The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease...
Egypt announces that Gaza- and Damascus-based Hamas officials have agreed on a cease-fire offer to be present to Israel (see Quarterly Update). Israel agrees to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/15 to...Read more
Israel agrees in principle to the 1/6 Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal, agreeing to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/8 to discuss details with Egyptian officials. On the ground, Israeli air, naval,...Read more
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
After early morning consultations with senior cabinet mbrs., the IDF launches its major offensive on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (OCL), at 11:25 A.M. local time (4:25 A.M. EST). Israeli DM Barak...Read more
In Cairo, Livni rejects Mubarak’s call to renew the Gaza cease-fire. Palestinians in Gaza fire 3 rockets, 15 mortars into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts...Read more
Hamas’s Gaza leadership calls on factions to halt their fire for 24 hrs. in an effort to restore the truce. Senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahhar appears on Israeli TV to state that Hamas seeks a...Read more
IDF troops, bulldozers cross into s. Gaza to level land along the border e. of Khan Yunis, exchanging fire with Hamas mbrs., causing no reported injures. In a similar incident nr. the Erez...Read more
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...Read more
In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late night arrest raids in and around Jenin town and r.c., Nablus, and in al-Fara‘a r.c. nr. Tubas (firing live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets on...Read more
Israel orders borders with Gaza sealed after an early warning system detects a rocket launch fr. Gaza into Israel, but later admits that the system malfunctioned and no rocket was fired; the seal...Read more
By this date, Palestinian factions have agreed to an Egyptian proposal to resume their national unity dialogue in Cairo on 11/9. Hamas and Fatah are considering a draft memorandum of understanding...Read more
In Gaza, Hamas mbrs. fire 5 mortars at an IDF unit that enters Gaza nr. al-Bureij r.c., forcing the soldiers to retreat. Palestinians fire 4 mortars at the Nahal Oz crossing, seriously injuring a...Read more
IDF troops on the c. Gaza border fire on Palestinian farmers working a plot of land nr. al-Maghazi refugee camp (r.c.), causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Dura nr. Hebron,...Read more
Overnight, the IDF sends troops into Hebron to search the offices of several schools, youth centers, orphanages (housing some 1,000 children) owned by the Islamic Charitable Association (ICA),...Read more
IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of Gaza City fire a missile at a group of armed Palestinians nr. the border, wounding 1 armed Palestinian, 1 Palestinian teenager outside his home nearby. In the...Read more
After mtgs. with Egyptian officials in Cairo, Hamas announces that the Rafah border will close on 2/3. Some 2,500 Palestinian women rally at the Rafah crossing to urge Egypt to keep it open; 10,...Read more
Overnight, the IDF launches Operation Summer Rains, sending ground troops into s. Gaza; retaking the Dahaniyya airport area as a base, demolishing 5 Palestinian homes and bulldozing land to...Read more
The IDF fires on stone-throwing Palestinians nr. Ramallah; shoots, wounds a Palestinian who strays too close to Rafiah Yam settlement in s. Gaza; conducts arrest raids, house searches in the Wadi...Read more
In the morning, a closed military memorial service for Arafat is held on a military base outside Cairo. The Palestinian leadership, Arafat’s family, Egyptian envoy Omar Sulayman then escort Arafat...Read more
At 9:30 P.M. EST (3:30 A.M. on 11/11 local time), Arafat dies in a Paris hospital. The PA declares a 40-day mourning period; immediately begins preparations to hold a state funeral in Cairo on 11/...Read more
The IDF fatally shoots 2 Palestinians who enter a closed military zone nr. the Israeli border fence east of Gaza City; fires on stone-throwing youths and market areas in Nablus, killing a 14-yr.-...Read more
The IDF raids a high school nr. Nablus, arrests a 10th grader; raids a mosque in al-Bireh, arresting 1 Palestinian; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, wounding a man on his roof; conducts...Read more
The IDF pulls troops out of Nablus, lifts the 24-hr. curfew after a wk. of operations, during which 10s of Palestinians were detained; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, hitting an 8-yr.-...Read more
The IDF imposes curfews on Salfit, 6 surrounding villages; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, wounding a 10-yr.-old Palestinian girl inside her school; conducts arrest raids in Aida r.c.;...Read more
The IDF fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis; conducts arrest raids in Nablus, firing on Palestinian youths who gather to throw stones at the troops. The Israeli High Court approves the...Read more
Overnight, the IDF raids Jenin, arresting local Hamas cmdr. Wa’il Aljui. The IDF also raids 2 Palestinian homes in Gaza City, fatally shooting 4 Palestinians, including wanted Hamas mbr. Amran al-...Read more
The IDF fatally shoots 2 AMB mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the Rafah border; fatally shoots a Palestinian farmer tilling a field nr. Khan Yunis; raids a hospital in Nablus, closing it for 3 hrs...Read more
The IDF lifts the comprehensive curfew on the occupied territories imposed on 1/26; fatally shoots 1 Palestinian shepherd who leads his flock too near IDF bulldozers leveling 400 dunams of...Read more
The IDF conducts arrest raids in Qalqilya, Tulkarm town and r.c., Tubas (capturing senior Hamas mbr. Salman Daraghma, who previously escaped an IDF assassination attempt); fatally shoots a...Read more
The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease-fire offer in Cairo, returns to Israel to brief the security cabinet. Olmert dispatches Livni to Washington to finalize a bilateral “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) regarding U.S.-led international efforts to halt arms smuggling into Gaza.
Combat notes: The IDF sharply escalates air, naval, and ground attacks across Gaza. IDF ground forces push deep into Gaza City under cover of air strikes and heavy tank and artillery fire. Residents report almost constant air, naval, artillery bombardment from 1:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. local time, and particularly heavy ground engagements in al-Atatra n. of the city and Tal al-Hawa neighborhood on the southern outskirts, as well as in Jabaliya r.c. Thousands of Gaza City residents attempt to flee the fighting, but many cannot leave their homes because of the intensity of Israeli fire. During the operations, Israeli troops surround the home of Hamas’s Mahmud Zahhar (in hiding), killing his security guards. Gaza City fighting eases slightly in the afternoon, but IDF troops remain in the city overnight. The IDF also takes up new positions in Bayt Hanun’s alFarta and al-Nazzaza quarters under cover of heavy shelling and gunfire, ordering residents of the 2 areas (some 20 families) to evacuate.
