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Source: Division for Palestinian Rights (DPR)
6 October 2005



Division for Palestinian Rights

Chronological Review of Events Relating to the

Question of Palestine

Monthly media monitoring review

September 2005

Monthly highlights
    • IDF withdraws from the Gaza Strip. (12 September)

    • IDF completes withdrawal from four settlements in the West Bank. (20 September)

1

In Cairo, Israeli and Egyptian army officers signed a protocol to turn patrolling the Gaza Strip-Egypt border over to Egypt. Egypt would begin deploying troops on the Gaza Strip border over the coming weekend, IDF officials said. Israel's Knesset had approved the deployment agreement on 31 August 2005 by 53 to 28 votes. (AP)

Israel will begin constructing a border terminal for the entrance to the Gaza Strip from Egypt at Kerem Shalom, despite Egyptian and Palestinian opposition to the project. The crossing, located at the juncture of Egypt, Israel and the Gaza Strip is meant to allow Israel to monitor the entrance of people and goods to the Gaza Strip after Israel completes its withdrawal. (Ha’aretz)

"Things must be clear and understood over all possible doubts from the American administration: ‘Ma’aleh Adumim’ is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and on this point there will be no concession," Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. Asked about the Government’s plans to link “Ma’aleh Adumim” to East Jerusalem by building another 3,500 houses, Mr. Olmert said: "It's a question of opportunities… but there is no doubt that they will be built." On 31 August, the Israeli Cabinet had approved the construction of a police headquarters in the area. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

Hamas demanded that local elections, due at the end of September and the beginning of December in hundreds of local authorities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, be postponed, in the wake of PA legislation that forced Hamas candidates to be identified as such. (Ha’aretz)

PA Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa said that the Rafah crossing “should work for individuals, for people in both directions, and must work for goods in at least one direction, out of Gaza. We would consider goods to enter in the way Israel has proposed.” (AP)

“Pakistan attaches great importance to Israel ending its occupation of Gaza,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri said after the first-ever meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, in Istanbul. “Pakistan has therefore decided to engage Israel.” “We will not talk about recognition of Israel until a Palestinian State is established,” Pakistan’s President Musharraf said. (AP, Ha’aretz)

2

The IDF fired on two people crawling toward the “Gush Katif” settlement in the Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz)

Thousands of Islamic Jihad supporters demonstrated in the Gaza Strip against Israel-Pakistan talks. (Ha’aretz)

One IDF soldier was lightly wounded and two demonstrators were arrested when scuffles broke out at an anti-wall protest in Bil'in near Ramallah amid allegations that the IDF had thrown stun grenades unprovoked. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

The IDF has evacuated 90 per cent of its equipment from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

"The State of Israel has committed itself to freeze the building [in the East Jerusalem-“Ma’aleh Adumim” corridor,]” Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, adding "we would be acting in an irresponsible manner if we would do otherwise." (The Jerusalem Post)

PA President Abbas stated that contacts between any friendly country and Israel should be guided by the higher national interest of the Palestinian people. (WAFA)

The PA’s assets in the United States were frozen to recover a $116 million judgment in a federal lawsuit brought by relatives of a couple killed by Hamas in 1996. (AP)

3

On its web site, Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (armed wing of Hamas) revealed the names of its top commanders and outlined the history of its attacks against Israel. (AP)

PA President Abbas said Middle East peace talks should resume immediately after Israel completes its Gaza withdrawal and expressed the hope that a Palestinian State would be established by next year. He said that the US had assured him that peace negotiations with Israel could resume as soon as Israel completes its withdrawal from Gaza. (AP)

4

IDF Chief of Staff General Dan Halutz said the Israeli military would not stand by idly and would react promptly to Palestinian attacks in Israeli villages near the border with the Gaza Strip after Israel's withdrawal. Mr. Halutz said he hoped the Palestinians were aware of the high price they would pay if they did attack. (DA)

Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said to a weekly Cabinet that he had issued instructions for work to be accelerated in the construction of the West Bank barrier to avoid an increased risk of Palestinian attacks. (AFP)

Yediot Ahronot reported that Hamas had acquired the capability of producing Qassam rockets with a 16.5 km range. Ashkelon, the Israel Electric Corporation’s Rotenberg power plant, as well as Prime Minister Sharon’s Shikmim Farm, were now within range of these rockets. Though these rockets are still not operational, being only in the early stages of development and testing, a senior security official said that if the development continued, Hamas would have an operational rocket within a few months. Such rockets would threaten dozens of additional Israeli communities as well as sites described as “sensitive”. (Ha’aretz)

An Israeli military court convicted Husam Khader, a Palestinian lawmaker, of being a member of a militant group in Nablus and helping to fund attacks on Israel, including at least one failed suicide bombing, the army said. Mr. Khader reached a plea bargain agreement with Israeli military prosecutors and confessed to the charges, the army said. He would be sentenced on 23 October. Mr. Khader was a leader of the Fatah youth group and was arrested several times during the first Palestinian uprising in the 1980s for participating in the movement's activities. He was convicted only once and sentenced to 18 months in prison. (AP)

In Amman, Jordan’s Prime Minister Adnan Badran told Alvaro de Soto, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, that Palestinian leaders need the international community's support for the next step in their quest for statehood. Mr. Badran said the Quartet could influence the Palestinians and the Israelis to return to the negotiations and discuss a final settlement based on the Road Map. (AP)

5

An explosion in Gaza leveled a building, killing four people and wounding at least 30, residents and hospital officials said. Hamas blamed Israel, but the Israeli military said it was not involved. The PA Interior Ministry said the building was used by Hamas to manufacture bombs, and explosives detonated accidentally. (AP)

The IDF opened fire at Palestinians marching towards an evacuated Gaza settlement, killing one and wounding two others, Palestinian rescue workers said. Witnesses said Palestinian police tried to stop a group of about 200 teenagers who were marching towards “Neve Dekalim”. An Israeli tank approached, and some of the youths threw rocks at the tank, while others stormed into the settlement, planting Palestinian flags and flags from militant groups. Doctors said Nimar Saudoni, 24, died from a gunshot wound in the back. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli military commanders escorted Palestinian security officials on a tour of demolished Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip in preparation for the handover of settlement land later this month. The visit was meant to help the Palestinians plan their deployment when Israeli soldiers leave. Palestinian officials welcomed Monday's tour of the settlements but said they still had not been provided with full information about the remaining infrastructure, including the electricity and water grids. Israel was set to hand over detailed aerial maps of the communities, the army said. (The Los Angeles Times)

6

Nimr Saduni, a Palestinian teenager, was shot dead by Israeli troops near Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. The Israeli army said the youth was among a crowd that broke through a fence surrounding the “Gush Katif” settlement block, which was evacuated in August. Palestinian medics said the teenager was hit in the head and chest by heavy machine gunfire. At least three Palestinians were wounded in the clash. According to the Israeli army, a group of at least 30 youths had approached the defences around the settlement block. Shortly afterwards, two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into southern Israel. Ma’ariv said the Qassam rockets were fired from Beit Hanoun and struck near Yad Mordechai. No damage was reported. (AFP, BBC News, Ma’ariv, Reuters)

Moussa Arafat, 65, a military adviser to PA President Abbas and a close relative of the late President Yasser Arafat, was shot dead after a gun battle at his home in Gaza City. A group calling itself Popular Resistance Committees of the Intifada claimed responsibility for the killing. Mr. Arafat’s 29-year-old son, Manhal, was kidnapped by the group. PA President Mahmoud Abbas went to visit Mr. Arafat’s relatives to offer his condolences before convening an emergency meeting of his national security council, which includes PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Interior Minister Nasser Youssef. (AFP, Reuter, Xinhua)

Israel had authorized the construction of 117 homes in the settlement of “Ariel” in the West Bank and approved preliminary plans for another 3,000 housing units there, officials said. The settlement’s mayor, Ron Nachman, said the Government’s recent approval was part of a plan frozen in the mid-1990s by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Defence Ministry and officials in Sharon's office confirmed the project's approval. The decision came despite repeated US appeals that Israel freeze settlement expansion. US Embassy spokesman Stewart Tuttle said, “We've been clear with the Israelis on their obligations under the Road Map and President Bush has specifically called on the Israelis not only to remove illegal outposts but to stop settlement expansion”'. (AP)

Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat slammed Israel’s decision to build 3,000 housing units in the settlement of “Ariel”. Mr. Erakat told Voice of Palestine that this move would obstruct efforts to the Middle East peace process. "This decision indicates that Israel is determined to undermine all chances exerted to resume the talks on the final status issue with the Palestinians," “he said. (Xinhua)

At a press briefing, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Assistant Press Secretary Akira Chiba said the Government of Japan decided to extend emergency grant aid totaling about US$49.7 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). (www.mofa.go.jp/announce/press/2005/9/0906.html, UNRWA press release HQ/G/15/2005)

Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz has instructed the Israeli army to show no pity at checkpoints in the West Bank, saying national security depended on it. "Do not have pity on anyone, even if this will cause traffic jams and evoke indignation because the security of Israeli citizens is our primary interest," he was quoted by his office as telling army officers on a visit to the northern West Bank. Mr. Mofaz also told troops to adopt "zero tolerance" towards settlers guilty of stirring up conflict in the West Bank. (AFP)

