47 / 15237 Results
  • December 8, 2010

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

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  • January 18, 2009

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

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  • January 17, 2009

    With the 1/16 MOU in hand, along with a letter from European heads of state pledging to support the U.S.-led efforts outlined therein and a private message from Mubarak to the Israeli security...

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  • January 16, 2009

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

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  • January 15, 2009

    The 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease...

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  • January 14, 2009

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

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  • January 12, 2009

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

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  • January 11, 2009

    The IDF launches its deepest ground incursions into Gaza City since OCL began, conducting a 2-front assault from the north and the south; troops pull back to the outskirts of Gaza City by...

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  • January 9, 2009

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

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  • January 4, 2009

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

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  • January 3, 2009

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

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  • December 30, 2008

    International diplomacy to end OCL clicks into gear with France proposing that Israel and Hamas impose a 48-hr. humanitarian truce to try to defuse the violence and restore the Gaza cease-fire,...

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  • December 27, 2008

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

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  • July 14, 2006

    Overnight in Gaza, the IDF conducts air strikes heavily damaging the offices of Change and Reform PC mbrs. in Bayt Lahiya (causing no injuries), destroying a bridge linking Nussayrat r.c. with...

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  • December 28, 2005

    The IDF carries out at least 8 predawn air strikes on the n. Gaza no-go zone (causing no casualties) and a predawn air strike on al-Mughraqa s. of Gaza City (tearing up a main street, damaging...

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  • March 4, 2005

    The IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in al-Mughraqa in central Gaza, Yatta. Palestinian gunmen with the Fatah offshoot al-Awda Brigades fire on a PA security office in Nablus, sparking an...

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  • November 22, 2004

    The IDF sends troops into Salfit, raids Prisoners’ Support Society offices, confiscates files and a computer, vandalizes furniture; raids offices, confiscates documents of 2 cultural societies in...

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  • November 5, 2004

    The IDF shells residential areas of Khan Yunis, killing 2 Palestinian youths; fires on residential areas of al-Brazil r.c., al-Mughraqa; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Askar r.c., ‘Ayn...

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  • September 25, 2004

    The IDF continues its assault on Khan Yunis, totally demolishing 49 Palestinian homes, partially demolishing 7 before withdrawing by dawn. During the day, the IDF fires on residential areas of...

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  • September 23, 2004

    In Gaza, 3 Palestinian gunmen fr. the Abu Rish Brigades (a Fatah offshoot), Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Resistance Comms. (PRC) attack an IDF post outside Morag, fatally shooting 3 IDF soldiers...

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  • September 22, 2004

    A female AMB suicide bomber fr. Askar r.c. detonates a device in East Jerusalem’s French Hill settlement when 2 Israeli border policemen ask to search her bag; the bomber, 2 Israeli police...

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  • September 15, 2004

    Overnight, the IDF raids al-Mughraqa under cover of heavy shelling, bulldozes 7 Palestinian homes, 20 d. before pulling out later in the day. In an attempt to assassinate Nablus AMB leader Majid...

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  • September 4, 2004

    The IDF tightens checkpoints around Jenin; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis (damaging a hospital), Rafah; sends troops into Bayta and Salfit, firing on stone-throwing youths who confront...

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  • August 25, 2004

    The IDF demolishes 5 Palestinian homes, bulldozes 45 d. in al-Mughraqa nr. Gaza City; blows up 1 Palestinian home nr. Nablus; fires tear gas at Palestinians waiting to cross the al-Mawasi...

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  • July 18, 2004

    The IDF closes the Rafah crossing to Egypt indefinitely, citing security concerns; conducts an overnight raid into Saida nr. Tulkarm, firing on residential areas, rounding up residents for...

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  • July 1, 2004

    The IDF continues operations in Bayt Hanun, announcing plans to create a buffer zone around the town to prevent rocket fire, firing missiles into residential areas (killing 3 Palestinians,...

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  • June 14, 2004

    The IDF assassinates AMB Balata r.c. cmdr. Khalid Marshud, firing missiles at his taxi in Nablus, also killing the taxi driver, seriously wounding 2 bystanders. The IDF also eases a curfew on...

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  • June 13, 2004

    The IDF fires on residential areas of Rafah, wounding a 9-mo.-old baby; razes a Palestinian home, 65 dunams of agricultural land in al-Qarara; bulldozes 1.5 dunams of citrus trees, a telephone...

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  • February 19, 2004

    The IDF transfers a West Bank administrative detainee to Gaza for 4 yrs.; fires on 4 Palestinians, allegedly al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbrs. attempting to infiltrate Gaza’s Gush Katif...

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  • November 20, 2003

    The IDF fatally shoots a Palestinian who strays too close to Netzarim settlement; bulldozes 3 dunams of land in al-Mughraqa; demolishes a Palestinian home nr. Hebron. Palestinians detonate a...

