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  • March 21, 2010

    Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds with an air strike on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no...

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  • March 20, 2010

    Unidentified Palestinians fire 4 Qassam rockets toward Israel during the day; 3 land in open areas inside Israel (causing no injuries) and the 4th lands harmlessly inside Gaza. IDF troops enter...

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  • March 19, 2010

    Overnight, the IDF carries out 6 air strikes on smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, 2 open areas nr. Khan Yunis, and a metal workshop in Gaza City in retaliation for the fatal 3/18 rocket...

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  • March 17, 2010

    Late in the evening, unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Meanwhile, Israel lifts the seal on the West Bank imposed on 3/12 and eases...

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  • March 13, 2010

    Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF fires stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and...

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  • March 11, 2010

    Biden wraps up his trip to Israel with a big speech to the Israeli public at Tel Aviv University, underscoring American solidarity with Israel. He reiterates U.S. disapproval of the Ramat Shlomo...

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  • December 16, 2009

    For the 1st time since 11/23, Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF does not retaliate—an indication that Israel believes the cease-fire pledge...

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  • February 26, 2009

    Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel, causing no injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on 5 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, wounding 3 Palestinians (2 of them young children). In...

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  • February 23, 2009

    In Gaza, Palestinians detonate a roadside bomb nr. the Gaza border fence e. of al-Musaddar village in c. Gaza, causing no reported damage or injuries. The IDF sends troops into al-Musaddar in...

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  • January 15, 2009

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

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  • January 11, 2009

    The IDF launches its deepest ground incursions into Gaza City since OCL began, conducting a 2-front assault from the north and the south; troops pull back to the outskirts of Gaza City by...

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  • January 8, 2009

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

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  • January 7, 2009

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

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  • January 2, 2009

    Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to open phase 2 of OCL at its discretion by sending ground troops into Gaza “to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of...

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  • December 29, 2008

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

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  • December 28, 2008

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

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  • December 23, 2008

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

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  • December 21, 2008

    Islamic Jihad mbrs. fire 19 rockets, 3 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging a home, lightly injuring 1 Israeli in 2 separate instances. The IDF makes 2 air strikes on rocket-launching sites in...

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  • November 15, 2008

    As the quarter closes, Israel maintains its ban on all Gaza imports including fuel, medicine, basic foodstuffs, and currency for banks. As a result, 1.5 m. Gazans are without regular electricity,...

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  • November 6, 2008

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

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  • June 16, 2008

    In Gaza, the IDF fatally shoots 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence e. of Khuza; makes an air strike destroying a workshop in Khan Yunis, causing no injuries; fires...

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  • May 27, 2008

    Overnight in Gaza, the IDF sends troops into al-Fukhari nr. Khan Yunis and nearby Shuka to raid and search homes, firing on armed Palestinians who confront them, wounding 2 civilians, 1 armed...

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  • May 1, 2008

    Overnight, the IDF sends tanks and troops into Abasan to search homes (reportedly using some Palestinians as human shields), exchanging fire (including tank shells) with local gunmen (killing 1...

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  • March 5, 2008

    Israel sends troops to the unauthorized settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh e. of Ramallah to disconnect a water pipe, highlighting the move as evidence that it is taking steps against outposts as...

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  • February 5, 2008

    The IDF makes an air strike on a police post in Khan Yunis, killing 7 Hamas-affiliated policemen, wounding 1; makes an incursion into al-Shuka, searching homes, exchanging fire with local gunmen,...

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  • February 2, 2008

    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,...

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  • December 20, 2007

    Overnight, the IDF makes an incursion into al-Musaddar in c. Gaza, occupying several homes as operation bases, engaging in heavy clashes with local gunmen, killing 8 Palestinian gunmen, wounding...

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  • December 12, 2007

    Israel allows a 20 mW generator into Gaza for the electricity plant, along with 13 Egyptian engineers to install it. Responding to the IDF’s major incursion into s. Gaza on 12/11, Palestinians...

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  • November 28, 2007

    Israel announces a further reduction in fuel supplies to Gaza, where 70% of fuel stations reportedly are already closed. The IDF withdraws troops who have been stationed in the Erez industrial...

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  • November 4, 2007

    In Gaza, the IDF makes an air strike on a concrete factory nr. Jabaliya r.c., killing 3 Palestinian employees, wounding a passerby; fires surface-to-surface missiles at the same site an hr. later...

