In the West Bank, Israeli settlers set up caravans near Qusra. Israeli settlers also threw stones at commercial structures and vehicles in Burqa, causing damage. Israeli forces delivered stop-work...
In the West Bank, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters during a raid in Kafr Qaddum, injuring 4 with rubber-coated bullets and others with tear gas. 3 Palestinians were...Read more
In the West Bank, 6 Israeli settlers attacked 3 Red Cross workers monitoring the olive harvest with pepper spray in Burin. Israeli settlers also uprooted 25 olive saplings in al-Masara. Israeli...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers uprooted 900 olive and apricot saplings and stole olive harvests in Sabastia. Israeli settlers also uprooted 70 trees in the Masafer Yatta area. Israeli forces...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian house in Burqa, causing damage to the house; and raided Madama, leading to a confrontation with local Palestinians; no injuries or damage...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli forces handed demolition notices for 4 Palestinian-owned homes in al-Tuwani south of Hebron; delivered notices for land seizures near Bethlehem; and confiscated 2...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli forces seized agricultural tools near Bethlehem. Protesters in Ramallah sealed off the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ramallah, demanding...Read more
A West Bank Palestinian stabs and injures 4 people in Tel Aviv before the Israeli police arrest him. Hours after the attack, COGAT suspends single-day work permits granted to various organizations...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli forces demolish 5 bedouin Palestinian residential structures in the E1 area nr. Jerusalem, displacing 26 bedouins; begin leveling land s. of Bethlehem in preparation for...Read more
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians fire 3 rockets into s. Israel, causing no damage or casualties. Israeli forces conduct a limited incursion nr. Khan Yunis to level land. Israeli forces at the...Read more
Gaza’s power plant shuts down completely for lack of fuel imports— a result of Israeli import restrictions; OCHA reports that because of ongoing fuel and electricity shortages, more than 40% of...Read more
In the morning, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border w. of the Erez crossing direct gunfire and 1 artillery shell at open areas around the former Nisanit settlement site, causing no reported injuries...Read more
In Gaza, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) jeep is damaged by a roadside explosion along a route nr. the Erez crossing; no injuries are reported. Hamas rejects speculation that...Read more
IDF troops on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Lahiya shoot and wound a mentally ill Palestinian nr. the border fence; the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Palestinian Liaison Office...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...Read more
The IDF significantly increases attacks on Gaza for the 2d straight day, as international mediation efforts led by Egypt to secure a cease-fire also intensify.
Combat notes: The IDF...Read more
The UNSC passes (14–0, with the U.S. abstaining) res. 1860, calling for an “immediate, durable, and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” but not...Read more
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
As OCL enters day 6, Israel announces that it will allow 443 foreign passportholders living in Gaza (mostly the spouses and children of Gazan Palestinians, including U.S., Russian, Moldovan,...Read more
IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of alMaghazi r.c. fire on Palestinian shepherds who stray nr. the border fence, causing no injuries. PA security forces demolish a smugglers’ tunnel on the Rafah...Read more
The IDF demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in Sur al-Bahir southeast of Jerusalem; issues military orders confiscating 150 d. of Palestinian agricultural land nr. Jenin for “military purposes”;...Read more
In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Azun in a car with Palestinian license plates, surrounds a home, arrests 1 PSF mbr. who surrenders; conducts random ID checks in, fires on...Read more
The IDF withdraws troops fr. the outskirts of Gaza City, where residents find the bodies of another Hamas mbr. and a 13-yr.-old Palestinian killed during recent clashes, 9 Palestinian homes...Read more
The IDF continues to shell n. Gaza, wounding at least 1 Palestinian civilian. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem. A Palestinian militant wounded during...Read more
Overnight, the IDF sends troops back into central Gaza, engaging in heavy clashes with armed Palestinians in al-Maghazi r.c. that last throughout the day, occupying houses as sniper posts, cutting...Read more
In Gaza, the IDF makes air strikes on an AMB car carrying rockets to a launch site nr. Bayt Hanun (the targets escape unharmed, 2 bystanders are wounded; a PA security officer later sent to...Read more
The IDF tightens restrictions on Palestinian movement inside Gaza, declares the n. West Bank a closed military zone in preparation for disengagement; begins going door to door in the Gaza...Read more
The IDF begins dismantling observation posts around Gaza settlements, replacing them with armored vehicles and tanks in preparation for disengagement; sends troops into Nur al-Shams r.c., searches...Read more
The IDF fires on residential areas of Rafah, killing 1 Palestinian; opens fire in Nur al-Shams r.c., killing 1 Palestinian teenager, wounding 5 after a Molotov cocktail is thrown at a passing IDF...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers set up caravans near Qusra. Israeli settlers also threw stones at commercial structures and vehicles in Burqa, causing damage. Israeli forces delivered stop-work orders for 1 house and electricity cables in al-Twana. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen northwest of Rafah; no injuries were reported. In Israel, 2 Palestinian citizens of Israel opened fire on Israelis in Hadera, killing 2 Israeli soldiers and wounding 5 others, including 1 soldier, before being shot and killed by Israeli undercover police. Israel said that the 2 attackers were affiliated of ISIS. 5 Palestinian citizens of Israel were arrested during subsequent raids in Umm al-Fahm under suspicion of having prior knowledge of the attack. (AJ, AP, DW, HA, HILL, MEE, NYT, TOI, WAFA, WAFA 3/27; ABC, AP, AX, CNN, GDN, HA, HA, HA, JP, MEMO, NPR, REU, SKY, TOI, WSJ 3/28; ALM, ALM 3/29; F24, PCHR 3/31; UNOCHA 4/10)
Members of the settler organization Ateret Cohanim entered the 1st floor of the Little Petra Hotel in East Jerusalem with Israeli police escort in an effort to cement the organization’s hold of the building. The ownership of the building is part of an ongoing legal case at the Israeli supreme court between the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Jerusalem and Ateret Cohanim. The lawyers of the Palestinian family that runs the hotel were attacked with pepper spray by the Israeli settlers when they entered the building and Israeli police detained 1 of the 2 lawyers present at the site. (HA 3/27; MEE, WAFA 3/28; WAFA 3/29; WAFA, WAFA 3/30; PCHR 3/31)
The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories announced that Israel will approve up to 20,000 work permits for Palestinians in Gaza for workers in construction and agriculture. The International Committee of the Red Cross in Israel also announced that Israel will allow family visits by Palestinians in Gaza to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisoners, for the 1st time since March 2020. (ALM 3/31)
U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken met with PA president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. During the meeting, President Abbas called on the U.S. to help curb settler violence and end settlement expansion. Abbas warned Blinken that the PA may rescind its recognition of Israel and end security cooperation if Israeli unilateral actions are not curbed. Abbas also criticized the U.S. and its allies for its double standards in not applying sanctions against Israel for its violations of international law as they have done against Russia. (HA, MEE, WAFA 3/27; JP 3/28; AX 3/30)
The foreign ministers of the U.S., UAE, Morocco, Egypt, Bahrain, and Israel met in Sde Boker for the 1st day of a 2-day summit comprised of countries that have normalized ties with Israel with U.S. support. Among the subjects discussed at the summit were the perceived threat from Iran and the U.S.’s efforts to reenter the Iran Nuclear deal. The 1st day of the summit coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Arab Peace Initiative. Secretary Blinken also met with Israel’s prime minister Naftali Bennett, who shortly after, tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. (AJ, AP, GDN, HA, HA, HA, HA, JP, JP, REU, TOI, WP 3/27; HA, MEMO 3/28; AX, AX 3/30)
