Friday, July 20, 2018

Thousands of Palestinians gather along Gaza’s border to continue the Great March of Return. IDF troops violently disperse them near Gaza City, al-Bureij refugee camp, Jabaliya refugee camp, Rafah, and Khan Yunis; more than 120 Palestinians are injured. Amid the protests, Hamas snipers shoot and kill an Israeli soldier on the other side of the border fence. After the killing, Israeli forces carry out extensive air strikes and artillery shelling across Gaza; 3 Hamas fighters are killed in strikes near Khan Yunis and 1 more Palestinian is killed in Rafah. An IDF spokesperson says that 68 Hamas targets were hit and the attacks “eliminated about 60 buildings and infrastructures and revoked significant military and command and control capabilities.” Amid the attack, unidentified Palestinians launch 3 rockets into Israel; 2 are intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, and 1 lands in an open area, causing no damage or injuries. Off Gaza’s coast, Israeli naval forces open fire on Palestinian fishing boats, causing no damage. In the West Bank, IDF troops violently disperse Palestinians at Friday protests against the Israeli occupation in Kafr Qaddum near Qalqilya; 3 Palestinians are injured. They also arrest 1 Palestinian during raids near Bethlehem, and patrol near Hebron. In East Jerusalem, unidentified persons attach an incendiary device to a balloon and fly it from Bayt Jala into the Har Gilo settlement, marking the first use of such devices in the city, but causing no damage or injuries. (MNA, WAFA 7/20; HA 7/21; PCHR 7/26)

Following the extensive Israeli strikes in Gaza, Hamas and Israel agree to a cease-fire mediated by Egyptian and UN officials. A senior Hamas official says that the agreement provides for the “cessation of all forms of military escalation,” including air strikes, mortars, and rockets. However, he says that incendiary balloons and kites are not part of the agreement (a senior Israeli official will dispute this on 7/21). The Egyptians reportedly threatened to impose their own restrictions on Gaza should Hamas not end the incendiary kite and balloon attacks on Israel. (HA, MNA, TOI, YA 7/21)