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

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

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

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

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

With the 1/16 MOU in hand, along with a letter from European heads of state pledging to support the U.S.-led efforts outlined therein and a private message from Mubarak to the Israeli security cabinet received today, Olmert formally declares a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza effective 2:00 A.M. local time on 1/18 (7:00 P.M. 1/17 EST). Stressing that Hamas was not party to any of the pledges secured by Israel, Olmert states: “If [the Palestinians] stop firing, we will consider leaving Gaza at a time that is suitable to us,” but if they continue rocket fire (NYT 1/17), “the Israeli army will regard itself as free to respond with force.” Hamas denounces Israel for ignoring Egyptian efforts to broker an agreed upon truce.

Combat notes: Olmert’s announcement comes at the end of a day of “sporadic and intensive” fighting in Gaza. The IDF reports hitting more than 120 targets, mostly comprising a final massive bombardment of more than 100 tunnels along the Rafah border that lasts 10 hrs., but also including strikes on at least 10 rocket-launching sites, 5 groups of armed Palestinians, 3 Hamas outposts. In addition to Rafah, air strike target areas include Bayt Hanun, Gaza City (city center), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis. Heavy artillery and tank fire are reported in: Bayt Lahiya, Jabaliya, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah). In Bayt Lahiya, IDF shells (possibly including white phosphorous) hit an UNRWA school sheltering 1,600 Gazans, killing 2 Palestinian brothers (ages 4, 5) and wounding 36 Palestinians (including the boys’ mother, who loses both legs. Naval bombardments center on Khan Yunis. Ground engagements are reported in al-Bureij r.c., al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat r.c., al-Zahra’. Late in the evening, IDF troops pull out of al-Shuka (where troops seized positions on 1/14), with residents reporting many houses demolished and damaged, wide areas of agricultural land razed, and significant damage to the village infrastructure (water systems, etc.).

Palestinians fire 19 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, lightly injuring 5 Israelis (possibly all shock). The IDF reports 4 IDF soldiers seriously wounded in a friendly fire incident involving Israeli mortar fire, plus another 13 soldiers injured (3 seriously, 3 moderately, 7 lightly) in clashes with Palestinian gunmen over the previous 24 hrs., including 5 soldiers wounded by a Palestinian antitank round today.

With the truce ordered, the IDF put Israel’s comprehensive casualty toll for OCL at 3 (perhaps 4; see casualties chart in special document section for details) civilians and 10 soldiers dead, more than 100 soldiers and an unstated number of civilians injured. (This marks the 1st time the IDF has given estimates for comprehensive IDF casualties inside Gaza.) Gazan health officials estimate the Palestinian toll to be at least 1,200 killed and more than 5,000 wounded, though numbers are expected to change as rescue workers gain access to damaged areas.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF allows 62 truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel gives no indication whether or how quickly it will ease restrictions on imports once the cease-fire goes into effect. (IDF, IFM 1/17; IFM, ITIC, NYT, QA, WP, WT 1/18; ITIC, JP, MM 1/19; JAZ 1/20; PCHR 1/22; FT 1/28; PCHR 1/29)

The IDF imposes a curfew on Hawara village s. of Nablus. (PCHR 1/22)

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 20th day of OCL is marked by serious diplomatic steps toward a cease-fire but also by Israel’s heaviest attacks on Gaza since operations began. Israel’s envoy receives the Egyptian-Hamas cease-fire offer in Cairo, returns to Israel to brief the security cabinet. Olmert dispatches Livni to Washington to finalize a bilateral “memorandum of understanding” (MOU) regarding U.S.-led international efforts to halt arms smuggling into Gaza.

Combat notes: The IDF sharply escalates air, naval, and ground attacks across Gaza. IDF ground forces push deep into Gaza City under cover of air strikes and heavy tank and artillery fire. Residents report almost constant air, naval, artillery bombardment from 1:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. local time, and particularly heavy ground engagements in al-Atatra n. of the city and Tal al-Hawa neighborhood on the southern outskirts, as well as in Jabaliya r.c. Thousands of Gaza City residents attempt to flee the fighting, but many cannot leave their homes because of the intensity of Israeli fire. During the operations, Israeli troops surround the home of Hamas’s Mahmud Zahhar (in hiding), killing his security guards. Gaza City fighting eases slightly in the afternoon, but IDF troops remain in the city overnight. The IDF also takes up new positions in Bayt Hanun’s alFarta and al-Nazzaza quarters under cover of heavy shelling and gunfire, ordering residents of the 2 areas (some 20 families) to evacuate.

