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  • August 2, 2021

    In the West Bank, Israeli settlers opened a settlers-only road near Kisan. Israeli forces shot and injured 1 Palestinian man near the separation barrier west of Jenin; the man was treated at a...

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  • August 16, 2020

    In the West Bank, Israel delivered demolition notices for 1 residential tent and 1 animal barn in Atuf. Israeli forces razed Palestinian-owned agricultural lands southeast of Tulkarm. Israeli...

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  • April 23, 2020

    In the West Bank, Israeli forces seized a mobile home displacing a Palestinian family near Jericho. 1 Israeli settler shot a gun in the air as he passed Palestinians managing a COVID-19 test post...

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  • July 15, 2014

    IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip continue, except in the hours following the govt.’s acceptance of the Egyptian cease-fire, killing 13 Palestinians. The IDF warns 100,000 residents of the al-Zaytun...

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  • February 13, 2014

    In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces shoot and kill 1 Palestinian and wound another nr. al-Zaytun e. of Gaza City, close to the border fence. Relatives say that the deceased was collecting gravel to...

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  • December 6, 2011

    Israel releases Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Ahmad ‘Attoun, discharging him at the Qalandia crossing and ordering him to Ramallah. Israel revoked ‘Attoun’s Jerusalem residency...

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  • December 8, 2010

    Israel’s security cabinet agrees in principle to allow more exports out of Gaza and expects details to be fleshed out within the next few days, but there is no serious change before the end of the...

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  • June 30, 2010

    Overnight, unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, heavily damaging a factory in Sederot, but causing no injuries; the IDF retaliates with air strikes on at least 1...

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  • May 28, 2010

    Late at night, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no injuries. The IDF retaliates with 5 air strikes on the Dahaniyya airport site (hitting...

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  • January 8, 2010

    Overnight, in retaliation for the 1/7 Grad strike nr. Ashqelon, the IDF makes air strikes on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border (killing 3 Palestinians, including a 15-yr.-old boy, and...

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  • May 19, 2009

    Palestinians fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging a house in Sederot but causing no injuries. Late in the evening, IDF warplanes make at least 7 air strikes on Gaza, hitting at least 4...

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  • January 18, 2009

    Israel’s unilateral cease-fire goes into effect early in the morning as planned, marking the official end to OCL. The IDF begins withdrawing ground troops fr. Gaza early in the morning and...

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  • January 16, 2009

    In Washington, Livni and Rice sign the MOU on curbing arms smuggling, aimed at facilitating Israel’s acceptance of the EgyptHamas cease-fire offer (see 1/15). Anonymous Israeli military officials...

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  • January 14, 2009

    Egypt announces that Gaza- and Damascus-based Hamas officials have agreed on a cease-fire offer to be present to Israel (see Quarterly Update). Israel agrees to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/15 to...

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  • January 13, 2009

    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...

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  • January 12, 2009

    Olmert’s security cabinet revives discussion of opening phase 3 of OCL (see 1/9), agreeing to make a final decision whether to expand or wind down operations within 2–3 days, by which time the IDF...

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  • January 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 9, 2009

    The Israeli security cabinet reportedly begins internal debate on opening phase 3 of OCL, which would involve deep incursions into Gaza’s built-up areas to deal a crushing blow to Hamas. Israeli...

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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 6, 2009

    Sarkozy and Mubarak, with U.S. support, jointly call for an immediate ceasefire followed by talks on Israel’s siege and Palestinian smuggling.

    Combat notes: IDF ground forces expand...

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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 4, 2009

    IDF ground forces backed by naval and air support continue to enter Gaza overnight, with troops taking up positions across n. Gaza (from which most Palestinian rockets have been fired),...

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  • January 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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  • 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 27, 2008

    After early morning consultations with senior cabinet mbrs., the IDF launches its major offensive on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (OCL), at 11:25 A.M. local time (4:25 A.M. EST). Israeli DM Barak...

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  • January 15, 2005

    Abbas is sworn in as PA pres.; reappoints Qurai‘ as PM, calls on him to form a government; calls for immediate talks with Israel, recommends going beyond the road map to include parallel talks on...

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  • December 17, 2000

    Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue, leaving at least 5 Palestinians dead; a 6th Palestinian dies of injuries received earlier. In Qalandiyya, Senior Fatah mbr. Samih Malabi is...

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  • April 18, 1988

    Social/Economic/Political

    Occupied Palestine/Israel: Israeli court convicts John Demjanjuk of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes against a...

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  • September 22, 1987

    Social/Economic/Political

    Occupied Palestine/Israel: A-Sha'b editor Salah Zuhaykah begins 2d consecutive town arrest order [FJ 9/20]. Prisoners at Tulkarm Prison launch hunger...

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In the West Bank, Israeli settlers opened a settlers-only road near Kisan. Israeli forces shot and injured 1 Palestinian man near the separation barrier west of Jenin; the man was treated at a hospital in Israel for his injuries. Israeli forces also fired tear gas at a wedding celebration in Silat al-Harithiya, causing tear-gas related injuries. Palestinians protested in Ramallah against the killing of PA critic Nizar Banat by PA forces on 6/24. 11 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces during raids in and around al-Yamun, Qiffin, Beita, Ni‘lin, Abu Dis, and Jaba‘. In East Jerusalem, 1 Israeli settler shot 1 Palestinian man in the leg in Sheikh Jarrah; Israeli police said the Palestinian man had entered the settler’s home, while Palestinian media said the man was part of a solidarity event for the residents of Sheikh Jarrah threatened by forced eviction. 5 Palestinians were arrested during raids in Sheikh Jarrah and Shu‘fat. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen within 3 nautical miles west of al-Sudaniyya; no injuries were reported. In Gaza, Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers in al-Zaytun; no injuries were reported. Israeli forces also made incursions and leveled land east of al-Qarara. (MEE, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 8/2; AA, MEMO 8/3; PCHR 8/5)

The Israeli supreme court proposed that Palestinian residents under threat of eviction in Sheikh Jarrah become “protected residents” in what it considered a compromise. The proposition would allow the Palestinians to live in their homes in return for paying a rent fee to the settler organization, Nahalat Shimon, which claims to have acquired their property. The Palestinians agreed to the proposal but refused to accept the Nahalat Shimon’s demand that the families recognize its ownership of their properties, resulting in a stalemate. The court did not set a new date for the next hearing. Haaretz reported that Israeli officials had asked the Biden administration to put pressure on the Palestinian residents to agree to the compromise. The Jordanian government submitted documents to the court from before the 1967Day War, showing that the Jordanian government was in the process of registering the properties to their Palestinian residents, which was disrupted by the Israeli assault on its neighboring countries. U.S. state department spokesperson Ned Price later said that the U.S. is opposed to the plans to evict Palestinians from East Jerusalem, but that proposal from the supreme court is for the parties involved to consider. (HA 8/1; AJ, AJ, ALM, HA, MEE, MEMO, MEMO, MEMO, REU, WAFA, WAFA 8/2; MEMO, WAFA 8/3; HA 8/4; AA, MEMO 8/5; MEMO 8/6; WAFA 8/14)

