Sunday, July 16, 2006

The IDF sends tanks, troops back into n. Gaza before dawn, firing missiles at and exchanging gunfire with Palestinian militants, killing at least 3 Hamas mbrs., 2 PRC mbrs., wounding at least 30 persons (including 1 Japanese and 1 Palestinian journalist, 2 paramedics) nr. Bayt Hanun and conducting arrest raids, house searches in Bayt Hanun; continues to shell n. Gaza, areas nr. Rafah (killing a 59-yr.-old Palestinian woman); makes a predawn air strike on PA FMin. offices in Gaza City, wounding 3 Palestinians; makes a 2d air strike on the FMin. complex late in the evening, destroying it, wounding 12 bystanders, damaging several nearby homes; fires missiles fr. helicopters at the ESF compound in Jabaliya, damaging it. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches in Bethlehem and in and around Hebron (also searching and confiscating documents fr. the Islamic Society for Orphans), Nablus; begins work on a new segment of the separation wall southwest of Hebron. The IDF also detains for several hrs. al-Jazeera satellite TV’s Jerusalem bureau chief for questioning regarding violating Israeli military censorship rules. Jewish settlers fr. Tal Rumayda attack Palestinians, international peace activists in Hebron. Unidentified gunmen fatally shoot a PA security officer in Gaza. (AP, IMEMC, NYT 7/16; AP, NYT, WP, WT 7/17; OCHA, PCHR 7/18; OCHA 7/19; PCHR 7/20)

Overnight, the IDF launches heavy missile barrages and air strikes on s. Beirut suburbs (leveling wide swaths around the Hizballah headquarters) and s. Lebanon, hitting a major power station. In response, Hizballah fires some 20 rockets on Haifa, killing 8 Israelis and wounding 7 at a rail yard, hitting the city’s main oil refinery and gas depot, and a busy downtown street at rush hour; the IDF says that 4 of the rockets fired were Iranian made Fajr missiles (which, if confirmed, would mark Hizballah’s 1st use of the weapons), but Hizballah says it fired only Raad-2 and Raad-3 missiles. The IDF strikes back during the day, ordering Lebanese to evacuate 7 villages in s. Lebanon; hitting at least 80 targets across Lebanon, killing at least 45 Lebanese and wounding more than 100, including killing 20 in an air strike on a government civil defense building in Tyre (also wounding 50) and 8 dual Canadian citizens in a strike on a minibus in s. Lebanon; also killing a Ghanaian UNIFIL soldier and his family in an air strike on his house; leveling an apartment building in s. Beirut, knocking out electricity in many areas of the capital. (AP, HA, IFM 7/16; NYT, WP, WT 7/17)