IDF troops on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials inside the demolished industrial zone, wounding 1 Palestinian. In the...
The IDF significantly increases attacks on Gaza for the 2d straight day, as international mediation efforts led by Egypt to secure a cease-fire also intensify.
Combat notes: The IDF...Read more
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
Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to open phase 2 of OCL at its discretion by sending ground troops into Gaza “to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of...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
As Israel continues widespread air and naval bombardment of Gaza for a 3d day, Israeli DM Barak declares “all-out war” on Hamas. The IDF declares a 2-mi. buffer zone around the Strip a closed...Read more
As massive Israeli strikes on Gaza enter a 2d day, IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yo’av Galant says (HA 12/28) that the IDF aims to “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of Hamas’s...Read more
The IDF fires missiles at Tal al-Za‘atar in n. Gaza, allegedly targeting Islamic Jihad mbrs. attempting to fire a rocket, but no injuries are reported; shells Jabaliya r.c., hitting a home,...Read more
Overnight, the IDF sends troops into Khan Yunis, imposes a curfew on the al-Satar al-Gharbiyya neighborhood facing nearby Jewish settlements, raids and searches homes (forcing residents to wait...Read more
The IDF assassinates wanted AMB mbr. ‘Abd al-Hadi Natsha in Hebron, local PFLP military cmdr. Ahmad ‘Atiya in Qalqilya; bulldozes 20 dunams of land, fires a flechette shell at Palestinian houses...Read more
The IDF retakes Bethlehem, which had had only a small troop presence since the IDF turned the security of city over to the PSF on 8/19/02; imposes a curfew; surrounds the Church of the Nativity to...Read more
The IDF fires on Palestinians in Jenin, killing 1 Palestinian vendor in the central market; conducts arrest raids in Satar al-Gharbiyya. Palestinians fire on workers building Israeli...Read more
The IDF turns over control of Bethlehem, the main n.+ns. road in Gaza to the PA Preventive Security Force (PSF), lifts the curfew on Bethlehem, keeps troops on the outskirts of the...Read more
IDF troops on the Israeli side of the Erez crossing fire warning shots at Palestinians scavenging for construction materials inside the demolished industrial zone, wounding 1 Palestinian. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 2 tin houses and 4 sheep pens (killing 15 sheep) in Jiftlik village nr. Jericho; conducts late-night patrols in Jenin town and r.c.; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Umar and Safa nr. Hebron targeting organizers of weekly demonstrations against settlement expansion and land confiscation nr. Karme Tzur; conducts other late-night searches in Za‘tar village nr. Hebron, summoning 1 Palestinian for questioning. Jewish settlers move into a vacant building in al-Tur in East Jerusalem that they claimed to have purchased in 2005; the Palestinian family was evicted and building sealed in 2009 until the case could be decided by a court (ruling still pending). (PCHR 11/25; NYT 11/26; PCHR 12/2; OCHA 12/3)
The IDF significantly increases attacks on Gaza for the 2d straight day, as international mediation efforts led by Egypt to secure a cease-fire also intensify.
Combat notes: The IDF tightens the cordon around Gaza City (focusing attacks on the outlying neighborhoods of Shaykh Ajlin, Tal al-Hawa, and al-Zaytun and open areas n. of the city), with troops reportedly taking fire from Palestinian rocket-propelled grenade antitank missiles and mortars. The IDF also launches a major incursion into Jabaliya under heavy shelling, engaging in heavy exchanges of fire with Palestinian gunmen, killing at least 13. In s. Gaza, the IDF continues heavy attacks on Khuza, including air strikes, intense shelling, and widespread bulldozing of some 50 houses and farms; Israeli fire is so heavy and constant that residents report being unable to reach the injured or flee their homes to seek shelter outside the village; IDF troops pull back fr. Khuza after nightfall.
The IDF reports carrying out more than 160 air strikes across Gaza. Air strike target areas include Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Shaykh Ridwan, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza, Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, al-Shuka, Tal al-Za‘atar, and the Twam area. Israeli gunboats shell Nussayrat r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported nr. Bayt Lahiya (white phosphorous suspected) and in Dayr al-Balah, Jabaliya town, Khan Yunis (white phosphorous suspected), Khuza, Nussayrat r.c. (confirmed use of flechette shells). For a 2d day, nearly half of the air strikes take place after nightfall, targeting Gaza City. Palestinians report 12 hrs. of constant Israeli bombardment of the Rafah border, with the IDF claiming to destroy 90 smuggling tunnels. (The IDF also demolishes 1 tunnel on the Gaza–Israel border nr. the Nahal Oz crossing.) Specific targets include a Hamas police headquarters in Gaza City, 31 groups of armed men, 25 rocket-launching sites, and 13 suspected weapons manufacturing and storage facilities.
