Tuesday, July 17, 2001

The IDF assassinates Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades's Bethlehem regional cmdr., Omar Saada, firing 2 wire-guided missiles at his home, also killing a Hamas colleague. When neighbors and relatives come to the scene to survey the damage, the IDF fires a 3d missile, killing Saada's brother (a peace activist) and a 4th Palestinian, wounding 10. The PA arrests 5 Palestinians for allegedly collaborating with Israel on the strike. For the 1st time, West Bank Palestinians fire 2 mortars at the Jewish settlement of Gilo, outside Jerusalem, causing no damage. The IDF directs shells, heavy machine gunfire at Bayt Jala, Bayt Sahur in response. The IDF also shells residential areas of Qabatiyya (destroying a Force 17 post), Tulkarm; raids al-Arub, Fajar, al-Fawar, Salfit; places a closure on Qalqilya, reinforces troops in the area. Jewish settlers vandalize Palestinian cars in al-Fawar. The IDF says it defused 2 bombs in Tel Aviv, outside a West Bank settlement. (AFP [Internet], BBC, CNN, HP, PMC 7/17; AP, MM, NYT, WP, WT 7/18; AYM, SA 7/19 in WNC 7/20; AP 7/21; WT 7/23; MEI 7/27)

Sharon phones Bush to urge him to press for a statement strongly condemning Arafat at the upcoming G-8 summit. Sharon also reportedly tells Bush that Israel plans to carry out "preventive operations" in the near future. An hr. later, Sharon receives a call fr. Powell urging Israeli restraint, but, late this evening, the IDF sends tank, troop reinforcements into the West Bank in its largest deployment since the start of the al-Aqsa intifada, raising speculation that a massive attack is imminent. (MM 7/20)