By: Daniel Breslau
Week 1,999 of occupation
22 September 2005 - 28 September 2005
Palestinian civilian killed
On Thursday, 22 September, IDF soldiers shot and killed an unarmed 19-year-old Palestinain at the Mevo Dotan army base in the northern West Bank. The base was in the process of evacuation, but was still guarded by IDF troops. The army said that the man, identified as Allah Khamtouni, was given the standard warning shot before soldiers opened fire. Palestinian sources said Khamtouni believed the base to be vacant and was attempting to enter with two friends in order to plant a Palestinian flag. He was fired upon without warning. He clearly posed no threat to soldiers in the area.
The new war in the Gaza Strip
This week marked a major escalation of hostilities between Israel and all of the Palestinian resistance groups located in the Gaza Strip. The escalation, however, began with events in the West Bank. Around midnight Thursday and into early Friday morning undercover Israeli border police attacked a group of armed Palestinians in the hills north of Tulkarm, in the West Bank. Three Palestinians, reportedly members of the Islamic Jihad, were killed in the exchange of fire that followed.
In response, Islamic Jihad members fired Kassam rockets from the Gaza strip into the Israeli town of Sderot.
Sixteen people were killed in an explosion Friday during a Hamas procession in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza. Hamas blamed the exploseion on Israel, as Israeli helicopters had been carrying out attacks in the area. Palestinian Authority sources, and some from Hamas, later revealed that the explosion had been caused by `mishandling explosives` that were being carried in a Hamas vehicle during the rally.
Hamas then launched a barage of Kassam rockets on Sderot.
Twenty-four rockets landed in and around Sderot, causing light to moderate injuries of six residents.
In response to the Kassam attacks on Friday, Israel carried out numerous attacks in the Gaza Strip throughout the weekend. The attacks destroyed structures in the Khan Yunis refugee camp that Israel claimed were munitions warehouses. At 5:00 AM on Saturday, an IDF helicopter fired a missile at the four-storey house of the Abu al-Laban family in the Jabalya refugee camp. Later, missiles hit the shop of a blacksmith in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City.
At around 4 P.M. on Saturday, Israeli jets fired missiles at two vehicles in the Zeitun neighborhood, killing four Hamas activists who were reportedly involved in the Kassam rocket attacks on Israel.
Early Sunday morning, an Israel F-16 fired missiles at an Islamic school in the Tuffah neighborhood of Gaza, destroying part of the school. Additional missile strikes targeted missile launching sites and offices of Hamas, Fatah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Israel announced that it was setting new rules for the post-disengagement period, and would respond in a similar manner to any rocket or mortar attacks on Israeli towns.
On Monday, Hamas declared that it was ending the Kassam attacks, while a couple additional rockets were fired by the Islamic Jihad, causing no injuries.
On Tuesday, after two Kassam rockets landed in the Western Negev, causing no casualties, the Israeli Air Force carried out six attacks on open areas that had been used in the past for launching rockets, and bombed Hamas and Fatah offices in Khan Yunis. Israel also began firing artillery shells into the Gaza Strip for the first time, also striking at open areas in order to deter rocket attacks.
Concurrent with its renewed campaign in the Gaza Strip, Israel conducted greatly expanded operations in the West Bank. The Palestine Centre for Human Rights recorded 91 incursions into Palestinian communities, and arrests of 311 Palestinian civilians.
Israel`s Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, threatened more assassinations of Hamas leaders if the Kassam attacks continued, while Yisrael Ziv, the IDF head of operations, said that Israel would attack the built-up areas of the town of Beit Hanun.
Also on Tuesday, Mofaz toured the occupied Golan Heights and declared that Israel would continue to settle the Syrian area that Israel has occupied since 1967, and that it would remain under Israeli control `forever.`
More unilateralism in the works
On Tuesday, 27 September, one of Ariel Sharon`s top advisers, Eyal Arad, said that Israel might consider unilaterally determining its borders. Arad was speaking at a seminar on strategic matters. Meanwhile, Aharon Ze`evi, the head of military intelligence, and Udi Dekel, an official of the Planning Directorate, made similar statements, both favoring further unilateral steps.
Sharon released a statement, which seemed designed to placate the U.S. and Europeans, reiterating his commitment to working throught the diplomatic process set up in the `road map.` Sharon stated that all territorial changes would be made only in negotiations with the Palestinians.
In fact, the statements of Arad, Ze`evi, and Dekel, simply state openly what has been and continues to be Israel`s de facto policy of the last three or four years. While stating its acceptance of the roadmap, Israel has not carried out its commitments under that plan, and has imposed preconditions for negotiations that are not contained in the roadmap. At the same time, the Sharon government has aggressively worked to establish its maximal territorial boundary unilaterally, through construction of the annexation wall and new housing units in the settlements.
Sources: IMEMC, Ha`aretz, Palestine Centre for Human Rights.