Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Overnight, the IDF sends troops back into central Gaza, engaging in heavy clashes with armed Palestinians in al-Maghazi r.c. that last throughout the day, occupying houses as sniper posts, cutting electricity to central Gaza, conducting air and artillery strikes, leaving 5 Hamas mbrs., 4 Palestinian bystanders dead and 5 IDF soldiers, 93 Palestinians wounded (mostly militants, most with shrapnel fr. tank fire; also including 20 children). The IDF also continues to shell n. Gaza fr. land and sea. In the West Bank, the IDF sends around 50 armored vehicles into Nablus in a major raid allegedly to search for Palestinian militants “activated by Hizballah” to stage attacks on Israel, laying siege to the Nablus governorate building, the government compound (mostly destroyed during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002), 3 security force buildings, the central prison; forcing out and detaining around 150 Palestinians (many PA security officers); killing 3 armed AMB mbrs. and 2 bystanders (including a medic), wounding 33 (including 16 children, 2 Palestinian); demolishing the main PA security compound, at least 6 other PA buildings; occupying the Palestinian Red Crescent Society offices, preventing the movement of ambulances. The IDF also patrols in, fires on residential areas of Anabta nr. Tulkarm. (NYT, WP, WT 7/19; Guardian, ICRC press release, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 7/20; NYT 7/21; IFM, NYT 7/22; PCHR 7/27)

The IDF continues to escalate air and artillery strikes across Lebanon. At least 58 Lebanese (including at least 35 civilians) and 4 Israelis (2 soldiers, 2 civilians) are killed during the day, bringing the comprehensive toll to at least 310 Lebanese (overwhelmingly civilian) and 29 Israelis (at least 15 civilians, 13 soldiers). Sites hit include Srifa nr. Tyre, where air strikes level at least 20 buildings, killing at least 21 Lebanese, wounding 30, leaving as many as 80 unaccounted for; a Christian neighborhood in e. Beirut, hitting 2 well-drilling machines mistaken for rocket launchers in Ashrafiyya, causing no injuries; a bunker in s. Beirut believed to be housing Hizballah leaders, hit with 23 tons of explosives according to the IDF (Hizballah says the site was vacant); 2 PFLP-GC bases in the Biqa‘ Valley. The IDF also makes ground incursions into s. Lebanon, engaging Hizballah fighters; 2 Hizballah mbr. and 2 IDF soldiers are reportedly killed, 9 IDF soldiers injured, and 1 Israeli tank destroyed nr. Naqura. The IDF also clashes with Hizballah mbrs. who try to cross into n. Israel nr. Metula, chasing them back across the border, killing 2 Hizballah mbrs. Hizballah retaliates by launching more than 100 rockets on n. Israel, hitting Haifa and, for the 1st time, Nazareth, where 2 Israeli Palestinian boys are killed and 8 are wounded; 10s of light injuries occur elsewhere. Residents in s. Lebanon begin receiving tape-recorded phone messages fr. the IDF ordering them in Arabic to evacuate. Israel also interrupts Lebanese radio broadcasts to warn that any truck, including pickups, traveling s. of the Litani River would be assumed to be transporting weapons and targeted. (AP, REU 7/19; NYT, WP, WT 7/20)