In the West Bank, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinian protesters during a raid in Kafr Qaddum, injuring 4 with rubber-coated bullets and others with tear gas. 3 Palestinians were arrested during a late-night raid in Idhna. In East Jerusalem, 1 Palestinian family demolished their own home in Silwan and 1 Palestinian demolished his own shop in Sheikh Jarrah. 1 Palestinian was arrested in Silwan. In Gaza, 2 rockets launched from Gaza City landed in the sea; differing accounts of what happened were conveyed by Hamas sources, including that a weather storm had caused a malfunction and that it was unclear which group had launched the rockets. Israeli forces opened fire at agricultural lands east of Juhor ad-Dik and al-Qarara; no injuries were reported. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen within 6 nautical miles west of Gaza; no injuries were reported. (HA, HA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 1/1; REU 1/2; PCHR 1/6)
The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed grave concern for a Palestinian prisoner who had been hunger striking for 138 days in protest over his administrative detention. (WAFA 1/2)
Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in administrative detention started a boycott of Israeli military courts in protest against the practice. Administrative detainees are held without charges for an indefinite period. The Palestinian prisoners seek to end the practice of administrative detentions with their boycott. (WAFA 1/8; WAFA 1/10; WAFA 1/16)
In the West Bank, 6 Israeli settlers attacked 3 Red Cross workers monitoring the olive harvest with pepper spray in Burin. Israeli settlers also uprooted 25 olive saplings in al-Masara. Israeli forces demolished 4 Palestinian stores under construction in Deir Qaddis. Israeli forces also delivered stop-work orders for 4 houses under construction in Idhna. 8 Palestinians were arrested, including 6 during late-night raids in Dheisheh refugee camp, Hebron, Beit Umar, and Dura; 1 was arrested at the Container checkpoint and 1 in his shop in Arrabah. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces violently dispersed Palestinians protesting the demolition of graves at al-Yusufiya Muslim cemetery; 1 was arrested. (HA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 10/26; MEMO 10/27; PCHR 10/28)
Israel’s public security minister Omer Bar-Lev ordered a ban on a cultural festival put on by the Catholic Church, claiming it was connected to the PA. The festival funded by Austria and France was set to take place for 3 days at Beit Abraham at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. Israeli forces closed a performance attended by the French consulate general. The organizer Bernard Thibaud said he was shocked by the Israeli behavior and would speak to the French foreign ministry to complain and possibly take Israel to court. (HA 10/26; I24 10/27; WAFA 10/28)
The U.S. state department said it was “deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s plan to advance thousands of settlement units, many of them deep in the West Bank. In addition, we are concerned about the publication of tenders on Sunday [10/24] for 1,300 settlement units in a number of West Bank settlements.” Haaretz reported that U.S. officials secretly had conveyed to Israel that the main concern for the U.S. is construction deep within the West Bank. When asked about the state department’s harsher tone toward Israel, state department spokesperson Ned Price said, “our public messaging on this is consistent with what we are seeing transpire so far. It only stands to reason that our public messaging may shift over time.” It was later reported by Axios that secretary of state Antony Blinken had a “tense” phone call with Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz over the issue of settlements. According to an Israeli official, the Israeli understanding was that the U.S. gave Israel a “yellow card,” a soccer reference for a warning. (AJ, AX, DW, FOX, HA, HILL, REU, TOI, TOI 10/26; ALM, AX, MDW, TOI 10/27)
Israel rebuked the U.S. statement that the U.S. had not been informed about Israel’s decision, from 10/22, to designate 6 Palestinian rights organizations as terrorists. The Israeli deputy director-general of strategic affairs in the foreign ministry Joshua Zarka said that he had told the U.S. about the Israeli decision when he visited the U.S. the week of the announcement. Deputy Director Zarka said that Spokesperson Price probably had not been updated on the issue. UN human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet also condemned the terrorist designations by Israel, saying they should be overturned immediately. The Swedish foreign ministry said Israel had made such allegations before but never provided evidence. (HA 10/25; HA, HA, MEMO, WAFA 10/26)
An Israeli private jet landed in Saudi Arabia, marking the 1st time a direct flight from Israel landed in the country. On 10/25, the 1st ever direct flight from Saudi Arabia landed in Israel. It was an aircraft registered in the UAE. (JP, MEMO 10/27)
Israel launched a 2-day military drill, Southern Storm, simulating war with Hamas in Gaza. (TOI 10/26)
The U.S. secretary of homeland security Alejandro Mayorkas said Israel was among 4 countries the U.S. is considering for its visa waiver program. The subject of an Israeli visa waiver was discussed when Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett met President Joe Biden in August. (REU 10/26; HA, TOI 10/27)
It was announced by Israel that the country will join the EU Horizon Europe research program. The program provides funding for research and innovation and has a budget of $110 billion. Israel will be prohibited from using program funds to invest in East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank, according to the deal with the EU. Israel will formally join the EU program in December. (HA 10/26; MEMO 10/27)
Republican senators in the U.S. congress introduced a bill co-sponsored by 35 senators seeking to block the Biden administration from reopening the U.S. mission to Palestinians in Jerusalem. The bill “Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law of 2021” was introduced by Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN). (TOI 10/27)
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers uprooted 900 olive and apricot saplings and stole olive harvests in Sabastia. Israeli settlers also uprooted 70 trees in the Masafer Yatta area. Israeli forces shot and injured 1 Palestinian man with live ammunition during a late-night raid in Tammun. Israeli forces also shot and injured 1 Palestinian minor in Silwad before arresting him. Elsewhere, Israeli forces demolished 1 structure in Haris and 1 house in Abu Nawwar, displacing 8 Palestinians, and delivered a stop-work notice for a house under construction in Deir Balut. 10 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in and around Ramallah, Kobar, Beita, ‘Azzun, al-Shuyukh, and Beit Umar. In East Jerusalem, 1 Israeli police officer was filmed hitting 1 Palestinian teenager at the Damascus Gate plaza. The teenager was filmed approaching the officer to complain that he was beaten by another officer. As the officer asked the Palestinian which of his colleagues had beaten him, the officer started beating the Palestinian with his club. Later, on 10/14, the officer was suspended for 5 days. 3 Palestinian minors were arrested in Silwan and al-Tur. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces confiscated 1 Palestinian fishing boat anchored some 6 nautical miles west of Gaza. (WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 10/12; HA, MEMO, WAFA 10/13; HA, PCHR 10/14; AJ 10/17)
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement that 9,300 olive trees had been destroyed in the West Bank from August 2020 to August 2021. The ICRC further stated that Palestinians growing olives face 3 challenges: impediments to their movement and access, harassment and violence by settlers, and impacts of climate change. (ICRC 10/12; MEMO 10/13)
The Palestinian prisoner administration said that some 400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons soon will start an open-ended hunger strike to protest new restrictions imposed after 6 prisoners escaped Gilboa prison on 9/6. Most of the prisoners going on hunger strike are said to be affiliated with Islamic Jihad. (HA 10/12; AJ, AP 10/13)