Israel extended the ban of PA governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith from moving freely within East Jerusalem. It was unclear how long the extension was set for. (WAFA 8/2)

The PA said that it and Qatar had agreed to a mechanism to transfer Qatari funds to Gaza. More than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza will receive ATM cards with around $100, which can be withdrawn in Gaza. Hamas had previously agreed to have the PA supervise the transfer of the Qatari funds. It is unclear when the aid will reach Palestinians in Gaza. (MEMO 8/4)

Israel’s cabinet approved its 1st budget in 3 years; the Knesset will still have to approve it before it is implemented. A vote is expected to occur in November. Ra’am’s demands for a significant increase in spending for Palestinian Israeli communities was approved with $16 billion earmarked for advances, as opposed to the previous $5 billion under the Netanyahu government. The money is said to be spent on infrastructure, combatting crime, health care, education, and transportation. (MEMO 8/1; ALM, AX, JP 8/2; ALM 8/3)

Canada contributed $1.7 million to the UN World Food Programme to help its programming in Gaza. (WAFA 8/2)

In the West Bank, Israel delivered demolition notices for 1 residential tent and 1 animal barn in Atuf. Israeli forces razed Palestinian-owned agricultural lands southeast of Tulkarm. Israeli forces also shot and injured 1 Palestinian man trying to enter Israel for work near Tulkarm. 2 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in and around Bethlehem. In East Jerusalem, Israeli authorities banned PA governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith from entering the West Bank for 6 months. Governor Ghaith was summoned by Israeli forces earlier in the day. 1 Palestinian was arrested during a raid in Issawiyya. In Gaza, Israeli forces fired missiles at Gaza after incendiary balloons from Gaza sparked fires in southern Israel. Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz ordered the entire Gaza fishing zone closed as collective punishment for incendiary balloons and rockets sent toward Israel. 1 Palestinian man was also seriously injured after coming in contact with an Israeli unexploded ordnance near al-Zaytun. Palestinian officials said that Gaza’s only power plant would stop producing power from 8/18 due to Israel’s embargo on fuel going to Gaza. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishermen 1.5 nautical miles off Gaza City and Khan Yunis; no injuries were reported. (AJ, HA, HA, PCHR, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 8/16; PCHR 8/19)

PA president Mahmoud Abbas spoke with French president Emmanuel Macron. President Macron said that the 2 spoke about resumption of peace negotiations. (HA, WAFA 8/16)

Israel and the UAE began direct talks to arrange the details of establishing full diplomatic relations. The 2 countries and the U.S. announced on 8/13 that the UAE would normalize ties with Israel. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview that the U.S. had asked him to suspend annexation of parts of the West Bank in exchange for normalization with the UAE. He further stated that he had no choice in the matter and that annexation was still part of the U.S administration’s peace plan. In an interview with Haaretz, UAE director of strategic communications of the ministry of foreign affairs Hend Al Otaiba said that the UAE and Israel are working toward exchanging ambassadors. When asked about if the embassy would be located in Jerusalem, Al Otaiba answered, “We’re bound by international resolutions as well as an Arab position that wants an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.” The PA ambassador to the UAE arrived in Ramallah after being withdrawn because of the UAE-Israel deal. (HA, HA 8/16; HA, HA, 8/17)

In the West Bank, Israeli forces seized a mobile home displacing a Palestinian family near Jericho. 1 Israeli settler shot a gun in the air as he passed Palestinians managing a COVID-19 test post near Husan. 14 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in and around Bethlehem, Taqqua, Hebron, Tulkarm, ‘Araba, ‘Azun, and Ramallah. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces raided Silwan and Issawiyya leading to clashes with Palestinians; tear-gas related injuries were reported. In Gaza, Israeli forces made incursions to level land east of al-Zaytun. Israeli forces also opened fire on Palestinian shepherds and agricultural land east of al-Maghazi and Khan Yunis; no injuries were reported. (WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 4/23; HA 4/27; PCHR 4/30)

The International Committee of the Red Cross donated a ventilator, monitors, defibrillators, suction devices, and pumps to Palestinian hospitals in Gaza. (REU 4/23)

IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip continue, except in the hours following the govt.’s acceptance of the Egyptian cease-fire, killing 13 Palestinians. The IDF warns 100,000 residents of the al-Zaytun and al-Shuja‘iya neighborhoods to evacuate before morning on 7/16. Palestinians fire more than 120 rockets into Israel, including dozens directed at Tel Aviv, in a barrage claimed jointly by al-Qassam Brigades and al-Quds Brigades. Nr. the Erez crossing, 1 Israeli civilian is killed by a mortar shell while distributing food supplies to IDF soldiers. Nine rockets are intercepted by Iron Dome, and the rest caused no damage or injuries. (AFP, AP, HA, MNA, REU, WAFA 7/15)

Israel’s security cabinet votes 6–2 in favor of accepting the Egyptian cease-fire proposal from the previous day, and the IDF stops all strikes for several hours. PM Netanyahu says that if Hamas rejects the initiative, Israel will have “legitimacy” to take further action “to restore quiet.” PA Pres. Abbas, in Cairo for talks with Egyptian pres. al-Sisi, calls for the acceptance of the proposal. However, Hamas rejects the text, describing it as “an initiative of kneeling and submission,” and both the armed Palestinian groups and the IDF continue hostilities. Hamas spokesperson Abu Zuhri says that the group was ignored by Egyptian mediators, with Islamic Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh commenting that “initiatives shouldn’t be proposed through media outlets, but rather through the obvious channels, which are resistance factions and their leaders.” An unnamed senior PLO official says that “the Egyptians coordinated the initiative with Abbas and ignored Gaza,” and thus “Hamas leaders felt humiliated by the fact that the proposal was released without them being consulted about its contents ahead of time.” (AFP, AP, HA, MNA, REU, WAFA 7/15; PCHR 7/16)

After Hamas rejects the deal, Netanyahu vows to “significantly expand our offensive,” saying that the group “will pay for its decision.” Meanwhile, Dep. DM Danny Danon describes the Israeli govt.’s response to the Gaza crisis as a “failure” and Netanyahu fires him. (AFP, AP, HA, REU 7/15)

Suspected Salafi jihadists fire 3 rockets from the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, into Israel, wounding 4 civilians in Eilat. (REU 7/15)

