265 / 15241 Results
  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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...

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  • 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),...

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  • 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,...

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  • 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,...

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  • December 28, 2008

    As massive Israeli strikes on Gaza enter a 2d day, IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yo’av Galant says (HA 12/28) that the IDF aims to “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of Hamas’s...

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  • December 26, 2008

    Israeli DM Barak gives Israeli military and intelligence chiefs the final go-ahead to launch an offensive against Gaza. Olmert and his senior staff begin quietly briefing opposition leaders and...

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  • December 24, 2008

    Citing the Hamas deaths on 12/23, Hamas fires some 80 rockets and mortars fr. Gaza toward Israel, damaging a factory, home, and several other structures but causing no injuries in Israel; 1 rocket...

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  • December 23, 2008

    The IDF kills 3 Hamas mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the Gaza border, marking the deadliest day in Gaza since the truce expired on 12/19. Palestinians fire 2 rockets, 1 mortar fr. Gaza into...

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  • December 20, 2008

    Palestinians fire 10 rockets, 23 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing light damage to 1 building but no injuries; the AMB takes responsibility for the mortar fire. In response, the IDF fires a...

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  • November 25, 2008

    Israel reseals Gaza’s borders a day after reopening them, citing 1 Palestinian rocket fired into Israel today, causing no damage or injuries. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian...

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  • November 24, 2008

    Israel allows 32 truckloads of humanitarian aid, limited fuel imports, and some currency imports into Gaza but maintains a ban on foreign journalists (ban now in place for more than 2 wks.). The...

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  • November 18, 2008

    Israel reseals crossings into Gaza, citing continued Palestinian mortar and rocket fire. Palestinian rocket fire immediately falls to near zero. The IDF sends tanks into s. Gaza to disable...

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  • November 16, 2008

    As the quarter opens, Israel maintains its strict siege of Gaza, imposed following Hamas’s 6/07 takeover of Gaza and tightened dramatically in 1/08 to allow no exports and only the bare minimum of...

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  • November 14, 2008

    AsIsrael continues to seal Gaza’s borders completely, aid agencies (including Oxfam and UNRWA) warn of an impending humanitarian crisis. UNRWA Gaza dir. John Ging states that “it is unprecedented...

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  • November 6, 2008

    U.S. Secy. of State Rice begins her final 4-day Middle East tour of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank to discuss efforts to achieve “lasting peace in the region consistent with the goal of...

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  • October 1, 2008

    The UN reports that 1 Palestinian rocket was fired toward Israel between 9/21 and 9/27 but landed inside Gaza, causing no damage or injuries; the last Palestinian rocket fired was on 9/14. In the...

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  • July 1, 2008

    Israel reseals Gaza’s border crossings in the morning, saying that overnight its radar detected a Palestinians rocket launched from n. Gaza toward Israel (though admitting it has not found any...

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  • 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...

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  • June 12, 2008

    In Gaza, the IDF fatally shoots 2 armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence n. of Bayt Lahiya; makes an air strike on a group of IQB mbrs. in Khuza, wounding 2; makes a late-...

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  • May 14, 2008

    Overnight, the IDF makes an incursion into Abasan, raiding and searching homes, occupying several as operational bases, making air strikes on local gunmen who confront them (killing 1 Hamas mbr.,...

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  • April 18, 2008

    IDF troops make a late-night incursion into Gaza City, clashing with local armed Palestinians, killing 1, wounding 3. Palestinians fire 4 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no...

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  • April 16, 2008

    Israel resumes shipments (suspended 4/9) of industrial gasoline for Gaza’s power plant but continues to suspend gasoline and diesel for cars and generators. The UNOCHA calls the fuel supplies for...

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  • March 15, 2008

    The IDF shells a rocket-launching site in Gaza City and makes an air strike on a 2d rocket-launching site nr. Bayt Lahiya, killing 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs., wounding at least 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs....

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  • March 11, 2008

    The PFLP fires a rocket (the IDF alleges a Grad) fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting nr. Ashqelon, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF bulldozes 4 Palestinian homes (displacing 31...

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  • March 3, 2008

    Overnight, the IDF makes several air strikes on Gaza, killing 5 Hamas mbrs. before withdrawing ground troops fr. Gaza in the morning, stating that it is suspending Operation Hot Winter during U.S...

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  • February 29, 2008

    The IDF continues Operation Hot Winter with air strikes on n. and c. Gaza (targeting alleged weapons stores and factories) and gunfire across the border into n. Gaza. Senior Hamas cmdr. Eyad al-...

