Cablegate: The Situation On the Ground March 17, 2004 --
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 001662
NEA FOR BURNS/SATTERFIELD
NEA/SA/EX FOR AUSTIN-FERGUSON; DEPT FOR DS/IP/NEA;
DEPT FOR DS/IP/ITA; DRL FOR A/S CRANER;
NSC FOR ABRAMS/DANIN;
USAID FOR DCHA, DCHA/FPP
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG PTER ASEC PHUM CASC KPAL IS GZ
SUBJECT: THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND MARCH 17, 2004 --
(1500 HOURS LOCAL) -- IDF INCURSIONS AND INTRA-PALESTINIAN
FIREFIGHT CLAIM SEVEN LIVES.
THIS IS A JOINT MESSAGE FROM EMBASSY TEL AVIV AND CONGEN
1. (SBU) IDF helicopter gunships fired missiles on a Gaza
City building on March 16, killing two members of Islamic
Jihad and wounding nine Palestinians. During an ongoing
operation to locate tunnels in Rafah, the IDF killed four
Palestinians and injured 12. In Gaza City, a Palestinian
policeman was killed and 16 Palestinians were wounded during
a firefight between Hamas and the Palestinian security
forces. In the West Bank, Israeli settlers injured one
Palestinian during a fight near the Gush Etzion settlement
bloc and the IDF defused a 12 kilogram bomb on a truck trying
to cross the Huwara checkpoint. End Summary.
2. (SBU) ATTACKS:
-- Death: Nil.
-- Injury: Israeli settlers injured one Palestinian on March
16 during a fight near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south
-- Bombs Defused: Israeli troops defused a 12-kilogram bomb
that they found on a truck attempting to cross the Huwara
checkpoint, south of Nablus, on March 16.
3. (SBU) SECURITY DEVELOPMENTS/ARRESTS:
-- Palestinians clashed with Israeli troops in the Balata
refugee camp on March 16, but no injuries were reported.
-- Palestinians protesting against the separation barrier
clashed with Israeli police and soldiers in Al-Ram and Midya
on March 16. Several Palestinians were treated for tear gas
-- The IDF arrested 11 Palestinians across the West Bank on
4. (SBU) CONFISCATIONS/DEMOLITIONS:
-- Israeli forces demolished a total of three homes in
Silwad, Madama, and the Tulkarm refugee camp on March 16.
Each of the homes belonged to Palestinian militants who are
currently in Israeli jails.
-- The IDF seized a Palestinian home in the Hizma village,
just outside East Jerusalem, on March 16 and converted it
into an observation post.
-- The Jerusalem Municipality demolished a building in the
Al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem on March 16 for lack of
a building permit. The building contained two apartments.
5. (SBU) ATTACKS:
-- Deaths: Gaza City ) Israeli media and UNRWA reported two
Palestinian members of Islamic Jihad were killed when IDF
helicopters fired missiles at a house in Gaza City at 1600
hours March 16. (See "Incursions" and "Injuries" below.)
-- Deaths: Rafah -- Israeli media report that a total of
four Palestinians were killed by IDF forces during an ongoing
IDF search for tunnels in Rafah March 17. According to
Israel Radio, two of these men were involved in planting
bombs in the area. (Also see "Injuries," below.)
-- Deaths: Gaza City -- According to media reports, one
Palestinian policeman died during a firefight between Hamas
members and the Palestinian security forces the morning of
March 17. (Additional details in "Injuries," below.)
-- Injuries: Gaza City -- According to UNRWA, nine
Palestinians were injured when the IDF fired on a Gaza City
house March 16. (See"Incursions," below.)
-- Injuries: Gaza City -- Israel Radio and Ha'aretz reported
that at least 16 Palestinians were wounded during exchanges
of gunfire between Hamas activists and Palestinian security
forces in Gaza City during the morning of March 17.
According to Ha'aretz, forces under the leadership of PA
Chairman Arafat's cousin, Moussa Arafat, ordered a carload of
armed men to stop, but the men opened fire on the security
forces and a firefight ensued. Israel Radio reported that
Kassam missiles were found in the vehicle.
-- Injuries: Rafah -- Israeli media reported that a total of
12 Palestinians were injured by IDF fire during the March 17
IDF search for tunnels in Rafah, noted above.
-- Mortars/Rockets/Hand Grenades: The IDF reported that
three mortar shells and three anti-tank rockets were fired at
IDF soldiers in various locations in the Gaza Strip during
the reporting period.
--Mortars/Rockets/Hand Grenades: Catch-up -- The Bank of
Palestine, in a March 17 letter to the Ambassador, stated
that on March 15, the Naser branch of the bank suffered
extensive damage to both building and equipment due to an IDF
missile attack. One of the two workshops fired on by the IDF
March 15 was located in the Naser neighborhood.
-- Shootings: The IDF reported three shootings at IDF
soldiers and APCs during the reporting period.
-- Explosions: Nil.
6. (SBU) ARRESTS: Nil.
7. (SBU) INCURSIONS/DEMOLITIONS: At approximately 1800
hours March 16, IDF helicopter gunships fired missles at the
Haroubi family home in Gaza City's Nasser neighborhood.
According to Ha'aretz, two Islamic Jihad operatives, Husseini
Sarafiti and Nasser Yassin, were killed and nine people were
injured. The target of the strike, according to Ha'aretz,
was Mohammed Haroubi, a senior Islamic Jihad filed operative
allegedly involved in the attempted terror attack on the Erez
Crossing March 6.
8. (SBU) BORDER CROSSINGS/CHECKPOINTS
-- Route Four (Salahadeen Road), the main north-south traffic
artery, was open for Palestinians during the reporting
-- Erez Crossing was closed. The Erez Industrial Zone was
open, with 3661 workers entering the Zone on March 17.
-- Sufa Crossing was open during the reporting period.
-- Karni Terminal was open during the reporting period for
the import and export of goods into the Gaza Strip.
-- Rafah Terminal was open for Palestinian travelers during
the reporting period.
-- Tel al-Sultan checkpoint and Toufah checkpoint were closed
during the reporting period, according to UNRWA.
9. (SBU) POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS:
According to press reports citing Israeli security officials,
during a March 16 political-security cabinet meeting, Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon ordered the IDF and Shin Bet to "act
without limitations" against top figures from all terror
organizations. A senior security official told Israeli
mass-market daily Yedioth Ahronoth, "Contrary to what
happened in the IDF's hasty departure from Lebanon, when
Hizbullah chalked up a victory, we have no intention of
leaving the Gaza strip with out tail between our legs . . .
Israel intends to withdraw from the entire Gaza Strip, but
not before it teaches the terror organizations a lesson that
won't be forgotten quickly."
10. (SBU) According to Israeli Media, security forces at
Ashdod Port closed down a section of the port on the morning
of March 17, after hand grenades and other weapons were found
in a bag hidden in the false bottom of a container. The
container was believed to have passed through the Karni
Crossing in the Gaza Strip, according to Ha'aretz.
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