IDF troops make 2 brief incursion into Gaza to level land and clear lines of sight along the border fence nr. Bayt Lahiya in the north and Khan Yunis in the south. IDF soldiers on the n. Gaza...
In East Jerusalem, some 200 Palestinians protesting the settler incident in Silwan on 6/26 and the Jerusalem Planning Commission’s 6/21 preliminary approval for the rezoning and demolition of 22...Read more
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...Read more
The UNSC passes (14–0, with the U.S. abstaining) res. 1860, calling for an “immediate, durable, and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza” but not...Read more
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...Read more
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...Read more
As OCL enters day 6, Israel announces that it will allow 443 foreign passportholders living in Gaza (mostly the spouses and children of Gazan Palestinians, including U.S., Russian, Moldovan,...Read more
In n. Gaza, Palestinian machine-gun fire hits an IDF helicopter, causing damage but no injuries, marking the 1st time an Israeli aircraft has been hit by Palestinian fire. In the West Bank, the...Read more
In the West Bank, the IDF imposes a day-long curfew on ‘Azun (see 11/2) after Palestinian youths allegedly stone Jewish settler vehicles in the area; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and...Read more
Overnight, the IDF launches Operation Summer Rains, sending ground troops into s. Gaza; retaking the Dahaniyya airport area as a base, demolishing 5 Palestinian homes and bulldozing land to...Read more
In Gaza, the IDF makes 2 air strikes on Islamic Jihad mbrs. driving in Khan Yunis, missing the car, hitting the street and a house, killing 2 Palestinian bystanders, including a pregnant woman,...Read more
The IDF completes the evacuation of Gadid (est. 1982, pop. 350, size 1,600 d., hrs. to evac. 3); halts operations at sundown for the Sabbath, planning to resume on 8/21; starts demolishing homes...Read more
In the morning, the IDF says that 70% of Gaza settlers have been evacuated, most Gaza residents have not resisted the evacuation, most protests and resistance are by West Bank settler youth (and...Read more
The IDF sends troops into Balata r.c., sparking stone-throwing, then firing on demonstrators, wounding 1; fires warning shots at 100s of Palestinian women, children marching to protest the ongoing...Read more
In the pre-dawn hours, the IDF imposes a 24-hr. curfew, begins house-to-house searches in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah bordering the Philadelphi Route, occupies some buildings as...Read more
At the entrance to Shu‘fat r.c., 4 Palestinian youths stab, lightly injure a Jewish settler on a bicycle. The IDF conducts arrest raids in Hebron, but allows the HRC to resume work halted on 7/2...Read more
Nr. Bayt Hanun, 4 AMB mbrs. are killed either when a roadside bomb they are planting explodes or when an IDF tank fires on them while they are planting a roadside bomb. In Gaza, a female IDF...Read more
The IDF assassinates senior Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades mbr. Sa‘ad Arabid (whom Israel tried to kill in 8/01), firing missiles at his car as he drives through Gaza City, also killing his bodyguard...Read more
An IDF bulldozer crushes, kills American International Solidarity Movement (ISM) worker Rachel Corrie, part of a group blocking bulldozers fr. demolishing a Palestinian home in Rafah. The IDF also...Read more
Citing Hizballah Katyusha attacks 12/23, Israel adopts "more aggressive" policy toward Lebanon that will include attacks on Hizballah bases deep inside Lebanon, preemptive strikes on units...Read more
Israeli television reports that in recent days, PM Netanyahu has held 3 mtgs. with YESHA settlement council head Aharon Domb to discus Domb heading the Likud's public relations for the upcoming...Read more
Confirming 8/10 rumors, PM Netanyahu admits that he held 10 secret mtgs. with Labor Chmn. Barak btwn. 5/98 and 7/98 on forming a unity government. Discussions included how to conduct future...Read more
Prominent Likud mbr. Dan Meridor resigns fr. the party to form a centrist party, challenge Netanyahu for PM in upcoming elections. (NYT, WP, WT 12/23; MEI 12/25; JP 1/4; SA 1/8 in WNC 1/12; JP,...Read more
On the 3d day of its attack on Iraq, the U.S. can confirm that only 18 of its 89 targets have been severely damaged or destroyed, despite having fired more laser-guided missiles in 2 days than...Read more
Immediately upon his return to the U.S., Pres. Clinton convenes his senior advisers to "discuss the UNSCOM report on Iraq"; they unanimously recommend a strike. Clinton orders forces in the Gulf...Read more
Pres. Clinton meets with Netanyahu, Arafat at Erez border crossing, where Netanyahu gives him a list of 12 demands that the PA must meet before Israel will continue Wye implementation. Clinton...Read more
Clinton flies into Gaza airport by helicopter to attend the PNC session on the PLO charter, becoming the 1st sitting president to set foot on Palestinian soil. PNC mbrs., other officials approve...Read more
As the House approves 4 articles of impeachment against him in Washington, Pres. Clinton arrives in Tel Aviv on 1st stop of 4-day visit. At the airport, PM Netanyahu offers Clinton a "lukewarm"...Read more
Palestinians across the occupied territories stage most violent protests in 7 mos. to mark the 11th anniversary of the beginning of the intifada. PM Netanyahu claims PA is deliberately escalating...Read more
U.S. special envoy Ross meets with PM Netanyahu regarding Pres. Clinton's upcoming visit. Netanyahu gives him a list of alleged PA violations of Wye. Afterward, Ross publicly condemns Palestinian...Read more
IDF troops make 2 brief incursion into Gaza to level land and clear lines of sight along the border fence nr. Bayt Lahiya in the north and Khan Yunis in the south. IDF soldiers on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Lahiya fire warning shots at Palestinian farmers who stray too near the border fence, forcing them to leave. IDF soldiers on the s. Gaza border open fire on Palestinian agricultural areas e. of Abasan, causing no reported damage or injuries. Israeli naval vessels fire at Palestinian fishing boats off the n. Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Ramallah and 1 each nr. Qalqilya and Tulkarm in the morning; in 2 villages nr. Jenin and 1 each nr. Qalqilya and Tulkarm in the evening; and in 2 villages nr. Jericho and 1 each nr. Ramallah and Tulkarm late at night. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, including rearresting a PA General Intelligence officer released in the 2011 prisoner swap that freed captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. (PCHR 5/23; OCHA 5/25)
News hits the media that the new U.S. amb. to Israel Dan Shapiro recently told a meeting of the Israeli Bar Association that the U.S. is ready and willing to use military force against Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail, stating that the military option is ‘‘not just available, but it’s ready. The necessary planning has been done.’’ A tape of Shapiro’s address was leaked to the AP, with an anonymous Israeli official stating: ‘‘Quite clearly he didn’t mean this to be public. ... For the Iranians to understand that he really means it, they have to hear it publicly and clearly.’’ (AP, ITV 5/17; NYT, WT 5/18; see Quarterly Update [QU] in JPS 165 for details on Iran.)