On the ground, the IDF reports a total of 6 soldiers wounded (2 moderately, 4 lightly) in 2 exchanges of gunfire with Palestinians. In a 3d incident, IDF reservists open fire on an IDF paratrooper unit, seriously wounding 1 and moderately wounding 3. Palestinians report around 70 Gazans killed today, putting the estimated Palestinian toll at 971 dead and 4,400 wounded. The Israeli toll stands at 13–14 dead, more than 125 injured. (Israeli military intelligence confirms that 1 soldier killed on 1/6 or 1/8 was targeted by a suicide bomber, stating that several Palestinian suicide bombers, including some women and some dressed as IDF soldiers, have approached combat units.)
Palestinians fire about 11 rockets and 6 mortars into Israel, causing no reported damage or injuries.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes another 3-hr. lull, allowing 102 truckloads of aid into Gaza. (The IDF states that 1,028 truckloads of humanitarian goods have been allowed into Gaza since 12/27.) During the lull the ICRC rescues 100 Palestinians trapped in Jabaliya. Heavy IDF attacks in Rafah force UNRWA to close a medical center just n. of the border to ensure the safety of patients and to open more shelters for displaced residents. Human Rights Watch calls Israel’s 3-hr./day breaks to facilitate humanitarian aid “woefully insufficient.” Other aid groups (including Doctors Without Borders, the ICRC, the UN) complain that they are still able to import and distribute only a fraction of the emergency supplies available for Gaza because of Israeli delays and restrictions. (BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, MA, MM, REU, YA 1/13; AYM, IDF, IFM, MM, NYT, WP, WT, YA 1/14; NYT, PCHR, WP, XIN 1/15; ITIC 1/19)
In the West Bank, IDF troops at the Tarqumiyya crossing nr. Hebron fatally shoot a Palestinian who allegedly attempts to grab the gun of a border patrol officer after being denied permission to cross the checkpoint. Late in the evening, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Awa, Dura, and Kafr Khalil (all nr. Hebron). A Jewish settler driving nr. Azun village e. of Qalqilya opens fire on Palestinian youths who stone his car, killing 1 Palestinian teenager, wounding 2. (HA 1/13; PCHR 1/15)
A Jordanian soldier fires on an Israeli border patrol unit operating along the Negev border with Jordan n. of Elat. The border police return fire. No injuries are reported. (MM 1/13; WT 1/14; JPI 1/23)
Olmert’s security cabinet revives discussion of opening phase 3 of OCL (see 1/9), agreeing to make a final decision whether to expand or wind down operations within 2–3 days, by which time the IDF believes ground forces will have done all they can from the open and suburban areas they currently hold to weaken Hamas’s ability and desire to fire rockets.
Combat notes: The IDF significantly increases attacks, particularly around Gaza City, and continues to send troops into Gaza. Palestinians report (AYM 1/12) heavy clashes with the IDF n. of Bayt Lahiya, in Daraj and al-Shuja‘iyya neighborhoods on the eastern boundary of Gaza City, and in Dahadih and al-Zaytun to the south of the city. Overnight, the IDF also sends troops back into Khuza (see 1/11) under heavy artillery fire (possibly including white phosphorous), occupying a number of homes as staging posts and prompting 1,000s of residents to flee their homes.
The IDF reports carrying out more than 120 air strikes (half of them after nightfall, targeting Gaza City), uncovering 1 boobytrapped home and 2 booby-trapped tunnels. Targets include the PA Interior Min. offices in n. Gaza, more than 35 tunnels on the Rafah border, homes of Hamas leaders, at least 22 mortar and rocket launching sites, at least 26 groups of armed men, at least 10 “Hamas outposts,” 2 suspected weapons depots and manufacturing facilities, 2 mosques, 2 hotels. Air strike target areas include Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (city center and Shaykh Ridwan, al-Sudaniyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., al-Shuka, Tal al-Za‘atar, the Twam area (northern outskirts of Gaza City), Yibna r.c. IDF gunboats shell Nussayrat, Rafah, a fishing port w. of Rafah. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Bayt Hanun, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town, al-Mughraqa, Twam.
