Thursday, July 17, 2014

During the day, the IDF launches multiple strikes on targets across the Gaza Strip, killing 21 Palestinians, except during a 5-hour humanitarian cease-fire. After the humanitarian pause, Palestinian groups resume rocket fire into Israel, launching 105 projectiles, 20 of which are intercepted by Iron Dome batteries. One Israeli soldier nr. the border is wounded by a mortar shell just before the end of the pause. Meanwhile, 13 armed Palestinians enter Israel through a tunnel, but their attack is halted by IDF troops. Reports differ on whether or not 1 Palestinian is killed during the attack. Palestinians also launch a drone into s. Israel, which IDF troops shoot down nr. Ashqelon. UNRWA announces that 20 rockets were discovered in an unused school in Gaza, and condemns those responsible for a “flagrant breach” of international law. (AFP, AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU 7/17; AJ, PCHR 7/18)

At approximately 10:30 P.M., the IDF launches a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, beginning with heavy artillery shelling of Bayt Hanun and Bayt Lahiya in the n. and incursions nr. the border fence to expand the buffer zone. IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner says the invasion has 2 objectives: “to strike Hamas . . . so they do not have the motivation to continue” and “to strike the terrorist infrastructure, the rockets, the tunnels.” During the invasion, 1 Israeli soldier is killed by friendly fire. Israeli media report that the ground invasion is initiated largely in response to the tunnel attack early in the day. (AFP, AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU 7/17; AJ, PCHR 7/18)

In the West Bank, IDF troops shoot a Palestinian farmer nr. Nablus, shoot and injure 1 resident during clashes in al-Fara’a r.c. nr. Tubas, and shoot and injure 2 residents during clashes nr. Ramallah. IDF troops also shoot and injure 7 Palestinians during a demonstration at Qalandia checkpoint. The IDF conducts house searches, arrest raids in 1 village nr. Qalqilya at night; patrols in 3 villages and al-‘Arub r.c. nr. Hebron and 1 village nr. Salfit in the afternoon. Meanwhile, armed Palestinians open fire on IDF troops at a checkpoint nr. Ramallah, causing no injuries. In East Jerusalem, Israeli security forces raid Haram al-Sharif and assault worshippers protesting a visit by rightwing Jewish activists. Israeli forces also detain approximately 36 Palestinians. Meanwhile, police charge 3 Jewish Israelis with the murder of Abu Khdeir. (AFP, AP, HA, JP, MNA, REU 7/17; AJ, PCHR 7/18)

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Serry requests a 5-hour humanitarian cease-fire and it is observed. An unnamed Israeli defense official tells the media that the cease-fire is for Palestinians in Gaza to see the damage wrought by Israel thus far. (AFP, AP, HA, REU 7/17)

Hours before the ground invasion starts, the U.S. Senate agrees to a nonbinding res. condemning the rocket fire against Israel and reiterating Israel’s right to defend itself. The res. has 78 cosponsors and the support of many U.S.-based, pro-Israel groups, including AIPAC. (AFP, AP, JP 7/17; AJ 7/18)