Chronology 16 May-15 August 2001

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VOL. 31


No. 1
P. 154
Chronology 16 May-15 August 2001

16 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes, now in their 8th mo., continue, with Israel Defense Force (IDF) increasingly striking Palestinian targets and entering areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) without provocation so as to "keep them guessing and [have] them spend more time defending themselves" and with Palestinians stepping up their sniping at soldiers and settlers and firing of mortars (especially in Gaza). To date, around 511 Palestinians, 82 Israelis have been killed. Today, 1 Palestinian is shot dead by IDF troops. The IDF also shells the PA Preventive Security Forces (PSF) offices in Jabaliya, Jinin; directs shells, heavy machine gun fire at residential areas of Khan Yunis; sends tanks, bulldozers into 2 PA-controlled areas in Gaza, occupying a multistory building in al-Qarara nr. Gush Katif settlement and a factory in Dayr al-Balah. IDF soldiers at a checkpoint on the Nablus-Ramallah road halt a Red Crescent ambulance en route to pick up a critically ill patient, severely beat 3 medics, empty the ambulance and damage supplies; the harassment ends when the International Comm. of the Red Cross (ICRC) intervenes. (AFP [Internet], HP 5/16; MM, NYT, PCHR, WP, WT 5/17; LAW, WT 5/18)
    The IDF concedes that the 5/14 attack on a PSF post in Beitunia that left 5 PSF officers dead was a "blunder" and that the area was quiet when soldiers attacked. (WP 5/17; AN, HJ 5/17 in WNC 5/18, 5/21; HA, NYT 5/18)
    PA Information M Yasir `Abid Rabbuh appeals to Congress to support the recommendations of the Mitchell Comm., the U.S.-led international inquiry into the causes of the al-Aqsa intifada headed by fmr. U.S. sen. George Mitchell. The comm.'s preliminary report (submitted to Israel and the PA on 5/1) suggests a two-pronged approach to restoring calm based on Israel halting all settlement construction, the PA making a 100% effort to halt violence. The comm.'s final report is expected in 1 wk. The State Dept. says Secy. of State Colin Powell is considering meeting with Sharon, Arafat on the sidelines of his trip to Africa, Europe 5/22-30. (WT 5/18) (see Peace Monitor)
    In Washington, U.S. Pres. George W. Bush holds a strategy session on the Middle East with his top foreign policy advisers, including Secy. of State Powell, Secy. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser (NSA) Condoleeza Rice. Powell advocates using the recommendations of the Mitchell Comm. and the Jordanian-Egyptian initiative as the basis for a cease-fire plan (see Peace Monitor in JPS 120). Both plans call for a full freeze on settlement construction, which admin. officials claim they cannot directly demand from Israeli PM Ariel Sharon. (MM 5/16; MM, NYT 5/17)
17 MAY
Israel's Internal Security M Uzi Landau says Sharon is escalating Israel's response to Palestinian unrest and may resort to "all-out" combat if violence continues apace. The IDF sends bulldozers into Rafah to demolish several greenhouses; tanks covering the bulldozers fire several shells. The IDF also shells a PSF post in Qalqilya; conducts arrest raids in Aqraba, Nablus. Palestinians fire several mortars at Jewish settlements in Gaza, hitting 1 home but causing no injuries. (Globes 5/17 in WNC 5/18, 5/21; WP, WT 5/18; PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25)
18 MAY
In Netanya, Israel, a Hamas suicide bomber kills 5 Israelis, injures 110. After dark, Israel sends F-16s to drop 1,100 lb. bombs on PA security targets in Gaza City, Nablus, Ramallah, and Tulkarm, killing 12 Palestinians, wounding 90--marking Israel's 1st use of warplanes against the Palestinian areas since the 1967 war. (Sharon makes the decision to use F-16s in a mtg. with FM Shimon Peres and DM Benjamin Ben-Eliezer; he has not met with his security cabinet in 3 wks.) An IDF officer is also killed when his car is ambushed in the West Bank. Britain, European Union (EU), Russia, the UN, the U.S. condemn the sharp escalation; urge PA, Israeli leaders to bring violence to a halt. (AP, BBC, HA, JP [Internet], MM, REU 5/18; AFP, Interfax 5/18, al-Quds 5/19, JT, MA, RMC 5/20 in WNC 5/21; LAW, PCHR, NYT, WP, WT 5/19; QA 5/19, El Pais (Madrid) 5/22 in WNC 5/23; HP, NYT, WT 5/20; al-Ra'i 5/20, MA 5/21 in WNC 5/22; MM 5/21 PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25; MEI 6/1)