The Palestinian Football Association (PFA) canceled a meeting with FIFA president Gino Infantino due to his participation in an event hosted by former U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman at the Israeli Museum of Tolerance, built on a Muslim cemetery in East Jerusalem that dates back to the 11th century. The PFA said in a statement that it views Infantino’s participation in the event “as a total affront to the values of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence, both endorsed by the FIFA statutes.” (WAFA 10/12; WAFA 10/13)
The commander of an Israeli military unit that was attacked by Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar settlement on 10/11 said they did not respond violently because his unit was in a Jewish community. The commander said that “the core of Yitzhar are good people.” (HA 10/12)
Israel’s justice minister Gideon Saar said at a conference that the U.S. consulate to Palestinians will not reopen in Jerusalem, saying, “It needs Israeli approval . . . We will not compromise on this issue.” (REU 10/12; MEMO 10/13)
Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid met with U.S. vice president Kamala Harris in Washington D.C. Foreign Minister Lapid is scheduled to meet with secretary of state Antony Blinken on 10/13. (REU 10/12; ALM, HA 10/13)
90 Google employees and more than 300 Amazon employees wrote an open letter published in the Guardian calling on the 2 companies to “pull out of Project Nimbus [a cloud server sold to Israel for $1.2 billion] and cut all ties with the Israeli military.” The employees complained that the 2 companies’ cooperation with Israel will “make the systematic discrimination and displacement carried out by the Israeli military and government even crueler and deadlier for Palestinians.” (NA 6/22; GDN, MEE 10/12; HA, MEMO, WAFA 10/13)
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian house in Burqa, causing damage to the house; and raided Madama, leading to a confrontation with local Palestinians; no injuries or damage were reported. Separately, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians protecting their land northwest of Ramallah; at least 2 sustained injuries. Israeli forces shot and injured 1 Palestinian minor west of Ramallah, alleging that he had thrown stones at Israeli settler-owned vehicles. Elsewhere, Israeli forces closed metal gates to the Hebron area villages of al-Fawar, Yatta, and Dura; and razed Palestinian-owned land near Jalud. 4 Palestinians were arrested, including 2 during a raid in ‘Ayn al-Hilwa and 2 at a checkpoint near Nablus. In East Jerusalem, 3 Palestinians were arrested during raids in Issawiyya. In Gaza, Israeli forces made incursions to level land east of Khuza‘a. (WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 3/24; PCHR 3/27)
PA prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh met with the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Jerusalem to request that the ICRC work to protect Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons from the COVID-19 virus. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons started returning their food portions in response to Israel’s lack of help in protecting them from the virus. Prime Minister Shtayyeh also called on all Palestinians from the West Bank working in Israel to return to the West Bank, citing Israel’s reckless response to Palestinians showing signs of the COVID-19 virus (see 3/23). (WAFA, WAFA 3/24; WAFA 3/25)
The EU donated $88 million to UNRWA projects. (WAFA 2/24)
In the West Bank, Israeli forces handed demolition notices for 4 Palestinian-owned homes in al-Tuwani south of Hebron; delivered notices for land seizures near Bethlehem; and confiscated 2 residential tents near Nablus. Elsewhere, Israeli forces set up roadblocks on roads to several villages north of Ramallah. 6 Palestinians were arrested, including 5 during raids in and around Ramallah, Hebron, and Kafr Qaddum; 1 was arrested at a checkpoint near Jenin. During a raid in Ramallah, Israeli forces seized a vehicle. In Gaza, Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmland east of Khan Yunis; no injuries were reported. In Israel, 1 Palestinian was arrested for working without a work permit. (WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 2/12; PCHR 2/13)
The Lebanese army opened fire at Israeli drones flying over Lebanese territory, causing the Israeli drones to vacate Lebanese air space. (HA 2/12)
The UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner released the UN database of companies with ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The long-awaited list included 112 business, 94 in Israel and 18 in 6 other countries. Among the companies are Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Motorola Solutions, and Tripadvisor. (HA, OHCHR (see A/HRC/43/71), REU, WAFA, WAFA 2/12)
Japan announced that it was providing $33 million in aid to Palestinians via a number of UN institutions and through the International Committee of the Red Cross. (WAFA 2/12)
In the West Bank, Israeli forces seized agricultural tools near Bethlehem. Protesters in Ramallah sealed off the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ramallah, demanding action on behalf of a Palestinian prisoner said to be in critical condition after torture during his interrogation on 9/25. 2 Palestinians were arrested at a flying checkpoint between Bethlehem and Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces demolished 4 Palestinian-owned sheep barns in Jabal Mukabir. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen 3 nautical miles from Bayt Lahiya; no injuries were reported. Israeli forces also opened fire on agricultural lands northeast of Khan Yunis; no injuries were reported. (WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 10/2; PCHR 10/3)
In Israel, the pre-indictment hearings in the 3 corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began. (AJ 10/2)
In Aachen, Germany, a Lebanese artist was denied a prize because the mayor of the city deemed that the artist supported BDS and had refused to distance himself from the movement. (WAFA 10/3; WAFA 10/4)
A West Bank Palestinian stabs and injures 4 people in Tel Aviv before the Israeli police arrest him. Hours after the attack, COGAT suspends single-day work permits granted to various organizations and groups to allow Palestinians to enter Israel and begins an investigation into the matter. The alleged attacker hailed from Nablus and obtained one such permit from a group called Natural Peace Tours, which facilitates relationships between individual Israelis and Palestinians. (HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA 4/23)
In the West Bank, the IDF shuts down the main entrance to a group of villages nr. Ramallah. It’s unclear what prompted the closure. IDF troops shoot and injure 3 Palestinians during clashes sparked by reports of stone throwing in Kafr Malik village nr. Ramallah; establish mobile checkpoints outside Bayt Umar, sparking further clashes (there are no serious injuries). Meanwhile, IDF troops arrest 6 Palestinians and issue 2 arrest summons during late-night raids nr. Ramallah and Hebron, and patrol nr. Hebron throughout the day. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 1 Palestinian and issue 1 arrest summons during raids in Silwan. An Israeli settler driver allegedly rams and injures 2 Palestinian youths s. of the city, sparking minor clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in the area; there are no serious injuries. (HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA 4/23; PCHR 4/27)
The International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) announces that it may consider the Palestinian prisoners’ demand for increased family visits, which they made in the context of the Dignity Strike. The ICRC used to coordinate 2 family visits per prisoner per mo. In 5/2016, however, the organization reduced the monthly visits to 1 due to an increased number of “no-shows” on the part of the families, according to an ICRC spokesperson. Meanwhile, IDF troops violently disperse Palestinians marching from c. Ramallah to the Beit El checkpoint in solidarity with the prisoners; 3 Palestinians are injured. (TOI 4/23)
Israeli forces launch an air strike on a proSyrian govt. militia group nr. Qunaytra in the Golan Heights, killing 3 soldiers, according to a statement from the group. The IDF does not comment on the strike. (HA, JP, TOI 4/23)
