Sunday, August 5, 2012

As many as 35 unidentified gunmen attack an Egyptian checkpoint near the Rafah border, fatally shooting 16 Egyptian security officers and wounding 3. Some of the assailants then steal 2 armored personnel carriers, which they pack with explosives and drive toward Kerem Shalom commercial crossing, where the borders of Egypt, Israel, and Gaza meet. The IDF calls in an air strike on the vehicles as they breach the border, killing at least 3 assailants. No group takes responsibility. Egypt seals the Rafah border crossing into Gaza as a precaution. Israel shuts the Israeli-Egypt side of Kerem Shalom and halts fuel shipments to Gaza through the Israel-Gaza side, but otherwise continues to allow limited imports of goods from Israel to Gaza. Hamas authorities in Gaza deny any Palestinian involvement, call the attack ‘‘terrorism,’’ and close smuggling tunnels from their side as well, stating that ‘‘Palestinian resistance factions are committed to fighting only against the Israeli occupation, and they launch their operations only from the Palestinian territories.’’ (MNA, NYT, WP 8/6; NYT 8/7)

An Israeli warplane makes an air strike on Rafah targeting 2 Tawhid and Jihad mbrs. as they ride a motorcycle through Rafah, assassinating Eid Oukal and wounding Ahmad Said Isma‘il; Israel accuses the men of being behind the 6/18 Sinai attack that killed an Israeli Palestinian worker and of plotting other crossborder attacks on Israeli civilians; no mention is made of the Sinai attack earlier in the day. Later, unidentified Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. The IDF responds by directing artillery fire and shooting from helicopters at the demolished Dahaniyya airport site and open areas e. of Rafah for several hours, causing no reported injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in 1 village nr. Ramallah in the morning; conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem, Hebron, and Ramallah. (NYT, PCHR 8/6; PCHR 8/9; OCHA 8/10)

The PA cancels plans to host a meeting in Ramallah of foreign envoys representing the Non-Aligned Movement to express solidarity with the Palestinians, stating that Israel has refused to grant entry permits to the representatives of Algeria, Bangladesh, Cuba, Indonesia, and Malaysia on the grounds that their countries do not recognize the State of Israel. The PA reportedly (NYT 8/6) intended to announce plans to revive its UN statehood effort at the opening of the next UNGA session in 9/2012. The group was also expected to release a ‘‘Ramallah Declaration’’ denouncing Israeli settlement expansion. (NYT, WP 8/6)

Iran airs the confessions of more than a dozen alleged conspirators to the killing of 5 nuclear scientists since 2010, claiming that the suspects were trained in Israel by the Mossad. (WP 8/6)