19 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue at a high level, leaving 3 Palestinians dead; 1 Palestinian dies of injuries received earlier. IDF helicopters shell 5 PSF targets in Jinin, Tulkarm. The IDF also directs shells, heavy machine gun fire at residential areas of al-Azza refugee camp, Hebron, Jinin, Khan Yunis, Nablus, Rafah. Palestinians fire 4 mortars at Gadid settlement in Gaza, causing no injuries. (LAW 5/19; HP, NYT, WT 5/20; NYT 5/21; PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25)
    The Arab League convenes an FMs mtg. to discuss Israel's sharp escalation of violence against the Palestinians on 5/18, issues a statement calling on Arab states to halt all political contacts with Israel as long as Israeli violence, blockages continue. (AP 5/19; MENA 5/19, JT, MENA, RMC 5/20 in WNC 5/21; NYT, WT 5/20; JT, al-Quds 5/21 in WNC 5/22; MM 5/22; WJW 5/24; MENA 5/28 in WNC 5/30) (see Peace Monitor)
20 MAY
The IDF shells the home of PSF West Bank head Jibril Rajub, injuring 6 bodyguards; Rajub, his family are home but are not injured. The IDF also directs shells, heavy machine gun fire at al-Arub refugee camp, Bayt Jala, al-Bireh, Hebron, al-Khadir, Ramallah. Jewish settlers establish a new settlement enclave in Nabi Salih, nr. Ramallah; occupy 2 Palestinian shops in Jerusalem's Old City; set Palestinian wheat fields on fire nr. Hebron. Israel's Peace Now reports that at least 15 new Jewish settlement sites have been established since Sharon was elected in 2/01. (HP, Peace Now press release 5/20; NYT, PMC, WT 5/21; HA, WP 5/22; HA, MM, NYT 5/23; PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25; MEI 6/1)
    The Mitchell Comm. gives Israel, the PA its final report, which is identical to its preliminary report (see 5/16). Comm. heads Mitchell and fmr. sen. Warren Rudman send a letter to the Anti-Defamation League stressing that the report makes no direct linkage between halting violence, halting settlements. (MENA 5/21 in WNC 5/22; ITAR-TASS 5/21, AYM, HJ, MENA 5/22 in WNC 5/23; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/22; MM, WP 5/23; AYM, HA, JT, MA, MENA, QA, al-Ra'i 5/23 in WNC 5/24; WJW 5/24; QA 5/25 in WNC 5/29; MEI 6/1; NYT 6/2) (see Doc. A2, B2, C2 in JPS 120)
    Angry over Sharon's decision to use F-16s on 5/18 without consulting the full cabinet or security cabinet, the full Israeli cabinet limits the "kitchenette" (Sharon, Peres, Ben-Eliezer) to ordering strikes against 3 types of Palestinian targets without prior approval. (HA 5/21; MA 5/21 in WNC 5/22) (see Peace Monitor)
    U.S. VP Dick Cheney states that the Israel should stop using American-supplied F-16s against Palestinian targets. Sharon says Israel will use as much military force against the Palestinians as it deems necessary. (MM, NYT, WT 5/21; al-Quds 5/21 in WNC 5/22; QA 5/21 in WNC 5/23; WJW 5/24; MEI 6/1)
21 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue, leaving 2 Palestinians dead. Under police surveillance, Israelis, Jewish settlers march through Jerusalem to celebrate Jerusalem Day, marking Israel's capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. IDF helicopter gunships shell PSF post, a factory in Gaza where Israel claims mortars have been made. The IDF also sends tanks into al-Qarara to fire on several Palestinian homes; bulldozes Palestinian agricultural land nr. Netzarim settlement; fires heavy machine guns at residential areas of Bayt Jala, al-Bireh, Hebron, Gaza City, al-Tira. (NYT, WT 5/21; London Press Association 5/21 in WNC 5/22; HP 5/22; NYT 5/23; PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25; MEI 6/1)
    Powell urges Israel, the PA to implement the Mitchell Comm. recommendations by declaring an unconditional cease-fire but does not endorse the comm.'s call for a settlement freeze (saying Israel should "restrain" settlement expansion as a confidence-building measure after violence halts). Powell says he will not meet with Arafat or Sharon as discussed on 5/16; instead charges U.S. Amb. to Jordan William Burns, who has been nominated as asst. secy. of state for Near East affairs, with exploring what confidence-building measures could be employed once violence ceases. (MENA 5/21 in WNC 5/22; ITAR-TASS 5/21, AYM, HJ, MENA 5/22 in WNC 5/23; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/22; MM, WP 5/23; AYM, HA, JT, MA, MENA, QA, al-Ra'i 5/23 in WNC 5/24; WJW 5/24; QA 5/25 in WNC 5/29; MEI 6/1; NYT 6/2)
22 MAY
U.S. Amb. Martin Indyk, U.S. Consul General Ronald Schliecher hold talks with Sharon on the Mitchell Comm. findings, especially regarding a settlement freeze. Sharon calls for an unconditional cease-fire, which he says must be followed by a 2-mo. "cooling-off period" before any "concessions" can be discussed; orders the IDF to "stop taking the initiative in attacking Palestinians." The PA says it sees no reason to clamp down on the intifada, make preemptive arrests without some confidence-building gestures fr. Israel. (MM 5/22; MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/23; MA 5/23 in WNC 5/24; MM, NYT, PCHR 5/24; MM 5/25; QA 5/25 in WNC 5/29; MEI 6/1)
