Chronology 16 May–15 August 2003
Abstract: 

COMPILED BY MICHELE K. ESPOSITO

16 MAY
    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continues operations in Bayt Hanun (see 5/15), where a roadside bomb explodes nr. an IDF tank, lightly injuring 1 soldier; fatally shoots a mentally disabled Palestinian nr. Nablus who refuses orders to halt; demolishes 1 Palestinian home in Nablus, 1 in Rafah. Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets at Sederot, inside Israel, causing damage but no injuries. In Umm al-Fahm, 100s of Israeli Arabs attend a rally organized by the Islamic Movement to protest the 5/13 arrest of 15 senior mbrs. Israel also banishes a West Bank Palestinian to Gaza for 1 yr., accusing him of having aided his brother in committing "terrorist attacks" (see Quarterly Update in JPS 126). (HA 5/16; PMC, WT 5/17; HA 5/19; LAW, PCHR 5/22)
17 MAY
    A Hamas suicide bomber detonates a device in Hebron, killing 2 Jewish settlers. Nr. Qalqilya, 2 Palestinian gunmen infiltrate a settlement, wound 2 Jewish settlers before being killed; no group takes responsibility. The IDF continues operations in Bayt Hanun, fatally shooting an Islamic Jihad mbr., wounding 24, bulldozing land, firing on residential areas; demolishes 7 Palestinian homes in Rafah refugee camp (r.c.), 2 in al-Mughraqa; bulldozes 120 dunams (4 dunams = 1 acre) of Palestinian agricultural land in Khan Yunis. The IDF also fires flares e. of Khan Yunis, staring a fire in a wheat field; bars Palestinian firefighters fr. reaching the area, allowing 32 dunams to burn. In Hebron, Jewish settlers beat a pregnant Palestinian, causing her to suffer a miscarriage; set fire to a Palestinian home. (NYT, WP 5/18; MM 5/19; PR 5/21; LAW, PCHR 5/22; NYT 5/30)
    Despite the Hebron bombing, new Palestinian Authority (PA) PM Mahmud Abbas, Israeli PM Ariel Sharon meet in Jerusalem regarding the road map, marking their 1st meeting and the 1st senior-level PA-Israeli talks since 9/26/00. Sharon says he cannot accept the road map but offers to redeploy the IDF from 1 (unnamed) West Bank Palestinian city and fr. n. Gaza in exchange for a commitment to crack down on militant groups. (NYT, WP, WT 5/18; MM 5/19; AYM 5/20 in WNC 5/23; NYT, PR 5/21; HA 5/23; al-Musawwar 5/23 in WNC 5/27; HA 5/28; MEI 5/30) (see Quarterly Update)
18 MAY
    A Hamas suicide bomber detonates a device on a bus outside French Hill settlement in East Jerusalem, killing 6 Jewish settlers, 1 West Bank Palestinian laborer, wounding 12 settlers; as rescue workers arrive at the scene, a 2d Hamas suicide bomber detonates a device in the area, killing only himself. (Reports indicate that the 2 bombers today and the 1 yesterday were friends fr. Hebron, possibly mbrs. of the same soccer team.) The IDF expels Mahmud al-Safuri, brother of detained Islamic Jihad military cmdr. Haj `Ali al-Safuri, fr. Jenin to Gaza for 2 yrs. for allegedly aiding his brother in staging attacks; this is the first such forced transfer since 9/4/02 (see Quarterly Update in JPS 126). The IDF also seals the West Bank, places closures on most villages, cities; continues operations in Bayt Hanun, fatally shooting 1 Palestinian, demolishing 3 Palestinian homes, bulldozing more land, tightening the closure; fatally shoots a 2d Palestinian in Khan Yunis; chases, fires on a group of laborers on their way to work in Israel, causing 1 Palestinian to suffer a fatal heart attack; bulldozes 120 dunams of land in Abasan; demolishes 10 Palestinian homes in Rafah r.c.. Sharon convenes a cabinet mtg. to discuss responses, overrules calls to expel PA head Yasir Arafat. Palestinian gunmen fatally shoot an alleged collaborator in Nablus. (WT 5/18; ITAR-TASS 5/18 in WNC 5/19; HA, MM, NYT, WP 5/19; MM, PCHR 5/20; HA, MM, PR 5/21; LAW, PCHR 5/22; HA 5/23; al-Haq 5/24; NYT 6/13)
