Thursday, July 13, 2006

Overnight, the IDF makes air strikes destroying the PA FMin. building in Gaza City, wounding 13 bystanders (including 6 children); makes an air strike on Khan Yunis, killing 1 Islamic Jihad mbr., wounding a 2d; sends troops into al-Qarara, firing on residential and agricultural areas. During the day in Gaza, the IDF continues to shell n. Gaza, wounding at least 2 Palestinians; fires on residential areas nr. Sufa crossing, wounding a Palestinian child outside his home. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Salfit; uproots 50 Palestinian trees nr. the separation wall in Bayt Jala for “security reasons.” A Palestinian teenager wounded in a 7/10 IDF air strike on Bayt Hanun dies. (NYT, WP 7/13; PCHR 7/20)

Officially launching Operation Just Reward (ca. 7/18 renamed Operation Change of Direction), the IDF makes predawn air strikes on s. Lebanon that kill at least 44 Lebanese civilians, wound around 100. Hizballah responds by firing some 60 Katyusha rockets on n. Israel, hitting a home in Nahariya (killing 1 Israeli woman, wounding 29), wounding 11 in Safad, and hitting the northern towns of Carmiel, Majdal Qrum, Zarit. During the day, the IDF intensifies its attacks on Lebanon to cut Hizballah supply lines and prevent internal transportation of weapons and fighters, imposing a naval blockade on Lebanese ports north to Beirut and making air strikes on Beirut International Airport, the Lebanese army’s main Rayak air base nr. the Syrian border, a small military airport in Qulayat in n. Lebanon, Hizballah’s al-Manar TV station outside Beirut (wounding 6) and a relay tower in Baalbek (killing 1 Lebanese, wounding 4), a major oil depot in Jiyeh, numerous roads and bridges. AfterIsrael warns Lebanese to evacuate Hizballah-dominated areas of s. Beirut, Hizballah threatens to strike Haifa if Beirut is targeted. When the IDF conducts overflights of Beirut shortly afterward, Hizballah fires 2 Katyushas at Haifa, damaging a hotel but causing no injuries. Israeli-Hizballah exchanges continue late into the evening, with Hizballah firing around 90 rockets and mortars into Israel, hitting some 20 northern towns and killing a 2d Israeli, whileIsrael attacks 100s of targets across Lebanon (mostly in the south, but including hitting Beirut airport a 2d time, with artillery reportedly fired at a rate of 1 shell per minute throughout the day), killing at least another 10 Lebanese. Total casualties for the day are estimated at 54 Lebanese (overwhelmingly civilians) killed and 103 wounded, and 2 Israelis killed and 90 injured (1 seriously, two-thirds being treated for shock). Israel also warns UNIFIL that the IDF will target anyone moving nr. the Blue Line, including UNIFIL observers, prompting UNIFIL to confine its 2,500 troops (who are either unarmed or lightly armed for personal defense only) to barracks. (AP, HA, MSNBC, National Public Radio, REU 7/13; NYT, UNIS, WP, WT 7/14)