Chronology 16 May-15 August 2004
Abstract: 

16 MAY-15 AUGUST 2004
COMPILED BY MICHELE K. ESPOSITO

16 MAY
As Israeli-Palestinian tensions continue to run high in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fatally shoots 3 Palestinians who enter a closed military zone nr. Gaza's border with Israel; fires missiles at 3 sites in Gaza City (the local Fatah headquarters, Hamas's al-Risala newspaper, an electrical transformer), cutting electricity to part of the city, wounding at least 3 Palestinian children. Gaza crossings into Israel remain closed for the 8th consecutive week. Rejecting a 5/15 petition by a Palestinian human rights group, the Israeli High Court says the IDF may widen the Philadelphi Route buffer zone along the Gaza border with Egypt, potentially demolishing 100s of Palestinian homes, ruling that the army has a "real, imminent need" to do so. The IDF announces over loudspeakers in Rafah's Bloc O section, where much bulldozing has occurred, that Palestinians have 24 hrs. to evacuate their homes; fires on residential areas to encourage Palestinians to leave. The International Comm. of the Red Cross begins setting up a tent camp in Rafah able to provide emergency housing for 1,500 Palestinians left homeless by IDF bulldozing operations in the past wk. and those fleeing in fear of further demolitions. In the West Bank, the IDF conducts arrest raids, house searches in Dahaysha refugee camp (r.c.) nr. Bethlehem, begins bulldozing 45 dunams (4 dunams = 1 acre) of Palestinian land nr. Jerusalem for a new segment of the separation wall. (AFP,
NYT, WP, WT 5/16; AFP, MM, NYT 5/17; VOP 5/17 in WNC 5/19; PCHR 5/20)
17 MAY
The IDF seals Rafah as the 1st step in what the government says will be a major military offensive against Palestinian militants, dubbed Operation Rainbow. Tanks, armored personnel carriers, armored bulldozers, helicopters, troops ring the city, firing on any traffic attempting to enter or exit. Many residents nr. the Philadelphi Route evacuate their homes, taking their belongings with them. IDF troops also fire on the area to encourage Palestinians to leave. In Gaza City, the IDF fires missiles at offices of Fatah, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, causing damage but no reported injuries. The IDF also imposes a curfew on Silwad nr. Ramallah, fires on stone-throwing youths, killing 1 Palestinian; conducts arrest raids, house searches in Balata r.c. nr. Nablus, Bethlehem, Yatta nr. Hebron; demolishes 3 Palestinian homes nr. Hebron for construction of the separation wall; evacuates the unauthorized settlement outpost Mitzpe Yitzhar nr. Nablus; arrests an Israeli Arab fr. Um al-Fahm for allegedly plotting with Hamas to stage attacks inside Israel. (AFP, HA, MM, WP 5/17; VOI, VOP 5/17 in WNC 5/19; NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 5/18; PR 5/19; PCHR 5/20; JPI, MEI 5/28)
18 MAY
In the pre-dawn hours, the IDF imposes a 24-hr. curfew, begins house-to-house searches in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah
bordering the Philadelphi Route, occupies some buildings as observation posts; begins digging a trench to separate a section of Rafah r.c. fr. the rest of the camp, demolishing at least 3 Palestinian homes, cutting water and electricity supplies. Around daybreak, the IDF begins bulldozing operations, launches 3 missile strikes inside Rafah: the 1st killing 3 Hamas mbrs., wounding 5 gunmen and bystanders; the 2d killing 1 Hamas mbr. laying a roadside bomb nr. a mosque where Palestinians are leaving dawn prayers, also killing 5 bystanders, wounding several others, starting a fire that severely damages the mosque; the 3d hitting a residential area, killing 7 Palestinians (many in their homes), wounding at least 16. The IDF reports killing at least 3 more Palestinians, demolishing at least another 9 Palestinian homes during the day. A 20th Palestinian reportedly dies when explosives he is handling detonate. At least 2 ambulances are deliberately targeted by IDF snipers. The IDF also fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis. In the West Bank, the IDF ambushes, assassinates wanted al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AMB) mbr. Muhammad Obeid as he drives nr. Sanur nr. Jenin, also wounding his passenger; raids Jenin r.c., fatally shoots wanted AMB mbr. Ahmad Judah in an apparent assassination, wounding a 2d Palestinian; fatally shoots an AMB mbr., a Palestinian gunman in separate incidents in Nablus; conducts arrest raids targeting Hamas in Tulkarm; orders the confiscation of 380 dunams of Palestinian land nr. Bethlehem for construction of the separation wall. A Palestinian dies of injuries received in 4/04. (BBC, HA, MM, NYT, PCHR, PRCS, PM, WP 5/18; ITAR-TASS, ITV, MENA, PSCT, VOI, VOP, XIN 5/18 in WNC 5/20; HA, NYT, PR, WP, WT 5/19; PCHR 5/20; NYT 5/21; PR 5/26)
19 MAY
IDF expands operations in Rafah to Brazil r.c. and al-Salam neighborhood. IDF helicopters fire 4 missiles at some 3,000 Palestinians, mostly school children, staging a peaceful march fr. neighboring Shabura to Rafah's Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in protest against the incursion, killing at least 8 Palestinians, wounding more than 60; Israel apologizes for the deaths, saying "warning shots" went astray, but says Operation Rainbow will continue. Also in Rafah, the IDF fires a missile at 5 Palestinian gunmen, killing them all; fatally shoots a 13-yr.-old Palestinian boy who leaves his home under curfew to get water for his family; continues house-to-house searches; orders all Palestinian males between ages 16 and 50 to gather in a local school, transfers them to bases at nearby Jewish settlements for interrogation, releases most by sunset; demolishes at least 5 Palestinian homes. In the West Bank, the IDF shells an apartment building in Askar r.c. nr. Nablus, claiming that wanted Palestinians were hiding inside but finding none. (HA, MM, YA 5/19; HA, MM, NYT, PCHR, REU, WP, WT 5/20; HJ, Interfax, XIN 5/20 in WNC 5/22; CSM, MM, NYT 5/21; WP 5/25; PR 5/26; PCHR 5/27)
20 MAY
