On 4 October, the eve of the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, 22 people were killed and 45 wounded when a suicide bomber blew herself up in a restaurant in Haifa. It was one of the deadliest attacks in the three-year-old intifada. Five days later, on 9 October, the Israeli Defence Forces staged a devastating raid into the Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. Dubbed Operation Root Canal, the raid was reportedly aimed at uncovering tunnels used to smuggle arms from Egypt. In the space of only three days, IDF troops demolished or damaged beyond repair 148 shelters in the camp, 142 of them belonging to refugees. The devastation continued during the reporting period with a total of 3,251 people made homeless in Rafah after 337 houses were destroyed. The Rafah operation resulted in an increase in the number of fatalities and casualties in the Gaza Strip, with 95 Palestinians killed (including four pupils from UNRWA schools) and 464 injured (including 20 pupils).
UNRWA recorded 64 Palestinians killed and 553 injured in the West Bank in the last quarter of 2003. Four of the dead had been students in Agency schools, one of them only six years of age. On 1 December, during an IDF incursion into the Amari refugee camp, 22 students in the Agency's boys' school were injured by rubber bullets. Two others, struck by live rounds, had to be hospitalised.
On Christmas day, a day after the IDF killed three Palestinian militants in an air attack in the Gaza Strip, an 18-year-old male from Nablus killed four Israelis in a suicide attack near Tel Aviv. Two days later, Israeli troops raided the Nablus Casbah and the Balata refugee camp, imposed a curfew on the residents and conducted house-to-house searches. Five shelters in the refugee camp were demolished in the course of the incursion. Three shelters elsewhere in the West Bank were demolished in the quarter and six sustained serious structural damage.
As the year came to an end, the issue of greatest concern to the United Nations in the occupied Palestine territory was Israel's continuing construction -- despite widespread international condemnation -- of the separation barrier and the imminent construction of the barrier within Jerusalem. When completed, Palestinian neighbourhoods, including A-Ram and Dahyiet al-Barid as well as the Shucfat refugee camp, will be isolated from other parts of the city. In a resolution passed on 22 October, the UN General Assembly called on Israel to halt its construction.