    Although Sharon calls on the IDF to stop instigating attacks, the IDF continues to retaliate for Palestinian actions, responding to "life-threatening" incidents of stone-throwing with live fire, rubber-coated steel bullets, shells, and heavy machine gun fire, particularly at residential areas east of Jerusalem, Hawara, Khan Yunis. The IDF demolishes 2 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, 1 in al-Mughraqa; bulldozes Palestinian land in Beitunia, Hebron, al-Mughraqa, al-Qarara; erects new posts in al-Qarara, outside Ramallah. 100s of Palestinians stage a nonviolent march in Hebron to protest continued Israeli attacks on medical workers. Also in Hebron, Jewish settlers stone Palestinian cars, and the IDF declares the vegetable market and Old Quarter a closed military zone. Jewish settlers also stone Palestinian cars on the Nablus-Qalqilya road; shoot and wound a Palestinian herder in Tubas, kill 3 sheep. Palestinians fire 2 mortars at Netzer Hazani settlement in Gaza. 1 Palestinian dies of injuries received earlier. (Gush Shalom press release, HP 5/22; NYT, WP 5/23; NYT, PCHR 5/24; LAW 5/25; NYT 6/2)
23 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes abate slightly but are still at a relatively high level, leaving 1 Israeli civilian (a worker on a road crew nr. Ariel settlement) dead in a West Bank shooting. Bush phones Arafat, Sharon to urge both sides to contain violence. Sustained gun battles are reported nr. Gilo settlement outside Jerusalem, in Rafah. Palestinians fire 4 mortars, 12 homemade grenades at targets in Gaza; detonate a roadside bomb in the West Bank. IDF tanks enter 4 PA-controlled areas nr. Khuza in Gaza to bulldoze agricultural land, shell a PSF post; conduct an arrest sweep in Atil village. The PSF arrests the Palestinian owner of an iron-casting company on charges of manufacturing mortars. (AP 5/23; WP, MM, NYT, PCHR, WT 5/24)
24 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue, leaving 2 Palestinians dead. Palestinians fire mortars at a Jewish settlement in Gaza; in response, the IDF sends 5 tanks into nearby PA-controlled territory. The IDF also shells residential areas of Bayt Jala, Bethlehem; bulldozes 30 dunams of Palestinian land nr. Gaza City. (REU 5/24; WP 5/25; PCHR 6/4)
    On the anniversary of the IDF pullout fr. s. Lebanon, Israel shoots down a civilian light aircraft that crosses the border fr. Lebanon, killing the pilot. Israel sends jets into Lebanese airspace to break the sound barrier. (HA, MM 5/24; RL 5/24 in WNC 5/29; NYT, WP, WT 5/25; MEI 6/1)
25 MAY
As Israeli-Palestinian clashes continue, 2 Islamic Jihad suicide bombers detonate a car bomb in Hadera, Israel, wounding 67. A Hamas suicide bomber attempts to ram an IDF post in Gaza, but soldiers fire on his approaching vehicle, detonating it; in response, the IDF demolishes a PA police station, shells residential areas of Rafah. Fatah activist Azzam `Abd al-Fatah Mezher is killed, 5 Fatah mbrs. are wounded when their car explodes. Israel says a grenade they were carrying exploded; the PA claims it is an assassination. (NYT, WP, WT 5/26; WT 5/27; MM 5/29; MEI 6/1; PCHR 6/4)
    Lebanese celebrating the 1st anniversary of Israel's withdrawal fr. the south stage demonstrations along the blue line. A demonstrator is wounded when he tries to climb the border fence and is shot by IDF troops. (WP 5/26)
26 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes diminish. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) detonates a car bomb in West Jerusalem, causing no injuries. (NYT, WP, WT 5/27; MM 5/29; MEI 6/1)
    The Organization of the Islamic Conference calls on members to suspend diplomatic relations with Israel until it lifts the siege on Palestinian areas. (ATL, IRNA 5/26, IRNA, MENA 5/27 in WNC 5/29; IRNA 5/26, SA 5/28 in WNC 5/30; WP, WT 5/27; HJ 5/27 in WNC 6/1)
27 MAY
Another car bomb explodes in West Jerusalem during the morning rush hour, lightly injuring 2 Israelis. The IDF directs heavy machine gun fire at residential areas of Tubas; bulldozes Palestinian land nr. Khan Yunis. (NYT, WP, WT 5/28; MM 5/29; MEI 6/1; PCHR 6/4)