The IDF continues Operation Rainbow, moving deeper into Rafah, killing 8 Palestinians (including Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades local cmdr. Khalid Abu Azna, who is assassinated in a helicopter air strike), detaining 70, bulldozing at least 1 Palestinian home, knocking down a small zoo (killing some animals, freeing others); the IDF admits it has found no smugglers' tunnels since the start of the operation. The IDF also assassinates Qalqilya Izzeddin al-Qassam Brigades leader Mazin Yasin; opens fire on stone-throwing youths in Hebron (killing a 13-yr.-old Palestinian), Qalqilya; conducts arrest raids in Jenin, Khan Yunis, Qalqilya. Another 13-yr.-old Palestinian dies of injures sustained during the 5/11 IDF raid on Gaza City. An Israeli court convicts West Bank Fatah secy., Palestinian Council (PC) mbr., and tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti on 5 counts of murder in connection with 3 AMB shooting attacks in 2001-2, acquits him on 21 other counts for lack of evidence; Barghouti was detained in 4/02. (MM, REU 5/20; HA, ITAR-TASS, JP, MA, VOI, VOP, YA 5/20 in WNC 5/22; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/21; PR 5/26; PCHR, WJW 5/27; MEI 5/28; PR 6/2)
21 MAY
The IDF begins redeploying troops to the outskirts of parts of Rafah (Brazil r.c., Tal al-Sultan), but bulldozes 298 dunams of agricultural land and 1 Palestinian home in the Tal al-Sultan area. The UN begins moving 10,000 gallons of emergency water supplies into Rafah. The IDF also conducts arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem and in Nablus, Qalqilya; bulldozes a road, 4 dunams of land nr. Khan Yunis; fires on residential areas nr. Khan Yunis, Qalqilya, Tulkarm. An 18-yr.-old Palestinian dies of injuries received during the 5/12 IDF raid on Gaza City. A 2d Palestinian dies of injuries received during the 5/15 IDF raid on Rafah. (AP, MM, WP 5/21; VOI 5/21 in WNC 5/25; WT 5/22; PCHR 5/27)
22 MAY
The IDF sends reinforcements into Rafah, fatally shoots 3-yr.-old Palestinian girl, bulldozes 311 dunams of agricultural land along Salah al-Din Street, demolishes 4 Palestinian homes completely, damages 5, finds its 1st smugglers' tunnel since operations resumed on 5/17. The UN now estimates that as many as 60 Palestinian homes have been demolished since 5/17. Tanks continue to surround Tal al-Sultan; troops allow an UNRWA convoy to bring in emergency food supplies, water, blankets into the neighborhood, but bar private relief groups. In the West Bank, the IDF raids Yabad nr. Jenin, imposes a curfew, fires on residential areas. Nr. Nablus, a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) suicide bomber detonates a device at an IDF checkpoint outside a Jewish settlement, killing himself, wounding 3 Palestinians, 1 IDF soldier. A Palestinian dies of injuries received earlier. (VOI, VOP 5/22 in WNC 5/25; NYT, WP, WT 5/23; PR 5/26; PCHR, WP 5/27)
23 MAY
IDF bulldozing operations continue in Rafah. The IDF also reopens the Erez industrial zone to Palestinian workers over age 30; burns a grove of 80 almond trees nr. Tal Rumayda settlement in Hebron; fires on Palestinian farmers tending an orchard nr. Tulkarm, seriously injuring 1; fires on residential areas, demolishes a workshop in Dura nr. Hebron; fires on residential areas of Khan Yunis; conducts arrest raids nr. Jenin. In Nablus, 3 Hamas mbrs. are killed when something explodes in or nr. their car in what may be an assassination. The IDF raids the UNRWA offices in Jenin, fires a shot at senior project manager Paul Wolstenholme, handcuffs and blindfolds him, holds him for 3 hrs., threatening him with violence; IDF officials later apologize. PSCT, VOI, VOP 5/23 in WNC 5/25; NYT 5/24; PR 5/26; PCHR, WP 5/27; MEI 5/28)
24 MAY
During the day, the IDF continues operations in Rafah, demolishing 5 Palestinian houses completely, redeploying tanks surrounding Tal al-Sultan away fr. the area (bulldozing 120 dunams of agricultural land before leaving), moving tanks and bulldozers into Brazil r.c., firing on residential areas. The IDF withdraws fr. Rafah after sundown, effectively ending Operation Rainbow, saying that since 5/17 it found 3 tunnels and demolished 56 "structures" that allegedly had provided cover for Palestinian gunmen, that it will regroup and resume operations soon. After the pullback, the IDF fires on a funeral in Rafah, seriously injuring several Palestinians. The IDF also raids Balata r.c., fires on stone-throwing youths, killing 1 Palestinian. (JTA, MM, NYT, PM, REU 5/24; MENA, VOI 5/24 in WNC 5/26; AP, NYT, WP, WT 5/25; MM, PR 5/26; PCHR 5/27; JPI 6/4 Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Sulayman meets separately with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, Palestinian Authority (PA) head Yasir Arafat to present them with a list of conditions that Egypt would require to be in place before it would agree to retrain Palestinian security forces to assume security control in Gaza under Sharon's disengagement plan. (MM 5/24; MENA, VOI, YA 5/24 in WNC 5/26; AP, MM, NYT, REU, WT 5/25; MENA, VOP 5/25 in WNC 5/27; WP 5/26; AYM 5/26, AYM, VOP 5/27 in WNC 6/1; NYT, WP 5/28; VOP 5/31 in WNC 6/2) (see Quarterly Update)
25 MAY
The IDF conducts predawn arrest raids, house searches in Jenin, several villages around Bethlehem and Hebron; raids a bakery nr. Jerusalem, arresting 5 Palestinian workers fr. `Ayn Bayt al-Ma' r.c. nr. Nablus; bulldozes 95 dunams of land along a settler bypass road between Karni crossing and Shuhada Junction nr. Gaza City, 12 dunams outside Khan Yunis. (MENA 5/25 in WNC 5/27; PCHR 5/27)
26 MAY
The IDF fatally shoots a mentally handicapped Palestinian who strays into a closed military zone nr. Khan Yunis; fires on residential areas of Nablus, Rafah(killing 1 Palestinian), Tulkarm r.c.; demolishes 5 Palestinian homes nr. Gaza City, 2 nr. Dayr al-Balah, 2 in Nablus; conducts arrest raids in Araba nr. Jenin. The UNRWA estimates that btwn. 5/17 and 5/24 the IDF demolished or damaged beyond repair 167 Palestinian homes and bulldozed 725 dunams of Palestinian land in Rafah. (PCHR, WP 5/27; PCHR 6/3)
27 MAY
The IDF demolishes 1 Palestinian home, bulldozes 14 dunams of agricultural land nr. Khan Yunis; demolishes a Palestinian home in Brazil r.c.; conducts arrest raids in Balata r.c., Bethlehem, al-Fawwar r.c., Hebron, Nablus, and the villages of Tura and Zinnab in the n. West Bank; shells residential areas of Rafah; fires on residential areas of Nablus. (VOI 5/28 in WNC 6/1; PCHR 6/3)

