Thursday, July 20, 2006

In Gaza, the IDF continues operations in al-Maghazi r.c., engaging in heavy clashes with local gunmen, killing 4 armed Palestinians and 1 bystander, wounding at least 32 (in addition, 1 Palestinian child wounded in al-Maghazi on 7/19 dies of her injuries); drops leaflets across Gaza warning that “anyone who has . . . an arsenal, ammunition, or weapons in their house must destroy them or will face dangerous consequences.” The IDF also continues to shell n. and s. Gaza to prevent rocket fire; makes air strikes on 2 groups of Palestinians allegedly laying roadside bombs (no injuries are reported); fires warning shots fr. gunboats to keep Palestinian fishermen fr. going out to sea. Palestinians fire at least 1 rocket fr. Gaza into Israel, lightly wounding 1 Israeli. In the West Bank, the IDF continues major operations in Nablus, surrounding the local PA headquarters where a number of wanted Palestinians have taken refuge since fighting began on 7/19; 15 give themselves up during the day, but 10 remain inside, as IDF tanks shell the building and bulldozers begin to demolish the structure, troops fire on stone-throwing Palestinians who confront them (wounding 5). Also in Nablus, some 4,000 Palestinians demonstrate in support of Hizballah. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Hebron; clears Palestinian trees nr. Har Homa settlement. (NYT, WP 7/21; IFM 7/22; PCHR 7/27)

Israel warns Lebanese s. of the Litani River that they have 24 hrs. to evacuate to the north. The IDF increases pinpoint ground operations in s. Lebanon, engaging in fierce clashes with Hizballah, leaving at least 2 IDF soldiers, 2 Hizballah mbrs. dead and 6 IDF soldiers injured; sends tanks, bulldozers across the n. border to destroy tunnels, bunkers, posts used by Hizballah (Hizballah claims to destroy 2 tanks; the IDF does not comment); continues air and artillery strikes on 150 targets across Lebanon, including Baalbek, Hermel, and al-Khiyam (destroying the infamous jail there, formerly run by Israel’s proxy, the South Lebanon Army). Late in the evening, 2 IDF helicopters collide over n. Israel nr. the Lebanese border, killing at least 4 IDF soldiers. Hizballah fires some 40 rockets at n. Israel, hitting Carmiel, Kiryat Shimona, Safad, Tiberias; there are no reported injuries. Syria reports that more than 140,000 people have crossed over fr. Lebanon since the violence began. Some 10,000 foreigners are evacuated by sea fr. Beirut and Tyre (including some 2,250 Americans and many Southeast Asian laborers evacuated by the Indian navy); UNIFIL evacuates its post at Naqura. Lebanese report that the cost of basic goods has risen 500% in some areas. (BBC, UNIS, WP 7/20; AP, NYT, WP, WT 7/21; WP 7/22)