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  • February 27, 2008

    In the morning, the IDF makes an air strike on a minivan nr. Khan Yunis, assassinating 5 Hamas mbrs. and wounding 1 allegedly responsible for the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades’ rocket program; makes...

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  • February 17, 2008

    The IDF makes a predawn incursion into al-Shuka in s. Gaza, exchanging fire with local Palestinians, leaving 3 Hamas mbrs. and 1 mbr. of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRCs) dead, more than 20...

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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)

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)

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)

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 massive Israeli strikes on Gaza enter a 2d day, IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yo’av Galant says (HA 12/28) that the IDF aims to “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of Hamas’s leadership, weaponry, and smuggling capabilities while achieving “the maximum number of enemy casualties.” Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to call up 6,500 reservists, and the IDF begins massing tanks and troops on Gaza’s border, indicating planning for a ground incursion. Israel’s Homefront Command orders 80 factories and businesses within 3 mi. of the Gaza border to close indefinitely for their safety (a move expected [WJW 1/1] to cost Israel’s economy $1 m./day), indicating concerns of increased Palestinian rocket fire once ground operations begin. Israeli Military Intelligence breaks into Palestinian radio broadcasts to warn Gazans against cooperating with Hamas. The IDF drops 300,000 leaflets across Gaza warning residents to evacuate areas where Hamas is operating or storing weapons or to remain at their own risk. The Israeli FMin. opens an international media broadcast outlet in Sederot (a main target of Palestinian rockets), begins tours of Sederot and other Gaza border communities for foreign media, diplomats, and VIPs. (Israel continues to prevent the foreign media fr. entering Gaza.)

Israeli actions: The IDF reports air and naval bombardment of 100 sites across Gaza, bringing the number of targets destroyed since operations began to more than 210. The 2-day Palestinian toll rises to an estimated 300 dead (including at least 22 children, 9 women, 60 other civilians) and 1,300 injured (including at least 235 children and 200 women). Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Bani Suhayla (s. Gaza), Bir al-Naja (n. Gaza), Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (city center, al-Rimal, Shaykh Ridwan, Shati’ r.c., al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza (east of Khan Yunis), Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara (s. Gaza), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., and Tal al-Za‘atar (nr. Jabaliya).

The IDF’s primary targets are around 40 tunnels along the Rafah border, hit with GBU-39s. Other major targets include several buildings at Islamic University (including a science building Israel claims was connected to rocket manufacturing); Gaza City’s PA ministry compound, the offices of acting PM Ismail Haniyeh, and the main police station (destroying the Saraya; allowing about 50 Fatah prisoners to escape, but killing at least 4); Rafah’s main PASF, governorate, and municipal complexes; more civil and naval police stations, metal workshops believed to make rockets; the Gaza City and Rafah ports; at least 3 mosques (Imad ‘Akel Mosque in Jabaliya r.c., Izzeddin al-Qassam Mosque in Abasan, al-Rimal Mosque in Gaza City) alleged to be weapons depots; a Palestinian Energy Authority building in Khan Yunis; a private medical warehouse; and at least 8 homes and 3 apartment buildings.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 17 rockets, 18 mortars into Israel, injuring at least 6 Israeli civilians (including cases of shock). The rockets include 1 manufactured Grad/Katyusha that lands in Gan Yavne 20 mi. inside Israel, outside Ashdod, the farthest to date. In the evening, 100s of Palestinians attempt to flee Gaza through small breaches in the border wall apparently caused by IDF air strikes; they are sent back by Egyptian security forces, who exchange fire with the crowd, leaving at least 1 Palestinian, 1 Egyptian border policeman dead, 4 Palestinians, 5 Egyptian border policemen, an 8-yr.-old Egyptian child wounded.