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Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds with an air strike on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF fatally shoots 2 Palestinian farmers in a field nr. Nablus who allegedly tried to attack soldiers with an ax and pitchforks; there are no independent witnesses to the incident. The IDF also announces plans to seize 49 d. of Palestinian land in Beitunia for construction of a new checkpoint on Route 443 as a step to reopening the road to Palestinian traffic in accordance with an Israeli High Court ruling; conducts late-night house searches in al-Bireh but makes no arrests. A Palestinian dies of head injuries sustained in clashes with the IDF in Iraq Burin on 3/20. (NYT, WP, WT 3/20; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)

Unidentified Palestinians fire 4 Qassam rockets toward Israel during the day; 3 land in open areas inside Israel (causing no injuries) and the 4th lands harmlessly inside Gaza. IDF troops enter the Erez industrial zone to chase away Palestinians scavenging for building materials amid the debris of destroyed buildings, detaining 17 (including 4 children) and confiscating 4 carts of goods (15 of the Palestinians are released on 3/21; the other 2 are arrested). In the West Bank, Jewish settlers fr. Brakha attempt to enter the nearby village of Iraq Burin nr. Nablus, sparking a clash with Palestinian villagers who attempt to fend them off; the IDF intervenes, firing rubbercoated steel bullets and tear gas, killing a 16-yr.-old Palestinian, and seriously wounding a 2d Palestinian. (YA 3/20; HA, NYT, WP 3/21; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)

Overnight, the IDF carries out 6 air strikes on smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, 2 open areas nr. Khan Yunis, and a metal workshop in Gaza City in retaliation for the fatal 3/18 rocket strike; 2 Palestinian civilians are wounded in Rafah. After unidentified Palestinians fire another Qassam rocket into Israel during the day (causing no damage or injuries), the IDF carries out air strikes on a Hamas facility nr. Dahaniyya airport (11 Palestinians injured) and on smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border (injuring 14). In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists staging nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil‘in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation), Budrus village nr. Ramallah (1 Palestinian injured; 3 Palestinians, including 2 journalists arrested), Dayr Nizam/ al-Nabi Salih (11 Palestinians injured), and Ni‘lin (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); protesters in Ni‘lin throw stones at IDF troops, but the other demonstrations are nonviolent. Palestinians also demonstrate against the separation wall at the Qalandia checkpoint, setting fire to tires and throwing stones and bottles at IDF troops, who respond with rubber-coated steel-bullets, injuring 3 and arresting 1. The IDF also carries out late-night arrest raids, house searches in Qalandia r.c. nr. Ramallah. Jewish settlers burn a wooded area of Palestinian land nr. Bet Ayn settlement nr. Hebron. (JP, NYT, YA 3/19; HA, WP 3/20; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)

At a meeting in Moscow, the Quartet issues a strong statement “condemning” Israel’s Ramat Shlomo construction plan, “recalling that the annexation of East Jerusalem is not recognized by the international community,” and reiterating that Israel was obligated irrespective of Palestinian reciprocity to “freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth, dismantle outposts erected since March 2001; and to refrain from demolitions and evictions in East Jerusalem.” (WP 3/19, 3/20; NYT 3/21)

Late in the evening, unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Meanwhile, Israel lifts the seal on the West Bank imposed on 3/12 and eases restrictions on Palestinians accessing al-Aqsa Mosque; Palestinian demonstrations in the city fall off. IDF troops manning a checkpoint at the entrance to Bayt Umar village nr. Hebron chase stone-throwing youths into the village and fire on them with rubber-coated steel bullets, moderately injuring a 14-yr.-old Palestinian boy. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Nablus. (YA 3/17; NYT, PCHR 3/18; OCHA, PCHR 3/25)

Unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF fires stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists protesting the separation wall and settlement construction in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron (injuring 2 Palestinian journalists, arresting 2 other Palestinian journalists and 2 Israelis); closes the Qalandia checkpoint and fires on stone-throwing Palestinians attempting to march to Jerusalem to mark International Women’s Day (injuring 5 women); conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-Bireh, Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem. (YA 3/17; OCHA, PCHR 3/18)

