Monday, August 15, 2005

The IDF tightens restrictions on Palestinian movement inside Gaza, declares the n. West Bank a closed military zone in preparation for disengagement; begins going door to door in the Gaza settlements, asking residents to leave within 48 hrs. In Aley Sinai, 56 of 59 families who had agreed to leave rescind their decision, vowing to resist evacuation until the Israeli government finds permanent living solutions for the community as a whole; the government had promised them space together in an Ashkelon hotel, but only today learned that not enough space was available. During the day, some 1,000 right-wing settlers in various locations in s. Gaza simultaneously begin marching toward Gush Katif to block troops, but are prevented fr. reaching the settlement bloc by IDF troops and border police. Other settler youths slash the tires of several army jeeps, spray liquid soap on windshields to limit visibility, spread nails on roads to delay convoys of movers. Jewish settlers fr. Neve Dekalim vandalize, attempt to set fire to several Palestinian homes in al-Mawasi. In Gan Or, local settlers who want the IDF’s help to evacuate scuffle with settler youths blocking soldiers fr. entering the settlement. In the West Bank, the last residents of Ganim (est. 1983, pop. 172) and Qadim (est. 1983, pop. 169) evacuate voluntarily by evening, while settlers in the other 2 West Bank settlement slated for removal, the hard-line enclaves of Homesh (est. 1980, pop. 228) and Sanur (est. 1982, pop. 105), refuse to accept their notices. The major Palestinian factions, including Hamas, agree to oversee jointly how the PA uses land evacuated by settlers and the IDF; the PA expects 5% of the land to revert to individual Palestinian owners, with the rest being state land that will fall under PA jurisdiction. In a signal to reassure Palestinians about how it will handle land use, the PA security forces demolish a house, cabana, pool built illegally on Gaza public land by 2 senior PA security officials; when a neighbor of one of the officials tells journalists that the demolitions were good because his neighbors “were criminals . . . a gang,” several PA security officers beat him, threaten to shoot him, before he retreats into his house. (BBC, HA, NYT 8/15; HA, NYT, WP, WT 8/16; PR 8/17; PCHR 8/18)

Meanwhile, the IDF continues arrest raids, house searches in villages around Tulkarm; launches arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem and in Birzeit, alMawasi; searches homes in Kafr Qadim; occupies 5 Palestinian houses (2 nr. Gaza’s Dugit settlement, 1 in Mughraqa, 1 nr. Tulkarm, 1 in Wadi al-Silqa) as observation posts; fires on residential areas of Rafah. Jewish settlers vandalize Palestinian homes in Hebron. The ICRC resumes field activities in Gaza, which were suspended on 8/7 after shots were fired at its Khan Yunis offices. (IMEMC 8/15; NYT 8/16)