Thursday, February 21, 2002

In a massive predawn operation, the IDF sends tanks, troops into Gaza City fr. 3 directions, firing heavy machine guns, demolishing the Palestine Broadcasting Center, taking Palestinian TV and radio off the air. IDF helicopters strike the PA military intelligence, military police, Force 17 buildings in the city. The IDF also sends bulldozers into enter Brazil r.c., killing 6 Palestinians; dispatches F-16s to bomb a PA security building in Khan Yunis, helicopters shell a Force 17 building in al-Bireh, naval vessels shell a PA naval police station in Bayt Lahia. Nr. Jerusalem, a Palestinian fires on an IDF post, injuring 2 IDF soldiers before being shot dead. A 8th Palestinian is fatally shot at an IDF checkpoint for "acting suspiciously"; an Israeli Arab is killed in an incident elsewhere. The PSF arrests 3 senior PFLP mbrs. suspected of involvement in the 10/01 assassination of Israel's Tourism M Rehavam Ze'evi. Israel, which had made the arrests a condition of easing Arafat's confinement, says the PA must also arrest anyone behind the Karine A arms shipment, Arafat must achieve complete quiet before Israel will allow him to leave his Ramallah compound. (AP, MM, NYT, PCHR, REU, WP, WT 2/21; AFP 2/21 in WNC 2/22; AFP, NYT, WP, WT 2/22; PCHR 2/27; WP 4/19)

The CIA convenes a trilateral security comm. mtg. at Erez crossing to discuss security issues. As a result of the mtg., Israel agrees not to initiate military operations for 1 wk., except to prevent imminent terrorist attacks. (NYT 2/22, 2/23; NYT, WT 2/24; WP 2/25)

In a TV address, Sharon urges Israelis to stiffen their resolve but does not offer a vision for how to achieve a cease-fire or durable peace; announces plans to create buffer zones to impose "security separation" between Israeli and Palestinian territory; demands the "complete demilitarization" of the PA areas as a "prelude" to a final settlement; denounces "expressions of disobedience" such as the IDF conscientious objection petition, which he says "encourage terrorist organizations." (MM 5/21; AFP, HP, MM, NYT, WP, WT 2/22; QA 2/22 in WNC 2/25; WP, WT 2/23; Guardian 2/23; Le Monde 2/24 in WNC 2/26; HA 3/1; MEI 3/8)

At a UN Security Council (UNSC) emergency session in New York, UN Secy-Gen. Kofi Annan warns that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "sliding toward a full-fledged war"; says that the Mitchell and Tenet plans have clearly not succeeded, that an active international effort and "new thinking" are necessary. The Israeli, U.S. reps. strongly reject anything other than U.S. mediation. (NYT 2/22)