1.1.96 Yasser Arafat visits Qalqilya and calls upon the residents to establish good relations with their Israeli neighbors. He adds that the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is committed to fulfilling the agreements which it signed with Israel.

3.1.96 Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Minister of Justice David Liba'i and legal advisor Michael Ben-Yair decide that Israel will not compensate Palestinians for damage inflicted upon them during the Intifada. If compensation is granted, it will only be for "humanitarian reasons." The Ministry of Finance estimates that the decision will prevent Palestinian demands to the tune of $700 million.

6.1.96 Hamas member Yahya Ayyash, called "the Engineer," who Israel claimed was responsible for the death of 67 and the wounding of 390 Israelis, is killed in an explosion in the Gaza Strip. An explosive device was placed in a cellular telephone delivered to him by a Palestinian collaborator (agent of the Israeli security services, the Shabak). It detonated at 8:00 a.m. as Ayyash was holding it in an apartment in Beit Lahya where he was hiding. The PNA starts an investigation. Fearing acts of revenge, Israel imposes a general closure on the territories. Arafat condemns the attack, and the Islamic Jihad threatens the Israelis with a painful reaction.
On 13.1.96 A demonstration and rally take place in Gaza in memory of Ayyash, and the head of the Israeli security services warns of attacks to revenge the murder. The PNA starts to search for disciples of Ayyash who were planning attacks against Israel.

9.1.96 812 Palestinian prisoners are released from prisons and detention camps in Israel; 400 belong to Hamas. On the following day, another 230 are released.

13.1.96 A suspect of collaboration with Israel is shot from a passing car near his village near Hebron. This is the first murder of a suspect of collaboration in the West Bank since the PLO took over the towns.

16.1.96 The car of an Israeli Defense Forces (IOF) officer and soldier travelling from Hebron to Jerusalem is fired upon from another car near Halhoul. Both die from their wounds.

20.1.96 80% of Palestinians vote in elections for the president of the PNA and its Legislative Council. There is a high turnout in Gaza and Jericho, a low one in Hebron and East Jerusalem, as a result of tough Israeli measures and pressure meant to intimidate residents of East Jerusalem (occupied in 1967) not to participate in the general elections.
Israel announces that it will permit all members of the Palestinian National Council (PNC) living abroad to enter areas controlled by the PNA so as to participate in the vote on the abrogation of the Palestinian Charter.
The IOF kills three Hamas activists at a roadblock near Jenin. Israelis and Palestinians accuse each other of responsibility for the killings.

21.1.96 The results of the Palestinian elections show that Arafat and Fatah won a major victory: 88% for Arafat as president, about 60% for the official Fatah candidates. Even so, some candidates allege that irregularities have taken place in certain districts.
On 31.1.96 the Palestinian Election Committee starts to examine complaints of irregularities in the elections. The votes are recounted.

30.1.96 A Hamas activist stabs an IDF soldier to death near Jenin, in the building of the Civil Authority. He is arrested and henceforth Palestinians asking for the services of the Authority will be examined by Arabic-speaking soldiers.

1.2.96 Prime Minister Shimon Peres declares that he sees in the amendment of the Palestinian Covenant "a test for honoring agreements" on the part of the PNA.

3.2.96 Palestinian police kills two Islamic Jihad activists in the Shati' refugee camp in Gaza.
Tens of central activists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) request to settle in the area under control of the PNA. Their leader, George Habash, does not intend to join them.

5.2.96 The PLO Executive convenes in EI-Arish, Egypt, in order to discuss changes in items in the Palestinian Charter and to fix a date for the PNC discussion on the changes.

6.2.96 A database of assets belonging to the Palestinians in the Western part of Jerusalem is being prepared by a research institute in East Jerusalem. On 18.2.96 it is announced that in the negotiations with Israel the Palestinians will demand to raise the issue of these assets.

7.2.96 An incident takes place between the IDF and the Palestinian police concerning the building of the airfield near Rafah.
According to the Israeli Civil Administration, 165 members of the PNC arrive in the PNA area and another 270 will do so. The list submitted to Israel includes deportees and opponents of the also accords.

10.2.96 The General Secretary of Amnesty International visits Israel and the PNA area and claims that both "are sacrificing human rights for the sake of the peace process."

11.2.96 Yasser Arafat is sworn in as first president of the PNA. Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrate against Israel's "security wall" opposite Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. On 17.2.96 it is decided in Israel to stop the building temporarily. Later, the wall is built, only lower than originally planned.