The IDF reports carrying out more than 80 air strikes today, hitting at least 23 rocket and mortar launching sites, 19 groups of armed Palestinians, 6 suspected weapons depots (including 2 mosques in Gaza City, 1 in Rafah), 4 tunnels, 1 radio station in Gaza City. Air strike target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Rimal, al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi r.c., Nussayrat r.c., Rafah, Yibna r.c. Heavy tank and artillery fire are reported in Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (al-Sabra, Tal al-Hawa, al-Tuffah), Jabaliya, Khuza, al-Mughraqa, al-Nasser (n. of Rafah), Nussayrat r.c., al-Qarara, Rafah. UNRWA reports 100s of Palestinians fleeing areas of northeastern Rafah to escape heavy bombardments. Reports of Israel using white phosphorous munitions spike sharply, with confirmed use in 3 areas (Abasan, Khuza, al-Qarara) and suspected use in 5 areas (Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Khan Yunis, Nussayrat r.c.). Israeli naval bombardment concentrates on Khan Yunis and the neighboring al-Mahatin area. Closecombat fighting is reported around Jabaliya r.c.

In a major air strike on Jabaliya, the IDF assassinates Gaza’s acting Interior M Said Siyam in his brother’s home, along with his brother and nephew, Hamas internal security head for Gaza Salah Abu Sharah, 4 Palestinians in an adjacent home. In addition, IDF air strikes hit buildings in Gaza City housing UNRWA’s main food depot (3 white phosphorous missiles incinerate tons of food and medicine brought in during the humanitarian lulls); Palestinian Red Crescent Society offices and the adjacent al-Quds Hospital (both hit repeatedly over a 5-hr. period; the patient wing of the hospital is not targeted); and the shared media offices of Abu Dhabi TV, al-Arabiyya TV, Reuters, and the Russian TV channel Rusiya al-Yaum, causing serious damage and injuring 2 journalists. A number of other hospitals in Gaza City are damaged by Israeli mortar fire. Palestinian medical workers say the Palestinian toll is at least 1,090 dead (including 375 children, 150 women, 14 medical workers), more than 5,000 wounded.

Palestinians fire 15 rockets and 8 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring a 7-yr.-old Israeli boy in Beersheba and causing significant damage in 2 instances (both by Qassams in Sederot); at least 3 of the rockets are Grads (2 in and nr. Beersheba, 1 in Gadera).

The Palestinian toll is estimated to be at least 1,090 dead, more than 5,000 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: With diplomacy toward a cease-fire showing progress, Israel extends the daily humanitarian lull to 4 hrs./day, allowing in up to 170 truckloads of humanitarian aid; permits the Qarni crossing conveyor belt to resume operation for the 1st time since 12/27 for the import of grain. Israel also allows the ICRC and Palestinian Energy Authority to begin repairs to part of Gaza’s electricity network. (AFP, AP, HA, IDF, IFM, IHY, MM, RFM, UNOSAT, YA 1/15; HA, IDF Radio, JP, MA, MM, NYT, REU, Scotsman, WP, WT, XIN, YA 1/16; IFM, NYT, XIN 1/17; ITIC 1/19; PCHR 1/22, 1/29)

Citing unspecified security concerns, the IDF imposes a total closure on the West Bank through 1/17. The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Yitzhar attempt to close a road nr. Nablus to Palestinian traffic, stone Palestinian cars; the IDF forces them to leave. (IDF 1/15; PCHR 1/22)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The IDF launches its deepest ground incursions into Gaza City since OCL began, conducting a 2-front assault from the north and the south; troops pull back to the outskirts of Gaza City by nightfall. To accommodate expanded operations, the IDF commits its first significant influx of reservists into Gaza, numbering in the 1,000s, using them to hold IDF positions, freeing up regular combat troops to thrust deeper into Gaza City.

Combat notes: The intensified IDF assault on Gaza City begins before dawn, with tanks and troops based in the fmr. Netzarim settlement advancing fr. the southwest, supported by helicopter gunships and F16s, resulting in some of the heaviest fighting since OCL began, especially in Shaykh Ajlin. Simultaneously, the IDF steps up attacks on the northern outskirts of the city. The IDF reports (IDF 1/11) finding 10s of booby-trapped houses, buildings, and tunnels, accusing Hamas of booby-trapping 30 homes in one neighborhood (location not given). Ground forces also move into Khuza in s. Gaza under heavy artillery fire, bulldozing several homes and razing tracts of agricultural land before withdrawing late in the evening.

The IDF reports hitting nearly 70 targets across Gaza today and making more than 40 air strikes. Targets hit include 23 smuggling tunnels (including 2 located under the homes of Hamas mbrs.), at least 15 “armed cells,” 11 suspected weapons depots, several rocket-launching sites. Air strike target areas include Bani Suhayla, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan), Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi, al-Mughraqa, Nussayrat, Rafah, al-Shabura r.c., Yibna r.c., al-Zawayda (c. Gaza). Heavy tank and artillery fire is reported in Bayt Hanun (white phosphorus use confirmed by Amnesty International), Gaza City (al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Zaytun), Jabaliya, Khuza, Khan Yunis (possibly involving white phosphorous).

