,000 Palestinians and Israelis gather in Jerusalem to call for a resumption of IsraeliPalestinian peace talks. The Israeli NGO Women Wage Peace organized the demonstration. Hamas denounces the PLO for supporting the rally, accusing it of “normalizing” relations with Israel. (HA, MNA, TOI, WAFA 10/8; MNA, TOI, WAFA 10/9; PCHR 10/12)
Unidentified assailants fire a rocket from Gaza into s. Israel; it lands in an open area, causing no damage or injuries. Late at night, the Israeli Air Force launches air strikes on 2 Hamas military sites nr. Gaza City and Rafah, causing damage to a number of Palestinian homes. Israeli artillery positioned along the border fence fire on agricultural lands nr. Gaza City as well, causing no serious damage or injuries. In the West Bank, IDF troops clash with stone-throwing Palestinians during late-night raids in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem, Bayt Umar and Bayt Awa nr. Hebron; at least 8 Palestinians are injured. They also arrest 8 Palestinians and issue 1 arrest summons during late-night raids nr. Hebron and Ramallah; and patrol nr. Hebron and Nablus during the day. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 2 Palestinians during raids in Abu Dis. (TOI 6/26; HA, JP, MNA, WAFA, YA 6/27; PCHR 7/6)
For a 3d day in a row, errant fire from Syria crosses into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The IDF says it was only a few bullets, and that they caused no damage or injuries. (HA, YA 6/26)
PASF troops violently disperse dozens of former Palestinian prisoners outside a govt. building in Ramallah; there are no serious injuries. The former prisoners were protesting the fact that the PA suspended payments to 277 former prisoners at the beginning of the mo. They vow to maintain pressure on the PA, insisting that Pres. Abbas not relent to Israeli and U.S. pressure to end the payments. The PA does not make any official statements on the protests or the payments. (MNA 6/26; EI 6/27; PCHR 7/6)
An Israeli settler stabs and injures a Palestinian youth at an IDF checkpoint nr. Bethlehem. Witnesses say they were having a personal dispute. Elsewhere in the West Bank, settlers shout anti-Arab insults at residents of Sanur village nr. Jenin and cut down 30 Palestinian olive trees nr. Nablus. Israeli human rights workers discover 45 Palestinian-owned olive trees destroyed outside Burin village nr. Nablus, as well as the Hebrew word for “revenge” scrawled in spray paint on a nearby stone. Hours later, Israeli settlers attack Israeli forces dismantling an illegally built structure nr. Nablus, sparking minor clashes; 3 settlers are arrested. IDF troops arrest 1 Palestinian during a late-night raid nr. Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 5 Palestinians during late-night raids in Silwan. (MNA, TOI 6/25; MNA 6/26)
For a 2d day in a row, errant projectiles fired from Syria land inside the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF fires missiles at a Syrian army truck and 2 artillery guns in the Golan Heights in response. “The IDF is not a side to the internal fight in Syria and isn’t involved in it,” an IDF statement on the incident reads. “However, it views with severity any attempt to harm the sovereignty of Israel and the safety of its citizens and considers the Syrian regime responsible for what transpires in its territory.” (AP, HA, MNA, TOI, YA 6/25)
Less than 24 hours after unidentified fighters fired a rocket from Gaza into Israel, Hamas fighters open fire on an IDF patrol nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing minor damage to 1 vehicle, according to the IDF. The IDF then launches a retaliatory air strike and several artillery salvos at Hamas positions along the border. The amount of damage caused is unclear. In the West Bank, IDF troops conduct raids in Zabbuba village nr. Jenin overnight, sparking clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians; there are no serious injuries. IDF troops conduct more raids nr. Qalqilya, confiscating 32 water pipes from a construction site; and patrol nr. Hebron and Salfit throughout the day. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 1 Palestinian during a raid in Silwan. In Israel, Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian home under construction in Kafr Kassim. They also conduct raids in Umm al-Hiran nr. Beersheba, leading residents to fear that more demolitions are imminent (Israeli forces demolished a number of structures in the village on 1/18). (HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA 3/2; PCHR 3/9)
Along Gaza’s border, unidentified Palestinians open fire on Israeli forces doing maintenance work on the border fence nr. Rafah, hitting a military vehicle and causing minor damage. In response, IDF troops and artillery fire on a Hamas post along the border, causing an unspecified amount of damage. Earlier in the day, Israeli forces conducted a limited incursion to level land nr. Khan Yunis. In the West Bank, IDF troops violently suppress a Palestinian demonstration in Bethlehem calling for the Israeli authorities to return the corpses of slain Palestinians; there are no serious injuries. They also arrest 14 Palestinians during late-night raids nr. Ramallah and Hebron, and patrol nr. Hebron and Qalqilya during the day. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 9 Palestinians during raids in Jabal Mukabir and Hizma, and assault and arrest 2 Palestinian youths in Silwan. Israeli settlers smash furniture and other personal property outside a Palestinian home in Silwan. (HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA, YA 1/15; PCHR 1/19)