28 MAY
A Palestinian suicide bomber detonates a car bomb at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, killing only himself, lightly injuring 2 IDF soldiers. The IDF fatally shoots a Palestinian, wounds a 2d nr. Dayr al-Balah; bulldozes tents and tin shacks housing 95 Palestinians nr. a settler bypass road leading to Gaza's Gush Katif bloc; bulldozes 12 dunams of land in Wadi al-Silqa nr. Dayr al-Balah, 9 dunams nr. the Rafah crossing; fires on residential areas of Dayr al-Balah; imposes a curfew on, conducts house searches and arrest raids in Jaba` nr. Jenin; confiscates 5,500 m2 of agricultural land nr. Salfit, located btwn. the separation wall and the Green Line, that provides income for some 60 Palestinian families. In Hebron, 15 Jewish settlers fr. Kiryat Arba, escorted by IDF troops, attack Palestinian homes. A Palestinian dies of injuries received during the IDF raid on Rafah on 5/20. (VOP 5/28 in WNC 6/1; NYT 5/29; PCHR 6/3) 29 MAY The IDF closes all checkpoints around Nablus; raids neighboring Balata r.c., where Palestinian gunmen fatally shoot 1 IDF soldier; bulldozes 25 Palestinian homes in Rafah. The IDF also stages a late night raid on Tulkarm r.c., firing on residential areas. During the raid, there is an explosion on the main road through the camp that injures 1 Palestinian, who is evacuated to a local hospital. The IDF raids the hospital, arrests the injured man. Overnight, the IDF also halts, searches car outside Arafat's Ramallah compound, arresting 3 Palestinians, including a bodyguard of PLO Exec. Comm. secy. and fmr. PM Mahmud Abbas. (WP 5/30; WP 6/1; HA 6/2; PCHR 6/3)