Humanitarian notes: Israel allows the entry to Gaza of 100 truckloads of food and medical aid, 10 ambulances, and fuel for hospitals, donated by Jordan, Turkey, and international aid organizations. The shipments include 4 truckloads of pharmaceuticals from the PA central pharmacy in Ramallah (the 2d PA delivery since the PA had blocked the shipments of medicine to Gaza in early 9/08; see 12/16), transferred by the PA at UNRWA request. Humanitarian groups, however, continue to warn of deteriorating medical conditions and lack of food in Gaza and urge Israel to allow unrestricted entry of aid. OCHA reports power outages of up to 16 hrs./day in Gaza City, n. Gaza, and c. Gaza; says all flour mills have shut down for lack of grain imports, threatening widespread bread shortages. (AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, JAZ, OCHA, REU 12/28; IDF, JP, al-Masryun[Egypt], NYT, SFR, WP, WT 12/29; BBC, Defense Update [online], Global Research [online], WP 12/30; REU, UNOSAT 12/31; JP, PCHR, WJW, WP 1/1; IDF, NYT 1/3; WP 1/4; IFM 1/8; WP 1/10)

Across the West Bank, Palestinians protest against OCL, clashing with the IDF at numerous points (Abu Dis, Issawiyya, and al-Ram nr. Jerusalem; Bani Na‘im nr. Hebron; Ni‘lin and Silwad nr. Ramallah), leaving 3 Palestinians dead, 31 Palestinians, 1 IDF soldier, 1 Israeli child injured. In at least one instance, PASF breaks up one protest by 100s of Palestinians in Ramallah when demonstrators unfurl Hamas banners; the PASF reportedly (NYT 1/3) has been ordered to prevent any popular displays of support for Hamas. The IDF conducts daytime house searches nr. Jenin, making no arrests; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bil‘in and nr. Hebron, Nablus. Palestinians stone a Jewish settler vehicle nr. Hebron, lightly injuring an 8-yr.-old girl. (PCHR, WJW 1/1)

Israeli DM Barak gives Israeli military and intelligence chiefs the final go-ahead to launch an offensive against Gaza. Olmert and his senior staff begin quietly briefing opposition leaders and prominent political figures on the impending operation. Israeli defense officials speaking to the press off the record say that a Gaza operation will begin when weather clears to allow precision-targeted air strikes. Meanwhile, the IDF allows 100 truckloads of humanitarian aid and fuel for Gaza’s power plant into Gaza. Palestinians fire about 12 rockets and mortars fr. Gaza toward Israel; 1 rocket falls inside the n. Gaza border, hitting a home, killing 2 Palestinian girls. In the West Bank, the IDF for a 2d night conducts coordinated late-night house searches in villages nr. Jenin, making no arrests; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in the weekly demonstration against the separation wall in Bil‘in, wounding 2. (HA, NYT, WP 12/27; HA 12/28; WP 12/31; PCHR 1/1; JPI 1/8)

Citing the Hamas deaths on 12/23, Hamas fires some 80 rockets and mortars fr. Gaza toward Israel, damaging a factory, home, and several other structures but causing no injuries in Israel; 1 rocket reaches as far as Beit Hagdi, 12 mi. fr. the Gaza border; several of the missiles misfire or land inside Gaza, killing 2 Hamas mbrs., injuring 3 civilians. The IDF makes an air strike on a group of Palestinians firing mortars e. of Rafah, killing 1 Hamas mbr., wounding 2. Israeli DM Ehud Barak briefs the Israeli cabinet on IDF plans for a major military offensive against Gaza, receiving unanimous approval. Anticipating an attack after hearing the Israeli cabinet went into special session, Hamas evacuates all of its Gaza offices; its leaders go into hiding. (WP, WT 12/25; HA, NYT 12/28; PCHR 1/1)

The IDF kills 3 Hamas mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the Gaza border, marking the deadliest day in Gaza since the truce expired on 12/19. Palestinians fire 2 rockets, 1 mortar fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts near simultaneous late-night house searches in 4 villages nr. Hebron, making no arrests. Israel’s Homefront Command begins several days of exercises in Israel simulating responses to Hamas rocket fire. Participating in the exercises for the first time are Ashdod, Ashqelon, Kiryat Gat, and Kiryat Malachi, on the assumption that Hamas now has rockets that can hit that far north. (MM 12/23; PCHR, WP 12/24; PCHR 1/1)

In Ankara, Israeli and Syrian teams hold their 5th round of indirect peace talks mediated by Turkey. (MM 12/22; al-Watan, MM 12/23)

Palestinians fire 10 rockets, 23 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing light damage to 1 building but no injuries; the AMB takes responsibility for the mortar fire. In response, the IDF fires a surface-to-surface missile at a mortar-launching site n. of Bayt Lahiya (killing 1 AMB mbr., wounding 2) and makes an air strike on a rocketlaunching site e. of Gaza City (wounding 1 bystander). In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Sahur and nr. Bethlehem, Jenin; raids, searches a medical center in Hebron. (WT 12/21; Forward, MM 12/22; PCHR 12/24)

