Monday, March 3, 2008

Overnight, the IDF makes several air strikes on Gaza, killing 5 Hamas mbrs. before withdrawing ground troops fr. Gaza in the morning, stating that it is suspending Operation Hot Winter during U.S. Secy. of State Condoleezza Rice’s upcoming 3/4–5 visit. The toll for the 5-day operation is at least 110 Palestinians (half of them civilians, including at least 24 children; Hamas says it lost 37 mbrs.; Islamic Jihad and the PRCs say they lost 15) and 3 Israelis dead (1 civilian inside Israel, 2 IDF soldiers in Gaza), and nearly 400 Palestinians injured (most of them civilians). In addition, 21 Palestinian homes were destroyed (leaving 147 Gazans homeless) and 88 heavily damaged (affecting 616 Gazans), 90 dunams (d.; 4 d. = 1 acre) of agricultural land was bulldozed, and 80 Palestinians were detained for questioning (at least 5 were remanded to Israel). Palestinians fired more than 200 rockets (allegedly including 21 Grads). The IDF, however, makes more air strikes during the day, killing another 3 Palestinians (at least 2 of them civilians, including a child), destroying the Palestinian Council (PC) headquarters in Gaza City. Palestinians fire 18 rockets (allegedly including 1 Grad) into Israel, causing damage but no injuries; 1 rocket lands inside Gaza, hitting a home, wounding 2 Palestinians. In the West Bank, 1,000s of Palestinians demonstrate against Operation Hot Winter; a Jewish settler fr. Talmon B settlement nr. Ramallah fires on demonstrators in nearby al-Mazra‘a, killing a Palestinian teenager; IDF soldiers fire on another protest nr. Hebron, wounding 2 Palestinians. The IDF also exchanges fire with Palestinian gunmen nr. Bethlehem, wounding 3; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem, and nr. Hebron, Jenin, Nablus. (BBC, NYT, PCHR, REU, WP 3/3; MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/4; PCHR 3/6; OCHA 4/18)