Palestinians fire 20 rockets and 8 mortars into Israel, including at least 1 Grad that hits an empty kindergarten in Ashdod (damage but no injuries) and 2 rockets that hit Beersheba (some light injuries). The IDF reports sustaining no casualties but killing around 45 armed Palestinians, bringing the estimated Palestinian toll to at least 876 dead, 3,600 wounded.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF observes the daily 3-hr. humanitarian lull but does not release figures on the number of trucks permitted entry.

Of note: Today’s IDF air strikes on tunnels along the Rafah border damage 10 homes in Egyptian Rafah, seriously wound 2 Egyptian border policemen and lightly wound 1 border policeman, 2 Egyptian children (ages 2 and 5). Egyptian security officials say that the Israeli drones and planes have violated Egyptian air space daily since OCL began and that previous Israeli air strikes during OCL have damaged buildings and 1 mosque, shattered windows, and caused power shortages inside Egypt. (AFP, HA, IDF, WP 1/11; IDF, MM, NYT, WP, WT 1/12; WT 1/13; PCHR 1/15; ITIC 1/19; MM, QA 1/22)

The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Umar and Sa’ir, both nr. Hebron. (PCHR 1/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel seals the West Bank through 1/10 citing unspecified security concerns. The IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL after Friday prayers in Bayt Umar nr. Hebron (injuring 2), Hawara s. of Nablus, Hebron (injuring 4), Issawiyya, Ras al-Amud in East Jerusalem; also fires rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, percussion grenades at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists attending weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 3 Palestinians, arresting 5), Jayyus (injuring 9, including 2 wounded by live ammunition, which is not used at the other rallies), Ni‘lin (injuring 5 Palestinians); conducts late-night house searches in Azmut nr. Nablus. Jewish settlers fr. Shilo nr. Ramallah beat and fire on 2 Palestinians collecting water at a well nr. the settlement, wounding 1. (IDF 1/9; PCHR 1/15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International diplomacy to end OCL clicks into gear with France proposing that Israel and Hamas impose a 48-hr. humanitarian truce to try to defuse the violence and restore the Gaza cease-fire, with humanitarian groups, Egypt, the EU, the Quartet, and the U.S. opening mediation channels (see Quarterly Update). Israel’s security cabinet meets to discuss the French proposal but does not formally respond.

Israeli actions: The IDF conducts 70 air strikes on Gaza, while the Israeli navy continues shelling from the sea, killing at least 10 Palestinians and wounding 40, bringing the death toll to about 370. The IDF reports hitting 110 individual sites, with primary targets being tunnels on the Rafah border, suspected weapons factories and rocket-launching sites, civil and naval police stations, and groups of resistance mbrs. In Gaza City, at least 20 air strikes hit Haniyeh’s offices, PA Interior Min., and main PA government complex in Gaza City, all of which had been targeted previously; 1 air strike hits an ambulance, killing 1 paramedic, seriously wounding a doctor and the driver. Part of Gaza’s main power grid is also hit, cutting all power to Gaza City. A fuel depot in Rafah is destroyed. In al-Bureij r.c., a mosque and health clinic are hit. In Khan Yunis, a money exchange is destroyed. At least 7 homes across the Strip are targeted. Target locations include Abasan, Bayt Hanun, Bayt Lahiya, al-Bureij r.c., Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City, Jabaliya town and r.c., Khan Yunis, al-Maghazi (c. Gaza), al-Mughraqa, al-Qarara, Rafah. The IDF launches a YouTube channel to broadcast declassified videos of its operations in Gaza, “other footage of interest to the international community” (JPI 1/8) and begins regular briefings for Internet bloggers worldwide.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 41 rockets, 10 mortars into Israel, damaging 1 home in Sederot and causing several light injuries (excluding shock); 1 rocket lands in Beersheba, 25 mi. fr. the Gaza border, marking the farthest strike to date; 2 other long-range rockets land in Ashdod. Humanitarian notes: Israel allows 93 trucks into Gaza (50 carrying medical supplies and food donated by aid groups; 43 carrying commercial goods), but Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital says it is out of 150 kinds of medicine and 230 other medical supplies, including gloves, scissors, sterilization equipment, nitrogen for anesthesia. Fuel shipments are still cut off; Gaza’s power plant shuts down for lack of fuel. (BBC, HA, Independent 12/30; IDF, IFM, NYT, REU, UNOSAT, WP, WT 12/31; JP, PCHR 1/1; ITV 1/2; IDF 1/3; WP 1/4; IFM 1/8; NYT 1/13)