Ha’aretz reported that the international community was pressuring Israel to allow the Palestinians freedom of movement between Gaza and Egypt via the Rafah crossing following disengagement. However, the Prime Minister's Office said there was no pressure to solve the problem before Mr. Sharon’s trip to the United Nations next week. Control of the Gaza-Sinai crossing into Egypt was the main disputed issue ahead of the completion of disengagement and the transfer of responsibility for the Gaza Strip to the PA. The Middle East Quartet’s Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, James Wolfensohn, was shuttling between the parties this week to put together a solution that was acceptable to both sides. Mr. Wolfensohn met on 4 September with Defence Minister Mofaz and PA President Abbas and was expected to meet again today with Mr. Mofaz. He told Israeli officials that after Israel withdrew from the Salah al-Din (Philadelphi) route, responsibility for security would go to Egypt and the Palestinians, and Israel would not be able to monitor the border between the Gaza Strip and Sinai. (Ha'aretz)

7

Palestinians opened fire at the IDF east of Tulkarm and west of Nablus, causing no injuries or damage. (www.idf.il)

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians in the West Bank: two in Tulkarm, one near Jenin and another in Bethlehem. (WAFA)

Israeli soldiers opened fire at two armed Palestinians attempting to infiltrate the evacuated “Morag” settlement in the southern Gaza Strip. One of the men was wounded. (The Jerusalem Post, Ynet)

Palestinian militants shot and wounded an Israeli soldier near Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. The soldier was injured when Palestinians opened fire at an Israeli army lookout post on the border between Rafah and Egypt. (Xinhua)

The last group of Israeli civilians, who had volunteered to complete the transfer of greenhouses to Israel in the evacuated “Atzmona” settlement in the southern Gaza Strip, had left. The IDF had also announced it would finish removing all its logistical equipment from the Gaza Strip by 9 September. (Ha’aretz)

PA Interior Minister Nasser Yussef placed PA security forces on high alert, following the killing of Moussa Arafat, a military adviser to PA President Abbas, the previous day. PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said, “This is a very dangerous act. They targeted one of the Palestinian security leaders. This is a very regrettable and dangerous incident that does not bode well as we await Israel’s pullout. The president … cabinet and all security forces are determined to find the perpetrators,” according to Abdallah Al-Ifranji, a senior aide to PA President Abbas. (Ha’aretz)

The Popular Resistance Committee withdrew its earlier claim that it was responsible for the killing of Moussa Arafat, a military advisor to PA President Abbas. The armed wing of the group, Al-Nasser Salah el-Dein Brigades, condemned the murder and denied any involvement in it in a statement, in which it said its spokesman had misspoken when he claimed responsibility for the killing. (AFP)

An agreement had been reached between Israel and the Palestinians to shut the Rafah terminal in the coming days to prepare for Israel’s army withdrawal from the Gaza Strip scheduled for 12 September and to be completed on 15 September. The final stage of the pullout still needed the approval of the Israeli Cabinet. Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israeli troops would leave the now-demolished settlements at the same time as they left the corridor between Gaza and Egypt. (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

With about 20 synagogues remaining in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli High Court of Justice had ordered the Government to check into whether the PA, the US and the UN would be willing to preserve the buildings, possibly delaying the handover that had been set. PA Negotiations Affairs Minister Saeb Erakat said the Palestinians did not want the responsibility for the buildings. He said if the Palestinians knocked down the synagogues, they would be subject to fierce Israeli criticism. But if they were left standing, Palestinian extremists might try to ransack the structures. “This will put us in a very difficult position,” Mr. Erakat said. (AP)

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz would open an investigation into the deaths of five Palestinians in the IDF operation in the West Bank city of Tulkarm on 24 August. The announcement came after Ha’aretz reported that its joint investigation with the human rights group B’Tselem repudiated the army’s version of events. B’Tselem and Ha’aretz reported that the three teenage boys killed were not known members of any militant organization. (Ha’aretz)

At a meeting with senior ministers, Prime Minister Sharon approved Egypt’s bridging proposal for the future of the Rafah border crossing. Under the plan, the terminal was to be closed the next day for a six-month period for renovation. During this period, Palestinians would be able to cross from the Gaza Strip to Egypt through a new terminal to be built at the Israeli village of Kerem Shalom on the Gaza-Israel-Egypt border. This terminal would be manned by officials from the PA, Israel and Egypt. After the six-month period, goods would continue to go in and out of the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom terminal, but people would go in and out of the Strip through the Rafah terminal, which would be equipped with surveillance cameras permitting Israel to monitor movement. The Rafah terminal would also be monitored by an additional party, possibly Britain. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat said PA President Abbas had cancelled his visit to New York, where he was scheduled to attend the World Summit. “Due to the handover of Gaza in the next few days and the security situation, the President decided to remain in Gaza and not to go to New York,” Mr. Erakat said. (AFP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana made the following statement: “I condemn the assassination of Moussa Arafat. This assassination contradicts the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to enforce the rule of law and public order. Those responsible for this murder must be brought to justice. Acts of this kind run contrary to the interests of the Palestinian people who aspire to live in peace and security.” (http://ue.eu.int)

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy arrived in the Gaza Strip overnight at the start of a two-day visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel. Mr. Douste-Blazy was to meet with PA President Abbas, Prime Minister Qureia and other PA officials while in the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda said Indonesia would not open diplomatic ties with Israel before the Palestinian people gained their independence. “Until that situation is achieved, we will never establish diplomatic relations (with Israel),” he told the Antara news agency. (Xinhua)

8

The IDF said Palestinians had opened fire at its post near Rafah and its forces near the “Sufa” crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel, causing no injuries or damage. (Ha’aretz, www.idf.il)

Israel closed the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt to allow Palestinian and Egyptian security forces to deploy later, possibly by Sunday. (AP, Ha’aretz)

Israeli forces arrested four Palestinians in Tulkarm, Hebron and Nablus. (WAFA)

Israel closed the Gaza Strip to entry of Israeli civilians. (AP)

Israel reportedly made a commitment to Quartet Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement James Wolfensohn that it would allow guarded convoys to travel between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as an interim solution to the transport problem between parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr. Wolfensohn, Israel’s Vice Premier Shimon Peres said, “In recent days, we have been holding deliberations on setting up passages from Gaza to Egypt, Gaza to Jordan and from northern Gaza to Israel. … I believe we are very close to an agreement.” (Ynet)

The Secretary-General of the PA Cabinet, Samir Hleileh, said Israel had informed the PA that military withdrawal from the Gaza Strip would commence on 12 September and would only take 24 hours. (AFP, PA International Information Centre)

Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom denied any Israeli involvement in the death of PA President Arafat. (Ha’aretz)

Manhal Arafat, the kidnapped son of the late General Moussa Arafat, a military advisor to PA President Abbas, had been released by his captors. (AP)

France’s Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters ahead of talks with Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Shalom that, “The Palestinian Authority must be given the chance to equip credible security forces. … How can we ask terrorist groups to disarm if people responsible for disarming them don’t have the means?” Mr. Douste-Blazy added that Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip “must be followed by further steps,” and said, “This withdrawal does not exempt Israel from its obligations in the West Bank. … Today it is important that the two sides respect their commitments under the Road Map. This is the message I will convey to the Israeli Prime Minister.” (AFP)

9

Israel removed all its military equipment from the Gaza Strip and demolished the army’s liaison office at the Erez border crossing in controlled detonations. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

Two demonstrators were injured when IDF troops fired rubber bullets at an anti-separation wall protest near the West Bank village of Bil'in. Nine protestors were arrested. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli troops demolished the last remaining military installations in the Gaza Strip. (AP)

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf described Prime Minister Sharon as “courageous” for carrying out the Gaza Strip disengagement, but said he was not planning to meet Mr. Sharon on the sidelines of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly. “We hope that he shows an equal amount of courage finally in the creation of the Palestinian State,’’ he said. (AP)

UNDP representative Timothy Rothermel told journalists in Jerusalem he was “virtually certain” an agreement in which his agency would clear the Gaza Strip settlement rubble would be signed by 12 September. He said the operation would be paid for by the Israeli Government and carried out by a Palestinian workforce. (DPA)

10

The first batch of Egyptian border guards had been deployed to take control of the Rafah border crossing from Israel. The crossing had been closed since 8 September. Israel plans to open a new crossing where it can still monitor the passage of freight. A senior Egyptian official said that the 750 border guards should be in place by the end of the week. (AFP)

Palestinian riot police ordered a crowd of armed militants to turn back as they marched towards Israeli soldiers guarding the empty Gaza Strip settlements. Around 1,000 protestors, including more than 100 armed men, halted their march through the town of Khan Yunis towards the borders of the evacuated settlement of “Gush Katif” after a message was broadcast by loudspeaker telling the crowds to turn back. The order was largely obeyed by the protestors who were mostly members of Fatah. (AFP)

Israel’s Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Palestinians would be able to enter and leave Gaza after Israeli troops pulled out next week, but the Palestinian leadership must prevent militant attacks or suffer the consequences. Speaking on Israel Radio, Mr. Peres said Israel had no intention of bottling the Palestinians in Gaza, but their future depended on the Palestinian leadership's ability to rein in the militants. (AP)

In Damascus, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad received leaders of some Palestinian groups present in Syria and discussed the developments of the Palestinian issue, the official SANA news agency reported. During the meeting, Mr. Assad called on the Palestinian factions' leaders to give utmost care to the unity of the Palestinian ranks. He also praised the efforts of the Palestinian groups to establish an independent State, with Jerusalem as its capital. (Xinhua)

