Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Palestinian hitchhiker dressed as an observant Jew detonates a bomb inside an Israeli car that picks him up outside Keddumim settlement, killing 4 Jewish settlers and himself; AMB–Nablus faction claims responsibility. PA FM Mahmud Zahhar (Change and Reform) defends the bombing as legitimate resistance, whereas Abbas denounces it; Israel accuses the PA of encouraging terror. Palestinians fire a rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds by shelling n. Gaza fr. land and sea, causing no damage or injuries; makes 6 F-16 air strikes outside Bayt Hanun and Bayt Lahiya, damaging an electricity network, several roads; warns the PA that it will increase pressure on Palestinians firing rockets fr. Gaza, will fire on any place fr. which fire is directed at Israel, even if PA security forces are operating in the area. The IDF also closes the only checkpoints allowing Palestinian access to the n. Jordan Valley (at least through 4/5); closes all but 1 road leading into Tulkarm; erects a permanent observation post and tower on the Bethlehem– Hebron road into Hebron; issues military orders seizing part of a Palestinian home in Hebron nr. the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs, 200 sq. m. of Palestinian land in al-Arub r.c. nr. Hebron to expand an IDF outpost; searches the offices of the Cultural Forum in Sur al-Bahir outside Jerusalem, confiscating files, damaging furniture; breaks up a Land Day rally in East Jerusalem, arresting 4 Palestinians, including 2 journalists; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Nablus, Tulkarm. Jewish settlers, escorted by IDF troops, attack Palestinian farmers, international peace activists planting trees on Palestinian land in Hebron. (IMEMC 3/30; MM, NYT, WP 3/31; NYT 4/1; PCHR 4/6)