In the West Bank, Israeli forces demolish 5 bedouin Palestinian residential structures in the E1 area nr. Jerusalem, displacing 26 bedouins; begin leveling land s. of Bethlehem in preparation for the construction of a military tower. The IDF conducts late-night raids and house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem, Tulkarm r.c., and 1 village each nr. Salfit and Ramallah, arresting 10 Palestinians; patrols in 4 villages and al-‘Arub r.c. nr. Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli police raid the International Comm. of the Red Cross office overnight, arresting 6 Palestinian activists who have been staging a sit-in in protest of the Israeli orders to deport 2 of them. Israeli forces demolish 2 Palestinian homes in Silwan; arrest a Palestinian at Haram al-Sharif; arrest 2 Palestinians during late-night raids in Jabal Mukabir and al-‘Izzariya. In Israel, Israeli forces demolish a Palestinian bedouin mosque in a so-called unrecognized village in the Negev. (HA, MNA 1/6; PCHR, WAFA 1/7; HA, MNA 1/8; PCHR 1/14)
The Israeli press reports that DM Moshe Ya’alon has approved, in recent weeks, the Gush Etzion settlement’s request to incorporate a nearby property into its municipality. (HA, JP, TOI 1/6)
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians fire 3 rockets into s. Israel, causing no damage or casualties. Israeli forces conduct a limited incursion nr. Khan Yunis to level land. Israeli forces at the border fence also open fire on land nr. al-Qarara village, causing no injuries. There are also 3 separate incidents of Israeli naval vessels opening fire on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the Gaza Strip nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF opens fire with live ammunition on al- ‘Arub r.c. residents during clashes sparked by a raid, wounding 1. Meanwhile, IDF troops uproot around 120 palm trees nr. Jericho because they were not allowed to be planted in Area C. Separately, the Red Cross announces it has suspended the supply of tents to Palestinians displaced by Israel in the Jordan Valley, in protest at the IDF’s confiscation of the materials. The IDF patrols in 4 villages nr. Tulkarm in the morning, in Hebron and nearby al-‘Arub r.c., and 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon, and in 1 village each nr. Jenin and Nablus at night. Jewish settlers attack Palestinian farmers in Qusra village nr. Nablus, causing no injuries. (JP, MNA, WAFA 2/6; PCHR 2/13)
Palestinian chief negotiator Erakat meets with U.S. envoy Martin Indyk in Jericho, but no details about the contents of discussions are made public. Meanwhile, EU foreign affairs chief Ashton expresses “deep concern” about Israel’s decision to build 558 new settlement housing units in East Jerusalem. (HA, MNA 2/6)
Gaza’s power plant shuts down completely for lack of fuel imports— a result of Israeli import restrictions; OCHA reports that because of ongoing fuel and electricity shortages, more than 40% of Gazans have been without running water for the past week and rolling blackouts across the Strip have increased to 18 hrs./day. Israel allows the International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) to bring in enough fuel to supply back-up generators at Gaza hospitals for 2 weeks. Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border fire warning shots at Palestinians and international activists staging a nonviolent march to the Erez crossing to protest Israel’s imposition of a no-go zone along the border; no injuries are reported. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Zabbuba village nr. Jenin in the afternoon, firing on residential areas to keep Palestinians indoors and then firing tear gas at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no serious injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, and nr. Qalqilya and Salfit. Jewish settlers enter a Palestinian a Palestinian area n. of Hebron but are followed and removed by Israeli border police. (JP, YA 2/28; PCHR 3/1; OCHA 3/2)
In the morning, IDF troops on the n. Gaza border w. of the Erez crossing direct gunfire and 1 artillery shell at open areas around the former Nisanit settlement site, causing no reported injuries. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Lahiya launch 4 artillery shells at open areas near the border, causing no reported injuries. Late at night, Israeli warplanes make a total of 7 air strikes on greenhouses and open areas nr. the Bayt Lahiya border in the north, a suspected weapons factory in c. Gaza, and a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no injuries. A Palestinian civilian dies of injuries sustained in a 11/14/01 IDF air strike on a UNRWA school in Khan Yunis. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 9 Palestinian stores in al-Oja village in the Jordan Valley, n. of Jericho; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Ramallah (where they target the home of Hamas-affiliated Reform and Change PC mbr. ‘Abd al-Jabir Fuqaha, arresting him, summoning his son for interrogation, and confiscating his computer, phone, and files), in Nablus, and nr. Hebron; conducts late-night patrols in 1 village nr. Qalqilya (summoning 3 Palestinians for interrogation). In East Jerusalem’s Shaykh Jarrah neighborhood, Israeli security forces raid the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) office and a protest tent outside, detaining Hamas-affiliated PC mbrs. Muhammad Toutah and Khalid Abu Arafa, who had been living at the ICRC offices since 6/2010 to protest Israel’s 9/2009 decision to revoke their Jerusalem IDs on the grounds that they are affiliated with a “terrorist organization” (i.e., Hamas); Israeli authorities expel them to the West Bank. Hamasaffiliated PC mbr. Ismail Ashkar comments, “Every time we move toward reconciliation and reactivating the Palestinian parliament, we see Israel targeting our lawmakers.” (AFP, JP, NYT, YA 1/24; WP, WT 1/25; PCHR 1/26; OCHA 1/27)
Israeli embassies and mission in the Hague, Brussels, London, New York, Boston, and Houston receive envelopes containing a suspicious white powder that turns out to be flour, raising fears of an anthrax attack. No one takes responsibility. (DS 1/24; JPI 2/3)
In Gaza, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) jeep is damaged by a roadside explosion along a route nr. the Erez crossing; no injuries are reported. Hamas rejects speculation that the explosion was caused by a roadside bomb, alleging the jeep accidentally triggered IDF UXO fr. OCL; no group claims responsibility. The IDF makes a brief incursion into s. Gaza to level land in the no-go zone e. of Khan Yunis to clear lines of sight. In the West Bank, the IDF makes a rare daytime incursion into Bayt Ula village nr. Hebron, raiding a furniture company and arresting 2 Palestinians; stages 1 late-night arrest raid nr. Hebron, followed several hrs. later by synchronized arrest raids, house searches in 3 other villages nr. Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Revava nr. Salfit bulldoze 50 d. of nearby Palestinian olive groves and agricultural land, fence off 24 d., block off 3 roads leading to the area, and install mobile homes to expand the settlement. Jewish settlers fr. Adi Ad nr. Nablus place 4 mobile homes on a nearby plot of Palestinian land to create a new settlement outpost. (WT 2/5; OCHA, PCHR 2/11)
IDF troops on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Lahiya shoot and wound a mentally ill Palestinian nr. the border fence; the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Palestinian Liaison Office secure his release fr. Israeli custody. (PCHR 11/5)
In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night raids, house searches in and around Tulkarm town and r.c., but makes no arrests. Nr. Nablus, 8 Jewish settlers fr. Brakha raid Burin village, where they are confronted by 10s of stone-throwing Palestinians; IDF troops in the area (possibly escorting the settlers) fire rubbercoated steel bullets, tear gas at the Palestinians, injuring 1 and arresting 1 other. (PCHR 11/5)
U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrives in the Middle East and meets with Netanyahu and Abbas, hoping to help them reach an agreement on settlements that would allow resumption of peace talks. (NYT 10/31; NYT, WP 11/1; JR 11/23)
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)
The IDF significantly increases attacks on Gaza for the 2d straight day, as international mediation efforts led by Egypt to secure a cease-fire also intensify.
Combat notes: The IDF tightens the cordon around Gaza City (focusing attacks on the outlying neighborhoods of Shaykh Ajlin, Tal al-Hawa, and al-Zaytun and open areas n. of the city), with troops reportedly taking fire from Palestinian rocket-propelled grenade antitank missiles and mortars. The IDF also launches a major incursion into Jabaliya under heavy shelling, engaging in heavy exchanges of fire with Palestinian gunmen, killing at least 13. In s. Gaza, the IDF continues heavy attacks on Khuza, including air strikes, intense shelling, and widespread bulldozing of some 50 houses and farms; Israeli fire is so heavy and constant that residents report being unable to reach the injured or flee their homes to seek shelter outside the village; IDF troops pull back fr. Khuza after nightfall.