In an interview published in the Palestinian Al-Quds, James Wolfensohn, the Middle East Quartet’s Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement, said the Israelis had agreed to Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman's Rafah plan, to be implemented within six months, but Palestinians were pressing for the crossing to be reopened sooner. “Some Palestinians are wondering why it shouldn't be three months, or maybe one month or one week,'' Mr. Wolfensohn said, adding, “They are forgetting that Rafah, being in Palestinian and Egyptian hands, without an Israeli presence, is something they should be proud of as a major achievement. It should be the start for making economic progress.'' He said Palestinians initially would travel between Gaza and the West Bank through Israel in escorted road convoys. No decisions had been made on a permanent travel solution, he said, but a rail link was an option. (AP)

11

Six Palestinians were wounded as Israeli troops guarding the evacuated settlement block of “Gush Katif” in the Gaza Strip opened fire at crowds that had been throwing stones at their positions, medical sources said. One of the victims was in serious condition, having been shot in the neck during the protests just hours ahead of the Israeli army's departure from Gaza. (AFP)

Israel's Cabinet voted to end military rule in the Gaza Strip and to leave 19 synagogues there intact. (AP)

Israel canceled a scheduled military handover ceremony after the Palestinians said they would not attend. The Palestinians were reacting to Israel's closure last week of the Rafah crossing and the Cabinet decision not to demolish the synagogues in the evacuated settlements in Gaza. PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat said, “They throw these two problems in our faces and it's really unfair''. (AP)

At a flag-lowering ceremony at the evacuated settlement of “Neve Dekalim”, IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz warned that Israel would not tolerate future attacks after its departure from the evacuated areas. “We will not allow you to escape your responsibilities. We will not tolerate terrorism and the primary objective will be to guard the border". (AFP)

PA Minister of Civil Affairs Mohamed Dahlan said that Israel and the Palestinians were unable to overcome disagreement over the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border ahead of Israeli army completion of withdrawal. He said the PA had decided to boycott a handover ceremony at the start of the Israeli army pullout from Gaza because Israel kept border crossings under its control. (Xinhua)

12

IDF forces completed their exit from the Gaza Strip, within the framework of Israel’s Disengagement Plan, at 7 a.m. (www.idf.il)

Palestinian security forces began taking control of the evacuated Gaza Strip settlements at daybreak. Thousands of Palestinians went into abandoned settlements as convoys of 5,000 Israeli troops left the Strip in the final phase of Israel's pullout. Tawfiq Abu Khussa, a spokesman for the PA Interior Ministry, said hundreds of members of the national security service had entered seven settlements in the Gaza Strip. "The Palestinian flag has been planted in the settlements," he said. Hamas gunmen also raised their flags. However, at the settlement of “Morag”, Palestinian police appeared overwhelmed as crowds set fire to an empty synagogue and a Jewish seminary. Initial plans by police to keep the crowds away for several hours quickly collapsed and officers complained that a force of only 300 had been deployed in the settlement, which was closest to the Palestinian towns of Khan Yunis and Rafah. Israel had demolished nearly all buildings in the 21 Gaza settlements, but decided at the last minute to leave 19 synagogue buildings intact, a decision criticized by the Palestinians and the United States. (AFP, AP)

A Palestinian was shot dead and another wounded during a stampede across the Gaza Strip-Egypt border following the IDF withdrawal. The Egyptian side denied responsibility for the shooting. "It's inconceivable that Egyptian soldiers should have opened fire on the Palestinians after letting 3,000 cross the border for family reunions," said Suleiman Awad, spokesman for President Mubarak. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz)

Palestinians fired a Qassam rocket at the Negev town of Sderot. The rocket landed in an open area and there were no injuries, Israel Radio reported. (Ha’aretz)

Hundreds of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip crossed the border with Egypt in both directions. Among them were Hamas members who flew Hamas flags on Egyptian territory. Egyptian security officials said they let the crossings take place as a "humanitarian" gesture to let people separated for years reunite. The officials also said the free, unchecked crossings would be short-lived. (Ha’aretz)

As he toured the evacuated settlements in the Gaza Strip, PA President Abbas said that the next step was to establish a State. "What is important is not to turn Gaza into a big jail," he said while touring the evacuated settlement of “Elei Sinai”. He reiterated that no agreement had been reached with Israel on the Egypt-Gaza border crossings and said statehood was still a distant prospect. (Ha'aretz)

In an interview, PA President Abbas said, "We are ready to control the whole security situation.We will not allow anybody to rush into the settlements." He said the next step in the peace process with Israel was to return to the Road Map. "There was an agreement that the Israelis would evacuate [some West Bank] cities ... This was not implemented. We talked about prisoners, and they didn't release any. Of course, we want them to freeze [West Bank] settlement activities and [stop building] the wall," he said. In a separate interview, Prime Minister Sharon said that he believed his controversial plan to withdraw from Gaza had strengthened Israel's hand. "I think the position of Israel in the world is much better right now ... I would like to make a major effort to solve the problems between us and the Arabs." But in order to return to the Road Map, he said, "There should be a full cessation of terror, hostilities and incitement.” (Newsweek)

PA President Abbas said in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, "By the end of the year, I’ll be able to manage the chaos in Gaza,” adding, "For the first time Hamas is willing to take part in the next political elections as a democratic party; this would guarantee a smooth and harmless transition to a peaceful society." (Ha'aretz)

PA Minister of National Economy Mazen Sonokrot said that the ministry had started to build an industrial zone on the site of the previous "Erez" zone in the north of the Gaza Strip involving 250 industrial establishments that would create more than 10,000 jobs. (WAFA)

PA President Abbas said, "What we need is an independent viable Palestinian State, territorially integrated.” He said that Israel had not ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip as it still controlled the sea, air, borders and crossings. Mr. Abbas said the IDF hadn’t left behind any synagogues, only partially destroyed buildings. (WAFA)

PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat said that the Israeli occupation would not be ended until a complete withdrawal from all the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967. He described the Israeli closure of border crossings and the Gaza Airport as unacceptable, saying that the Rafah crossing must be under full Palestinian control. He also said that the PA had a comprehensive economic programme for reconstruction after the Israeli withdrawal. Referring to the report, “The Israeli ‘Disengagement’ Plan: Gaza Still Occupied”, prepared by the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department, PA Interior Minister Mohammed Dahlan noted that “Despite Israeli claims to the contrary, the Gaza Strip will remain occupied Palestinian territory under international law.” (WAFA)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General:

(UN press release SG/SM/10086)

"The United States welcomes today the completion of Israel's disengagement from Gaza," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said, adding: "This is a historic moment… We salute the commitment of both sides to a successful disengagement and note that that commitment has been impressive … Looking forward, we hope that this cooperation will continue. And we will be working with Israelis, with the Palestinians and with our Quartet partners on the next steps in the process… particularly to revitalize the Palestinian economy, to help the Palestinian security forces restore law and order and, overall, to advance the President's vision of two States living side by side." (www.state.gov)

"We cannot let Gaza be a prison under open skies," France’s Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said. He noted that the EU had proposed that European customs agents be posted at Gaza Strip border points, with the agreement of the Palestinian and Israeli sides. "We cannot talk about the future of Gaza, the future of the peace process, if there is not an economy starting to develop in the Palestinian territories," he added. "That requires entry and exit points and a port", which France and the EU had offered to construct, he said. (The Jerusalem Post)

"The presence in the Gaza Strip was a historic mistake, from start to finish," Vice Premier Shimon Peres told Army Radio. (The Jerusalem Post)

Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher said, "We cannot speak about a comprehensive pullout without including the freedom of movement, the full opening of all the crossing points. If this doesn't happen, Gaza will be transformed into a big prison." (The Jerusalem Post)

13

A grenade was thrown from the Gaza Strip towards the Israeli village of Netiv Haasara, just north of the territory, causing no injuries. The grenade exploded on the Palestinian side near an Israeli army position just inside Israel, according to the army. (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians opened fire at an Israeli force in the village of Anabta, east of Tulkarm, causing no injuries or damage. (www.idf.il)

A 19-year-old Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli troops in the village of Taffuh, west of Hebron. According to Israeli army sources, a group of some 500 youths hurled rocks and concrete blocks at soldiers entering the village and the soldiers responded by firing rubber-coated bullets at them. (AFP, DPA, Ha’aretz, WAFA)

Israeli forces arrested 10 Palestinians in the West Bank: five in Illar village, north-east of Tulkarm, three in Al-Zahira village, south of Hebron, and two in Habla village, south of Qalqilya. (WAFA)

The perpetrator of the suicide bombing in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on 28 August 2005 was identified, his mother said. The mother said Israeli soldiers had come to her house the night before and had showed a picture of her 18-year-old son, Abdel Rahim Kaysia, claiming him to be the bomber. She confirmed that the picture was of her son. (AP)

The IDF is to purchase “Heron” unmanned surveillance airplanes, which can fly for up to 40 hours at a maximum altitude of 30,000 feet, primarily to monitor the Gaza Strip. (AFP)

PA police blocked off the evacuated settlements but were unable to halt the looting of greenhouses completely. PA Prime Minister Qureia implored the Palestinians to leave the structures intact: “These greenhouses are for the Palestinian people,'' he said. “We don't want anyone to touch or harm anything that can be useful for our people.’’ (AP)

Israel has voiced concern over the free movement across the Gaza-Egypt border and called for Egyptian forces to move swiftly to restore order. “If this continues, Israel will have to ask the multinational force [MFO] to be a great deal more active in supervising the Egyptian compliance in the commitment it made with Israel," Zalman Shoval, a foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, said. Egyptian and PA security commanders decided that the Gaza Strip-Egypt border would be closed by evening of the following day. (Ha’aretz)