The IDF reports carrying out more than 80 air strikes today, hitting at least 23 rocket and mortar launching sites, 19 groups of armed Palestinians, 6 suspected weapons depots (including 2 mosques in Gaza City, 1 in Rafah), 4 tunnels, 1 radio station in Gaza City. Air strike target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Rimal, al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, Yibna r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah. UNRWA reports 100s of Palestinians fleeing areas of northeastern Rafah to escape heavy bombardments. Reports of Israel using white phosphorous munitions spike sharply, with confirmed use in 3 areas (Abasan, Khuza, al-Qarara) and suspected use in 5 areas (Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c.). Israeli naval bombardment concentrates on Khan Yunis and the neighboring al-Mahatin area. Closecombat fighting is reported around Jabaliya r.c.
In a major air strike on Jabaliya, the IDF assassinates Gaza’s acting Interior M Said Siyam in his brother’s home, along with his brother and nephew, Hamas internal security head for Gaza Salah Abu Sharah, 4 Palestinians in an adjacent home. In addition, IDF air strikes hit buildings in Gaza City housing UNRWA’s main food depot (3 white phosphorous missiles incinerate tons of food and medicine brought in during the humanitarian lulls); Palestinian Red Crescent Society offices and the adjacent al-Quds Hospital (both hit repeatedly over a 5-hr. period; the patient wing of the hospital is not targeted); and the shared media offices of Abu Dhabi TV, al-Arabiyya TV, Reuters, and the Russian TV channel Rusiya al-Yaum, causing serious damage and injuring 2 journalists. A number of other hospitals in Gaza City are damaged by Israeli mortar fire. Palestinian medical workers say the Palestinian toll is at least 1,090 dead (including 375 children, 150 women, 14 medical workers), more than 5,000 wounded.
Palestinians fire 15 rockets and 8 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring a 7-yr.-old Israeli boy in Beersheba and causing significant damage in 2 instances (both by Qassams in Sederot); at least 3 of the rockets are Grads (2 in and nr. Beersheba, 1 in Gadera).
The Palestinian toll is estimated to be at least 1,090 dead, more than 5,000 wounded.
Humanitarian notes: With diplomacy toward a cease-fire showing progress, Israel extends the daily humanitarian lull to 4 hrs./day, allowing in up to 170 truckloads of humanitarian aid; permits the Qarni crossing conveyor belt to resume operation for the 1st time since 12/27 for the import of grain. Israel also allows the ICRC and Palestinian Energy Authority to begin repairs to part of Gaza’s electricity network. (AFP, AP, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, MM, RFM, UNOSAT, YA 1/15; HA, IDF Radio, JP, MA, MM, NYT, REU, Scotsman, WP, WT, XIN, YA 1/16; IFM, NYT, XIN 1/17; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)
Citing unspecified security concerns, the IDF imposes a total closure on the West Bank through 1/17. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar attempt to close a road nr. Nablus to Palestinian traffic, stone Palestinian cars; the IDF forces them to leave. (IDF 1/15; PCHR 1/22)
Egypt announces that Gaza- and Damascus-based Hamas officials have agreed on a cease-fire offer to be present to Israel (see Quarterly Update). Israel agrees to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/15 to be briefed on the plan. Meanwhile, Israel’s intense air, naval, and ground assaults on Gaza continue.
Combat notes: Under cover of air strikes and heavy shelling, IDF troops take up new positions in s. Gaza’s al-Fukhari area nr. the Sufa crossing (occupying several homes and expelling the residents) and al-Shuka village; Israeli fire is so intense that rescuers cannot reach the wounded or retrieve the dead. The IDF reports carrying out approximately 120 air strikes today (70 of them after nightfall) that kill 10s of Palestinians. Targets include at least 24 groups of armed Palestinians, 16 smuggling tunnels, at least 10 suspected weapons depots (including a Rafah mosque), and 24 rocket launching sites (killing senior IQB cmdrs. Walid Za‘abud and Muhammad Dash nr. al-Zaytun). Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (areas northwest of the city and al-Nasser, al-Sabra, al-Sha‘af, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk, al-Zaytun), Khan Yunis, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., Twam, Yibna r.c. Heavy artillery and tank fire are reported in and around Bayt Lahiya (white phosphorous suspected), al-Bureij r.c., Gaza City (al-Sabra, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya town and r.c. Naval bombardment centers on Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighborhood.
Palestinians fire 14 rockets and 2 mortars, including 4 Grads (2 each in Ashdod and Beersheba), into Israel, causing no injuries. Gaza medical workers put the estimated Palestinian toll at 1,018 dead (including an estimated 300 children), 4,700 injured. The IDF reports 27 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 2 moderately, 24 lightly), mostly in ground fighting with Palestinians n. Gaza, including 7 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 1 moderately, 5 lightly) by a Palestinian antitank missile. The Israeli toll stands at 13–14 dead, more than 150 wounded.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows at least 108 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza during the lull. A group of Israeli human rights groups (including Amnesty International–Israel, B’Tselem Gisha, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel) characterize Israel’s restrictions on aid and access to Gaza by relief groups and medial workers as a “blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.” (AP, BBC, CBS News, HA, IDF, IFM, JAZ, MM, QA, REU, RFM, XIN 1/14; AYM, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, JAZ, MA, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 1/15; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)
The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and Jenin, in Bayt Sahur, and nr. Nablus. (PCHR 1/22)
Unidentified assailants fire 3 rockets fr. s. Lebanon into n. Israel. (Up to a dozen rockets total may have been fired, with others landing inside Lebanon). The IDF returns fire. No damage or injuries are reported. (MM, MNR 1/14; WP 1/15)
Israel agrees in principle to the 1/6 Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal, agreeing to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/8 to discuss details with Egyptian officials. On the ground, Israeli air, naval, and ground attacks continue across the Strip, “tightening the noose” around Gaza’s population centers. IDF reservists begin to complete their training and deploy to staging areas on the Gaza border. IDF officials say that since Israeli troops entered Gaza on 1/3, Hamas and other Palestinian fighters have largely pulled back into the cities and refugee camps, sniping and engaging IDF troops on the edges of densely populated areas but not coming out to engage directly.