The IDF reports carrying out more than 160 air strikes across Gaza. Air strike target areas include Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza, Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, al-Shuka, Tal al-Za‘atar, and the Twam area. Israeli gunboats shell Nussayrat r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported nr. Bayt Lahiya (white phosphorous suspected) and in Dayr al-Balah, Jabaliya town, Khan Yunis (white phosphorous suspected), Khuza, Nussayrat r.c. (confirmed use of flechette shells). For a 2d day, nearly half of the air strikes take place after nightfall, targeting Gaza City. Palestinians report 12 hrs. of constant Israeli bombardment of the Rafah border, with the IDF claiming to destroy 90 smuggling tunnels. (The IDF also demolishes 1 tunnel on the Gaza–Israel border nr. the Nahal Oz crossing.) Specific targets include a Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, 31 groups of armed men, 25 rocket-launching sites, and 13 suspected weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.
On the ground, the IDF reports a total of 6 soldiers wounded (2 moderately, 4 lightly) in 2 exchanges of gunfire with Palestinians. In a 3d incident, IDF reservists open fire on an IDF paratrooper unit, seriously wounding 1 and moderately wounding 3. Palestinians report around 70 Gazans killed today, putting the estimated Palestinian toll at 971 dead and 4,400 wounded. The Israeli toll stands at 13–14 dead, more than 125 injured. (Israeli military intelligence confirms that 1 soldier killed on 1/6 or 1/8 was targeted by a suicide bomber, stating that several Palestinian suicide bombers, including some women and some dressed as IDF soldiers, have approached combat units.)
Palestinians fire about 11 rockets and 6 mortars into Israel, causing no reported damage or injuries.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes another 3-hr. lull, allowing 102 truckloads of aid into Gaza. (The IDF states that 1,028 truckloads of humanitarian goods have been allowed into Gaza since 12/27.) During the lull the ICRC rescues 100 Palestinians trapped in Jabaliya. Heavy IDF attacks in Rafah force UNRWA to close a medical center just n. of the border to ensure the safety of patients and to open more shelters for displaced residents. Human Rights Watch calls Israel’s 3-hr./day breaks to facilitate humanitarian aid “woefully insufficient.” Other aid groups (including Doctors Without Borders, the ICRC, the UN) complain that they are still able to import and distribute only a fraction of the emergency supplies available for Gaza because of Israeli delays and restrictions. (BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, MA, MM, REU, YA 1/13; AYM, IDF, IFM, MM, NYT, WP, WT, YA 1/14; NYT, PCHR, WP, XIN 1/15; ITIC 1/19)
In the West Bank, IDF troops at the Tarqumiyya crossing nr. Hebron fatally shoot a Palestinian who allegedly attempts to grab the gun of a border patrol officer after being denied permission to cross the checkpoint. Late in the evening, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Awa, Dura, and Kafr Khalil (all nr. Hebron). A Jewish settler driving nr. Azun village e. of Qalqilya opens fire on Palestinian youths who stone his car, killing 1 Palestinian teenager, wounding 2. (HA 1/13; PCHR 1/15)
A Jordanian soldier fires on an Israeli border patrol unit operating along the Negev border with Jordan n. of Elat. The border police return fire. No injuries are reported. (MM 1/13; WT 1/14; JPI 1/23)
The UNSC passes (14–0, with the U.S. abstaining) res. 1860, calling for an “immediate, durable, and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” but not outlining an implementation or enforcement mechanism (see Doc. A8). Israel says it will not halt its operations until a Hamas cease-fire can be guaranteed. Meanwhile, Egypt begins intensive bilateral talks with Israeli and Hamas envoys to mediate a cease-fire.
Combat notes: The IDF carries out another 60 air strikes across Gaza, with heavy bombing of the Rafah border. Targets include more than 18 homes of senior IQB members (all believed to be in hiding), “a number of armed operatives” assassinated (not named), several groups of armed men, 15 tunnels (including some homes believed to be covering entrances to tunnels), 11 suspected weapons depots (including 1 mosque in n. Gaza), 15 rocket-launching sites, the PASF headquarters and PA Youth and Sports Min. offices in Rafah, and an Islamic Jihad office in Abasan. Target areas include Abasan, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (city center, al-Nasser), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Nussayrat, Rafah. Heavy naval shelling of Dayr al-Balah and the nearby al-Qur’an area of c. Gaza is also reported. As ground operations continue, the IDF begins moving a small number of reservists into the Strip for the 1st time since OCL began. Heavy artillery and ground fire is reported in Abasan, Gaza City (al-Sha‘af, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, alZaytun), al-Qarara. Late in the evening, IDF troops withdraw from al-Qarara; residents report at least 20 homes destroyed since the IDF took up positions in the city on 1/6.
Palestinians fire at least 15 rockets and 1 mortar into Israel, lightly injuring 4 Israelis. Areas hit by rockets include Ashdod, Ashqelon, Beersheba (4 Grads), Ofakim.
The Palestinian toll, including bodies recovered during the humanitarian lull today (see below), reaches at least 758 dead and more than 3,100 injured. In addition, a Ukrainian woman (married to a Gazan) and her toddler are killed by an IDF shell in Gaza City, becoming the 1st foreign casualties inside Gaza (1 Egyptian was killed on the Rafah border on 12/28). Today, 3 IDF soldiers are killed and 14 are wounded (1 seriously, 1 moderately, 12 lightly) during clashes inside Gaza, bringing the Israeli toll to 13–14 dead and more than 100 injured.
Humanitarian notes: IDF soldiers fire on relief workers in 3 incidents in which the UN and ICRC had fully coordinated their movements with the IDF in advance (providing the IDF with the license plates of the vehicles, giving precise times and routes of travel, and using clearly marked vehicles) and received IDF assurances that travel would be safe. One UN driver is killed and 2 other UN employees and 1 ICRC employee are wounded. The UN and other groups scale back or suspend aid deliveries to Gaza, citing security concerns.
During the humanitarian lull, the IDF allows ICRC workers back into a heavily damaged residential block of al-Zaytun (see 1/7), where they rescue 103 injured Palestinians who have been stranded since 1/5 and report finding 40–50 bodies, fearing that more dead and injured may be trapped under demolished homes. The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports (WP 1/9) new evidence that IDF soldiers stationed outside the destroyed houses were aware people were trapped but denied aid. UN Undersecy. Gen. for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes urges Israel to investigate, calling (WP 1/9) it “a particularly outrageous incident” and “absolutely horrifying.”
Israel allows 223 Palestinian dual nationals to exit Gaza via the Erez crossing for Jordan (see 1/2).