In the West Bank, a Palestinian worker in Mod’in Ilit settlement, angry over Israel’s war on Gaza, stabs, wounds 4 Jewish settlers before being shot and wounded by a paramedic who arrives on the scene. The IDF fires live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinians demonstrating against OCL in al-Fawar r.c. nr. Hebron, wounding 3 (including teenagers ages 13, 14); makes simultaneous afternoon incursions into Beita and Hawara villages nr. Nablus, imposing curfews through 12/31; conducts simultaneous late-night raids, house searches on 4 villages nr. Jenin, firing on residential areas in all cases, causing no injuries and arresting only 1 teenager; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Abu Dis and Jalazun r.c. nr. Ramallah, and nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm. (PCHR, WJW 1/1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Overnight in Gaza, the IDF conducts air strikes heavily damaging the offices of Change and Reform PC mbrs. in Bayt Lahiya (causing no injuries), destroying a bridge linking Nussayrat r.c. with alMughraqa; directs tank fire on a Palestinian truck approaching its position but refusing orders to halt, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding a 2d. During the day, the IDF continues to shell n. Gaza, targeting 2 PA security offices and damaging 4 Palestinian homes; bulldozes 83 d. of Palestinian land nr. Dayr al-Balah, more than 100 d. of land outside al-Qarara; fires on residential areas of Khuza’ nr. the border, wounding a Palestinian woman inside her home. Some 50 Palestinian militants temporarily take over the Rafah crossing, allowing as many as half of the 4,000 Palestinian stranded on the Egyptian side to enter Gaza; Egyptian border police block Palestinians who try to cross fr. Gaza into Egypt. Palestinians fire at least 7 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing damage in 1 incident but no injuries. The IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron, in Tulkarm; prevents Palestinians under age 45 fr. attending Friday prayers at al-Aqsa mosque. (HA, JP 7/14; NYT, WP 7/15; OCHA 7/19; PCHR 7/20)

Overnight, after Olmert’s security cabinet approves a list of “more significant” Hizballah targets, the IDF makes air strikes on Hizballah sites in s. Beirut and targets the Beirut–Damascus highway (in an attempt to complete an air, sea, and land blockade on Lebanon). During the day, the IDF extends the naval blockade northwards to Tripoli; shells numerous bridges, roads, other civilian infrastructure, especially in s. Beirut; makes air strikes on the building serving as Hizballah’s headquarters and Nasrallah’s residence (destroying it), its al-Nur radio station (missing and hitting an apartment building), and the Beirut airport, a major power plant and a bridge s. of the capital, a PFLP base nr. the Syrian border. At least 8 Lebanese civilians are reported killed (3 in Beirut, 5 in the south), 55 injured during the day, raising the estimated death toll since the start of operations to 66 Lebanese (overwhelmingly civilians), more than 200 wounded. Hizballah continues to fire Katyushas at n. Israel, killing an Israeli woman,her 5-yr.-old grandson in Moshav Meron and injuring as many as 50 Israelis across the Galilee, including in Acre, Carmiel, Kiryat Shimona, Nahariya, Safad. Hizballah also hits an Israeli naval ship 10-mi off the coast nr. Beirut, disabling it, killing 1 Israeli sailor, leaving 3 other sailors missing, raising the comprehensive death toll to 13 Israelis killed (the majority soldiers), around 150 injured (mostly suffering shock). (HA, NYT, WT 7/14; NYT, WP, WT 7/15; NYT, WP 7/16; NYT 7/17, 7/19)

The IDF carries out at least 8 predawn air strikes on the n. Gaza no-go zone (causing no casualties) and a predawn air strike on al-Mughraqa s. of Gaza City (tearing up a main street, damaging water and phone networks, but causing no casualties). Early in the day, the IDF warns of the imminent launch of Operation Blue Skies, dropping leaflets on n. Gaza that warn residents to stay away fr. the border area and the sites of vacated n. Gaza settlements, saying that anyone in the zone after 6:00 P.M. local time risks being shot; maps on the leaflets show the no-go zone as roughly corresponding to the n. Gaza settlement areas evacuated under disengagement, though also including areas 1.5 miles into Gaza housing some 100,000 Palestinians, whom the IDF recommends evacuate for “a limited period of time”; reportedly no Palestinians leave. Shortly before the deadline, AMB mbrs. fire 4 rockets at Sederot and a nearby IDF base, causing no damage or injuries; the IDF begins several hrs. of artillery fire (at least 25 strikes), fire fr. helicopters on the n. Gaza zone (wounding 1 Palestinian militant, 1 teenage bystander) and mock air raids breaking the sound barrier over the Strip, marking the start of the operation. Late in the evening, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron. AMB mbrs. angry over the Fatah party list submitted today for the 1/25 elections seize election offices in 5 towns in Gaza, wage shoot-outs with the PA police, leaving 1 Gaza City policeman wounded. In Rafah, Palestinian gunmen kidnap a British aid worker, her parents; immediately begin negotiating with the PA for their release. (AFP, IMEMC, Israeli FMin. press release, JAZ, NYT, XIN 12/28; DS, IMEMC, JTA, NYT, PCHR, PMC, WP, WT, YA 12/29)

The IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in al-Mughraqa in central Gaza, Yatta. Palestinian gunmen with the Fatah offshoot al-Awda Brigades fire on a PA security office in Nablus, sparking an exchange of gunfire with security forces that leaves 2 PA officers, 1 bystander wounded. Unidentified gunmen fire at the home of Fatah PC mbr. Jamal Tarifi in Ramallah, causing damage but no injuries. (WP, WT 3/5; PR 3/9; PCHR 3/10)

The IDF sends troops into Salfit, raids Prisoners’ Support Society offices, confiscates files and a computer, vandalizes furniture; raids offices, confiscates documents of 2 cultural societies in Bethlehem, Qarawat Bani Hassan; conducts arrest raids, house searches in al-Bireh, Haris and nearby Nablus, al-Mughraqa, Qalqilya, Tulkarm r.c.; shells agricultural areas of al-Qarara. The IDF platoon cmdr. responsible for the deliberate shooting of a 13-yr.-old Palestinian girl in Gaza on 10/5/04 is indicted on charges of misuse of a firearm, ordering subordinates to lie about the shooting, violation of military regulations. Palestinians fire 6 mortars at a Jewish settlement in s. Gaza, 5 mortars at an IDF post on the Gaza-Egypt border, causing no damage or injuries. (XIN 11/22; VOI 11/23 in WNC 11/25; PCHR 11/25; WP 11/28)

The Fatah Central Comm. votes (13– 0, with 2 mbrs. not voting) to nominate PLO head Mahmud Abbas as the party’s candidate in the upcoming PA presidential elections, slated for 1/9/05; calls on the PA to hold legislative elections before mid-2005. (XIN 11/22; JAZ 11/22 in WNC 11/24; MM, WP 11/23; QA 11/23 in WNC 11/25; PR 11/24; al-Ahram 12/3; BBC 12/10)

U.S. Secy. of State Colin Powell ends a 2-day trip to Israel, Ramallah to discuss ways to accelerate the peace-making process and revitalize the Palestinian economy. He presses the sides to do everything possible to ensure that the maximum number of Palestinians, including those in East Jerusalem, are able to participate in the PA presidential elections on 1/9/05. Sharon says he will consider withdrawing troops fr. population centers, will do all he can to facilitate Palestinian movement during voting. (NYT, REU, WP, WT 11/22; JAZ, VOI, VOP 11/22 in WNC 11/24; al-Arabiyya TV 11/22 in WNC 12/25; MM, NYT, WP, WT 11/23; WP 11/28; MEI 12/3)

The IDF shells residential areas of Khan Yunis, killing 2 Palestinian youths; fires on residential areas of al-Brazil r.c., al-Mughraqa; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Askar r.c., ‘Ayn Bayt al-Ma’ r.c., Bayt Rima, al-Khadir, Nablus. The IDF also issues a military order prohibiting Palestinians fr. construction 300 m east and 100 m west of the 1948 truce line; moves a checkpoint fr. the Green Line in the n. Jordan Valley south toward Bardala village, well inside the occupied West Bank, raising suspicions that Israel is still actively considering construction of a wall through the Jordan Valley. Jewish settlers fr. Hebron kidnap, hold for 12 hrs. 2 14-yr.-old Palestinians grazing animals nr. a settlement. (VOI, VOP 11/5 in WNC 11/9; NYT 11/6; PRCS 11/11)

The IDF continues its assault on Khan Yunis, totally demolishing 49 Palestinian homes, partially demolishing 7 before withdrawing by dawn. During the day, the IDF fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis (wounding an elementary school student in her classroom), Rafah; raids the campus of al-Quds Open University in Hebron, detaining and interrogating 10s of students; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Jenin, al-Mughraqa, Ramallah, Wadi al-Silqa; bulldozes a Palestinian home, 6 d. in al-Mughraqa. (HA, WP, WT 9/26; PCHR 9/30; UNRWA press release 10/1)

In Gaza, 3 Palestinian gunmen fr. the Abu Rish Brigades (a Fatah offshoot), Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian Resistance Comms. (PRC) attack an IDF post outside Morag, fatally shooting 3 IDF soldiers before 2 are shot dead; 1 escapes, wounds an Israeli journalist, is then shot dead. The IDF sends troops into Nablus and surrounding camps, fires on residential areas, blows up 2 Palestinian homes; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis, Rafah; fires rubber bullets at Palestinian, international peace activists staging a nonviolent protest against the separation wall outside Hebron; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and Nablus, and in al-‘Aza, Bethlehem, Jenin town and r.c., al-Khadir, al-Mughraqa; demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in al-Mughraqa; bulldozes 6 Palestinian homes, 40 d. of agricultural land in Khan Yunis. Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets at Sederot, lightly injuring 1 Israeli. A Palestinian dies of injuries received in Nur al-Shams on 9/14; a 2d Palestinian dies of injuries received in Rafah on 9/19. (BBC, MM, XIN 9/23; VOP 9/23 in WNC 9/25; MM, NYT, WP 9/24; HA, PR 9/29; PCHR 9/30)

