Monday, June 26, 2006

Palestinian gunmen holding Shalit issue a statement demanding the release of all 113 Palestinian women and 318 children fr. Israeli jails in return for information on Shalit’s condition; Israel refuses, proceeds with plans to free Shalit itself, sending 3 additional armored battalions (more than 3,000 troops) to the Gaza border in warning. Egypt deploys 2,500 border guards along the Rafah border to prevent the kidnappers fr. trying to sneak Shalit into Egypt. Abbas, Haniyeh coordinate deployment of Abbas’s presidential guard, other PA security forces to conduct house-to-house searches to find Shalit. Haniyeh urges the gunmen to “respect [Shalit] as a prisoner” but does not call for his release; calls on all militant groups to maintain a cease-fire so as to avoid a massive Israeli retaliation. Egyptian envoys begin attempts to mediate Shalit’s release. Palestinians fire 2 rockets fr. Gaza into Israel, causing no damage or injuries. During the day, the IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Bethlehem and Ramallah, and nr. Hebron, Jenin, Jerusalem, Qalqilya, Tulkarm; begins work on a new segment of the separation wall nr. Tene settlement s. of Hebron that will annex at least 100 d. of Palestinian land to the settlement. Jewish settlers fr. Suissa burn 10 tons of hay stored by local Palestinian farmers. Meanwhile, the Israeli High Court rules that the government and IDF cannot bar Palestinians farmers in the West Bank fr. reaching their lands on the grounds that it is protecting them fr. Jewish settlers; must prevent settlers from harming Palestinian land, property, persons. (HA, IMEMC, MM, XIN 6/26; MENA, OSC, VOI 6/26 in WNC 6/27; HA, NYT, WP, WT 6/27; VOP 6/27 in WNC 6/28; PCHR 6/29)