Friday, December 17, 2004

Overnight, the IDF launches Operation Orange Iron, sending tanks, bulldozers into Khan Yunis in further response to 12/16 mortar fire, shelling and firing missiles fr. helicopters at residential areas, clashing with local Palestinians, leaving a total of 9 Palestinians dead (5 armed Palestinians, 4 civilians), at least 30 Palestinians (mostly civilians, including 1 ambulance driver trying to evacuate the wounded) and 1 IDF soldier wounded, also leveling 39 Palestinian homes allegedly used as cover for mortar fire; 100s of Palestinians flee the fighting, many taking refuge in a nearby hospital, stadium; the IDF says it will stay in Khan Yunis “indefinitely.” In response, Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets into the Negev, causing no damage or injures. A smugglers’ tunnel collapses in Rafah after days of rain, trapping and killing at least 5 Palestinians;6are rescued. The IDF also demolishes 1 Palestinian home, 15 shops in Rafah that allegedly provided cover for mortar fire; shells, destroys 2 workshops (alleged weapons factories) in Gaza City; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, in Qalqilya; issues military orders confiscating “large areas” of Palestinian land in Far‘un s. of Tulkarm and Jayyus northeast of Qalqilya, as well as 50 d. in Nuba southwest of Tulkarm for construction of the separation wall. (BBC, HA, WT 12/17; MENA, VOI, VOP 12/17 in WNC 12/21; JAZ, NYT, WT 12/18; PM 12/20; PCHR 12/23)