The UN estimates that 20,000 Gazans have been internally displaced by the fighting. (AP, HA, IDF, IHY, JP, MA, NYT, UNIS, YA 1/8; AFP, Daily Star, IDF, IFM, ITARTASS, MET, NYT, RFM, UNIS, WP, WT 1/9; AFP, AP, NYT, WT 1/12; AYM, JP, NYT, WT 1/13; IHY, MM 1/14; PCHR 1/15; WJW 1/16; NYT 1/17; ITIC 1/18; JPI 1/23)
In the West Bank, the IDF fatally shoots a Palestinian who allegedly attempts to set fire to a gas station outside the Ma’ale Adumim settlement e. of Jerusalem; fires live ammunition and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron, seriously wounding 2 (including a 12-yr.-old boy); fires live ammunition at Palestinians protesting against the separation wall in Bil‘in, wounding 1; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Qabatya nr. Jenin. (PCHR 1/15)
The PFLP General Command fires 4 rockets fr. s. Lebanon into Israel, 3 of which explode near Nahariya, lightly wounding 4 Israelis (5 others are treated for shock). The IDF fires 5 shells the border as a “measured response” and intensifies surveillance overflights of s. Lebanon. Hizballah, the Lebanese government, and Fatah and Hamas reps. in Lebanon condemn the fire, assuring Israel they have no intention of opening a 2d front. The Lebanese army and UNIFIL pledge to step up surveillance in s. Lebanon (ITV, MM, MNR, RFM 1/8; Guardian, HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT, SFR, al-Watan, YA 1/9; YA 1/10; AFP, AP, NYT, WT 1/12; HA, MM 1/15; JPI 1/23)
Israel agrees in principle to the 1/6 Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal, agreeing to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/8 to discuss details with Egyptian officials. On the ground, Israeli air, naval, and ground attacks continue across the Strip, “tightening the noose” around Gaza’s population centers. IDF reservists begin to complete their training and deploy to staging areas on the Gaza border. IDF officials say that since Israeli troops entered Gaza on 1/3, Hamas and other Palestinian fighters have largely pulled back into the cities and refugee camps, sniping and engaging IDF troops on the edges of densely populated areas but not coming out to engage directly.
Combat notes: The IDF carries out more than 40 air strikes on targets across Gaza, hitting the PA presidential compound in Gaza City (already hit several times), 14 rocketlaunching sites, more tunnels on the Rafah border, 9 homes allegedly hiding smuggling tunnels, 4 groups of armed Palestinians, 1 Hamas outpost, 1 suspected weapons depot, 2 mosques (Bani Suhayla, Khan Yunis). Target areas include Abu Middayn (c. Gaza), Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan), the al-Fukhari area (nr. Khan Yunis), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Khuza, Ma’an (e. of Khan Yunis), al-Maghazi, Nussayrat, Rafah, the Western Sawahira area (c. Gaza). Particularly heavy IDF artillery fire and exchanges of gunfire are reported in al-Atatra, the al-Salatin area northwest of Bayt Lahiya, the Izbat ‘Abid Rabbuh area e. of Jabaliya, alQarara, and al-Zaytun in Gaza City. In the afternoon, the IDF drops leaflets on houses nr. the Rafah border, ordering residents to evacuate their homes; aerial bombing there begins after dark.
Palestinians fire 17 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, lightly injuring 2 Israelis; around a dozen are Grads that land in Ashdod and Ashqelon, the rest are Qassams that land closer to the Gaza border. With IDF troops now in control of open areas around Bayt Hanun and Bayt Lahiya, most rocket and mortar fire is coming from densely populated urban areas.
At least 29 Palestinians are killed today, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to at least 682 dead and 3,085 injured. One IDF soldier is moderately wounded, 8 are lightly wounded in exchanges with Palestinians inside Gaza.
Humanitarian notes: In the afternoon, the IDF observes a 3-hr. cease-fire nr. Gaza City to allow 80 truckloads of humanitarian aid to enter the Strip and to give Gazans an opportunity to seek food, fuel, and medical care. Some Israeli gunfire is reported (WP 1/22) during the lull, leaving at least 2 Palestinian girls (ages 2, 7) dead and their father and sister wounded. Aid groups say the imports do not come close to relieving the dire crisis. Moreover, Palestinians are reportedly (NYT 1/8) running low on cash to buy supplies because Israel has barred the import of currency; banks are closed because of the fighting; and ATMs do not work because of the lack of electricity.
The ICRC reports finding 16 bodies (7 women, 6 children, 3 men) and 18 seriously wounded Palestinians (including 4 emaciated children too weak to stand) in a cluster of destroyed houses in Gaza City’s al-Zaytun neighborhood. The ICRC received specific reports of these casualties on 1/3, but the IDF had barred ambulances and rescue workers fr. reaching the site; international aid workers finally enter the area with donkey carts to evacuate the wounded, ignoring IDF efforts to chase them away. The ICRC later attempts to return to the area to remove the bodies and check reports of additional casualties but is blocked by the IDF. The ICRC’s headquarters in Geneva issues a rare denunciation of Israel, calling (WP 1/8) the IDF’s handling of the incident “unacceptable,” stating that it had “failed to meet its obligations under international law to care for and evacuate the wounded.” (AP, Arutz 7, AYM, BBC, HA, IDF, JP, MA, MM, REU, RFM, RIA, YA 1/7; IDF, IFM, IHY, JP, MA, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 1/8; WP 1/14; PCHR 1/15; NYT 1/17; ITIC 1/18; WP 1/22)
The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron; fires rubbercoated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades to disperse Palestinian and international activists demonstrating against OCL in Ni‘lin; no injuries are reported. (PCHR 1/8, 1/15)
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)
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)
IDF troops on the Gaza border e. of alMaghazi r.c. fire on Palestinian shepherds who stray nr. the border fence, causing no injuries. PA security forces demolish a smugglers’ tunnel on the Rafah border. In the West Bank, the IDF exchanges fire with AMB mbrs. in Nablus, leaving 2 wanted AMB mbrs. dead; temporarily occupies several buildings in Jenin town and r.c., exchanging fire with local Palestinians, leaving 1 armed Palestinian dead; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Qalqilya, nr. Nablus; begins work on a new segment of the separation wall s. of Wadi Rahan nr. Bethlehem. After heavy rains, the retaining wall of a sewage pond in n. Gaza collapses, flooding the village of Um al-Nasser, killing at least 5 Palestinians (including 2-yr.-old and 5-yr.-old boys), injuring 20, leaving 333 Palestinian families homeless (the UNRWA sets up a temporary camp); villagers attack newly appointed PA Interior M Hani al-Qawasmi when he arrives to survey the damage, forcing him to leave. Also in Gaza, unidentified gunmen attack the PA Agriculture Min. offices (causing no injuries), then demand jobs in the PA security forces; Palestinian Red Crescent Society employees stage a sit-in outside the ICRC headquarters to demand payment of back salaries. (REU 3/27; IMEMC, NYT, OCHA, WP, WT 3/28; PCHR 3/29)
The IDF demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in Sur al-Bahir southeast of Jerusalem; issues military orders confiscating 150 d. of Palestinian agricultural land nr. Jenin for “military purposes”; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin and Tulkarm, nr. Bethlehem and Nablus, and in Marda, Qalqilya. ESF mbrs. fire on the home of a local Fatah leader in Bayt Lahiya, killing a Fatah mbr. Separately, Hamas mbrs. kidnap a PA General Intelligence officer in Bayt Lahiya, shoot him in the legs, let him go. In Gaza City, 300 PFLP mbrs. stage a sit-in outside the Red Cross offices to mark the 1-yr. anniversary of PFLP leader Ahmad Saadat’s capture by the IDF in Jericho. (PCHR 3/15; OCHA 3/21; PCHR 3/22)
