Friday, July 21, 2006

Overnight, the IDF withdraws fr. alMaghazi r.c., leaving a total of 207 d. of land, 4 Palestinian homes demolished, 9 other homes partially demolished. Also in Gaza, the IDF fires a tank shell at a home in Gaza City, alleging that a Hamas mbr. on the roof was preparing to fire an RPG, killing a handicapped Palestinian on the roof, 3 relatives inside, wounding 2; shells areas nr. Khan Yunis and the Sufa crossing in the south and in n. Gaza, wounding at least 6 Palestinian civilians. In the West Bank, the IDF withdraws troops fr. Nablus, ending a 3-day operation; before leaving, troops blow up the main government offices (killing a Palestinian bystander), fire on stone-throwing Palestinians youths, wounding 21. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Qalqilya. (WP 7/21; NYT, PCHR 7/22; PCHR 7/27; B’Tselem 8/3)

The IDF calls up 3 battalions (several 1,000) additional reserves, positions troops and armor on the n. Israel border in preparation for “limited” ground operations to “mop up” Hizballah strongholds and weapons sites, continues pinpoint special forces operations inside s. Lebanon, urges residents to evacuate n. of the Litani River immediately (see 7/20; local officials estimate that 70% of the southern population has left). The U.S. approves Israel’s request to expedite delivery of precision-guided missiles (including at least 25, possibly 100, 5,000-lb GBU-28 bunker busters) to maintain the intensity of IDF air strikes. IDF artillery hits a UN observation post in Zarit, s. Lebanon, causing extensive damage but no injuries; makes air strikes on the Beirut–Damascus highway and several bridges, targeting empty passenger busses returning fr. Syria after evacuating foreigners; continues air strikes on Baalbek (killing at least 5 Lebanese civilians, wounding 20) and on s. Lebanon. At least 12 Lebanese are killed during the day. Hizballah fires 35–50 rockets into n. Israel, 10 of them hitting Haifa (injuring 3 Israelis) and others hitting Carmiel, Kiryat Shimona, Nahariya, Safad, Tiberias, and several n. Israeli villages. Hizballah acknowledges that 6 Hizballah mbrs. have been killed since 7/12, whereas Israel claims that around 100 have been killed. UN humanitarian relief coordinator Jan Egeland estimates that 500,000 Lebanese are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, but says that the UN cannot provide it without Israel, Lebanon guaranteeing safe corridors for movement of civilians and aid. Today, Israel allows 1 Greek ship carrying 22 tons of humanitarian goods to enter Beirut. (AP 7/21; NYT, WP, WT 7/22; NYT 8/11)