    In light of the Jerusalem bombing, Sharon postpones plans to leave for Washington today to meet with Pres. George W. Bush regarding implementation of the road map; convenes his security cabinet to discuss retaliation. (NYT, WP, WT 5/19; VOI 5/20 in WNC 5/21)
19 MAY
    A female suicide bomber, Hiba Daraghma, detonates a device in an Afula mall, killing 2 Israeli Jews, 1 Israeli Arab, wounding 48; the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) and Islamic Jihad each claim responsibility, indicating they may have jointly planned the operation. In Gaza, a 2d Palestinian suicide bomber on a bicycle detonates a device as he passes an IDF jeep outside Kefar Darom, lightly injuring 3 IDF soldiers. The IDF fatally shoots a 13-yr.-old Palestinian boy in Jabaliya r.c.; continues bulldozing land in Bayt Hanun (nearly 800 dunams have been razed since 5/15); demolishes 1 Palestinian home in Hebron, 1 in central Gaza; fires on a high school in Bayt Furik, wounding 1 student; conducts arrest raids in Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah. Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets (1 at Sederot, 1 at a Jewish settlement in Gaza), causing no damage or injuries. Israeli police arrest 8 East Jerusalem Palestinians for membership in Hamas and plotting to hijack a bus, kidnap an IDF soldier. (HA, MM 5/19; Interfax, MENA, VOI 5/19 in WNC 5/20; HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/20; HP 5/21; QA 5/21 in WNC 5/22; LAW, PCHR 5/22; MEI, NYT 5/30)
20 MAY
    The IDF pulls some troops out of Bayt Hanun, where it has demolished 14 Palestinian homes since 5/16; some 600 Palestinians demonstrate against Hamas for firing rockets fr. the Bayt Hanun area, prompting the IDF incursion on 5/15. The IDF also tightens the closure, curfews on Hebron; reinforces troops around Qalqilya, closing the only entrance to the city; issues a confiscation order for 1,700 dunams of land in Nahalin and Husan, w. of Bethlehem, for construction of a new settler bypass road; confiscates a 3-story building, conducts arrest raids in Nahalin; arrests senior PA intelligence official Ahmad Barqawi in Ramallah on suspicion of having himself carried out several attacks on Israelis; delays transportation of a Palestinian heart attack victim to a Jenin hospital, allowing him to die; halts at a road block, beats 2 photojournalists in Bethlehem; demolishes 15 Palestinian homes in Rafah, 2 in Nablus; fires on residential areas of Tal al-Sultan. The IDF also raids the Hebron offices of the international peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), checks passports and visas of all CPT volunteers, photographs several mbrs.; tells mbrs. they may not go near any Jewish settlement, may not operate in the PA-controlled H1 area of the city, must limit operations in Israeli-controlled H2 (where CPT offices are located), may not return to H2 if they leave. (CPT press release, HA, HP, MM 5/20; HP, WP, WT 5/21; VOI 5/21 in WNC 5/22; HA, LAW, PCHR 5/22; PR 5/28; MEI 5/30)
    Bush phones Abbas, then Sharon to tell them that he is still committed to the road map, invites the leaders to send envoys to Washington to discuss implementation. (HA 5/20; HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/21)
21 MAY
