In the West Bank, Israeli settlers threw a metal gate at a Palestinian vehicle driving near Burqin, causing damage. Israeli settlers with military escort also forced a Palestinian family farming...
April 11, 2021Read more
April 3, 2021
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers attacked 1 Palestinian man in Jalud with sticks and rocks; when Israeli forces arrived, they fired stun grenades at other Palestinians trying to help the man...Read more
January 12, 2013
Around 500 members of the Israeli security forces forcibly evacuate some 100 Palestinians from the Bab al-Shams protest camp in the E1 area nr. Jerusalem (see 1/11). The Israeli Supreme Court had...Read more
September 24, 2012
An Israeli court hands former PM Ehud Olmert a suspended jail term and a $20,000 fine, sparing him a potential prison sentence for his conviction for cronyism in 7/2012. (REU 9/24)
April 29, 2012
Israeli naval vessels halt a Palestinian fishing boat 2 naut. mi. off the Gaza coast, detaining 6 fishermen and confiscating the boat; 5 of the fishermen (all Palestinians) are questioned and...Read more
March 26, 2012
The IDF makes a brief early morning incursion into c. Gaza, searching and firing on residential areas in Bureij r.c., but entering no buildings and making no arrests. In the West Bank, the IDF...Read more
January 17, 2009
With the 1/16 MOU in hand, along with a letter from European heads of state pledging to support the U.S.-led efforts outlined therein and a private message from Mubarak to the Israeli security...Read more
January 15, 2009
The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease...Read more
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...Read more
December 31, 2008
The Israeli cabinet rejects the 12/30 French proposal for a 48-hr. humanitarian truce, complaining that it lacked a mechanism to guarantee enforcement. Damascusbased Hamas leader Khalid Mishal...Read more
December 7, 2008
The IDF conducts late-night house searches nr. Salfit. In keeping with Olmert’s 12/6 call, the IDF clamps down on Jewish settlers in Hebron, preventing them from continuing attacks on Palestinian...Read more
December 6, 2008
The IDF raids, searches a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood, confiscating a computer and arresting a 21-yr.-old woman. Major Jewish settler violence in Palestinian...Read more
October 26, 2008
A week ahead of her deadline to form a government, Kadima party head and acting Israeli FM Tzipi Livni, with powersharing deals with the Labor and Meretz parties already drafted, unexpectedly...Read more
September 21, 2008
Olmert formally resigns as PM, automatically becoming caretaker PM until a new government is formed. (IFM 9/21; NYT, WP, WT 9/22; NYT 9/28)
In the West Bank, the IDF conducts latenight...Read more
September 17, 2008
Israeli FM Tzipi Livni narrowly wins Kadima party elections to replace Ehud Olmert as party head. Olmert, Israel’s current PM, called for party elections on 6/11/08, after government investigators...Read more
June 11, 2008
Overnight, the IDF sends troops, bulldozers into al-Qarara, raiding and occupying several homes, bulldozing 150 d. of agricultural land and 1 Palestinian home, damaging 2 mosques, detaining and...Read more
June 3, 2008
As Israeli PM Olmert begins a 3-day visit to Washington, Israel announces that, in keeping with its Annapolis pledges to ease Palestinian movement, the IDF has removed 4 manned checkpoints (...Read more
May 21, 2008
In Gaza, the IDF makes an air strike on an empty car in Jabaliya r.c. owned by a member of Hamas’s Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB) in an apparent assassination attempt, destroying the car,...Read more
April 7, 2008
Under U.S. pressure, Abbas meets with Olmert for the 1st time since he suspended final status talks on 3/2 to protest Operation Hot Winter; pledges to continue negotiations “without interruption...Read more
April 2, 2008
In Gaza, the IDF bulldozes 24 d. of olive groves and a small Gaza police outpost nr. al-Maghazi r.c. Egyptian border police discover, demolish a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border. In the West...Read more
March 10, 2008
As a unilateral Palestinian cease-fire seems to hold in Gaza (see 3/6), Israeli PM Olmert publicly states that if Palestinian rocket fire resumes “we will shoot. If it will not, we will have no...Read more
February 17, 2008
The IDF makes a predawn incursion into al-Shuka in s. Gaza, exchanging fire with local Palestinians, leaving 3 Hamas mbrs. and 1 mbr. of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRCs) dead, more than 20...Read more
January 10, 2008
In Ramallah, PSF officers violently disperse (using batons and tear gas) several 100 anti-Bush protesters attending a rally organized by Hizb al-Tahrir, injuring more than 25. (WP 1/11; OCHA 1/16...Read more
November 27, 2007
Following a dinner in Washington on 11/26, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush opens a 1-day international summit in support of the peace process in Annapolis, MD. Israel, the PLO present a “joint...Read more
November 26, 2007
IDF troops in the Erez industrial zone fatally shoot 2 armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nearby, wound and arrest a 3d; fire a shell at Palestinian resistance mbrs. e. of Jabaliya, killing...Read more
September 19, 2007
Olmert convenes his security cabinet, which declares Gaza “hostile territory” controlled by a “terrorist organization” (Hamas); imposes additional sanctions on Gaza with the stated aim of reducing...Read more
September 6, 2007
Overnight in Gaza, the IDF sends troops and tanks, supported by helicopters, into areas around Khan Yunis and al-Qarara, searching and occupying homes, temporarily detaining 150 Palestinians,...Read more
May 27, 2007
After Hamas fires several rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, killing 1 Israeli and wounding 1 in separate strikes, Olmert convenes his security cabinet to discuss expanding attacks on Hamas. During the...Read more
May 20, 2007
During the day in Gaza, the IDF fires on Jabaliya r.c., seriously wounding a Palestinian woman inside her home. In the evening, Olmert convenes his security cabinet, which authorized the IDF to...Read more
May 16, 2007
As part of an ongoing crackdown on Hamas in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) makes an air strike on a Rafah building controlled by the Executive Support Force (ESF)—a branch of the...Read more
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers threw a metal gate at a Palestinian vehicle driving near Burqin, causing damage. Israeli settlers with military escort also forced a Palestinian family farming their land to leave their property in Bayt Umar. Israeli forces seized an agricultural structure in al-Khadir. 6 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in Qabatiya and Harmala. In East Jerusalem, 3 Palestinians were arrested during late-night raids in Issawiyya. In Gaza, Israeli forces made incursions and leveled land north of al-Maghazi refugee camp. Israeli forces also opened fire at Palestinian shepherds in the area; no injuries were reported. (WAFA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 3/11; WAFA 4/12; PCHR 4/15)