Combat notes: The IDF carries out more than 40 air strikes on targets across Gaza, hitting the PA presidential compound in Gaza City (already hit several times), 14 rocketlaunching sites, more tunnels on the Rafah border, 9 homes allegedly hiding smuggling tunnels, 4 groups of armed Palestinians, 1 Hamas outpost, 1 suspected weapons depot, 2 mosques (Bani Suhayla, Khan Yunis). Target areas include Abu Middayn (c. Gaza), Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan), the al-Fukhari area (nr. Khan Yunis), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Khuza, Ma’an (e. of Khan Yunis), al-Maghazi, Nussayrat, Rafah, the Western Sawahira area (c. Gaza). Particularly heavy IDF artillery fire and exchanges of gunfire are reported in al-Atatra, the al-Salatin area northwest of Bayt Lahiya, the Izbat ‘Abid Rabbuh area e. of Jabaliya, alQarara, and al-Zaytun in Gaza City. In the afternoon, the IDF drops leaflets on houses nr. the Rafah border, ordering residents to evacuate their homes; aerial bombing there begins after dark.
Palestinians fire 17 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, lightly injuring 2 Israelis; around a dozen are Grads that land in Ashdod and Ashqelon, the rest are Qassams that land closer to the Gaza border. With IDF troops now in control of open areas around Bayt Hanun and Bayt Lahiya, most rocket and mortar fire is coming from densely populated urban areas.
At least 29 Palestinians are killed today, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to at least 682 dead and 3,085 injured. One IDF soldier is moderately wounded, 8 are lightly wounded in exchanges with Palestinians inside Gaza.
Humanitarian notes: In the afternoon, the IDF observes a 3-hr. cease-fire nr. Gaza City to allow 80 truckloads of humanitarian aid to enter the Strip and to give Gazans an opportunity to seek food, fuel, and medical care. Some Israeli gunfire is reported (WP 1/22) during the lull, leaving at least 2 Palestinian girls (ages 2, 7) dead and their father and sister wounded. Aid groups say the imports do not come close to relieving the dire crisis. Moreover, Palestinians are reportedly (NYT 1/8) running low on cash to buy supplies because Israel has barred the import of currency; banks are closed because of the fighting; and ATMs do not work because of the lack of electricity.
The ICRC reports finding 16 bodies (7 women, 6 children, 3 men) and 18 seriously wounded Palestinians (including 4 emaciated children too weak to stand) in a cluster of destroyed houses in Gaza City’s al-Zaytun neighborhood. The ICRC received specific reports of these casualties on 1/3, but the IDF had barred ambulances and rescue workers fr. reaching the site; international aid workers finally enter the area with donkey carts to evacuate the wounded, ignoring IDF efforts to chase them away. The ICRC later attempts to return to the area to remove the bodies and check reports of additional casualties but is blocked by the IDF. The ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva issues a rare denunciation of Israel, calling (WP 1/8) the IDF’s handling of the incident “unacceptable,” stating that it had “failed to meet its obligations under international law to care for and evacuate the wounded.” (AP, Arutz 7, AYM, BBC, HA, IDF, JP, MA, MM, REU, RFM, RIA, YA 1/7; IDF, IFM, IHY, JP, MA, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 1/8; WP 1/14; PCHR 1/15; NYT 1/17; ITIC 1/18; WP 1/22)
The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron; fires rubbercoated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades to disperse Palestinian and international activists demonstrating against OCL in Ni‘lin; no injuries are reported. (PCHR 1/8, 1/15)
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)
After early morning consultations with senior cabinet mbrs., the IDF launches its major offensive on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (OCL), at 11:25 A.M. local time (4:25 A.M. EST). Israeli DM Barak acknowledges (WP 12/28) that OCL has been planned for several months, stating that the aim is “to strike Hamas severely so as to change the situation from its base,” cautioning that “it won’t be short.”
Israeli actions: After an initial “shock and awe campaign” lasting 3 min. and 40 sec., with 64 warplanes hitting more than 50 targets across the Strip, the IDF conducts periodic air strikes throughout the day, recording a total of 170 sorties against 150 targets, killing at least 228 Palestinians, wounding more than 700 (140 seriously), marking the highest single-day death toll and Israel’s largest offensive in the territories since 1967. The midday timing of the initial onslaught, just as schools let out for lunch, increases the number of civilian casualties, including an estimated 25 women and children. Israeli Military Intelligence sends automated calls to 20,000 Palestinians across the Strip warning of further air strikes targeting anyone with weapons or guns.
Targets struck are primarily civil police stations, military training bases, Hamas-related command-and-control centers, suspected weapons depots, and sites believed to manufacture rockets. Target areas include Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (the city center and al-Daraj, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, alTuffah, al-Zaytun neighborhoods), Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Mughraqa (s. of Gaza City), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., and al-Zahra’ (c. Gaza nr. Jabaliya).
Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 59 rockets (including some that reach the farthest north to date), 19 mortars into Israel during the day, killing 1 Israeli civilian in Netivot, wounding 4. (The fatality may have occurred before the official launch of OCL.)
Humanitarian notes: Gaza’s hospitals report (BBC 12/27) overflowing wards and not enough surgeons or supplies to cope. Egypt temporarily opens the Rafah crossing to allow transportation of some wounded to Egyptian hospitals.