In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Azun in a car with Palestinian license plates, surrounds a home, arrests 1 PSF mbr. who surrenders; conducts random ID checks in, fires on residential areas of Kafr Dan nr. Jenin; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin and Nablus, in Dahaysha r.c., nr. Bethlehem, Hebron; burns 70 d. of agricultural land btwn. the separation wall and the Green Line nr. Tulkarm (see 8/5). In Ramallah, 7 Palestinians working in the PC building are taken to the hospital with breathing difficulties after opening a suspicious letter addressed to PM Haniyeh; the building is evacuated. The PA head of military intelligence for n. Gaza dies of injuries received in an ambush in Jabaliya r.c. on 8/6; no group claims responsibility. (AP 8/7; WP 8/8; OCHA 8/9; PCHR 8/10)
Overnight, the IDF destroys the last remaining bridge over the Litani River linking n. and s. Lebanon; this cuts off access to Tyre. The IDF announces a 10:00 P.M. curfew on Tyre, saying that any movement there after dark and any vehicular traffic s. of the Litani River at any time will henceforth be considered Hizballah activity and a legitimate target. As UN mbrs. narrow differences on a cease-fire res., Olmert’s security cabinet discusses speeding up the IDF’s advance to the Litani River, escalating attacks on Lebanon’s civilian infrastructure. During the day, the IDF continues heavy air, artillery strikes on some 150 targets across Lebanon, hitting s. Beirut (including 47 killed, 70 wounded in the Christian-Shi‘i suburb of al-Shiyah, where Shi‘a are pro-Amal), the Biqa‘ Valley (including Baalbek, Masnaa), in and around Nabatiyya (including 7 civilians killed in air strikes on cars traveling in Qasmiyya; 15 killed, 20 wounded in an air strike on an apartment building in Ghaziyya), and across s. Lebanon (including demolishing a 4-building apartment complex in Tyre), killing at least 69 Lebanese civilians; continues ground operations across s. Lebanon that leave 3 IDF soldiers dead, 7 wounded in Bint Jubayl and include heavy fighting in Hula (the IDF claims to kill at least 15 Hizballah mbrs.); downs an unmanned Hizballah drone off the s. Lebanon coast. Hizballah fires 130 rockets into n. Israel, injuring 10 Israelis, hitting targets in Acre, Carmiel, Kiryat Shimona (70 rockets), Ma’alot, Nahariya, Safad. The ICRC says that the IDF has barred humanitarian aid missions to the south for 3 days. (BBC, NYT, WP 8/7; BBC, NYT, WP, WT 8/8; WP, WT 8/9; WP 8/10)
The IDF withdraws troops fr. the outskirts of Gaza City, where residents find the bodies of another Hamas mbr. and a 13-yr.-old Palestinian killed during recent clashes, 9 Palestinian homes completely demolished, 16 partially destroyed, at least 80 d. of agricultural land razed; conducts an air strike destroying a shed nr. the Rafah border allegedly hiding a smugglers tunnel. Palestinians fire rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, lightly wounding 2 Israelis. In the West Bank, the IDF sends troops into Azun nr. Qalqilya, fires on stone-throwing youths who confront them, wounding 1; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem. (NYT, WT 7/29; PCHR 8/3)
The IDF continues air and artillery strikes across Lebanon, including making about 70 air strikes on Baruk in the central Biqa‘ valley, hitting a convoy of civilian vehicles evacuating Rmaysh in s. Lebanon, wounding a journalist. Ground fighting continues in Bint Jubayl, where the IDF claims at least 26 Hizballah mbrs. are killed; 6 IDF soldiers wounded. Hizballah for the 1st time fires 2 Khaybar-1 rockets (range up to 50 mi, payload up to 200 lb), striking Afula, 30 mi inside Israel, just n. of the West Bank; fires more than 100 rockets into n. Israel during the day, wounding 14 Israelis and hitting targets in Carmiel, Ma’a lot, Nahariya, Safad, Tiberias. (AP, ICRC press release 7/28; NYT, WP, WT 7/29)
The IDF continues to shell n. Gaza, wounding at least 1 Palestinian civilian. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem. A Palestinian militant wounded during the 7/19–20 IDF raid on al-Maghazi r.c. dies of his injuries. (PCHR 7/27)
The IDF continues its troop build-up on the n. Israel border, artillery strikes and heavy air raids across Lebanon, incursions by small special forces units into the south. In its 1st major ground operation, the IDF sends some 2,000 soldiers, a tank brigade, armor into Maroun al-Ras (a Hizballah stronghold, reportedly largely depopulated since fighting began) on the central s. Lebanese border, stating later that after heavy, close combat, it has taken control of the town and several surrounding villages; at least 3 Hizballah mbrs., as many as 7 IDF soldiers may have been killed, several tanks disabled. Meanwhile, the IDF continues to warn s. Lebanon residents to move northward; Sidon reports some 35,000 displaced Lebanese arriving in the city today; Tyre, the largest s. Lebanese town, reports that only around 5,000 of its 175,000 residents remain. Among the targets hit in IDF air strikes are TV and cell phone transmission towers n. of Beirut (killing at least 1 Lebanese); 2 ICRC ambulances nr. Qana, killing 1 patient and injuring 6 medics, 2 patients; Hizballah targets in Baalbek, s. Beirut, Hermel, Sidon, Tyre. At least 8 Lebanese are killed during the day. Hizballah fires some 130 rockets into n. Israel, wounding 10–20 Israelis (3 seriously); targets include Carmiel, Haifa, Kiryat Shimona, Nahariya, Safad. Israel allows some ships bearing humanitarian aid to enter Lebanese ports. (AFP 7/22; NYT, WP, WT 7/23; NYT 7/24; WP 7/25)
Overnight, the IDF sends troops back into central Gaza, engaging in heavy clashes with armed Palestinians in al-Maghazi r.c. that last throughout the day, occupying houses as sniper posts, cutting electricity to central Gaza, conducting air and artillery strikes, leaving 5 Hamas mbrs., 4 Palestinian bystanders dead and 5 IDF soldiers, 93 Palestinians wounded (mostly militants, most with shrapnel fr. tank fire; also including 20 children). The IDF also continues to shell n. Gaza fr. land and sea. In the West Bank, the IDF sends around 50 armored vehicles into Nablus in a major raid allegedly to search for Palestinian militants “activated by Hizballah” to stage attacks on Israel, laying siege to the Nablus governorate building, the government compound (mostly destroyed during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002), 3 security force buildings, the central prison; forcing out and detaining around 150 Palestinians (many PA security officers); killing 3 armed AMB mbrs. and 2 bystanders (including a medic), wounding 33 (including 16 children, 2 Palestinian); demolishing the main PA security compound, at least 6 other PA buildings; occupying the Palestinian Red Crescent Society offices, preventing the movement of ambulances. The IDF also patrols in, fires on residential areas of Anabta nr. Tulkarm. (NYT, WP, WT 7/19; Guardian, ICRC press release, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 7/20; NYT 7/21; IFM, NYT 7/22; PCHR 7/27)