    U.S. special assistant Burns (confirmed as asst. secy. of state for Near East affairs on 5/25) holds separate mtgs. with Sharon, Arafat on implementing the Mitchell Comm. recommendations; urges them to resume security talks. Sharon spokesman Raanan Gissin warns that Israel's suspension of assassinations, "delay" in responding to recent bombings will not last indefinitely, stating, "Our patience is running out." (IGPO, WP, WT 5/27; AYM 5/27 in WNC 5/29; NYT, WP, WT 5/28; al-Quds 5/28 in WNC 5/30; CNN, MM 5/29; MEI 6/1; NYT 6/2)
28 MAY
Burns holds another round of talks with Arafat and Sharon, who agree to resume security talks on 5/29. Arafat reportedly proposes implementing the Mitchell Comm. recommendations over the shortest time possible; his timetable includes forming an international monitoring comm., redeploying IDF troops to their 9/28/00 positions, halting settlement activity, implementing all outstanding Oslo provisions (e.g., 3d further redeployment, prisoner release). He also gives Burns a map showing 18 Jewish settlements that have been established in the West Bank, Gaza since 9/28/00. (CNN, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/29; AYM, SA 6/3 in WNC 6/4)
29 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes leave a total of 3 Palestinians, 3 Jewish settlers dead. In Gaza, 2 Palestinians are shot dead in a failed suicide attack on an IDF post that lightly injures 2 soldiers. The IDF shells residential areas of Khan Yunis, Nablus, Rafah; places a closure on Nablus. A group calling itself the Fatah Hawks briefly detains 2 journalists (1 American, 1 British) in Rafah, telling them to warn the UK, U.S. that more kidnappings of their nationals could take place if their pro-Israel bias does not cease. Fatah denies involvement in the incident, noting it disbanded its Fatah Hawks wing in the mid-1990s; the PA vows to arrest the perpetrators. Jewish settlers damage Palestinian property, throw stones at Palestinians in Hebron; trespass onto Palestinian property, threaten residents with guns, damage a water system nr. HaHarsina Junction. (BBC, HA, MM 5/29; AP, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/30; PCHR 6/4; Christian Peacemaker Teams press release 6/11)
    Asst. Secy. of State Burns convenes Israeli-PA security talks in Tel Aviv. PSF head Rajub, Shin Bet head Avi Dichter boycott. No progress is made, but the sides agree to meet again. (AP, NYT, WP, WT 5/30; SA 5/31 in WNC 6/1; QA 6/3 in WNC 6/6)
30 MAY
Islamic Jihad detonates a car bomb in Netanya, Israel, lightly injuring 8 Israelis. Another bomb is found, disarmed on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. Sharon phones Powell to warn that Israel will have to take action if the current "intolerable" situation does not change. Powell urges Sharon, and Arafat (whom he phones) to deescalate the situation. (NYT, WP 5/31; SA 5/31 in WNC 6/1; WT 6/1)
    The U.S. initially cancels a 2d round of Israeli-PA security talks on the Mitchell Comm. because of the refusal of PSF Gaza head Muhammad Dahlan, PSF West Bank head Rajub to attend. The U.S. ends up convening the session later this evening at Erez, but talks are unproductive. (AP 5/30; WP 5/31; MA, SA 5/31 in WNC 6/1; QA 6/3 in WNC 6/6)
31 MAY
Israeli-Palestinian clashes leave a total of 2 Palestinian, 1 Jewish settler dead. Israeli DM Ben-Eliezer approves deployment of special forces units to bolster the IDF in the West Bank; some units will operate undercover, lying in ambush for Palestinian attackers, while others will operate overtly in a show of force. Jewish settlers increase vigilante attacks in the West Bank, shooting at and stoning Palestinian cars, beating a group of Palestinians nr. Nablus. In Bethlehem, a Palestinian, previously questioned by the PSF for selling land to Israelis, is killed in a drive-by shooting outside his home, raising speculation that Palestinians targeted him as a collaborator. (HA, MM, NYT 6/1; HP 6/2)
    In Washington, Israeli pres. Moshe Katsav meets separately with Bush, Powell; asks the U.S. to set a deadline for the Palestinians to halt attacks on Israel. Bush makes no commitment. Afterward, Katsav says Bush did not ask Israel not to retaliate against Palestinian attacks; warns Arafat that he has a "few days, no more" to end the violence or face a sharply escalated IDF military response. Powell phones Arafat and asks him to "implement the Mitchell Comm.'s call for an immediate, unconditional cease-fire." (JP [Internet] 5/31; WP, WT 6-->1; WJW 6/7)
    Orient House head and PLO Jerusalem Affairs M Faisal Husseini dies unexpectedly of a heart attack in Kuwait. (BBC, CNN, HA, JP [Internet] 5/31; AFP 5/31 in WNC 6/1; MM, WP, WT 6/1; DUS 6/11 in WNC 6/12; al-Quds 6/20 in WNC 6/22)
Chronology Source Abbreviations
AFP (Agence France-Presse, Paris)