In Vienna, reps. of Iran and the P5+1 powers continue their negotiations leading up to the 7/20 deadline for a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s disputed nuclear program. U.S. Secy. of State Kerry says they “have made progress . . . but there’s still more work to do.” Iranian FM Zarif says that Iran wants to “arrive at a solution everyone can be happy about.” The key issues remaining are Iran’s centrifuges and its uranium enrichment capacity over the next 10 years. (ALM, NYT 7/15)

In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces shoot and kill 1 Palestinian and wound another nr. al-Zaytun e. of Gaza City, close to the border fence. Relatives say that the deceased was collecting gravel to sell, while the IDF says that those targeted were tampering with the fence. Separately, Israeli forces shoot and wound 1 Palestinian who was grazing a camel nr. Rafah, close to the border fence. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in Hebron and al-Bireh at night; patrols in 3 villages nr. Hebron at night. In East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces check IDs in Ras al-Amud, prompting clashes with students, causing no injuries. (MNA, REU, WAFA 2/13; PCHR 2/20)

UN-Arab League joint special envoy Brahimi meets with U.S. Under Secy. of State Wendy Sherman and Russia’s Dep. FM Gennady Gatilov in Geneva to discuss the status of the Syrian peace talks. Brahimi tells reporters that both parties affirmed their support for the efforts but also says that“failure is always staring at us in the face.” (AP, REU 2/13)

Israel releases Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Ahmad ‘Attoun, discharging him at the Qalandia crossing and ordering him to Ramallah. Israel revoked ‘Attoun’s Jerusalem residency status in 9/2009 on the grounds that he was affiliated with a “terrorist organization” (i.e., Hamas) and warned him in 5/2010 to leave the city or face deportation to the West Bank (QU in JPS 157). He was arrested in East Jerusalem on 9/26/11, when he went to address a protest rally in Shaykh Jarrah, and was charged with “being illegally present in the city.” (MNA 12/6; PCHR 12/8)

Israeli municipal forces in East Jerusalem demolish a Palestinian home. IDF troops make a brief incursion into al-Shuja’iyya neighborhood in Gaza City, leveling land to clear lines of sight and exchanging gunfire with Palestinians, causing no injuries. Late in the evening the IDF carries out 2 air strikes at armed Palestinians preparing to fire rockets fr. Gaza City into Israel, the 1st killing 1 Islamic Jihad mbr. and wounding 2 in al-Shuja’iyya, and the 2d seriously wounding an unidentified armed Palestinian in al-Zaytun neighborhood. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 3 villages nr. Jenin during the day; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus and nearby Balata r.c., detaining around 12 PFLP mbrs. (including 1 senior mbr.) and 1 senior Hamas mbr. The IDF reports that 3 IDF soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of participating in “pricetag” attacks in the West Bank. Health officials in Gaza report that Gaza’s Central Drug Store is lacking 120 essential medicines and 140 essential medical supplies, including medicine for the anesthesia, cancer, hemophilia, and kidney dialysis (450 patients); the shortage is the result of poor coordination between the Min. of Health branches in Gaza and the West Bank (where no shortages are reported). (MNA 12/6; DUS, JP, Taiwan News, WT 12/7; PCHR, WP 12/8; OCHA 12/9; NYT 12/10; JPI 12/16; OCHA 12/23)

Israel’s security cabinet agrees in principle to allow more exports out of Gaza and expects details to be fleshed out within the next few days, but there is no serious change before the end of the quarter. In the afternoon and early evening, unidentified Palestinians fire 6 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, causing light damage in 1 instance and moderately injuring 1 Israeli in another. The IDF makes 4 air strikes on al-Mughraqa in c. Gaza, destroying a building used by Hamas’s Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), a partially constructed home, and a well, causing no reported injuries; makes another air strike destroying an IQB building in Gaza City’s al-Zaytun neighborhood, damaging several surrounding buildings but causing no serious injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night patrols in Kifl Haris nr. Salfit. Israeli authorities deport detained Hamas-affiliated PC mbr. Muhammad Abu Tir, whose Jerusalem residency status was revoked in 5/2010, to Ramallah. (JP, UPI 12/8; JP, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 12/9; OCHA 12/10; PCHR 12/16; OCHA 12/17)

Overnight, unidentified Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, heavily damaging a factory in Sederot, but causing no injuries; the IDF retaliates with air strikes on at least 1 smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border, 1 suspected weapons factory in al-Zaytun, causing no reported injuries. During the day, IDF troops reenter (see 6/29) the fmr. n. Gaza settlement sites n. of Bayt Lahiya, firing warning shots at Palestinians scavenging construction materials and forcing them to flee, causing no injuries. IDF troops on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials inside the industrial zone, causing no injuries. IDF senior officers take U.S. special envoy Mitchell to Kerem Shalom crossing to witness Israel’s easing of restrictions on imports to Gaza (up 30% since 6/20), including the transfer of the 1st load of goods fr. the FGM-IHH flotilla. Gaza’s electricity plant receives a shipment of industrial fuel allowing it to resume operations after a 4-day halt (the longest complete stoppage of the facility since the beginning of 2010). In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Qalqilya and nr. Hebron. In Jerusalem, Israeli police arrest PC mbr. Abu Tir for being in the city illegally; he was ordered (see 5/21) to leave voluntarily or face expulsion to Gaza. Israeli sources reveal that Israel’s Jerusalem Planning Committee recently approved construction of 1,400 new hotel rooms in Jabal Mukabir in East Jerusalem. Israel begins barring all West Bank Palestinian-made products fr. entering East Jerusalem as of 7/1 on the grounds that they did not meet Israeli standards, though the move is widely seen as retaliation for the PA’s boycott on settlement-made good enacted in 4/2010. (IFM, JP, NYT, PCHR, WP, YA 7/1; PCHR 7/7; OCHA 7/9)

Late at night, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage but no injuries. The IDF retaliates with 5 air strikes on the Dahaniyya airport site (hitting previously destroyed buildings, causing no injuries) and on a suspected weapons factory in the al-Zaytun neighborhood of Gaza City (destroying it but causing no injuries). In the West Bank, the IDF partly opens Route 443 between Jerusalem and Ramallah to Palestinian traffic for the 1st time in 8 yrs., but Palestinians will still have to go through several checkpoints and will not be allowed to take the road all the way into Ramallah (see Quarterly Update in JPS 155 for background). Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall and land confiscations in Bil‘in, Ni‘lin, and Dayr Nizam/al-Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, leaving scores suffering tear gas inhalation, injuring at least 2 Palestinians, and arresting 4 Israelis. Jewish settlers fr. the unauthorized outpost of Beit Yonatan nr. Silwan retaliating for the 5/25 Jerusalem District Court decision harass a group of Palestinian women, sparking a stone throwing clash between the settlers and local Palestinians; the IDF intervenes, firing tear gas and beating back the Palestinians, including a pregnant Palestinian woman who miscarries as a result. Jewish settlers fr. Karnei Shomron nr. Qalqilya stone Palestinian vehicles on the Qalqilya–Nablus road, breaking the windows of 1 car, injuring 4 Palestinians. (YA 5/28; NYT, WP 5/29; JP 5/30; PCHR 6/3; OCHA 6/4)

