Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The IDF makes a major pre-dawn incursion into Gaza City, sending in tanks and helicopters, clashing with local Palestinians, and conducting at least 4 air strikes, leaving at least 17 Palestinians dead (5 bystanders; 12 Hamas mbrs., including the son of senior Hamas mbr. Mahmud al-Zahar, whose oldest son was killed when the IDF attempted to assassinate him in 2003), around 55 wounded by the time troops withdraw in the evening. The IDF also sends troops into al-Qarara, firing on residential areas, wounding a 71-yr.-old Palestinian man, bulldozing 20 d. of agricultural land before withdrawing in the evening; fires a missile across the border at armed AMB mbrs. e. of Gaza City, wounding 4; sends armored vehicles, bulldozers back into the Erez industrial zone (see 1/14) under cover of heavy fire to continue land-leveling operations (no injuries are reported). In retaliation for the Gaza City incursion, Palestinians fire around 25 mortars and 25 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, hitting a house, moderately injuring 4 Israelis; Hamas claims responsibility for 17 of the mortars and 3 of the rockets, marking the 1st time since 6/07 that it has fired rockets. A Hamas gunman also fires across the border into Israel, killing an Ecuadorian laborer on an Israeli farm. In the West Bank, the IDF raids Qabatya nr. Jenin, fatally shoots local Islamic Jihad cmdr. Walid Obaydi in an apparent assassination, also wounding 2 other Palestinians (Obaydi has been on Israel’s most wanted list for 7 yrs.; the IDF attempted to assassinate him on 8/9/07 in Jenin r.c.); sends undercover units into Nablus to ambush and arrest a wanted PFLP mbr.; conducts separate late-night arrest raids, house searches in Nablus; bulldozes 40 d. of almond and olive trees, 6 wells nr. Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Beit Hadasah throw Molotov cocktails into a Palestinian home, causing damage; the IDF intervenes, detains 2 of the Palestinian homeowner’s sons for questioning. (NYT, OCHA, WP, WT 1/16; PCHR 1/17)