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Cablegate: The Situation On the Ground March 27-29, 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 001910

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

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 27-29, 2004 --
(1500 HOURS LOCAL) -- TWO PALESTINIANS KILLED IN WEST BANK
VIOLENCE; UNRWA REJECTS AS UNSAFE IDF REQUIREMENT FOR STAFF
TO CROSS EREZ ON FOOT


THIS IS A JOINT MESSAGE FROM EMBASSY TEL AVIV AND CONGEN
JERUSALEM.

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) Summary: A seven-year-old Palestinian boy was shot
and killed March 27 in Balata refugee camp during an exchange
of fire between the IDF and Palestinian gunmen. Both sides
claimed that inadvertent fire by the other had killed the
boy. A group of Israeli settlers occupied and vandalized a
school in the Palestinian village of Sawwiya March 26 before
being removed by Israeli security forces. Although crossing
points into the Gaza Strip have been partially re-opened for
merchants, some goods, and some international staff,
international agencies have refused to allow their staff to
cross through Erez on foot, as required by the IDF, citing
unacceptable security risks to the staff members in the event
of an attack (see Tel Aviv septel). A total of 31
Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank and Gaza March
27-29. End Summary.

---------
West Bank
---------

2. (SBU) ATTACKS:

-- Death: A seven-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and
killed March 27 in Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, during
an exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinian gunmen.
Both sides claimed that inadvertent fire by the other had
killed the boy.

-- Death: The IDF killed a Palestinian man March 28 in Bariya
village during an attempt to arrest him. According to press
reports, the man went up to the roof of his house, where the
Israeli troops shot and killed him. The IDF reportedly said
the man, Ahmad Tul, had brandished a stick which they thought
was a gun.

-- Injury: Two Israelis were wounded March 26 when a bomb
exploded near their car as they drove near Bayt Aryeh
settlement.

-- Injury: Two Palestinians were wounded March 28 when
Molotov cocktails were thrown near Rachel,s Tomb in
Bethlehem.

-- Injury: One Palestinian was injured March 28 in Nablus in
the course of being arrested by the IDF. The army succeeded
in arresting the man and one other Palestinian in this
operation.

3. (SBU) ARRESTS:

-- The IDF arrested 25 Palestinians throughout the West Bank
over the reporting period.

4. (SBU) DEMOLITIONS:

-- The IDF destroyed a house in Bidya village that belonged
to a man who used an ax to attack three Israelis near Tel
Aviv last week.

5. (SBU) SETTLEMENT EXPANSION/EVACUATION/VIOLENCE:

-- A group of Israeli settlers attacked a school in the
Palestinian village of Sawwiya March 26. They occupied the
school, vandalized it, and remained for several hours before
being removed by Israeli security forces.

-- The IDF March 28 dismantled a container placed by settlers
along "Worshippers' Way," between Kiryat Arba and Hebron.

6. (SBU) SEPARATION BARRIER:

-- The IDF used tear gas to break up demonstrations against
the separation barrier in Qatanna village March 28.

----
Gaza
----

7. (SBU) ATTACKS:
-- Deaths: Nil.

-- Injuries: Two Palestinians, including one UNRWA employee
of the Rafah sanitation office, were injured March 27 by
shrapnel during clashes that erupted during an IDF incursion
into Rafah (see "Incursions").

-- Injury: The IDF reported that one soldier was injured
March 28 in an exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen west
of Khan Yunis.

-- Injury: The IDF reported that one Palestinian was injured
March 28 in Rafah when the IDF fired a tank shell at what it
termed an uninhabited structure.

-- Mortars/Rockets/Hand Grenades: The IDF reported that one
mortar was fired at Netzarim settlement March 27, one at
Katif settlement March 27, two at Nissanit settlement March
27, and one at Neve Dekalim March 26 and a second March 28.

-- Shootings: A total of eight shooting attacks were reported
March 26-29, according to the IDF: three near Khan Yunis, two
each near Slaw settlement and Rafah, and one near Rafiah Yam.


-- Explosions: The IDF reported that an explosive device was
detonated against IDF troops during a March 27 IDF incursion
into Rafah.

8. (SBU) ARRESTS:

-- UNRWA reported that six Palestinians were arrested March
28 at the Abu Khouli-Gush Katif checkpoint.

9. (SBU) INCURSIONS/DEMOLITIONS:

-- UNRWA reported that two IDF tanks, two bulldozers and one
excavator entered the al-Barahma area of Rafah March 27 and
leveled an area of previously demolished houses. The IDF
placed and detonated six explosive charges, reportedly to
destroy tunnels according to UNRWA. Two Palestinians,
including one UNRWA employee who was sitting outside his
house, were injured in the clashes that broke out as
Palestinian militants fired small arms and anti-tank missiles
at the IDF forces, who returned fire.

10. (SBU) BORDER CROSSINGS/CHECKPOINTS:

-- Route Four (Salahadeen Road), the main north-south traffic
artery, was open for Palestinians.

-- Erez Crossing was closed to Palestinian laborers March
27-29, but 59 merchants over 28 years old were able to enter
Israel March 28. On March 29, 158 merchants over 28 years
old entered Israel. Diplomats in vehicles and internationals
on foot were allowed to cross on March 27-29, and
ministerial-level Palestinians were authorized to cross with
prior coordination with COGAT March 28-29. International
agencies refused, effective March 27, to allow international
staff to cross through Erez on foot, citing unacceptable
security risks to the staff members in the event of an attack
(see Tel Aviv septel).

-- The Erez Industrial Zone was open March 28 and 29, with
3,581 workers entering the Zone on March 28 and 1,782
entering on March 29.

-- Sufa Crossing was closed for Palestinian laborers March
27-29, but re-opened for the import into Gaza of aggregates
used in construction March 28 and 29.

-- Karni Terminal was partially open for the import and
export of goods into the Gaza Strip March 27-29. Unpacked
goods may enter, but no Palestinian containers may enter or
exit. UNRWA reported March 29 that this arrangement was only
barely adequate to the need for commercial goods and
foodstuff to enter the Gaza Strip. Sources confirm that
containers of UNRWA-consigned goods are allowed into Gaza,
but that the empty containers are not consistently being
allowed back out. UNRWA is currently declining to receive
such containers, claiming that the re-export problems will
result in UNRWA being charged large demurrage fees for the
stalled containers (see Tel Aviv septel).
-- Rafah Terminal was open for Palestinian travelers.

-- Tel al-Sultan checkpoint was open March 27-29 for people
to cross out of the Gaza Strip. Toufah checkpoint was open
for women, children under 12-years-old, and males over 35
years-old on March 27. Toufah was closed March 28-29,
according to UNRWA.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
********************************************* ********************
KURTZER

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