Thursday, August 3, 2006

Overnight, the IDF launches ground operations in al-Shuka, using helicopters, drones, and some 50 tanks, armored vehicles, bulldozers; seals off Dahaniyya airport, the eastern entrance to Rafah, the main north–south Gaza highway; makes heavy air and artillery strikes on residential areas throughout the day, with Palestinian militants retaliating with antitank and light weapons fire, leaving 2 Hamas mbrs., 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs., 1 PA security officer, 5 bystanders dead and more than 30 Palestinians wounded (including at least 8 militants, 18 civilians). Palestinians fire 4 rockets toward Israel, but all land inside Gaza, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Qalqilya and in ‘Ayn alSultan r.c. nr Jericho, Balata r.c., Hebron, Nablus. (NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 8/3; NYT, WP 8/4; PCHR 8/10)

The IDF operates in 20 villages in s. Lebanon, most of them less than 2 mi. inside the border, engaging in intense clashes with Hizballah (particularly in Bint Jubayl, Maroun al-Ras, Marwahin, Rajmin), with Hizballah killing 4 IDF soldiers, wounding 4, destroying at least 4 APCs in Aita al-Sha‘b and Taybeh. The IDF also continues air strikes across Lebanon, including in s. Beirut (hitting houses of senior Hizballah and Hamas mbrs.), Blat, Nabatiyya, Rashaya, Taybeh, in the Biqa‘ Valley, and in the far n. nr. the border with Syria. Hizballah fires around 180 rockets into n. Israel, killing 5 Israeli civilians in Acre and 3 bedouin in Tarshiha nr. Ma’alot (all 8 killed during a 1- hr. barrage of 40 rockets), also hitting Kiryat Shimona (in another barrage of 30 rockets). (BBC, JAZ, NYT 8/3; AP, NYT, WP, WT 8/4)