Of note: During the initial “shock and awe,” the IDF hits a police academy graduation ceremony in Gaza City, killing at least 60 new civil police recruits and the chief of Palestinian police Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Jabber. Other targets include Gaza City’s main jail (the Saraya, holding Hamas opponents, hitting only the gates), the PA Preventive Security headquarters in Gaza City, the PA security compound in Rafah (southern headquarters of the PASF, PA Internal Security Service, and PA civil police), PA naval police facilities in n. Gaza and Khan Yunis, Palestinian Telecommunication Company offices in n. Gaza, a Gaza City mosque identified by the IDF as “a base for terrorist activities,” Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV station, the agriculture control dept. in Khan Yunis, numerous police stations and training sites, at least 9 homes, several workshops (considered rocket-manufacturing sites), and Hamas’s Asda’ media center outside Khan Yunis. One IDF airstrike on a PA ministry building kills 8 Palestinian students at an adjacent UNRWA training center, wounding 19 others (8 seriously). Hamas and Palestinian human rights groups in Gaza estimate that the dead include around 165 civil police officers (including those at the graduation ceremony) and Hamas’s central district governor, Abu Ahmad Ashur. Some targets are hit with U.S.-supplied GBU-39 bunkerbusting munitions received as recently as 9/08 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 150 and the “Israeli Arsenal” document in this issue’s Special Focus section). (al-Arabiyya TV, BBC, HA, IDF, JAZ, Middle East News Agency [Cairo], Palestine News Agency, YA 12/27; AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IFM, JAZ, NYT, Radikal, REU, WP, WT, XIN 12/28; JP, NYT, Zaman [Ankara] 12/29; PCHR 1/1; BBC 12/30; UNOSAT 12/31; JP, WJW 1/1; WP 1/4; Eurasia Daily Monitor [online], NYT, UNOSAT 1/5; IFM, JPI 1/8; NYT 1/11)
In other Israeli-Palestinian violence, the IDF fires tear gas, percussion grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in the East Jerusalem suburbs of Anata, Issawiyya, Shu‘fat r.c. An E. Jerusalem Palestinian, reportedly angry over events in Gaza, injures an Israeli border police officer in a deliberate hit and run in the city. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Jenin. (HA 12/28; PCHR, WJW 1/1)
In Cairo, Livni rejects Mubarak’s call to renew the Gaza cease-fire. Palestinians in Gaza fire 3 rockets, 15 mortars into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts simultaneous late-night house searches in 2 villages nr Jenin, making no arrests. An Israeli court sentences jailed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmad Saadat, detained in 2001 for involvement in the assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Ze’evi, to 30 yrs. in jail; Saadat is acquitted of planning the assassination but found guilty of plotting other anti-Israel attacks. (IFM 12/25; NYT, WP, WT 12/26; PCHR 1/1; NYT 1/3)
Hamas’s Gaza leadership calls on factions to halt their fire for 24 hrs. in an effort to restore the truce. Senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahhar appears on Israeli TV to state that Hamas seeks a new cease-fire in exchange for regular food and electricity in Gaza and a halt to IDF operations in the West Bank. On the ground, Palestinians (suspected to be Islamic Jihad, which says it had not agreed to suspend attacks) fire 3 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. An unnamed senior Israeli security official states (YA 12/23) that “all of the IDF’s preparations for a military operation are continuing as planned. As far as we are concerned the clock is ticking down on a military operation.” Israel, which maintains a full seal on Gaza, dispatches diplomats to lobby for international support and sympathy for Israel in the face of rocket attacks. Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak asks Israeli FM Livni to come to Cairo on 12/25 for talks on renewing the truce. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Jenin, Nablus. (IFM 12/22; HA, JP, MA, MM, WP, YA 12/23; PCHR 12/24)
IDF troops, bulldozers cross into s. Gaza to level land along the border e. of Khan Yunis, exchanging fire with Hamas mbrs., causing no reported injures. In a similar incident nr. the Erez crossing, IDF soldiers exchange fire with DFLP gunmen, causing no reported injuries. The IDF also makes an air strike on an alleged rocket-launching site in n. Gaza, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nur al-Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm, nr. Bethlehem. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba beat a 6-yr.-old Palestinian boy on his way to school until his grandfather halts the attack; the IDF observes but does not intervene. Hamas accuses PA security forces in the West Bank of arresting 26 Hamas mbrs. and supporters, mostly in Hebron, but also in Bethlehem, Jericho, and Salfit. (HA, JP, MNA, REU, YA 11/8; HA, JAZ, MNA 11/9; OCHA 11/12; PCHR 11/13)
After a last-minute talks in Cairo between Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Sulayman and senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahhar fr. Gaza, Hamas’s dep. leader Musa Abu Marzuq announces from Damascus that Hamas will not attend national unity talks in Cairo on 11/9. Hamas officials cite Egyptian and PA unwillingness to compromise on the wording of an Egyptian draft national unity statement or to discuss issues of importance to Hamas, and the PA’s failure to fulfill a pledge to release 100s of Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners held in the West Bank as a confidence-building gesture in advance of the summit. (AFP 11/8; NYT, WT 11/9; see also MNR 11/7)
Rice stops in Jenin to meet with Abbas and to inaugurate a new hospital wing funded by USAID, announcing another $14 m. in USAID funds for Jenin. (HA 11/8; IFM, NYT, WP, WT 11/9)
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)