Representatives from more than 70 countries, including U.S. secy. of state Kerry, gather in Paris for a conference aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. After reportedly intense negotiations, the conferees unanimously agree to a joint declaration calling on both the Palestinians and Israelis to officially restate their commitments to a 2-state solution and to demonstrate that commitment through policies and actions. Conferees also welcome the prospect of closer cooperation between the Middle East Quartet and the Arab League; and agree to meet again within a year; inter alia. (BBC, GDN, HA, JP, MNA, REU, TOI, WAFA, WP, YA 1/15; HA 1/20)
The Israeli govt. and the PA agree to restart the Joint Water Comm. after 6 years of inactivity. The comm. will discuss allocating additional water to the West Bank and Gaza, increasing water sources with new drilling, environmental issues, agricultural water use and other hydrological matters. The agreement also gives the PA autonomy to deal with select water projects in the West Bank. (JP, YA 1/15; JP 1/17)
Israel’s security cabinet grants Israeli banks dealing with Palestinian banks immunity from terrorism-related lawsuits in Israel and indemnity from similar suits filed abroad. Two Israeli banks have threatened to end partnerships with Palestinian banks because of the prospect of litigation in the U.S. (HA, TOI 1/22)
In a 5th day of cross-border violence in Gaza, Palestinian fighters fire 2 mortar shells into s. Israel overnight, causing damage and no injuries; Israeli forces respond with air strikes on 2 Hamas targets nr. Khan Yunis and artillery fire on areas nr. Rafah, causing damage. Following the morning’s violence, Israel and Hamas agree to deescalate tensions along Gaza’s border. Israeli forces pull back from the so-called Access Restricted Areas along the border fence and Hamas fighters maintain a cease-fire. Qatar, Egypt, and the UN were reportedly involved in the deescalation talks. Meanwhile, Israeli officials say they plan to continue anti-tunnel operations in the coming weeks. (JP, TOI 5/7; YA 5/8; PCHR 5/12)
IDF troops stationed along the border nr. Gaza City open fire on Palestinian farmers, causing no injuries. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces confront Palestinian fishing boats nr. Bayt Lahiya, arresting 2 fishermen and confiscating their boat. In the West Bank, IDF troops shoot and injure a Palestinian attempting to climb the separation wall and enter Jerusalem, causing minor injuries; and arrest a Palestinian at a checkpoint in Jericho when they find he is carrying a knife. They also conduct raids and house searches in Hebron, and 1 village each nr. Tulkarm and Bethlehem, arresting 3 Palestinians and issuing arrest summons to 1; patrol in and around Tulkarm and Hebron. Israeli settlers assault 2 Palestinian human rights activists in Hebron, destroying some of their personal property. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces violently disperse stone-throwing Palestinians in Silwan, arresting 3. (EI, HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA, YA 5/7; PCHR 5/12)
At least 4 rockets are fired from Syria into the Galilee area of n. Israel and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries. Claiming it was a deliberate attack by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the IDF carries out artillery and air strikes on 14 Syrian govt. sites in the Syrian Golan Heights, killing at least 1 person and injuring at least 7. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces detain a Palestinian woman at an entrance to Haram al-Sharif as right-wing Jewish activists tour the sanctuary; light clashes break out, but there are no serious injuries. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers enter the Nablus area to perform religious rites at Joseph’s Tomb, sparking confrontations between the settlers’ IDF escort and Palestinian residents; there are no serious injuries. Israeli forces demolish a number of residential structures and an agricultural facility nr. Tubas. IDF troops conduct late-night house searches and raids in 1 village nr. Hebron; patrol during the day in al-‘Arub r.c. as well as nr. Hebron and Tulkarm. Off Gaza’s coast nr. Bayt Lahiya, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats, causing no damage or injuries. (HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA, YA 8/20; HA, MNA 8/21; PCHR 8/27)
In the Gaza Strip, around 200 Palestinians violently protest outside the UN’s headquarters in Gaza City against UNRWA’s 1/27 suspension of its cash assistance program. The protest was organized by a Hamas comm. IDF troops e. of Khan Yunis open fire on agricultural lands, causing damage. Unknown assailants set fire to a Fatah official’s car in Gaza City. Also, dozens of Palestinian health professionals gather outside the Ministry of Health building to protest unpaid salaries. In the West Bank, a Palestinian youth is moderately injured when he sets off a piece of unexploded Israeli ordnance left over after recent IDF exercises nr. ‘Ayn al-Hilwa in the Jordan Valley. The IDF conducts arrest raids and house searches nr. Hebron and Jenin. In East Jerusalem, IDF troops conduct house searches and arrest raids in the Old City. An Israeli settler attempts to kidnap a Palestinian youth in Silwan, moderately injuring him in the attack. (AFP, MNA, WAFA 1/28; HA, MNA, PCHR 1/29; HA 1/30; PCHR 2/5)
Hours after the IDF retaliated to projectile fire from Syria on 1/27, Hizballah fighters fire an antitank missile from inside Lebanon at an IDF convoy in a disputed area along the border nr. Shaba‘ Farms, killing 2 soldiers and injuring 7. The IDF responds with artillery fire, killing a Spanish peacekeeper with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). About an hour later, Hizballah fires mortars at several IDF positions in the area, causing no injuries. The IDF responds again by firing between 25 and 50 artillery shells and conducting IAF flyovers. Following the exchange, Hizballah and the Israeli govt. then exchange messages through UNIFIL expressing the desire to avoid further escalation. (AFP, BBC, HA, JP, MNA, TOI 1/28)
