Sunday, February 25, 2007

In the West Bank, the IDF makes an overnight raid on Nablus, reportedly uncovering an Islamic Jihad pipe bomb factory in the Old City, exchanging fire with Islamic Jihad mbrs., causing no reported injuries. Troops withdraw and then reenter Nablus before dawn, this time declaring the start of Operation Hot Winter— the largest military operation in the West Bank since 7/06 and the largest in Nablus in 3 yrs.—sealing the city, imposing a curfew, taking over TV and radio stations, conducting house-to-house searches, barring access to 2 hospitals, reportedly uncovering a 2d bomb-making factory and finding a LAU hand-held guided missile and launcher (either stolen from the IDF or purchased on the Israeli black market); 2 IDF soldiers, 6 Palestinians are wounded in exchanges of fire; an Associated Press photographer films IDF soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to act as a human shield, leading troops into Palestinian homes—a violation of international and Israeli law. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron, Jenin. Nr. Hebron, suspected Palestinian assailants fatally stab a Jewish settler. Jewish settlers fr. Avigail nr. Hebron uproot 30 Palestinian olive trees. Overnight in Khan Yunis, 5 Palestinians are killed, more than 40 wounded in a family feud with factional overtones, raising concerns that intra-Palestinian fighting, which has tapered off since Fatah and Hamas reached a national unity agmt. in Mecca on 2/8 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 143), might resume: The fighting begins when mbrs. of the Khawareh clan, relatives of a Fatah mbr. killed in factional fighting on 1/07, fatally shoot Hamas mbr. Muhammad Ali Ghalban, whom they blame for his death, sparking exchanges that leave 2 Khawareh relatives, 2 bystanders dead. On the Rafah border, 1 Palestinian is killed, 6 are injured when a smugglers’ tunnel they are digging collapses. Palestinian workers at Qarni crossing strike for the day, forcing the crossing to close. Unidentified gunmen in Bureij r.c. fire on an ESF post, causing no injuries. In Israel, Israeli police raid 2 companies in Ramat Gan that do business with companies in Gaza, arresting several employees on suspicion of funneling money to Hamas, Islamic Jihad. (AP, HA, NYT, WP, WT 2/25; AP, HA, NYT, WP 2/26; OCHA 2/28; AP, PCHR 3/1; WP 3/3)