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Cablegate: Gaza Update December 30, 1800 Local: Fewer

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O 301645Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3621
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

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NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/PASCUAL/RAMCHAND

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG IS PTER MOPS ASEC
SUBJECT: GAZA UPDATE DECEMBER 30, 1800 LOCAL: FEWER
AIRSTRIKES; ROCKETS CONTINUE

1. (SBU) Summary. From 1300 to 1800 local on December 30,
17 Palestinians were injured in Israeli airstrikes in the
Gaza Strip, and at least 10 more rockets hit Israel. At
least 360 Palestinians have been killed and 1100 injured in
airstrikes through 1800 on December 30. Clashes broke out in
the West Bank near Qalandiya, in which eight Palestinian
youths were injured. President Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen)
cancelled planned PA Christmas and New Year's celebrations.
Hamas spokesmen attacked Abbas and claimed PA leaders are
planning to displace Hamas in Gaza at the conclusion of
Israeli military operations there. End summary.

17 Injured in Airstrikes;
Grad-Type Rocket Stretches East to Rahat
----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Gaza-based contacts and Israeli press report that
IAF airstrikes hit several houses and "government" facilities
in the Gaza Strip, but significantly decreased from 1300 to
1800 local on December 30 compared to earlier periods.
Gaza-based contacts report that IAF fire destroyed a Hamas
military-wing leader's house in Gaza City at about 1500 on
December 20, and that Israelis speaking Arabic called the
house minutes before the airstrike and demanded the residents
evacuate. A defunct dairy processing plant in the same
neighborhood was also hit and heavily damaged, according to
these contacts. At 1430, Palestinian press reported two
airstrikes in northern Gaza near Bayt Hanun injured three
Palestinians. Gaza-based contacts said the strike appeared
to target a Hamas military-wing training facility. At 1515,
several IAF planes fired rockets into open areas in northern
Gaza outside Bayt Hanun, without causing injuries, according
to a political contact in north Gaza. Airstrikes were also
reported at around 1520 in Khan Yunis.

Qassams, Grads Strike Negev Towns
---------------------------------

3. (SBU) From 1300-1315 on December 30, Gaza-based contacts
report two Qassam rockets were fired from northern Gaza and
landed in fields near Sderot, and three others landed over
1km away from Sderot. Israeli press did not report injuries
or property damage from these strikes. At around 1425, a
Qassam rocket hit a house in Sderot, causing significant
damage but no injuries. At around 1530, two Qassam rockets
landed in the Shaar HaNegev region, without causing reported
injuries or property damage. At 1555, Hamas outlets claimed
to have launched a Grad rocket toward Beer Sheva. Israeli
press reported that a Grad-type rocket struck near Rahat, but
did not cause injuries or significant damage. (Note: Rahat
is roughly 16km north of Beer Sheva, and this Grad is likely
the rocket Hamas intended for Beer Sheva. Rahat is an
Arab-Israeli town approximately 35km from likely Gaza launch
points, and has not previously been targeted by rockets. End
note). A rocket hit Ashkelon at around 1715, but Israeli
press did not report injuries or property damage.

West Bank and Jerusalem Clashes
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) At 1300 local, clashes between Palestinian
protesters and the IDF/border police erupted near Qalandia
checkpoint (south of Ramallah). Protesters threw rocks and
Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces and burned tires near the
checkpoint. The IDF dispersed rioters with teargas and
rubber bullets. At least eight Palestinian youths were
injured. Two demonstrations were organized in Asira
al-Shamaliya and Qusin villages in the Nablus area. No
clashes with the IDF reported. A few dozen Palestinian and
international protesters demonstrated in front of the U.S.
Consulate General facility in East Jerusalem, protesting IDF
operations in Gaza. The protest was peaceful and did not
disrupt USG operations.

Political Reactions
-------------------

5. (SBU) President Abbas issued a decision to cancel all New
Year and Christmas celebrations "to protest the Israeli
aggression on Gaza."

6. (SBU) Hamas pledged to continue resistance in Gaza, with
senior Hamas spokesman Ismayil Radwan claiming that "in the
face of this terrorist and barbaric aggression, we affirm
that our will won't be broken, we won't hoist the white flag
to the criminal occupiers and will face the Zionists with
more steadfastness." Radwan threatened to "step up
retaliation against Zionist occupiers." Hamas outlets

JERUSALEM 00002316 002 OF 002


claimed President Abbas "is working in coordination with
Israel and the Egyptian authorities, and is preparing to take
control of Gaza following the IDF military operations."
Hamas claimed that "President Abbas ordered PA officials in
Ramallah to set up an operations room in preparation for what
he termed 'the downfall of the Hamas regime in Gaza' and this
scheme is supported by the PA interior minister and security
chiefs."

WALLES

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