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Cablegate: Wb/G Sitrep: Militants Fire Mortar Barrage at Gush

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 006549

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NEA FOR BURNS/SATTERFIELD/DIBBLE;
NEA/SA/EX FOR RICHIE; DEPT FOR DS/IP/ITA; DEPT FOR
DS/IP/NEA;
DRL FOR A/S CRANER; NSC FOR ABRAMS/DANIN;
USAID FOR DCHA, DCHA/FPP, PRM FOR DEWEY/GREENE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG PHUM PREL PTER ASEC CASC GZ IS
SUBJECT: WB/G SITREP: MILITANTS FIRE MORTAR BARRAGE AT GUSH
KATIF SETTLEMENTS: DECEMBER 23, 2004 (1400 HOURS LOCAL)


This is a joint ConGen Jerusalem/Embassy Tel Aviv cable.

1. (SBU) Summary: In the aftermath of a 24-hour IDF
incursion into Khan Yunis to stop rocket launches at Israeli
settlements in Gush Katif, Palestinian militants fired a
barrage of 20 mortar shells at the settlement block December
23. One Israeli was lightly injured in Netzar Hazani when a
mortar struck his home. In Rafah, an 11-year-old boy was
shot and wounded December 22 while playing in the yard of an
UNRWA-run elementary school, and a Palestinian man nearby was
wounded in the head during an exchange of fire between
Palestinian militants and IDF soldiers. In the West Bank,
the IDF sealed Ithna and Tarqumia villages in the Hebron
region after imposing a curfew, according to Palestinian
sources. This was done after an Israeli security guard was
killed December 22 while guarding two Israeli bulldozers
working on the construction of the separation barrier in the
area. Israeli security forces arrested a East Jerusalem
couple suspected of planning to carry out a suicide bombing
immediately following their planned wedding. End Summary.

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

2. (SBU) ATTACKS/SECURITY:

-- Deaths: Nil.

-- Injuries: Nil.

-- Arrests: On December 22, the IDF arrested a total of seven
Palestinians in different areas of the West Bank, according
to Palestinian reports. Among those arrested were two Fatah
members from Al-Quds Open University in Jenin.

-- Arrests: On December 22, Israeli security forces arrested
an East Jerusalem couple suspected of planning to carry out a
suicide bombing immediately following their upcoming wedding,
according to Israeli sources.

-- Clashes: According to Palestinian newspapers, on December
22 Palestinian militants threw two firebombs at IDF troops
searching for gunmen who killed an Israeli security guard
near Hebron earlier in the day. No injuries were reported.

-- Clashes: On December 22, Palestinian militants clashed
with the IDF in Balata refugee camp near Nablus, according to
Palestinian sources. No injuries were reported.

-- Attacks: On December 22, an IDF jeep was damaged in a
shooting attack in Askar camp near Nablus, according to
Palestinian sources. No injuries were reported.

3. (SBU) INCURSIONS/DEMOLITIONS/CLOSURES

-- On December 22, the IDF sealed Ithna and Tarqumia villages
in the Hebron region after imposing a curfew, according to
Palestinian sources. This was done after an Israeli security
guard was killed December 22 while guarding two Israeli
bulldozers working on the construction of separation barrier
in the area. The IDF is investigating the incident,
according to Israeli sources.

-- On December 22, Israeli security authorities announced
that they would ease restrictions on travel to and from
Bethlehem over Christmas.

----
Gaza
----

4. (SBU) ATTACKS:

-- Death: UNRWA and the IDF reported that IDF soldiers at an
outpost southeast of Bayt Lahiya shot and killed one
Palestinian December 22 when the Palestinian was seen
approaching the border fence. The IDF reported that the man
was armed.

-- Deaths/Injuries: UNRWA reported that three militants were
killed and another eight Palestinians were wounded December
22-23 during an IDF incursion into Khan Yunis (see
"Incursions/Demolitions").

-- Injury: Israeli media reported that one Israeli was
lightly injured in a mortar attack on the Gush Katif
settlement of Netzar Hazani December 23.

-- Injuries: UNRWA reported that an 11-year-old boy was shot
and wounded December 22 while playing in the yard of an
UNRWA-run elementary school in Rafah. A Palestinian man
nearby was wounded in the head during an exchange of fire
between Palestinian militants and IDF soldiers.

-- Catch-up item: Injury: UNRWA reported that a Palestinian
youth was shot and seriously wounded December 21 when IDF
soldiers stationed near the settlement of Rafiah Yam fired on
a group of Palestinians.

-- Mortars/Rockets: The IDF reported that Palestinian
militants fired seven mortar shells at Israeli settler and
IDF targets in the Gaza Strip overnight December 22-23.
Israeli media reported that militants fired another 19 mortar
shells at the Gush Katif settlement bloc the morning of
December 23. One Israeli was lightly injured, according to
media reports (see "Injuries"). An anti-tank missile struck
a carpentry shop in the Erez Industrial Zone December 23. As
a result, the Erez Crossing did not open until 1200 hours
December 23 (see "Border Crossings"). Militants fired one
Qassam rocket at Neve Dekalim December 22, according to the
IDF.

-- Shootings: The IDF reported that Palestinian militants
launched two shooting attacks on IDF soldiers in the Gaza
Strip December 22. No injuries were reported.

5. (SBU) INCURSIONS/DEMOLITIONS:

-- Israeli media and UNRWA reported that IDF soldiers entered
the Bedouin village of Um al-Nasser in the northern Gaza
Strip the morning of December 23. The troops closed off the
village in order to search for weapons, according to media
reports.

-- UNRWA reported that the IDF incursion into the southern
areas of Khan Yunis refugee camp that began in the early
morning hours December 22, ended at approximately late the
same evening. The goal of the operation was to destroy areas
used as cover by militants launching rocket attacks on
Israeli settlements in Gush Katif. Militants used small
arms, anti-tank rockets, mortars and IEDs to repel the
soldiers, who were backed by IAF helicopters and armored
vehicles. In the 24-hour operation, three militants were
killed, and another eight Palestinians were injured,
according to UNRWA.

6. (SBU) BORDER CROSSINGS:

-- Route Four (Salahadeen Road), the main north-south traffic
artery, was open the morning of December 23, with a major
detour at Netzarim Junction. The road was closed at midday
at Abu Khouli checkpoint, however, after Israeli settlers set
fire to tires and blocked the road.

-- Erez Crossing was delayed in opening December 23 until
1200 hours, due to a rocket attack. Once open, international
workers, local staff of international organizations, and a
small number of Palestinians were allowed to cross.

-- The Erez Industrial Zone remained closed December 23.

-- Sufa Crossing was closed December 23.

-- Karni Terminal was open December 23.

-- Rafah Terminal was closed for arrivals and departures
December 23.

-- Tel al-Sultan checkpoint was closed December 23. Toufah
checkpoint was open for residents of al-Mowassi.


********************************************* ********************
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********************************************* ********************
KURTZER

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