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  • May 28, 2014

    Off the coast of the Gaza Strip nr. Rafah, Egyptian naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishermen, injuring 1. In the West Bank, IDF troops raid the offices of Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam in...

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  • January 5, 2009

    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...

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  • January 3, 2009

    Israel begins phase 2 of OCL, a massive ground advance into Gaza, in the evening. The IDF states that “the objective . . . is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the precise...

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  • January 15, 2002

    AMB gunmen ambush, abduct, fatally shoot a Jewish settler nr. Bayt Sahur. Unidentified Palestinian gunmen fatally shoot a 2d Jewish settler, wound a 3d nr. Givat Ze'ev. Both settlers killed are U....

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  • August 15, 1999

    Defusing the crisis with Shas over the government relocation of a turbine on the Sabbath (see 8/13), PM Barak promises that the government will consider weekday alternatives for similar projects...

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  • May 22, 1999

    Arafat arrives in Cairo for 2 days of talks on the peace process in light of the Israeli elections, meets with Egyptian FM `Amr Musa. (MENA 5/22 in WNC 5/25, 5/27; MM 5/24)

    PA Preventive...

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  • April 27, 1999

    In Gaza, the PLO Central Council (PCC) opens debate on statehood declaration, with 96 of 124 mbrs. attending. Arafat opens the mtg. by affirming Palestinians' right to independence,...

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Off the coast of the Gaza Strip nr. Rafah, Egyptian naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishermen, injuring 1. In the West Bank, IDF troops raid the offices of Palestinian newspaper al-Ayyam in Ramallah, and order its staff to stop using their presses to print pro-Hamas publications Filastin, al-Risala and al-Istiqlal. The PA permitted the 3 publications to be distributed in the West Bank starting in late 4/2014, in accordance with the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal of 4/23. The IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Hebron and 2 nearby villages, 1 village and Aida r.c. nr. Bethlehem, and 1 village and al-Jalazun r.c. nr. Ramallah; patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin in the morning, 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon, and in 2 villages each nr. Hebron and Jericho at night. In East Jerusalem, groups of right-wing Jewish activists march through the Old City to celebrate “Jerusalem Day,” leading to clashes with Palestinians at Haram al-Sharif. In the clashes, Israeli security forces injure 4 Palestinians with rubber-coated metal bullets, and Palestinians injure 1 security officer with a thrown stone. Israeli police later arrest 2 Palestinian youth in connection with a clash involving several Jewish Israelis elsewhere in the Old City. (AFP, HA, MNA, YA 5/28; PCHR 5/29)

In response to low voter turnout in the Egyptian presidential election, polls are kept open for a 3d day. Following their close, provisional results indicate that al-Sisi won between 89% and 93.4% of the vote, with al-Sisi’s campaign and judicial sources estimating leftist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi won 2.9% and 5%. Judicial sources estimate turnout to be 44.4% of Egypt’s 54 m. eligible voters. Meanwhile, gunmen shoot and kill an Egyptian border guard in Rafah. (AP, MNA, REU 5/28)

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)

Israel begins phase 2 of OCL, a massive ground advance into Gaza, in the evening. The IDF states that “the objective . . . is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the precise area of operation, while taking control of some of [sic] rocket launching areas used by Hamas in order to greatly reduce the quantity of rockets fired at Israel and Israeli civilians.” Israeli FM Livni acknowledges that Israel has broader aims, stating that toppling Hamas is “a strategic Israeli objective,” but that it might take more than one large-scale military operation such as OCL to do the job.

Israeli actions: Before phase 2 begins in the evening, the IDF launches artillery strikes on some 40 targets concentrated in open areas around Bayt Hanun, east of Rafah, and along Gaza’s main north–south artery in an apparent effort to clear the areas of mines and tunnels, to move Palestinians away from those areas in preparation for the insertion of ground forces.

