Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Israel continues to reinforce its West Bank forces, stationing paratrooper units in areas nr. Bethlehem, Jinin. Palestinians fire 4 mortars at Netzarim settlement, Nahal Oz kibbutz inside Israel. The IDF files low-level F-16 sorties, drops thermal balloons over the Gaza Strip; directs shells, heavy machine gun fire at Palestinian residential areas of Hebron, setting 7 Palestinian homes on fire; tightens the closures on Qalqilya, Tulkarm. Jewish settlers reportedly confiscate several Palestinian homes in the Palestinian section of Hebron nr. Kiryat Arba. In Bethlehem, 1,000s of Palestinians hold anti-Israeli demonstrations following the funeral for Hamas's Saada. 1 Palestinian dies of injuries received on 7/16. (AP, HA, HP 7/18; NYT 7/19)

At a G-8 preparatory mtg. in Rome, the FMs of Britain, France, Germany, Italy insist that dispatching an impartial observer force to the West Bank and Gaza is necessary to restore a lasting cease-fire, renew peace talks. Secy. of State Powell says sending a force is "premature," since Israel does not approve, but he does not reject the idea outright. (WP, WT 7/19)