In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late night arrest raids in and around Jenin town and r.c., Nablus, and in al-Fara‘a r.c. nr. Tubas (firing live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets on stone-throwing youths who confront them, wounding 6); fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international peace activists taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Ni‘lin (injuring 2 Palestinians, 1 international). Israel imposes new restrictions requiring Palestinian medical personnel fr. the West Bank who work in Jerusalem to enter Jerusalem only through the Qalandia checkpoint, the most crowded checkpoint, causing them significant delays. Heavy rains cause the collapse of 10 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, trapping and injuring at least 7 Palestinians. Egypt allows the entry of a delegation of Islamic Jihad officials fr. Gaza who are heading to Damascus for a wk. of internal discussions on Egypt’s proposed national unity plan ahead of national unity talks in Cairo on 11/9. Inside Israel, Hebrew University student Ali Baher, an Israeli Palestinian, is detained by campus security, questioned for 3 hrs., charged with “inappropriate conduct” for refusing on political grounds to shake hands with Pres. Shimon Peres, who randomly approached Baher while he was touring the campus library meeting with students; the university evicts Baher from campus housing and orders a disciplinary hearing (date not set) to decide whether he should be suspended. (MNA 11/2; OCHA 11/5; PCHR, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel press release 11/6)
Concerned by the escalating settler violence directed at Israeli security forces, the Israeli cabinet at its weekly meeting votes to suspend all direct and indirect government funding to unauthorized settlement outposts (especially citing infrastructure such as roads, garbage collection, and school buses) in the 1st de facto admission that public funds are used to advance illegal settlement. Olmert also proposes increasing arrests and administrative detention of Jewish settlers who break the law. The Jerusalem District Juvenile Court remands and indicts 3 Jewish settler girls (ages 12, 15, 17) for reckless endangerment, aggravated assault of security forces, and obstruction of a police officer for attacks against Israeli border police in Givat Harsina on 10/30. IDF district cmdr. Noam Tivon cancels plans to give a speech at a yeshiva in Efrat settlement nr. Bethlehem after Jewish settlers fr. Hebron threaten to hold a massive demonstration to block his visit, calling him an “expulsion criminal” for previously ordering the removal settlers fr. the unauthorized Federman Farm outpost. (YA 11/2; NYT, WP 11/3; WT 11/4; MM 11/4, 11/7)
Israel orders borders with Gaza sealed after an early warning system detects a rocket launch fr. Gaza into Israel, but later admits that the system malfunctioned and no rocket was fired; the seal is lifted. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Bethlehem, and nr. Hebron (raiding 2 Palestinian colleges, detaining 27 students for questioning); demolishes 36 structures (approx. 23 dwellings and 13 animal pens) belonging to bedouin families in Mughayyir al-Dir, outside Ramallah and adjacent to Mitzpe Dani settlement outpost, displacing 97 individuals (including 51 children), on the grounds that the structures were built in a closed military zone. Jewish settler girls (ages 12–17) stone Israeli border police demolishing an “illegal structure” in Givat Harsina outpost in Hebron, injuring 2 officers; the girls are arrested. Hamas releases 17 Fatah mbrs. fr. detention in Gaza, saying they are the only political prisoners being held and are being freed as a gesture to Fatah before national unity talks set to open in Cairo on 11/9 (see 10/20). (OCHA, REU, YA 10/30; YA 11/2; XIN 11/5; OCHA 11/5; PCHR 11/6)
By this date, Palestinian factions have agreed to an Egyptian proposal to resume their national unity dialogue in Cairo on 11/9. Hamas and Fatah are considering a draft memorandum of understanding on national reconciliation proposed by Egypt that would be issued at the close of the Cairo summit (see Quarterly Update). (Electronic Intifada [online] 10/28; MNA 11/2; MNR 11/7; AFP 11/8; NYT, WT 11/9)
In the West Bank, the IDF patrols, searches houses in al-Khadir, beats 3 Palestinians (ages 28, 37, and 63), claiming that Palestinians in the area had thrown stones at Israeli vehicles on a nearby settlersonly bypass road; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, nr. Hebron. More than 100 Jewish settlers block roads and throw stones at Palestinian cars nr. Qalqilya to prevent Palestinians, accompanied by international and Israeli peace activists, fr. reaching their groves to harvest olives. Inside Israel, Israeli police arrest 6 Israeli Jews fr. Tel Aviv for taking part in recent arson attacks against Israeli Palestinian property in Acre. (BBC 10/20; OCHA, WT 10/22; PCHR, WJW 10/23)
In Gaza, Hamas mbrs. fire 5 mortars at an IDF unit that enters Gaza nr. al-Bureij r.c., forcing the soldiers to retreat. Palestinians fire 4 mortars at the Nahal Oz crossing, seriously injuring a Palestinian worker. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols, sets up checkpoints in Tulkarm during the day; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm, nr. Hebron (also raiding, sealing for 3 yrs. an Islamic Charity Society office and kindergarten). The PA opens 3 police stations manned by a total of 105 policemen in 3 villages surrounding Jenin (see 6/3). (IFM, WT 6/4; NYT, PCHR, WP 6/5; al-Akhbar [Cairo] 6/6; OCHA 6/11; PCHR 6/12)
IDF troops on the c. Gaza border fire on Palestinian farmers working a plot of land nr. al-Maghazi refugee camp (r.c.), causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Dura nr. Hebron, firing on stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no reported injuries; conducts daytime arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem and late-night raids, searches in and around Jenin. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba nr. Hebron vandalize nearby Palestinian property; the IDF observes but does not intervene. For a 2d day, 10s of armed Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar vandalize Palestinian homes in nearby Asira al-Qibliyya. In Gaza’s Jabaliya r.c., Hamas mbrs. raid a mosque controlled by the Salafist group al-Kitab wa al-Sunna, where the imam had denounced (5/16) Hamas in his Friday sermon, and evict at least 5 Palestinian worshippers. (OCHA 5/21; PCHR 5/22)
Bush arrives in Egypt to attend the World Economic Forum meetings, which open on 5/18. Today he meets in Cairo with PA pres. Mahmud Abbas to discuss the IsraeliPalestinian negotiations. (WP 5/18; NYT, WT 5/19)
In Doha, Qatar, 14 of Lebanon’s leading politicians open national unity talks aimed at resolving the ongoing government crisis. (WP, WT 5/18)