Israel reseals Gaza’s borders a day after reopening them, citing 1 Palestinian rocket fired into Israel today, causing no damage or injuries. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that Palestinians have fired 20 rockets, mortars toward Israel since 11/19, with 5 exploding at the launch site, most landing in Sederot, none causing injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron and Qalandia r.c., nr. Bethlehem. (WP 11/26; OCHA 11/26; PCHR 11/27)

Israel allows 32 truckloads of humanitarian aid, limited fuel imports, and some currency imports into Gaza but maintains a ban on foreign journalists (ban now in place for more than 2 wks.). The Foreign Press Association appeals to Israel’s High Court to overturn the ban. Despite receiving fuel, Gaza’s power plant cannot resume operation, because its turbine batteries have died from prolonged lack of use and Israel continues to bar the import of maintenance equipment. Palestinians fire 1 rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in Azariyya; patrols in, fires on residential areas of Jenin town and r.c., causing no injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches, ID checks in Qalandia r.c. nr. Ramallah. Jewish settlers fr. Beit Shalom vandalize, heavily damage at least 5 Palestinian cars. The Israeli government reaches a deal with the 45 Jewish settler families in the unauthorized outpost of Migron (among the largest unauthorized outposts) near Hebron to relocate closer to the existing authorized Jewish settlement of Adam; the families will be permitted to stay in Migron until new housing is constructed, a process expected to take years. (WP 11/25; OCHA 11/26; PCHR 11/27)

Israel reseals crossings into Gaza, citing continued Palestinian mortar and rocket fire. Palestinian rocket fire immediately falls to near zero. The IDF sends tanks into s. Gaza to disable roadside bombs planted along the border, trading fire with Palestinian gunmen, causing no reported injuries. The Israeli navy intercepts and confiscates 3 Palestinian fishing boats carrying fishermen and international peace activists, detaining passengers and crew (all are released on 11/19). Egyptian security forces demolish 20 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in Issawiyya nr. East Jerusalem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Ramallah, and nr. Bethlehem and Salfit. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar bar Palestinian access to a nearby road, stone Palestinian vehicles. (WP, WT 11/19; OCHA 11/19; PCHR 11/20)

As the quarter opens, Israel maintains its strict siege of Gaza, imposed following Hamas’s 6/07 takeover of Gaza and tightened dramatically in 1/08 to allow no exports and only the bare minimum of humanitarian imports. A 6-mo. Gaza cease-fire, in place since 6/19, technically remains in effect, although significant cross-border exchanges resumed on 11/4. Israel has sealed Gaza borders completely since 11/5, allowing in an average of 5 containers/day of humanitarian aid, whereas the UN estimates that 500/day are needed to sustain the basic human needs of the 1.5 m. population. Today, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) makes an air strike on Gaza City targeting a group of Popular Resistance Comm. (PRC) mbrs. preparing to fire a rocket into Israel, killing 4 PRC mbrs. (The IDF reports that in the past 48 hrs., Palestinians have fired 20 rockets and mortars, including 2 Grad-type rockets, into Israel, causing no damage or injuries.) In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and Nablus, and nr. Bethlehem, Jenin. Israel’s High Court orders Jewish settlers to evacuate the illegal outpost of Beit Shalom, in the al-Rajabi building in the Wadi al-Nassara area of Hebron, or face eviction, also declaring the State of Israel the temporary custodian of the building until ownership disputes are resolved; settlers ignored a 10/29 High Court order demanding they vacate the building within 24 hrs. (NYT 11/17; OCHA 11/19; PCHR 11/20; OCHA 11/27)

AsIsrael continues to seal Gaza’s borders completely, aid agencies (including Oxfam and UNRWA) warn of an impending humanitarian crisis. UNRWA Gaza dir. John Ging states that “it is unprecedented that the UN is unable to get its supplies in to a population under such obvious distress.” Unnamed Hamas officials say that Israel apparently is not interested in maintaining the truce and therefore would face consequences. Today, Hamas admits to firing 11 Grad-type rockets fr. Gaza toward Israel (4 of which landed inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries) in addition to 3 regular rockets and several mortars, 1 of which (unclear whether rocket or mortar) hits an Israeli home in Sederot, causing damage and lightly injuring 1 Israeli. The IDF makes air strikes on suspected launch sites in n. Gaza, wounding 2 armed Palestinians. In the West Bank, the IDF fires tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinians holding a nonviolent protest against settlements at the evacuated settlement site of Homesh nr. Jenin (wounding 1); conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, and nr. Bethlehem, Hebron; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinian, Israeli, international peace activists taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil’in (injuring 2); fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international peace activists taking part in a similar nonviolent demonstration in Ni‘lin (injuring 1). (NYT, WP 11/15; WT 11/16; OCHA 11/19; PCHR 11/20)