Overnight, in retaliation for the 1/7 Grad strike nr. Ashqelon, the IDF makes air strikes on a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border (killing 3 Palestinians, including a 15-yr.-old boy, and wounding 2), suspected weapons factories in the Shaykh Ajlin and al-Zaytun neighborhoods of Gaza City (causing no injuries but marking the 1st Israeli air strikes on Gaza City since OCL), and sites in al-Qarara in s. Gaza (initially hitting an open area, damaging a house; then targeting and destroying 2 other Palestinian homes, whose residents had fled after the initial strike close by; no injuries reported). During the day, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 more rockets toward Sederot, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at stonethrowing Palestinians and nonviolent international (and, in the case of Bil‘in, Israeli) activists taking part in protests against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 2 Palestinians) and Ni‘lin (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); conducts latenight house searches in al-Fara‘a r.c. and nr. Jenin, making no arrests. (JP 1/8; NYT 1/9; OCHA 1/13; PCHR 1/14)

Palestinians fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging a house in Sederot but causing no injuries. Late in the evening, IDF warplanes make at least 7 air strikes on Gaza, hitting at least 4 smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border (3 Palestinians working in tunnels are reported missing); a workshop in al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City, destroying it and heavily damaging a nearby marble factory, causing no casualties; a Hamas outpost nr. the border fence with Israel, causing no reported injuries; and a group of armed Palestinians in al-Zaytun neighborhood in Gaza City, wounding 1. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem. (OCHA, WT 5/20; PCHR, WT 5/21)

Palestinian Authority (PA) pres. Mahmud Abbas dissolves PA PM Salam Fayyad’s government and reappoints it, replacing 8 independent technocrats with Fatah members, none of whom are elected members of the Palestinian Council. (MNA 5/19; NYT, WT 5/20; NYT 5/21)

 

Israel’s unilateral cease-fire goes into effect early in the morning as planned, marking the official end to OCL. The IDF begins withdrawing ground troops fr. Gaza early in the morning and releases reservists from call-up later in the day, with Olmert stating that Israel intends to pull out of Gaza as quickly as possible. Israel generally observes its cease-fire during the day, but maintains a policy of firing on Palestinians who stray close to the Gaza border fence or approach withdrawing troops. After firing 15 rockets into Israel early in the day (lightly injuring 2 Israelis in Ashdod), Hamas and other Palestinian factions declare their own Gaza cease-fire but warn that they would resume fighting if Israel does not withdraw quickly. (Unidentified factions fire 4 rockets after Hamas’s announcement, causing no injuries.) Egypt, France, the EU, and the Arab states shift their mediation efforts to securing a lasting truce and securing donor aid to fund Gaza reconstruction. 

Combat notes: The IDF carries out 3 air strikes against 1 group of armed Palestinians that fires on IDF ground forces nr. Wadi al-Silqa and 2 rocket-launching sites nr. Bayt Hanun; no injuries are reported. IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on a group of Palestinians inspecting damage to agricultural land nr. the border, killing 1 Palestinian civilian. The Israeli navy fires a missile at the PA General Intelligence compound in n. Gaza. Israeli warplanes continue low-level overflights of the Strip throughout the day, keeping many Palestinians off the streets. By day’s end, the IDF pulls troops in n. Gaza back into the buffer zone along the n. Gaza border; redeploys outside Gaza City’s al-Dahadih, al-Sha’af, Tal al-Hawa, and al-Zaytun neighborhoods; pulls troops out of al-Zahra’ in c. Gaza; withdraws from the al-Fukhari area and al-Mughraqa in the south.

Palestinians attempting to return to their homes in Gaza City’s northwestern neighborhoods find widespread devastation (especially in Twam, used as a staging area for the IDF’s tank corps), prompting 100s to return to UNRWA shelters. Residents of al-Atatra and al-Salatin areas on the northern outskirts of Gaza City similarly report 10s of homes and 3 schools destroyed, large tracks of agricultural land razed, significant damage to infrastructure. In s. Gaza, residents of the al-Fukhari area report at least 30 homes demolished, large areas of agricultural land razed since troops occupied the area on 1/14. Rescue workers combing the rubble in heavily damaged areas in and around Gaza City report finding at least 35 bodies in the Twam area, 95 bodies in al-Zaytun neighborhood, 24 bodies in Atatra and Izbat ‘Abid Rabbuh, 5 in Jabaliya. Palestinian workers begin repairing water and electricity lines in various areas. Israel allows 150 truckloads of humanitarian goods into Gaza. (AFP, IDF, IFM, NYT, WP, WT 1/18; HA, IDF Radio, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/19; NYT 1/20; PCHR 1/22; FT 1/28; PCHR 1/29)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin. (PCHR 1/22)

In Washington, Livni and Rice sign the MOU on curbing arms smuggling, aimed at facilitating Israel’s acceptance of the EgyptHamas cease-fire offer (see 1/15). Anonymous Israeli military officials state that OCL is “in its final act.”

Combat notes: Early in the day, the IDF pulls back to the outskirts of Gaza City (with reports indicating that Tal al-Hawa has been devastated), but fighting intensifies again in the evening. Intensified IDF ground operations under cover of air strikes and heavy shelling are reported on the outskirts of Khan Yunis. The IDF reports hitting more than 50 targets during the day, including 15 rocket-launching sites, 13 groups of armed men, 4 suspected weapons depots, 2 smuggling tunnels, at least 1 mosque, Hamas’s Asda’ media center outside Khan Yunis (previously hit on 12/27). Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, alBureij r.c., the al-Fukhari area, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa; al-Tuffah), Izbat ‘Abid Rabbuh, Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis (white phosphorous suspected), alNasser (n. of Rafah), Rafah, the al-Satar al-Gharbi area (nr. Khan Yunis), and the alTannour area (e. of Rafah). Artillery and tank fire are reported in Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah (white phosphorous suspected), Gaza City (city center and al-Sudaniyya, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, Khan Yunis, al-Qarara, al-Shuka, Twam, Wadi alSilqa (white phosphorous suspected). Naval bombardments center on open areas w. of Khan Yunis and in the al-Mawasi area, and in s. Rafah. Ground engagements are reported in Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, the al-Fukhari area and nearby Ma’an, Gaza City, al-Mughraqa, al-Zahra’. At least 3 ambulances are hit trying to evacuate the dead and wounded in clashes in central Gaza nr. Shuhada junction and in al-Mughraqa.

