Monday, August 8, 2005

The IDF begins dismantling observation posts around Gaza settlements, replacing them with armored vehicles and tanks in preparation for disengagement; sends troops into Nur al-Shams r.c., searches homes, fires on stone-throwing youths who confront them, killing 1 Palestinian bystander, wounding at least 1; fires tank shells at a graveyard in Khan Yunis where Palestinian reportedly were preparing to launch a mortar, causing damage but no injuries; fires on residential areas of Rafah; conducts arrest raids in ‘Azun, Balata r.c., Dura, al-Khadir; occupies a house in Silat al-Dahir, turns it into an observation post; patrols in Nablus. Palestinian gunmen loyal to Fatah head Qaddumi kidnap 2 foreign UN workers, their Palestinian driver in Khan Yunis to pressure the PA to secure the release of Fatah mbr. Farah (arrested 8/7); the PA security forces storm the home of a local AMB cmdr., exchange fire with the kidnappers (2 kidnappers, 1 bystander are injured), free the 3 captives unharmed; Farah remains in custody. Citing incidents in Khan Yunis today and on 8/7, the ICRC suspends operations in Gaza to protest the lack of security. (FT, IMEMC, UNIS, XIN 8/8; FT, HA, IMEMC, JP, NYT, PRCS, WT 8/9; OCHA, PR 8/10; PCHR 8/11)

The IDF begins delivering letters to the roughly 1,600 Jewish settler families in the Gaza Strip and 4 West Bank settlements slated for removal under disengagement, giving them until 8/15 to evacuate their homes and receive full compensation; those remaining on 8/17 will be forcibly removed, will not be allowed to return to collect their belongings (which will be packed and shipped by the IDF), will not receive full compensation. (HA 8/8; NYT 8/9)