Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Overnight, the IDF makes a major incursion into ‘Ayn Bayt al-Ma’a r.c. to arrest Hamas and PFLP mbrs., imposing a roundthe-clock curfew, firing on residential areas, occupying several homes as military outposts, moving from building to building by breaking through walls (50 homes and 2 shops are damaged by the time the operation ends on 9/21), clashing with local gunmen, leaving 1 armed Palestinian, 1 IDF soldier dead. At dawn, Palestinians fr. neighboring Nablus obey calls from local mosques to march to the camp to force a lifting of the siege; when some throw stones at troops, the IDF responds with live fire, mortally wounding a 17-yr.-old Palestinian, barring ambulances from reaching the scene, allowing him to bleed to death; 4 other Palestinians are wounded. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem, nr. Hebron; issues a military order confiscating 523 d. of Palestinian land in al-Khadir and Artas nr. Bethlehem for expansion of Efrat settlement. Haniyeh meets with Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza to ask them to halt rocket fire into Israel during Ramadan, which ends ca. 10/13, but no agmt. is reached; Damascus-based Hamas leader Khalid Mishal intends to hold similar talks with Islamic Jihad leaders in Syria in the next few days. In Gaza City, Hamas and Islamic Jihad mbrs. armed with sticks and axes clash when Hamas mbrs. reportedly attempt to take over the Islamic Jihad–run Asqalan Mosque; 3 Palestinians are injured. (NYT, OCHA 9/19; NYT, PCHR 9/20)

US. Secy. of State Condoleeza Rice begins the 1st of 3 visits to the region this quarter for talks with Olmert, Abbas in preparation for Bush’s proposed fall peace conference, now tentatively set for 11/15 in Washington. She returns to Washington on 9/20. (WP 9/18; WT 9/19; see also IFM, WT 10/17)