In a highly publicized incident, IDF tank shells hit a Gaza City home, killing 4 young girls (3 sisters, 1 cousin). Father of the 3 sisters, Izzeddin Abu al-Aish, a prominent Gazan doctor who appears regularly as a commentator on Israeli TV, phones ITV channel 10’s live broadcast to beg for medical assistance for his injured family, reports that his daughters are dead. In addition, an IDF air strike targets a home receiving condolence visits in Gaza City’s al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhood, killing 10 Palestinians, wounding 7. Another air strike on a home in al-Bureij r.c. kills a mother and her 5 children, ages 7–15. Gazan medical officials put the Palestinian toll at 1,140 dead, more than 5,100 wounded (470 in serious condition).

Palestinians fire 22 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel. Areas hit include Ashdod and Kiryat Gat (where at least 3 Israelis are injured, 1 seriously).

Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows up to 109 trucks of humanitarian aid entry to Gaza during the 4-hr. lull. (AFP, AP, IDF, IFM, ITV, MA, MM, REU, XIN, Zaman 1/16; IFM, NYT, WP, WT, XIN 1/17; NYT 1/18; AY, DUS, ITIC, MM 1/19; PCHR, WT 1/22; PCHR 1/29; ITV, MM 2/4; NYT 2/5)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, Nablus; fires rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians who attend nonviolent demonstrations against OCL following Friday prayers in Hebron (injuring 4) and neighboring Bayt Umar (injuring 3), Issawiyya (injuring 4); fires live ammunition, 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, 4 with live ammunition); 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 Ni‘lin (injuring 12 Palestinians, including 7 children). In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces beat and fire rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians protesting against OCL nr. al-Aqsa Mosque (injuring 1) and in Ras al-Amud neighborhood (injuring 1). (PCHR 1/22)

Egypt announces that Gaza- and Damascus-based Hamas officials have agreed on a cease-fire offer to be present to Israel (see Quarterly Update). Israel agrees to send an envoy to Cairo on 1/15 to be briefed on the plan. Meanwhile, Israel’s intense air, naval, and ground assaults on Gaza continue.

Combat notes: Under cover of air strikes and heavy shelling, IDF troops take up new positions in s. Gaza’s al-Fukhari area nr. the Sufa crossing (occupying several homes and expelling the residents) and al-Shuka village; Israeli fire is so intense that rescuers cannot reach the wounded or retrieve the dead. The IDF reports carrying out approximately 120 air strikes today (70 of them after nightfall) that kill 10s of Palestinians. Targets include at least 24 groups of armed Palestinians, 16 smuggling tunnels, at least 10 suspected weapons depots (including a Rafah mosque), and 24 rocket launching sites (killing senior IQB cmdrs. Walid Za‘abud and Muhammad Dash nr. al-Zaytun). Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (areas northwest of the city and al-Nasser, al-Sabra, al-Sha‘af, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk, al-Zaytun), Khan Yunis, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., Twam, Yibna r.c. Heavy artillery and tank fire are reported in and around Bayt Lahiya (white phosphorous suspected), al-Bureij r.c., Gaza City (al-Sabra, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya town and r.c. Naval bombardment centers on Rafah’s Tal al-Sultan neighborhood.

Palestinians fire 14 rockets and 2 mortars, including 4 Grads (2 each in Ashdod and Beersheba), into Israel, causing no injuries. Gaza medical workers put the estimated Palestinian toll at 1,018 dead (including an estimated 300 children), 4,700 injured. The IDF reports 27 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 2 moderately, 24 lightly), mostly in ground fighting with Palestinians n. Gaza, including 7 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 1 moderately, 5 lightly) by a Palestinian antitank missile. The Israeli toll stands at 13–14 dead, more than 150 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows at least 108 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza during the lull. A group of Israeli human rights groups (including Amnesty International–Israel, B’Tselem Gisha, Physicians for Human Rights–Israel) characterize Israel’s restrictions on aid and access to Gaza by relief groups and medial workers as a “blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes.” (AP, BBC, CBS News, HA, IDF, IFM, JAZ, MM, QA, REU, RFM, XIN 1/14; AYM, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, JAZ, MA, MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 1/15; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and Jenin, in Bayt Sahur, and nr. Nablus. (PCHR 1/22)

Unidentified assailants fire 3 rockets fr. s. Lebanon into n. Israel. (Up to a dozen rockets total may have been fired, with others landing inside Lebanon). The IDF returns fire. No damage or injuries are reported. (MM, MNR 1/14; WP 1/15)

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)

Olmert’s security cabinet revives discussion of opening phase 3 of OCL (see 1/9), agreeing to make a final decision whether to expand or wind down operations within 2–3 days, by which time the IDF believes ground forces will have done all they can from the open and suburban areas they currently hold to weaken Hamas’s ability and desire to fire rockets.

Combat notes: The IDF significantly increases attacks, particularly around Gaza City, and continues to send troops into Gaza. Palestinians report (AYM 1/12) heavy clashes with the IDF n. of Bayt Lahiya, in Daraj and al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhoods on the eastern boundary of Gaza City, and in Dahadih and al-Zaytun to the south of the city. Overnight, the IDF also sends troops back into Khuza (see 1/11) under heavy artillery fire (possibly including white phosphorous), occupying a number of homes as staging posts and prompting 1,000s of residents to flee their homes.

The IDF reports carrying out more than 120 air strikes (half of them after nightfall, targeting Gaza City), uncovering 1 boobytrapped home and 2 booby-trapped tunnels. Targets include the PA Interior Min. offices in n. Gaza, more than 35 tunnels on the Rafah border, homes of Hamas leaders, at least 22 mortar and rocket launching sites, at least 26 groups of armed men, at least 10 “Hamas outposts,” 2 suspected weapons depots and manufacturing facilities, 2 mosques, 2 hotels. Air strike target areas include Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (city center and Shaykh Ridwan, al-Sudaniyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., al-Shuka, Tal al-Za‘atar, the Twam area (northern outskirts of Gaza City), Yibna r.c. IDF gunboats shell Nussayrat, Rafah, a fishing port w. of Rafah. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Bayt Hanun, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, al-Mughraqa, Twam.

Israeli attacks are so intense that reliable updates on Palestinian casualty estimates are not possible. The IDF estimates killing at least 30 Palestinians in air strikes. UNRWA reports at least 19 Palestinian children killed and 52 children injured in nighttime operations (possibly overlapping with air strikes), 1 paramedic killed by tank fire in Jabaliya during the day. The IDF reports 8 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 1 moderately, 6 lightly) in various incidents, all after nightfall; 3 of the soldiers are injured when they trigger a setup in a booby-trapped house.

