A double suicide attack took place at the old central bus station in Tel Aviv Sunday 5 January killing 23 people and injuring more than 100. This was the first suicide attack since 22 November 2002 when a fishing boat exploded near an Israeli naval patrol ship in Gaza. According to B'Tselem and Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), in the six-week period between the suicide attacks some 83 Palestinians and 14 Israelis were killed in the oPt. The current uprising, which started 29 September 2000 has so far claimed 2006 Palestinian and 726 Israeli lives. Following the attacks the Israeli Government decided not to allow Palestinian officials to attend the London conference on Palestinian reform convened by the British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In a statement issued on 8 January, the EU presidency called upon the Israeli Government to re-consider its decision to block the movements of senior Palestinians. The UN Secretary-General expressed his regrets at Israel's decision as well and voiced his concerns at the sustained level of violence and growing number of casualties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Two teenage Palestinians, one of them in a wheelchair, where killed in Gaza 12 January when a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter at a taxi carrying three Palestinians missed its target. In 2002 a total of 191 Palestinian children were killed, a 95 % increase as compared with 2001. In total some 387 Palestinian children have been killed since 29 September 2000.
The Israeli Government banned the travel through the border crossings of Allenby Bridge (to Jordan), Rafah and Taba (to Egypt) and Erez (to Israel) of Palestinian ID holders under the age of 35. The restrictions on travel between cities in the West Bank were tightened as well. According to the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), only Palestinians working for international organisations are allowed to move within the oPt.
On 10 January the joint Israeli-Palestinian security liaison offices (or district coordination offices - DCO) in Tulkarm and Qalqilya were shut down. Joint Israeli-Palestinian patrols operated from liaison offices to deal with security issues. However, after the start of the current uprising the mixed patrols ceased to function.
The IDF and COGAT have announced the appointment of new Liaison Officers/Contact points for international organizations in the areas of Jenin, Tulkarm/Qalqilya/Salfit, Nablus, Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron.
Over the period 19 December 2002 to 16 January 2003 the IDF continued their incursions into communities in the Gaza Strip in search of suspected militants and alleged weapon producing workshops. Twenty-two people were killed, 56 injured and 19 arrested in these raids that also left 54 houses destroyed and 81 badly damaged. Some 78 dunums of agricultural land were levelled. In retaliation to two "home-made" Palestinian Kassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into the settlement area of Sderot, the IDF began the construction of a new 500 meter bypass road in the heart of Beit Hanoun (northernmost Gaza). The excavations have blocked roads, disrupted electricity and threatened the water and sewage systems.
The Middle East Quartet met in Washington DC on 20 December. In a statement issued after the meeting The Quartet called for an immediate ceasefire from Palestinian groups and individuals. The Quartet also called for increased efforts by the Government of Israel to ease the humanitarian situation in the oPt, and to avoid actions that undermine trust and create further hardship for Palestinian civilians.
On 30 December more than 100 International and Palestinian peace activists were attacked by the IDF with sound grenades and tear gas as they attempted to visit the "separation wall" construction site near the village of Jayyous in the West Bank. Many of the activists were in the oPt in connection to the the World Social Forum conference arranged by the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network PNGO-NET in Ramallah 27-28 December 2002.
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- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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