Sunday, July 30, 2006

The IDF reopens the Nahal Oz pipeline (closed 7/27), the Qarni crossing to imports only (closed 7/26; exports have been banned since 6/23); makes an air strike destroying a Palestinian home nr. Bayt Lahiya after phoning the residents and warning them to leave; makes an air strike severely damaging the Gaza City home of a PA police officer, claiming he was storing weapons for militants (the officer was warned to evacuate; denies storing weapons); continues to shell residential areas of al-Shuka, wounding 1 Palestinian. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols, randomly checks IDs of residents in Qalqilya; conducts house searches in Bethlehem (targeting the home of a PA security officer), nr. Tulkarm. Some 5,000 Palestinians demonstrate outside the UN compound in Gaza City to protest the IDF’s attack on Qana, Lebanon, overnight (see below). A PSF officer is shot, wounded by unidentified armed Palestinians in Khan Yunis. A Palestinian wounded in the 7/19 IDF assault on al-Maghazi dies. (PCHR 8/3)

Overnight, the IDF drops 2 2,000-lb MK84 guided missiles on a 3-story residential building in Qana in s. Lebanon killing at least 28 Lebanese (including 16 children), wounding 9, and leaving 11 missing and presumed dead (including 6 children; initial reports say 57 Lebanese are killed, including 37 children, and 8 are wounded but Lebanese government, hospital, independent reports downgrade the figures by 8/3); the Israeli FMin. issues a statement blaming Qana residents for ignoring IDF warnings to leave. U.S. Secy. of State Rice, in Israel to discuss a cease-fire, announces that she will return to Washington but succeeds in securing Israel’s agmt. to a 48-hr. partial suspension of air strikes on s. Lebanon, including a 24-hr. window for relief agencies to transport goods and civilians; Israel says it will observe the suspension until the IDF “detects an imminent launch” of Hizballah rockets, but ground operations in s. Lebanon, air and artillery strikes n. of the Litani would continue. During the day, the IDF launches new ground operations in southeastern Lebanon nr. Taybeh and n. of the Israeli town of Metula, reporting 8 IDF soldiers wounded, 3 Hizballah mbrs. killed; makes air and artillery strikes across Lebanon, including in Yarun (killing at least 5 Lebanese civilians); calls on UNIFIL to evacuate Aita al-Sha‘b, Ramieh before sunset (UNIFIL refuses to comply). Hizballah fires more than 150 rockets into Israel in the heaviest barrage since the conflict began on 7/12, with some 80 rockets hitting Kiryat Shimona. (IFM, JAZ, UNIS 7/30; NYT, WP, WT 7/31; NYT 8/1; WT 8/4)