The main message Prime Minister Sharon would bring to the General Assembly would be "the end of Israeli responsibility” for the Gaza Strip. He adopted the Foreign Ministry's position that it would be premature to declare "the end of the occupation", at least as long as the PA did not control the border crossings, airspace and territorial waters. (Ha’aretz)

"The juridical status of Gaza does not change. It remains occupied territory," said France’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau. "The situation will prevail as long we have no solution to the question of borders. This is an international position that France fully supports," he said. (AFP)

During a visit to the “Karnei Shomron” and “Beit Arieh” settlements, Israel’s Defence Minister Mofaz said, “We have to make every effort to direct resources to strengthen the settlement blocks. … We must do everything possible to strengthen the residents’ feeling of security.” (AP, Ha’aretz)

Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi told a news conference at the former “Netzarim” settlement in the Gaza Strip that “the group decided for good not to participate in the upcoming [PLC] elections because they were stipulated under the Oslo agreements, which we have opposed in the first place.” (UPI)

In a televised address, PA President Abbas said, “We will no longer tolerate from this day the security anarchy, the armed chaos and the kidnappings. … The principle that unites us is that we have one authority, one law and one legal weapon.” He also said, “The withdrawal of the army and settlers from the Gaza Strip does not signal the end of the occupation. … The occupation will not end until the objectives of the peace process, namely the creation of an independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital in the territories which were occupied in 1967, have been met. … The conflict will not end until these objectives have been achieved.” Mr. Abbas also outlined new housing projects in the Gaza Strip. He said 3,000 housing units would be built at the site of the former settlement of “Morag” at a cost of US$100 million and 1,210 homes would be built in Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border with Saudi funding. (AFP, AP)

The PA President’s chief of staff, Rafiq Husseini, said Mr. Abbas intended to start disarming small militant groups and would insist that Hamas put down weapons after PLC elections in January 2006. “President Abbas will act against the small groups, especially those groups that claim to be part of Fatah. … The President will start with his own house first to show other groups that he is serious. … These groups will be asked to disband, join the security forces or will be dealt with as outlaws that have no right to exist and will be treated accordingly.” (Ha’aretz, Reuters)

In a press conference, the commander of the Palestinian national security in the southern Gaza Strip, Gen. Jamal Kayed, said the Rafah terminal would be reopened within the next few days after renovation. (IPC)

14

A pipe bomb was thrown at Israeli soldiers near Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. No injuries were reported. (Ha’aretz)

Twelve Palestinians were wounded in several explosions in the Gaza Strip while handling remains left by the Israeli army in former settlements, according to Palestinian medical sources. (Xinhua)

Egypt said its border guards had found yesterday evening an arms-smuggling tunnel under the Gaza border, four kilometres south of the Rafah crossing. The tunnel contained 38 firearms and 3 rocket-propelled grenades, a security official said. (AFP, AP)

Hamas militants blew a gaping hole in a concrete barrier on the Gaza-Egypt border, enabling Palestinians to continue surging into Egypt. (AFP, BBC, The Jerusalem Post)

The Tourism Ministers of Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority will meet in the Egyptian resort of Hurgada today, where they are expected to announce their countries’ collaboration in the field of tourism and the establishment of a permanent forum for the promotion of tourism in the region. (Ha’aretz)

IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz had decided not to take disciplinary measures against soldiers involved in the killing of five Palestinians during a raid in Tulkarm on 24 August 2005. Mr. Halutz decided that further action was not necessary as “the operation’s prime objective had been achieved: the arrest of the two suspects.” The investigation was opened after an investigation by B’Tselem and Ha’aretz found that none of the five was armed at the time, and three of them, all teenagers, had never belonged to a militant group. The army claimed that one of the killed was a senior member of a Palestinian militant group and three others were lesser-ranking operatives, while only one of them was an innocent bystander. (Ha’aretz)

After meeting with Egyptian officials on the Gaza-Egypt border, PA President Abbas’ security advisor Jibril Rajoub announced the formation of a joint Palestinian-Egyptian security committee to discuss arrangements for the operation of the Rafah crossing. Mr. Rajoub said the PA agreed on the presence of a third party to monitor the movement at the crossing but it rejected the Israeli demand that a new border terminal be built in the Israeli village of Kerem Shalom. (IPC)

15

The Israeli army said Palestinians had opened fire at its force in the village of Anabta, east of Tulkarm, causing no injuries or damage. (www.idf.il)

Israeli soldiers stormed Yatta village, south of Hebron, and arrested four Palestinians. (IPC, WAFA)

Israeli border police arrested in the southern Negev region 20 residents of the Gaza Strip attempting to infiltrate into Israel from Egypt. The arrested Palestinians said they had exited Gaza through the “Philadelphi” route. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

The Israeli High Court of Justice upheld a petition submitted by Palestinians from five villages around the “Alfei Menashe” settlement, south of Qalqilya, and ruled that the State must reconsider within a reasonable time frame an alternative route for the separation wall surrounding the settlement. The wall separates the villages from the rest of the West Bank. The nine-justice panel headed by Supreme Court President Aharon Barak instructed the State to review the wall’s route and adapt it to principles that combined both security needs and Palestinian human rights. The panel nevertheless rejected the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice and ruled that Israel in principle had the authority to build a separation wall in the West Bank beyond the Green Line for security reasons. (AFP, AP, Ha’aretz, Reuters)

According to a survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 2,448 Palestinian households including 14,364 persons had been displaced since the start of the construction of the wall through the end of May 2005. Also, 47,921 dunums of land had been confiscated during the same period. (www.pcbs.org)

The following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Sharon’s delivered at the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 60th General Assembly:


In New York, at the opening of a three-day meeting of world leaders called by former US President Bill Clinton, participants, including British Prime Minister Blair, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and US Secretary of State Rice, encouraged private investment in the Gaza Strip. “There is a lot of poverty and despair but there’s new hope and opportunities because of the Israeli withdrawal. … I would urge the people in this room to think early and often on what opportunities there might be for private investments in Gaza, for job creation, for small businesses, because the Palestinian people are quite a remarkable people,” Ms. Rice said. The Middle East will be the subject of a special session on 15 September featuring Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Quartet Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement James Wolfensohn and former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross. (AFP, www.clintonglobalinitiative.org)

After meeting with PA Interior Minister Nasser Youssef, US Consul General and Chief of Mission in Jerusalem Jake Walles said the United States would grant the PA security forces US$3 million. Mr. Walles said $2.3 million would be allocated for the purchase of non-military equipment and the rest would be invested in community projects initiated by the security forces. (Ynet)

16

East of Qalqilya, Israeli forces arrested a Palestinian carrying several hunting rifles and ammunition. (Ynet)

A 22-year-old Palestinian died of serious wounds sustained when an Israeli military vehicle ran him over in Tulkarm, medical sources said. (WAFA)

IDF troops caught three Palestinians suspected of breaking through the northern Gaza-Israel fence, infiltrating the area of Mosha Netiv Ha’asarah, near the border. All three had been caught separately, with two of them unarmed. (Ha’aretz)

“Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered a security zone to be laid down on the Palestinian side of the northern Gaza Strip in order to minimize the danger to Israeli communities by the chaos reigning in Gaza. … What is vital is to create a no-man’s land to which access is forbidden for Palestinians,” a Ministry spokesperson said. (AFP, DPA, The Jerusalem Post)

The following are excerpts from the statement of PA President Mahmoud Abbas to the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 60th General Assembly and delivered by PA Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa:

(www.un.org/webcast)

Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative, Israel’s Vice Premier Shimon Peres referred to the importance of linking the Gaza Strip with the West Bank, but said any crossing point should not become a conduit for arms smuggling. “We understand perfectly well that without an inflow of people and goods within Gaza or outside Gaza, Gaza will not be able to exist.” At the same meeting, Quartet Special Envoy for Gaza Disengagement James Wolfensohn said, “These are all immediate problems, which are capable of resolution in rather quick time, if the will is there on both sides. And I see there’s an increasing will because the issue of peace is a shared issue.” (AFP)

17

Six Palestinian policemen were wounded by stone-throwing Palestinians trying to force their way across the Gaza Strip border into Egypt. Witnesses said the confrontation erupted when police fired warning shots in the air to prevent hundreds of Palestinians from trespassing on the border. (Xinhua)

An IDF soldier and a 19-year-old Palestinian youth were injured in clashes near the village of Budrus, west of Ramallah. An IDF patrol entered the village to investigate a report that the wall being built nearby had been “sabotaged.” Palestinian youths threw stones at the soldiers, who in turn shot rubber bullets at the protestors. (Ha’aretz)

The Israeli army began to withdraw from the four evacuated Jewish settlements in the northern West Bank (“Ganim”, “Homesh”, “Kadim” and “Sanour”). After the withdrawal, hundreds of Palestinian security forces were deployed in and around the four sites. (Xinhua)

Former US President Bill Clinton adjourned the three-day Global Initiative conference that won pledges of US$1.25 billion in commitments to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. The pledges announced included finding a way to provide insurance for businesses investing in the Gaza Strip, a plan to set up a mobile phone network for an emerging Palestinian State and $1 million to benefit children in the Gaza Strip. PA Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa participated in the conference. (Reuters, www.clintonglobal initiative.org)

The PA announced the appointment of Riyad Mansour as head of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations. (AP)

18

Palestinians opened fire on a military vehicle in Israel near the northern Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz)