An explosion at the Natanz nuclear site in Iran caused damage to the nuclear facility. Iran said it was carried out by Israel and that the country would revenge the attack. The New York Times also reported that Israel was the likely assailant. The attack happened as the U.S. and Iran were progressing in indirect talks about the U.S. rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and as U.S. secretary of defense Lloyd J. Austin III was visiting Israel, meeting with Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz. The U.S. denied any involvement in the attack. The New York Times later reported that it was an explosive device that had been smuggled into the nuclear site, which was remotely detonated. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said the explosive device was planted “10 or 15 years ago.” (AP, AP, AP, AX, AX, GDN, HA, HA, HA, NYT, REU 4/11; AJ, AP, ALM, ALM, AP, CNN, HA, HA, NYT, REU, REU 4/12; HA 4/13; HA, HA, HA 4/14)
Jordan’s King Abdullah II appeared publicly for the 1st time with his half-brother Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, who was accused by the Jordanian government of plotting against it on 4/3. (AP, HA, REU 4/11)
In the West Bank, Israeli settlers attacked 1 Palestinian man in Jalud with sticks and rocks; when Israeli forces arrived, they fired stun grenades at other Palestinians trying to help the man being assaulted. The man was later taken to a hospital for his injuries; Yesh Din released a video of the incident. The same group of settlers also uprooted olive, pine, and cypress seedlings and damaged power lines in the area. Israeli forces shot, injured, and arrested 1 Palestinian man in Qatanna. 3 others were arrested at military checkpoints near Tulkarm and Taqqua. Off the coast of Gaza, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishermen within 3 nautical miles west of Bayt Lahiya; no injuries were reported but there was reported damage to fishing nets. (WAFA 4/3; HA, WAFA 4/4; PCHR 4/8)
The PA said it will ease the COVID-19-related lockdown by reopening schools for pupils in grades 1-6. The PA also extended the COVID-related state of emergency for another 30 days. (WAFA, WAFA 4/3)
Jordan said it had foiled a “malicious plot” against the country and put around 2 dozen people in house arrest, including former crown prince and half-brother of King Abdullah II, Prince Hamzah bin Hussein. Jordan said that an Israeli national with ties to the Mossad, Roy Shaposhnik, was aiding the plot and had arranged for Prince Hamzah and his wife to be flown out of the country on a private jet. Shaposhnik told Axios that he was not part of the plot, nor in the Mossad, but said that he did offer assistance to Prince Hamzah because of their friendship. Shaposhnik was previously an advisor to then prime minister Ehud Olmert. In a recording sent to BBC, Prince Hamzah said he was sent into house arrest because he was associated with critics of the Jordanian government and then criticized corruption and lack of freedom of speech in Jordan, but denied being part of a plot. Among the other people put under house arrest were Sharif Hassan bin Zaid and Bassem Ibrahim Awadallah, who are both members of the royal family. Awadallah is also a former minister of planning and finance. Prince Hamzah was crown prince from when his father King Hussein died in 1999 until 2004. A number of Jordanian allies including the U.S., the PA, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and the Arab League expressed support of Abdullah II. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not comment on the situation, but defense minister Benny Gantz expressed support for Abdullah II. (AJ, AP, REU 4/3; AJ, AJ, AJ, AP, AX, BBC, HA, HA, HA, HA, NPR, NYT, REU, TOI, WAFA 4/4; AX, CNN, WAFA, WAFA 4/5; JP 4/6)
Around 500 members of the Israeli security forces forcibly evacuate some 100 Palestinians from the Bab al-Shams protest camp in the E1 area nr. Jerusalem (see 1/11). The Israeli Supreme Court had issued an injunction to prevent the removal for 6 days, and a police spokesperson claims that the court order allowed for the evacuation of protesters, if not the tents. Israeli newspaper Ha’Aretz reports that the tents were put up on private Palestinian land, according to the state’s own plan for development in E1. (HA, REU 1/13)
Also in the West Bank, the IDF fatally shoots an unarmed Palestinian man nr. Hebron as he attempts to cross into Israel without a permit for work. The IDF conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Hebron and 3 villages nr. Bethlehem at night. (MNA 1/12; PCHR 1/17)
Israeli vice premier Moshe Ya’alon of the ruling Likud party rules out the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel in a speech at a regional cultural event. (JP 1/12)
Former Israeli PM Ehud Olmert claims that PM Netanyahu wasted around $3 b. preparing for a war on Iran that never took place. (Observer 1/13)
An Israeli court hands former PM Ehud Olmert a suspended jail term and a $20,000 fine, sparing him a potential prison sentence for his conviction for cronyism in 7/2012. (REU 9/24)
Israel announces a general closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 48 hrs. during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Israeli naval vessels open fire on Palestinian fishermen nr. Bayt Lahiya, causing no injuries, in the morning; the IDF levels ground nr. al-Bureij r.c., and live fire injures 1 Palestinian man. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Jenin in the afternoon; conducts house searches and arrest raids in 1 village nr. Hebron, 1 village nr. Qalqilya, and al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron at night. (MNA 9/24; PCHR 9/27)
Israeli naval vessels halt a Palestinian fishing boat 2 naut. mi. off the Gaza coast, detaining 6 fishermen and confiscating the boat; 5 of the fishermen (all Palestinians) are questioned and released by nightfall; the 6th fisherman (an Egyptian) is arrested. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts morning patrols in Qalqilya, 3 villages nr. Ramallah, 2 each nr. Jericho and Tulkarm, and 1 nr. Jenin; patrols in 3 villages nr. Tulkarm (2 synchronized) and 1 nr. Qalqilya in the afternoon; conducts latenight arrest raids and house searches in and around Hebron, in Jenin, and nr. Tubas; and conducts late-night patrols in 2 villages nr. Qalqilya, 2 nr. Ramallah, and 1 nr. Jenin. (PCHR 5/3; OCHA 5/4)
Netanyahu says he plans to meet with his coalition partners soon to debate calling early elections for fall 2012, a year ahead of schedule. (WP 4/30)
Addressing a hostile American audience at a conference in New York organized by the Jerusalem Post, fmr. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert strongly criticizes PM Netanyahu for his policies towards the Palestinians, the peace process, and Iran and his dismissive stands towards the U.S. and the international community, characterizing them dangerous and counterproductive. The crowd boos him, shouting “naïve!” and “Neville Chamberlain!” to which he responds: “I love very much the courage of those who live 10,000 miles away from the State of Israel and . . . [encourage] every possible mistake that will cost lives of Israelis.” (NYT 4/30; JPI 5/11
The IDF makes a brief early morning incursion into c. Gaza, searching and firing on residential areas in Bureij r.c., but entering no buildings and making no arrests. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 4 tents, 3 barnyards, and 3 residential barracks in a bedouin encampment in al-Maleh in the Jordan Valley; demolishes 2 barnyards nr. Tubas. The IDF also patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning, 1 village nr. Qalqilya in the afternoon, and 1 village nr. Ramallah in the evening; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, nr. Bethlehem, and nr. Ramallah (firing on the occupants of 1 raided home, wounding 3 Palestinians); conducts late-night patrols in 1 village nr. Qalqilya. Jewish settlers fr. Brakha settlement nr. Nablus attack Palestinian farmers working their land nearby; the IDF observes but does not intervene. Jewish settlers escorted by IDF troops begin leveling a large area of Palestinian agricultural land in Kafr Lakif village nr. Qalqilya; local Palestinian gather to protest and are informed by the IDF that the area has been approved for construction of an industrial zone; the soldiers agree to suspend the digging until the matter is clarified but bar Palestinians from the site. (PCHR 3/29; OCHA 3/30)