U.S. House of Reps. minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) calls Israeli PM Netanyahu and asks him to postpone or cancel his planned 3/3 congressional address. Netanyahu also speaks to Sens. Harry Reid (D-NV), the minority leader, and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a prominent supporter of Israel. (RC 1/28; JP 1/29; HA 1/30)
The Palestinian and Israeli negotiators agree on an open-ended cease-fire deal, which PA Pres. Abbas confirms in a brief televised address. The agreement contains 3 points: Israel will permit humanitarian aid and construction material to enter Gaza; Israel will restore the fishing zone from 3 to 6 naut. mi. away from the shore, and gradually extend it to 12 by the end of 2014; and indirect negotiations will continue within 1 mo. in Cairo to deal with the remaining disputes, including Hamas’s demand for sea and airports in Gaza, and the release of recently rearrested prisoners who were released in the Shalit deal. Additionally, talks between Palestinian officials and Egyptian authorities are scheduled to take place soon with the goal of opening the Rafah crossing permanently. Israeli PM Netanyahu agrees to the cease-fire deal without putting it to a vote in the security cabinet, a move reportedly opposed by Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Haaretz reports that over half of the security cabinet would have voted against the deal. (AFP, AJ, AP, HA, JP, MNA, NYT, WP 8/26)
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault and armed Palestinian groups continue firing projectiles into Israel until the new ceasefire goes into effect in the evening. The Israeli air force hits approximately 32 targets, while IDF troops stationed along the border fence open fire on 3 occasions, 2 with artillery and 1 with live ammunition. Six Palestinians die in the attacks, and dozens are injured. Among the targets in Gaza is the so-called Italian building, a 13-story residential and commercial complex. Though the building is mostly empty at the time of the Israeli strikes, its destruction leaves around 70 families homeless. Prior to the cease-fire, the armed Palestinian groups launch more than 180 projectiles into Israel, killing 2 Israelis and wounding 5. In the West Bank, 7 Israeli settlers attack a Palestinian nr. Jerusalem with knives and stones, leaving him unconscious. The IDF conducts house searches and raids in Nablus, 3 villages nr. Hebron, 3 villages nr. Ramallah, Jenin, 1 village nr. Jenin, and Tulkarm, arresting 17; patrols in 2 villages nr. Hebron and 2 villages nr. Salfit. In East Jerusalem, dozens of Palestinians gather in Bayt Hanina, al-Tur, and Wadi al-Juz to celebrate the cease-fire announcement and Israeli security forces disperse the celebrations with waste water, sound bombs, and tear gas. One Palestinian is arrested in Wadi al-Juz. (MNA, REU, YA 8/26; HA 8/27; PCHR 8/28)
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with strikes on around 53 targets, killing 12 Palestinians and injuring dozens more. Also, IDF troops stationed nr. the border shell areas across the fence with artillery in 2 incidents. The armed Palestinian groups launch over 120 projectiles into Israel; of which, 102 land in open areas, 4 in urban areas, and 16 are intercepted by Iron Dome batteries. Also, Israeli authorities reopen the Erez border crossing, after closing it on 8/24. In the West Bank, a Palestinian teenager dies from injuries sustained in clashes with IDF troops on 8/15. The IDF conducts house searches and raids in 2 neighborhoods in Ramallah, Tulkarm r.c., and 1 suburb of Tulkarm, arresting 4. During the day, IDF troops conduct patrols in al-Fawar r.c., Hebron, and 1 village nr. Hebron; establish mobile checkpoints in 1 village nr. Hebron and 2 villages nr. Ramallah. In a village nr. Salfit, PA security forces detain 3 armed Israeli settlers and turn them over to IDF troops. In East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces enter Silwan to set up a mobile checkpoint and raid several houses. Stone-throwing Palestinian youth clash with the soldiers, but there are no arrests or injuries. (HA 8/25; PCHR 8/28)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators return to Cairo and reports appear in the press of a potential breakthrough. Senior Islamic Jihad officials Khalid al-Batsh and Ziad Nakhleh are quoted saying they believe an agreement will be made within hours. Lebanon-based Hamas official Usama Hamdan says “there has been positive and fast progress.” An anonymous Palestinian official says that the Palestinian delegation would accept the new Egyptian proposal that would open the crossings into Gaza for aid and construction material, and defer disputed points to further negotiations to be held in 1 mo. Notably, Egypt requires the Rafah crossing to be negotiated with the Palestinians directly, separate from the indirect negotiations with the Israelis. Later in the day, however, senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzuq says that there has been no progress in talks. (HA, JP, MNA, ToI, Yahoo! 8/25)
In closed meetings at the UN headquarters in New York, U.S. diplomats present principles for a UNSC res. that would call for a cease-fire in Gaza and conduct meetings with their German, French, and British counterparts, as well as Jordanians, in the hope of reconciling the 3 different proposals. The U.S. has sent Israel and Egypt a draft of the principles in the past 2 days. The Jordanian draft includes an international monitoring mechanism and the other 2 do not. (JP, REU 8/25)