U.S. Secy. of State Rice begins her final 4-day Middle East tour of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank to discuss efforts to achieve “lasting peace in the region consistent with the goal of a two-state solution.” The U.S. had announced the trip on 10/30, when optimism surrounding the Gaza ceasefire was high, hoping that the visit would end with the signing of an Israeli-Palestinian joint statement on future negotiations at a high-level Quartet meeting on 11/9. In the wake of the 11/4–5 violence, however, the White House declares today, as Rice begins her meetings, that it intends to leave IsraeliArab peacemaking to the Obama admin. and no longer thinks any Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will occur before Bush leaves office in 1/09. Rice meets with Livni today. (BBC 11/6; NYT, WP, WSJ 11/7) (WT 10/31; HA 11/8; IFM, NYT, WP, WT 11/9; WP 11/10)

IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on Palestinian farmers working their fields nearby, forcing them to leave. The IDF also makes an air strike on a group of Palestinians nr. Jabaliya r.c. allegedly preparing to fire a rocket, injuring 1. Palestinians fire 4 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, in the morning, the IDF sends undercover units into Qalqilya driving a car with Palestinian plates to raid a store, arrest the owner; conducts a similar undercover raid into Nablus later in the day, raiding another store and arresting the owner; sends troops into al-Khadir village at midday, forcing stores to close, patrolling streets, withdrawing early in the evening; makes an evening incursion into Azun nr. Qalqilya, imposing a curfew, beating Palestinians who do not quickly leave the streets, withdrawing before midnight. Abbas accuses Hamas forces in Gaza of detaining nearly 50 Fatah members and supporters in a political move to undermine upcoming Cairo unity talks; at least 9 of those arrested, including a Fatah PC mbr., are released by the end of the day. A Palestinian woman dies of injures receive in the 11/4 IDF attacks on Gaza. (HA 11/6; MM 11/7; OCHA 11/12; PCHR 11/13)

The UN reports that 1 Palestinian rocket was fired toward Israel between 9/21 and 9/27 but landed inside Gaza, causing no damage or injuries; the last Palestinian rocket fired was on 9/14. In the West Bank, Palestinians throw stones at Jewish settler vehicles nr. Qalqilya, damaging 7 cars and lightly injuring 2 settlers. In response, the IDF imposes a curfew on and patrols in nearby Azun village, firing on residential areas and then on stone-throwing Palestinian youths who confront them, causing no reported injuries. Jewish settlers fr. Ginot Shomron (part of Karnei Shomron) nr. Qalqilya vandalize Palestinian homes in Azun village, burn 12 d. of Palestinian olive groves. (OCHA 10/1, 10/8; PCHR 10/9; AIC 11/9)

Israel reseals Gaza’s border crossings in the morning, saying that overnight its radar detected a Palestinians rocket launched from n. Gaza toward Israel (though admitting it has not found any rocket fragments); Hamas denies a rocket was fired, accusing Israel of looking for excuses not to honor the truce agmt. Meanwhile, IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on 2 Palestinian women working a field nearby, seriously wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF fires on residential areas of Bayt ‘Awa nr. Hebron, then enters to raid and search homes, claiming that barbed wire nr. the separation wall nearby had been tampered with, threatening to shoot dead anyone to approaches the wall; sends undercover units into Tulkarm to raid an apartment building, arrest a wanted Palestinian; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus and in Dahaysha r.c., Jenin town and r.c., and Tulkarm r.c.; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Ni‘lin (wounding 5). In the 1st such incident reported, Jewish settlers fr. Brakha settlement nr. Nablus fire 2 mortars toward the nearby Palestinian village of Burin, landing inside a residential area but causing no damage or injuries. (OCHA, WT 7/2; PCHR 7/3)

Syrian and Israeli negotiating teams open a 3d round of indirect peace talks in Istanbul. (Israel Radio, MM 7/2)

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)