Palestinian security forces sealed off the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt, halting the flow of thousands of people during the past week. Adnan Barch, spokesperson for the PA security forces, said all the gaps in the border had been closed and 2,000 security personnel were now deployed along the border. He said the Palestinians were working with Egypt to make sure people stranded on each side of the border could return home. (AFP, AP, BBC News, Xinhua)

PA President Abbas appointed Ahmed Al-Mugani as the new Attorney General. Mr. Al-Mugani told reporters, “I will try my utmost to … end the security chaos and the criminality in Palestine.” (AFP)

PA President Abbas told reporters that the “Palestinian elections are for the Palestinian people and only the Palestinian people” in response to Prime Minister Sharon’s warnings that Israel would prevent the polls from taking place in the West Bank if Hamas participated without first disarming. Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said, “It is inconceivable that a movement such as Hamas, which has a very good chance of doing well or even winning, can participate in elections while calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.” (AFP)

Prime Minister Sharon said he would meet with PA President Abbas on 2 October for their first meeting since Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank. (AFP)

Senior Palestinian and Israeli officials held a meeting at the Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, the first since the Israeli withdrawal. The Palestinian delegation was led by Suleiman Helles, Chief of National Security, while the Israeli delegation was headed by former Chief of the Israeli Army in the Gaza Strip Avi Kokhavi. The two sides agreed to continue military and security coordination on issues related to imposing security and control on the border. An Israeli spokesperson said the Israeli side had handed over to the Palestinians maps of infrastructure left by Israel in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians. (Xinhua)

An estimated 10,000 Hamas members and supporters held a parade to celebrate the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. The gathering rallied in a football stadium before marching through Gaza City. (AFP)

In an interview, the outgoing US Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, said US President George Bush would back a request by Israel to keep larger West Bank settlement areas under its control. He cited the April 2004 letter from President Bush to Prime Minister Sharon setting out the US position on settlements. “The policy is exactly what the President said. In the context of a final status agreement, the United States will support the retention by Israel of areas with a high concentration of Israeli population,” he said. PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat said, “I believe this pre-empts and prejudges issues that are reserved for final status negotiations. Any talk of pre-empting and prejudging is counterproductive to the peace process.” Mr. Kurtzer would be succeeded by Richard Jones. (AP)

Touring the West Bank, Israel’s Labour MK Ephraim Sneh said he had discovered widespread violation of the law in connection with illegal outposts north of Ramallah. IDF officers and “Civil Administration” officials accompanied Mr. Sneh, visiting outposts near the settlement of “Eli.” Mr. Sneh discovered extensive homes and infrastructure construction taking place. (Ha’aretz)

Results of a poll released by researchers from An-Najah University in the West Bank found that while 42.5 per cent of respondents supported a move by the PA to seize the arms of Palestinian organizations, some 53.2 per cent rejected such a move. However, 54.1 per cent of those surveyed said they “do not see a necessity for the existence of any arms in the Gaza Strip other than the arms of the Palestinian security apparatuses.” (AFP, Xinhua)

19

IDF troops arrested three Palestinians in Ithna and Beit Ommar towns of Hebron. Sources said the troops, backed by tanks and armoured vehicles, swept into the two towns, launching a house-to-house search. In Tulkarm, troops arrested a Palestinian bus driver at a military checkpoint. Meanwhile, an Israeli checkpoint was installed at the northern entrance of Azoun, east of Qalqilya. (WAFA)

PA President Abbas announced that the Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt would be reopened under an international agreement. He said, “We will follow up the border issue seriously with Egypt till we reach an international agreement. Before then, we have to be patient.” He added that the crossing “should be strictly controlled by Egypt and the Palestinians but entry and exit arrangements and organizing the operations on the crossing need an international accord.” Meanwhile, it was reported that Israel was weighing the option of an EU security role at the Rafah crossing. Although Israel had in the past opposed the involvement of third parties in policing frontier crossing, sources in Jerusalem have confirmed that the option was being discussed and that talks had included details of a possible EU role. (Ha’aretz, The Independent, Xinhua)

Israel’s Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom said that his Government would try to impede Palestinian elections if Hamas took part. (AP)

The European Commission announced that it would allocate €280 million (US$340 million) for the Palestinians in 2005 with a special package to fund priorities in the aftermath of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. A total of €60 million (US$73 million) would be allocated to help revive the Palestinian economy and create institutions capable of addressing new responsibilities arising from the Israeli withdrawal. (DPA, Xinhua)

20

Israeli troops pulled out from the last two settlements of “Ganim” and “Kadim” in the northern West Bank. The area would continue to be patrolled by the IDF. (AP)

On the Rafah terminal between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, PA national security advisor Jibril Rajoub said "The terminal will open on Friday and Saturday to students and Palestinian nationals so they can leave or return to the Gaza Strip while waiting for the problem to be sorted [out]". (AFP)

Palestinian security sources said the Israeli army had withdrawn from the former northern West Bank settlement of “Sa-Nur”. Jenin Mayor Kaddoura Fares said the PA had not received any official announcement from Israel about the unilateral move despite previously informing Israel that the PA was ready to regain the area and deploy national security forces. The Palestinians entered the evacuated area and raised the Palestinian flag. Dozens of unarmed Palestinian policemen entered the former settlement of “Sa-Nur”, to restore order among a crowd of hundreds of Palestinians, some of whom later prayed at a building that had served as “Sa-Nur's” second synagogue, but was a mosque before Israel's capture of the West Bank in 1967, said Majdi Alawneh, a Palestinian liaison official with Israel. (AP, Xinhua)

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the General Assembly that Israel’s relations with the UN were “better than ever” and Israel would seek non-permanent Security Council membership. (UN News Centre)

Hamas could one day amend a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and hold negotiations, Mohammed Ghazal, a Hamas political leader in the West Bank, said in an interview in Nablus. (Reuters)

The Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam quoted Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat as saying that PA President Mahmoud Abbas intends to discuss the PLC elections with Prime Minister Sharon during their planned meeting scheduled on 2 October, together with other issues, mainly negotiations on the final statutes issues, such as Jerusalem, borders, refugees and water. (Xinhua)

At a press conference in Tel Aviv, Major-General (res.) Uzi Dayan, the head of Israeli Tafnit organization, unveiled his plan for disengaging from the Palestinians. The plan calls for the evacuation of 32 West Bank settlements and for a temporary border that would incorporate 28 Palestinian villages into Israel. According to Mr. Dayan's proposal, the settlements of “Ariel”, “Gush Etzion”, “Ma'aleh Adumim”, “Ofra”, “Beit El” and “Kiryat Arba” would all be included within Israel, while “Mevo Dotan”, “Yitzhar”, “Hermesh”, “Alon Moreh”, “Bracha”, “Itamar”, “Eli”, “Kfar Tapuah”, “Tekoa” and “Shavei Shomron” would be evacuated. (Ha’aretz)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters at the UN Headquarters, "We would hope that the [PLC] elections can go forward, and that everyone will cooperate to make those elections go forward because elections are fundamental to the continued evolution and development of the Palestinian process."(UN press release SG/SM/10115)

At UN Headquarters, members of the Quartet met where they welcomed in a joint statement read by Secretary-General Kofi Annan the successful conclusion of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The statement praised major actors in the operation and urged further measures to improve the Palestinian economy, end terrorism and resume negotiations towards a lasting settlement. “The withdrawal is an important step towards achieving the vision of two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security,” said the statement. Present at the meeting were Mr. Annan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. (UN press release SG/SM/10115)

21

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Israel Radio that Israel won't allow Hamas to participate in the PLC elections in January. (AP)

PA President Abbas told reporters in Rafah: "We salute [the Quartet] for their support for the creation of an independent Palestinian State… With regard to dealing with the Palestinian organizations, this is our affair… We are going to talk to them today to say, 'enough is enough.’ Weapons-carrying must stop so that our people can live a normal life like everyone in the world." (AFP, Reuters)

Powerful "tie-breaker weaponry", such as long-range rockets and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, had not been smuggled into the Gaza Strip since Israel's withdrawal, Israel's Military Intelligence commander told the Knesset. (Xinhua)

Former Gaza Strip settlers said they planned to move their mobile homes to a former army post in the West Bank and that they had been informally assured of Government backing. Mark Regev, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “The Israeli Government is committed to not building new settlements so there can be no new legal settlements in the West Bank.” (AP)

Hamas said it would exhibit its arms at the former Israeli settlement of “Netzarim” in the Gaza Strip. "Qassam rockets and other locally made arms will be exhibited, since it is the legal weapon that evicted the occupation forces," a statement said. (UPI)

PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat told the Voice of Palestine radio that the Quartet had called on Israel several times to stop building settlements and the separation wall, but such activities had not stopped. The PA demanded the Quartet to turn its words into deed, Mr. Erakat said. (Xinhua)

Khaled al-Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader, told reporters that the call by the Quartet to disarm militants showed a clear carelessness and belittling of the Palestinian issues and also constituted an intervention in internal Palestinian affairs. He also called on PA President Abbas not to meet with Prime Minister Sharon. (Xinhua)

The PA was preparing an international economic conference in the West Bank by year end to encourage development, a PA source said. About 250 Arab and other foreign investors would be invited to participate in the conference, in addition to a similar number of Palestinian investors. (Xinhua)

Israel would not allow a seaport to be built in the Gaza Strip unless it could control all incoming and outgoing shipments, Israel’s Cabinet Minister Haim Ramon said. (AFP)

Israel declared its frontier with the Gaza Strip an international border, Israel’s Interior Ministry said. Four crossing points between the Gaza Strip and Israel had been turned into official border crossings. (Ha’aretz)

Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, told a crowd of students in Gaza City that if his movement won in the upcoming parliamentary elections, it would not recognize Israel. (DPA, Reuters)

Gen. Jibril Rajoub, President Abbas' national security adviser, told reporters that President Abbas and President Mubarak would meet on 28 September to finalize the issue of the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the operation of the Rafah crossing. (AP, DPA)

The Knesset will convene today in a special session to discuss the ruling on the separation wall by Israel’s High Court of Justice. (The Jerusalem Post)

The Israeli and PA Transportation Ministers, Meir Sheetrit and Saaddudin Khurma, signed an agreement to establish a Joint Transport Office that would plan and build projects benefiting both sides. The agreement was negotiated with the assistance of the European Union, which had allocated €2.5 million to fund the office. The office would focus primarily on railroads, roads and border crossings and could later branch out into ports and airports. Among the projects that were being considered were a rail line connecting Jenin with the Jezreel Valley railroad; a line connecting Ramallah with the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem railroad; and a line between Ashkelon and Gaza that eventually would link up to the railroad between Gaza and the West Bank. Other possibilities are a railroad from Be'er Sheva that would link up with the Egyptian rail system at the Nitzana border crossing and a road connecting Tulkarm, Nablus, Jenin and Afula. (Ha'aretz)

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security chief Yuval Diskin said he was afraid that weapons smuggled into Gaza would eventually find their way into the West Bank and armed groups would shift their focus there. He also warned that al-Qaida-linked groups were poised to infiltrate the Gaza Strip and Israel. He said that in the Sinai desert, “there is a strong infrastructure of world terror linked to al-Qaida, stronger than the Egyptians themselves were aware of''. (AP)

22

Israeli soldiers shot at Ala’ Hamtouni and nine other Palestinians when they entered the Mevo Dotan base near Jenin, killing 19-year-old Mr. Hamtouni, Palestinian officials said. The military base in the northern West Bank was slated to be evacuated in the coming days, Palestinian security officials said. Both the Israeli army and the Palestinians said Mr. Hamtouni was unarmed. (AFP, Ha'aretz)

An Israeli court convicted Abbas al-Sayed, the commander of the Hamas military wing in Tulkarm, of masterminding a March 2002 suicide bombing that killed 29 people at a Passover holiday at the Park Hotel in the Israeli resort town of Netanya. (AP)

Hamas official Said Siam said Palestinian militant groups promised to stop armed parades celebrating Israel’s evacuation after 24 September. Mr. Siam said the end of the parades did not mean the militants would give up their weapons. (AP)

The Jerusalem District Court sentenced 22-year-old Bassam Wahabi, a border policeman to four and a half-year imprisonment. He was convicted of assisting in abusive acts that led to the death of 17-year-old Amran Abu Hamadiya of Hebron. (Ha’aretz)

At the inauguration of a well in the area of the evacuated Gaza settlement of “Netzarim”, PA President Abbas urged armed factions to help rebuild the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abbas confirmed that militant groups had agreed to stop armed rallies and marches on 24 September, stressing that “now was the time for a united reconstruction effort. All factions will participate with the Palestinian Authority in the rebuilding," said Mr. Abbas. (AFP)

PA Legal Adviser Diana Buttu said the PA would build thousands of houses in place of the evacuated settlements to ease the population density in the Gaza Strip. She said plans were made to build 5,000 housing units in several parts of the Gaza Strip at the cost of US$165 million to be donated by Arab Gulf countries and Japan. (UPI)

In his statement to the General Assembly, PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Al-Kidwa called for an international action to stop the expansion of settlements and the construction of the wall in the West Bank. He said Palestinians recognized that the Gaza withdrawal required “political boldness,” but stressed that the Palestinians would be watching to see what Israel did next. “All of this will determine whether the disengagement will take us further steps forward, close to a comprehensive settlement and peace – or whether it is actually a step imposed by the realities on the ground and intended to facilitate the continuation of occupation … of the West Bank and to obstruct a final settlement”, he said. (AP)

US President Bush had requested King Abdullah of Jordan to meet with Prime Minister Sharon and PA President Abbas to help the peace process move forward. Mr. Bush said, “One of the things I asked His Majesty to do is to go to visit with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas, to help in the peace process there. And he has graciously agreed to go.” Mr. Bush added, “It will be very helpful to have your voice of reason there to talk to both leaders.” (DPA, Xinhua)

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) announced the launching of an agency that would support Palestinian shippers, traders and consumers. An agreement to set up the Palestinian Shippers Council was signed in Jerusalem with the European Commission, which would provide €557,194 (US$680,100), UNCTAD said. The EU would provide funding for UNCTAD to create computerized customs-clearance operations at the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt. (Reuters, UNCTAD/PRESS/IN/2005/030/Rev.1)

23

A vehicle carrying militants and weapons exploded during a parade by Hamas in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, killing 19 people and injuring 80. Hamas militants said Israel was responsible and threatened retribution. The IDF denied involvement. PA officials said the incident was due to an accidental discharge of weapons. (AFP, AP, Reuters, Ha’aretz)

Three Qassam rockets were fired at Sderot, landing in an open field and no injuries were reported. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli troops shot dead three members of the Islamic Jihad when an arrest operation disintegrated into gun battles in the northern West Bank. The three Palestinians were killed during the shootouts after Israeli soldiers, police and intelligence agents rolled into the village of Alar, near Tulkarm. PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned the killings. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

IDF troops arrested five anti-wall protestors at the village of Bil’in in the West Bank. (Ha’aretz)

The PA temporarily opened the Rafah crossing on the Gaza-Egypt border. An IDF spokesperson said, “Israel agreed to the request by the Palestinians and Egypt to open Rafah for two days for humanitarian reasons.” By agreement with Cairo, the Rafah terminal would be open for a 48-hour period to Palestinians who work, study or need medical treatment in Egypt or further abroad, the PA Interior Ministry said. All travellers would need a valid Palestinian identity card or foreign passport. The Ministry said the terminal would be closed again on 25 September until an internationally mediated accord was reached with Israel on how to manage the Gaza-Egypt border. (AFP, Ha’aretz)

The President of the Security Council issued a statement calling for “renewed action in parallel by the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority on their obligations in accordance with the Road Map.” (S/PRST/2005/44)

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Process Alvaro de Soto briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. (UN News Centre)

New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced that New Zealand would provide NZ$1 million (US$700,000) assistance package to the Occupied Palestinian Territory in support of the peace process and humanitarian needs. NZAid, the Government’s aid agency, would contribute US$350,000 to the UNICEF Relief Appeal and US$350,000 to the Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund for the West Bank and Gaza, through the World Bank. “The Palestinians must be helped to restore good governance, central authority and essential services to engage in constructive negotiations towards a final settlement based on Israel and a Palestinian State.” (Xinhua, www.beehive.govt.nz)

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said his country was still holding out the prospect of a peace treaty with Israel and could have no diplomatic contact in the meantime. He said Prime Minister Sharon had not acted on opportunities for peacemaking after his withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. “He does something and then immediately goes to the United Nations and makes a speech saying, ‘I am not going to do this, I am not going to do that,’” the Foreign Minister said. He also said that Mr. Sharon was making demands of the PA that he knows could not be met. “The Palestinian Authority has been decimated by Mr. Sharon himself; they are weak because of what he did to them and now he is insisting they disarm Hamas and Jihad,” he said. (AP)

A report issued by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights examined the impact of Israeli checkpoints on Palestinian newborn children and pregnant women. It cited a WHO report which said that between September 2000 and December 2004, 61 Palestinian women had given birth at Israeli checkpoints and 36 of their babies had died as a result. Palestinian women continued to encounter risky delays in 2005, UNRWA reported. In 2005, eight women so far had been delayed at checkpoints in the Gaza Strip, for between one to two-and-a-half hours while being transported to a hospital by a Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance, UNRWA reported. (A/60/324)

24

Some Qassam rockets fell in and around Sderot in Israel. The same was reported the following day, with a total of six Israelis wounded on both days. (The Jerusalem Post)

IDF jets launched an air strike at two vehicles in Gaza City's Zeitun quarter, killing four Palestinians. The IDF said one of the vehicles had been carrying weapons and the other was carrying Hamas members. (AP)

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command denounced the IDF missile attacks as a “treacherous crime” that would not go unpunished. “The truce is null and void,” the group said in a statement calling on Palestinians to continue their resistance and uprising. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine also denounced Israel's missile strike as a “massacre'' aimed at sabotaging internal Palestinian cohesion. (AP)

"This continuous agony must stop, the agony of the weapons chaos, of the rallies, all at the expense of law and order in residential areas," PA President Abbas told a peace rally in Ramallah. "We must stop parading our weapons and stop using guns among the people," he added. (AFP)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa told reporters, "The Israeli escalation raised questions over the Jewish State's willingness to pursue the peace process," adding that "high-level Arab contacts" were under way to defuse the crisis. (AFP)

PA Prime Minister Qureia told reporters in Ramallah, "We call on the international community, the Quartet and the American administration to intervene to put a stop to the Israeli escalation." (AFP)

The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for the Secretary-General:

(UN press release SG/SM/10124)

25

An IDF air strike killed Islamic Jihad's top commander in the southern Gaza Strip, Mohammed Khalil, and his bodyguard as they drove along a coastal road in Gaza City. After the air strike, Mohammed al-Hindi, Islamic Jihad's leader in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, said the group would no longer honour the ceasefire. “There is no talk of a truce, there is only room for talk of war,” he said. (AFP, AP)

