Wednesday, March 17, 2004

The IDF sends tanks, troops into Rafah in search of smugglers’ tunnels; comes under heavy fire from Palestinians but sustains no injuries; demolishes 31 Palestinian homes completely, 18 partially, damages 46 others; pulls out late in the evening without finding any tunnels. During the incursion, IDF helicopters fire missiles at 2 groups of Palestinian militants who approach soldiers, killing 2 Palestinians, wounding at least 7; fires a missile at a group of Palestinian children, killing 2 Palestinian teenagers, injuring 3; 8 other Palestinian bystanders are wounded during the day. Palestinians in Jabaliya r.c. barricade the camp in expectation of a major incursion. In the West Bank, the IDF demolishes 3 Palestinian homes nr. Nablus, Ramallah, Tulkarm; conducts arrest raids in and around Bethlehem and Hebron, on the al-Najah University campus in Nablus, in Bayt Laqia and Qalqilya. PSF officers at a newly installed PSF checkpoint in central Gaza City attempt to stop, search a carload of Hamas mbrs., who toss grenades, open fire on the officers, killing 1 Palestinian bystander, wounding 17 (more than 10 of them PSF officers). (HA, MM, REU 3/17; IDF Radio, PSCT, VOI, VOP 3/17 in WNC 3/19; MM, NYT, PCHR, WP 3/18; UNRWA press release 3/19; PR 3/24; PCHR 3/25)