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with air strikes on over 50 targets, killing 18 Palestinians and injuring dozens more. Also,IDF troops stationed nr. the border shell areas across the fence with artillery in 3 incidents. The armed Palestinian groups launch approximately 135 projectiles into Israel; of which, 125 land in open areas, 5 in urban areas, and 10 are intercepted by Iron Dome batteries. Israeli authorities temporarily close the Erez border crossing, except for humanitarian cases, in response to a mortar shell wounding 3 Israelis nearby, which is claimed by al-Qassam Brigades. In the West Bank, approximately 400 Israeli settlers, escorted by IDF troops, enter a village nr. Salfit to visit religious monuments. In a village w. of Ramallah, IDF troops open fire with live ammunition and tear gas on a group of stone-throwing Palestinian youth, injuring 1. Separately, IDF troops fire tear gas at Palestinian children on their way to school in a village s. of Hebron; establish 5 mobile checkpoints around Ramallah; and conduct patrols in Hebron and 2 villages nr. Jericho. Late at night, the IDF conducts 1 house search and arrest raid in a village nr. Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces enter Wadi al-Juz to set up a mobile checkpoint and raid 2 houses. (JP, JTA, YA 8/24; HA 8/25; PCHR 8/28)
Israeli PM Netanyahu says that OPE will continue until its goals are reached, in comments to the press ahead of a special cabinet meeting at the Israeli Defense Ministry. Also, the Israeli govt. calls up 10,000 additional reserve troops. (AP, HA 8/24; AFP, HA 8/25)
After meetings with Arab League secy.-gen. Nabil al-‘Arabi and reps. of several Palestinian factions, PA Pres. Abbas returns to Ramallah from Cairo. Abbas will meet with senior Palestinian officials to further develop his new diplomatic initiative before U.S. Secy. of State Kerry visits in the coming days. Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khalid Mishal says in an interview with Iranian TV that Hamas would not return to negotiations in Cairo. (JP 8/24; HA, ToI 8/25)
In the Gaza Strip, the IDF continues its assault with attacks on 41 targets, killing 11 Palestinians and injuring dozens. Israeli fighter jets and drones strike targets in n. Gaza, as well as nr. Gaza City, Khan Yunis, and Rafah, while IDF troops fire smoke bombs and live ammunition across the Israel-Gaza border in 1 location and Israeli artillery shelling hits 2 others. The armed Palestinian groups fire over 100 projectiles into Israel; of which, 3 land in urban areas, 73 land in open areas, and 17 are intercepted by Iron Dome batteries. Meanwhile, Hamas executes 4 alleged collaborators with Israel in the courtyard of a mosque in Jabaliya r.c. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts patrols in Hebron and 2 nearby villages, as well as 1 village nr. Ramallah. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces clash with a group of Palestinian youth outside a checkpoint nr. Shu‘fat, and 1 Palestinian is wounded when the soldiers open fire with tear gas and rubbercoated metal bullets. (AFP, AP, HA, MNA 8/23; PCHR 8/28)
Following talks between Hamas leader Mishal and PA Pres. Abbas in Doha on 8/21 and 8/22, Hamas publicly agrees to support Abbas’s application to join the ICC. According to PLO chief negotiator Erakat, only Islamic Jihad has not yet approved the document Abbas is asking all Palestinian factions to sign before he moves forward. (AFP, AP, MNA 8/23)
On the diplomatic front, Abbas travels to Cairo for talks with Egyptian pres. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. After their meeting, Abbas says “my main goal is for the truce talks to resume in Egypt as soon as possible.” In an interview on Egyptian television, Abbas says that he is planning a major diplomatic initiative and that he will present the plan to U.S. Secy. of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to visit the region in the coming days. The plan reportedly includes asking the UN to set a timetable for the Israeli occupation and signing the Rome Statue on behalf of the PA, which would give the ICC jurisdiction over cases relating to the occupation. For its part, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry releases a statement after the Abbas/al-Sisi meeting inviting the Israelis and Palestinians to return to Cairo for further cease-fire negotiations. (AJ, HA, WSJ 8/23)
Israeli PM Netanyahu holds talks with UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon. Netanyahu compares Hamas to ISIS, in reference to the group’s 8/22 execution of collaborators, and blames the group for the latest escalation in violence. (AJ, HA, REU 8/23)
In the evening, 2 rockets are fired from Lebanon into n. Israel. No group claims responsibility for the attack, though Lebanese military officials suspect a small, local Palestinian group. Late at night, 5 rockets are fired from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israeli military officials say that a Palestinian group, not Syrian govt. forces, is responsible. Between the 2 sets of rocket attacks, 8 Israelis are lightly injured. (DS, JP, REU 8/23; AFP, HA, YA 8/24)
The IDF continues its assault on the Gaza Strip by air, land, and sea, killing 132 Palestinians. In one attack, Israeli artillery fire hits an UNRWA school serving as a shelter for the displaced, killing at least 16. Following the attack on the power plant on 7/29, electricity in Gaza City is only available for 2 hours a day and large areas of c. Gaza have no electricity at all. In the West Bank, an armed Palestinian opens fire at IDF troops during a raid in Qublan village nr. Nablus, causing 1 injury. The IDF conducts raids during the day in Hebron and 2 villages and al-‘Arub r.c. nearby, and 1 village nr. Salfit. (AFP, AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU 7/30; PCHR 7/31)