Jailed Fatah tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti issues a statement on the 10th anniversary of his arrest by Israel that is read to a crowd of supporters in Ramallah, stating that “the launch of large-scale popular resistance at this stage serves the cause of our people.” He also calls for “stopping all forms of security and economic coordination [with Israel] in all areas immediately.” (JPI 4/6)
Israel severs working relations with the UNHRC over the 3/22/12 res. calling for an investigation into settlements, calling the council biased against Israel. (NYT, WP, WT 3/27; JPI 4/6)
The U.S. Supreme Court orders a lower court to decide whether Americans born in Jerusalem can claim Israel as their birthplace on their passports. Congress approved legislation in 2002 allowing this, but the executive branch has claimed Congress overstepped its authority by attempting to override the president’s right to set foreign policy. The U.S. officially recognizes Jerusalem as occupied Palestinian territory and does not recognize Israel’s claim to united Jerusalem as its capital. (NYT 3/27; WJW 3/29)
J Street holds its annual conference. Fmr. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert gives the keynote speech at the gala dinner, emphasizing that PA pres. Abbas “wants peace with Israel and he accepts the existence of Israel as Israel declares itself to be.” (JPI 4/6)
With the 1/16 MOU in hand, along with a letter from European heads of state pledging to support the U.S.-led efforts outlined therein and a private message from Mubarak to the Israeli security cabinet received today, Olmert formally declares a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza effective 2:00 A.M. local time on 1/18 (7:00 P.M. 1/17 EST). Stressing that Hamas was not party to any of the pledges secured by Israel, Olmert states: “If [the Palestinians] stop firing, we will consider leaving Gaza at a time that is suitable to us,” but if they continue rocket fire (NYT 1/17), “the Israeli army will regard itself as free to respond with force.” Hamas denounces Israel for ignoring Egyptian efforts to broker an agreed upon truce.
Combat notes: Olmert’s announcement comes at the end of a day of “sporadic and intensive” fighting in Gaza. The IDF reports hitting more than 120 targets, mostly comprising a final massive bombardment of more than 100 tunnels along the Rafah border that lasts 10 hrs., but also including strikes on at least 10 rocket-launching sites, 5 groups of armed Palestinians, 3 Hamas outposts. In addition to Rafah, air strike target areas include Bayt Hanun, Gaza City (city center), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis. Heavy artillery and tank fire are reported in: Bayt Lahiya, Jabaliya, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah). In Bayt Lahiya, IDF shells (possibly including white phosphorous) hit an UNRWA school sheltering 1,600 Gazans, killing 2 Palestinian brothers (ages 4, 5) and wounding 36 Palestinians (including the boys’ mother, who loses both legs. Naval bombardments center on Khan Yunis. Ground engagements are reported in al-Bureij r.c., al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat r.c., al-Zahra’. Late in the evening, IDF troops pull out of al-Shuka (where troops seized positions on 1/14), with residents reporting many houses demolished and damaged, wide areas of agricultural land razed, and significant damage to the village infrastructure (water systems, etc.).
Palestinians fire 19 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, lightly injuring 5 Israelis (possibly all shock). The IDF reports 4 IDF soldiers seriously wounded in a friendly fire incident involving Israeli mortar fire, plus another 13 soldiers injured (3 seriously, 3 moderately, 7 lightly) in clashes with Palestinian gunmen over the previous 24 hrs., including 5 soldiers wounded by a Palestinian antitank round today.
With the truce ordered, the IDF put Israel’s comprehensive casualty toll for OCL at 3 (perhaps 4; see casualties chart in special document section for details) civilians and 10 soldiers dead, more than 100 soldiers and an unstated number of civilians injured. (This marks the 1st time the IDF has given estimates for comprehensive IDF casualties inside Gaza.) Gazan health officials estimate the Palestinian toll to be at least 1,200 killed and more than 5,000 wounded, though numbers are expected to change as rescue workers gain access to damaged areas.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows 62 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel gives no indication whether or how quickly it will ease restrictions on imports once the cease-fire goes into effect. (IDF, IFM 1/17; IFM, ITIC, NYT, QA, WP, WT 1/18; ITIC, JP, MM 1/19; JAZ 1/20; PCHR 1/22; FT 1/28; PCHR 1/29)
The IDF imposes a curfew on Hawara village s. of Nablus. (PCHR 1/22)
The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease-fire offer in Cairo, returns to Israel to brief the security cabinet. Olmert dispatches Livni to Washington to finalize a bilateral “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) regarding U.S.-led international efforts to halt arms smuggling into Gaza.
Combat notes: The IDF sharply escalates air, naval, and ground attacks across Gaza. IDF ground forces push deep into Gaza City under cover of air strikes and heavy tank and artillery fire. Residents report almost constant air, naval, artillery bombardment from 1:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. local time, and particularly heavy ground engagements in al-Atatra n. of the city and Tal al-Hawa neighborhood on the southern outskirts, as well as in Jabaliya r.c. Thousands of Gaza City residents attempt to flee the fighting, but many cannot leave their homes because of the intensity of Israeli fire. During the operations, Israeli troops surround the home of Hamas’s Mahmud Zahhar (in hiding), killing his security guards. Gaza City fighting eases slightly in the afternoon, but IDF troops remain in the city overnight. The IDF also takes up new positions in Bayt Hanun’s alFarta and al-Nazzaza quarters under cover of heavy shelling and gunfire, ordering residents of the 2 areas (some 20 families) to evacuate.
The IDF reports carrying out more than 80 air strikes today, hitting at least 23 rocket and mortar launching sites, 19 groups of armed Palestinians, 6 suspected weapons depots (including 2 mosques in Gaza City, 1 in Rafah), 4 tunnels, 1 radio station in Gaza City. Air strike target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Rimal, al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, Yibna r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah. UNRWA reports 100s of Palestinians fleeing areas of northeastern Rafah to escape heavy bombardments. Reports of Israel using white phosphorous munitions spike sharply, with confirmed use in 3 areas (Abasan, Khuza, al-Qarara) and suspected use in 5 areas (Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c.). Israeli naval bombardment concentrates on Khan Yunis and the neighboring al-Mahatin area. Closecombat fighting is reported around Jabaliya r.c.