Palestinians fire 17 rockets and 7 mortars into Israel, with 1 rocket in Ashqelon and 1 in Sederot causing damage but no reported injuries.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes the daily 3-hr. humanitarian lull, allowing 120 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. UNRWA estimates that internally displaced Gazans number now 90,000: 30,000 seeking shelter in UNRWA schools; 60,000 in the homes of friends and relatives. (AP, AYM, BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, JP, MA, MM, al-Ra’i, REU, RFM, WP, YA 1/12; HA, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/13; AYM, HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/14; PCHR 1/15; BBC, WJW 1/16; ITIC 1/19)

In the West Bank, unidentified armed Palestinians fire on an IDF patrol nr. Kiryat Arba settlement, wounding 3. In response, the IDF raids, searches Palestinian homes nr. Kiryat Arba, making no arrests. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. (HA 1/13; PCHR 1/15)

The 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 Israeli security cabinet reportedly begins internal debate on opening phase 3 of OCL, which would involve deep incursions into Gaza’s built-up areas to deal a crushing blow to Hamas. Israeli military and intelligence sources warn that the new goal would require deep, sustained incursions into Gaza’s densely populated areas, likely resulting in months of combat and heavy casualties.

Combat notes: Heavy IDF aerial, naval, and ground assaults across Gaza continue. The IDF reports carrying out more than 110 air strikes, in many cases to support troops battling on the ground. Targets include 20 “terror operatives” (possibly assassinations), more than a dozen rocket-launching sites and squads, more than 20 suspected weapons depots (including homes of 3 Hamas mbrs.) and other outposts, at least 10 homes and 1 apartment building, 2 tunnels on the Rafah border, a market in Bayt Lahiya, 1 ESF post in Gaza City, a mosque in Dayr al-Balah. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr alBalah, Gaza City (city center and al-Nasser, Shaykh Ridwan), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza, Nussayrat, al-Qarara, Rafah, Shati’ r.c., open areas in central Gaza.

At least 1 air strike on a residential area e. of Jabaliya involves white phosphorous munitions that cause extensive fire damage to 4 homes. Another air strike hits the rooftop of a Gaza City building housing the offices of some 20 international press agencies, destroying broadcasting equipment and wounding 1 journalist.

IDF ground forces take up new positions in Juhur al-Dik and al-Mughraqa in c. Gaza, and al-Shuka in s. Gaza (bulldozing 13 homes). Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Bayt Lahiya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, alTuffah, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya. Heavy closequarter combat is reported in Gaza City and nr. Bayt Lahiya, with Palestinians firing antitank weapons and mortars and sniping at ground troops, moderately wounding 1 IDF soldier and lightly wounding 7.

Palestinians also fire 30 rockets and 1 mortar into Israel (including several Grads that hit Ashqelon), causing no reported damage or injuries.

At least 35 Palestinians are killed during the day, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to around 795 dead and 3,300 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: The UN and other relief groups resume humanitarian aid transfers after receiving assurances fr. the Israeli government that they will not be targeted. During today’s 3-hr. humanitarian lull, Israel allows 41 trucks carrying food and medicine into the Strip. (Committee to Protect Journalists, Daily News, IDF, MA, MM, YA 1/9; IDF, NYT, WT, WP 1/10; NYT 1/11; PCHR 1/15)

Israel seals the West Bank through 1/10 citing unspecified security concerns. The IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL after Friday prayers in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron (injuring 2), Hawara s. of Nablus, Hebron (injuring 4), Issawiyya, Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem; also fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists attending weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 3 Palestinians, arresting 5), Jayyus (injuring 9, including 2 wounded by live ammunition, which is not used at the other rallies), Ni‘lin (injuring 5 Palestinians); conducts late-night house searches in Azmut nr. Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Shilo nr. Ramallah beat and fire on 2 Palestinians collecting water at a well nr. the settlement, wounding 1. (IDF 1/9; 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)

Sarkozy and Mubarak, with U.S. support, jointly call for an immediate ceasefire followed by talks on Israel’s siege and Palestinian smuggling.

Combat notes: IDF ground forces expand operations in s. Gaza overnight, surrounding Khan Yunis (taking up positions in Abasan and al-Qarara, where heavy artillery fire is reported). Fighting intensifies in and around Gaza City, with the IDF tightening its cordon around the city and making forays into built-up areas for the first time. Heavy exchanges are also reported on the edges of the Dayr al-Balah and al-Bureij r.c.s in c. Gaza. IDF air and naval bombardments continue, with the IDF reporting strikes on 40 targets, including 8 smuggling tunnels, more than 10 groups of gunmen, 16 suspected weapons storage and production facilities, 5 rocketlaunching sites. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Rimal, al-Tuffah, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya r.c., Juhur al-Dik, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi, Nussayrat, al-Qarara, Rafah, Shati’ r.c., Yibna r.c. One IDF air strike targets the home of Hamas’s chief rocket engineer Imad Siyam; Israel claims he is assassinated, but there is no independent confirmation.

In the single deadliest attack since OCL began, a mortar attack by IDF ground forces in Jabaliya hits outside at an UNRWA school being used as a shelter, killing 42 Palestinians and wounding around 55 civilians (15 critically; 1 of whom dies on 1/12, bringing the comprehensive toll in this attack to 43). The dead include 2 wanted Hamas mbrs. passing through the area and 40 civilians in and around the school, including 16 children (most of whom were lined up outside the building as UN workers registered their entry). Another IDF airstrike on a residential area of al-Bureij r.c. injures 7 UN workers at a medical clinic.

Palestinians fire 30 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, including 1 Grad rocket that lands in Gadera, 28 mi. n. of Gaza, lightly injuring a 3-mo.-old Israeli child and marking the farthest rocket strike to date.

At least 85 Palestinians are killed during the day, bringing the toll to around 640 Palestinians killed, 2,900 injured; 1 IDF soldier is killed, 9 are wounded in clashes with Palestinians, bringing the Israeli toll to 10–11 dead.

Humanitarian notes: Israel says it will open “humanitarian corridors” into Gaza beginning 1/7 to prevent a humanitarian crisis, halting attacks for 3 hrs. every other day (in practice, they occur daily) in predetermined areas where Palestinians could receive needed food and supplies. Save the Children warns that Gazan children are at particular risk for hypothermia because there is no electricity or fuel to provide heat in the freezing cold, and many families are keeping windows open to prevent injuries if they shatter during Israeli bombing raids. (AP, AYM, BBC, Dept. of State press release, HA, IFM, ITV, JAZ, REU, WP 1/6; AYM, Hurriyet, JAZ, MM, NYT, QA, RFM, RIA, WP, WT 1/7; IFM, MM, NYT, PCHR, QA, WJW, WP 1/8; MM, YA 1/9; NYT 1/11, 1/12; JP 1/14; NYT 1/17; HA 1/21; WP 2/7)

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)

IDF ground forces backed by naval and air support continue to enter Gaza overnight, with troops taking up positions across n. Gaza (from which most Palestinian rockets have been fired), surrounding Gaza City, retaking the former Netzarim settlement site nr. the Gaza coast south of Gaza City, and bifurcating the Strip into e. and w. (cutting a swath roughly from the Qarni and Nahal Oz crossings to Netzarim on the coast, driving 1,000s of residents from Juhur al-Dik, al-Mughraqa, and al-Zahra’ with heavy artillery and tank fire), but not entering dense urban areas.