In response to the attack on the UNRWA school, White House dep. press secy. Eric Schultz says that the Obama administration expects “a full, prompt and thorough investigation” into the shelling, but does not mention Israeli strikes in the area. UN Secy.- Gen. Ban condemns the Israeli attack on the UNRWA school “in the strongest possible terms” as “outrageous” and “unjustifiable.” PA Pres. Abbas says in a letter to Ban that Gaza has become a “humanitarian disaster area” and urges the UN to use “all tools available” to “provide relief and help to the Palestinian people.” (AFP, AP, HA, REU, YA 7/30)
Abbas continues talks with officials from Egypt, the U.S., and others, along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to work toward a cease-fire. Two Israeli officials visit Cairo for a few hours to discuss proposals for a truce with Egyptian officials. (JP, MNA, REU, YA 7/30)
The IDF continues attacks across the Gaza Strip, killing 18 Palestinians. Also, the IDF drops leaflets over Bayt Lahiya that tell residents to evacuate ahead of intensified attacks. In response, around a quarter of Bayt Lahiya’s population, approximately 70,000 people, flees and seeks shelter in UNRWA facilities. Palestinians fire more than 70 rockets into Israel, causing some damage and injuring 1 with shrapnel. Meanwhile, Palestinian gunmen execute an alleged collaborator with Israel in Rafah. (AP, HA, JP, MNA, PCHR, REU 7/13)
While in Vienna for talks on Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. Secy. of State Kerry speaks with PM Netanyahu on the phone, and says that the U.S. is ready to help broker a cease-fire along the lines of the 11/2012 agreement. Also, Kerry discusses the crisis with his French, British, and German counterparts. Speaking in Vienna, French FM Fabius and British foreign secy. William Hague both urge a return to the ceasefire agreement of 11/2012. Israeli PM Netanyahu says at his weekly cabinet meeting that “we don’t know when the operation will end” and that “it might take a long time.” (AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU 7/13)
For the 3d day in a row, 2 rockets fired from inside Lebanon land in n. Israel, causing no damage or injuries. IDF troops reply with artillery fire. There is no claim of responsibility for the rocket attack. (AP, HA, REU 7/13)
Unknown persons fire 1 rocket from inside Syria and into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, causing no damage or injuries. IDF troops respond with artillery fire toward Syrian military bases, and claim direct hits, though there are no reports of damage or casualties. (HA 7/13)
As many as 35 unidentified gunmen attack an Egyptian checkpoint near the Rafah border, fatally shooting 16 Egyptian security officers and wounding 3. Some of the assailants then steal 2 armored personnel carriers, which they pack with explosives and drive toward Kerem Shalom commercial crossing, where the borders of Egypt, Israel, and Gaza meet. The IDF calls in an air strike on the vehicles as they breach the border, killing at least 3 assailants. No group takes responsibility. Egypt seals the Rafah border crossing into Gaza as a precaution. Israel shuts the Israeli-Egypt side of Kerem Shalom and halts fuel shipments to Gaza through the Israel-Gaza side, but otherwise continues to allow limited imports of goods from Israel to Gaza. Hamas authorities in Gaza deny any Palestinian involvement, call the attack ‘‘terrorism,’’ and close smuggling tunnels from their side as well, stating that ‘‘Palestinian resistance factions are committed to fighting only against the Israeli occupation, and they launch their operations only from the Palestinian territories.’’ (MNA, NYT, WP 8/6; NYT 8/7)
An Israeli warplane makes an air strike on Rafah targeting 2 Tawhid and Jihad mbrs. as they ride a motorcycle through Rafah, assassinating Eid Oukal and wounding Ahmad Said Isma‘il; Israel accuses the men of being behind the 6/18 Sinai attack that killed an Israeli Palestinian worker and of plotting other crossborder attacks on Israeli civilians; no mention is made of the Sinai attack earlier in the day. Later, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds by directing artillery fire and shooting from helicopters at the demolished Dahaniyya airport site and open areas e. of Rafah for several hours, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, and Ramallah. (NYT, PCHR 8/6; PCHR 8/9; OCHA 8/10)
The PA cancels plans to host a meeting in Ramallah of foreign envoys representing the Non-Aligned Movement to express solidarity with the Palestinians, stating that Israel has refused to grant entry permits to the representatives of Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Indonesia, and Malaysia on the grounds that their countries do not recognize the State of Israel. The PA reportedly (NYT 8/6) intended to announce plans to revive its UN statehood effort at the opening of the next UNGA session in 9/2012. The group was also expected to release a ‘‘Ramallah Declaration’’ denouncing Israeli settlement expansion. (NYT, WP 8/6)
Iran airs the confessions of more than a dozen alleged conspirators to the killing of 5 nuclear scientists since 2010, claiming that the suspects were trained in Israel by the Mossad. (WP 8/6)
IDF troops make a brief incursion into n. Gaza nr. Bayt Lahiya for unknown reasons and are engaged by a Hamas border patrol unit, causing no initial casualties; the IDF troops call in artillery fire, directing at least 4 shells at the surrounding area (forcing local farmers to flee, injuring 2 civilians, and damaging a civilian vehicle), and deploy drones and helicopters to chase and fire missiles at Hamas mbrs., firing at least 3 missiles that kill 2 IQB mbrs. and cause some collateral damage. In the West Bank, the IDF takes down several electricity poles supplying bedouin encampments nr. Havat Maon unauthorized settlement outpost nr. Hebron, stating that no permit was obtained to expand electricity services; patrols in Tulkarm in the morning and 1 village nr. Ramallah late at night. (PCHR 11/17; OCHA 11/18)