    The IDF sends troops, bulldozers back into Bayt Hanun, digging trenches across several main roads; opens fire on stone-throwing youths in Qarawat Bani Zaid, killing 2 Palestinians; imposes a curfew on Bayt Furik, raids a mosque, confiscating computers; demolishes 1 Palestinian home in Dayr al-Balah, 1 in Nablus; conducts arrest raids in Askar r.c., Hebron, Jenin, Tubas. Israel also demolishes 2 bedouin homes in the unrecognized village of Wadi al-Na`im. (HA, HP 5/21; HA, LAW, NYT, PCHR, WT 5/22; MEI 5/30)
 In Washington, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, Asst. Secy. of State for Near East Affairs William Burns hold separate mtgs. with Sharon chief of staff Dov Weisglass, PA Finance M Salam al-Fayyad to try to reach an agmt. on actions to reduce tensions and start talks. (HA, NYT 5/22; al-Quds 5/23 in WNC 5/27; HA 5/24) (see Quarterly Update)
22 MAY
    The IDF reports that in the past 24 hrs., it arrested 1,300 Palestinians for being inside Israel illegally, deported all but 19 to the occupied territories. Today, the IDF opens fire on stone-throwing youths in Yamun, killing a 15-yr.-old Palestinian, wounding 6 others ages 9-14; raids the only emergency medical clinic in the Old City of Nablus, vandalizing the building, destroying medicine; fires on residential areas of Bayt Hanun, injuring 7 children on their way to school; conducts arrest raids in Hebron (targeting Hamas), Silat al-Haratiyya, Silat al-Dahir, Tamun, Tubas, Yabad; digs trenches alongside roads in Araba, Yabad, bulldozes land in Khan Yunis, Rafah. The IDF seizes a boat off the northern coast manned by a Hizballah mbr. and 7 arms smugglers, carrying explosives detonators. Israel claims that the boat was bound for Egypt, the Hizballah mbr. intended to infiltrate Gaza from there, carrying arms ordered by Arafat; Arafat and Hizballah deny this. The Israeli Housing Min. issues tenders for construction of 502 new housing units in Ma'ale Adumim settlement. Israel announces plans to banish 2 West Bank Hamas mbrs. being held in administrative detention to Gaza for 2 yrs., citing "security reasons." (HA, HP, UPMRC 5/22; HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/23; JP 5/23 in WNC 5/27; PR 5/28; LAW, PCHR, WJW 5/29)
 Abbas opens talks with Hamas, Islamic Jihad leaders on a cease-fire. The groups say they would agree to halt attacks inside Israel if Israel stopped targeting militants. (HA 5/22; HA, WP, WT 5/23; JP, SA 5/23 in WNC 5/27)
23 MAY
    Hamas detonates a roadside bomb nr. a Jewish settler bus in Gaza, lightly injuring 8 Jewish settlers. The IDF fatally shoots a mentally disabled Palestinian in Bureij r.c.; shoots, wounds, captures a wanted tanzim mbr. in Tulkarm; demolishes a Palestinian home in Tubas; conducts arrest raids in Jenin. (HA, MM 5/23; al-Haq, WP 5/24; PR 5/28; LAW, PCHR 5/29)
 In a carefully coordinated process (see Quarterly Update), U.S. Secy. of State Colin Powell, Rice release a statement saying that Israel has explained its "significant concerns" regarding the road map and that the U.S. will take those concerns into consideration during implementation. Sharon says Israel "is prepared to accept the steps set out in the road map." (HA, NYT, WP 5/23; MENA 5/23, DUS, QA, al-Quds 5/24, JT, MA 5/25, AYM, SA 5/26 in WNC 5/27; HA, NYT, WP, WT 5/24; al-Quds 5/25 in WNC 5/28; MEI 5/30)
24 MAY