In Gaza, the IDF fatally shoots 2 armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence n. of Bayt Lahiya; makes an air strike on a group of IQB mbrs. in Khuza, wounding 2; makes a late-night air strike on and fires a surface-to-surface missile across the border at a 2d group of IQB mbrs. nr. Khuza, killing 3 Hamas mbrs. An explosion destroys Hamas field cmdr. Hasan Abu Shaqfa’s Bayt Lahiya home, killing Abu Shaqfa, 4 other Hamas mbrs., a 4-mo.-old girl, and another bystander and damaging several surrounding homes; Hamas initially says the explosion was caused by an IDF air strike and fires 21 rockets (reported by the IDF to include 3 Gradstyle rockets) and 22 mortars into Israel in response (lightly injuring 1 Israeli), but later (6/14) reports that explosives the Hamas mbrs. were handling detonated prematurely. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c., in Balata r.c. and al-Far‘a r.c. (firing on residential areas, wounding 1 Palestinian), and nr. Hebron. Nr. Nablus, 2 Jewish settlers attempt to break into a Palestinian car and shop in Hawara village, are confronted by local Palestinians, whom they then attack with knives and iron bars; the IDF arrests the settlers. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 6/13; WP 6/15; OCHA 6/18; PCHR 6/19)

Overnight, the IDF makes an incursion into Abasan, raiding and searching homes, occupying several as operational bases, making air strikes on local gunmen who confront them (killing 1 Hamas mbr., seriously wounding 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs. and 1 Hamas mbr.), demolishing 1 Palestinian home, bulldozing 110 d. of agricultural land and 4 poultry farms, arresting 4 Palestinians before withdrawing late in the evening. The IDF also makes an early-morning incursion into Jabaliya town, fatally shooting a Palestinian civilian riding a bicycle for no apparent reason, exchanging fire with local gunmen (killing 1 armed Palestinian, 1 bystander), hitting 3 Palestinian homes with tank fire (injuring 3 Palestinian civilians). Later, Palestinians fire a Grad-type rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, striking a shopping mall in Ashqelon, wounding 16 Israelis, 3 of them seriously; several groups, excluding Hamas, claim responsibility. Late in the evening, the IDF makes an air strike on Gaza City, killing 2 Palestinian resistance mbrs. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem and Nablus, and in Qalqilya. (NYT, PCHR, WP 5/15; PCHR 5/22)

IDF troops make a late-night incursion into Gaza City, clashing with local armed Palestinians, killing 1, wounding 3. Palestinians fire 4 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no injuries; 1 rocket fired toward Israel lands nr. a home outside Bayt Lahiya, injuring 2 Palestinians, including a 5-yr.-old girl. In the West Bank, the IDF raids Balata r.c., surrounds a home where AMB mbr. Hani al-Kabi is staying, fatally shoots him when he resists arrest; until recently, Kabi voluntarily stayed in a PA jail overnight as part of the 7/07 AMB amnesty deal with Israel. The IDF also conducts latenight arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil‘in (wounding a journalist covering the protest) and al-Masa’ra (injuring 3, including a 9-yr.- old girl). (CSM 4/18; AP, NYT 4/19; NYT 4/20; OCHA 4/23; PCHR 4/24)

Israel resumes shipments (suspended 4/9) of industrial gasoline for Gaza’s power plant but continues to suspend gasoline and diesel for cars and generators. The UNOCHA calls the fuel supplies for the power plant “insufficient” and urges Israel to resume shipment of all forms of fuel, saying that schools and clinics are unable to function normally without regular transportation. Overnight, the IDF sends troops into areas e. of Gaza City, sparking clashes that leave 4 armed Palestinians dead and 1 IDF soldier, 4 armed Palestinians wounded. In the morning, Hamas and Islamic Jihad mbrs. stage a diversion nr. the Nahal Oz crossing to lure IDF soldiers into Gaza, ambushing the unit once it enters the Strip, killing 3 IDF soldiers; the IDF responds with tank fire and air strikes, killing 4 Hamas and Islamic Jihad mbrs. The IDF increases tank fire, air strikes on Palestinian targets throughout the day, killing 14 Palestinian civilians, including 11 in a helicopter air strike on a mosque in Juhur al-Dik in c. Gaza, and Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana’a (his clearly marked Reuters press vehicle is hit directly by a flechette tank shell), wounding 34 (including 17 children, 1 woman); 2 IDF soldiers are also wounded. The IDF also bulldozes 6 Palestinian homes, 200 d. of agricultural land in Juhur al-Dik. An IDF infantry unit crosses into Gaza nr. Bayt Lahiya to engage armed Palestinians in the area, fires on a car of Palestinian farmers trying to fleeing the area, killing 1 Palestinian farmer, wounding 2. Palestinians fire 10 rockets, 2 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel during the day, causing no damage or injuries; 1 rocket fired toward Israel lands nr. Jabaliya r.c., injuring 2 Palestinians. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Jenin r.c. (firing on residential areas, arresting an AMB mbr. granted amnesty by Israel in 7/07) during the day, and late at night in and around Jenin and Tulkarm, in Nablus, and nr. Hebron. In the evening (8:30 P.M. EST; 2:30 A.M. on 4/17 local time), IDF undercover units ambush a car in Qabatya, assassinating local Islamic Jihad cmdr. Bilal Zaalah (also reported as Bilal Kmayel) and a 2d Islamic Jihad mbr. (BBC, IFM, OCHA, REU 4/16; HA, NYT, PCHR, WP 4/17; OCHA 4/23; PCHR 4/24)