Biden wraps up his trip to Israel with a big speech to the Israeli public at Tel Aviv University, underscoring American solidarity with Israel. He reiterates U.S. disapproval of the Ramat Shlomo housing plan because it “undermined the trust required for productive negotiations,” but accepts what he calls “significant” assurances from Netanyahu that the construction will not break ground for years, expressing hope that negotiations would “resolve this and other outstanding issues” before construction could begin. He then heads to Jordan. Separately, Netanyahu issues a statement apologizing for the “unfortunate timing” of the Ramat Shlomo announcement, but notably not apologizing for the construction itself. At the same time, Israel’s Jerusalem municipality announces plans to build 1,000s of settlement housing units e. and s. of Jerusalem in areas Israel intends to keep under final status, including 3,000 units each in Gilo and Givat Matosim, 1,500 units each in Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev, 1,200 units in Ramot, 600 in Armona Netseev, 450 in Neve Ya’acov, and 144 in Olive Mount. The U.S. does not comment. Abbas warns Biden by phone that the PA cannot start proximity talks until Israel reverses the construction approval. (JTA 3/11; NYT, WP, WT 3/12)

In Ramallah, at least 1 PA security official and 1 Fatah Central Comm. member take part in a ceremony in Ramallah naming a public square after Dalal Mughrabi, a 19-yr.-old Fatah member who in 1978 led a squad from Lebanon that sailed to Israel where they staged attacks killing 1 American and 38 Israelis before being shot dead; Netanyahu denounces the official Fatah and PA participation as incitement undermining the peace process. Late in the evening, the IDF patrols in Ramallah, firing rubber-coated steel bullets at stonethrowing Palestinian youths who confront them, causing no injuries; carries out latenight house searches in Jenin town and r.c., making no arrests. In Gaza, the littleknown Salafist group Ansar al-Sunna fires a Qassam rocket into Israel, causing no damage or injuries but marking the 1st incidence of rocket fire since 2/12. Later in the day, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 more Qassams toward Israel, but they land harmlessly inside Gaza. Late at night, the IDF makes an air strike on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, causing no injuries. Hamas authorities in Gaza release British journalist Paul Martin, held for 25 days on suspicion of security offenses (see 3/1). (NYT, YA 3/12; OCHA, PCHR 3/18)

For the 1st time since 11/23, Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF does not retaliate—an indication that Israel believes the cease-fire pledge that Hamas secured fr. the other Gaza factions on 11/21 is generally holding. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem and nr. Qalqilya, making no arrests. Jewish settlers fr. Shilo nr. Ramallah, escorted by IDF troops, attack Palestinian farmers working their fields nearby; the soldiers order the farmers to leave the area. (OCHA, PCHR 12/23; YA 12/30)

Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel, causing no injuries. The IDF responds with air strikes on 5 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, wounding 3 Palestinians (2 of them young children). In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night house searches nr. Jenin, but makes no arrests. A Palestinian teenager is killed and 2 are wounded when they accidentally trigger IDF UXO at a site nr. Tubas used by the IDF for live fire exercises. Israel begins construction of 65 new housing units on 3.5 d. of Palestinian land in the Arab al-Sawahara neighborhood of East Jerusalem, expanding Talpiot settlement. (HA 2/26; NYT, WP 2/27; OCHA 3/3, 3/4; PCHR 3/5, 4/29)

U.S. envoy George Mitchell begins his 2d regional tour with planned stops in Turkey, Israel, Ramallah, and Cairo. He stresses U.S. support for a 2-state solution and a halt to Israel’s settlement construction. (IFM 2/26; NYT, WP 2/27)

In Gaza, Palestinians detonate a roadside bomb nr. the Gaza border fence e. of al-Musaddar village in c. Gaza, causing no reported damage or injuries. The IDF sends troops into al-Musaddar in pursuit, exchanging gunfire with the armed Palestinians, calling in 3 air strikes on the area, injuring 2 armed Palestinians, heavily damaging 3 Palestinian homes before withdrawing 90 mins. later. Palestinians also fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no reported damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF makes a large late-night incursion into Nablus to raid and search a home for weapons, blowing up part of the home, detaining 2 Palestinians for questioning, but finding no weapons; occupying and searching Asia Television offices; blowing the doors off several shops in the old city. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c., nr. Bethlehem and Hebron. Jewish settlers escorted by IDF troops enter Nablus to pray for several hours at the shrine of Prophet Joseph. In the evening, Jewish settlers in Hebron cut electricity to Palestinian houses in the center and s. of town, then rampage through the areas, damaging several homes; the IDF observes but does not intervene. (OCHA 2/24, 2/25; PCHR 2/26)

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 launches its deepest ground incursions into Gaza City since OCL began, conducting a 2-front assault from the north and the south; troops pull back to the outskirts of Gaza City by nightfall. To accommodate expanded operations, the IDF commits its first significant influx of reservists into Gaza, numbering in the 1,000s, using them to hold IDF positions, freeing up regular combat troops to thrust deeper into Gaza City.

