Thursday, July 6, 2006

Overnight and during the day, the IDF continues to expand its presence in n. Gaza, entering populated areas for the 1st time since disengagement, meeting strong resistance fr. Palestinians, who use RPGs, rifles, roadside bombs and fire 8 rockets toward Israel (only 4 land inside Israel, causing no damage or injuries). The IDF uses air strikes, artillery, tanks, and gunfire as well as bulldozes fields, roads, and open areas to widen the n. Gaza buffer zone; the clashes, mostly concentrated in Bayt Lahiya but also in s. Gaza, leave at least 24 Palestinians (many reportedly Hamas mbrs., but also including at least 2 children), 1 IDF soldier (hit by friendly fire) dead and wound some 80 Palestinians (nearly a third of them children), 1 IDF soldier. The IDF also bulldozes areas around Khan Yunis, demolishing 3 Palestinian homes; opens Erez and Qarni crossings for several hrs. for the movement of international aid workers, humanitarian goods. Palestinian gunmen also fire on an al-Jazeera TV car in Bayt Hanun, believing it to be an IDF undercover unit, wounding the driver, 1 journalist. In the West Bank, the IDF sends undercover units into a memorial service in Jenin r.c. for an AMB mbr. killed on 7/5, attempts to assassinate the AMB’s n. West Bank cmdr. Zakariya Zubaydi and local Islamic Jihad leader Mahmud al-Sadi, fatally shooting 2 Palestinian teenagers, wounding 18; Sadi, Zubaydi escape. The IDF also raids an Islamic charity nr. Hebron; demolishes a Palestinian home nr. Jerusalem; patrols in ‘Anabta nr. Tulkarm; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Nablus, nr. Hebron and Qalqilya; issues military orders confiscating 45 d. of land along settler bypass road 60 nr. Hebron for construction of a military base nr. the separation wall. Jewish settlers fr. Suissa set fire to a Palestinian home; the IDF prevents firefighters fr. reaching the area. Israeli police arrest 5 senior Hamas mbrs. in East Jerusalem for illegally helping Change and Reform PC mbrs. conduct Hamas affairs in the city. (IMEMC, OCHA, NYT, WT, YA 7/6; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT, YA 7/7; HA, NYT, WP 7/8; PCHR 7/13)