Saturday, January 25, 2003

The IDF completes demolition of 4 bridges linking Bayt Hanun, Gaza City; pulls forces out of Bayt Hanun. Late in the evening, the IDF sends tanks, helicopter gunships into central Gaza City in its deepest incursion into Gaza since the al-Aqsa intifada began, marking a major military escalation just 3 days before Israeli elections. IDF soldiers clash with Palestinians fr. around the area who race to block the incursion, killing 12 Palestinians (3 of them armed, 2 of them children), injuring at least 40, demolishing 3 Palestinian homes and 2 workshops, raiding 10s of buildings and shops. IDF troops guarding Gan Or, Neve Dekalim settlements fire on residential areas of Khan Yunis. Jewish settlers fire at 2 Palestinians grazing sheep nr. Mod’in settlement, killing 1. (HA 1/25; AFP 1/25 in WNC 1/31; HA, LAW, NYT, WP, WT 1/26; WP 1/27; ATL 1/27 in WNC 1/28; LAW, PCHR, PR 1/29; MEI 2/7; WP 2/10; MEI 2/21)

Ha’Aretz reports that “several wks. ago” Sharon met secretly with YESHA rabbis, promised that he would open the Temple Mount to Jewish worshipers soon. One rabbi warned Sharon that he came to power in part because of his 9/00 visit to Temple Mount, that he risks losing power if he does not follow through and reopen the holy site to Jews soon. Sharon says he will “work behind the scenes” to achieve that goal, that he would be interested in joining a growing number of Jewish protesters who circle the Temple Mount once a mo. to protest the ban on Jewish worship at the site. (HA 1/25)