Israeli attacks are so intense that reliable updates on Palestinian casualty estimates are not possible. The IDF estimates killing at least 30 Palestinians in air strikes. UNRWA reports at least 19 Palestinian children killed and 52 children injured in nighttime operations (possibly overlapping with air strikes), 1 paramedic killed by tank fire in Jabaliya during the day. The IDF reports 8 soldiers wounded (1 severely, 1 moderately, 6 lightly) in various incidents, all after nightfall; 3 of the soldiers are injured when they trigger a setup in a booby-trapped house.
Palestinians fire 17 rockets and 7 mortars into Israel, with 1 rocket in Ashqelon and 1 in Sederot causing damage but no reported injuries.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes the daily 3-hr. humanitarian lull, allowing 120 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. UNRWA estimates that internally displaced Gazans number now 90,000: 30,000 seeking shelter in UNRWA schools; 60,000 in the homes of friends and relatives. (AP, AYM, BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, JP, MA, MM, al-Ra’i, REU, RFM, WP, YA 1/12; HA, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/13; AYM, HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/14; PCHR 1/15; BBC, WJW 1/16; ITIC 1/19)
In the West Bank, unidentified armed Palestinians fire on an IDF patrol nr. Kiryat Arba settlement, wounding 3. In response, the IDF raids, searches Palestinian homes nr. Kiryat Arba, making no arrests. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron. (HA 1/13; PCHR 1/15)
Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to open phase 2 of OCL at its discretion by sending ground troops into Gaza “to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of operation, while taking control of some of [sic] rocket launching area used by the Hamas”; authorizes the call-up of 10,000s of additional reservists. The IDF does not immediately take action.
Israeli action: The IDF continues air strikes and naval bombardment of Gaza, carrying out 65 air strikes and hitting 65 individual sites. Target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Lahiya, Dahaniyya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Nussayrat, Rafah, Tal al-Za‘atar. Primary targets include the homes of more than 12 senior Hamas officials (including senior IQB official Imad Akel, who reportedly is killed along with 3 children nearby; and Haniyeh’s chief of staff Muhammad Madhun and fmr. PA Refugee Affairs M Atif Udwan, who are believed to be in hiding); a car carrying Hamas’s Gaza City military cmdr. Muhammad (Abu Zakariya) al-Jamal, assassinating him; the Rafah airport site (already heavily damaged by yrs. of IDF attacks); the American International School in al-Atatra in n. Gaza; a public works dept. building southwest of Gaza City; tunnels on the Rafah border; and suspected weapons depots across Gaza. The estimated Palestinian toll reaches 431 killed, more than 2,200 injured.
Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 26 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, including 10 rockets that strike nr. Ashqelon, 1 of which causes damage and lightly injures 2 Israelis.
Humanitarian notes: The IDF escorts 226 foreigners who opt to leave Gaza to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan; allows 64 truckloads of humanitarian goods into the Strip.
Of note: By this date, nearly all of Gaza’s police stations and government buildings have been destroyed. One senior Israeli security official states that “All of the offices and databases are gone. When all this is over, no civil servant will have an office to sit in.” (HA, IDF, IFM, ITV 1/2; AFP, AP, HA, IDF, Nation, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; Adalah 1/4; IFM, JP, PCHR 1/8; WT 1/22; JPI 1/23)
In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 5 Palestinians), Ni‘lin (wounding 1 Israeli, 3 Palestinians), and Jayyus (injuring 3 Palestinians; 1 is hit with live ammunition). In Jerusalem, 100s of Palestinians clash with Israeli police after Friday prayers. Small demonstrations against OCL are reported in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank (including Bani Na‘im nr. Hebron, Bethlehem, Hebron, Issawiyya, Ramallah, Shu‘fat r.c.). IDF troops shoot at protesters in Bani Na‘im, wounding 5. The PASF breaks up large rallies against OCL in Hebron and Ramallah, firing tear gas at demonstrators, ripping up pro-Hamas placards and flags, beating and arresting suspected Hamas supporters, injuring at least 10 Palestinians. (HA, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; PCHR 1/8)
As 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)
As Israel continues widespread air and naval bombardment of Gaza for a 3d day, Israeli DM Barak declares “all-out war” on Hamas. The IDF declares a 2-mi. buffer zone around the Strip a closed military zone and continues amassing tanks and troops there, indicating further preparations for a ground invasion. Israeli military officials speaking anonymously say they have expanded the IDF’s target list to include Hamas’s support network and symbols of Hamas power, stating that “there are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorists against Israel” and that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.”
