Sunday, June 25, 2006

Before dawn, 8 Palestinian gunmen dressed in IDF uniforms sneak across the s. Gaza border into Israel using a tunnel, attack an IDF border post nr. Kerem Shalom with grenades, rifles, antitank rockets, killing 2 IDF soldiers, wounding 4, capturing 1 (IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit, apparently wounded in the exchange) in what they call Operation Dispel Illusion; 2 Palestinian gunmen are killed by retaliatory fire; the IDF sends tanks, bulldozers a half-mile inside Gaza to search for the captured soldier, the tunnel; several groups including Hamas’s Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, the PRCs, and a previously unknown group, the Army of Islam, jointly claim the attack as retaliation for the IDF’s 6/8 Abu Samhadana assassination; Abbas, some Hamas political leaders call for the captured IDF soldier’s immediate release. In response, Israel shuts all crossings into Gaza (including forcing the closing of the Rafah crossing by barring EU monitors fr. entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom, leaving as many as 3,000 Palestinians stranded on the border inside Egypt, and some 400 medical patients awaiting treatment abroad stranded on the Gaza side); shuts off fuel supplies to Gaza; bars Palestinian fishermen fr. going out to sea; tightens restrictions on Palestinian movement at checkpoints and roadblocks across the West Bank. During the day, the IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Nablus (firing on a clearly marked al-Jazeera TV vehicle, causing damage but no injuries), and nr. Hebron, Jenin (firing on stone-throwing youths who confront the troops, wounding 2), Qalqilya. (AFP, HA, IFM, YA 6/25; MENA, OSC, VOI 6/25 in WNC 6/26; AFP, AP, CSM, JP, MM, NYT, WP, WT, YA 6/26; WT 6/27; NYT, OCHA 6/28; PCHR 6/29; NYT 7/8)