Combat notes: The intensified IDF assault on Gaza City begins before dawn, with tanks and troops based in the fmr. Netzarim settlement advancing fr. the southwest, supported by helicopter gunships and F16s, resulting in some of the heaviest fighting since OCL began, especially in Shaykh Ajlin. Simultaneously, the IDF steps up attacks on the northern outskirts of the city. The IDF reports (IDF 1/11) finding 10s of booby-trapped houses, buildings, and tunnels, accusing Hamas of booby-trapping 30 homes in one neighborhood (location not given). Ground forces also move into Khuza in s. Gaza under heavy artillery fire, bulldozing several homes and razing tracts of agricultural land before withdrawing late in the evening.

The IDF reports hitting nearly 70 targets across Gaza today and making more than 40 air strikes. Targets hit include 23 smuggling tunnels (including 2 located under the homes of Hamas mbrs.), at least 15 “armed cells,” 11 suspected weapons depots, several rocket-launching sites. Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan), Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi, al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., Yibna r.c., al-Zawayda (c. Gaza). Heavy tank and artillery fire is reported in Bayt Hanun (white phosphorus use confirmed by Amnesty International), Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya, Khuza, Khan Yunis (possibly involving white phosphorous).

Palestinians fire 20 rockets and 8 mortars into Israel, including at least 1 Grad that hits an empty kindergarten in Ashdod (damage but no injuries) and 2 rockets that hit Beersheba (some light injuries). The IDF reports sustaining no casualties but killing around 45 armed Palestinians, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to at least 876 dead, 3,600 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes the daily 3-hr. humanitarian lull but does not release figures on the number of trucks permitted entry.

Of note: Today’s IDF air strikes on tunnels along the Rafah border damage 10 homes in Egyptian Rafah, seriously wound 2 Egyptian border policemen and lightly wound 1 border policeman, 2 Egyptian children (ages 2 and 5). Egyptian security officials say that the Israeli drones and planes have violated Egyptian air space daily since OCL began and that previous Israeli air strikes during OCL have damaged buildings and 1 mosque, shattered windows, and caused power shortages inside Egypt. (AFP, HA, IDF, WP 1/11; IDF, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/12; WT 1/13; PCHR 1/15; ITIC 1/19; MM, QA 1/22)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Umar and Sa’ir, both nr. Hebron. (PCHR 1/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to open phase 2 of OCL at its discretion by sending ground troops into Gaza “to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of operation, while taking control of some of [sic] rocket launching area used by the Hamas”; authorizes the call-up of 10,000s of additional reservists. The IDF does not immediately take action.

Israeli action: The IDF continues air strikes and naval bombardment of Gaza, carrying out 65 air strikes and hitting 65 individual sites. Target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Lahiya, Dahaniyya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Nussayrat, Rafah, Tal al-Za‘atar. Primary targets include the homes of more than 12 senior Hamas officials (including senior IQB official Imad Akel, who reportedly is killed along with 3 children nearby; and Haniyeh’s chief of staff Muhammad Madhun and fmr. PA Refugee Affairs M Atif Udwan, who are believed to be in hiding); a car carrying Hamas’s Gaza City military cmdr. Muhammad (Abu Zakariya) al-Jamal, assassinating him; the Rafah airport site (already heavily damaged by yrs. of IDF attacks); the American International School in al-Atatra in n. Gaza; a public works dept. building southwest of Gaza City; tunnels on the Rafah border; and suspected weapons depots across Gaza. The estimated Palestinian toll reaches 431 killed, more than 2,200 injured.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 26 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, including 10 rockets that strike nr. Ashqelon, 1 of which causes damage and lightly injures 2 Israelis.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF escorts 226 foreigners who opt to leave Gaza to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan; allows 64 truckloads of humanitarian goods into the Strip.