    The IDF launches a major operation on Tulkarm city and refugee camp (r.c.), sending in 10s of tanks before dawn, imposing a closure, conducting house-to-house searches, arresting 3 International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists, 2 AMB mbrs. The IDF also fatally shoots an armed Palestinian attempting to sneak into Israel nr. Bayt Hanun; places curfews on Bayt Rima and Dayr Ghassana, begins demolishing caves there; bulldozes 5 Palestinian homes, 56 dunams of land nr. Khan Yunis; demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in Rafah; fires on residential areas of Balata r.c. Citing "security reasons," Israel announces plans to banish to Gaza indefinitely 3 West Bank Fatah mbrs. being held in administrative detention. (HA 5/24; WT 5/25; HP 5/26; PR 5/28; LAW, PCHR 5/29)
25 MAY
    The IDF continues operations in Bayt Hanun (demolishing 2 factories), Tulkarm r.c. and town; demolishes 1 Palestinian home outside Gaza City, 1 in Hebron; bulldozes 25 dunams nr. Khan Yunis; conducts arrest raids in al-Khadir. Palestinians report that since 5/22, the IDF has bulldozed 232 dunams of land s. of Gaza City, btwn. al-Mintar crossing and Shuhada Junction. (HP 5/26; LAW, PCHR 5/29)
 After 6 hrs. of debate, Sharon's cabinet narrowly approves (12-7, with 4 abstentions) "the steps set out in the road map," but attaches 14 reservations as conditions. (JT, MA 5/25, Arab News, AYM, QA 5/26 in WNC 5/27; NYT, WP, WT 5/26; AYM 5/26, QA 5/27 in WNC 5/28; HA, MM 5/27; SARR 5/27, THWR, TSHR 5/28 in WNC 7/1; MM, PR 5/28; al-Quds 5/28 in WNC 5/30; Syria Times 5/28 in WNC 7/2; WJW 5/29; MEI 5/30; THWR, TSHR 5/31 in WNC 7/10; JPI 6/6) (see Quarterly Update)
26 MAY
    The IDF redeploys forces fr. Tulkarm, ending a 2-day operation; fires on stone-throwers in Bayt Furik (injuring 5), Qarawat Bani Zayd (killing an 11-yr.-old Palestinian); fires on 2 Palestinian teenagers who attempt to sneak across the Gaza border into Israel to look for work, killing 1, capturing the other; demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in Dayr al-Balah, 2 in Hebron, 1 in Bayt Hanina; bulldozes 34 dunams in Dayr al-Balah; conducts arrest raids in Khan Yunis, Tamun, Tubas. (HP 5/26; YA 5/26 in WNC 5/27; HA, NYT, WT 5/27; LAW, PCHR 5/29; HA 6/14)
27 MAY
    The IDF conducts a predawn raid on Jenin, placing the town under curfew, prompting an exchange of gunfire in which 1 IDF soldier is wounded; fires on a Swiss envoy's diplomatic vehicle at Erez crossing for no apparent reason, causing damage but no injuries (Switzerland files a formal protest.); fires on stone-throwing youths in Tulkarm, killing 1 Palestinian; demolishes 1 Palestinian home in Bayt Furik, 1 outside Hebron, 1 in al-Til; confiscates 7 dunams of land in Habla, nr. Qalqilya; fires on residential areas of Bayt Furik, Khan Yunis, Tulkarm r.c.; conducts arrest raids in Abu Dis, Balata r.c., Bethlehem, Kafr Dan, Qalqilya, Tubas, Yamun; tightens roadblocks around Ramallah. In Hebron, 5 Palestinian children are injured when they trigger unexploded munitions while playing. Palestinians fire 2 Qassam rockets at Sederot, causing no damage or injuries; detonate a roadside bomb underneath an IDF vehicle in Gaza, causing damage but no injuries. Extremist right-wing Jewish settlers affiliated with the "hilltop youth" and the outlawed Kach movement announce plans to launch a "personal incitement campaign" against Sharon in light of his approval of the road map. (HA 5/27; AFP 5/27 in WNC 5/28; NYT, WT 5/28; MA 5/28 in WNC 5/29; LAW, PCHR 5/29)
28 MAY
