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Cablegate: Gaza Update December 29, 1800 Local

VZCZCXRO6126
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHJM #2299/01 3641611
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291611Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3599
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JERUSALEM 002299

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG IS PTER MOPS ASEC
SUBJECT: GAZA UPDATE DECEMBER 29, 1800 LOCAL

1. (SBU) Summary. Airstrikes and rocket fire continue in
the Gaza Strip as of 1800 local on December 29. Gaza
medical, UN and NGO sources report at least 308 Palestinian
deaths since December 27, and at least 900 Palestinians in
Gaza have been treated in hospitals for injuries due to IAF
fire. Dozens of Palestinians were injured in fresh clashes
with the IDF and border police throughout the West Bank.
President Abbas said he will hold a meeting of all factions,
including Hamas, late December 29, and called on Hamas to
accept an unconditional ceasefire. End summary.

Continuing Airstrikes, Rocket Barrages
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) IAF airstrikes struck additional targets throughout
the Gaza Strip through 1800 local on December 29. At 1420,
Gaza-based contacts report that four members of al-Quds
Brigades (PIJ military wing), including a senior al-Quds
leader, Ziyad Abu Tayr, and a bystander (a young boy) were
killed and three others were injured when an Israeli rocket
hit near gunmen who were about to launch rockets in Abbasan
al-Kabira (Khan Yunis area). From 1340-1530, IAF ordnance
destroyed an al-Qassam Brigades training facility and several
suspected operational and training camps in Jabaliya and Bayt
Lahiya. There were no reports of injuries in these strikes.
Gaza-based contacts also report that the IAF and Israeli
naval vessels fired rockets at buildings on Gaza's harbor,
and the IAF destroyed several more Gaza City police stations.

3. (SBU) At 1530 local, militants fired two rockets towards
Sderot. Six other rockets landed in open areas outside the
Gaza Strip from 1400-1700. No injuries or damage were
reported. At least 51 Qassam and Grad-type rockets had struck
Israel on December 29 as of 1800.


Dozens Injured in Fresh IDF-Palestinian
Clashes in the West Bank
---------------------------------------

4. (SBU) In Hebron, clashes with the IDF continue following
a march organized by Hebron University student leaders near
Shalala Street. Palestinian press report that 31 students
were hit with rubber-coated bullets, and others suffered from
tear gas inhalation. In Jayus village (near Salfit), at
least 11 Palestinians were injured around 1400 in clashes
with the IDF at the entrance of the village. At around 1230,
an IDF force entered Kharbtha Bani Harith village (west of
Ramallah) and raided the family home of Mohammed Yacub Injas,
the perpetrator of the stabbing attack in Kiryat Sefer
earlier today.

5. (SBU) PA security services arrested Husam Hanani, the
Hamas mayor of Bet Furik village (near Nablus), who had
issued a statement attacking the PA and blaming it for the
IDF operation in Gaza. The PA security also arrested Hamas
members Bashar Hija, Bilal Shalal, Luay Hammad and Abd
al-Ra'uf Mlaytat for incitement or illegal demonstrations.

Abbas: We Condemn "Israeli Aggression,"
Call for Hamas to Accept Ceasefire
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) In a PLO Executive Committee (ExComm) meeting on
December 29, President Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) said he will
call representatives of all factions, including Hamas and
PIJ, to discuss the situation in the Gaza Strip. Abbas
condemned the "massive Israeli aggression" on Gaza and urged
the international community to intervene, adding that he had
repeatedly called for the restoration of the truce in Gaza to
alleviate hardships of the Gazans. He thanked Jordan, Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Libya for sending supplies to Gaza,
and said "the Arabs have been fulfilling their duties
especially the brotherly Egypt." (Note: Abbas is expected to
meet with West Bank Hamas leaders, along with members of
Fatah and other PLO factions, late December 29. Hamas
invitees reportedly include Nasser al-Din al-Sha'ar.
President's Office contacts say Abbas will discuss the
situation in Gaza and emphasize the need for Hamas to accept
an unconditional ceasefire. End note).

7. (SBU) Hamas PLC member Mushir al-Masri told press
December 29 that President Abbas' statement is a political
bluff, and that Abbas should release all Hamas prisoners, not
talk about contacts and consultations with factions, if he is
serious about national unity.

8. (SBU) In a message from prison, Fatah's Marwan Barghuthi
called on all factions to hold a national dialogue conference

JERUSALEM 00002299 002 OF 002


within two weeks, and urged unity among all factions. His
message condemned Israeli airstrikes in Gaza as "massacres
against the Palestinian people." Fatah leaders in Nablus
announced that Fatah will postpone anniversary celebrations
scheduled for the beginning of January, as "now is an
appropriate time to confront the Israeli aggression on the
Gaza strip, not celebrate." Jerusalem Fatah leaders say they
will hold a candlelight protest at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem
late December 29.

9. (SBU) Palestinian activists held a small protest in front
of the French Consulate in East Jerusalem on December 29.
The same group is expected to hold a protest in front of the
U.S. Consulate General's East Jerusalem facility on December
30.
WALLES

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