At a private fundraising event in Florida that is secretly taped and leaked to the media on 9/18/12, Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney states that ‘‘the Palestinians have no interest whatsoever in establishing peace’’ and are ‘‘committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel.’’ He also opposes creation of an independent Palestinian state, assuming that it would become a client state of Iran. In terms of a U.S. mediating role in the peace process, he states: ‘‘The idea of pushing on the Israelis—to give something up, to get the Palestinians to act, is the worst idea in the world.’’ In response to the leak, which was seen (e.g., NYT 9/19)
as likely to damage Romney’s ability to act as a peace broker if elected, Romney publicly states on 9/18 that he stands by his longtime support for the U.S. official position advocating a negotiated 2-state solution. (Mother Jones 9/18; NYT 9/19)
Israeli DM Ehud Barak meets with U.S. secy. of defense Leon Panetta in Washington to request an additional $680 m./yr. in aid over 3 yrs. to help purchase 3–4 new Iron Dome antimissile batteries and another $168 m. for 3 other missile programs jointly developed with the U.S. (This is on top of an increase of $99.9 m. in funding for FY 2013 already requested by the Obama admin.) With the appeal coinciding with Israel cutting its defense budget by 5% per year for 2013 and 2014, critics complain (e.g., WP 5/17) that the U.S. is effectively helping balance Israel’s budget before balancing its own. (WP 5/17)
In East Jerusalem, some 200 Palestinians protesting the settler incident in Silwan on 6/26 and the Jerusalem Planning Commission’s 6/21 preliminary approval for the rezoning and demolition of 22 Palestinian homes demonstrate outside the settlers’ Beit Yonatan apartment building. The Palestinians throw stones, bricks, and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police who attempt to disperse them, leaving 6 policemen injured. In the evening, 10s of Jewish settlers break into the al-Rajabi quarter of Silwan, clashing with local Palestinians and opening fire indiscriminately, causing no serious injuries; IDF troops intervene, firing rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas at the Palestinians, seriously injuring 1 and lightly injuring 10. Meanwhile, Israel begins construction of 20 new housing units for Jews at the Shepherd Hotel site in East Jerusalem’s Shaykh Jarrah neighborhood. In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas at Palestinians and international activists staging a weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall nr. Bethlehem (10s suffer tear gas inhalation); conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Hebron, nr. Nablus. In the 2d such incident in Gaza since 3/2010 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 156), Hamas-affiliated police raid the Palestine Islamic Bank, presenting a warrant for the seizure of all the money ($16,000) fr. the account of a Hamas-affiliated educational organization whose assets had been frozen by the PA, taking the money at gunpoint when the teller refuses. Officials of the acting Hamas government say a court had ruled that the PA action freezing the organization’s assets was illegal. (ITV 6/27; NYT 6/28; PCHR 7/1; OCHA 7/2; JPI 7/9)
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)
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)
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)
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 OCL enters day 6, Israel announces that it will allow 443 foreign passportholders living in Gaza (mostly the spouses and children of Gazan Palestinians, including U.S., Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Turkish, and Norwegian passport-holders) to leave on 1/2, raising concerns that a major ground incursion into Gaza is imminent.
Israeli actions: The IDF continues air strikes and naval bombardment of Gaza, hitting at least 70 targets and carrying out at least 40 air strikes. Primary targets include the PA parliament building, Justice Min., Education Min., the headquarters of the PA presidency in Gaza City, homes of several other Hamas and PRC cmdrs., tunnels on the Rafah border, suspected weapons depots, 2 mosques in Jabaliya r.c., a fishing harbor w. of Khan Yunis, a water reservoir in Bayt Hanun. Target areas include Abasan, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Hanun, al-Bureij r.c., Gaza City, Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat, al-Qarara, Rafah, Tal al-Za‘atar. By day’s end, the Palestinian toll is at least 412 dead.
Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 59 rockets (at least 10 of them fired by Islamic Jihad) and 1 mortar into Israel, with 1 longrange rocket hitting an apartment building in Ashdod (causing heavy damage but no major injuries) and 3 in open areas outside Beersheba (causing no damage or injuries). Beersheba municipal official Shimon Krief says that city emergency workers received only 18 calls from concerned citizens during incoming rocket warnings today, stating “People are relaxed.” Beersheba hospital reports that since the city first came under rocket fire on 12/30, it has treated 10 Israelis for moderate physical injuries and 154 for stress, adding that “with each attack, we’ve gotten significantly fewer patients.”
Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 60 trucks of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) warns that humanitarian needs are growing sharply despite the limited entry of aid, noting severe shortages of water, cooking gas, electricity. Israeli human rights groups issue an appeal to DM Barak to restore fuel shipments to Gaza to allow proper functioning of hospitals, water services, and so on.
Of note: Air strikes today include an attack on the home of Hamas’s Nizar Rayyan, a cleric and chief liaison btwn. Hamas’s political and military wings, in a densely populated residential area inside Jabaliya r.c., assassinating him and killing his 4 wives and 11 of his 12 children, causing heavy damage to surrounding buildings; Rayyan is the most senior Hamas official to be killed since Israel assassinated Abd al-‘Aziz Rantisi in 2004 and one of the only Hamas figures who has not gone into hiding since OCL began. (AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IDF, REU 1/1; Bloomberg, HA, ITV, NYT, REU, WP, WT 1/2; IDF 1/3; NYT, WP 1/4; MM, QA 1/6; IFM, PCHR 1/8)
The IDF seals the West Bank through 1/3, citing unspecified security concerns. IDF troops at Ni‘lin checkpoint fire rubbercoated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at mbrs. of a funeral procession that refuses to lower a Palestinian flag while going through the crossing, injuring 2 Palestinians; 1 tear gas canister lands inside a nearby Palestinian home, sparking a fire that guts the 1st floor. (IDF 1/2; PCHR 1/8)
In n. Gaza, Palestinian machine-gun fire hits an IDF helicopter, causing damage but no injuries, marking the 1st time an Israeli aircraft has been hit by Palestinian fire. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in, fires on residential areas of Tubas, wounding 1 Palestinian; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, in Qabatya, nr. Jenin; fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international activists taking part in the weekly nonviolent demonstration against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 2). (ITV, YA 3/14; NYT 3/15; OCHA, PCHR 3/19)
In the West Bank, the IDF imposes a day-long curfew on ‘Azun (see 11/2) after Palestinian youths allegedly stone Jewish settler vehicles in the area; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin and in Hebron, Nablus. In Jerusalem, Israeli police impersonating an Israel TV (ITV) Channel 2 news crew arrest a Palestinian wanted for making unspecified threats; ITV’s chmn. and Israeli journalist associations condemn the police, saying the deception could endanger real journalists. Nr. Hebron, a Palestinian boy is injured when he accidentally triggers IDF UXO. The PA’s newly deployed Nablus policing unit (see 11/2) makes an arrest raid on Balata r.c., clashing with wanted AMB mbrs., leaving up to 10 Palestinians wounded; the PA stresses that it undertook the raid because the AMB was challenging its authority, not because of AMB actions against Israel. In Gaza, 1,000s of Palestinians stage a protest march to the Rafah border to demand a lifting of the siege; ESF officers fire into the air to keep the demonstrators fr. reaching the crossing. (AP, HA, NYT 11/6; OCHA 11/7; PCHR 11/8; NYT 11/14)
Overnight, the IDF launches Operation Summer Rains, sending ground troops into s. Gaza; retaking the Dahaniyya airport area as a base, demolishing 5 Palestinian homes and bulldozing land to improve lines of sight, and blowing up 3 bridges to control movement between the Rafah and Gaza City environs; conducting 7 air strikes on Gaza’s only electricity plant nr. Gaza City and 6 transformer stations, wounding 2 Palestinians, blacking out 45% of the Strip, and leaving Gaza fully dependent on electricity fr. Israel); shelling open areas of s. Gaza; repeatedly breaking the sound barrier over the Strip. The IDF’s elite Givati Brigade deploys outside n. Gaza, prepared to enter if rocket attacks resume. Midafternoon, IDF artillery begins shelling n. Gaza for the 1st time since the 6/9 incident that killed 8 Palestinians. After Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel in response (causing no damage or injuries), the IDF warns n. Gaza residents to evacuate the area, with Olmert saying that IDF operations will escalate until Shalit is released. In a warning to Syrian pres. Bashar al-Asad and Hamas’s Damascus-based leadership, the Israeli air force makes overflights of Asad’s residence in Latakia (where he is believed to be staying) and along the Syrian coast. Meanwhile, Palestinians fire 6 more rockets toward Israel, but all land inside Gaza, causing no damage or injuries. The AMB says it has kidnapped a 62-yr.-old Israeli man fr. Rishon Letzion, inside Israel, who has been missing since 6/26; issues a statement threatening to target Israeli embassies abroad. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Iktaba nr. Tulkarm; raids a Fatah office in al-Bireh, confiscating computers, arresting 3 Palestinians; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm, nr. Hebron. In Khan Yunis, 2 Palestinian children are killed when they accidentally detonate unexploded IDF ordnance. In West Jerusalem, around 100 ultra-Orthodox Jews attack a tour group of 50 pro-Israel Christians for wearing shirts saying “love your neighbor as yourself”; Israeli police intervene to stop the attack but make no arrests; 3 tourists, 1 police officer are injured. (AP, BBC, B’Tselem press release, HA, IFM, IMEMC, ITV, MM, NYT, PCHR, REU, Voice of the Arabs [Cairo], WP, WT, YA 6/28; OSC 6/28 in WNC 6/30; BBC, CSM, HA, IMEMC, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT 6/29; Globe, PCHR 6/29; HJ 7/1 in WNC 7/1; see also AFP, MENA, PSCT 6/27 in WNC 6/28; OCHA 6/30; PCHR 7/6; REU 7/11)
