Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Israel closes all Gaza crossing into Israel, reimposing the full seal on the territories (set on 3/11) for parliamentary elections; sends troops into al-Fawwar r.c. to conduct arrest raids and house searches, fires on stone-throwing youths who confront the troops, wounding 6; also conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron and in Bethlehem, Nablus, Tubas. Israeli security contractors guarding the separation wall nr. Jerusalem shoot, wound a Palestinian who strays too close to the wall. Islamic Jihad fires a Grad missile (an Eastern European rocket with a range greater than a Qassam but less than a Katyusha) fr. Gaza towards Ashkelon, which lands unexploded causing no damage or injuries. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba attack Palestinians, vandalize property in Hebron. Separately, Jewish settlers fr. Hebron attack Palestinian children on their way to school by a Palestinian road that passes near a settleronly bypass road. Inside Israel, 2 bedouin are killed in the Negev when they accidentally detonate an unexploded Palestinian rocket. (IMEMC, YA 3/28; VOP 3/28 in WNC 3/29; HA, MM, NYT, OCHA 3/29; PCHR 3/30; MM 4/7, 4/13, 4/21)

Israel holds parliamentary elections, with voter turnout at a relatively low 63%. The Kadima party, founded by Ariel Sharon and led by Ehud Olmert, wins 29 of the 120 Knesset seats (less than expected) compared to Labor with 19 seats, Likud (the biggest loser compared with its 38 seats last election) with 12, Shas with 12, Yisrael Beiteinu with 11, National Union–National Religious Party with 9, Pensioners’ Party with 7, United Torah Judaism with 6, Meretz with 5, and 3 Arab parties with a total of 10. (MM 3/28; HA, JP, MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/29; NYT, WT 3/30; WP 3/31; XIN, YA 4/3)

The PC approves (71–36, with 2 abstentions) the Hamas-led cabinet. (NYT 3/29; XIN 3/28 in WNC 3/29)