In a major air strike on Jabaliya, the IDF assassinates Gaza’s acting Interior M Said Siyam in his brother’s home, along with his brother and nephew, Hamas internal security head for Gaza Salah Abu Sharah, 4 Palestinians in an adjacent home. In addition, IDF air strikes hit buildings in Gaza City housing UNRWA’s main food depot (3 white phosphorous missiles incinerate tons of food and medicine brought in during the humanitarian lulls); Palestinian Red Crescent Society offices and the adjacent al-Quds Hospital (both hit repeatedly over a 5-hr. period; the patient wing of the hospital is not targeted); and the shared media offices of Abu Dhabi TV, al-Arabiyya TV, Reuters, and the Russian TV channel Rusiya al-Yaum, causing serious damage and injuring 2 journalists. A number of other hospitals in Gaza City are damaged by Israeli mortar fire. Palestinian medical workers say the Palestinian toll is at least 1,090 dead (including 375 children, 150 women, 14 medical workers), more than 5,000 wounded.
Palestinians fire 15 rockets and 8 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring a 7-yr.-old Israeli boy in Beersheba and causing significant damage in 2 instances (both by Qassams in Sederot); at least 3 of the rockets are Grads (2 in and nr. Beersheba, 1 in Gadera).
The Palestinian toll is estimated to be at least 1,090 dead, more than 5,000 wounded.
Humanitarian notes: With diplomacy toward a cease-fire showing progress, Israel extends the daily humanitarian lull to 4 hrs./day, allowing in up to 170 truckloads of humanitarian aid; permits the Qarni crossing conveyor belt to resume operation for the 1st time since 12/27 for the import of grain. Israel also allows the ICRC and Palestinian Energy Authority to begin repairs to part of Gaza’s electricity network. (AFP, AP, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, MM, RFM, UNOSAT, YA 1/15; HA, IDF Radio, JP, MA, MM, NYT, REU, Scotsman, WP, WT, XIN, YA 1/16; IFM, NYT, XIN 1/17; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)
Citing unspecified security concerns, the IDF imposes a total closure on the West Bank through 1/17. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar attempt to close a road nr. Nablus to Palestinian traffic, stone Palestinian cars; the IDF forces them to leave. (IDF 1/15; PCHR 1/22)
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 Israeli cabinet rejects the 12/30 French proposal for a 48-hr. humanitarian truce, complaining that it lacked a mechanism to guarantee enforcement. Damascusbased Hamas leader Khalid Mishal says Hamas will consider any cease-fire proposal that includes a lifting of Israel’s embargo, but in Gaza, Haniyeh states that Hamas would not consider any proposals until Israel halts its attacks and opens Gaza’s border crossings, including Rafah.
In a briefing to Olmert’s security cabinet, Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin states that Hamas’s weapons development facilities have been “completely wiped out” and “Hamas’s ability to govern Gaza has been significantly impaired.” Senior Israeli military sources speaking anonymously state that no major hardened targets remain standing but that Hamas’s military wing, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), “has to a large extent survived the initial onslaught.”
The IDF continues to mass troops and tanks on the Gaza border, stating explicitly for the 1st time that a ground invasion is likely once wet weather clears. The security cabinet increases the number of reservists activated to more than 9,000.
Israeli actions: The IDF carries out some 60 air strikes, and the Israeli navy shells Gaza from the sea. Among the 66 sites hit by the IDF are Haniyeh’s office, the Tal al-Hawa Mosque in Gaza City (Israel claims it was used as a weapons depot), a major Islamic Jihad weapons depot in Khan Yunis (killing senior Islamic Jihad military cmdr. Amar Abu Ghalula, 3 other Islamic Jihad mbrs.), more tunnels on the Rafah border, at least 8 homes, 1 medical clinic, Hamas posts (including money exchanges). Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Gaza City, Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c., Rafah. The estimated Palestinian toll reaches 393 dead, more than 1,900 wounded.
The IDF claims to have destroyed 200 smuggling tunnels since 12/27; a Palestinian source in Rafah says the Israelis seem to know which tunnels are commercial and which are used by Hamas, and have been selectively targeting Hamas tunnels.
Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 49 rockets, 15 mortars into Israel, causing no serious injuries; 4 longer-range rockets land in Beersheba, 25 mi. n. of the Gaza border, 1 of which hits an empty school, causing significant damage to 1 room.
Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 93 truckloads of food, medicine into Gaza. UNRWA issues a $34-m. emergency appeal for additional food, medical, and reconstruction aid for Gaza in the wake of OCL; the appeal is in addition to a $275-m. emergency appeal for the West Bank and Gaza for 2009 issued earlier in the month. UNRWA Commissioner-Gen. Karen AbuZayd, warning of the dire conditions in Gaza (where she currently is based), states that for the first time in her 8 yrs. with UNRWA she has begun to see Palestinians begging on the streets of Gaza.