In Gaza, the IDF makes 2 air strikes on Islamic Jihad mbrs. driving in Khan Yunis, missing the car, hitting the street and a house, killing 2 Palestinian bystanders, including a pregnant woman, and wounding 15 bystanders; prevents EU monitors fr. reaching the Rafah crossing, forcing it to close for the day; closes the Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings for the day, citing security threats; detains 2 unarmed Palestinians attempting to sneak across the Gaza border into Israel to find work; fires on 2 Palestinians swimming off the Gaza coast nr. the Egyptian border, suspected of smuggling, wounding 1. Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Dura (firing on residential areas, then firing live ammunition at stone-throwing youths who confront them, causing no injuries), Nablus (firing rubber bullets at stone-throwing youths, wounding 12); conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus, nr. Hebron, and in Bethlehem and Jalazun r.c. nr. Ramallah. In Gaza City, a bomb goes off in a car driven by a mbr. of the Fatah-dominated PSF, injuring the 3 people in the car; no group claims responsibility. Unidentified gunmen shoot, wound 2 Fatah mbrs. in Khan Yunis. (OCHA 6/21; ITV, MENA, VOI, YA 6/21 in WNC 6/22; HA, MM, PCHR, WP, WT 6/22; VOI, YA 6/22 in WNC 6 /23; HA 6/24; OCHA 6/28; PCHR 6/29)
The IDF completes the evacuation of Gadid (est. 1982, pop. 350, size 1,600 d., hrs. to evac. 3); halts operations at sundown for the Sabbath, planning to resume on 8/21; starts demolishing homes in Kerem Atzmona; begins digging 8-ft. trench around Gush Katif settlements to prevent Palestinians fr. entering before evacuation is complete. During the day in Gadid, where almost all residents left on 8/17, some 200 disengagement protesters set fires, erect roadblocks to block troops. Palestinian gunmen fire on Gadid, causing no damage or injuries. Also in Gaza, 2 Hamas mbrs. are injured when a roadside bomb they are planting explodes prematurely. In the West Bank, disengagement protesters set fire to a gas station outside Sanur. Jewish settlers take over 2 Palestinian homes nr. Homesh as lookout posts to help nonresident settlers infiltrate the IDF closed military zone to protest the disengagement; the IDF ousts them later in the day. A pig’s head, presumably left by disengagement protesters, is found in the Hassan Bek mosque nr. Jaffa. Meanwhile, the IDF occupies a 3-story building under construction nr. Kiryat Arba in Hebron, closes 21 stores attached to the building; conducts patrols in Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Ramat Yishai in Hebron, throw stones, bottles at Palestinian homes, injuring an 8-yr.-old Palestinian boy. Jewish settlers fr. Sha’ar Hatikva nr. Qalqilya throw stones at nearby Palestinian cars, set fire to agricultural land and several greenhouses. Unidentified gunman fire on the car of West Bank Hamas political leader Shaykh Hasan Yusuf; Yusuf was not in the car, his bodyguards were but are not hurt. (BBC, HA, IDF Radio, ITV, JP 8/19; NYT, WP, WT 8/20; PCHR, PR 8/25)
In the morning, the IDF says that 70% of Gaza settlers have been evacuated, most Gaza residents have not resisted the evacuation, most protests and resistance are by West Bank settler youth (and some American Jewish youth) who have come to Gaza in recent wks. to block the withdrawal. During the day, the evacuations of Gan Or (est. 1983, pop. 350, size 1,692 d., hrs. to evac. 5), Kefar Darom (est. 1989, pop. 490, size 276 d., hrs. to evac. 12), Kefar Yam (est. 1983, pop. 15, hrs. to evac. 3), Netzer Hazani (est. 1973, pop. 460, size 250 d., hrs. to evac. 5), Neve Dekalim (est. 1983, pop. 2,700, size 1,443 d., hrs. to evac. 35), Shirat Hayam (est. 2001, pop. 40, hrs. to evac. 5) settlements are completed. An increasing number of settlers set fire to their homes and to greenhouses as they leave to prevent them fr. being turned over to Palestinians. For the 1st time, 1 armed resident in Kefar Yam, 4 armed disengagement protesters in Shirat Hayam threaten to shoot IDF soldiers if they follow orders to remove settlers, but only if soldiers fire first; the incidents defuse without violence. Some Shirat Hayam residents also throw rocks at Palestinians in Mawasi as they evacuate. In Kefar Darom, 65 resident families agree to leave, but as many as 2,000 outside protesters refuse, many of them barricading themselves inside and on the roof of a synagogue; for the 1st time during the disengagement, the IDF uses water cannons against protesters and 2 IDF soldiers refuse to obey their orders, are removed by fellow soldiers; 58 Israelis are injured in clearing the synagogue, including at least 3 IDF soldiers, 27 border police (1 seriously when he falls accidentally); protesters throw paint thinner at IDF Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, several soldiers. In Neve Dekalim, some 1,500 disengagement protesters hole up in 2 synagogues, refusing to leave even after residents have voluntarily evacuated, but are eventually extracted. Jewish settlers in s. Gaza spread nails along the coastal road in alMawasi to prevent movement of Palestinian vehicles. Meanwhile, Palestinians fire a rocket at Netzarim (still inhabited), lightly injuring an IDF soldier; 2 mortars at Gadid settlement (still inhabited), 3 mortars at Morag (evacuated) causing no damage or injuries. Palestinian gunmen fire on IDF troops nr. Kefar Darom, lightly injuring 1. The IDF conducts arrest raids in al-Mawasi; fires on residential areas of Bayt Lahiya, seriously injuring 1 Palestinian. In the West Bank, Jewish settlers fr. Homesh and Sanur attempt to break into a Palestinian home in nearby Asa’sa village; the IDF intervenes to stop them. Jewish settlers fr. Keddumim throw stones at Palestinian shops, cars nr. Qalqilya. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches in Dura, nr. Tulkarm; confiscates 500 d. of agricultural land nr. Eli settlement nr. Nablus. In Israel, disengagement protesters block roads nationwide. (AP, BBC, HA, Israeli Radio, ITV 8/18; NYT, WP, WT 8/19; PCHR 8/25)
