Saturday, January 15, 2005

Abbas is sworn in as PA pres.; reappoints Qurai‘ as PM, calls on him to form a government; calls for immediate talks with Israel, recommends going beyond the road map to include parallel talks on final status issues. Israel replies that there is “no necessity to find an alternative to the road map.” Abbas also vows to hold legislative elections on 7/17. (AFP 1/15; JAZ, PSCT, VOP 1/15 in WNC 1/20; NYT, WP, WT 1/16; PCHR 1/27)

The IDF makes a predawn raid on the al-Zaytun neighborhood of Gaza City launching Operation Eastern Step (billed by the IDF as pinpoint operations against Palestinians launching mortars and rockets fr. the area), shelling residential areas, raiding and occupying buildings as observation posts, bulldozing Palestinian land, sparking clashes, killing 5 Palestinians (2 resistance mbrs., 3 civilians), wounding 10. In retaliation, Hamas fires 6 mortars at Gaza’s Netzarim settlement (injuring a 7-yr.-old Jewish settler, lightly injuring another child), Sederot (killing 1 Israeli, lightly injuring 2). The IDF also fires on a group of children playing near what they mistakenly believe to be an unoccupied IDF post on the Rafah-Egypt border, other Palestinians race to extract the children and also come under fire, leaving 1 Palestinian adult and a child dead, 6 Palestinians wounded; fires missiles fr. a helicopter, destroying a workshop, severely damaging a home in Bayt Lahiya; fires on residential areas of Rafah; demolishes 3 Palestinian homes in Khan Yunis; bulldozes 40 d. in Shaykh Ajlin; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Dayr al-Hatab nr. Nablus, Dura, Issawiyya, Jericho, Yatta. (XIN 1/15; JP, VOI, VOP 1/15 in WNC 1/20; HA, NYT, WT 1/16; PCHR 1/18; OCHA 1/19)