Of note: Residents in Egyptian Rafah report a heavy military, border police, and plain-clothed intelligence presence on the Egyptian side of the border, which Egypt has declared a closed military zone, preventing demonstrations, keeping journalists away, and preventing breeches of the Rafah border from either direction. (AFP, AP, BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Center, FT, IDF, IFM, JP, REU, UNIS, UNOSAT, XIN 12/31; IDF, JP, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 1/1; WT 1/2; IDF, Sabah 1/3; WP 1/4; IFM, PCHR 1/8; NYT 1/11)
In the West Bank, observers report that Palestinian sympathy for Hamas is growing, even though overall public reaction to OCL has been muted, largely because PA security forces have been breaking up explicitly pro-Hamas demonstrations. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, nr. Nablus. (PCHR, WP 1/1)
The IDF conducts late-night house searches nr. Salfit. In keeping with Olmert’s 12/6 call, the IDF clamps down on Jewish settlers in Hebron, preventing them from continuing attacks on Palestinian areas. (PCHR 12/18)
The IDF raids, searches a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amud neighborhood, confiscating a computer and arresting a 21-yr.-old woman. Major Jewish settler violence in Palestinian areas of Hebron takes place for a 10th day, with settlers setting fire to 1 Palestinian home, vandalizing a number of homes and water tanks, attacking Palestinians. At the weekly cabinet session, acting Israeli PM Ehud Olmert calls the settler attacks a “pogrom” against Palestinians, orders Israeli police to end their “intolerable leniency” toward violent settlers. (BBC 12/7; WP 12/8; PCHR 12/18)
A week ahead of her deadline to form a government, Kadima party head and acting Israeli FM Tzipi Livni, with powersharing deals with the Labor and Meretz parties already drafted, unexpectedly informs Israeli pres. Shimon Peres that she cannot form a coalition. She blames other Israeli parties for making unreasonable political and economic demands, stating that she was unwilling to compromise her priciples to form a government (see Quarterly Update). (NYT, WP 10/26; WP 10/27)
Overnight, the IDF, Israeli police, and border police evacuate Jewish settlers fr. the unauthorized settlement outpost of Federman Farm in Hebron, sparking violent clashes with the settlers in which 1 policeman is seriously injured, 2 settler girls attempt to burn police vehicles, and settlers rampage through Palestinian areas, slashing the tires of 22 cars and vandalizing a Muslim cemetery. In interviews with the press afterward, Jewish settlers call for retributive attacks on the Israeli security forces. During the day, Jewish settlers fr. Harsina settlement in Hebron attack, vandalize, attempt to occupy a Palestinian home and land adjacent to the settlement; Jewish settlers vandalize Palestinian cars in Hizma village nr. Jerusalem; and 10 masked settlers attack IDF soldiers guarding Palestinians harvesting olives nr. Otniel settlement nr. Hebron, injuring 1 soldier. At the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, Olmert warns that the government “will show no tolerance toward such expressions and actions,” while Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin states that he is “very concerned” that right-wing settler groups might try to assassinate pro-peace politicians. Meanwhile, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus and nr. Bethlehem. (IFM 10/26; NYT 10/27; OCHA 10/29; PCHR, WJW 10/30; WP 11/2)
Olmert formally resigns as PM, automatically becoming caretaker PM until a new government is formed. (IFM 9/21; NYT, WP, WT 9/22; NYT 9/28)
In the West Bank, the IDF conducts latenight arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Jala nr. Bethlehem. (OCHA 9/24; PCHR 9/25)
Israeli FM Tzipi Livni narrowly wins Kadima party elections to replace Ehud Olmert as party head. Olmert, Israel’s current PM, called for party elections on 6/11/08, after government investigators turned up serious new evidence of his financial impropriety (see Quarterly Update in JPS 149). He vowed to resign as PM formally once a new party head was elected. (NYT 9/17; HA, NYT, WP, WT 9/18)
Israel reopens Gaza’s Kerem Shalom crossing for limited imports of humanitarian goods and the Nahal Oz crossing for limited fuel (see 9/14). In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international peace activists taking part in a nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Ni‘lin, injuring 6; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Azariyya nr. Jerusalem and al-Jalazun r.c. nr. Ramallah, and nr. Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar burn Palestinian olive trees nr. Nablus. (PCHR 9/18; OCHA 9/24; PCHR 9/25; AIC 11/9)
Overnight, the IDF sends troops, bulldozers into al-Qarara, raiding and occupying several homes, bulldozing 150 d. of agricultural land and 1 Palestinian home, damaging 2 mosques, detaining and interrogating 11 Palestinians; during the operation, the IDF fires tank shells at armed Palestinians approaching the area, killing an 8-yr.-old Palestinian girl and 2 Hamas mbrs., wounding the girl’s mother and a 3-yr.-old boy. An IDF helicopter fires on an IQB post in Jabaliya r.c., killing a 65-yr.-old Palestinian man in a shop nearby, wounding his 5-yr.-old granddaughter. Palestinians fire 3 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, lightly injuring 1 Israeli. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c., in Nablus. The IDF also demolishes 3 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, displacing 25 Palestinians (including 18 children). Palestinian youths throw stones at IDF settler vehicles nr. Ramallah and East Jerusalem, causing no injuries. In Gaza’s Nussayrat r.c., a bomb explodes outside a Hamas activist’s home, causing damage but no injuries. (PCHR, WP 6/12; OCHA 6/18; PCHR 6/19)
Olmert authorizes his Kadima party to begin preparations for party primaries as early as late summer 2008 in effort to deter the Labor party fr. calling a no-confidence vote over the latest corruption charges against him, a move that could collapse the government and force new elections. (HA 6/11; MM, WP 6/12)
As Israeli PM Olmert begins a 3-day visit to Washington, Israel announces that, in keeping with its Annapolis pledges to ease Palestinian movement, the IDF has removed 4 manned checkpoints (improving access to the Jordan Valley, Dead Sea, areas n. of Nablus, s. of Hebron) and 70 unmanned checkpoints (of around 600) across the West Bank, and plans further steps to ease the movement of agricultural goods btwn. the Jordan Valley and the northern West Bank. Israel also pledges to issue new permits to allow 5,000 Palestinian workers to remain overnight in Israel, 500 West Bank Palestinian businessmen to enter Israel, and 130 NGO employees and Palestinian VIPs to travel in and out of Israel more easily; authorizes the PA to set up 20 new police stations for new units undergoing training in Jordan. (IFM 6/3)
In Gaza, the IDF sends bulldozers into al-Qarara to level 100 d. of agricultural land; support troops fire on surrounding residential areas, wounding 1 Palestinian outside his home. Palestinian gunmen fire on an IDF unit patrolling the Israeli side of Gaza’s Kissufim crossing (nr. Khan Yunis; closed since Israel’s 9/05 disengagement fr. Gaza), wounding 1 soldier. Palestinians fire 3 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF uproots 47 olive trees nr. Ni‘lin for construction of the separation wall; conducts daytime house searches in Dahaysha r.c. nr. Bethlehem; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin town and r.c. and nr. Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarm. Jewish settlers protesting the lifting of an IDF roadblock in Hebron block Palestinian traffic in parts of the city. Palestinians throw stones at Jewish settler vehicles nr. Ramallah, causing no injuries. (OCHA 6/4; PCHR 6/5)
