Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Overnight, the IDF drops 2 quarter-ton bombs on a 3-story building in Gaza City in an attempt to assassinate chief Hamas bomb-maker Muhammad Dayif, 4 times previously the target of Israeli assassination since 2000, wounding Dayif, killing senior Hamas mbr. Nabil al-Salima,his wife and 7 children, wounding Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades n. Gaza cmdr. Ahmad al-Gander and at least 33 bystanders, seriously damaging 15 surrounding homes. At the same time, the IDF also expands Operation Summer Rains with a major incursion into central Gaza, sending 10s of tanks, APCs, armored bulldozers across the Kissufim crossing under helicopter and drone escort and moving troops north fr. positions nr. Abasan, cutting the Strip in half, ordering PA security forces to leave the area, shelling and bulldozing surrounding areas. During the day, the IDF reportedly kills at least 22 other Palestinians and wounds at least 14 in major gun battles nr. Dayr al-Balah in central Gaza and in air and artillery strikes around Dayr al-Balah and Khan Yunis; the PRC’s Salah al-Din Brigades Khan Yunis leader Hisham Abu Nusayra, a PA policeman are killed in separate air strikes in Khan Yunis and a police station in alQarara is hit. The IDF also bulldozes 65 d. of agricultural land, partially demolishes 8 Palestinian homes and a car, and occupies 10 Palestinian homes as military posts in Dayr al-Balah; withdraws fr. the Qarni industrial estate (held since 7/8), allowing humanitarian and commercial imports to resume, and from Dahaniyya airport (held since 6/28), allowing PA security forces to enter the airport and the Rafah crossing and around 1,000 displaced Palestinians (see 7/8) to return to their homes. Palestinians try to fire rockets fr. Gaza toward Kissufim, but they fall short, causing no damage or injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Dura, Nablus to conduct arrest raids. A Palestinian militant dies of injuries received during the 7/7 IDF air strikes on Bayt Lahiya. (BBC, HA, IMEMC, NYT, OCHA, PCHR, WP, WT 7/12; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 7/13; PCHR 7/20; NYT 7/21; B’Tselem 8/3)

Before dawn, Hizballah launches a crossborder attack on Israel, dubbed Operation True Promise, firing rockets across the Blue Line into n. Israel as a diversion; sending fighters in to n. Israel to attack an IDF patrol btwn. Zarit and Shetula, capturing 2 IDF soldiers, killing 3 soldiers, wounding 2. The IDF sends troops into Lebanon to search for the missing soldiers, where an IDF tank hits a mine, killing 4 IDF soldiers and marking Israel’s 1st ground incursion into Lebanon since its 5/00 withdrawal. (An 8th IDF soldier is killed, 2 others are wounded in Lebanon late in the evening as they try to recover the remains of the 4 tank occupants.) The IDF also launches air strikes and directs heavy artillery, tank fire on some 40 Hizballah positions, roads, bridges, power stations in s. Lebanon, killing at least 2 Lebanese civilians, 1 Lebanese soldier, wounding at least 10. The Lebanese government requests that UNIFIL broker a cease-fire, but Israel says a cease-fire would be contingent upon return of the captured soldiers. Hizballah leader Shaykh Hasan Nasrallah says the group plans to hold the 2 soldiers for the release of 3–4 Lebanese held by Israel. During the day, IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz calls up a reserve infantry division for deployment to the n. Israel border and sends the Israeli navy into Lebanese waters, threatening a massive invasion of Lebanon; makes air strikes on a Palestinian guerrilla base s. of Beirut. (BBC, HA, IFM 7/12; HA, IFM, NYT, WP, WT 7/13; UNIS 7/14)