Cross-border exchanges in Gaza continue overnight and throughout the day. The PRCs, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB), and a small Salafist group (the Abdullah Azzam Brigades) fire around 17 rockets (including at least 4 Grads) and at least 2 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring 2 Israelis and damaging a religious seminary and a synagogue. The IDF carries out at least 25 air strikes (warplanes and drones) and 5 artillery strikes, killing at least another 7 Palestinians (5 militants and 2 bystanders, including 1 child) and wounding at least 40; the attacks include the targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad’s senior military cmdr. Mu’ataz Quraiqe‘ in Gaza City, also killing his brother and 2-yr.-old son. (The other 4 militants killed, including senior PRC cmdr. Samed Abed, apparently were targeted after firing rockets.) Other targets include smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, the main waste treatment facility in Nussayrat refugee camp (r.c.) in central Gaza, and numerous Hamas facilities and suspected weapons storage facilities across the Strip. With air strikes continuing into the evening, Hamas’s military wing, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), declares that it no longer considers itself bound by a unilateral cease-fire that had been in place since the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 1/2009. Israeli officials discuss the possibility of launching an all-out offensive on Gaza. A Hamas mbr. injured in an 8/15/11 Israeli air strike on Gaza dies. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Jenin and 1 each nr. Jericho, Qalqilya, and Ramallah. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Kafr Qaddum, Ni‘lin, and al-Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers beat and fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 1 Palestinian. (JP, MNA, YA 8/19; NYT, WP 8/20; IMEU, JAZ 8/21; PCHR 8/25; OCHA 8/26; NYT 8/27)
In Cairo, 100s of Egyptians angry over Israel’s killing of 3 soldiers in the Sinai on 8/18 gather outside the Israeli emb., demanding Israel’s amb. be expelled. Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF; the interim military leadership) summons the Israeli amb. to demand an apology and call for an investigation into the killings. The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for pres., Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh, calls the incident an Israeli act of war, saying the SCAF should abrogate the 1979 peace treaty. (NYT, WP 8/20)
On the anniversary of the Nakba, 1,000s of Palestinians fr. the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria stage marches (mostly nonviolent, though some stone throwing) toward the Israeli border. In Lebanon, though troops, riot police, and UNIFIL soldiers deploy to prevent marchers fr. reaching the border, a large group succeeds in reaching the border fence nr. Hizballah-controlled Maroun al-Ras village, where they throw stones at IDF troops. IDF troops open fire into Lebanon, leaving 10 Palestinians dead and at least 112 wounded. Palestinians refugees marching fr. Syria knock down the border fence into the Golan Heights, enter the Druze village of Majdal Shams, and rally in the village square, erecting Palestinian flags. IDF troops open fire to drive them back across the border, killing 4 Palestinians and wounding around 200. On the border with Jordan, Jordanian troops fired tear gas and scuffle with some 800 Palestinians, preventing them fr. reaching the border, leaving 14 demonstrators and 3 police officers lightly injured. In Egypt, govt. forces reinforce their border, preventing some 250 Palestinians fr. marching to the Rafah crossing. In Cairo, riot police fire tear gas, disperse protesters converging on the Israeli embassy, injuring around 120. On the Gaza border, IDF troops fire live ammunition and artillery at Gazans marching toward the border, wounding at least 125. In the West Bank, IDF troops fire tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse around 1,000 stone-throwing Palestinians marching toward the Qalandia crossing (injuring 10s) and violently beat scores of Palestinians marching fr. Palestinian-controlled area A toward Israeli security-controlled area B in Hebron (injuring 10s). A large peaceful rally commemorating the Nakba is held in Ramallah. Numerous smaller and protests clashes are also reported in the West Bank and East Jerusalem; rights groups say some 185 Palestinians have been injured in these clashes over the past 3 days, 153 of them in Jerusalem. Netanyahu accuses the demonstrators of “incitement” and challenging “the very existence of Israel.” Other Israeli officials accuse Iran and Syria of instigating the Palestinians, noting that Syrian security did nothing to prevent Palestinians fr. approaching the border. (DS, IFM, IsRN, JAZ, JP, MA, YA 5/15; Christian Science Monitor, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 5/16)
Unrelated to the “March to Palestine,” IDF troops fired across the border into Gaza, killing a Palestinian who allegedly was planting an explosive device. Inside Israel, an Israeli Palestinian drives his truck into several cars, a bus, and pedestrians in Tel Aviv, killing 1 Israeli and injuring 17 in what Israeli police say was a deliberate terrorist attack; the driver, who is arrested, strongly denies deliberately harming anyone, saying he lost control of his vehicle when a tire blew. The IDF also patrols in 2 village nr. Qalqilya (arresting 1 Palestinian teenager for throwing stones) and 2 nr. Tulkarm; sends undercover units into Nur al-Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm late at night, surrounding and raiding a house and arresting 1 Palestinian; conducts other late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around al-‘Arub r.c. and Hebron, and nr. Salfit. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba settlement in Hebron throw 4 Molotov cocktails at a nearby Palestinian home, causing minor damage. Israel resumes transferring VAT taxes to the PA (see 5/1), having received PA assurances that none of the money would be accessible to Hamas under the new Fatah-Hamas unity deal, but warning that it would reconsider suspending transfers if Hamas was allowed to join a PA govt. (NYT 5/16; PCHR 5/19; OCHA 5/20)