The IDF shells a rocket-launching site in Gaza City and makes an air strike on a 2d rocket-launching site nr. Bayt Lahiya, killing 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs., wounding at least 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs. and 2 civilians; bulldozes land along the border fence e. of al-Maghazi r.c. Palestinians fire 3 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bethlehem, nr. Qalqilya. Overnight, in Jerusalem, Israeli authorities hand the body of the 3/6 Mercaz Harav attacker over to his family in Jabal Mukabir for a predawn burial, hoping to prevent clashes surrounding his burial. When news breaks, however, 10s of right-wing Jewish settlers storm Jabal Mukabir, evading police barricades, clashing with riot police, throwing stones at Palestinian homes on the rim of the neighborhood. Nearby, 100s of right-wing Jewish settlers hold a protest rally demanding the expulsion of Palestinian citizens of Israel, scuffle with police. In total, 20 protesters are arrested; 1 protester, 1 policeman are injured. (WT 3/16; OCHA, PCHR 3/19)

The PFLP fires a rocket (the IDF alleges a Grad) fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting nr. Ashqelon, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF bulldozes 4 Palestinian homes (displacing 31 Palestinians) nr. Tubas, another 4 homes in Bayt Dajan in the Jordan Valley (also displacing 31 Palestinians), 2 bedouin tents nr. Hebron, and 2 shops in Qalqilya; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Abu Dis and Jabal Mukabir nr. Jerusalem, Jalazun r.c. nr. Ramallah, Qalqilya (firing on residential areas, wounding 7 Palestinians, including a woman and 5 children), and Qabatya, as well as nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus. (IFM, NYT, OCHA 3/12; PCHR 3/13)

Overnight, the IDF makes several air strikes on Gaza, killing 5 Hamas mbrs. before withdrawing ground troops fr. Gaza in the morning, stating that it is suspending Operation Hot Winter during U.S. Secy. of State Condoleezza Rice’s upcoming 3/4–5 visit. The toll for the 5-day operation is at least 110 Palestinians (half of them civilians, including at least 24 children; Hamas says it lost 37 mbrs.; Islamic Jihad and the PRCs say they lost 15) and 3 Israelis dead (1 civilian inside Israel, 2 IDF soldiers in Gaza), and nearly 400 Palestinians injured (most of them civilians). In addition, 21 Palestinian homes were destroyed (leaving 147 Gazans homeless) and 88 heavily damaged (affecting 616 Gazans), 90 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of agricultural land was bulldozed, and 80 Palestinians were detained for questioning (at least 5 were remanded to Israel). Palestinians fired more than 200 rockets (allegedly including 21 Grads). The IDF, however, makes more air strikes during the day, killing another 3 Palestinians (at least 2 of them civilians, including a child), destroying the Palestinian Council (PC) headquarters in Gaza City. Palestinians fire 18 rockets (allegedly including 1 Grad) into Israel, causing damage but no injuries; 1 rocket lands inside Gaza, hitting a home, wounding 2 Palestinians. In the West Bank, 1,000s of Palestinians demonstrate against Operation Hot Winter; a Jewish settler fr. Talmon B settlement nr. Ramallah fires on demonstrators in nearby al-Mazra‘a, killing a Palestinian teenager; IDF soldiers fire on another protest nr. Hebron, wounding 2 Palestinians. The IDF also exchanges fire with Palestinian gunmen nr. Bethlehem, wounding 3; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem, and nr. Hebron, Jenin, Nablus. (BBC, NYT, PCHR, REU, WP 3/3; MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/4; PCHR 3/6; OCHA 4/18)