In Gaza, the IDF makes an air strike on an empty car in Jabaliya r.c. owned by a member of Hamas’s Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB) in an apparent assassination attempt, destroying the car, damaging surrounding homes, causing no reported injuries; sends tanks, troops into areas southeast of Gaza City to bulldozes 200 d. of olive groves. IDF troops on the n. Gaza border shell an alleged rocket-launching site w. of Bayt Lahiya in n. Gaza, injuring 2 Palestinian children (ages 4, 17) and damaging a house. IDF troops on the s. Gaza border direct heavy machine gun fire towards residential areas of Abasan, wounding 1 Palestinian inside his home. The Israeli navy fires on Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF raids, searches a store in Yatta nr. Hebron, arresting the owner and confiscating a computer; chases and detains 17 Palestinian children who throw stones at an IDF post outside al-Arub r.c. nr. Hebron, questioning and releasing 12, arresting 5; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin. The IDF also demolishes a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem, displacing a family of 7. Jewish settlers fr. Itamar nr. Nablus seize an area of Palestinian land and begin leveling work for construction of a new settler-only bypass road. Jewish settlers angry over the removal of an IDF roadblock nr. Hebron demonstrate, block Palestinian traffic. Israel’s Housing min. issues tenders for construction of 286 new settlement housing units in Beitar Ilit nr. Bethlehem. A Palestinian teenager injured during the IDF’s 4/11/08 raid on al-Bureij r.c. dies (see Chronology in JPS 148). (PCHR 5/22; OCHA 5/28; PCHR 5/29)
Israeli police hold a press conference to announce serious new corruption and financial impropriety allegations against Israeli PM Ehud Olmert (see Quarterly Update for details). (NYT, WP, WT 5/22; NYT 5/23; MM 6/12; NYT, OCHA, WP, WT 5/28)
Israel, Syria, Turkey announce that Israel and Syria have been holding “serious and continuous” indirect peace talks through Turkish mediators since 2/07; high-level Israeli and Syrian negotiating teams are in Istanbul taking part in a preliminary round of indirect negotiations. (IFM 5/21; NYT, WP, WT 5/22; NYT 5/23; MM 6/12)
Lebanese political figures holding national unity talks in Doha formally announce that they have reached a comprehensive agmt. ending their 18-mo. political standoff and paving the way for Gen. Michel Suleiman’s election as pres, including agmts. on redistricting Beirut, an electoral law, and allotment of cabinet seats that will give Hizballah veto power over major decisions. (MM, NYT, WP 5/21; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/22)
Under U.S. pressure, Abbas meets with Olmert for the 1st time since he suspended final status talks on 3/2 to protest Operation Hot Winter; pledges to continue negotiations “without interruption.” The last Abbas-Olmert mtg. was on 2/19. (NYT 4/8)
In Gaza, the IDF bulldozes 17 d. of Palestinian agricultural land inside the Gaza border e. of Bayt Hanun. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Jenin town and r.c., and nr. Hebron. A Jewish settler fr. Elon Moreh driving a bus nr. Nablus deliberately runs down a 15-yr.-old Palestinian shepherd, killing the boy, his donkey, 8 sheep. Citing Abbas’s failure to achieve any gains to date for the Palestinians, AMB Jenin cmdr. Zakariya Zubaydi and several other AMB mbrs. say they will no longer agree to stay in PA custody overnight as they agreed in 7/07 to receive amnesty from Israel; Zubaydi does not threaten to resume resistance operations. (HA, WT 4/8; OCHA, PCHR 4/9)
In Gaza, the IDF bulldozes 24 d. of olive groves and a small Gaza police outpost nr. al-Maghazi r.c. Egyptian border police discover, demolish a smuggling tunnel on the Rafah border. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in Anata nr. Jerusalem; occupies a Palestinian home nr. Jenin as a military outpost; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Tulkarm and in al-Bireh (raiding and searching the municipal building, rounding up 2 municipal employees fr. their homes and bringing them to the offices to log onto password-protected computers), Ramallah (raiding the chamber of commerce offices), Jericho. The Israeli Housing Min. presents Olmert with a proposal for construction of 1,900 new Jewish settler housing units across the West Bank in 2008: 682 units in Beitar Ilit nr. Bethlehem, 510 units in Givat Ze’ev n. of Jerusalem, 302 units in Ma’ale Adumim e. of Jerusalem, 160 units in Binyamin settlement n. of Jerusalem, 158 units in Efrat nr. Bethlehem, and 48 units each in Ariel nr. Salfit and Kiryat Arba in Hebron. Palestinians throw stones at Jewish settler vehicles nr. Nablus; the settlers respond by shooting, killing 3 Palestinian sheep nearby. Jewish settlers fr. Keddumim nr. Qalqilya stone Palestinian vehicles driving nearby, causing no reported injuries. PA security forces impose a night curfew on Kafr Thuluth nr. Qalqilya to prevent clashes btwn. feuding families (the curfew is still in place as of 4/8). (PCHR 4/3; OCHA, PCHR 4/9)
As a unilateral Palestinian cease-fire seems to hold in Gaza (see 3/6), Israeli PM Olmert publicly states that if Palestinian rocket fire resumes “we will shoot. If it will not, we will have no reason to shoot.” IDF troops on the Gaza border fire on agricultural areas nr. Abasan nr. Khan Yunis, wounding a Palestinian farmer tending his field. In the West Bank, the IDF occupies a Palestinian home in Marda nr. Nablus as an observation post; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus. A Palestinian civilian wounded in a 3/1 IDF air strike on Gaza City during Operation Hot Winter dies. (NYT, WP 3/11; OCHA 3/12; NYT, PCHR 3/13)
The IDF makes a predawn incursion into al-Shuka in s. Gaza, exchanging fire with local Palestinians, leaving 3 Hamas mbrs. and 1 mbr. of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRCs) dead, more than 20 Palestinians wounded (including “several” gunmen), 1 IDF soldier seriously injured; at least 80 Palestinians are detained for questioning before the IDF withdraws in the afternoon. The IDF also sends armored vehicles, bulldozers into areas n. of Bayt Lahiya in n. Gaza to level land. After a Palestinian rocket hits a home in Sederot later in the day (causing no injuries), Israeli PM Ehud Olmert gives the IDF a “free hand” to operate against militants in Gaza, stating that Gazans would “not be allowed to live normal lives” as long as Israelis are targeted by rocket fire. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Tulkarm town and r.c., in Abu Dis nr. East Jerusalem and Nablus, nr. Jenin; fences off farmlands along a settler-only bypass road nr. Azun, nr. Nablus to prevent Palestinian youths fr. stoning passing Jewish settler vehicles. Nr. Hebron, a Palestinian boy is injured when he accidentally triggers unexploded ordnance (UXO) left by the IDF. (NYT, WP 2/18; OCHA 2/20; PCHR 2/21)
In Ramallah, PSF officers violently disperse (using batons and tear gas) several 100 anti-Bush protesters attending a rally organized by Hizb al-Tahrir, injuring more than 25. (WP 1/11; OCHA 1/16; PCHR 1/17; WP 1/22)