At quarter’s end, fierce fighting is ongoing in Libya and NATO intervention continues. Rebel-held areas increasingly report shortages of food and medical supplies. No reliable figures on casualties are available since independent media access and communications are extremely difficult. Deaths are thought to be well into the 1,000s and perhaps as high as 10,000. (WP 5/16; REU 6/9)
In the West Bank, the IDF makes a major incursion into Silat al-Harithiyya nr. Jenin in the afternoon, storming 4 houses, arresting several Palestinians, and ordering all residents to surrender their cell phones; patrols in al-Bireh, 2 villages nr. Ramallah, and 1 nr. Tulkarm (firing on stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries); conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in ‘Azun, Tubas. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 3 Palestinians; 1 Palestinian child is arrested. (OCHA, PCHR 5/12)
In Syria, troops use heavy machine guns and artillery against Syrians demonstrating after Friday prayers in Homs; at least 11 protesters and 10 soldiers are killed. Other protests continue nationwide. (NYT, WP 5/7)
The IDF continues heavy air strikes (including 1 missile dropped fr. a war plane and 13 missiles fired fr. helicopters and drones) and artillery attacks (more than a dozen) hitting at least 19 targets across Gaza, killing another 11 Palestinians (5 civilians and 6 militants), wounding 20 (19 civilians and 1 militant), and damaging a commercial building and several homes. Israeli DM Barak stresses that the assaults are in response to the bus attack on 4/7 and not the start of a major offensive. Palestinians fire another 24 mortars and 6 rockets, causing damage in 2 incidents but no injuries. Various factions claim responsibility for firing, including the AMB, DFLP, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the PRCs. Israel’s new Iron Dome system intercepts 3 of the rockets. In addition, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fired warning shots at Palestinian farmers nr. the border fence, forcing them to flee. Israeli naval vessels fired toward the Gaza City beach and at Palestinian fishermen off the coast w. of Nussayrat r.c., causing no injuries. With the past 24 hrs. marking the worst flare-up in crossborder violence since OCL, UN Secy.-Gen. Ban calls on both sides to observe a ceasefire immediately. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Jericho and 2 villages nr. Ramallah (firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries); conducts morning arrest raids, house searches nr. Jericho. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Nabi Salih/Dayr Nizam. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, causing no serious injuries; 5 Palestinians are arrested. (IsRN, JP, MNA 4/8; JP, MNA, NYT, WP 4/9; IFM 4/10; PCHR 4/14; OCHA 4/15)
In retaliation for a 4/1 air strike that killed 3 senior Hamas mbrs., Hamas militants fire an advanced Russian-made laser-guided Kornet antitank missile fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a school bus and wounding the bus driver and 1 student and marking a serious escalation of crossborder violence. During the rest of the day, Palestinians fire around 45 rockets and mortars into Israel, damaging 1 house but causing no injuries; the barrage includes 2 Grad rockets that were intercepted by Israel’s new Iron Dome missile defense system. The IDF retaliates with heavy artillery fire (10s of rounds fired) and more than 20 air strikes (including missiles dropped fr. war planes and fired fr. helicopters and drones) against at least 16 targets across the Gaza Strip, killing 5 Palestinians (1 Hamas mbr. and 4 civilians) and wounding 20 (at least 19 civilians), and collaterally damaging 10s of homes. In the West Bank, the IDF bulldozes 3 roads, 10 electricity poles, 2 walls surrounding a home, and part of a room of a house nr. Tubas; patrols in and around Tulkarm town and r.c., in al-Bireh, and in 3 villages nr. Qalqilya and Ramallah (firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries); conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Qalqilya in the afternoon. (IsRN, JP 4/7; NYT, WP 4/8; IFM 4/9, 4/10; HA 4/11; PCHR 4/14; OCHA 4/15)
After 4 days of violent protests in Yemen (at least 12 dead, more than 270 injured), the GCC begins efforts to broker a deal for Saleh’s rapid transition fr. power. (NYT 4/8; see also NYT, WP 4/4; NYT, WP, WT 4/5–6)
Palestinians fire several mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on several smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, killing 2 Palestinians inside a tunnel. IDF troops also make an incursion into Gaza e. of Jabaliya, firing on houses and agricultural areas, while artillery inside Israel shells the area; IDF troops withdraw after nearly 5 hrs., causing no reported injuries. IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on Palestinian farmers working their fields nr. Khuza village nr. the border, lightly wounding 1. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire on Palestinian homes and agricultural land northeast of Bayt Hanun, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem. (WT 5/3; OCHA 5/6; PCHR 5/7)
The IDF significantly increases attacks on Gaza for the 2d straight day, as international mediation efforts led by Egypt to secure a cease-fire also intensify.