Combat notes: IDF-Palestinian ground fighting is described as “fierce,” characterized by heavy IDF artillery fire and heavy Palestinian sniping and mortar fire. Because the IDF stays out of built-up areas, there are few reports of close-quarter combat or heavy exchanges of gunfire. While ground troops concentrate in the north, Israeli air strikes and naval bombardment focus equally on the north and south, hitting more tunnels on the Rafah border and targeting Hamas leaders for assassination. (The IDF claims to assassinate Hamas rocket cmdr. Hussam Hamdan and IQB and long-range rocket cmdr. Muhammad Hilu in Khan Yunis, senior IQB mbr. Muhammad Shalbush in Jabaliya, but there is no independent confirmation.)

The IDF reports hitting 45 sites and carrying out 40 air strikes during the day, striking a produce market in Gaza City, several mosques, a medical building and 3 mobile clinics in Shati’ r.c. run by a Danish charity, homes of at least 4 Hamas mbrs. (most of whom have gone into hiding), and suspected weapons depots across Gaza. Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Daraj, Tal al-Hawa, al-Tuffah, al-Yarmuk, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya, Juhur al-Dik, Khan Yunis, al-Mughraqa, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., al-Shuka, al-Zahra’. After dark, IDF troops conduct door-to-door searches on the outskirts of Gaza City.

Palestinians fire 29 rockets (including at least 12 Grads) and 5 mortars into Israel, hitting Ashdod, Ashqelon, Netivot, Ofakim, and Sederot; 1 house in Sederot is damaged and 1 Israeli woman lightly injured. 

At least 47 Palestinians (including 4 paramedics) are killed and 400 wounded (including 3 paramedics) during the day; 1 IDF soldier is killed, 1 is seriously wounded in a heavy exchange of gunfire nr. Jabaliya; 15 IDF soldiers are wounded (3 seriously) by Palestinian mortar fire inside Gaza. The UN and Palestinian medical workers estimate the Palestinian toll to have reached at least 507 dead, 2,400 injured. The Israeli toll stands at 5–6 killed, more than 40 injured.

Humanitarian notes: The Israeli FMin. announced a new joint office of the FMin. and Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, called the Humanitarian Affairs Coordination Center (HACC), to coordinate humanitarian organizations operating on aid transfers to the Strip. The UN reports that shortages of fuel, electricity, and water are worsening. Gazan hospitals report drastic shortages of anesthesia, surgical equipment, heaters, spare parts. (AP, BBC, IDF, JAZ, National Public Radio, OCHA, REU, WT 1/4; IDF, IFM, NYT, RFM, UNOSAT, WP, WT 1/5; BBC 1/6; IFM, PCHR 1/8; WP 1/27)

In the West Bank, the IDF fatally shoots 1 Palestinian demonstrator who attempts to climb the separation wall nr. Qalqilya; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-Arub r.c. nr. Hebron, nr. Jenin. Israel’s High Court rules that the IDF may seal 2 floors of the home of the East Jerusalem Palestinian who killed 8 students at the Mercaz HaRava yeshiva in Jerusalem in 3/6/08, even though the gunman was killed during the attack and sealing the home would serve only to punish his extended family; another floor of the home will not be sealed because it is being rented to an unrelated family. (PCHR 1/8)

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)

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)

After early morning consultations with senior cabinet mbrs., the IDF launches its major offensive on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead (OCL), at 11:25 A.M. local time (4:25 A.M. EST). Israeli DM Barak acknowledges (WP 12/28) that OCL has been planned for several months, stating that the aim is “to strike Hamas severely so as to change the situation from its base,” cautioning that “it won’t be short.”

Israeli actions: After an initial “shock and awe campaign” lasting 3 min. and 40 sec., with 64 warplanes hitting more than 50 targets across the Strip, the IDF conducts periodic air strikes throughout the day, recording a total of 170 sorties against 150 targets, killing at least 228 Palestinians, wounding more than 700 (140 seriously), marking the highest single-day death toll and Israel’s largest offensive in the territories since 1967. The midday timing of the initial onslaught, just as schools let out for lunch, increases the number of civilian casualties, including an estimated 25 women and children. Israeli Military Intelligence sends automated calls to 20,000 Palestinians across the Strip warning of further air strikes targeting anyone with weapons or guns.

Targets struck are primarily civil police stations, military training bases, Hamas-related command-and-control centers, suspected weapons depots, and sites believed to manufacture rockets. Target areas include Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (the city center and al-Daraj, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, alTuffah, al-Zaytun neighborhoods), Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Mughraqa (s. of Gaza City), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., and al-Zahra’ (c. Gaza nr. Jabaliya).

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 59 rockets (including some that reach the farthest north to date), 19 mortars into Israel during the day, killing 1 Israeli civilian in Netivot, wounding 4. (The fatality may have occurred before the official launch of OCL.)

Humanitarian notes: Gaza’s hospitals report (BBC 12/27) overflowing wards and not enough surgeons or supplies to cope. Egypt temporarily opens the Rafah crossing to allow transportation of some wounded to Egyptian hospitals.

Of note: During the initial “shock and awe,” the IDF hits a police academy graduation ceremony in Gaza City, killing at least 60 new civil police recruits and the chief of Palestinian police Maj. Gen. Tawfiq Jabber. Other targets include Gaza City’s main jail (the Saraya, holding Hamas opponents, hitting only the gates), the PA Preventive Security headquarters in Gaza City, the PA security compound in Rafah (southern headquarters of the PASF, PA Internal Security Service, and PA civil police), PA naval police facilities in n. Gaza and Khan Yunis, Palestinian Telecommunication Company offices in n. Gaza, a Gaza City mosque identified by the IDF as “a base for terrorist activities,” Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV station, the agriculture control dept. in Khan Yunis, numerous police stations and training sites, at least 9 homes, several workshops (considered rocket-manufacturing sites), and Hamas’s Asda’ media center outside Khan Yunis. One IDF airstrike on a PA ministry building kills 8 Palestinian students at an adjacent UNRWA training center, wounding 19 others (8 seriously). Hamas and Palestinian human rights groups in Gaza estimate that the dead include around 165 civil police officers (including those at the graduation ceremony) and Hamas’s central district governor, Abu Ahmad Ashur. Some targets are hit with U.S.-supplied GBU-39 bunkerbusting munitions received as recently as 9/08 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 150 and the “Israeli Arsenal” document in this issue’s Special Focus section). (al-Arabiyya TV, BBC, HA, IDF, JAZ, Middle East News Agency [Cairo], Palestine News Agency, YA 12/27; AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IFM, JAZ, NYT, Radikal, REU, WP, WT, XIN 12/28; JP, NYT, Zaman [Ankara] 12/29; PCHR 1/1; BBC 12/30; UNOSAT 12/31; JP, WJW 1/1; WP 1/4; Eurasia Daily Monitor [online], NYT, UNOSAT 1/5; IFM, JPI 1/8; NYT 1/11)