After meeting with Abbas in Ramallah and for a 2d time with Olmert in Jerusalem, Bush issues his most comprehensive statement to date on his vision of a final peace agreement, saying that Palestinian refugees should receive compensation for the homes and property lost in 1948, but also reiterating statements made in his 4/04 letter to then-PM Ariel Sharon (see Doc. B of the Special Documents in JPS 132) that adjustments should be made to the 1967 borders to accommodate major Jewish settlement blocs. (NYT, WP, WT 1/11)
Following a dinner in Washington on 11/26, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush opens a 1-day international summit in support of the peace process in Annapolis, MD. Israel, the PLO present a “joint understanding” pledging to resume comprehensive negotiations on 12/12, with the goal of concluding a final status agreement by the end of 2008. (NYT, WP, WT 11/28; WP 11/29)
Overnight, the IDF sends troops into al-Shuka nr. Rafah, firing on Palestinians who attempt to flee, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 3, arresting 10. During the day, the IDF makes an air strike on a Hamas training camp nr. Khan Yunis, causing damage but no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units in a car with Palestinian license plates into Azun to arrest a wanted Palestinian; troops fire on stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them, wounding 4. In al-Bureij r.c., unidentified assailants detonate a roadside bomb nr. a Hamas-affiliated police patrol, seriously injuring 3 policemen and destroying their vehicle. In Gaza City, an estimated 100,000 Hamas supporters hold a nonviolent protest against the Annapolis summit; around 5,000 Hamas supporters hold a similar nonviolent protest in Dayr al-Balah. In the West Bank, PA police violently disperse (using tear gas, batons, warning shots) 100s of Palestinians attending anti-Annapolis protests sponsored by Hamas and the AMB in Ramallah (causing no serious injuries) and by Hizb al-Tahrir (a small, unarmed pan-Islamic group) in Hebron (killing 1 Hizb al-Tahrir supporter, wounding 3 other Palestinians). The Popular Resistance Committees (PRCs; a Gaza-based umbrella group comprising mbrs. fr. all factions acting independently) send a bulletin to media outlets, vowing to increase rocket attacks on Israel to protest the summit. Inside Israel, some 10,000 right-wing Israelis march to Olmert’s home to protest any possible concessions to the Palestinians. (NYT, WP, OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29; CSM 1/22)
IDF troops in the Erez industrial zone fatally shoot 2 armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nearby, wound and arrest a 3d; fire a shell at Palestinian resistance mbrs. e. of Jabaliya, killing 1 armed Palestinian, wounding another armed Palestinian, 2 bystanders. Hamas mbrs. fire 3 mortars and a rocket fr. n. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF responds with an air strike on the launch site, killing 1 Hamas mbr., wounding 4. As the Annapolis mtgs. open, at least 15,000 right-wing Israeli demonstrators protest in Jerusalem against any possible concessions by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert to the Palestinians. In Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad host a conference on Palestine, attended by Hamas’s top leaders (including Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmud Zahar), vowing to “not relinquish a centimeter of Palestine” or recognize Israel’s right to exist. (NYT, WP, WT 11/27; OCHA 11/28; PCHR 11/29)
Olmert convenes his security cabinet, which declares Gaza “hostile territory” controlled by a “terrorist organization” (Hamas); imposes additional sanctions on Gaza with the stated aim of reducing Palestinian rocket fire, including cutting back fuel and electricity services to the Strip, further reducing imports to and travel from Gaza. Early in the morning, the IDF sends troops into al-Shuka to raid and search homes. The IDF also makes an air strike on a PRCtraining camp e. of Bayt Lahiya, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF continues operations in ‘Ayn Bayt al-Ma’a for a 2d day, raiding and searching homes, fatally shooting a mentally handicapped Palestinian who steps onto his balcony, firing on stone-throwing youths who confront the troops, wounding 8; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Tulkarm and in Jenin, Qalqilya, Ramallah. Jewish settlers fr. Karmiel settlement nr. Hebron vandalize a nearby, fenced-in crop area planted by local bedouin to feed their herds.Suspected Fatah mbrs. fire on an ESF patrol nr. Shati’ r.c. in Gaza, injuring 2 ESF officers. Nr. Gaza City, the ESF intervenes to prevent a group of Islamic Jihad mbrs. fr. firing rockets into Israel, sparking an exchange of gunfire that leaves no reported injuries. In Rafah, unidentified gunmen shoot, wound a Hamas mbr. (IFM 9/19; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 9/20; NYT 9/22; IFM 9/24; OCHA 9/26; PCHR 9/27)
In Beirut, unidentified assailants detonate a car bomb assassinating Christian Phalange party MP Antoine Ghanem (the 8th anti-Syrian figure killed in the past 3 yrs.), reducing the governing coalition’s parliamentary majority to 67 of 128 seats only 6 days before parliament is to convene to elect a new pres. by simple majority. Ghanem’s bodyguard and 5 bystanders are also killed; 56 are wounded (19 seriously). (REU 9/19; NYT, WP, WT 9/20; NYT, WT 9/21)
Overnight in Gaza, the IDF sends troops and tanks, supported by helicopters, into areas around Khan Yunis and al-Qarara, searching and occupying homes, temporarily detaining 150 Palestinians, bulldozing 66 d. of agricultural land, clashing with and shelling local gunmen, killing 4 armed AMB and Hamas mbrs.; troops withdraw in the afternoon. In central Gaza, 6 Islamic Jihad mbrs. attempt to break through the border fence to attack an IDF post inside Israel but are shot dead by IDF soldiers. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Tulkarm, in Jenin (firing on residential areas and stone-throwing youths who confront them, wounding 3 children ages 10–13). Some 30,000 Hamas supporters rally in Gaza City in support of ousted PA PM Ismail Haniyeh. ESF officers raid al-Hadath press office in al-Bureij r.c., confiscating documents, computers. (BBC 9/6; NYT, WP, WT 9/7; OCHA 9/12; PCHR 9/13)
Overnight, the IDF sends at least 5 war planes over Turkey and into n. Syria to make an air strike on an industrial building under construction in an open area nr. the Euphrates river, causing no injuries. Syria responds with antiaircraft fire, causing no damage. Syria denounces Israel’s actions and says it is measuring its response, while Israeli PM Ehud Olmert’s office imposes a news blackout. By late in the day, Israel, Syria issue statements declaring that neither side intends to be drawn into a war. (BBC, REU 9/6; NYT, WP 9/7; WT 9/8; WP 9/13; NYT 9/18; HA 11/22)
After Hamas fires several rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, killing 1 Israeli and wounding 1 in separate strikes, Olmert convenes his security cabinet to discuss expanding attacks on Hamas. During the day, the IDF reinforces troops in its n. Gaza buffer zone; makes air strikes on 3 ESF positions in Bayt Lahiya, Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, causing no injuries; bulldozes a Palestinian home in n. Gaza; raids and temporarily occupies 4 Palestinian homes in Bayt Hanun; fires on Palestinian farmers who stray nr. the border fence e. of Khan Yunis. The Israeli navy fires on Palestinian fishermen off the Rafah coast for a 2d day, causing no injuries. Abbas, Egyptian mediators hold talks with the Palestinian factions aimed at securing a 1-mo. unilateral halt on attacks on Israel fr. Gaza, with hopes that an Israeli cease-fire would follow that could then be extended to the West Bank; the factions demand that the cease-fire include the West Bank fr. the outset. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes a Palestinian home outside Jerusalem; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem and Nablus, in Jenin town and r.c. and Jericho (raiding a hospital to arrested a wounded wanted AMB mbr., firing on stone-throwing Palestinian youths), nr. Hebron and Salfit. (IFM 5/27; NYT, WP 5/28; OCHA 5/30; PCHR 5/31)