Overnight, the IDF sends troops into Hebron to search the offices of several schools, youth centers, orphanages (housing some 1,000 children) owned by the Islamic Charitable Association (ICA), issuing an order declaring the ICA an illegal organization affiliated with Hamas, demanding that the buildings be vacated and turned over to the IDF for a 3-yr. period by 4/8, and stating that anyone remaining in the buildings will be considered to be admitting membership in Hamas and thereby subject to 5-yr. imprisonment; soldiers immediately confiscate 2 buses, a car, computers, appliances, furniture, documents; the ICA, a major philanthropic group founded in 1962 that runs many schools, nurseries, bakeries, and other services for the poor across the West Bank, denies Hamas affiliation. During the day, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c., Ramallah. In East Jerusalem, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home. Meanwhile, in s. Gaza, the IDF sends troops into al-Qarara, firing on residential areas, killing 1 Palestinian civilian. (OCHA, WP 2/27; PCHR 2/28; al-Ahram Weekly [Cairo] 4/18)
IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of Gaza City fire a missile at a group of armed Palestinians nr. the border, wounding 1 armed Palestinian, 1 Palestinian teenager outside his home nearby. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in ‘Ayn Bayt al-Ma’ r.c. nr. Nablus (arresting senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP] mbr. Majdi Mabruk) and nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarm; breaks the windows of several Palestinian cars parked nr. a Hebron building occupied by Jewish settlers for the past yr., stating the vehicles posed a threat to the settlers; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil‘in nr. Ramallah (injuring 6). Hamas-affiliated imam Majid Barghouti (age 44), who was among 8 Palestinians arrested by the PA in a raid nr. Ramallah on 2/14, dies in PA General Intelligence custody in Ramallah of apparent torture; PA Pres. Mahmud Abbas puts West Bank security forces on high alert, orders an investigation. (JP 2/23; WP 2/24; al-Akhbar [Cairo] 2/26; OCHA 2/27; PCHR 2/28)
After mtgs. with Egyptian officials in Cairo, Hamas announces that the Rafah border will close on 2/3. Some 2,500 Palestinian women rally at the Rafah crossing to urge Egypt to keep it open; 10,000 Palestinians take part in similar nonviolent rally in Gaza City. Egypt reports that it has arrested at least 14 armed Palestinians in the Sinai not far fr. the Rafah border. Palestinians fire 6 rockets fr. Gaza toward Israel; 1 lands inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF distributes fliers in Azun warning that unless local youths stopped throwing stones at Jewish settler vehicles traveling on Route 55 (see 2/1), the army would launch arrest raids, shoot stone-throwers, seal the village’s main entrance, and close shops nr. the road; fires on stone-throwing youths in al-Khadir, wounding 3; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, nr. Jenin. (NYT, WP, WT 2/3; OCHA 2/6; PCHR 2/7)
Overnight, the IDF launches Operation Summer Rains, sending ground troops into s. Gaza; retaking the Dahaniyya airport area as a base, demolishing 5 Palestinian homes and bulldozing land to improve lines of sight, and blowing up 3 bridges to control movement between the Rafah and Gaza City environs; conducting 7 air strikes on Gaza’s only electricity plant nr. Gaza City and 6 transformer stations, wounding 2 Palestinians, blacking out 45% of the Strip, and leaving Gaza fully dependent on electricity fr. Israel); shelling open areas of s. Gaza; repeatedly breaking the sound barrier over the Strip. The IDF’s elite Givati Brigade deploys outside n. Gaza, prepared to enter if rocket attacks resume. Midafternoon, IDF artillery begins shelling n. Gaza for the 1st time since the 6/9 incident that killed 8 Palestinians. After Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel in response (causing no damage or injuries), the IDF warns n. Gaza residents to evacuate the area, with Olmert saying that IDF operations will escalate until Shalit is released. In a warning to Syrian pres. Bashar al-Asad and Hamas’s Damascus-based leadership, the Israeli air force makes overflights of Asad’s residence in Latakia (where he is believed to be staying) and along the Syrian coast. Meanwhile, Palestinians fire 6 more rockets toward Israel, but all land inside Gaza, causing no damage or injuries. The AMB says it has kidnapped a 62-yr.-old Israeli man fr. Rishon Letzion, inside Israel, who has been missing since 6/26; issues a statement threatening to target Israeli embassies abroad. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Iktaba nr. Tulkarm; raids a Fatah office in al-Bireh, confiscating computers, arresting 3 Palestinians; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm, nr. Hebron. In Khan Yunis, 2 Palestinian children are killed when they accidentally detonate unexploded IDF ordnance. In West Jerusalem, around 100 ultra-Orthodox Jews attack a tour group of 50 pro-Israel Christians for wearing shirts saying “love your neighbor as yourself”; Israeli police intervene to stop the attack but make no arrests; 3 tourists, 1 police officer are injured. (AP, BBC, B’Tselem press release, HA, IFM, IMEMC, ITV, MM, NYT, PCHR, REU, Voice of the Arabs [Cairo], WP, WT, YA 6/28; OSC 6/28 in WNC 6/30; BBC, CSM, HA, IMEMC, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT 6/29; Globe, PCHR 6/29; HJ 7/1 in WNC 7/1; see also AFP, MENA, PSCT 6/27 in WNC 6/28; OCHA 6/30; PCHR 7/6; REU 7/11)
The IDF fires on stone-throwing Palestinians nr. Ramallah; shoots, wounds a Palestinian who strays too close to Rafiah Yam settlement in s. Gaza; conducts arrest raids, house searches in the Wadi al-Husayn area of s. Hebron, rounding up all men and holding them for 5 hrs. of interrogation; places temporary curfews on Bardala and Kardala e. of Jenin, orders all Palestinian males ages 15– 60 to surrender for ID checks; also conducts arrest raids in al-Mawasi nr. Khan Yunis. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba beat a Palestinian in Hebron; the IDF observes but does not intervene. (HA 3/18; JP 3/28; OCHA, PR 3/23; PCHR 3/24)
Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo pledge to extend the unofficial truce until the end of 2005, provided that the lull in violence continues and that Israel follows through on its Sharm al-Shaykh pledges to turn over security control of West Bank cities and release a significant number of Palestinian prisoners.Abbas and the factions agree to form a comm. to study rebuilding the PLO on new foundations that would allow Hamas, Islamic Jihad to join. (Daily Star, MM, REU 3/17; BBC, HA, MM, NYT, VOP, WP, WT 3/18; JAZ 3/19; AP, JAZ 3/21; PR 3/23; MEI 4/1)
