Monday, March 22, 2004

The IDF assassinates Hamas spiritual leader and founder Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, firing 3 internationally banned flechette missiles at him as he leaves a Gaza City mosque after morning prayers, also killing 3 bodyguards, 4 bystanders, wounding at least 17 Palestinians, including Yasin’s 2 sons. Immediately, 100,000s of Palestinians take to the streets throughout the territories to protest the assassination. The IDF seals Gaza; clashes with Palestinian demonstrators in Balata r.c. (killing an al-Najah Radio correspondent in Balata r.c., apparently thinking his mobile phone was a weapon), Bethlehem, Dayr al-Balah, Hebron (fatally shooting 1 Palestinian watching fr. his balcony), Jenin, Khan Yunis (killing 3 Palestinians), Nablus; fires on residential areas of Rafah, Qalqilya, Tal Zu’rub; imposes a curfew on areas around Jenin, fires on residential areas; temporarily occupies a Palestinian home as an IDF post nr. Dayr al-Balah. 100s of Palestinian youths in East Jerusalem gather at checkpoints to throw stones at IDF soldiers; Palestinian prisoners in 2 Israeli jails riot. Palestinians fire Qassam rockets, mortars, antitank rockets at Gush Katif and Netzarim settlements, nearby IDF posts, the western Negev, damaging 2 apartments in Netzarim but causing no injuries. An ax-wielding Palestinian fr. the West Bank village of Bidiyya wounds 3 Israelis outside an army base in Tel Aviv before being arrested. An unidentified assailant said to be Arab stabs, lightly wounds 3 Israelis on a Jaffa bus. 4 Palestinians are arrested for beating up a Jewish settler in East Jerusalem. Jewish settlers detain, beat a Palestinian man in the Jordan Valley. An estimated 200,000 Palestinians, including reps. of all Palestinian factions, take part in Yasin’s funeral services later in the day, with 21 PSF officers forming an honor guard for Yasin’s coffin, Gaza churches ringing their bells, mosques broadcasting Qur’anic verses. Meanwhile, Israeli defense chiefs meet, agree to target the entire remaining Hamas leadership immediately, without waiting for another Hamas attack. Israel also announces that it will close the only mental health clinic serving East Jerusalem Palestinians (1,200 patients) because of “security concerns.” (AP, BBC, CSM, HA, MA, MM, NYT, REU, WP, WT 3/22; AP, ATL, ITARTASS, MNR, MENA, IDF Radio, IRNA, ITARTASS, JP, VIRI, VOI, VOP, XIN 3/22 in WNC 3/24; al-Arabiyya TV [Dubai], Syrian Arab News Agency 3/22 in WNC 4/27; AFP, BBC, CSM, HA, JT, MM, NYT, WP, WT 3/23; AFP, AYM, DUS, HA, al-Hayat al-Jadida, JT, MA, MENA, al-Ra’i, THWR, TSHR, VIRI, YA 3/23 in WNC 3/25; MM, NYT, PR, WP 3/24; ATL, ITAR-TASS, Izvestiya, JT, al-Ra’i, SA, VOP, XIN 3/24 in WNC 3/26; AYM 3/24 in WNC 4/3; JT, MM, PCHR, WJW 3/25; ITAR-TASS, MENA, NHR, VIRI 3/25 in WNC 3/27; MM 3/26; MNR 3/27 in WNC 3/30; AYM 3/30, VOP 3/31 in WNC 4/2; MEI 4/2; PCHR 4/15)

In Washington, Shalom holds further talks on Sharon’s disengagement plan with VP Dick Cheney, Powell, Rice. (WP 3/23)