The IDF sends troops into Balata r.c., sparking stone-throwing, then firing on demonstrators, wounding 1; fires warning shots at 100s of Palestinian women, children marching to protest the ongoing military operations, wounding 1 child; fires on residential areas of Rafah; bulldozes a plot of agricultural land in Jabaliya r.c.; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Wadi al-Silqa. In Nablus, 6 Palestinians (1 of them armed; reportedly mbrs. of an AMB splinter group) kidnap 3 foreign church workers (1 American, 1 British, 1 Irish); the PA General Intelligence secures their release, the kidnappers escape, no motive is given. Separately, 12 armed mbrs. of the AMB Jenin faction raid, set fire to the empty office of newly appointed Jenin governor Qaddura Musa and the local PA General Intelligence headquarters, demanding that the PA do more to support “the wanted fighters, the prisoners, and the injured.” Palestinians fire a Qassam rocket at the Negev, causing no damage or injuries. (ITV, JAZ, VOP, XIN, YA 7/31, VOP 8/1 in WNC 8/3; WP, WT 8/1; PR 8/4; PCHR 8/5)
In the pre-dawn hours, the IDF imposes a 24-hr. curfew, begins house-to-house searches in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah bordering the Philadelphi Route, occupies some buildings as observation posts; begins digging a trench to separate a section of Rafah r.c. fr. the rest of the camp, demolishing at least 3 Palestinian homes, cutting water and electricity supplies. Around daybreak, the IDF begins bulldozing operations, launches 3 missile strikes inside Rafah: the 1st killing 3 Hamas mbrs., wounding 5 gunmen and bystanders; the 2d killing 1 Hamas mbr. laying a roadside bomb nr. a mosque where Palestinians are leaving dawn prayers, also killing 5 bystanders, wounding several others, starting a fire that severely damages the mosque; the 3d hitting a residential area, killing 7 Palestinians (many in their homes), wounding at least 16. The IDF reports killing at least 3 more Palestinians, demolishing at least another 9 Palestinian homes during the day. A 20th Palestinian reportedly dies when explosives he is handling detonate. At least 2 ambulances are deliberately targeted by IDF snipers. The IDF also fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis. In the West Bank, the IDF ambushes, assassinates wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbr. Muhammad Obeid as he drives nr. Sanur nr. Jenin, also wounding his passenger; raids Jenin r.c., fatally shoots wanted AMB mbr. Ahmad Judah in an apparent assassination, wounding a 2d Palestinian; fatally shoots an AMB mbr., a Palestinian gunman in separate incidents in Nablus; conducts arrest raids targeting Hamas in Tulkarm; orders the confiscation of 380 dunams of Palestinian land nr. Bethlehem for construction of the separation wall. A Palestinian dies of injuries received in 4/04. (BBC, HA, MM, NYT, PCHR, PRCS, PM, WP 5/18; ITAR-TASS, ITV, MENA, PSCT, VOI, VOP, XIN 5/18 in WNC 5/20; HA, NYT, PR, WP, WT 5/19; PCHR 5/20; NYT 5/21; PR 5/26)
At the entrance to Shu‘fat r.c., 4 Palestinian youths stab, lightly injure a Jewish settler on a bicycle. The IDF conducts arrest raids in Hebron, but allows the HRC to resume work halted on 7/2. (ITV, VOI, YA 7/23 in WNC 7/25; PCHR 7/24; HA 7/25)
Nr. Bayt Hanun, 4 AMB mbrs. are killed either when a roadside bomb they are planting explodes or when an IDF tank fires on them while they are planting a roadside bomb. In Gaza, a female IDF soldier forces a Palestinian woman to drink fr. a bottle of caustic liquid she is carrying in order to cross the checkpoint; the Palestinian is taken to the hospital with severe burns and convulsions, files a complaint; the soldier is arrested by IDF military police. The IDF fatally shoots a Palestinian nr. Morag settlement; demolishes 6 Palestinian homes in Khan Yunis; conducts arrest raids, house searches and bulldozes 3 dunams of land n. of Khan Yunis; raids dormitories at Birzeit University, arresting 80 students; fires on residential areas of al-Brazil, Rafah. (ITV 6/22 in WNC 6/24; HA, NYT, WP 6/23; MM 6/24; PR 6/25; PCHR 6/26; AKH 6/26 in WNC 6/28)
The IDF assassinates senior Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades mbr. Sa‘ad Arabid (whom Israel tried to kill in 8/01), firing missiles at his car as he drives through Gaza City, also killing his bodyguard, a 3d Hamas mbr., 4 bystanders, injuring 53 Palestinians. Undercover IDF troops fatally shoot wanted Palestinian Badir Yasin in Salfit in what may be an assassination. The IDF also fires on residential areas of Silwan; demolishes 1 Palestinian home in Nablus. Inside Israel, a number of knife-wielding AMB mbrs. reportedly attack, wound 2 Israeli security guards outside Kibbutz Metzer, escape. (GS, HA, PM 4/8; ITV, VOI, XIN 4/8 in WNC 4/9; HA, LAW, MM, NYT, PR, WP, WT 4/9; Interfax, QA 4/9 in WNC 4/10; LAW, PCHR, PM 4/10; QA 4/10 in WNC 4/11; MEI 4/18)