In other Israeli-Palestinian violence, the IDF fires tear gas, percussion grenades, rubber-coated steel bullets to disperse Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in the East Jerusalem suburbs of Anata, Issawiyya, Shu‘fat r.c. An E. Jerusalem Palestinian, reportedly angry over events in Gaza, injures an Israeli border police officer in a deliberate hit and run in the city. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Jenin. (HA 12/28; PCHR, WJW 1/1)

Abbas is sworn in as PA pres.; reappoints Qurai‘ as PM, calls on him to form a government; calls for immediate talks with Israel, recommends going beyond the road map to include parallel talks on final status issues. Israel replies that there is “no necessity to find an alternative to the road map.” Abbas also vows to hold legislative elections on 7/17. (AFP 1/15; JAZ, PSCT, VOP 1/15 in WNC 1/20; NYT, WP, WT 1/16; PCHR 1/27)

The IDF makes a predawn raid on the al-Zaytun neighborhood of Gaza City launching Operation Eastern Step (billed by the IDF as pinpoint operations against Palestinians launching mortars and rockets fr. the area), shelling residential areas, raiding and occupying buildings as observation posts, bulldozing Palestinian land, sparking clashes, killing 5 Palestinians (2 resistance mbrs., 3 civilians), wounding 10. In retaliation, Hamas fires 6 mortars at Gaza’s Netzarim settlement (injuring a 7-yr.-old Jewish settler, lightly injuring another child), Sederot (killing 1 Israeli, lightly injuring 2). The IDF also fires on a group of children playing near what they mistakenly believe to be an unoccupied IDF post on the Rafah-Egypt border, other Palestinians race to extract the children and also come under fire, leaving 1 Palestinian adult and a child dead, 6 Palestinians wounded; fires missiles fr. a helicopter, destroying a workshop, severely damaging a home in Bayt Lahiya; fires on residential areas of Rafah; demolishes 3 Palestinian homes in Khan Yunis; bulldozes 40 d. in Shaykh Ajlin; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Dayr al-Hatab nr. Nablus, Dura, Issawiyya, Jericho, Yatta. (XIN 1/15; JP, VOI, VOP 1/15 in WNC 1/20; HA, NYT, WT 1/16; PCHR 1/18; OCHA 1/19)

Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue, leaving at least 5 Palestinians dead; a 6th Palestinian dies of injuries received earlier. In Qalandiyya, Senior Fatah mbr. Samih Malabi is killed when his booby-trapped cell phone explodes. A Jewish settler is wounded in a drive-by shooting nr. Jinin. In West Jerusalem, 2 cars owned by the Washington Post are set on fire outside the bureau's offices. The IDF shells residential areas of Abu Snaina, al-Harayik, al-Shaykh, al-Zaytun; demolishes a Palestinian home in Dayr al-Balah. (LAW, MEZ, REU 12/17; LAW, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 12/18; MENA 12/18 in WNC 12/20; NYT 12/19; WJW 12/21; MEI 12/22; WP 1/8)

Israeli, PA negotiators agree to hold separate talks with U.S. officials in Washington in an attempt to revive negotiations. (NYT, WP, WT 12/18)

Social/Economic/Political

Occupied Palestine/Israel: Israeli court convicts John Demjanjuk of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes against a persecuted people [WP 4/19]. General strike continues in occupied territories [FJ 4/24]. Israeli officials confiscate al-Fajr, al-Quds, and al-Sha'b. Al-Fajr is banned from distribution in W. Bank and Gaza Strip for 2 weeks [FJ 4/24].

Arab World: PLO announces Khalil al-Wazir will be buried in Syria. Tunisian govemment officially blames Israel for assassination of Wazir [WP 4/19].

Other Countries: U.S. condemns murder of PLO military leader Khalil al-Wazir as "act of political assassination" [NYT 4/19].

Military Action

Occupied Palestine/Israel: Entire W. Bank, except Jericho, is declared closed military zone [FJ 4/24]. Palestinian is killed when soldiers open fire on demonstration in Rafah. Palestinian from Gaza's Zaytun quarter is shot dead in separate incident. In Jenin, protester is shot in head, seriously wounded. Curfews continue in 16 camps, Nablus, and 'Anabta. Village of 'Azzun is ordered under curfew [FJ 4/24]. 

Social/Economic/Political

Occupied Palestine/Israel: A-Sha'b editor Salah Zuhaykah begins 2d consecutive town arrest order [FJ 9/20]. Prisoners at Tulkarm Prison launch hunger strike, refuse to see visitors to protest harsh treatment [FJ 9/27]. Curfew on Dahayshah refugee camp is lifted [FJ 9/27]. Unidentified arsonists attempt to burn 27 Israeli cars in French Hill section of Jerusalem. Residents extinguish fires [FJ 9/27]. Body of murdered Nadir al-Zu'bi is found in Nazareth [FJ 9/27]. U.S. company negotiating to drill new well near Bethlehem withdraws from project [FJ 9/27]. U.S. consul in Jerusalem visits home of Walid Zurba [FJ 9/27]. Israeli crews bulldoze 120 dunams of grapevines and fig trees on Arab-owned land in Gaza's al-Zaytun quarter [FJ 9/27]. Israeli court decides in favor of Mahmud Jarallah in 10-year-long dispute with Israeli company over ownership of 1,000 dunams of land in Yallo, near Ramallah [FJ 9/27]. Mustafa 'Abd al-Nabi Natshah, former mayor of Hebron, is prevented from traveling to Britain [FJ 9/27].

Arab World: Businesses throughout Lebanon close in 1-day strike to demand government take action to stabilize economy [CSM 9/23]. Dr. Nabil al-Ja'bari, chairman of board of trustees of Hebron U., and Mukhlis al-Hamuri, director of public relations, arrive in Amman [FJ 9/27].

Other Countries: Accused hijacker Fawwaz Yunis is denied bail in U.S. court [WP, NYT 9/23].