    The IDF bulldozes 14 dunams of land nr. Khan Yunis, 2 dunams nr. a PA Preventive Security Force (PSF) post in Hebron, some citrus groves outside Gaza City; conducts arrest raids in Beitunia, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, al-Khadir, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarm; fires on residential areas of Beitunia, Ramallah, Tulkarm town and r.c.; demolishes 4 Palestinian homes s. of Rafah, 1 in Bayt Furik, 1 in Tal. Palestinians fire Qassam rocket at Sederot, causing no damage or injuries. While driving in Ramallah, Force 17 officer Mahmud Zayid is fatally shot, possibly in an internal Palestinian dispute; the PA says it has no proof he was deliberately shot by the IDF, though he may have been hit by crossfire. Late in the evening, Palestinian gunmen fire on a Jewish settler bus in Hebron, lightly injuring 1 Jewish settler. A Palestinian dies of injuries received on 5/27. (HA, HP 5/28; YA 5/28 in WNC 5/29; HA, LAW, PCHR 5/29)
29 MAY
    The IDF conducts overnight raids in Khan Yunis and Rafah areas, fatally shooting Hamas mbr. Muhammad al-Qidra in al-Qarara in an apparent assassination; continues major arrest raids in Jenin, rounding up all men ages 15 to 40 for questioning; assassinates a wanted tanzim mbr., demolishes a Palestinian home; demolishes 8 Palestinian homes in Rafah r.c., 1 in Khan Yunis. A Reuters photographer is shot, wounded in the leg apparently by Palestinian gunfire while covering a clash in Nablus. (PCHR 5/29; VOI 5/29 in WNC 6/2; AFP, HA, WP, WT 5/30; PCHR 6/5)
 Israel's Jerusalem Municipality submits plans to the Interior Min. for construction of a new Jewish settlement on a hill on the East Jerusalem border with the West Bank, nr. Abu Dis. The settlement, to be called Qidmat Tziyon, would have 230 housing units built by several Jewish donors, primarily American-Jewish millionaire Irvin Moscowitz, who has been involved in numerous other settlement projects. (MA 5/29 in WNC 5/30)
    In his 2d mtg. with Abbas, Sharon agrees to make several gestures easing restrictions on Palestinians. The PA says those steps would mark a "genuine effort" by Israel to improve the lives of Palestinians, but would not take the place of ending the occupation. (HA, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/30; SA 5/30 in WNC 6/2; al-Quds 6/1 in WNC 6/4; WT 6/2; MA 6/2 in WNC 6/3) (see Quarterly Update)
CHRONOLOGY SOURCE ABBREVIATIONS
AFP (Agence France-Presse, Paris)
AKH (al-Akhbar, Cairo)
AP (Associated Press [Internet])
AYM (al-Ayyam, Ramallah)
BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation World Service [Internet])
DUS (al-Dustur, Amman)
HA (Ha'Aretz [Internet], Tel Aviv)
HJ (al-Hayat al-Jadida, Ramallah)
HP (Hear Palestine [Internet], Washington)
ITV (Israel Television Network, Jerusalem)
JP (Jerusalem Post [Internet], Jerusalem)
JPI (Jerusalem Post International Edition, Jerusalem)
JT (Jordan Times, Amman)
JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency [Internet])
LAW (Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, Jerusalem)
MA (Ma'ariv, Tel Aviv)
MEI (Middle East International, London)
MENA (Middle East News Agency, Cairo)
MM (Mideast Mirror, London)
NHR (al-Nahar, Beirut)
NYT (New York Times, New York)
PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza)
PM (Palestine Monitor [Internet])
PMC  (Palestine Media Center [Internet])
PR (Palestine Report, Jerusalem)
PRCS (Palestine Red Crescent Society [Internet])
QA (al-Quds al-Arabi, London)
REU (Reuters [Internet])
SA (al-Sharq al-Awsat, London)
SARR (Syrian Arab Republic Radio, Damascus)
SFR (al-Safir, Beirut)
THWR (al-Thawra, Damascus)
TJT (The Jerusalem Times, East Jerusalem)
TSHR (Tishrin, Damascus)
UPMRC (Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, Jerusalem)
VOI (Voice of Israel, Jerusalem)
WJW (Washington Jewish Week, Rockville, MD)
WNC (World News Connection [Internet], Washington)
WP (Washington Post, Washington)
WT (Washington Times, Washington)
XIN (Xinhua-New China News Agency, Beijing)
YA (Yedi'ot Aharonot, Tel Aviv)

Read more