The IDF continues to escalate air and artillery strikes across Lebanon. At least 58 Lebanese (including at least 35 civilians) and 4 Israelis (2 soldiers, 2 civilians) are killed during the day, bringing the comprehensive toll to at least 310 Lebanese (overwhelmingly civilian) and 29 Israelis (at least 15 civilians, 13 soldiers). Sites hit include Srifa nr. Tyre, where air strikes level at least 20 buildings, killing at least 21 Lebanese, wounding 30, leaving as many as 80 unaccounted for; a Christian neighborhood in e. Beirut, hitting 2 well-drilling machines mistaken for rocket launchers in Ashrafiyya, causing no injuries; a bunker in s. Beirut believed to be housing Hizballah leaders, hit with 23 tons of explosives according to the IDF (Hizballah says the site was vacant); 2 PFLP-GC bases in the Biqa‘ Valley. The IDF also makes ground incursions into s. Lebanon, engaging Hizballah fighters; 2 Hizballah mbr. and 2 IDF soldiers are reportedly killed, 9 IDF soldiers injured, and 1 Israeli tank destroyed nr. Naqura. The IDF also clashes with Hizballah mbrs. who try to cross into n. Israel nr. Metula, chasing them back across the border, killing 2 Hizballah mbrs. Hizballah retaliates by launching more than 100 rockets on n. Israel, hitting Haifa and, for the 1st time, Nazareth, where 2 Israeli Palestinian boys are killed and 8 are wounded; 10s of light injuries occur elsewhere. Residents in s. Lebanon begin receiving tape-recorded phone messages fr. the IDF ordering them in Arabic to evacuate. Israel also interrupts Lebanese radio broadcasts to warn that any truck, including pickups, traveling s. of the Litani River would be assumed to be transporting weapons and targeted. (AP, REU 7/19; NYT, WP, WT 7/20)
In Gaza, the IDF makes air strikes on an AMB car carrying rockets to a launch site nr. Bayt Hanun (the targets escape unharmed, 2 bystanders are wounded; a PA security officer later sent to retrieve the deserted car is killed by IDF fire that also wounds 2 bystanders) and on a bridge in n. Gaza; allows the Erez crossing to open for several hrs. for the import of food, medical supplies. The International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) reports that 3 Palestinians with medical problems stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border, closed since 6/25, have died of heat stroke; that some 4,000 Palestinians, including 578 “urgent humanitarian cases” are now waiting on the Egyptian border for reentry to Gaza. A 12- yr.-old Palestinian dies of injuries received in the IDF shelling of Bayt Lahiya on 7/6. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, and in and around Hebron, Nablus. Overnight, Hamas mbrs. fire on a group of AMB mbrs. in Gaza City, wounding 5 and kidnapping 2; in retaliation, the AMB kidnaps 2 Hamas mbrs.; all 4 abducted men are released by early morning. (HA 7/11; NYT, OCHA 7/12; PCHR 7/13)
The IDF tightens restrictions on Palestinian movement inside Gaza, declares the n. West Bank a closed military zone in preparation for disengagement; begins going door to door in the Gaza settlements, asking residents to leave within 48 hrs. In Aley Sinai, 56 of 59 families who had agreed to leave rescind their decision, vowing to resist evacuation until the Israeli government finds permanent living solutions for the community as a whole; the government had promised them space together in an Ashkelon hotel, but only today learned that not enough space was available. During the day, some 1,000 right-wing settlers in various locations in s. Gaza simultaneously begin marching toward Gush Katif to block troops, but are prevented fr. reaching the settlement bloc by IDF troops and border police. Other settler youths slash the tires of several army jeeps, spray liquid soap on windshields to limit visibility, spread nails on roads to delay convoys of movers. Jewish settlers fr. Neve Dekalim vandalize, attempt to set fire to several Palestinian homes in al-Mawasi. In Gan Or, local settlers who want the IDF’s help to evacuate scuffle with settler youths blocking soldiers fr. entering the settlement. In the West Bank, the last residents of Ganim (est. 1983, pop. 172) and Qadim (est. 1983, pop. 169) evacuate voluntarily by evening, while settlers in the other 2 West Bank settlement slated for removal, the hard-line enclaves of Homesh (est. 1980, pop. 228) and Sanur (est. 1982, pop. 105), refuse to accept their notices. The major Palestinian factions, including Hamas, agree to oversee jointly how the PA uses land evacuated by settlers and the IDF; the PA expects 5% of the land to revert to individual Palestinian owners, with the rest being state land that will fall under PA jurisdiction. In a signal to reassure Palestinians about how it will handle land use, the PA security forces demolish a house, cabana, pool built illegally on Gaza public land by 2 senior PA security officials; when a neighbor of one of the officials tells journalists that the demolitions were good because his neighbors “were criminals . . . a gang,” several PA security officers beat him, threaten to shoot him, before he retreats into his house. (BBC, HA, NYT 8/15; HA, NYT, WP, WT 8/16; PR 8/17; PCHR 8/18)
Meanwhile, the IDF continues arrest raids, house searches in villages around Tulkarm; launches arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem and in Birzeit, alMawasi; searches homes in Kafr Qadim; occupies 5 Palestinian houses (2 nr. Gaza’s Dugit settlement, 1 in Mughraqa, 1 nr. Tulkarm, 1 in Wadi al-Silqa) as observation posts; fires on residential areas of Rafah. Jewish settlers vandalize Palestinian homes in Hebron. The ICRC resumes field activities in Gaza, which were suspended on 8/7 after shots were fired at its Khan Yunis offices. (IMEMC 8/15; NYT 8/16)
The IDF begins dismantling observation posts around Gaza settlements, replacing them with armored vehicles and tanks in preparation for disengagement; sends troops into Nur al-Shams r.c., searches homes, fires on stone-throwing youths who confront them, killing 1 Palestinian bystander, wounding at least 1; fires tank shells at a graveyard in Khan Yunis where Palestinian reportedly were preparing to launch a mortar, causing damage but no injuries; fires on residential areas of Rafah; conducts arrest raids in ‘Azun, Balata r.c., Dura, al-Khadir; occupies a house in Silat al-Dahir, turns it into an observation post; patrols in Nablus. Palestinian gunmen loyal to Fatah head Qaddumi kidnap 2 foreign UN workers, their Palestinian driver in Khan Yunis to pressure the PA to secure the release of Fatah mbr. Farah (arrested 8/7); the PA security forces storm the home of a local AMB cmdr., exchange fire with the kidnappers (2 kidnappers, 1 bystander are injured), free the 3 captives unharmed; Farah remains in custody. Citing incidents in Khan Yunis today and on 8/7, the ICRC suspends operations in Gaza to protest the lack of security. (FT, IMEMC, UNIS, XIN 8/8; FT, HA, IMEMC, JP, NYT, PRCS, WT 8/9; OCHA, PR 8/10; PCHR 8/11)
The IDF begins delivering letters to the roughly 1,600 Jewish settler families in the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements slated for removal under disengagement, giving them until 8/15 to evacuate their homes and receive full compensation; those remaining on 8/17 will be forcibly removed, will not be allowed to return to collect their belongings (which will be packed and shipped by the IDF), will not receive full compensation. (HA 8/8; NYT 8/9)
The IDF fires on residential areas of Rafah, killing 1 Palestinian; opens fire in Nur al-Shams r.c., killing 1 Palestinian teenager, wounding 5 after a Molotov cocktail is thrown at a passing IDF jeep fr. the area; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Jenin and in ‘Azun, Hebron, Khan Yunis, Tulkarm; occupies 3 houses in Jenin, Hebron, Tulkarm as observation posts; bulldozes a grove of Palestinian olive trees in Bayt Surik nr. Jerusalem; arrests 5 Palestinian farmers working their fields nr. the separation wall around Qalqilya nr. ‘Azun, releasing 3 after questioning, holding 2. In response to the 8/4 Shafa ‘Amr killings, AMB gunmen fire on a Jewish settler vehicle in the West Bank, wounding 2 settlers. Jewish settlers fr. Ma’on attack, beat 4 Palestinian farmers working their nearby fields. Palestinian gunmen fire on the International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters in Khan Yunis, causing damage but no injuries. The PA security forces arrest Khan Yunis Fatah official and Qaddumi spokesman Sulayman al-Farah on suspicion of building a local militia; Farah earlier announced that Qaddumi ordered his office to set up a 1,500-man force to help the PA maintain law and order in Gaza during disengagement (see 7/16). (IMEMC, UPI 8/7; NYT 8/8; HA, NYT, WT 8/9; OCHA, PR 8/10; PCHR 8/11)