Tuesday, May 18, 2004

In the pre-dawn hours, the IDF imposes a 24-hr. curfew, begins house-to-house searches in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah bordering the Philadelphi Route, occupies some buildings as observation posts; begins digging a trench to separate a section of Rafah r.c. fr. the rest of the camp, demolishing at least 3 Palestinian homes, cutting water and electricity supplies. Around daybreak, the IDF begins bulldozing operations, launches 3 missile strikes inside Rafah: the 1st killing 3 Hamas mbrs., wounding 5 gunmen and bystanders; the 2d killing 1 Hamas mbr. laying a roadside bomb nr. a mosque where Palestinians are leaving dawn prayers, also killing 5 bystanders, wounding several others, starting a fire that severely damages the mosque; the 3d hitting a residential area, killing 7 Palestinians (many in their homes), wounding at least 16. The IDF reports killing at least 3 more Palestinians, demolishing at least another 9 Palestinian homes during the day. A 20th Palestinian reportedly dies when explosives he is handling detonate. At least 2 ambulances are deliberately targeted by IDF snipers. The IDF also fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis. In the West Bank, the IDF ambushes, assassinates wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbr. Muhammad Obeid as he drives nr. Sanur nr. Jenin, also wounding his passenger; raids Jenin r.c., fatally shoots wanted AMB mbr. Ahmad Judah in an apparent assassination, wounding a 2d Palestinian; fatally shoots an AMB mbr., a Palestinian gunman in separate incidents in Nablus; conducts arrest raids targeting Hamas in Tulkarm; orders the confiscation of 380 dunams of Palestinian land nr. Bethlehem for construction of the separation wall. A Palestinian dies of injuries received in 4/04. (BBC, HA, MM, NYT, PCHR, PRCS, PM, WP 5/18; ITAR-TASS, ITV, MENA, PSCT, VOI, VOP, XIN 5/18 in WNC 5/20; HA, NYT, PR, WP, WT 5/19; PCHR 5/20; NYT 5/21; PR 5/26)