al-Akhbar , Cairo)

AN (Arab News, Riyadh)

AP (Associated Press, Internet)

ATL (Anatolia, Ankara)

al-Ayyam , Ramallah)

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation World Service, Internet)

CNN (Cable News Network, Internet)

al-Dustur , Amman)

HA (
Ha'Aretz [Internet], Tel Aviv)

HJ (
al-Hayat al-Jadida , Ramallah)

HP (Hear Palestine [Internet], Washington)

IGPO (Israeli Government Press Office, Jerusalem)

IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency, Tehran)

JP (
Jerusalem Post International Edition , Jerusalem)

JT (
Jordan Times , Amman)

LAW (Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, Jerusalem)

MA (
Ma'ariv , Tel Aviv)

Middle East International , London)

MENA (Middle East News Agency, Cairo)

MEZ (al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, Jabaliyya)

MM (
Mideast Mirror , London)

New York Times , New York)

PCHR (Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Gaza)

PMC (Palestine Media Center, Internet)

QA (
al-Quds al-Arabi , London)

REU (Reuters, Internet)

SA (
al-Sharq al-Awsat , London)

UPI (United Press International, Internet)

Washington Jewish Week , Rockville, MD)

WNC (World News Connection [Internet], Washington)

WP (
Washington Post , Washington)

WT (
Washington Times , Washington)

XIN (Xinhua-New China News Agency, Beijing)

YA (
Yedi'ot Aharonot , Tel Aviv)

Chronology compiled by Michele L. Kjorlien