Israeli actions: The IDF reports hitting 100 sites today, including more Islamic University buildings (including the engineering dept., library); homes and offices of Hamas leaders; PA government buildings (including the Interior Min., Finance Min., Foreign Min., Labor Min., Construction and Housing Min., and a PA presidential guest house); Bani Suhayla’s municipal building; the alZawiyya Mosque in Jabaliya r.c. and Omar Bin al-Khattab Mosque in al-Bureij r.c.; more civil and naval police stations; more tunnels along the Rafah border; the headquarters of Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV; Gaza’s port (for a 2d day); and 1 Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades training site. Target areas include Abasan, Bani Suhayla, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (city center, al-Rimal, al-Sabra, Shaykh Ajlin, Tal al-Hawa), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah, Shati’ r.c., Tal al-Za‘atar. Just before strikes on Rafah, Israeli Military Intelligence makes 10,000 automated calls to Rafah residents warning of pending air strikes, breaks into Palestinian radio broadcasts to urge residents across Gaza to move to city centers. Palestinian medical officials report at least 364 Palestinians dead, 1,500 wounded since 12/27.
Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 66 rockets, 14 mortars into Israel (twice as many as in the previous 24 hrs.), killing 3 Israeli civilians (1 each in Nahal Oz, Ashdod, Ashqelon; 1 of them an Israeli Palestinian) and wounding 5 (3 of them Israeli Palestinians), with 2 rockets hitting 23 mi. north in Gan Yavne/Ashdod. A Palestinian mortar hits an IDF base in Netivot, s. and e. of the Nahal Oz crossing, killing 1 IDF soldier (a Druze), seriously wounding 1, lightly injuring 4. The Israeli toll stands at 4–5 dead, about 20 injured. Reports circulate (e.g., NYT 12/30) of Hamas gunmen executing at least 5 accused collaborators with Israel inside hospitals; the 5 had been jailed for collaboration and transferred to hospitals after being wounded in IDF air strikes on jails.
Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 40 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza; Egypt allows 23 truckloads of emergency goods in, some wounded out through Rafah. International aid groups (including Amnesty International, the UN) say aid transfers are insufficient, warn that the death toll is rising in part because of lack of medicines and medical supplies, food, and fuel.
Of note: One Israeli air strike heavily damages the UN Special Coordinator’s Office (UNSCO) headquarters in Gaza City, prompting the UN to issue a formal complaint. Egyptian TV reports that captured IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit has been wounded in an Israeli air strike in recent days; Hamas does not comment. (BBC, CNN, HA, Houston Chronicle, IFM, REU, White House press briefing, YA 12/29; BBC, IDF, Independent, NYT, WP, WT 12/30; IDF, UNOSAT 12/31; JP, PCHR, WJW 1/1; ITV 1/2; IDF 1/3; NYT, WP 1/4; WT, UNOSAT 1/5; IFM 1/8; Committee to Protect Journalists 1/9)
In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubbercoated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in Issawiyya, Shu‘fat r.c., al-Tur neighborhood in East Jerusalem, causing no serious injuries; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in East Tura village nr. Jenin, Hebron. (PCHR 1/1)
As massive Israeli strikes on Gaza enter a 2d day, IDF Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Yo’av Galant says (HA 12/28) that the IDF aims to “send Gaza decades into the past” in terms of Hamas’s leadership, weaponry, and smuggling capabilities while achieving “the maximum number of enemy casualties.” Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to call up 6,500 reservists, and the IDF begins massing tanks and troops on Gaza’s border, indicating planning for a ground incursion. Israel’s Homefront Command orders 80 factories and businesses within 3 mi. of the Gaza border to close indefinitely for their safety (a move expected [WJW 1/1] to cost Israel’s economy $1 m./day), indicating concerns of increased Palestinian rocket fire once ground operations begin. Israeli Military Intelligence breaks into Palestinian radio broadcasts to warn Gazans against cooperating with Hamas. The IDF drops 300,000 leaflets across Gaza warning residents to evacuate areas where Hamas is operating or storing weapons or to remain at their own risk. The Israeli FMin. opens an international media broadcast outlet in Sederot (a main target of Palestinian rockets), begins tours of Sederot and other Gaza border communities for foreign media, diplomats, and VIPs. (Israel continues to prevent the foreign media fr. entering Gaza.)
