Monday, August 1, 2005

Israel lifts the seal on Gaza imposed after the 7/12 bombing (the seal on the West Bank remains in place), but cancels 7,000 work permits for Gazans, renewing permits of only 2,000 workers and 200 merchants. The IDF reinforces troops in Gaza, sending tanks and armored vehicles, expanding construction of roads in central Gaza in preparation for disengagement; announces that it will replace its rubber-coated steel bullets that have killed scores of Palestinians with compressed sand bullets originally developed for close-quarter hostage rescues; says sand bullets have already been used against Palestinians protesting the separation wall. Gaza settler leaders begin collecting settlers’ weapons ahead of disengagement; some settlers say they will not give up their arms. The IDF demolishes a Palestinian home in East Jerusalem; conducts arrest raids in al-Bireh (targeting Islamic Jihad), Halhul nr. Hebron. Jewish settlers fr. Ma’on attack, beat 3 Palestinian farmers working their land nearby; the IDF intervenes, declares the area a closed military zone, orders farmers to leave, arresting 1 farmer and 1 international peace activist. Late in the evening, AMB n. Gaza cmdr. Ahmad Abu Zayid is fatally shot by an unidentified gunman; initial reports indicate his death is a result of intra-Palestinian fighting, but the AMB later accuses Israel of assassinating him, saying that earlier in the evening, Israeli security personnel (suspected Shin Bet) questioned his family regarding the car he drives, whether he has a bodyguard, whether he travels armed. A grenade explodes outside the Gaza City home of PA Atty. Gen. Hussein Abu Assi causing serious damage but no injuries; no group takes responsibility (see 6/28). In Gaza City, unidentified gunmen driving in a car open fire on 2 PA military intelligence officers, injuring them. Nr. Khan Yunis, 2 Palestinians are killed when explosives they are handling detonate. (IMEMC, WAFA, YA 8/1; AP, Deutsche Presse Agentur, PCHR, YA 8/2; JP, PR, WT 8/3; PCHR 8/4; FT 8/8)