Combat notes: The IDF tightens the cordon around Gaza City (focusing attacks on the outlying neighborhoods of Shaykh Ajlin, Tal al-Hawa, and al-Zaytun and open areas n. of the city), with troops reportedly taking fire from Palestinian rocket-propelled grenade antitank missiles and mortars. The IDF also launches a major incursion into Jabaliya under heavy shelling, engaging in heavy exchanges of fire with Palestinian gunmen, killing at least 13. In s. Gaza, the IDF continues heavy attacks on Khuza, including air strikes, intense shelling, and widespread bulldozing of some 50 houses and farms; Israeli fire is so heavy and constant that residents report being unable to reach the injured or flee their homes to seek shelter outside the village; IDF troops pull back fr. Khuza after nightfall.
The IDF reports carrying out more than 160 air strikes across Gaza. Air strike target areas include Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza, Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, al-Shuka, Tal al-Za‘atar, and the Twam area. Israeli gunboats shell Nussayrat r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported nr. Bayt Lahiya (white phosphorous suspected) and in Dayr al-Balah, Jabaliya town, Khan Yunis (white phosphorous suspected), Khuza, Nussayrat r.c. (confirmed use of flechette shells). For a 2d day, nearly half of the air strikes take place after nightfall, targeting Gaza City. Palestinians report 12 hrs. of constant Israeli bombardment of the Rafah border, with the IDF claiming to destroy 90 smuggling tunnels. (The IDF also demolishes 1 tunnel on the Gaza–Israel border nr. the Nahal Oz crossing.) Specific targets include a Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, 31 groups of armed men, 25 rocket-launching sites, and 13 suspected weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.
On the ground, the IDF reports a total of 6 soldiers wounded (2 moderately, 4 lightly) in 2 exchanges of gunfire with Palestinians. In a 3d incident, IDF reservists open fire on an IDF paratrooper unit, seriously wounding 1 and moderately wounding 3. Palestinians report around 70 Gazans killed today, putting the estimated Palestinian toll at 971 dead and 4,400 wounded. The Israeli toll stands at 13–14 dead, more than 125 injured. (Israeli military intelligence confirms that 1 soldier killed on 1/6 or 1/8 was targeted by a suicide bomber, stating that several Palestinian suicide bombers, including some women and some dressed as IDF soldiers, have approached combat units.)
Palestinians fire about 11 rockets and 6 mortars into Israel, causing no reported damage or injuries.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes another 3-hr. lull, allowing 102 truckloads of aid into Gaza. (The IDF states that 1,028 truckloads of humanitarian goods have been allowed into Gaza since 12/27.) During the lull the ICRC rescues 100 Palestinians trapped in Jabaliya. Heavy IDF attacks in Rafah force UNRWA to close a medical center just n. of the border to ensure the safety of patients and to open more shelters for displaced residents. Human Rights Watch calls Israel’s 3-hr./day breaks to facilitate humanitarian aid “woefully insufficient.” Other aid groups (including Doctors Without Borders, the ICRC, the UN) complain that they are still able to import and distribute only a fraction of the emergency supplies available for Gaza because of Israeli delays and restrictions. (BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, MA, MM, REU, YA 1/13; AYM, IDF, IFM, MM, NYT, WP, WT, YA 1/14; NYT, PCHR, WP, XIN 1/15; ITIC 1/19)
In the West Bank, IDF troops at the Tarqumiyya crossing nr. Hebron fatally shoot a Palestinian who allegedly attempts to grab the gun of a border patrol officer after being denied permission to cross the checkpoint. Late in the evening, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Awa, Dura, and Kafr Khalil (all nr. Hebron). A Jewish settler driving nr. Azun village e. of Qalqilya opens fire on Palestinian youths who stone his car, killing 1 Palestinian teenager, wounding 2. (HA 1/13; PCHR 1/15)
A Jordanian soldier fires on an Israeli border patrol unit operating along the Negev border with Jordan n. of Elat. The border police return fire. No injuries are reported. (MM 1/13; WT 1/14; JPI 1/23)
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)
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)