Friday, March 29, 2002

The IDF launches Operation Defensive Shield, sending scores of tanks into Ramallah before dawn to encircle Arafat's compound, reoccupy tall buildings as sniper and observation posts, dig up roads, create roadblocks, demolish water mains, declare a 24-hr. curfew. As the day progresses, the IDF bulldozes the compound walls; sends tanks, APCs, armored bulldozers, and troops into the complex, moving room-to-room to collect documents, demolishing 9 of 10 buildings, trapping Arafat and his closest aides in a windowless office of the remaining building; 5 Palestinians, 2 IDF soldiers are killed, around 50 Palestinians are injured, and another 70 (mostly Force 17 mbrs. guarding the compound but also including medical workers) are detained. IDF soldiers fire at a Nilesat TV car, seriously injuring a cameraman. The U.S. states that it "understands the Israeli government's need to respond to these acts of terror." The Arab states, EU, Russia, the UN condemn Israel's actions. (AP, CNN, MM, REU, WP 3/29; AFP, Interfax, IRNA, ITAR-TASS, MA 3/29, ANSA 3/30 in WNC 4/1; NYT, WP, WT 3/30; WP 3/31; MM 4/2; JP, MEI 4/5)

     As Israel's Ramallah operation proceeds, an 18-yr.-old Palestinian girl, an AMB mbr., detonates a suicide bomb in Jerusalem, killing 2 Israelis, wounding 31. In Gaza, a Palestinian gunman infiltrates Netzarim, fatally shooting 2 Jewish settlers before being shot dead by the IDF; no group takes responsibility. (NYT, WP, WT 3/30)