Thursday, December 26, 2002

The IDF reoccupies Bethlehem following Christmas celebrations, reimposes a 24-hr. curfew on residents; assassinates local AMB head Jamal Yahya in Tulkarm; assassinates Hamas mbr. Bassam Ashqar, ambushing his car in Ramallah, also killing a Palestinian bystander; raids Qabatiyya, assassinating local Islamic Jihad leader Yusif Abu Rub, demolishing his family house, arresting local Izzeddine al-Qassam Brigades head Natzir Nazal, senior Hamas mbr. Talal al-Baz; sends undercover units into a hospital in Ramallah, fatally shooting wanted Palestinian Samir al-Shamali, who was working there as a guard, in what may be an assassination, sparking demonstrations, clashes with local residents that leave 1 Palestinian stone thrower dead; fatally shoots 2 Palestinians “approaching” Netzarim settlement; fires on demonstrators protesting the curfew in Nablus, killing 1 Palestinian, wounding 20; raids a village n. of Ramallah, firing stun grenades, causing an elderly Palestinian to suffer a fatal heart attack; imposes a curfew on Beitunia, sends 30 tanks into the town; conducts house-to-house searches, arrest raids in Qalqilya; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis. The PA accuses Israel of stepping up attacks on Palestinians in an effort to scuttle Fatah-Hamas talks in Cairo. The IDF also announces that it has begun building 300-yd.-wide buffer zones around several Jewish settlements in the West Bank (see Quarterly Update in JPS 126). Palestinians fire 2 mortars at a Jewish settlement in Gaza, causing damage but no injuries. This evening, Israeli DM Shaul Mofaz orders the IDF to step up pressure on militant groups in the territories. (HP, LAW, PCHR, PM 12/26; HA, NYT, WP, WT 12/27; AYM, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, al-Quds 12/27, De Standaard 12/28 in WNC 12/31; NYT, WT 12/28; LAW, PCHR 1/1)