A female AMB suicide bomber fr. Askar r.c. detonates a device in East Jerusalem’s French Hill settlement when 2 Israeli border policemen ask to search her bag; the bomber, 2 Israeli police officers are killed, 16 Jewish settlers are lightly injured. The IDF demolishes the homes of the bomber’s family, the person who recruited her. The IDF also demolishes 10 Palestinian homes in Khan Yunis, shells residential areas, wounding 17, before ending the operation it began there on 9/21; demolishes 2 Palestinian homes, bulldozes 81 d. in al-Mughraqa; demolishes 3 Palestinian homes in Nablus. The 9-yr.-old Palestinian girl wounded inside an UNRWA school on 9/7 dies. (HA 9/22; VOI, VOP 9/22 in WNC 9/24; MEZ, MM, NYT, PCHR, PRCS, WP, WT 9/23; al-Quds 9/23 in WNC 9/25; MM, NYT, WP 9/24; PR 9/29; PCHR 9/30)

Overnight, the IDF raids al-Mughraqa under cover of heavy shelling, bulldozes 7 Palestinian homes, 20 d. before pulling out later in the day. In an attempt to assassinate Nablus AMB leader Majid Mari, IDF undercover units make a predawn raid on Nablus, fire on a group of Palestinian militants gathered in a garden, killing 4 AMB mbrs., 1 mbr. of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), an 11-yr.-old Palestinian girl nearby, but leaving Mari unharmed; troops then demolish an adjacent Palestinian home, claiming the wanted men hid there. After dawn, more troops, tanks enter Nablus, sparking clashes with 1,000s of Palestinians throwing stones, Molotov cocktails. IDF undercover units ambush a car driving nr. Jenin, assassinate wanted AMB mbr. Fadi Zakarna, his 3 passengers. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches in Duha, al-Khadir, al-Fara’ r.c., Hebron, Jenin, Salfit; shells residential areas of Khan Yunis. (PR 9/15; MM, PCHR, WP, WT 9/16; PR 9/22; PCHR 9/23; MEI 9/24; PCHR 11/4)

The IDF tightens checkpoints around Jenin; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis (damaging a hospital), Rafah; sends troops into Bayta and Salfit, firing on stone-throwing youths who confront the troops; bulldozes a Palestinian home, 1.5 d., a well in al-Mughraqa; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Jayyus nr. Qalqilya, Nablus, Taysir nr. Jenin, Yatta. A Palestinian dies of injuries received on 8/30. (PCHR 9/9)

The IDF demolishes 5 Palestinian homes, bulldozes 45 d. in al-Mughraqa nr. Gaza City; blows up 1 Palestinian home nr. Nablus; fires tear gas at Palestinians waiting to cross the al-Mawasi checkpoint; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Abu Dis, Askar r.c., Bayt Laqia nr. Ramallah, Bayt Jala and neighboring Bethlehem, al-Fara’ r.c., Ramallah, Tubas nr. Jenin, Yatta nr. Hebron. The IDF also captures 6 Egyptian students armed with a toy gun, knives, binoculars, radios in the Negev, 6 mi inside Israel. Unidentified gunmen fire on the car of PA General Intelligence Service dep. chief Tariq Abu Rajab as he drives along the coastal road in Gaza, seriously wounding him, killing 2 bodyguards, wounding 2 others; no group claims responsibility. (BBC, HA, PR 8/25; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 8/26; AYM 8/26 in WNC 8/31; JAZ 8/30 in WNC 9/1; QA 8/31 in WNC 9/3; PR 9/1; PCHR 9/2; PR 9/15; MA 9/15 in WNC 9/21)

The IDF closes the Rafah crossing to Egypt indefinitely, citing security concerns; conducts an overnight raid into Saida nr. Tulkarm, firing on residential areas, rounding up residents for questioning, exchanging fire with Palestinian gunmen, killing 2 wanted Palestinians; conducts house searches in Bizariyya in the West Bank, causing a 57-yr.- old Palestinian woman to suffer a fatal heart attack; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Askar r.c., ‘Azun nr. Qalqilya, Bayt Rima, al-Khadir, al-Mughraqa; fires on Palestinians waiting to cross a checkpoint in the al-Mawasi area of s. Gaza, wounding 5; fires on residential areas of Rafah; bulldozes large areas of agricultural land, demolishes 2 civilian cars in Bayt Hanun. A 4-yr.-old Palestiniandies of injuries received in Rafah on 7/7. (VOP 7/18 in WNC 7/21; PR 7/21; PCHR 7/22)