CHRONOLOGY SOURCE ABBREVIATIONS

AFP (Agence France-Presse, Paris)

AN (Arab News, Riyadh)

AP (Associated Press [Internet])

AYM (al-Ayyam, Ramallah)

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation World Service [Internet])

CSM (Christian Science Monitor,Boston)

DUS (al-Dustur, Amman)

HA (Ha'Aretz [Internet], Tel Aviv)

HJ (al-Hayat al-Jadida, Ramallah)

ITV (Israel Television Network, Jerusalem)

JAZ (al-Jazeera Satellite Channel Television, Doha)

JP (Jerusalem Post [Internet], Jerusalem)

JPI (Jerusalem Post International Edition, Jerusalem)

JT (Jordan Times, Amman)

JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency[Internet])

MA (Ma'ariv, Tel Aviv)

MEI (Middle East International, London)

MENA (Middle East News Agency, Cairo)

MM (Mideast Mirror, London) NYT (New York Times, New York)

PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza)

PM (Palestine Monitor [Internet])

PR (Palestine Report, Jerusalem)

PRCS (Palestinian Red Crescent Society [Internet])

PSCT (Palestine Satellite Channel Television, Gaza)

REU (Reuters [Internet]) SA (al-Sharq al-Awsat, London)

VOI (Voice of Israel, Jerusalem)

VOP (Voice of Palestine, Jericho)

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)

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