The IDF also continues air strikes and naval bombardments across Gaza. Target areas include Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (al-Nasser, al-Rimal, al-Shuja‘iyya, al-Tuffah, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya, Juhur al-Dik, Khan Yunis, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shuka (e. of Rafah). Targets include 2 mosques in Bayt Lahiya and Jabaliya, killing at least 13 worshipers and injuring 30 during evening prayers; a car in Khan Yunis, assassinating senior Hamas military cmdr. Muhammad Ma‘aruf; 2 PA security compounds in Gaza City; the al-Aqsa Radio and the al-Risala newspaper offices in Gaza City; tunnels on the Rafah border; suspected rocket-launching sites and weapons depots. By evening, the Palestinian toll reaches at least 460 dead and more than 2,000 wounded.

At dusk, the IDF drops leaflets on n. Gaza warning residents that troops will soon operate in this area and that they should evacuate for their safety. Around 8:00 P.M. local time, the IDF cuts power to the Strip and begins sending ground forces into n. Gaza, taking up positions on the outskirts of Bayt Hanun and Bayt Lahiya (occupying homes as operational bases); securing areas e. of Gaza City nr. the Qarni crossing, but notably keeping a distance from Jabaliya (considered a Hamas stronghold), and just inside the s. Gaza border e. of Rafah (with tanks firing flechette shells at houses and agricultural areas, killing 1 Palestinian and wounding 7 inside their homes). Heavy gun battles are reported, with Hamas issuing a statement that it is firing mortars at IDF ground forces. After ground operations begin, the IDF announces a naval blockade of Gaza out to 20 nautical miles.

Palestinian actions: During the day, Palestinians fire 28 rockets and 7 mortars into Israel, hitting as far as Ashdod and Ashqelon to the n., and Netivot to the e., lightly damaging 3 homes and an apartment building, lightly injuring 2 Israelis.

Of note: Embedded with some IDF ground units are the first Israeli journalists and 2 foreign reporters (BBC and Reuters) allowed into Gaza since late 10/08. These journalists have been given “trusted” status by the government for their “long history of relations with the IDF” and are under the strict rules of the IDF censor; the general ban on foreign journalists is still in place, despite a 12/31 High Court ruling ordering the government to allow journalists access. (AFP, AP, BBC, IDF, IFM, ITV, Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] press release, REU, YA 1/3; HA, IFM, JAZ, JP, NYT, OCHA, WP, WT 1/4; NYT, UNOSAT, WP, WT 1/5; IFM, PCHR 1/8; HA 1/11; JP 1/22; JPI 2/6; Harpers 3/09)

AMB gunmen ambush, abduct, fatally shoot a Jewish settler nr. Bayt Sahur. Unidentified Palestinian gunmen fatally shoot a 2d Jewish settler, wound a 3d nr. Givat Ze'ev. Both settlers killed are U.S. passport holders. The IDF tightens blockades around Bethlehem, Ramallah; conducts arrest raids in Qalqilya. Jewish settlers uproot an olive grove nr. Keddumim. The PSF arrests PFLP head Ahmad Saadat in Ramallah after luring him to a mtg. with PA West Bank intelligence chief Tawfiq Tirawi; the Israel claims the arrest was only meant to impress a visiting U.S. congressional delegation. In Bethlehem, Gaza City, and Ramallah, 100s of Palestinians gather to protest Saadat's arrest. Demonstrators outside Arafat's office in Ramallah denounce Tirawi as a collaborator. The PSF also shuts the Gaza City office of al-Risala, the NISP's newspaper. (AFP, BBC 1/15; AFP, JP, LAW, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 1/16; HA, MM, NYT, WP 1/17; al-Quds 1/17 in WNC 1/18; al-Safir 1/18; al-Nahar 1/19 in WNC 1/22; MEI 1/25)

In light of increasing violence, the U.S. places Zinni's 3d trip to the region, set to begin on 1/18, on hold. (WT 1/16; MM 1/21)

Defusing the crisis with Shas over the government relocation of a turbine on the Sabbath (see 8/13), PM Barak promises that the government will consider weekday alternatives for similar projects in the future. (NYT, WP 8/16; MEI 8/20)

Iran orders 7 top security officials (including Tehran's chief of police and senior antiriot officers), several mbrs. of Ansar-e Hezbollah to stand trial for raiding a dormitory at Tehran University on 7/9. (WP 8/16; MEI 8/20)

