Friday, October 28, 2005

Overnight, the IDF deploys an artillery battery outside the s. Gaza Strip (since Operation First Rain, artillery has been positioned in Nahal Oz, outside the n. Gaza); begins massing troops in the Gaza border in case the Israeli cabinet calls for ground operations; conducts arrest raids, house searches in the n. West Bank targeting mostly Islamic Jihad mbrs. During the day, the IDF begins erecting a massive new checkpoint (the Zaatara checkpoint) s. of Nablus at Tapuach Junction that will sever the Nablus and Jenin districts from the rest of the West Bank, creating a northern West Bank canton; the crossing, which is similar to the Qalandia checkpoint that Israel has said will be treated as an international crossing, was approved by the IDF Central Command 9 mos. ago and should begin operation in 2 mos. An IDF drone fires on a car in n. Gaza that launched rockets toward Sederot (causing no damage), killing AMB mbr. Majid Nattat. Soon after, Palestinians fire another 2 rockets and a mortar toward Sederot, and the IDF carries out 2 air strikes on 2 roads leading to Bayt Lahiya; no injuries are reported in the exchange. Later, the IDF carries out another 3 air strikes on n. Gaza, causing no reported injuries; fires stun grenades to disperse Palestinians hoping to cross the al-Ram checkpoint into Jerusalem to mark the final Friday of Ramadan at al-Aqsa mosque. Late in the evening, the IDF launches F-16 air strikes on uninhabited areas of n. Gaza; patrols, shoots out street lights in Nablus; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Hebron. Palestinians then fire an antitank rocket at the Erez crossing, causing no damage or injuries. Meanwhile, 10,000s of Palestinians attend the Gaza funerals of the 7 Palestinians killed in the 10/28 Muhanna assassination; AMB, Hamas, Islamic Jihad hold massive armed marches, firing automatic weapons in the air in violation of their agmt. with the PA not to carry or use weapons in public. Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba, escorted by IDF soldiers, severely beat 2 Palestinians in Hebron. Separately, Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba vandalize several Palestinian homes in Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Ramat Yishai violently beat 2 Palestinian teenagers in Hebron; the IDF intervenes and detains 1 Palestinian. Mofaz orders the eviction of 15 Jewish settler families living in the unauthorized enclave of Amona in Hebron. (AP, CSM, HA, IDF Radio, IMEMC, REU, YA 10/28; NYT, WP, WT 10/29; HA, IMEMC 10/30; OCHA 10/31; PCHR 11/10)