Palestinian medical sources said eight women and three children were wounded as well as several elderly people in an attack on a Hamas-run school in Gaza City. The school and several nearby houses sustained heavy damage. Other sites targeted included the offices of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a building which the IDF said was used to manufacture weapons by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. (AFP, AP)

Gunmen opened fire at the home of the spokesman of the PA Interior Ministry, Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, in Gaza City. No one was injured. (AP)

IDF troops arrested 207 Palestinians in the West Bank including Sheikh Hassan Yussuf, the leader of Hamas in the West Bank, its leader in the north, Mohammed Ghazali, and seven Hamas candidates for PLC elections. (AFP)

"There are no restrictions on the use of any measures in order to strike at the terrorists, their equipment and where they find shelter," Prime Minister Sharon said at the opening of the Cabinet meeting. "The instructions are unequivocal; we do not mean a one-time action." Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said he had given the IDF the green light to use all means at the IDF's disposal, including artillery fire, to create a buffer zone in areas such as the northern Gaza Strip from where the Qassam rockets were fired. Troops massed on the Gaza Strip border in preparation for a possible ground operation. (AP, The Jerusalem Post)

Hamas' leader Mahmoud al-Zahar announced, "The movement declares an end to its operations from the Gaza Strip against the Israeli occupation, which came ... in response to the assaults by the enemy," adding Hamas would abide by the ceasefire declared in March. (Reuters)

The meeting between Prime Minister Sharon and PA President Abbas, set for 2 October, had been canceled, Israeli officials said. (AP)

The PLC postponed the no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister for a week because of an Israeli closure on the Gaza Strip, PA officials said. (AP)

"Mahmoud Abbas has a duty to stamp out terrorist organizations," France’s Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told Radio J. "I believe Israel must continue to follow the Road Map for peace," Mr. Douste-Blazy added. "To do so, though, Israel has to feel safe." (AFP)

PA President Abbas said that the latest Israeli operations had "no justification" while Prime Minister Qureia said they had "shot down the efforts to advance the peace process which we expected after the successful withdrawal from Gaza.” (AFP)

US Ambassador to Israel Robert H. Jones: "We all know that the terrorists are trying to provoke Israel ... at a very sensitive time and we understand exactly what the Government's position is." (Reuters)

PA President Abbas said at a news conference in Ramallah that the investigation conducted by PA security services proved that the blast in Jabalia had occurred when a Hamas explosives-laden vehicle overturned. “We agreed last Thursday with all Palestinian factions that the phenomenon of showing arms and guns in public and in the streets must end,'' Mr. Abbas said. (DPA)

Jordan's King Abdullah II would visit the OPT and Israel soon in the coming few days to discuss with their leaders reviving Middle East peace talks, officials said. (Reuters)

26

Israeli forces arrested an additional 90 members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, a military spokesman announced. (AFP)

The Israel Air Force launched six missile strikes on targets throughout the Gaza Strip before dawn, the IDF and Palestinians said. Helicopters fired a missile at an access road north of Gaza City, which the IDF said was used to fire rockets at Israeli towns. Palestinians reported one Palestinian woman wounded in this attack. The IDF also said it had targeted buildings used by militants to make and store weapons. (AP)

A Qassam rocket hit an unpopulated area of Sderot, causing no injuries. (Ha’aretz)

Hamas claimed responsibility for kidnapping a few days ago and later killing an Israeli merchant in the West Bank. The body of the man was found in Ramallah. A Hamas statement said it abducted the man to exchange him for Palestinian prisoners, but “the arrest raids by the Israeli occupation army in the West Bank forced our unit to kill him.” (DPA)

PA President Abbas would visit Cairo on 27 September for talks with Egypt’s President Mubarak to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the Gaza Strip, the peace process and the reopening of Rafah terminal, a senior PA official said. (Xinhua)

The IDF officially informed the PA that it had started building a security buffer zone between the northern Gaza Strip and Israel. The army had informed the PA that Israeli soldiers would open fire at any Palestinian who entered the buffer zone which extends 150 metres into the Gaza Strip. (Xinhua)

The United States backed Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with State Department Spokesperson Sean McCormack saying that Hamas had launched attacks on Israel after Hamas had issued a statement saying it would halt attacks. “…we fully understand Israel’s right to defend itself,” he said. (Ha’aretz)

A report by John Dugard, a Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights, said that the “focus of attention on Gaza has allowed Israel to continue with construction of the wall in the Palestinian territory, the expansion of settlements and the de-Palestinization of Jerusalem with virtually no criticism.” He said Israeli policies in East Jerusalem connected large settlements “in order to make the city more Jewish.” (A/60/271, Ha’aretz)

In a press release, Physicians for Human Rights said hundreds of Palestinian patients who lived in the Gaza Strip and required medical treatment in Israel, the West Bank or Egypt were trapped because of the Israeli closure imposed after the disengagement and because Egypt had not opened the Rafah border crossing allegedly due to Israeli pressure. (www.phr.org.il)

27

Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a series of targets throughout the Gaza Strip, causing damage but no injuries. The army said it attacked three access routes in the northern Gaza Strip used by Palestinians to fire rockets at Israel. Three bridges were hit in the northern Beit Hanoun area. Two missiles were also fired on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP, BBC News, Ha’aretz)

An Israeli military spokesperson confirmed the arrest of 82 Palestinians in the West Bank suspected of being members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Israeli troops, backed by 40 tanks and armoured vehicles, stormed the village of Kabatya in the West Bank city of Jenin and arrested 13 Palestinians. Israeli troops also arrested some 39 Palestinians in Ramallah, 21 in Hebron, 10 in Bethlehem and 2 in Nablus. (AFP, BBC News, Ha’aretz)

Palestinian armed factions held an emergency meeting to discuss the rising tensions with Israel. After the talks, Islamic Jihad leader Mohammed al-Hindi said he believed the Israeli offensive is coming to an end. “Therefore we will halt firing rockets,'' he said. At the meeting, the various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, also renewed a commitment to the Cairo Declaration for a continued atmosphere of calm, though they also said they reserved the right to retaliate for perceived Israeli violations of resuming aggression. (AP, IPC)

Palestinian organizations have agreed to stop attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip, according to Ibrahim Abu Al-Naja, head of a committee grouping representatives of the various organizations. “All factions on the steering committee have agreed to stop armed resistance operations from the Gaza Strip to protect the interests of the people,” he said. A senior source of Islamic Jihad said its organization was included. Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz vowed to continue “targeted killing operations” against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas accused Israel of exacerbating the situation in the Gaza Strip by turning a deaf ear to Hamas’ call to halt rocket fire. (AFP, UPI, Xinhua)

A forensic report issued by the PA said shrapnel found in the bodies of people killed in a blast at a Hamas rally last week came from the group’s own home-made rockets. The report by the PA Interior Ministry’s explosive unit said the shrapnel resembled those used in the noses of Hamas’ Qassam rockets. (Ha’aretz)

PA President Abbas issued a presidential decree on reformulation of the National Security Council. Mr. Abbas, who presides over the Council, will assume direct responsibility for security coordination with the local, regional and international parties. (Al-Hayat al-Jadida)

Israel prohibited eight PA Ministers from the Gaza Strip from travelling to a Cabinet meeting in Ramallah. The Gazan Ministers joined their West Bank counterparts through a video conference. (The Jerusalem Post)

28

At dawn, Israeli helicopters had fired missiles at Fatah offices in the Gaza City Tuffah neighbourhood and targeted Palestinian security offices in the southwest of the city, a Palestinian security official said. The attacks had caused an electricity blackout in most of Gaza City. At the same time, Israeli helicopters had attacked a building used by Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Bureij refugee camp in the centre of the Gaza Strip. Troops fired live artillery shells into northern Gaza, hitting an open area that the army said had been used to fire rockets. Palestinian police had evacuated their headquarters in Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahiya, as a precautionary measure, the official said. (AFP)

The Israeli army said Palestinians had opened fire at its force patrolling south of the “Sufa” crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Palestinians had also opened fire at an Israeli force patrolling near the border fence along the northern Gaza Strip. There had been no injuries or damage. (www.idf.il)

In the West Bank, the IDF arriving in 15 army vehicles had raided the offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Tulkarm confiscating equipment, witnesses said, while other troops in more than two dozen army vehicles had raided the offices of Islamic charities suspected of aiding Hamas in [the town of] Qalqilya, shutting down 15 of them. The troops had also rounded up 24 suspected militants, bringing the number of people arrested since the weekend to more than 400. (AP, Reuters)

Israel’s Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel would target senior Hamas leaders if the organization continued to launch Qassam rockets into Israel. He made his threat next to an artillery battery that fired four shells into an open area near Beit Hanoun in response to the recent Qassam launches. Mr. Mofaz said that Israel would employ an "iron fist" until there were "zero" Qassams. "If the sleep of Sderot's children is disturbed and there's a feeling of insecurity among some Sderot residents, the same will be true for Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad leaders ... If Hamas, [Mahmoud] al-Zahar, [Ismail] Haniyeh and others continue to shoot Qassams, we'll send them to where [Sheikh] Yassin and [Abdel-Aziz al-] Rantissi are now." (Ha’aretz)

Eyal Arad, a senior strategy adviser to Prime Minister Sharon, said in a broadcast on Israel Radio that if the deadlock of the diplomatic peace process with the Palestinian Authority continued, Israel might consider turning unilateral disengagement into government policy, including annexation of West Bank territory and withdrawal to what Israel would set as its permanent border. He said the significance of the policy was "withdrawal to and annexation of territory that we would not evacuate." The radio then quoted the Prime Minister's Office as saying in response that "There is no plan for a further unilateral withdrawal." (Ha’aretz)