In the PA-controlled section of Hebron, an explosion destroys a Palestinian shop, causing no injuries. PA police suspect the store served as bomb factory. (NYT, WP, WT 8/16; WT 8/17; MEI 8/20)

PA police arrest the chief editor, a reporter fr. Hamas's al-Risala newspaper; order them detained for 48-hrs. to investigate allegations that they distorted an interview with a PA prosecutor. (HJ 8/15 in WNC 8/16)

Arafat arrives in Cairo for 2 days of talks on the peace process in light of the Israeli elections, meets with Egyptian FM `Amr Musa. (MENA 5/22 in WNC 5/25, 5/27; MM 5/24)

PA Preventive Security Force (PSF) detains editors Ghazi Hamad and Mahmud al-Bardawil, reporter Wisam Afifa of Hamas's weekly newspaper al-Risala for questioning regarding an article on the torture in PA custody of Ayman al-Amsi (see 5/11); holds them without charge for several hours. (PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25; MEI 6/4) (see 4/27)

In Gaza, the PLO Central Council (PCC) opens debate on statehood declaration, with 96 of 124 mbrs. attending. Arafat opens the mtg. by affirming Palestinians' right to independence, but recommending against declaring a state on 5/4. Hamas sends a 4 mbr. observer group led by Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, marking 1st time it has participated in a PLO mtg.; the move is criticized by Hamas political leaders in Jordan. Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine boycott. (MM 4/27; AFP, IDF Radio, JT 4/27 in WNC 4/28; MM, NYT, WP, WT 4/28; IDF Radio, MBC 4/28 in WNC 4/29; al-Ayyam 4/28, 4/29 in WNC 5/3; PR 4/30; MEI 5/7; al-Istiqlal 5/7 in WNC 5/17; CSM 5/17)

In Nablus, 1,000 Fatah mbrs. march in support of a statehood declaration on 5/4. (WT 4/28)

A Palestinian arrested by Israeli police on burglary charges on 4/27 is admitted to a Tel Aviv hospital having been beaten so severely that one of his kidneys stopped functioning. (Reuters [Internet] 5/6)

Without explanation, the GIS orders the Hamas weekly newspaper al-Risala closed "until further notice." Under pressure fr. unnamed PA officials, the paper is allowed to reopen several hrs. later. (AFP 4/27 in WNC 4/28; al-Hayat al-Jadida 4/29 in WNC 5/3; PR 4/30)

In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Commission passes (52-1) a resolution reaffirming the Palestinians' right to self-determination, right to return. The U.S. votes against. (ADC press release 4/28; Xinhua 4/28 in WNC 4/29; Prime Minister's Report 4/30) (see 4/23)

Israel claims that the PA has released 3 Hamas prisoners involved in attacks in which Israelis were killed. PA, Hamas deny the story. (IDF Radio 4/27 in WNC 4/28; NYT, WP 4/28; al-Ayyam 4/28 in WNC 4/29; PR 4/30; JP 5/7)

In Washington, Israeli DM Moshe Arens meets with Secy. of State Albright, NSA Berger, Secy. of Defense Cohen for talks on Arrow missile program, Israeli receipt of 60 new F-16D fighters, regional issues. Albright, Berger criticize Israeli settlement policy. (USIS Washington File 4/27; MM 4/28; IDF Radio, MA 5/3 in WNC 5/4; WJW 5/6; JP, MEI 5/7)

Lebanese security personnel arrest an Israeli woman, Mary Vizeman, on suspicion of spying after she is found in Tyre without a passport. Vizeman, who speaks Arabic well, claims that she came fr. Nazareth to visit a friend in Beirut. (VOL 4/28 in WNC 4/29; JP 5/7)

Hizballah attempts to capture 2 IDF/SLA posts in s. Lebanon, wounding 8 IDF soldiers, 3 SLA mbrs. IDF shells Hizballah targets in response, wounding 2 civilians. (VOL 4/27 in WNC 4/28; MM 4/28)