Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Overnight, the IDF launches Operation Summer Rains, sending ground troops into s. Gaza; retaking the Dahaniyya airport area as a base, demolishing 5 Palestinian homes and bulldozing land to improve lines of sight, and blowing up 3 bridges to control movement between the Rafah and Gaza City environs; conducting 7 air strikes on Gaza’s only electricity plant nr. Gaza City and 6 transformer stations, wounding 2 Palestinians, blacking out 45% of the Strip, and leaving Gaza fully dependent on electricity fr. Israel); shelling open areas of s. Gaza; repeatedly breaking the sound barrier over the Strip. The IDF’s elite Givati Brigade deploys outside n. Gaza, prepared to enter if rocket attacks resume. Midafternoon, IDF artillery begins shelling n. Gaza for the 1st time since the 6/9 incident that killed 8 Palestinians. After Palestinians fire 2 rockets into Israel in response (causing no damage or injuries), the IDF warns n. Gaza residents to evacuate the area, with Olmert saying that IDF operations will escalate until Shalit is released. In a warning to Syrian pres. Bashar al-Asad and Hamas’s Damascus-based leadership, the Israeli air force makes overflights of Asad’s residence in Latakia (where he is believed to be staying) and along the Syrian coast. Meanwhile, Palestinians fire 6 more rockets toward Israel, but all land inside Gaza, causing no damage or injuries. The AMB says it has kidnapped a 62-yr.-old Israeli man fr. Rishon Letzion, inside Israel, who has been missing since 6/26; issues a statement threatening to target Israeli embassies abroad. In the West Bank, the IDF patrols in Iktaba nr. Tulkarm; raids a Fatah office in al-Bireh, confiscating computers, arresting 3 Palestinians; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Tulkarm, nr. Hebron. In Khan Yunis, 2 Palestinian children are killed when they accidentally detonate unexploded IDF ordnance. In West Jerusalem, around 100 ultra-Orthodox Jews attack a tour group of 50 pro-Israel Christians for wearing shirts saying “love your neighbor as yourself”; Israeli police intervene to stop the attack but make no arrests; 3 tourists, 1 police officer are injured. (AP, BBC, B’Tselem press release, HA, IFM, IMEMC, ITV, MM, NYT, PCHR, REU, Voice of the Arabs [Cairo], WP, WT, YA 6/28; OSC 6/28 in WNC 6/30; BBC, CSM, HA, IMEMC, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT 6/29; Globe, PCHR 6/29; HJ 7/1 in WNC 7/1; see also AFP, MENA, PSCT 6/27 in WNC 6/28; OCHA 6/30; PCHR 7/6; REU 7/11)