Friday, March 26, 2010

IDF troops on the s. Gaza border fire on armed Palestinians laying a roadside bomb nr. the border fence e. of Khan Yunis. When Palestinians return fire, the troops enter the Strip in pursuit, triggering at least 1 buried device and drawing Palestinian mortar fire, which prompts the IDF to move several tanks and armed bulldozers into Gaza, shelling areas outside Khan Yunis. The exchange leaves 2 armed Palestinians, 1 Palestinian bystander, and 2 IDF soldiers dead and 3 IDF soldiers and 6 Palestinians (including at least 2 civilians, one a 13-yr.-old boy) wounded, marking the 1st deadly exchange of fire in Gaza since OCL ended on 1/18/09. The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Islamic Jihad, and a group calling itself Palestinian Taliban (believed to be a radical Salafist splinter group opposed to Hamas) claim their fighters were involved in the initial border incident; the Izzedin al-Qassam Brigades claims responsibility for ambushing and firing mortars at IDF troops once they entered Gaza, causing the IDF casualties. In the West Bank, the IDF fires rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades, tear gas at Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists taking part in weekly demonstrations against the separation wall and settlement expansion in Bil‘in (10s suffer tear gas inhalation; 1 Israeli is arrested), Dayr Nizam/al-Nabi Salih (2 Palestinians injured), and Ni‘lin (10s suffer tear gas inhalation). (JP 3/27; WP 3/28; OCHA, PCHR 4/1; PCHR 4/8)