Saturday, April 17, 2004

The IDF assassinates Hamas leader Rantisi, firing 2 missiles at his car as he drives through Gaza City, also killing his bodyguards Akram Nassar and Ahmad Ghurra, wounding 4 bystanders. 10,000s of Palestinians throughout the West Bank, Gaza take to the streets to protest. Hamas vows retaliation, says it has appointed Rantisi’s replacement but will not identify him for security reasons. (Senior spokesman Mahmud Zahar, senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh are considered the likely successors.) The IDF strike comes hrs. after a Palestinian suicide bomber detonates a device inside the Erez Industrial Zone in Gaza, killing an Israeli border policeman, injuring 3; the AMB, Hamas claim joint responsibility. IDF undercover units raid Hebron and capture, beat, arrest an Arab Bank employee. The IDF also seals all West Bank and Gaza crossings except the Rafah checkpoint; tightens restrictions on Palestinian movement throughout the territories; fatally shoots a mentally handicapped Palestinian who strays too close to a Jewish settlement nr. Gaza City; denies passage to a Palestinian who suffers a heart attack at a Nablus checkpoint, allowing him to die; shells residential areas of Khan Yunis, cutting some electricity, seriously injuring a 9-yr.-old girl inside her home and 6 others elsewhere; fires on, shells residential areas of Dayr al-Balah, Tulkarm (seriously injuring a 5-yr.-old girl); fires on residential areas nr. Rafah; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Dayr al-Balah, Jenin; bulldozes 6 dunams of land in Bayt Hanun. (HA, MA, REU 4/17; AFP, MENA, MNR, PSCT, VOP 4/17, AFP, ATL, HA, IRNA, JP, LBC, MENA, MNR, al-Quds, VOP, YA 4/18 in WNC 4/20; NYT, WP, WT 4/18; CSM, MM 4/19; ITAR-TASS 4/19 in WNC 4/21; DUS, al-Ra’i 4/19, JT 4/20 in WNC 4/22; AYM 4/19, al-Quds, SA 4/21 in WNC 4/23; MM, PR 4/21; PCHR 4/22; WP 4/25; MEI 4/30)