Saturday, July 16, 2005

IDF tanks and infantry begin massing on Gaza’s northern border in apparent preparation for a major incursion. The IDF continues operations in and around Tulkarm; conducts predawn missile strikes on 3 auto repair garages, machine shops in Gaza City, Khan Yunis thought to be weapons factories, injuring 3 Palestinians; conducts arrest raids targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad mbrs. in Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, and Tulkarm, arresting 26 Hamas, 4 Islamic Jihad mbrs.; also raids, searches homes in Mughraqa; fires on a group of Palestinians trying to cross the closed Abu Huli crossing into Gaza, wounding 4; conducts patrols nr. Ramallah, Tulkarm and in Dahaysha r.c., Nablus (firing on residential areas), Qalqilya, Tubas nr. Jenin. Hamas fires 10 mortars, 8 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza at Sederot and Nisanit settlement (lightly injuring 7 settlers). In Gaza City, some 10,000 Hamas supporters attend the funeral of 4 Hamas mbrs. assassinated on 7/15. In Bayt Lahiya, Hamas gunmen shoot, wound a PA security officer. In Khan Yunis, Palestinian gunmen associated with a Fatah splinter group set fire to the newly opened offices of Fatah head Faruq Qaddumi, then fire on PA security forces posts in the area. In Ramallah, AMB mbrs. fire in the air, order stores to close to protest Palestinian deaths in recent days; PA security forces deploy in response, ordering stores to reopen. (HA, IMEMC, JAZ, REU, YA 7/16; VOI, VOP 7/16 in WNC 7/17; HA, JAZ, JP, NYT, WP, XIN 7/17; VOP 7/17 in WNC 7/18; OCHA, PR 7/20; PCHR 7/21)

Israel releases the leader of the Islamic movement in Israel Shaykh Ra’id Salah, arrested in 5/03, after serving a sentence for directing funds to West Bank and Gaza charities that allegedly support “terrorism”; his sentence was reduced by more than a yr. for good behavior. (REU 7/17; VOI 7/17 in WNC 7/18; JP 7/18 in WNC 7/19; PR 7/20)