Monday, October 15, 2001

The IDF withdraws fr. Palestinian areas of Hebron, vandalizing several homes, cars before leaving. The National Union and Yisrael Beitunia bloc (led by Tourism M Rehavam Ze'evi, Infrastructure M Avigdor Lieberman) quits the governing coalition in protest, leaving Sharon with control of 76 of the Knesset's 120 seats. As troops withdraw, Jewish settlers attempt to storm the vacated Palestinian neighborhoods, also vandalize several homes and shops, but are halted by soldiers, who arrest 21 (all released later in the day). The IDF also eases passage through roadblocks in a handful of areas, including Ramallah, and expands fishing areas off Gaza, in keeping with cease-fire steps. (HA, MM, WP, WT 10/15; AFP, MM, NYT, WP,WT 10/16; MA 10/16 in WNC 10/17; LAW 10/17)

Meanwhile, however, Hamas mbr. Hamad Marshud is killed when a flechette device, apparently planted by the IDF, explodes in a car outside his Nablus office. The State Dept. reiterates the U.S.'s strong opposition to Israel's assassination policy. The IDF also maintains closures on most West Bank, Gaza areas; surrounds, seals Bayt Umar; conducts arrest raids in Dayr Istya; begins building a bridge to link the Gaza settlements of Gush Katif, Kissufim, confiscating 150 dunams of Palestinian land; hands eviction orders to 250 tradesmen at a market area nr. Tulkarm; conducts arrest raids in Bayt Surik, Dayr Istya. Nr. Ramallah, armed Jewish settlers bar Palestinians farmers fr. reaching their olive groves, firing on them, beating them, burning cars. In Jerusalem, Israeli authorities raid the offices of several Palestinian lawyers, architects; search, photograph, destroy company files. (HP 10/15; MENA 10/15 in WNC 10/16; HP, NYT, WP, WT 10/16; LAW, WT 10/17)

In London, Arafat meets with British PM Tony Blair, who calls for the creation of a "viable Palestinian state, as part of a negotiated and agreed settlement, which provides peace and security for Israel." (AP, NYT 10/15; London Press Association, MENA, SA 10/15 in WNC 10/16; MM, NYT, WP, WT 10/16; AN, MENA 10/16 in WNC 10/17)