Tuesday, May 16, 2006

As the quarter opens, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue Operation Southern Arrow, with heavy shelling and air strikes on Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket fire (at a rate of 10 Israeli strikes per 1 Palestinian rocket attack) and tight restrictions on Gaza’s crossings (see Quarterly Update for details). The IDF also continues to separate the n. and s. West Bank by closing (since 4/21) the Zatara checkpoint s. of Nablus and to restrict movement into and out of the n. Jordan Valley. Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza continue to suffer severe economic shortages due to the U.S.- and Israeli-led economic sanctions on the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) that have prevented the PA from paying government workers’ salaries for 2 mos. Today, the IDF patrols in ‘Araba nr. Jenin, firing on residential areas; conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Nablus. Islamic Jihad fires its 2d Grad rocket fr. Gaza toward Ashqelon, damaging a poultry farm but causing no injuries (see 3/28, 4/21). A Hamas mbr. is killed in a driveby shooting in Gaza City; no group claims responsibility. (MM 5/16; NYT, PCHR 5/18)