Israeli actions: The IDF reports air and naval bombardment of 100 sites across Gaza, bringing the number of targets destroyed since operations began to more than 210. The 2-day Palestinian toll rises to an estimated 300 dead (including at least 22 children, 9 women, 60 other civilians) and 1,300 injured (including at least 235 children and 200 women). Target areas include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Bani Suhayla (s. Gaza), Bir al-Naja (n. Gaza), Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (city center, al-Rimal, Shaykh Ridwan, Shati’ r.c., al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, Khuza (east of Khan Yunis), Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara (s. Gaza), Rafah, Shati’ r.c., and Tal al-Za‘atar (nr. Jabaliya).
The IDF’s primary targets are around 40 tunnels along the Rafah border, hit with GBU-39s. Other major targets include several buildings at Islamic University (including a science building Israel claims was connected to rocket manufacturing); Gaza City’s PA ministry compound, the offices of acting PM Ismail Haniyeh, and the main police station (destroying the Saraya; allowing about 50 Fatah prisoners to escape, but killing at least 4); Rafah’s main PASF, governorate, and municipal complexes; more civil and naval police stations, metal workshops believed to make rockets; the Gaza City and Rafah ports; at least 3 mosques (Imad ‘Akel Mosque in Jabaliya r.c., Izzeddin al-Qassam Mosque in Abasan, al-Rimal Mosque in Gaza City) alleged to be weapons depots; a Palestinian Energy Authority building in Khan Yunis; a private medical warehouse; and at least 8 homes and 3 apartment buildings.
Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 17 rockets, 18 mortars into Israel, injuring at least 6 Israeli civilians (including cases of shock). The rockets include 1 manufactured Grad/Katyusha that lands in Gan Yavne 20 mi. inside Israel, outside Ashdod, the farthest to date. In the evening, 100s of Palestinians attempt to flee Gaza through small breaches in the border wall apparently caused by IDF air strikes; they are sent back by Egyptian security forces, who exchange fire with the crowd, leaving at least 1 Palestinian, 1 Egyptian border policeman dead, 4 Palestinians, 5 Egyptian border policemen, an 8-yr.-old Egyptian child wounded.
Humanitarian notes: Israel allows the entry to Gaza of 100 truckloads of food and medical aid, 10 ambulances, and fuel for hospitals, donated by Jordan, Turkey, and international aid organizations. The shipments include 4 truckloads of pharmaceuticals from the PA central pharmacy in Ramallah (the 2d PA delivery since the PA had blocked the shipments of medicine to Gaza in early 9/08; see 12/16), transferred by the PA at UNRWA request. Humanitarian groups, however, continue to warn of deteriorating medical conditions and lack of food in Gaza and urge Israel to allow unrestricted entry of aid. OCHA reports power outages of up to 16 hrs./day in Gaza City, n. Gaza, and c. Gaza; says all flour mills have shut down for lack of grain imports, threatening widespread bread shortages. (AFP, AP, BBC, HA, IDF, IFM, JAZ, OCHA, REU 12/28; IDF, JP, al-Masryun[Egypt], NYT, SFR, WP, WT 12/29; BBC, Defense Update [online], Global Research [online], WP 12/30; REU, UNOSAT 12/31; JP, PCHR, WJW, WP 1/1; IDF, NYT 1/3; WP 1/4; IFM 1/8; WP 1/10)
Across the West Bank, Palestinians protest against OCL, clashing with the IDF at numerous points (Abu Dis, Issawiyya, and al-Ram nr. Jerusalem; Bani Na‘im nr. Hebron; Ni‘lin and Silwad nr. Ramallah), leaving 3 Palestinians dead, 31 Palestinians, 1 IDF soldier, 1 Israeli child injured. In at least one instance, PASF breaks up one protest by 100s of Palestinians in Ramallah when demonstrators unfurl Hamas banners; the PASF reportedly (NYT 1/3) has been ordered to prevent any popular displays of support for Hamas. The IDF conducts daytime house searches nr. Jenin, making no arrests; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bil‘in and nr. Hebron, Nablus. Palestinians stone a Jewish settler vehicle nr. Hebron, lightly injuring an 8-yr.-old girl. (PCHR, WJW 1/1)