Of note: By this date, nearly all of Gaza’s police stations and government buildings have been destroyed. One senior Israeli security official states that “All of the offices and databases are gone. When all this is over, no civil servant will have an office to sit in.” (HA, IDF, IFM, ITV 1/2; AFP, AP, HA, IDF, Nation, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; Adalah 1/4; IFM, JP, PCHR 1/8; WT 1/22; JPI 1/23)

In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 5 Palestinians), Ni‘lin (wounding 1 Israeli, 3 Palestinians), and Jayyus (injuring 3 Palestinians; 1 is hit with live ammunition). In Jerusalem, 100s of Palestinians clash with Israeli police after Friday prayers. Small demonstrations against OCL are reported in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank (including Bani Na‘im nr. Hebron, Bethlehem, Hebron, Issawiyya, Ramallah, Shu‘fat r.c.). IDF troops shoot at protesters in Bani Na‘im, wounding 5. The PASF breaks up large rallies against OCL in Hebron and Ramallah, firing tear gas at demonstrators, ripping up pro-Hamas placards and flags, beating and arresting suspected Hamas supporters, injuring at least 10 Palestinians. (HA, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; PCHR 1/8)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islamic Jihad mbrs. fire 19 rockets, 3 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging a home, lightly injuring 1 Israeli in 2 separate instances. The IDF makes 2 air strikes on rocket-launching sites in Gaza City, wounding a 2-yr.-old girl. In the West Bank, IDF troops for no apparent reason fire on a group of Palestinian laborers on their way to work nr. Hebron, wounding 1 with live ammunition; conduct early morning patrols in Tulkarm; conduct daytime raids, search Palestinian homes and shops nr. Bethlehem and Ramallah, making no arrests; conduct late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Ramallah, Tulkarm and in Balata r.c., Hebron, Nablus. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces bulldoze a tent, displacing a family whose house on the site had been bulldozed in 11/08. (Forward, MM, WT 12/22; PCHR 12/24)

At its weekly session, the Israeli cabinet gives the IDF the green light to initiate attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza, in addition to hitting sites fr. which rockets and mortars are launched. Some reports suggest the cabinet took a decision to launch a military strike on Gaza and has authorized the IDF chief of staff to prepare to implement previously drafted plans for a ground invasion into Gaza to oust Hamas. Senior Hamas officials in Gaza immediately go underground, fearing assassination. The cabinet also authorizes the Israeli FMin. to launch an international public relations campaign enlisting support for a military offensive against Hamas. Israeli FM Tzipi Livni plans a series of teleconferences with UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secy. of State Condoleezza Rice, and the FMs of Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin reports that Hamas has rockets that would strike as far n. as Kiryat Gat, Ashdod, Beersheba. (International Middle East Media Center [Bayt Sahur] 12/21; Forward, MM, WP, WT, YA 12/22)

As the quarter closes, Israel maintains its ban on all Gaza imports including fuel, medicine, basic foodstuffs, and currency for banks. As a result, 1.5 m. Gazans are without regular electricity, no Gazan households have daily running water (20% of households receive 6 hrs. of water/5 days, 40% receive 6 hrs. water/4 days, 40% receive 6 hrs. water/3 days), bread is being rationed due to lack of grain, and shortages of milk, red meat, and fresh produce are widespread. UNICEF reports that the Israeli government has been holding 2 shipments of vaccines for Gazan children at Ben-Gurion airport since 10/29. The WHO reports that the stock of 95 of 473 drugs it classifies as “essential” for hospitals and clinics to have on hand and 174 other medical supplies are at zero levels in the Strip. UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel to open crossings into Gaza for fuel, food, and humanitarian aid, stating that measures that increase the suffering of Gaza’s civilians “are unacceptable and should cease immediately.” The UN reports that Palestinians have fired some 140 rockets and mortars toward Israel since 11/4, injuring 1 Israeli and causing property damage in 1 incident on 11/14. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c. (WT 11/15, 11/16; OCHA 11/17, 11/19; PCHR 11/20)

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

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

In Gaza, the IDF fatally shoots 3 Islamic Jihad mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence e. of Khuza; makes an air strike destroying a workshop in Khan Yunis, causing no injuries; fires on Palestinian farmers who stray nr. the border fence nr. Kerem Shalom crossing, causing no injuries. Islamic Jihad mbrs. fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a cemetery in Ashqelon, lightly wounding 1 Israeli; the IDF makes an air strike on the launch site e. of Gaza City, killing 1 Islamic Jihad mbr., wounding 1. Israeli naval vessels fire on Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Jenin town and r.c., and nr. Bethlehem. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar settlement nr. Nablus attack and drive off 3 Palestinian shepherds (ages 12, 14, 30) tending a flock nearby, then kill their 3 donkeys. Unidentified assailants detonate a roadside bomb nr. a Hamas-affiliated police patrol in Gaza City, causing no injuries. (MM 6/16; NYT 6/17; OCHA 6/18; PCHR 6/19)

