Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Before dawn, the IDF responds to Hamas’s 7/3 rocket fire on Ashqelon by carrying out air strikes on the PA Interior Min. in Gaza City (destroying it and wounding at least 7 Palestinians in homes nearby, including 4 children), a Hamas-run school in Gaza City, a Hamas training camp in s. Gaza. Later, Hamas fires a 2d 2-engine Qassam rocket that lands outside Ashqelon, causing no damage or injuries, the Israeli security cabinet authorizes the IDF to step up operations in Gaza and the West Bank aimed at halting rocket fire and “striking at institutions and infrastructures that serve terrorism,” particularly targeting Hamas. During the day, the IDF moves more tanks, troops into n. Gaza and begins to push south toward Bayt Hanun and Jabaliya r.c., reoccupying fmr. settlement sites, occupying a 7th Palestinian home as an operational base, exchanging fire with Palestinian gunmen and shelling (fr. land and sea) areas where militants are allegedly burying explosives, killing 1 Hamas mbr., 1 PA naval officer, wounding at least 17 Palestinians (10 PA naval officers at a barracks nr. where the Hamas mbr. was killed, 7 children). In Gaza City, 2 Islamic Jihad mbrs. are killed when explosives they are handling detonate prematurely. In the West Bank, the IDF sends troops into ‘Ayn al-Sultan r.c. nr. Jericho, surrounds a building, orders wanted AMB cmdr. Mahmud Haymur to surrender, ordering him to undress when he emerges and then executing him by shooting him in the head at point blank range; surrounds, fires on a PA police station in Halhul nr. Hebron, demanding custody of an Israeli Palestinian believed to be held there (police allow soldiers to search the station to confirm he is not there); raids 3 Islamic charities nr. Hebron, Jenin, and Nablus, confiscating computers, vandalizing offices; conducts arrest raids, house searches in and around Jenin and Nablus, nr. Tulkarm and Qalqilya, and in Bethlehem. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba, under IDF escort, begin work on a new settler bypass road linking the settlement to the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs. In Gaza City, unidentified gunmen assassinate senior Hamas mbr. Husayn Abu Ajwa, who is considered a leading promoter of religious and political reform within the movement. (IFM, NYT, PCHR, REU, WP, WT 7/5; HA, NYT, OCHA, PCHR, WP, WT 7/6; HA 7/8; PCHR 7/13; OCHA 7/18)