The IDF fires missiles at Tal al-Za‘atar in n. Gaza, allegedly targeting Islamic Jihad mbrs. attempting to fire a rocket, but no injuries are reported; shells Jabaliya r.c., hitting a home, wounding 2 Palestinians; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Jenin, Ramallah; patrols in Nablus; captures 4 unarmed Palestinians attempting to sneak across the Israeli border fence in central Gaza to find work; detains a Palestinian in Ariel settlement who apparently was living there secretly with his Jewish settler girlfriend (a fmr. IDF intelligence officer). Palestinian gunmen fire on an IDF outpost nr. Mevo Dotan settlement nr. Jenin; the IDF returns fire, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding and arresting 2. Palestinians also fire an antitank missile at an IDF patrol nr. Rafah, causing no damage or injuries. In Hebron, 10s of Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba (some reports say Avraham Avino) attack and threaten 10s of Palestinians, vandalize and attempt to break into Palestinian homes, seriously injuring a 12-yr.-old Palestinian girl. Some 50 Jewish settlers fr. Ramat Yishai attack a Palestinian home where a number of international peace activists are visiting; the IDF observes but does not intervene. (IMEMC, PRCS 5/28; YA 5/29; OCHA 6/1; PCHR 6/2)
Overnight, the IDF sends troops into Khan Yunis, imposes a curfew on the al-Satar al-Gharbiyya neighborhood facing nearby Jewish settlements, raids and searches homes (forcing residents to wait outside, unprotected in bad weather during the search), bulldozes 3 d. of agricultural land. The IDF fatally shoots 2 armed Hamas mbrs. who approach the n. Gaza border fence; sends troops back into the Bayt Lahiya bedouin village raided on 12/25, damages property, rounds up all residents over age 16, taking several to nearby Nisanit settlement for interrogation, releasing them several hrs. later; sends a 3-jeep patrol into Beitunia nr. Ramallah, forces elementary school students to stand around the jeeps for 30 minutes to prevent stone-throwing at the troops, then withdraws; shells residential areas of Rafah; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in al-Qarara, Tulkarm. A 7-yr.-old Palestinian dies of injuries received in the IDF shelling of Mughraqa on 10/13/04. (HA 12/26; VOP 12/26 in WNC 12/28; NYT, WP 12/27; PM 12/28; PR 12/29; PCHR 12/30)
The IDF assassinates wanted AMB mbr. ‘Abd al-Hadi Natsha in Hebron, local PFLP military cmdr. Ahmad ‘Atiya in Qalqilya; bulldozes 20 dunams of land, fires a flechette shell at Palestinian houses nr. Qarni crossing, leaving 1 Palestinian brain dead; conducts arrest raids, blows up a Palestinian home nr. Hebron; beats up a Palestinian AP cameraman filming soldiers vandalizing Palestinian cars at the Salim roadblock. A car explodes in Balata r.c., killing 1 Hamas mbr., injuring 2; the IDF says the men suffered a “work accident”; Hamas claims it was an IDF assassination. A Palestinian gunman infiltrates Tal Rumayda settlement, shoots and wounds 2 Jewish settlers before being shot dead; the IDF places curfews on nearby Palestinian villages. Palestinians also fire a Qassam rocket at Sederot, causing no damage or injuries. Late in the evening, the IDF sends troops into al-Qarara, Satar al-Gharbiyya, conducting arrest raids, razing 49 dunams of land. A Palestinian dies of injuries received in the IDF attack on Nussayrat r.c. on 10/20, bringing that toll to at least 8; a 2d Palestinian dies of injuries received in Ramallah on 10/21. (HA, PR 10/22; HA, MM, PCHR 10/23)
Ward Boston, a fmr. Navy lawyer who helped lead the military investigation into Israel’s 1967 attack on the USS Liberty that killed 34 U.S. soldiers, files a signed affidavit that Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson and Defense Secy. Robert McNamara ordered those heading the naval inquiry to “conclude that the attack was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” (AP 10/22; NYT 10/23)
