Sunday, May 16, 2004

As Israeli-Palestinian tensions continue to run high in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fatally shoots 3 Palestinians who enter a closed military zone nr. Gaza’s border with Israel; fires missiles at 3 sites in Gaza City (the local Fatah headquarters, Hamas’s al-Risala newspaper, an electrical transformer), cutting electricity to part of the city, wounding at least 3 Palestinian children. Gaza crossings into Israel remain closed for the 8th consecutive week. Rejecting a 5/15 petition by a Palestinian human rights group, the Israeli High Court says the IDF may widen the Philadelphi Route buffer zone along the Gaza border with Egypt, potentially demolishing 100s of Palestinian homes, ruling that the army has a “real, imminent need” to do so. The IDF announces over loudspeakers in Rafah’s Bloc O section, where much bulldozing has occurred, that Palestinians have 24 hrs. to evacuate their homes; fires on residential areas to encourage Palestinians to leave. The International Comm. of the Red Cross begins setting up a tent camp in Rafah able to provide emergency housing for 1,500 Palestinians left homeless by IDF bulldozing operations in the past wk. and those fleeing in fear of further demolitions. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha refugee camp (r.c.) nr. Bethlehem, begins bulldozing 45 dunams (4 dunams = 1 acre) of Palestinian land nr. Jerusalem for a new segment of the separation wall. (AFP, NYT, WP, WT 5/16; AFP, MM, NYT 5/17; VOP 5/17 in WNC 5/19; PCHR 5/20)