Friday, January 2, 2009

Israel’s security cabinet authorizes the IDF to open phase 2 of OCL at its discretion by sending ground troops into Gaza “to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of operation, while taking control of some of [sic] rocket launching area used by the Hamas”; authorizes the call-up of 10,000s of additional reservists. The IDF does not immediately take action.

Israeli action: The IDF continues air strikes and naval bombardment of Gaza, carrying out 65 air strikes and hitting 65 individual sites. Target areas include al-Atatra, Bayt Lahiya, Dahaniyya, Dayr al-Balah, Gaza City (Shaykh Ridwan, al-Shuja‘iyya, Tal al-Hawa, al-Yarmuk), Jabaliya, Khan Yunis, Nussayrat, Rafah, Tal al-Za‘atar. Primary targets include the homes of more than 12 senior Hamas officials (including senior IQB official Imad Akel, who reportedly is killed along with 3 children nearby; and Haniyeh’s chief of staff Muhammad Madhun and fmr. PA Refugee Affairs M Atif Udwan, who are believed to be in hiding); a car carrying Hamas’s Gaza City military cmdr. Muhammad (Abu Zakariya) al-Jamal, assassinating him; the Rafah airport site (already heavily damaged by yrs. of IDF attacks); the American International School in al-Atatra in n. Gaza; a public works dept. building southwest of Gaza City; tunnels on the Rafah border; and suspected weapons depots across Gaza. The estimated Palestinian toll reaches 431 killed, more than 2,200 injured.

Palestinian actions: Palestinians fire 26 rockets and 5 mortars into Israel, including 10 rockets that strike nr. Ashqelon, 1 of which causes damage and lightly injures 2 Israelis.

Humanitarian notes: The IDF escorts 226 foreigners who opt to leave Gaza to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan; allows 64 truckloads of humanitarian goods into the Strip.

Of note: By this date, nearly all of Gaza’s police stations and government buildings have been destroyed. One senior Israeli security official states that “All of the offices and databases are gone. When all this is over, no civil servant will have an office to sit in.” (HA, IDF, IFM, ITV 1/2; AFP, AP, HA, IDF, Nation, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; Adalah 1/4; IFM, JP, PCHR 1/8; WT 1/22; JPI 1/23)

In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, percussion grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly nonviolent protests against the separation wall in Bil‘in (injuring 5 Palestinians), Ni‘lin (wounding 1 Israeli, 3 Palestinians), and Jayyus (injuring 3 Palestinians; 1 is hit with live ammunition). In Jerusalem, 100s of Palestinians clash with Israeli police after Friday prayers. Small demonstrations against OCL are reported in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank (including Bani Na‘im nr. Hebron, Bethlehem, Hebron, Issawiyya, Ramallah, Shu‘fat r.c.). IDF troops shoot at protesters in Bani Na‘im, wounding 5. The PASF breaks up large rallies against OCL in Hebron and Ramallah, firing tear gas at demonstrators, ripping up pro-Hamas placards and flags, beating and arresting suspected Hamas supporters, injuring at least 10 Palestinians. (HA, NYT, REU, WP, WT, YA 1/3; PCHR 1/8)