Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The IDF seals the West Bank and Gaza; surrounds, tightens closures on all Palestinian cities; sends additional tanks to the outskirts of Ramallah; conducts arrest raids in Hebron, detaining 17 Palestinians, including relatives of the 8/19 bomber; fires on residential areas of Rafah. Late in the evening, the IDF imposes curfews on, sends tanks and troops into Hebron (raiding, searching 3 mosques), Jenin, Nablus (where residents report hearing helicopters, machine gun fire through most of the night), Tulkarm (where the IDF fatally shoots 1 Palestinian, wounds 7). Israel also opens the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif to non-Muslims without agreement of the Waqf; some 150 Jews under police protection visit the site. (HA, REU 8/20; YA 8/20 in WNC 8/22; MM, NYT, PCHR, PM, WP, WT 8/21)

Abbas convenes the PA Executive Authority (EA, or cabinet) to discuss how to respond to the 8/19 suicide bombing; puts 4 recommendations to PA head Yasir Arafat for approval, threatening to resign if he does not accept them all, which he does. (HA 8/20; HA, NYT, WP 8/21; AYM 8/24 in WNC 8/26)

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon convenes his security cabinet, which approves “a series of military steps” against Hamas, Islamic Jihad, which Israel would launch only if the PA fails to take action itself. (HA 8/20; JP, YA 8/20 in WNC 8/22; NYT, WP 8/21; IDF Radio, QA, VOI, YA 8/21 in WNC 8/23)

U.S. Pres. George W. Bush phones Sharon to tell him that Israel has a right to defend itself following the “vicious” 8/19 bombing, reportedly does not urge restraint. U.S. Secy. of State Colin Powell phones Abbas tourge him to take action against Palestinian militant groups immediately. (HA 8/20; WP 8/21; HA 8/24; AYM 8/24 in WNC 8/26)