An IDF bulldozer crushes, kills American International Solidarity Movement (ISM) worker Rachel Corrie, part of a group blocking bulldozers fr. demolishing a Palestinian home in Rafah. The IDF also seals the West Bank, Gaza for Purim (3/17–19); fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, killing 1 Palestinian; fatally shoots a 2d Palestinian standing in his doorway in Rafah; bulldozes 2 dunams of land, 12 olive trees in Dayr al-Balah; raids areas around Bethlehem, Salfit. Arafat cancels the al-Azhar University workers union elections, fearing a landslide victory by Hamas, Islamic Jihad. (BBC, LAW 3/16; ITV, MA 3/16 in WNC 3/17; JP, MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/17; WT 3/18; PR 3/19; PCHR, WJW 3/20; MEI 3/21)
Citing Hizballah Katyusha attacks 12/23, Israel adopts "more aggressive" policy toward Lebanon that will include attacks on Hizballah bases deep inside Lebanon, preemptive strikes on units planting roadside bombs, destruction of Lebanese infrastructure if n. Israel is attacked. Lebanon fears Israel is planning an unprovoked attack during run-up to 5/99 elections. (IDF Radio 1/1, IRNA, al-Quds, RL 1/2, YA 1/3 in WNC 1/5; WT 1/2; RL 1/11 in WNC 1/12; MA 1/24 in WNC 1/26)
U.S. temporarily closes emb. in Israel after receiving a "credible" threats. (ITV 12/31 in WNC 1/4, 1/5; NYT, WP, WT 1/1)
The Israeli Housing Min. issues tenders for construction of 1,051 new housing units in West Bank settlements including 651 units in Beitar Ilit nr. Jerusalem, where 10,000 ultra-Orthodox settlers live. (NYT 1/1; JP 1/11)
Under IDF protection, Jewish settlers move trailers to hills nr. Nablus, confiscating additional Palestinian land to expand Elon Moreh settlement. (al-Hayat al-Jadida 12/31 in WNC 1/5)
10s of Jordanians stage sit-in outside the U.S. emb. in Amman to protest U.S.-led attack on Iraq. (al-Dustur 1/1 in WNC 1/5)
Israeli television reports that in recent days, PM Netanyahu has held 3 mtgs. with YESHA settlement council head Aharon Domb to discus Domb heading the Likud's public relations for the upcoming election campaign. (ITV 12/30 in WNC 12/31)
Iraq fires on U.S., British jets in the s. no-fly zone. U.S. attacks missile battery in response. (ATL 12/30 in WNC 12/31; NYT, WP, WT 12/31; GIU 1/5, 1/6) (see 12/28)
In s. Lebanon, 1 IDF soldier is killed, 2 are wounded when another IDF patrol opens fire on them by mistake. (WP 12/31)
Confirming 8/10 rumors, PM Netanyahu admits that he held 10 secret mtgs. with Labor Chmn. Barak btwn. 5/98 and 7/98 on forming a unity government. Discussions included how to conduct future negotiations with Syria, final status talks with the PA. (ITV 12/26 in WNC 12/29; YA 12/25 in WNC 12/30; Vesti 12/31 in WNC 1/20)
Prominent Likud mbr. Dan Meridor resigns fr. the party to form a centrist party, challenge Netanyahu for PM in upcoming elections. (NYT, WP, WT 12/23; MEI 12/25; JP 1/4; SA 1/8 in WNC 1/12; JP, MEI 1/15)
At Yemen's request, the Arab League calls an emergency FMs mtg. for 12/30 to discuss the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. (MENA 12/22 in WNC 12/23; MENA, Star 12/24 in WNC 12/28)
In Lebanon, 1,000 demonstrators march toward the U.S. emb. to protest the U.S.-led attack on Iraq (see 12/21). Jordanian pharmacists agree to boycott U.S., UK medicines. (AFP, VOL 12/22 in WNC 12/23; WT 12/23)
U.S. suspends tourist, student, business visas for Syrians indefinitely in response to attack on the U.S. emb. 12/19. (WT 12/23; MM 1/4; WT 1/6)
1 Lebanese woman, 6 children are killed, 1 man, another child are injured in IDF attack on suspected Hizballah base in s. Lebanon. (IDF Radio, RL 12/22 in WNC 12/23; WP, WT 12/23; ITV, MBC, SAPA [Johannesburg] 12/23, MENA, SA 12/24 in WNC 12/28; Interfax 12/24, VOA 12/26 in WNC 12/29; PR 1/1)
On the 3d day of its attack on Iraq, the U.S. can confirm that only 18 of its 89 targets have been severely damaged or destroyed, despite having fired more laser-guided missiles in 2 days than during the entire 1991 Gulf War. Only U.S. planes stationed in Kuwait, Oman have flown; Saudi Arabia, Turkey have not permitted their bases to be used as staging grounds. (ATL, ITV 12/18 in WNC 12/22; NYT, WP, WT 12/19; MEI 12/25)
For the 2d day, U.S.-British strikes on Iraq prompt street protests across the Middle East. 15,000 Palestinians demonstrate in Nablus, while 1,000s of others protest in Bethlehem, Gaza City, Hebron, Jinin, Ramallah. PA police break up protest in Gaza City only; the PA closes some television, radio stations, news bureaus for reporting on the demonstrations. Syria's grand mufti denounces the U.S.-led operation. Pro-Iraq demonstrations are held in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen. (MM 12/18; SANA 12/18, al-Ra'i 12/19, JT 12/20 in WNC 12/22; NYT, WT 12/19; MEI 12/25)
Fmr. UNSCOM cheif inspector Scott Ritter claims that UNSCOM head Butler chose sites for inspection that he knew would provoke the Iraqis, then ordered halt to inspections on 12/13 to meet U.S. bombing time table; also says that the White House national security staff helped draft Butler's 12/15 report to ensure it contained sufficiently tough language to justify an attack. Butler denies showing his report to the U.S. in advance of its release, but National Security Adviser (NSA) Sandy Berger admits Butler briefed him personally 12/13. (WT 12/19; WP 12/20; MENA 12/20, al-Akhbar, MA 12/21 in WNC 12/22) (see 12/16)
