Friday, August 19, 2011

Cross-border exchanges in Gaza continue overnight and throughout the day. The PRCs, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB), and a small Salafist group (the Abdullah Azzam Brigades) fire around 17 rockets (including at least 4 Grads) and at least 2 mortars into Israel, seriously injuring 2 Israelis and damaging a religious seminary and a synagogue. The IDF carries out at least 25 air strikes (warplanes and drones) and 5 artillery strikes, killing at least another 7 Palestinians (5 militants and 2 bystanders, including 1 child) and wounding at least 40; the attacks include the targeted assassination of Islamic Jihad’s senior military cmdr. Mu’ataz Quraiqe‘ in Gaza City, also killing his brother and 2-yr.-old son. (The other 4 militants killed, including senior PRC cmdr. Samed Abed, apparently were targeted after firing rockets.) Other targets include smuggling tunnels on the Rafah border, the main waste treatment facility in Nussayrat refugee camp (r.c.) in central Gaza, and numerous Hamas facilities and suspected weapons storage facilities across the Strip. With air strikes continuing into the evening, Hamas’s military wing, the Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), declares that it no longer considers itself bound by a unilateral cease-fire that had been in place since the end of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in 1/2009. Israeli officials discuss the possibility of launching an all-out offensive on Gaza. A Hamas mbr. injured in an 8/15/11 Israeli air strike on Gaza dies. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 2 villages nr. Jenin and 1 each nr. Jericho, Qalqilya, and Ramallah. Palestinians (sometimes accompanied by Israeli and international activists) hold weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall, land confiscations, and settlement expansion in Bil‘in, Kafr Qaddum, Ni‘lin, and al-Nabi Salih. IDF soldiers beat and fire rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at the protesters, injuring 1 Palestinian. (JP, MNA, YA 8/19; NYT, WP 8/20; IMEU, JAZ 8/21; PCHR 8/25; OCHA 8/26; NYT 8/27)

In Cairo, 100s of Egyptians angry over Israel’s killing of 3 soldiers in the Sinai on 8/18 gather outside the Israeli emb., demanding Israel’s amb. be expelled. Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF; the interim military leadership) summons the Israeli amb. to demand an apology and call for an investigation into the killings. The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate for pres., Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh, calls the incident an Israeli act of war, saying the SCAF should abrogate the 1979 peace treaty. (NYT, WP 8/20)