Thursday, February 20, 2003

The IDF tightens restrictions on Palestinian movement in Gaza, shuts main roads, dividing the Strip into 3 sections; fatally shoots a wanted tanz im mbr. in Tulkarm in what may be an assassination; demolishes 1 Palestinian home in Hebron, 1 in Jamayn, 1 in Rafah; conducts arrest raids in Ramallah, Tamun; fires on residential areas of Rafah. As IDF operations in Nablus continue, a Palestinian sniper shoots, wounds an IDF soldier. Palestinians fire 1 Qassam rocket at Netzarim settlement, 2 across the Gaza border into Sederot, causing no damage or injuries. Israel issues tenders for construction of 126 new housing units in Efrat settlement. (HA, REU 2/20; HA 2/21; al-Quds 2/21 in WNC 2/24; LAW 2/23; LAW, PCHR 2/27)

After 10 yrs. of federal investigations trying to link him to terrorism, U.S. authorities arrest Palestinian-born U.S. permanent resident Sami al-Arian, a fmr. University of South Florida professor, on charges of fundraising for Islamic Jihad, and “conspiracy to commit murder via suicide attacks.” Another 7 individuals are also charged, several of whom are abroad, including Damascus-based Islamic Jihad head Ramadan Shallah. Arian has been an active fundraiser for 2 Muslim organization that do social work in the territories; the U.S. alleges that he in fact has laundered and funneled money to Islamic Jihad military activities as the organization’s chief financial officer since 1984. (The State Dept. listed Islamic Jihad as a terrorist organization in 1995.) U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft says that provisions of new antiterrorism legislation made the arrest possible. (HA, NYT, WP 2/21; WT 2/22; MM 2/26; MEI 3/7)