PA police arrest 4 leading Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) mbrs., 8 journalists at march marking PFLP's 31st anniversary. (NYT, WT 12/19)
Knesset approves additional NIS 20 m. to fund expanding settlements in the West Bank, Golan. (PR 1/1)
Immediately upon his return to the U.S., Pres. Clinton convenes his senior advisers to "discuss the UNSCOM report on Iraq"; they unanimously recommend a strike. Clinton orders forces in the Gulf to attack immediately; 1st sorties reach Iraq around 5 p.m., leaving 2 Iraqis (Iraq says 25) dead, 30 injured. A token force of 18 British planes takes part. House postpones indefinitely its vote on impeachment, set for tomorrow. Operation Desert Fox is expected to conclude in 3-4 days, before the beginning of Ramadan. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chmn. Gen. Henry Shelton says decision was made in 11/98 to attack immediately if the UNSCOM report was negative. However, sources say that the White House informed the JCS 12/13 that a strike would be ordered this wk. Various congressmen say that they were briefed on the plan 3 wks. ago. Arab states are silent. France, Russia condemn the operation. Canada, Japan support it. (RJ 12/16 in WNC 12/17; ITV 12/16, AFP, ATL, JT 12/17 in WNC 12/21; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 12/17; MM, WP 12/18; MEI 12/25; GIU 1/5, 1/6)
PM Netanyahu says that he is prepared to call early elections unless the Knesset ratifies his hard-line policies on Wye implementation as outlined in his 12-point list of demands given to Clinton 12/15. (NYT, WP, WT 12/17; ITV 12/20 in WNC 12/22)
Israeli Finance M Neeman resigns in frustration over PM Netanyahu's political manipulation of the budget process. Netanyahu takes over the finance portfolio himself, giving himself control over budget allocations, which he could use to his political advantage if early elections are called. DM Mordechai is also reportedly threatening to leave over Wye implementation delays. (MM 12/16; MA, YA 12/16 in WNC 12/17; MM, NYT 12/17; NYT 12/19; WP 12/22; MEI 12/25; JP 12/28; Globes [Internet] 1/13 in WNC 1/14)
Peace Now reports that new housing starts in settlements more than doubled in 1998 compared to 1997. In the 1st half of 1998, construction began on 1,420 new units, up 136% fr. the same period last yr. In the 2d half of 1998, 640 units were started, up 121%. (Associated Press [Internet] 12/16)
Pres. Clinton meets with Netanyahu, Arafat at Erez border crossing, where Netanyahu gives him a list of 12 demands that the PA must meet before Israel will continue Wye implementation. Clinton warns that it would be "unfortunate" if Israel fell too far behind in the implementation schedule. He then attends tree lighting ceremony in Bethlehem with Arafat, tours Masada with Netanyahu. (MM 12/15; ITV, QY, RE 12/15 in WNC 12/16; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/16; JT 12/16 in WNC 12/17; MA 12/16 in WNC 12/21; al-Hayat al-Jadida 12/16, al-Quds 12/17, MA 12/18 in WNC 12/22; al-Ba`th 12/16 in WNC 12/28; MM, PR 12/18)
PISMC meets to discuss all pending peace process issues. The only agmt. reached is to create an "informal channel" to discuss the prisoner release issue. (ITV 12/15 in WNC 12/16; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 12/16)
Secy. Albright leaves the U.S. delegation in Israel to make side trip to Amman to meet with Crown Prince Hassan. (JTV 12/15 in WNC 12/17; NYT 12/16; MM 12/18)
UNSCOM head Richard Butler reports to the UN that by failure to comply with 5 of 300 recent inspections requests, Iraq has failed to honor the promises of cooperation that prompted Pres. Clinton to call off a major military strike 11/14. U.S. officials say that the Clinton administration played a direct role in shaping Butler's text during multiple conversations with him 12/14 at secure sites in the U.S. mission to the UN, convinced him to order inspectors out of Iraq today without informing UN. (NYT, WP, WT 12/16; AFP, RJ 12/16 in WNC 12/17; NYT 12/17; Tishrin 12/19 in WNC 12/28; al-Akhbar, MENA 12/21 in WNC 12/22; MEI 12/25) (see 12/13)
Palestinian prisoners end hunger strike. (ITV 12/15 in WNC 12/16; MEI 12/25) (see 12/12)
Clinton flies into Gaza airport by helicopter to attend the PNC session on the PLO charter, becoming the 1st sitting president to set foot on Palestinian soil. PNC mbrs., other officials approve the nullification of clauses of the PLO charter by show of hands. PM Netanyahu says he is satisfied but still will not carry out the next stage of the FRD on 12/18. U.S. says it will not press Netanyahu on the issue because of the upcoming Knesset no-confidence vote 12/21. In a luncheon speech, Pres. Clinton refers the Palestinian people's "chance to determine their own destiny on their own land," but does not speak of the right to self-determination or statehood directly. Palestinians view his visit to Gaza as tacit U.S. acknowledgement of their right to sovereignty. (CSM, MM 12/14; al-Aswaq, al-Dustur, IDF Radio, ITV, JT, MENA, al-Ra`i RE, al-Safir 12/14 in WNC 12/15; IDF Radio, ITV 12/14, AFP, JT, MA, RE 12/15 in WNC 12/16; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 12/15; WJW 12/17; ITAR-TASS 12/17 in WNC 12/21; Tishrin 12/16, al-Thawra 12/17 in WNC 12/28; PR 12/18; JP 12/21; MEI 12/25)
Hillary Clinton visits a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian town of Neve Shalom. (CSM 12/14; WP, WT 12/15; PR 12/18)
