JanuaryIsrael begins to issue internal-movement permits in the West Bank. According to the Civil Administration spokesperson, “The idea grew out of the need resulting from the complex security reality, which calls for the imposition of protracted encirclements. Following the difficulty created by the movement of the Palestinian residents . . . it was decided to ease passage by means of issuing permits to cross an encirclement.”
January 10The IDF demolishes sixty houses in the Rafah refugee camp, claiming that the houses are used to conceal tunnels through which weapons are smuggled from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. Two days later, the army demolishes forty more houses. These and other demolitions result in the creation of a 300-meter buffer zone between Rafah and IDF positions near the Egyptian border.
January 14Israel eliminates Raad Karmi, a Fatah activist from Tulkarm, who was allegedly responsible for shooting attacks on both sides of the Green Line. The killing effectively ends a few weeks of relative calm. Prior to carrying out the action, Israeli officials had disagreed among themselves whether it was better to eliminate Karmi or continue the relative calm.
January 20The IDF takes control, for the first time since its forces withdrew from the Palestinian cities, of a Palestinian city, Tulkarm, for a day.
FebruaryFollowing suicide attacks, Jerusalem’s mayor, Ehud Olmert, decides not to wait for implementation of the government’s separation plans and immediately begins to build a fence around Jerusalem at the municipality’s expense. Within three months, eight kilometers of relatively simple fences and obstructions are put up around the city.
FebruaryReserve-duty officers volunteer to serve at checkpoints to handle civil matters. The Seam Zone Volunteer Unit, established at the initiative of the kibbutz movement tasks department, will later be integrated into the IDF, and some four thousand volunteers will serve in the unit in the coming years.
March 27Terrorists attack at the Park Hotel, in Netanya, during the Passover Seder, killing thirty Israelis.
March 28Israel declares the Palestinian Authority an enemy and begins its invasion of the West Bank cities, labeled Operation Defensive Shield. The IDF places Arafat’s offices and official residency in the Muqata, the PA headquarters in Ramallah, under siege. Arafat will remain in the building for thirty-four days. The Israeli forces target, among other things, PA governmental offices, causing great damage to administrative facilities and destroying computers and databases. Thousands of Palestinians are detained in extremely crowded and poor conditions in the Ofer Detention Camp and in the reopened Ketziot Detention Camp (Ansar III). The operations result in the killing of 261 Palestinians.
April 2–13Fierce battles in the Jenin refugee camp as part of Operation Defensive Shield. Fifty-six Palestinians and twenty-three IDF soldiers are killed. The IDF employs armored bulldozers to widen camp alleys and to demolish houses where Palestinian fighters hide, burying beneath them those who refuse to surrender. The center of the camp is completely destroyed and leveled by the bulldozers. Palestinians claim that the IDF carried out a massacre in the camp.
April 14The Israeli cabinet decides to build a permanent barrier in the West Bank. A substantial part of the barrier will not run along the Green Line, but will protrude into the West Bank at distances varying from a few hundred meters to a few kilometers. Later, the barrier’s planned route in certain areas will be changed to run closer to the Green Line following decisions of the High Court of Justice that disallow a few sections of the barrier on the grounds that the injury to Palestinian civilians is disproportionate to the security benefit gained from construction of the barrier in those sections. For this reason, the planning and building of the “eastern fence”—which was to run west of the Jordan Valley, along the bottom parts of the mountain range running the entire length of the area—is halted.
JuneThe number of administrative detainees, which was 80 at the start of Operation Defensive Shield, climbs to 929.
JuneThe IDF carries out Operation Determined Path, in which more than a million Palestinians are placed under an almost continuous curfew for more than two months.
July 22Salah Shahadeh, head of the military wing of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, is eliminated by a one-ton bomb dropped by an F-16 aircraft. Also killed in the attack are his wife, his daughter, an assistant, and eleven other civilians, including seven more children. The Israeli Air Force commander and later IDF chief of staff, Dan Halutz, in an interview with Haaretz, says that the only thing a pilot feels in a case like this is “a slight kick in the wing of the airplane.”
July 22The Knesset enacts Amendment No. 4 to the Civil Wrongs Ordinance, also known as the “first intifada law,” which seeks to reduce the state’s obligation to compensate Palestinians who are injured by security forces. The definition given to the term “combat action” grants the state broader exemption from liability, and significant procedural limitations are instituted regarding the filing of claims for damages caused in the Occupied Territories from IDF actions that are not combat actions. Among the procedural changes: The period of limitation of action in which the claim must be brought is reduced, and the provisions of the Civil Wrongs Ordinance that switch the burden of proof from the plaintiff to the defendant do not apply in cases that come within the amendment.
August 12Operation Hunt changes the targeted killing policy; whenever the opportunity arises, the IDF is now permitted to target any activist appearing on a list of persons to be eliminated. The elimination is no longer connected to the status of the activist in his organization. Also, there is no longer need for concrete information that the activist is on his way to carry out an attack, thus constituting a “ticking bomb.”
The General Security Service (GSS) Law is passed. For the first time, the powers of this powerful body, which had operated until then as a legal specter, are prescribed by statute.
According to the World Bank, between September 2000 and late 2002, the Palestinian economy experienced one of the deepest recessions in modern history. The decline in real per-capita GDP reached almost 40 percent, exceeding the scale of economic losses suffered by the Untied States in the Great Depression. Unemployment increased from 10 percent of the workforce to an average of 41 percent, and the number of poor persons rose from 20 percent to over 50 percent of the population.