Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cross-border violence in Gaza enters its 3d day. Israel conducts 3 drone air strikes and 7 artillery strikes on Gaza, injuring 6 Palestinians (3 militants and 3 bystanders, including a woman and child). The PRCs, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas fire as many as 64 rockets (including at least 7 Grads) and 18 mortars, killing 1 Israeli and wounding 6 in Beersheba, lightly injuring 3 Israelis in Ofakim when a rocket hits a house, and injuring 3 Palestinian laborers in Ashdod (2 seriously). Israeli naval vessels fire 3 times on Palestinian fishing boats off the Gaza coast, forcing them to return to shore. IDF soldiers on the n. Gaza border nr. Bayt Hanun fire warning shots at Palestinian fishermen on the beach nr. the no-go zone, causing no injuries. In the West Bank, the IDF carries out a major late-night raid on Hebron, sending 100 military vehicles into the area fr. 3 directions and rounding up some 120 Palestinians, mostly Hamas members and supporters, marking the largest West Bank arrest operation since 2003; those arrested include Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Council (PC) mbr. Muhammad Abu Jheisha and leading figures of several Hamas-affiliated charities. Jewish settlers fr. Migron outpost nr. Ramallah beat a 12-yr.-old Palestinian boy tending sheep nearby. (JP, YA 8/20; JAZ, JP, NYT, WP 8/21; MNA 8/22; IFM, PCHR 8/25; OCHA 8/26)

In Cairo, crowds outside the Israeli emb. grow steadily into the 1,000s overnight and throughout the day. Israel issues a formal expression of regret for the deaths of the Egyptian soldiers, but Egyptian leaders say it is inadequate. Egypt briefly threatens to recall its amb. fr. Israel, but backs down following international intervention to calm tensions. Israel shelves discussions of a major military strike on Gaza given the crisis with Egypt. (WP 8/20; NYT, WP 8/21; NYT 8/27; WP 8/28)