In the morning, a closed military memorial service for Arafat is held on a military base outside Cairo. The Palestinian leadership, Arafat’s family, Egyptian envoy Omar Sulayman then escort Arafat’s body by helicopter to Ramallah, where 10,000s of grieving Palestinians overrun the Muqata in an attempt to observe his sunset funeral. Israel executes Operation New Leaf–the Day After to step up Israeli security but ensure that “Palestinians’ dignity is preserved” for3days of mourning: declares a state of emergency, seals the occupied territories until 11/16, pulls out of all West Bank population centers, reinforces the troop presence surrounding Ramallah and leading to Jerusalem, facilitates West Bank Palestinians’ access to Ramallah for the funeral, allows PA security officers to carry weapons for the 3-day mourning period in order to maintain crowd control. The only reported violence of the day is in Rafah, where the IDF fires on, shells residential areas. Meanwhile, massive symbolic funerals are held in Gaza, with (as in the West Bank) the full participation of all political groups, including Hamas. (BBC, CNN, WT 11/12; ATL, DS, Interfax, IRNA, ITAR-TASS, JAZ, JT, MENA, MNR, al-Ra’i, VOI, VOP 11/12 in WNC 11/16; NYT, WP, WT 11/13; HA, MM, PR 11/15; DS 11/17; PCHR 11/18)
At 9:30 P.M. EST (3:30 A.M. on 11/11 local time), Arafat dies in a Paris hospital. The PA declares a 40-day mourning period; immediately begins preparations to hold a state funeral in Cairo on 11/12, followed by his “temporary” burial in his Ramallah compound (the Muqata) later in the day. Earlier this afternoon, in anticipation of Arafat’s passing, the PLO Exec. Comm., the PA national security council, Fatah Central Comm., senior PC mbrs. meet in Ramallah to discuss leadership transitions, intentions to hold elections within 60 days of Arafat’s death, in keeping with the unratified Basic Law. (MM 11/10; AFP, JAZ, MENA, VOP 11/10 in WNC 11/12; BBC, CSM, HA, JAZ, MM, NYT, WP, WT 11/11; AFP, ATL, DS, Interfax, IRNA, ITAR-TASS, JAZ, JT, MENA, VOI, VOP, XIN 11/11 in WNC 11/13; NYT, WP 11/12; PCHR 11/18; JPI 11/19)
The IDF reinforces troops around, further restricts Palestinian access to East Jerusalem; raids, kills 2 Palestinian gunmen in an exchange of fire nr. Bayt Hanun; fatally shoots a Palestinian swimming in a prohibited zone off the coast of Gaza; bulldozes 50 d. nr. Khan Yunis. Palestinians fire 3 mortars at Neve Dekalim, causing no damage or injuries. (HA, VOI, VOP 11/10 in WNC 11/12; PRCS, WP 11/11)
The IDF fatally shoots 2 Palestinians who enter a closed military zone nr. the Israeli border fence east of Gaza City; fires on stone-throwing youths and market areas in Nablus, killing a 14-yr.-old Palestinian; fires on stone-throwing Palestinians in Jenin; blows up a Palestinian home nr. Nablus; bulldozes 20 d. in Dayr al-Balah; conducts arrest raids in Beitunia, Jenin (also sealing 4 offices of Islamic charities). Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket into s. Israel, fire 2 mortars into Jewish settlements in s. Gaza, causing light damage but no injuries. Jewish settlers fr. Ma’ale Shomron nr. Qalqilya uproot 10s of Palestinian olive trees, bar local Palestinian residents fr. harvesting their groves; IDF soldiers observe but do not intervene. ( JP, VOP, YA 11/9 in WNC 11/11; WP 11/10; VOI 11/10 in WNC 11/12; PRCS 11/11)
Arafat reportedly slips deeper into a coma, possibly suffering a stroke, and is put on life support. In light of Israel’s refusal to allow his burial in Jerusalem, the PA requests that he be buried in Ramallah after lying in state in Cairo. Doctors still do not know the cause of Arafat’s illness, though they have completely ruled out malignancy, poisoning. (AP, BBC, MM, REU 11/9; AFP, JAZ, JT, VOI, VOP 11/9 in WNC 11/11; Financial Times, NYT, PR, WP, WT 11/10)
The IDF raids a high school nr. Nablus, arrests a 10th grader; raids a mosque in al-Bireh, arresting 1 Palestinian; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, wounding a man on his roof; conducts house searches, arrest raids in Nablus, Rafah. In implementation of a new security plan (Quarterly Update), the PA deploys large numbers of PSF officers on the streets of Gaza City. (MM 3/11; HA 3/14; PR 3/17; PCHR 3/18)
The U.S.’s Abrams, Burns, Hadley arrive in Israel for further consultations on Sharon’s disengagement plan. Meanwhile in Washington, Israeli DM Shaul Mofaz briefs U.S. VP Dick Cheney, Powell on Israel’s latest thinking regarding evacuating settlements, maintaining security control in Gaza postwithdrawal. In Cairo, Israeli FM Silvan Shalom meets with Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak and FM Ahmad Maher, who provide assurances that Egypt would secure its border with Gaza following an Israeli pullout. (AFP, HA, JP, MM, NYT, REU 3/11; MENA 3/11 in WNC 3/13; MM, WP 3/12; MA 3/12 in WNC 3/16; PR 3/17; MEI 3/19)
The IDF pulls troops out of Nablus, lifts the 24-hr. curfew after a wk. of operations, during which 10s of Palestinians were detained; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, hitting an 8-yr.-old Palestinian in the chest with live ammunition; conducts arrest raids in and around Hebron, in Rafah. Israeli authorities demolish 7 Israeli Arab homes, a mosque in unrecognized villages in the Negev. Young Fatah mbrs. in Rafah waylay, essentially kidnap Arafat aide Ramzi Khoury, Gaza governor Muhammad al-Kidwa at the border crossing as they return fr. Cairo; take them on a forced 4 hr. tour of the recent IDF destruction in Rafah, protesting the PA’s failure to provide for 1,000s of homeless Palestinians. Jewish settlers attack Palestinians, Palestinian houses in Hebron. (WT 12/30; PCHR 1/1; MEI 1/9; HA 1/13)
The IDF imposes curfews on Salfit, 6 surrounding villages; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, wounding a 10-yr.-old Palestinian girl inside her school; conducts arrest raids in Aida r.c.; seals a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem. Palestinians fire a mortar at Gaza’s Gadid settlement, causing no damage or injuries. A Palestinian prisoner who suffered a stroke in Israel’s Megiddo prison on 12/4 dies; the PA says that he was healthy when he entered prison, that Israel was negligent in delaying his transportation to a hospital. (VOP 12/8 in WNC 12/10; VOI 12/9 in WNC 12/11; PR 12/10; PCHR 12/11)
Palestinian factions end a round of cease-fire talks in Cairo, with the factions refusing to adopt a unilateral cease-fire but expressing a “general readiness” for a comprehensive cease-fire involving Israel. (MENA, QA, VOP, al-Zaman [London] 12/8 in WNC 12/10; AYM 12/8, al-Quds 12/9 in WNC 12/11; MM, WP 12/9; MM 12/10; QA 12/11 in WNC 12/16; QA 12/12, AYM, SA 12/14 in WNC 12/16; al-Quds 12/18 in WNC 12/23; MEI 12/19)
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) passes a nonbinding resolution calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague to issue an advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s separation wall. (HA 12/8; ITAR-TASS, VOP 12/8 in WNC 12/10; HA, MM, WP 12/9; JP 12/9 in WNC 12/10; PR 12/10; THWR 12/12 in WNC 1/16; MEI 12/19)