Outside the PC headquarters in Gaza, Fatah mbrs. continue to protest against Musa Arafat’s appointment. In the evening, some 150 armed AMB mbrs. attack the PA military intelligence headquarters in Rafah, using a bulldozer in an attempt to break into the complex, exchanging gunfire with security guards, leaving 18 Palestinians (including at least 3 AMB mbrs., several bystanders) wounded. AMB mbrs. also attack the PA military intelligence building in Khan Yunis, setting 2 offices ablaze, stealing weapons, freeing some detainees, wounding a security guard in an exchange of fire; staging marches in Nussayrat r.c. Navy security chief Juma Ghali, an Arafat loyalist, resigns his position to protest the Musa Arafat appointment. (MM, NYT, WP, WT 7/19; SA 7/19 in WNC 7/21; AYM 7/19 in WNC 7/24; PR 7/21; WP 7/22)

The IDF continues operations in Bayt Hanun, announcing plans to create a buffer zone around the town to prevent rocket fire, firing missiles into residential areas (killing 3 Palestinians, injuring 21), bulldozing at least 100 dunams of olive and citrus trees; raids Rafah allegedly to search for more smugglers tunnels, demolishes 7 Palestinian homes completely and 5 partially, severely damages 15 shops; makes a rare incursion into Jericho with some 40 military vehicles, reinforced by helicopters, declaring the town a closed military zone, demolishing 1 Palestinian home, arresting some 35 Palestinians; partially demolishes 2 Palestinian homes, a mosque, a garage, a bird farm in al-Qarara; exchanges gunfire with Palestinian militants in Gaza City, wounding 5; conducts arrest raids, house searches in al-‘Arub r.c. nr. Hebron, Biddu and Qutna nr. Ramallah, Jericho, al-Mughraqa, Nur al-Shams r.c. nr. Tulkarm; fires live ammunition, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, international peace activists staging a nonviolent protest against the separation wall in Dayr Ballut nr. Qalqilya, lightly injuring 10s. (JTA, MM 7/1; IDF Radio, VOI, VOP 7/1 in WNC 7/3; HA, NYT 7/2; PCHR 7/8)

The IDF assassinates AMB Balata r.c. cmdr. Khalid Marshud, firing missiles at his taxi in Nablus, also killing the taxi driver, seriously wounding 2 bystanders. The IDF also eases a curfew on Nablus, allowing Palestinians over age 30 to exit and enter; demolishes 3 Palestinian homes in Bethlehem, 2 in al-Qarara (also bulldozing 6 dunams of land); conducts arrest raids in, fires on residential areas of Jenin; conducts arrest raids in Aida r.c. nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, al-Mughraqa, Nablus. The IDF starts construction of a 3.5 km segment of the separation wall east of Ariel settlement. (AP, HA, MM 6/14; VOI, VOP 6/14 in WNC 6/16; NYT, WP 6/15; PR 6/16; PCHR 6/17; MEI 6/24)

The IDF fires on residential areas of Rafah, wounding a 9-mo.-old baby; razes a Palestinian home, 65 dunams of agricultural land in al-Qarara; bulldozes 1.5 dunams of citrus trees, a telephone network in Dayr al-Balah; fires tear gas, live ammunition at Palestinian, Israeli, international peace activists protesting against the separation wall nr. Qalqilya, injuring a Palestinian cameraman working for Agence France-Presse and a South African protester, arresting an American; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Askar r.c., Bethlehem, Husan, Jenin town and r.c., al-Mughraqa, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Yatta. The IDF also begins removing 40 earthen mounds, gates blocking Palestinian roads in the West Bank, easing Palestinian movement slightly; flying roadblocks, checkpoints at the entrances to towns and villages—the main barriers to Palestinians’ free movement—will remain. (XIN 6/13; PCHR 6/17)

The IDF transfers a West Bank administrative detainee to Gaza for 4 yrs.; fires on 4 Palestinians, allegedly al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbrs. attempting to infiltrate Gaza’s Gush Katif settlement, killing 2 Palestinians, capturing 1; fires tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets into a school playground, wounding 3 children; bulldozes 120 dunams of land in al-Mughraqa; conducts house searches in al-Qarara nr. Khan Yunis. In Khan Yunis, unidentified gunmen open fire on the office of Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Ibrahim Abu Naja, aclose ally of PA head Yasir Arafat, causing significant damage but no injuries. (PCHR 2/19; HA 2/20; LAW, PCHR 2/26)

The IDF fatally shoots a Palestinian who strays too close to Netzarim settlement; bulldozes 3 dunams of land in al-Mughraqa; demolishes a Palestinian home nr. Hebron. Palestinians detonate a roadside bomb nr. an IDF vehicle, damaging it but causing no injuries; fire on an IDF position outside the Gush Katif bloc in Gaza, causing no damage or injuries; fire on a Jewish settler vehicle nr. Hebron, damaging it but causing no injuries. (VOI, YA 11/20 in WNC 11/22; PCHR 12/4)