Sunday, December 30, 2007

For unclear reasons, IDF soldiers at the Erez crossing fire on 700 Palestinians returning from the Hajj in coordination with Israel and the PA, killing 1 Palestinian woman, wounding at least 1. Meanwhile, Palestinian pilgrims who left Gaza under a deal brokered by Hamas (see 12/5) begin to return via Egypt, where Egypt, under pressure fr. Israel, bars their passage through the Rafah crossing, saying they must go via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing; the pilgrims refuse, believing they would be arrested for their Hamas connections. Meanwhile, the IDF fires on Hamas mbrs. laying a roadside bomb nr. the s. Gaza border fence, killing 1 Hamas mbr., wounding a bystander. The Israeli navy fires on Palestinian fishing boats off the Rafah coast, forcing them to return to shore. Hamas mbrs. fire 3 mortars fr. Rafah toward the IDF post at Kerem Shalom; the IDF responds with heavy gunfire; no injuries are reported. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Tulkarm; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Hebron (including arresting a 10-yr.-old boy, heavily damaging 1 home), nr. Jenin. Jewish settlers throw stones, bottles at Palestinian cars traveling a main road linking Hebron and Bethlehem, damaging 1 car; the IDF observes but does not intervene. Hamas-affiliated police raid an area of Bayt Hanun to arrest a wanted Fatah mbr., fire in the air to disperse angry residents who confront them, wounding 2 (see 12/28). A similar confrontation takes place in Khan Yunis, with heavy fire but no injuries reported. Suspected Fatah mbrs. fire on a police patrol in Rafah, causing no injuries. (NYT 12/31; OCHA 1/2; PCHR 1/3)