Israeli Cabinet Minister Haim Ramon said Israel needed to withdraw from up to 65 per cent of the West Bank before a comprehensive peace settlement with the Palestinians could be reached. “Only after that can we start to negotiate for the comprehensive peace,'' Mr. Ramon said on the sidelines of a meeting in Stockholm between Israeli Labour Party officials and Palestinians from Fatah. While Mr. Ramon emphasized that he was reflecting his own views, he thought such a pull-out would become a reality after the next election. (AP)

PA President Abbas met with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo to discuss the Rafah border and the situation in the Gaza Strip. Mr. Abbas said Hamas was partly to blame for the latest bout of violence, and sought to enlist Egypt's help to halt the deteriorating conditions. After the meeting Mr. Abbas said, “We are in a deadlock''. (AP)

PA President Abbas, speaking at a news conference at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo, urged Arab countries to refrain from normalizing relations with Israel until it pulled out from the territory captured in 1967. He said, "Arab countries are sovereign States and act in a sovereign ways, but there are Arab agreements to which all Arab countries are committed", referring to the Arab Peace Initiative launched in Beirut in 2002, which linked normalizing Arab relations with Israel to the latter's withdrawal from Arab territories captured in the 1967 war and the creation of an independent Palestinian State. (UPI)

In a press conference held in Al-Bireh, PA Minister for Foreign Affairs Nasser Al-Kidwa urged the international community to intervene to end the Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people. He called on the Israeli Government to halt targeting civilians and to end the air strikes and the sonic booms in the airspace of Gaza. Mr. Al-Kidwa said that the Israeli attacks were in retaliation for an unintentional mistake of Hamas. He also confirmed that the Palestinian Authority was keen to let the atmosphere of calm prevail. (WAFA)

Outgoing OC Operations Directorate Maj.-Gen. Yisrael Ziv told Israel Radio that if Qassam rockets continued to be launched from Beit Hanoun, the area would be made into a demilitarized zone. Gen. Ziv said Israel would not permit shooting attacks against Sderot. He said the military operation that had begun four days ago had not been limited in time or intensity and would continue until the PA assumed proper responsibility over its territory. However, Gen. Ziv said that any firing into populated areas would only take place after Palestinians were warned to leave their homes. On the Salah al-Din ("Philadelphi") route, Mr. Ziv said, there was already a significant change and Egypt had thus far prevented three incidents of arms smuggling. (Ha’aretz, The Jerusalem Post)

A US official said PA President Abbas would visit Washington, D.C. to meet with President Bush and discuss ways to pursue the peace process after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. (Ha’aretz, Ynet)

At his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI issued special greetings to a group of Israelis and Palestinians attending a seminar on peace, saying, "I greet in particular those Israelis and Palestinians who have come to Rome to participate in the Education for Peace seminar". (The Jerusalem Post)

29

In Hebron, some 50 Israeli settlers entered the Palestinian-controlled area and began throwing rocks at residents. No one was injured. (Ha’aretz)

Israeli soldiers killed three Palestinians in arrest raids in the West Bank. In Birqin, west of Jenin, troops shot dead two armed Palestinians, the targets of the raid, who had appeared about to fire on the force, the army said. Palestinians identified the men as Islamic Jihad members Nidal Khalaf, 32 and Samer Al-Shalabi, 24. In Jenin, soldiers killed the head of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, Samar Sa’adi, 30, in a gun battle. The leader of the Brigades in the northern West Bank, Zakariya Al-Zubeidi, said his group was no longer committed to the ceasefire. (AFP, AP, DPA, Ha’aretz, IPC)

The Israeli army said Palestinians had fired an anti-tank missile at its force near the fence along the northern Gaza Strip, causing no injuries or damage. Also, the army had arrested 12 wanted Islamic Jihad and Hamas members in the West Bank: 3 in Nablus, 2 in Bethlehem, 5 in Jenin and 2 in Ramallah. (www.idf.il)

Palestinians had fired two rocket-propelled grenades at an Israeli army base north of the Gaza Strip, the army said. No one had been injured. (AP)

Palestinian police chief Ala Husni said security forces had begun enforcing a ban on public displays of weapons. PA Interior Ministry spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa said authorities had confiscated AK-47 assault rifles from three individuals and detained the owners of the weapons. A number of security officers had also been arrested for carrying guns while off duty, Mr. Abu Khoussa said. (AFP, AP, DPA)

Prime Minister Sharon ruled out another unilateral withdrawal from parts of the West Bank. “We have no intention to even think about another plan apart from the Road Map, contrary to the rumours which were put about yesterday,” Mr. Sharon told a business conference in Tel Aviv. One of his advisers, Eyal Arad, had suggested that Israel might make a unilateral decision to fix the borders of the West Bank and annex parts of the territory if the peace process continued to stall. (AFP)

The third phase of local elections was being held in West Bank municipalities. A total of 127,714 Palestinians are entitled to vote in 104 villages and small towns, to choose from a total of 2,469 candidates, including 596 women, according to the elections commission. (AFP)

PA President Abbas said in Gaza City, "The continuation of such [Israeli] escalation would lead us and the peace process to a grave predicament. We condemn such activities and strongly denounce them and call on the Israelis to stop such activities, especially as all Palestinian factions were committed to the ceasefire and to end armed displays." PA Chief Negotiator Saeb Erakat told reporters in Egypt, following the meeting between President Abbas and President Mubarak, “We believe that a third party, maybe President Bush or other parties in the Quartet, could play a role in this stage to stop the Israeli escalation.” (IPC)

Israel would soon open to the public an underground archaeological site near Al-Haram Al-Sharif, an official with Israel's Western Wall Heritage Foundation said. Adnan Husseini, director of the Waqf administering the holy site, told Reuters: “Excavations are dangerous for the mosques' structures. Such moves are also illegal.” (Reuters)

“It's important that the Palestinian leadership act to end violence in Gaza. And that means policing Gaza to prevent violence from occurring in the first place, and we are there to support them as they do so,” White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said. (AFP, Reuters)

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said with regard to the PA decision to ban the public display of weapons: “It's a positive first step. The Palestinian Authority understands what its further obligations are with respect to security forces and terrorist networks.” He added that “[US Security Coordinator in the Middle East] Lt. Gen. Ward has a new command coming up. And what we are doing right now is both internally in the US Government and with our partners in the international community working to identify another individual to fill that role.” (www.state.gov)

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said that Egypt and the PA would accept a European presence to secure the border crossings, seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip. (AP)

Arab League Secretary-General Amre Moussa was quoted by the Al-Asharq al-Awsat newspaper as saying, “Israel's policies do not deserve Arab courtesy… I don't understand why they are hailing Israel. Because of the withdrawal from Gaza? Doesn't everyone know that this is an incomplete withdrawal and that settlements are still being built and that the wall is being built?” (Reuters)

In a statement, Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) said at least 720 Palestinian children had been killed since the start of the intifada in 2000 and hundreds more left permanently disabled by injuries sustained at the hands of the Israeli military. Also, over 3,000 children had been arrested by Israeli forces and some 300 remained incarcerated, the majority of them in prisons in Israel. (www.dci-pal.org)

30

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said two of its fighters had died in an IDF raid on the Balata refugee camp near Nablus. IDF troops had later shot dead a 13-year-old stone-thrower in nearby Askar refugee camp, witnesses said. Eleven Palestinians had been arrested. (Reuters, WAFA)

The Israeli army said Palestinians had opened fire at an Israeli vehicle travelling near the village of Abud, north-west of Ramallah. There were no injuries, but the vehicle was damaged. (www.idf.il)

A Qassam rocket fell on kibbutz Alumim in Israel, east of the Gaza Strip. (Ynet)

Preliminary results in Palestinian local elections showed Fatah came out ahead. It took 61 of the 104 local councils in the West Bank, while Hamas won control of 28. The remaining 15 went to other factions. (EuroNews)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during a press appearance at Princeton University, “We’ve been very clear that Hamas is a terrorist group and it has to be disbanded, both for peace and security in the Middle East and for the proper functioning of the Palestinian Authority. After all, it is a Road Map obligation of the Palestinian Authority to disband militias and armed resistance groups. There are periods of time of transition in which one has to give some space to the participants, in this case the Palestinians, to begin to come to a new national compact. But I cannot imagine, in the final analysis, a new national compact that leaves an armed resistance group within the political space. You cannot simultaneously keep an option on politics and an option on violence.” (www.state.gov)

State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli and Public Affairs Officer Alberto Fernandez said they believed the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip was not the last one and would be followed by more pullouts. In an interview published in Al-Khaleej newspaper (UAE), Mr. Fernandez said, “The parties taking part in the peace process, including the Palestinians, Israelis and the international community are convinced this [more withdrawals] is the case,” he said. “We know it’s a long process but it’s ongoing.” “The withdrawal from Gaza was a positive step accompanied by other steps,” Mr. Fernandez said. “The problem is that there was a turn to violence in recent days, which could cause frustration in Israel. We want to see reconstruction and prosperity in Gaza, but unfortunately what we’re seeing is the firing of missiles followed by an escalation. We want to see a Palestinian State being constructed. We want to see a democratic Palestinian State,” he said. “What happened is a big problem for Israel, but it’s a bigger problem for the Palestinian people.” (Ynetnews.com)


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