Monday, May 21, 2007

The IDF makes air strikes on a car in Bayt Lahiya, assassinating 4 Islamic Jihad mbrs. (Muhammad Abu Nima, Mahmud Awad, Majid al-Batash, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Hilu); on an alleged weapons factory in Gaza City, damaging several neighboring houses but causing no injuries; on a group of armed Palestinians in al-Bureij r.c., missing them, hitting a building, damaging 7 homes, injuring 4 bystanders (including a 1-yr.-old child). The IDF also conducts an arrest raid in Bayt Lahiya. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Comms. (PRCs) fire 15 rockets fr. Gaza toward Israel (3 land in Gaza), hitting a car in Sederot, killing 1 Israeli woman (the 11th killed by Palestinian rocket fire since rockets came into use in 1/02; the previous deadly strike occurred on 11/21/06), wounding 2 men. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, and in Balata r.c. (targeting the AMB), Qalqilya, Tulkarm. Jewish settler teenagers fr. Karmi’el nr. Hebron throw stones at a bedouin woman nr. Yatta, injuring her. Fatah mbrs. shoot, wound 2 Hamas mbrs. in Khan Yunis and set fire to a library on the campus of the predominantly Hamas College of Science and Technology. An NSF mbr. dies of injuries received in clashes with Hamas on 5/16. (NYT, WP, WT 5/22; OCHA, WP 5/23; PCHR 5/24)

The Lebanese army’s siege of Nahr al-Barid r.c. continues overnight. During the day, fighting is heavy: Army snipers atop buildings surrounding the camp firing on anyone moving in the streets inside, soldiers open machine gun fire on anyone trying to leave the camp; FI responds with automatic weapons, mortar fire, anti-aircraft guns; the army responds with artillery, tank fire. (The army also surrounds the volatile ‘Ayn al-Hilwa r.c. as a precaution, prompting armed Palestinian factions there to go on alert.) The UN secures a brief cease-fire in the afternoon, allowing the evacuation of 16 wounded Palestinian civilians fr. the camp before FI breaks the truce. Lebanese PM Fuad Siniora asks the U.S. to expedite $280 m. in previously pledged military aid to more effectively combat FI. After dark, army shelling of Nahr al-Barid increases significantly. In Beirut, another car bomb explodes in the predominantly Sunni Verdun area, wounding 6 Lebanese, setting 2 buildings on fire. (AP, NYT, REU 5/21; NYT, WP, WT 5/22; NYT, WP 5/23)