Saturday, July 29, 2006

In Gaza, the IDF sends troops back into s. Gaza to search for a reported tunnel on the Gaza-Egypt border, cuts power to Rafah, makes an air strike on a building in Gaza City that allegedly holds a weapons cache; makes air strikes destroying 2 Palestinian homes in n. Gaza after phoning residents (at least 1 of them an AMB mbr.) to warn them to evacuate, also destroying 1 home nearby; shells residential areas of n. Gaza without warning (hitting 4 Palestinian homes, injuring 3 Palestinians), al-Shuka (wounding 2 Palestinians); temporarily occupies the Erez industrial zone, withdrawing after nightfall; sends bulldozers into southeastern Khan Yunis to raze 100 d. of agricultural land. UNRWA reports that it is housing in its schools some 1,200 Palestinians who have fled n. Gaza to escape IDF shelling. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into Nablus to assassinate local Islamic Jihad military cmdr. Hani Uwayjan, a Palestinian civilian with him; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Hebron, Qalqilya; patrols in, fires on residential areas of Jenin, wounding 1 Palestinian. A Palestinian civilian wounded by IDF fire in Gaza City on 7/27 dies. (NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 7/30; PCHR 8/3)

The IDF keeps up intensive air and artillery strikes across Lebanon, targeting the Beirut–Damascus highway (closing the Syrian border crossing for the 1st time since 7/12; though the road is used primarily by civilians trying to flee the country and aid workers bringing in humanitarian assistance, Israel claims it targeted the road to prevent arms smuggling), killing at least 6 Lebanese civilians, wounding 2 UNIFIL monitors. During the day, the IDF withdraws troops fr. Bint Jubayl, claiming to have destroyed Hizballah’s elaborate network of tunnels and storage areas, but continues air and artillery strikes and keeps troops in the area, saying they could be sent back in at any time. Hizballah fires at least 90 rockets into Israel. Israel allows military planes delivering aid fr. Egypt, Jordan, the UAE to land at Beirut airport; a warship fr. Turkey brings medical supplies into Beirut port; a U.S. naval catamaran brings blankets, tarps, medical kits; aid workers in Lebanon complain that it is still too dangerous to transport aid supplies, that the IDF still requires convoy-by-convoy approval to move the aid to hard-hit areas. (NYT, WP, WT 7/30)