Wednesday, October 5, 2016

A small Salafi group fires a rocket from Gaza into Israel, which explodes in Sderot, causing no injuries and minor damage. Holding Hamas responsible, the IDF fires tank shells and launches at least 25 air strikes on Hamas military sites in Bayt Hanun, Khan Yunis, and Gaza City, causing substantial damage. After the air strikes, the Israeli press reports that Hamas sent a message via a 3d party pledging to try to deescalate tensions and to stop small armed groups from firing more rockets. Meanwhile, an Israeli jet crashes on its return trip from a sortie in Gaza, killing the pilot and injuring another Israeli airman. An IDF spokesperson says that the 2 men ejected from the aircraft before the crash, and that the cause of the crash was unknown. (HA, JP, MNA, TOI, WAFA, YA 10/5; PCHR, TOI 10/6)

The IDF lifts its 3-day general closure of the West Bank overnight, allowing Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to use border crossings into Israel again. They also lift their 1.5 mo. closure of Kifl Haris village nr. Salfit. The village was closed after reports of stonethrowing in the area. Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli forces level 36 dunams (9 acres) of Palestinian land nr. Hebron, destroying numerous plum and olive trees. IDF troops arrest 17 Palestinians during late-night raids and house searches nr. Ramallah, Hebron, Tulkarm, and Bethlehem. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 15 Palestinians during raids in Issawiyya and al-Tur. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats nr. Gaza City and Khan Yunis, causing no damage or injuries. Along Gaza’s border, IDF troops open fire on Palestinian farmers and shepherds working nr. Gaza City, causing no injuries. (MNA, WAFA 10/5; PCHR 10/13)

A delegation of ICC officials, including chief prosecutor Bensouda, arrives in Israel for a 5-day educational visit. They will meet with both Israeli and Palestinian officials. Bensouda is still conducting the preliminary examination into alleged war crimes that she initiated in 1/2015 at the Palestinians’ request. However, the ICC officials explicitly state that they are not in Israel to “engage in evidence collection in relation to any alleged crimes” or to “assess the adequacy of the respective legal systems to deal with crimes that fall within ICC jurisdiction." (HA, JP, TOI 10/5)

Israeli naval forces intercept the ship Zaytouna around 35 naut. mi. off the coast of Gaza and peacefully arrest its all-female crew of solidarity activists. The takeover and escort to the port of Ashdod are “uneventful,” according to the IDF. The women are then detained at Givon Prison ahead of their likely deportation. PLO secy.-gen. Saeb Erekat says, “We strongly condemn the Israeli aggression today against the international flotilla that attempted to break the illegal Israeli siege over 1.8 m. people in Gaza.” (EI, HA, MNA, NYT, WAFA 10/5)