The IDF continues Operation Hot Winter with air strikes on n. and c. Gaza (targeting alleged weapons stores and factories) and gunfire across the border into n. Gaza. Senior Hamas cmdr. Eyad al-Ashram (assassinated in Jabaliya) and 2 Palestinian civilians (including 1 child) are killed and around 45 Palestinians (including 10 children, 5 women) are wounded. Palestinians fire 13 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a house, lightly injuring 1 Israeli; 1 rocket lands inside Gaza, hitting a home, killing a 3-yr.-old Palestinian boy and wounding 2 other children. Five Palestinians are wounded when a rocket they are preparing to launch into Israel explodes prematurely. A Palestinian wounded in Israeli attacks on 2/28 dies. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem; fires rubbercoated 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 (10s suffer from tear gas inhalation). Hamas-affiliated police break into a Fatah-affiliated youth club in Nussayrat r.c., confiscating documents and furniture. (BBC, WP, YA 2/29; NYT, WP 3/1; PCHR 3/6)

In the morning, the IDF makes an air strike on a minivan nr. Khan Yunis, assassinating 5 Hamas mbrs. and wounding 1 allegedly responsible for the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades’ rocket program; makes air strikes on a 2d Hamas vehicle, missing it, allowing the targets to escape. Also in the morning, IDF troops on the Gaza border nr. al-Bureij r.c. fire on a group of Palestinian children who stray nr. the border fence, wounding 1. In response to the air strikes, Hamas fires 25 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, killing 1 Israeli, wounding 2, and damaging a home and factory in Sederot. The IDF responds with air and artillery strikes on suspected rocket-launching sites nr. Jabaliya r.c. and Gaza City, killing 1 Islamic Jihad mbr., 3 Palestinian civilians (including boys ages 12, 13), wounding 12 (including 5 children ages 8–14); fires across the border, wounding a Palestinian in al-Shuka. In response, Palestinians fire another 15 rockets, causing no damage or injuries. In the evening, IDF warplanes drop 3 guided missiles on Gaza’s Interior Min. building (empty at the time), destroying it, killing a 6- mo.-old Palestinian baby, wounding more than 25 Palestinians; also launch air strikes on at least 4 other sites in Gaza City and Khan Yunis suspected of manufacturing rockets, causing no reported injuries. An Islamic Jihad mbr. dies when a roadside bomb he is laying nr. the border fence e. of al-Bureij r.c. explodes prematurely. Gaza municipal authorities warn all Gazans to boil their water to prevent disease, reporting that waterworks still receiving electricity have run out of chlorine to treat sewage; Israel last allowed the import of chlorine on 1/21. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Nablus, where they ambush and fatally shoot wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbr. Ibrahim Masimi in an apparent assassination, wounding and arresting 4 AMB mbrs. and a construction worker nearby; Masimi and 2 of the wounded AMB mbrs. were among those granted amnesty by Israel in 7/07. The IDF also patrols in, fires on residential areas of Balata r.c., exchanging fire with local gunmen, killing 2 armed Palestinians, wounding 2; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, and nr. Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarm. (BBC 2/27; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 2/28; PCHR 3/6; WP 4/10)

The IDF makes a predawn incursion into al-Shuka in s. Gaza, exchanging fire with local Palestinians, leaving 3 Hamas mbrs. and 1 mbr. of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRCs) dead, more than 20 Palestinians wounded (including “several” gunmen), 1 IDF soldier seriously injured; at least 80 Palestinians are detained for questioning before the IDF withdraws in the afternoon. The IDF also sends armored vehicles, bulldozers into areas n. of Bayt Lahiya in n. Gaza to level land. After a Palestinian rocket hits a home in Sederot later in the day (causing no injuries), Israeli PM Ehud Olmert gives the IDF a “free hand” to operate against militants in Gaza, stating that Gazans would “not be allowed to live normal lives” as long as Israelis are targeted by rocket fire. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Tulkarm town and r.c., in Abu Dis nr. East Jerusalem and Nablus, nr. Jenin; fences off farmlands along a settler-only bypass road nr. Azun, nr. Nablus to prevent Palestinian youths fr. stoning passing Jewish settler vehicles. Nr. Hebron, a Palestinian boy is injured when he accidentally triggers unexploded ordnance (UXO) left by the IDF. (NYT, WP 2/18; OCHA 2/20; PCHR 2/21)