A bomb goes off in Beirut’s Berbir neighborhood, wounding 4 Lebanese; no group claims responsibility. (NYT 5/28)
During the day in Gaza, the IDF fires on Jabaliya r.c., seriously wounding a Palestinian woman inside her home. In the evening, Olmert convenes his security cabinet, which authorized the IDF to step up attacks on Hamas, Islamic Jihad. Soon after, the IDF makes an air strike targeting IQB cmdr. Samih Farwanah in Gaza City, who is at the home of Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Khalil al-Haya, assassinating Farwanah, killing 7 of Haya’s relatives, wounding more than 12; fires a missile at Hamas mbr. Nasser Hammuda, biking through Gaza City, wounding him in an apparent assassination attempt; makes an air strike on an alleged Hamas weapons factory in Gaza City, killing 1 Palestinian security guard, wounding 3 bystanders; makes an air strike on the home of an Islamic Jihad mbr., destroying it and a neighboring meeting hall, causing no injuries; shells residential areas of Bayt Lahiya, heavily damaging 2 homes, wounding 6 Palestinians. Palestinians fire at least 12 rockets, 2 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging 2 trucks on the Israeli side of the Qarni crossing but causing no injuries. In Rafah, an al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbr. is injured when explosives he is handling detonate prematurely. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in al-Arub r.c nr. Hebron and in and around Bethlehem, Jenin town and r.c.; raids 4 TV and radio stations in Nablus seizing computers and broadcasting equipment; begins bulldozing 130 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of apricot and date orchards nr. Artas nr. Bethlehem to make way for the separation wall. Under IDF escort, Jewish settlers fr. Efrat nr. Bethlehem uproot Palestinian trees nr. the settlement. Jewish settlers fr. Karme Tzur nr. Hebron unleash an attack dog on a Palestinian farmer working his land nr. the settlement, injuring him. Meanwhile, Hamas, Fatah observe a ceasefire during the day; stores begin to reopen and residents venture out for the 1st time in a wk. (HA, IFM, NYT, PCHR, WP 5/20; HA, NYT, OCHA, PCHR, WP, WT 5/21; OCHA 5/23; PCHR 5/24)
Overnight, Lebanese police and soldiers raid several homes in Tripoli in an attempt to capture a group connected to the tiny militant group, Fatah al-Islam (FI), that was suspected of carrying out a bank robbery on 5/19. The raids spark gun battles that quickly spread throughout the city and to the outskirts of Nahr al-Barid r.c. (pop. 40,000), where FI is based. When FI forces leave the camp to ambush and capture nearby army positions, the Lebanese army fires tank shells, mortars into the camp, quickly precipitating massive clashes (including RPG, heavy weapons fire by FI) that continue throughout the day. In total, at least 27 Lebanese soldiers, 20 FI mbrs., and 9 Palestinian civilians inside the camp are killed and scores are wounded during the day. By nightfall, the army regains control of areas surrounding the camp, seals the camp to prevent militants fr. escaping; cuts water and electricity to the camp to urge a surrender. Syria closes several border crossings n. and w. of Tripoli in reaction. Separately, a car bomb explodes nr. a shopping mall in the Christian neighborhood of Achrifiyya in Beirut, killing 1 Lebanese woman, wounding 12; no group claims responsibility. (AP, NYT, REU, WP, WT 5/21; WT 5/24; NYT 6/20, 7/7)
As part of an ongoing crackdown on Hamas in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) makes an air strike on a Rafah building controlled by the Executive Support Force (ESF)—a branch of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Interior Min. loyal to Hamasaffiliated PM Ismail Haniyeh—killing 3 ESF mbrs. and wounding at least 21 ESF mbrs., 3 mbrs. of the Fatah-affiliated PA Preventive Security Force (PSF) in a PSF office nearby, 3 bystanders (including 2 journalists). Hamas mbrs. fire 12 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a home in Sederot, moderately injuring 1 Israeli, and hitting a transformer, cutting electricity to 24,000 residents. The IDF responds with an air strike on a house nr. Jabaliya refugee camp (r.c.), killing 2 Hamas mbrs., wounding 3. Israeli PM Ehud Olmert convenes his security cabinet which authorizes the IDF to carry out “severe and harsh” attacks on Gaza, including assassinations of resistance leaders, to prevent further rocket fire, effectively ending the 11/26/06 Gaza cease-fire, frequently violated by both sides. Meanwhile in Gaza, factional fighting btwn. Fatah, Hamas (ongoing since PA Pres. Mahmud Abbas [Fatah] deployed 1,000s of PA security forces under his control without coordinating with either independent Interior M Hani al-Qawasmi, who resigned in protest, or ESF cmdrs. on the ground) escalates sharply, particularly in Gaza City, leaving at least 20 Palestinians dead, 10s wounded, and a number of Fatah and Hamas mbrs. kidnapped. Among the incidents: an Egyptian official is fatally shot by Fatah mbrs. while walking the streets of Rafah with Fatah and Change and Reform legislators to test the intra-Palestinian cease-fire declared on 5/15; Hamas mbrs. ambush a PSF vehicle not knowing that it is transporting Hamas detainees, killing 5 Hamas mbrs., 2 PSF mbrs.; Fatah makes a retaliatory strike on an ESF post outside the Interior Min.’s offices in Gaza City, firing rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), killing 4 ESF mbrs.; some 200 Hamas mbrs. attack and occupy the home of PA internal security head Rashid Abu Shibak (who is not home at the time), killing at least 4 bodyguards; Hamas mbrs. fire mortars at Abbas’s Gaza residence, causing no injuries; Hamas mbrs. fire antitank rockets at the PA General Intelligence base nr. Shati‘ r.c. (After Fatah’s attacks today, the ESF, which has largely remained in its barracks, deploys “to respond with all our power” to further attacks.) Among the wounded are 8 Palestinian civilians among 200 who turned out in Gaza City to protest the interfactional violence and who placed themselves btwn. Fatah and Hamas gunmen to prevent further clashes. Palestinians in Ramallah observe a 1-day general strike to protest the factional violence. Midday, Hamas announces a unilateral cease-fire to begin at 8:00 P.M. local time, and Abbas calls on Fatah mbrs. to follow suit, but gun battles resume within hrs., leaving 2 Fatah mbrs. dead, 10 Palestinians wounded (included in totals above). Israeli Vice PM Shimon Peres says that Israel would respond favorably if Abbas asked for assistance in quelling the violence. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids in al-Til nr. Tulkarm (deliberately setting fire to a Palestinian home, damaging 5 others), neighboring Allar, and in and around Balata r.c. and Nablus. Jewish settlers fire on Palestinian homes in Bayt Furik nr. Nablus, causing no injuries; the IDF intervenes, removes the settlers. (BBC, HA, REU 5/16; IFM, NYT, WP, WT 5/17; PCHR 5/21; OCHA 5/23; PCHR 5/24)