The IDF fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis; conducts arrest raids in Nablus, firing on Palestinian youths who gather to throw stones at the troops. The Israeli High Court approves the transfer to Gaza of 12 West Bank Palestinian administrative detainees; a decision in the case against a 13th detainee is pending. (PCHR 12/4; PR 12/10; PCHR 12/11)
Palestinian factions reopen cease-fire talks in Cairo under Egyptian auspices. (MM 12/4; MENA, VOP, XIN 12/4 in WNC 12/6; WP, WT 12/6; MEI 12/19)
Overnight, the IDF raids Jenin, arresting local Hamas cmdr. Wa’il Aljui. The IDF also raids 2 Palestinian homes in Gaza City, fatally shooting 4 Palestinians, including wanted Hamas mbr. Amran al-Gul in an apparent assassination, also wounding 15 Palestinians, demolishing 3 Palestinian homes, partially destroying another 8. Hamas mbrs. respond with gunfire, killing 1 IDF soldier, wounding 1. (HA, MM, NYT 6/27; NYT, WT 6/28; PCHR 7/3)
Dahlan, Gilad finalize an agmt. for the IDF to redeploy fr. Bayt Hanun in n. Gaza, share security control of Gaza roads, turn over security control for most of Gaza (except settlements and security zones that make up roughly 35% of the Strip); discussions on an IDF pullout fr. Bethlehem continue. Meanwhile in Cairo, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah finalize a unilateral cease-fire agmt. Formal declarations of the 2 agmts. are expected to be made on 6/29, during Rice’s visit. (Forward, HA, MM 6/27; NYT, WP, WT 6/28) (see 6/14)
The IDF fatally shoots 2 AMB mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the Rafah border; fatally shoots a Palestinian farmer tilling a field nr. Khan Yunis; raids a hospital in Nablus, closing it for 3 hrs., but leaving without arresting anyone; conducts arrest raids in Nablus (targeting the tanz im), Qalqilya (targeting the PFLP). A Palestinian dies of injuries received earlier. Jewish settlers set up a tent at the site of the fatal 5/5 shooting of a Jewish settler on the Nablus–Ramallah road, vowing to erect a permanent settlement at the location. Palestinians fire a mortar at a Jewish settlement in Gaza, causing no damage or injuries. Israel releases another 35 Palestinian prisoners—significantly less than the 120 Israel had said it would release today. (HA 5/12; NYT, WP 5/13; PCHR 5/15)
Powell meets briefly with Quartet reps. in Jerusalem before meeting with Egyptian pres. Husni Mubarak in Cairo, King Abdallah of Jordan in Amman to rally Arab support for a PA crackdown on Palestinian militant groups. Powell says that it makes “no difference” whether or not Israel has declared acceptance of the road map; the important thing is for both sides to begin implementation. (HA, NYT, WP 5/12; MENA 5/12 in WNC 5/13; HA, WP, WT 5/13)
Late in the evening, on the eve of Powell’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, suicide bombers in Riyadh simultaneously detonate 3 car bombs outside residential compounds for foreigners and 1 outside a Saudi-U.S.-owned business, killing 34 persons (including8 Americans, 5 Saudis), wounding around 200 (including at least 40 Americans), many seriously. Most of the bombers appear to be Saudi, but no group takes responsibility; the U.S., Saudi Arabia suspect al-Qa‘ida. (BBC, NYT, WP, WT 5/13; NYT, REU, WP, WT 5/14; NYT, WP 5 /15)
The IDF lifts the comprehensive curfew on the occupied territories imposed on 1/26; fatally shoots 1 Palestinian shepherd who leads his flock too near IDF bulldozers leveling 400 dunams of Palestinian crops nr. Jabaliya r.c.; bulldozes land around, fires on residential areas of Tal al-Sultan, wounding 18 Palestinians; reportedly finds, disables 2 bombs planted nr. a Jewish settlements in Gaza, inside a PSF station in Hebron. A Palestinian gunman fires at a Jewish settler vehicle nr. Beit El settlement, wounding 2 Jewish settlers. A 2d Palestinian gunman shoots, lightly injures an IDF soldier outside a Jewish settlement in Gaza; soldiers fire on residential areas nearby in response, wounding 19 Palestinians. A Palestinian dies of injuries received during the IDF’s 1/25 attack on Gaza City. Jewish settlers attack 2 international peace activists who approach Itamar settlement to investigate Palestinian claims that settlers had taken over Palestinian farmland. Settlers beat the activists: steal their phone, camera; take their jackets, shoes, socks, wallets, passports; forcibly take them to Itamar. The IDF arrests the activists for trespassing on settler property. An Israeli court authorizes Israel’s seizure of over $9 m. fr. the PA’s frozen funds to pay the Ayalon insurance company to cover claims for cars stolen btwn. 1996 and 2000, allegedly with the PA’s knowledge and cooperation. (HA, International Solidarity Movement press release, LAW, PCHR 1/29; HA, NYT 1/30; PR 2/5)
Arafat calls on Sharon to immediately resume peace talks in light of his election victory, but Sharon says he will not deal with Palestinians “involved in terror.” (HA 1/29; NYT 1/30)
Bush phones Sharon to congratulate him on his election victory. Also calling to congratulate Sharon are Egyptian Pres. Husni Mubarak, who invites him to reopen peace talks with the Palestinians in Cairo after his new government is formed, and European Union (EU) pres. Romano Prodi who urges him to take action on the road map quickly, now that elections are over. (HA, MM 1/30, 1/31; MM 2/5; MEI 2/21)
The IDF conducts arrest raids in Qalqilya, Tulkarm town and r.c., Tubas (capturing senior Hamas mbr. Salman Daraghma, who previously escaped an IDF assassination attempt); fatally shoots a Palestinian stone thrower in Tulkarm r.c.; fatally shoots a mentally handicapped Palestinian during an arrest raid in Qabatiyya when he fails orders to halt, bars medical workers fr. reaching him, allowing him to bleed to death; demolishes 1 Palestinian home each in Jenin, Khan Yunis, Silwan; seals 3 Palestinian homes in Silwan; shells residential areas of Jenin, damaging 4 homes, destroying 11 stores; bulldozes 20 artesian wells in Qalqilya; conducts arrest raids in Amari r.c., Nablus, Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Urta. Hamas issues a statement in Beirut claiming to have received a large number of RPGs (source not identified; see 12/28), made more Qassam rockets. (HA 1/14; MENA 1/14 in WNC 1/15; LAW, PCHR 1/15)
Britain convenes a mtg. on PA reform in London. Reps. of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Quartet attend in person; PA officials in Gaza, Ramallah attend via video link. The PA briefs participants on reform efforts; Egypt briefs them on Palestinian national unity talks ongoing in Cairo. (HA, WP 1/14; AYM, Interfax, JT, MENA, al-Quds 1/14 in WNC 1/15; MM, NYT, PR, WT 1/15; MENA, SA 1/15 in WNC 1/16; QA 1/15, ITAR-TASS 1/16 in WNC 1/17; AYM 1/15, ITAR-TASS, MENA 1/17 in WNC 1/21; PR 1/22; MEI 1/24)