Tuesday, March 26, 2019

After a relatively calm day in Gaza, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducts dozens of air strikes on Hamas sites near Rafah and Khan Yunis late at night, causing extensive damage. The IDF says that the strikes were retaliation for previously unreported incendiary balloons launched into southern Israel earlier in the day. A senior Palestinian official says that the IAF has destroyed 30 residential buildings and damaged at least 500 others since the recent campaign of air strikes began on 3/25. After the air strikes resume, unidentified Gazans fire a projectile into southern Israel, causing no damage or injuries. Meanwhile, hundreds of Palestinians gather along the border fence near al-Bureij refugee camp to set tires on fire, throw stones, and otherwise continue the Great March of Return. A number of protesters sneak across the border fence and set fire to an IDF post before returning to Gaza. IDF troops violently disperse the demonstrations, injuring 1 Palestinian minor. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers attempt to enter 2 Palestinian elementary schools in Tuqu‘ village near Bethlehem. Palestinian teachers and staff block them, but they are forced to dismiss their students early. IDF troops shoot and injure 2 Palestinians during clashes sparked by an arrest raid in Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah; arrest 22 Palestinians and issue 4 arrest summons during further raids in and around Hebron, Jenin, Nablus, Tubas, and Ramallah; and patrol near Hebron. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces arrest 2 Palestinians during late-night raids in Issawiyya and the Old City. A Palestinian demolishes his own home in Issawiyya in order to avoid paying Israeli demolition fees. (EI, HA, MNA, WAFA, WAFA, WAFA 3/26; MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, MNA, WAFA, YA 3/27; PCHR 3/28)

A senior Israeli official says that despite the reports of an Egypt- and UN-brokered cease-fire late last night, the Israeli assault on Gaza that began on 3/25 is “not over.” The official also says that the IDF struck “very harsh blows” on Hamas. “We’re ready to deal even more.” Separately, Palestinian sources in Gaza say that the Israelis are demanding an end to all resistance activities along the border fence, including the planned Great March of Return protest this Friday, in exchange for a cease-fire. (HA, TOI, TOI, YA 3/26)