The IDF retakes Bethlehem, which had had only a small troop presence since the IDF turned the security of city over to the PSF on 8/19/02; imposes a curfew; surrounds the Church of the Nativity to prevent armed Palestinians fr. seeking refuge there; conducts arrest raids, detaining 20 Palestinians; blows up the house rented by the family of the 11/21 bomber; encircles nearby Dahaysha r.c.; occupies 15 buildings, including a hospital, orphanage, 2 houses, 6 police stations, the local PSF headquarters; occupies as many as 30 Palestinian homes in al-Khadir nr. Bethlehem, expelling the families; raids the home of Israeli UNRWA worker Allegra Pacheco, holding her at gunpoint for 2 hrs., arresting her husband. Senior Irish UNRWA official Iain Hook is fatally shot inside the UNRWA’s Jenin r.c. compound by an IDF soldier who mistook his cell phone for a grenade as an IDF operation unfolded nearby to capture wanted Islamic Jihad mbr. Abdallah Wahash, who is arrested; an 11-yr.-old Palestinian throwing stones at the troops is also shot dead. The IDF also raids, shells residential areas of, demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in al-Qarara; bulldozes 8 dunams of land in al-Qarara, 28 dunams s. of Dayr al-Balah; conducts house searches, arrest raids in Satar al-Sharqiyya (targeting Hamas mbrs.), Tulkarm. A Hamas sniper fatally shoots an IDF soldier on patrol nr. Gush Katif settlement. Palestinians detonate a roadside bomb nr. the Rafah-Egypt border, injuring 2 IDF soldiers. Late this evening, 2 Islamic Jihad suicide bombers detonate their explosives-packed boat next to an Israeli naval patrol boat off the coast of Gaza, injuring 4 IDF soldiers. (HA, MM, NYT, PM, WP, WT 11/22; AFP 11/22 in WNC 11/25; AP, HA, NYT, WP, WT 11/23; NYT, WP 11/24; HA 11/25; NYT, WT 11/26; HA, LAW, PCHR 11/27; CSM, JP, WJW 11/28; HA 12/2; NYT 1/4)
Christian Coalition leaders end a wk. long solidarity visit to Israel, saying they will use their “fact-finding mission” to help galvanize support for Israel in the U.S. (WT 11/27)
The IDF fires on Palestinians in Jenin, killing 1 Palestinian vendor in the central market; conducts arrest raids in Satar al-Gharbiyya. Palestinians fire on workers building Israeli security fence nr. Baqa` al-Gharbiyya, killing 1 Israeli Arab laborer. Nr. Hebron, Jewish peace activists, local Palestinians attempt to harvest Palestinian olive groves, keep Jewish settlers away (see 10/2); when settlers become increasingly hostile, the IDF intervenes, ordering peace activists, Palestinians to leave, then leaving the area themselves, allowing settlers to move in. Jewish settlers also confiscate a Palestinian home in Hebron's old city. (HA, JTA, NYT, PM 10/3; MA 10/3 in WNC 10/4; AP 10/4; PCHR, PR 10/9)
An Israeli security delegation (comprising DMin. dir. gen. Amos Yaron, IDF policy planning head Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland) arrives in Washington to consulted with U.S. officials (including Dep. Defense Secy. Paul Wolfowitz, Dep. Secy. of State Richard Armitage) ahead of a possible attack on Iraq. (HA 10/3; MM 10/4; HA 10/8)
The IDF turns over control of Bethlehem, the main n.+ns. road in Gaza to the PA Preventive Security Force (PSF), lifts the curfew on Bethlehem, keeps troops on the outskirts of the city, poised to reinvade if the PA fails to maintain security control; 400 PA Preventive Security Force (PSF) officers take up posts around the city. The IDF fatally shoots a 14-yr.-old boy in Jenin for no apparent reason; blows up a building in Nablus that it claims to be a bomb-making factory; raids a PSF post nr. Ramallah, detaining 6 PSF officers; bulldozes 9 dunams (4 dunams = 1 acre) of agricultural land, 1 Palestinian home in Satar al-Gharbiyya; conducts arrest raids in Jenin r.c. (MM 8/19; MM, NYT, WP, WT 8/20; LAW, PCHR, WP 8/21; AKH 8/22 in WNC 8/23; PCHR 8/26)
Fatah Revolutionary Council (FRC) head Sabri al-Banna (Abu Nidal), who broke with the Fatah organization in the 1970s, is found dead in his Baghdad apartment. Iraqi officials say he committed suicide, but do not explain how he suffered multiple gunshot wounds. (HA 8/19; MM, NYT, WP, WT 8/20; NYT, WP, WT 8/21; DUS 8/21 in WNC 8/22; MA 8/29 in WNC 8/30; MM 9/20)