Sunday, December 21, 2008

Islamic Jihad mbrs. fire 19 rockets, 3 mortars fr. Gaza into Israel, damaging a home, lightly injuring 1 Israeli in 2 separate instances. The IDF makes 2 air strikes on rocket-launching sites in Gaza City, wounding a 2-yr.-old girl. In the West Bank, IDF troops for no apparent reason fire on a group of Palestinian laborers on their way to work nr. Hebron, wounding 1 with live ammunition; conduct early morning patrols in Tulkarm; conduct daytime raids, search Palestinian homes and shops nr. Bethlehem and Ramallah, making no arrests; conduct late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Ramallah, Tulkarm and in Balata r.c., Hebron, Nablus. In East Jerusalem, Israeli forces bulldoze a tent, displacing a family whose house on the site had been bulldozed in 11/08. (Forward, MM, WT 12/22; PCHR 12/24)

At its weekly session, the Israeli cabinet gives the IDF the green light to initiate attacks on Hamas targets in Gaza, in addition to hitting sites fr. which rockets and mortars are launched. Some reports suggest the cabinet took a decision to launch a military strike on Gaza and has authorized the IDF chief of staff to prepare to implement previously drafted plans for a ground invasion into Gaza to oust Hamas. Senior Hamas officials in Gaza immediately go underground, fearing assassination. The cabinet also authorizes the Israeli FMin. to launch an international public relations campaign enlisting support for a military offensive against Hamas. Israeli FM Tzipi Livni plans a series of teleconferences with UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon, U.S. Secy. of State Condoleezza Rice, and the FMs of Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin reports that Hamas has rockets that would strike as far n. as Kiryat Gat, Ashdod, Beersheba. (International Middle East Media Center [Bayt Sahur] 12/21; Forward, MM, WP, WT, YA 12/22)