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Cablegate: Gaza: Qassams Pound Negev; Israeli Airstrike Kills

VZCZCXRO9763
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2261 3531530
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181530Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3545
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

UNCLAS JERUSALEM 002261

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG IS PTER PHUM ECON PREF
SUBJECT: GAZA: QASSAMS POUND NEGEV; ISRAELI AIRSTRIKE KILLS
PALESTINIAN IN NORTH GAZA

1. (SBU) Summary. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other
militants in Gaza fired 27 Qassam rockets and four mortars
into Israel December 17-18. One Qassam struck Sderot and
injured three Israelis, according to local press. According
to Gaza contacts, Israeli airstrikes hit near Jabaliya
Refugee Camp, Gaza City, and Khan Yunis late December 17,
killing one Palestinian and injuring three others near
Jabaliya Camp. All crossings were closed December 17-18, and
UNRWA halted food distributions indefinitely for lack of
foodstuffs on December 18. End summary.

27 Rockets, 4 Mortars Hit Israel;
Israeli Airstrike Kills Palestinian
-----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Palestinian militants in Gaza fired 27 Qassam
rockets and four mortars into Israel December 17-18.
According to Gaza contacts, most of the rockets were fired by
PIJ al-Quds Brigades militants from Bayt Hanun, Jabaliya, and
Shuja'iya (south Gaza City), although the al-Aqsa Brigades
and PFLP also claimed responsibility for launches. One
Qassam struck a parking lot in Sderot, causing minor injuries
to three Israelis according to local press, and two others
hit near Kibbutzim on the Gaza perimeter, causing minor
property damage. The other rockets and mortars landed in
open areas without causing injuries or damage, according to
Israeli press.

3. (SBU) According to Gaza contacts and press, Israeli
airstrikes hit near Jabaliya Refugee Camp, Gaza City, and
Khan Yunis late December 17, killing one Palestinian (Salah
Abu Uqal) and injuring three others when the balcony of their
house near Jabaliya Camp was struck by an IAF missile and
collapsed. Palestinian health officials in Jabaliya told
press that a site near the house was sometimes used to fire
Qassam rockets, but Abu Uqal was not a militant and no
weapons were kept in his house. Palestinian press say two
other IAF missile hit empty farmland near Bayt Hanun, and a
separate IAF strike in Khan Yunis damaged a building but
caused no casualties.

GOI Closes Crossings; UNRWA
Stops Food Distributions
---------------------------

4. (SBU) UN OCHA reports that all Gaza crossings were closed
December 17-18 and are unlikely to open December 19-20 due to
Israeli observation of Shabbat. The crossings were open
December 15-16 for limited humanitarian supplies, and 130
truckloads of food/supplies, 642,000 liters of industrial
fuel and 172 metric tons of cooking gas entered Gaza.
According to OCHA, these supplies meet less than 5 percent of
the baseline need in Gaza, which they estimate at 3,094
truckloads and 6.5 million liters of fuel per week. OCHA
expects the Gaza power plant to keep one of its turbines
generating 25-30 megawatts of current on December 18, with a
complete shutdown early December 19 if no new fuel supplies
are permitted. Currently, there are rolling blackouts
ranging from 4-12 hours per day across the Gaza Strip.

5. (SBU) On December 18, UNRWA announced that, due to
shortages of flour and other goods because of the closures,
it will suspend food assistance to roughly 750,000
Palestinian refugees. In a statement, UNRWA said they
normally distribute foodstuffs to about 20,000 refugees each
day, but have exhausted their warehoused supplies in the Gaza
Strip.
MARCHESE

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