U.S. Commerce Secy. William Daley attends the official opening of th Qarni industrial zone. Coca Cola will be the first U.S. company to open operations in the zone. A total of 22 factories in the zone are ready for operation; 14 have been leased. (JP 12/21, 12/28)
Secy. Albright meets with Israeli DM Mordechai to discuss Wye implementation, Lebanon. (IDF Radio 12/14 in WNC 12/15)
Palestinians in Lebanese, Syrian refugee camps demonstrate against Wye agmt., amendment of the PLO charter. (VOL 12/14 in WNC 12/15; SATN 12/14 in WNC 12/16)
Jordan confirms that it recently deported, but did not turn over to the IDF, 3 Palestinians carrying PA passports fr. the kingdom because they are mbrs. of Hamas's Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, pose a security threat. (JT 12/15 in WNC 12/16; al-Dustur 12/15 in WNC 12/17)
In the West Bank, 2 Palestinians are wounded in clash with IDF. (AFP [Internet] 12/15)
Iran announces it has signed a deal with Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch/Shell and the British Lasmo to explore Caspian Sea oil reserves. The $19.8-m. deal is just below the threshold set by the U.S. under its Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, which threatens economic reprisals against any company investing more than $20 m. in those countries oil industries. (WT 12/16)
As the House approves 4 articles of impeachment against him in Washington, Pres. Clinton arrives in Tel Aviv on 1st stop of 4-day visit. At the airport, PM Netanyahu offers Clinton a "lukewarm" greeting, warns that the Wye agmt. is unraveling, says he will not halt his criticism of the PA, which he accuses of violating every clause of the Wye accord. (ITV, MENA 12/12, JT 12/13 in WNC 12/15; NYT, WP, WT 12/13; GIU, NYT 12/14; PR 12/18)
In Damascus, 8 PLO opposition groups, Hamas, Islamic Jihad open 2-day conference to reaffirm opposition to the Oslo process, adherence to PLO charter. Jordan prevents 32 Palestinians fr. crossing border to attend. (JT, SA 12/12, JTV 12/13, JT 12/14 in WNC 12/15; MM 12/14; al-Majd 12/14 in WNC 12/17; MEI 12/25; al-Watan al-Arabi 1/1 in WNC 1/5)
Jordanian PM Fayiz al-Tarawnah arrives in Gaza for coordination mtg. with Arafat. Both men call on Palestinian prisoners to end their hunger strike (see 12/11). (RJ 12/12 in WNC 12/15; al-Majd 12/14 in WNC 12/16)
In Gaza, 100s of Palestinians demonstrate against Israel's refusal to release political prisoners. During similar demonstration in Bethlehem, PA police, IDF clash with Palestinians, leaving 7 injured. (NYT, WT 12/13)
Jordanian security arrests 8 Palestinians in Baq`a refugee camp for planning rallies for 12/14 to protest Arafat's annulment of the PLO charter. (JT 12/14 in WNC 12/15; al-Dustur 12/15 in WNC 12/16, 12/17)
Palestinians across the occupied territories stage most violent protests in 7 mos. to mark the 11th anniversary of the beginning of the intifada. PM Netanyahu claims PA is deliberately escalating violence ahead of Clinton's visit. IDF responds with percussion grenades, rubber-coated bullets, live ammunition, leaving 1 Palestinian dead, some 200 injured. The worst clashes are in Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah. In Jericho, Palestinians throw rocks through the windows of the new Oasis casino. Settlers threaten to stage their own demonstrations; ask IDF permission to open fire on Palestinians who approach their border fences. Hamas spiritual leader Shaykh Ahmad Yasin joins prisoners' hunger strike (see 12/5). (CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 12/10; YA 12/10 in WNC 12/14)
Israel's High Court unanimously votes to overturn 50-yr.-old statue exempting Ultraorthodox Jews fr. serving in the IDF. (NYT, WP, WT 12/10)
IDF court-martials soldier who was ambushed, beaten by Palestinians in Ramallah 12/3 for not carrying a loaded weapon, leaving his post without permission. Top IDF cmdrs. say that he should have shot his attackers. (WP, WT 12/10; PR 12/11; JP 12/14)
Acting on Israeli complaints, PA police raid a Palestinian factory in Hebron manufacturing counterfeit compact discs of Israeli artists. (YA 12/9 in WNC 12/14)
Over 80% of settlers in Ganim sign draft bill prepared by Labor, saying that they would to evacuate the settlement in exchange for financial compensation. (ITV 12/9 in WNC 12/14) (see 12/8)
Iraq refuses to accommodate UN Special Comm. (UNSCOM) weapons inspectors demanding access to a Ba`th party offices. (CSM, WT 12/10; WP 12/11)
U.S. special envoy Ross meets with PM Netanyahu regarding Pres. Clinton's upcoming visit. Netanyahu gives him a list of alleged PA violations of Wye. Afterward, Ross publicly condemns Palestinian demonstrations on the prisoner release issue, restates that Israel did not promise at Wye to release specific types of Palestinian prisoners. (MM 12/8)
Arafat breaks off an EU tour to return to the occupied territories to oversee containment of Palestinian clashes, holds 3-hr. mtg. with U.S. envoy Ross. (ITV 12/8 in WNC 12/11; NYT 12/9)
U.S.-Israeli-PA anti-incitement comm. meets in Jerusalem. (YA 12/9 in WNC 12/11)
PM Netanyahu pledges millions of shekels to Qadim, Ganim settlements for construction of roads, fences, lighting, increased IDF surveillance; promises additional NIS 5 m. to Ganim, Qadim, Hermesh, Sanur settlements for kindergartens, recreation centers. (YA 12/9 in WNC 12/11)
A 16-mbr. American humanitarian team led by fmr. U.S. Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark delivers $300,000-worth of medical supplies to Iraq, marking its 18th trip in violation of UN sanctions. U.S. warns that the group may be penalized. (JT 12/9 in WNC 12/11; JT 12/10 in WNC 12/14)