Thursday, March 14, 2002

Just before Zinni arrives, Israel begins pulling back gradually fr. Ramallah. The U.S., PA say that is not enough, with the State Dept. publicly stating, "We want to see a full withdrawal" fr. area A, including all Palestinian towns, refugee camps. During the day, at least 5 Palestinians are killed in Ramallah, 1 Palestinian dies of injuries received on 3/5; 2 explosions nr. Tulkarm kill 6 Palestinians (including senior AMB mbr. Mutasim Makhluf) in what are thought to be assassinations; 2 Palestinian collaborators are killed by Fatah Hawks mbrs. in Bethlehem. In an incident similar to that on 2/14, Palestinian assailants detonate a powerful roadside bomb in Gaza, destroying a Merkava tank, killing 3 IDF soldiers, wounding 2; the AMB, PFLP each claim responsibility. In al-Bireh and nr. Ramallah, Palestinians fire RPGs at 2 tanks, damaging them. Palestinian gunmen fire on Gilo settlement, causing no damage. In retaliation, the IDF sends tanks into the heart of Bethlehem, firing repeatedly at a Catholic maternity hospital and orphanage, which houses 16 patients and 50 children ages 5 and younger, causing damage but no injuries. IDF shelling, heavy machine gun fire are also reported in `Ayn Arik, Beitunia, al-Irsal, al-Tira, Umm al-Sharayit. The IDF demolishes 15 Palestinian homes in al-Mighraqa village in Gaza; makes arrest raids into onto al-Naqura, Shu`fat. Jewish settlers fr. Ma'ale Mikhmas, guarded by IDF soldiers, attack and drive off several bedouin families camping nr. the settlement. (AFP 3/13, MA, QA, XIN 3/14 in WNC 3/15; HP, LAW, MM 3/14; MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/15; Die Presse [Vienna] 3/15, al-Quds 3/16 in WNC 3/18; LAW 3/20; MEI 3/22)

Zinni meets with local reps. of the quartet--an ad hoc diplomatic formation of the EU, Russia, UN, U.S. employed at times when presenting a united international front may more effectively press Israel and the PA to take a desired course of action. He then meets with Sharon. (XIN 3/14 in WNC 3/15; MM, NYT, WT 3/15; MEI 3/22)