Overnight in Gaza, the IDF sends troops into al-Fukhari nr. Khan Yunis and nearby Shuka to raid and search homes, firing on armed Palestinians who confront them, wounding 2 civilians, 1 armed Palestinian. Troops withdraw to Israel early in the morning. The Israeli navy detains 6 Palestinian fishing off the Rafah coast, questions and releases 16 fishermen. Palestinians fire a rocket toward Israel, but it lands inside Gaza, hitting a home e. of Gaza City, injuring a mother, 2 children. Egyptian border police find a cache of more than 1,000 lbs of explosives, including mortars and rockets, on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border. Overnight in the West Bank, the IDF sends troops into Qabatya to raid and search homes, 2 schools, a mosque, confiscating money and computers, arresting 10 Palestinians; before withdrawing in late morning, troops fire tear gas at children heading to school, injuring 10. The IDF also conducts daytime arrest raids nr. Qalqilya; fires tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against the separation wall in Ni‘lin (pop. 5,000) nr. Ramallah, causing no injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Qalqilya, and nr. Bethlehem, Hebron. (NYT, OCHA 5/28; PCHR 5/29)

Overnight, the IDF sends tanks and troops into Abasan to search homes (reportedly using some Palestinians as human shields), exchanging fire (including tank shells) with local gunmen (killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 1), detaining 21 (releasing them in the evening), and bulldozing 225 d. of agricultural land, a greenhouse, an irrigation system before withdrawing late at night. The IDF also makes an air strike on Rafah, assassinating Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades cmdr. Nafiz Mansur, who allegedly had a role in the capture of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, as he walks through town, seriously wounding a 15-yr.-old bystander, damaging several surrounding homes. IDF soldiers at the Kerem Shalom crossing fire on Palestinian farmers who stray nr. the border fence, causing no reported injuries. Palestinians fire 30 rockets, mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Jenin town and r.c., Tulkarm and nr. Hebron. In Gaza City, mbrs. of a PRC faction raid and steal office equipment fr. the offices of a rival PRC faction. (NYT 5/2; OCHA 5/7; PCHR 5/8)

Israel sends troops to the unauthorized settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh e. of Ramallah to disconnect a water pipe, highlighting the move as evidence that it is taking steps against outposts as requested by the U.S.; within hours, settlers reconnect the pipe and restore water service. Also in the West Bank, the IDF fires on Palestinians in Bil‘in demonstrating against Operation Hot Winter, wounding 1; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Balata r.c. (a 72-yr.-old Palestinian woman dies of a heart attack when soldiers raid her home), nr. Jenin. Unidentified gunmen fire on a car with Israeli license plates nr. Hebron, killing a Palestinian man, wounding an Israeli civilian. In Gaza, Islamic Jihad and the PFLP fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. (NYT, PCHR 3/6; OCHA 3/12; PCHR 3/13)

The IDF makes an air strike on a police post in Khan Yunis, killing 7 Hamas-affiliated policemen, wounding 1; makes an incursion into al-Shuka, searching homes, exchanging fire with local gunmen, killing 2 armed Palestinians, arresting 40 Palestinians; fires across the border toward Palestinian homes and agricultural areas in al-Qarara, damaging several homes but causing no injuries; sends armored vehicles, bulldozers into the Erez industrial zone to level land. Palestinians fire 8 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a factory and a home, injuring 4 Israelis. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts major arrest raids, house searches in Hebron (detaining 30 Palestinians, including 3 journalists) in connection with the 2/4 bombing; also conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around East Jerusalem, nr. Ramallah, and in Nablus, Nur al-Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm, Qabatya, Silwad. PA teachers and health workers begin a 2-day strike to protest new PA restrictions on obtaining government services such as ID cards, birth certificates. In Gaza City, unidentified assailants blow up the jeep of a mbr. of the Hamas-affiliated internal security service, damaging 2 other vehicles but causing no injuries. (HA, MA, NYT, OCHA, WP, WT, YA 2/6; PCHR 2/7)

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 makes an incursion into al-Musaddar in c. Gaza, occupying several homes as operation bases, engaging in heavy clashes with local gunmen, killing 8 Palestinian gunmen, wounding 21 Palestinians (mostly civilians, including 2 journalists), detaining 50 for questioning, shelling and firing on residential areas, heavily damaging 10 homes, bulldozing 73 d. of olive and citrus groves before withdrawing in the evening; 1 IDF soldier is seriously injured, 2 are lightly injured in the operation. Late in the evening, the IDF sends troops into Abasan, clashing with local gunmen, killing 1 Hamas mbr. Palestinians fire rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, a Palestinian attempts to stab an IDF soldier at the Hawara checkpoint nr. Nablus, is arrested. A Hamas mbr. dies of injuries sustained during the 6/07 interfactional fighting in Gaza. (NYT, WP, WT 12/21; NYT 12/22; OCHA 12/26; PCHR 12/27)

Israel allows a 20 mW generator into Gaza for the electricity plant, along with 13 Egyptian engineers to install it. Responding to the IDF’s major incursion into s. Gaza on 12/11, Palestinians fire 17 rockets, 4 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, lightly injuring 1 Israeli. A Palestinian is killed when a smuggling tunnel under the Rafah border collapses. In the West Bank, the IDF bars a Palestinian woman in labor fr. crossing a checkpoint to reach a Qalqilya hospital, forcing her to give birth at the checkpoint; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Jenin, Qalqilya, Tulkarm. In n. Gaza, fights erupt btwn. a Fatah-affiliated family and local Hamas mbrs. painting slogans in preparation for Hamas’s 20th anniversary celebrations; no injuries are reported. (NYT, PCHR 12/13; OCHA 12/19; PCHR 12/27)

As agreed at Annapolis (see 11/27), Israeli, Palestinian negotiators meet to open final status talks, but discussions focus on ongoing Israeli settlement activity (see 12/4) and Palestinian rocket fire. No progress is made on core issues. (NYT, WT 12/13; NYT 12/24)

Israel announces a further reduction in fuel supplies to Gaza, where 70% of fuel stations reportedly are already closed. The IDF withdraws troops who have been stationed in the Erez industrial zone since 11/23 but sends tanks, troops into the Gaza airport site nr. Rafah to level land, withdrawing by evening. The IDF makes an air strike on a police post nr. Khan Yunis, killing 1 Hamas-affiliated policeman, wounding 5; fires on an unarmed Palestinian teenager who strays nr. the border fence e. of Rafah, wounding him; makes late-night air strikes on 2 Hamas border patrols nr. Khan Yunis, killing 4 Hamas mbrs., wounding 1. Palestinians fire at least 16 rockets and mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing light damage but no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. In Hebron, the PA security forces fire on and beat Palestinians taking part in the funeral procession for the Hizb al-Tahrir supporter killed in an anti-Annapolis demonstration on 11/27, claiming the funeral had turned into a pro-Islamist rally; at least 60 Palestinians are injured, including 24 requiring hospitalization. (JP, NYT, PCHR, WP 11/29; OCHA 12/5; PCHR 12/6)

In Gaza, the IDF makes an air strike on a concrete factory nr. Jabaliya r.c., killing 3 Palestinian employees, wounding a passerby; fires surface-to-surface missiles at the same site an hr. later as onlookers gather to view the damage, killing a Palestinian child, seriously wounding a 2d bystander; fires a missile at a group of Islamic Jihad mbrs. nr. the Bayt Hanun border, killing 1 Islamic Jihad mbr.; fires on another Islamic Jihad mbr. who approaches the border fence nr. al-Bureij r.c., wounding him; fires on Palestinian farmers working their field e. of Dayr al-Balah, wounding 1; bulldozes land inside the Gaza border n. of Bayt Lahiya; finds, demolishes 7 smuggling tunnels on the Gaza-Egypt border. Palestinians fire at least 4 rockets, 4 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF responds with air strikes and surface-to-surface missile fire on the launch sites, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Tulkarm r.c., nr. Qalqilya. (IFM 11/4; OCHA 11/7; PCHR 11/8)

With Abbas and Olmert making little headway on a joint statement for the Annapolis summit, Rice returns to the region for a 3-day visit to press the parties to begin implementing their outstanding road map obligations to build mutual confidence and momentum for the upcoming summit. The U.S. has still not issued formal invitations, and the admin. is widely expected to push the meeting off until later in 11/07. (IFM 11/4; NYT, WP 11/5; NYT 11/6)