13.2.96 Senior officials in the PNA criticize the closure imposed on Gaza and the West Bank, claiming that it badly damages the Palestinian economy and constitutes a breach of the Oslo accords. The closure denies work to 59,000 workers with entry permits to Israel.
Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan sign a declaration of principles on the joint development of water sources. On the morrow it is agreed between Israel and the PNA to begin with practical steps to build three industrial parks on the Green Line (1967 border).

15.2.96 In six places on the West Bank, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrate against settlements, the expropriation of land and the building of bypass roads.
The IOF claims that since the also accords there has been a significant increase in illegal Palestinian construction, particularly in the Jerusalem area.

17.2.96 In Jenin, the PNA arrests a young man who intended to carry out a suicide attack against Israeli targets.
Hamas member Adel Yusuf A-Shahatit dies in Megiddo prison. The circumstances of death are not clear. There is suspicion that both he and another prisoner were tortured by other prisoners.

19.2.96 Israel permits Laila Khaled, who hijacked an El-Al aircraft in 1970, to enter the PNA area.

21.2.96 It is announced that Yossi Beilin and Abu Mazen formulated a document on the final status, agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Prime Minister Peres refuses to confirm the agreement, which was completed three days before the murder of Prime Minister Rabin [4.11.95].
The security authorities refuse the return of 11 Palestinian deportees, members of the PNC, fearing a precedent.

24.2.96 The PFLP announces a cessation of violence in the PNA area.

25.2.96 27 die in two suicide attacks in Israel; 80 people are injured. Two suicide bombers explode their charges on the No. 18 bus in Jerusalem and at the bus station in Ashkelon. A general closure is imposed on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Hamas accepts responsibility for both attacks, denies this on the following day, but on 29.2.96 accepts responsibility again. There is a wave of arrests of Hamas people in the Gaza Strip. On 28.2.96 the Israeli government decides on a prolonged closure of the territories and the PNA starts to arrest tens of Hamas people in the West Bank.

26.2.96 A woman is killed and 23 people injured by a car which crashed into a crowd in French Hill, Jerusalem. The Palestinian driver is shot by an Israeli. Hamas claims credit, but the Israeli security services say the driver acted alone and spontaneously.

1.3.96 The PNA calls upon all Palestinians to hand over illegal arms.

3.3.96 18 die in a suicide attack on a No. 18 bus in Jerusalem. The Palestinian police arrest hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists. Arafat declares that all the paramilitary organizations in Gaza and the West Bank are now illegal (Ezzeddin Al-Qassam, the Red Eagle, etc.).

4.3.96 13 die in a suicide attack in the heart of Tel Aviv. A terrorist who came from the Gaza Strip blows himself up among pedestrians on the road-crossing at Dizengoff Center.
On the next day, the IDF seals the Islamic College in Hebron and the homes of the families of 11 people who were responsible for, or involved in, former attacks. The same is done the following day to two colleges in the village of Abu Dis. In the Gaza Strip, the PNA takes control of mosques which were under Hamas domination. Two days after the attack, an Israeli Palestinian, Sa'id Sulimani, from the village of Manshiyyah E-Zabda, is arrested on suspicion of having smuggled the attacker in his truck from the Gaza Strip to Tel Aviv.

7.3.96 The Palestinian Legislative Council convenes for the first time in Gaza and its members are sworn in. It then elected a chairperson and deputies.

9.3.96 IDF preparations for redeployment in Hebron are frozen by government decision.

11.3.96 A 3-month-old Palestinian baby suffering from asthma dies when IDF soldiers at the Qalqilya roadblock refuse to allow the father to take the child to hospital in Tulkarem. The IDF lifts the internal closure within the West Bank in order to allow the residents to make purchases of necessities.

12.3.96 Newborn Palestinian twins die in hospital after their mother was held at a Bethlehem checkpoint and had to give birth there.
The IDF permits the entry of food and medicines into the closure-hit Gaza Strip through Egypt.

14.3.96 The IDF blows up the house of the family of Yahya Ayyash in the village of Rafat near Tulkarem.

16.3.96 Thousands of Palestinians demonstrate against the closure and for the peace process in three places in the Gaza Strip.

21.3.96 Shooting takes place between Palestinian police and Hamas activists in the Gaza Strip, when the latter refuse to let the police enter their house.

23.3.96 The IDF continues to blow up the houses of Hamas people responsible for attacks in Israel.
The Palestinian Legislative Council adopts at its first meeting internal regulations for the continuation of its work.

26.3.96 Arafat cuts the wages of PNA employees by 5 percent "in order to provide relief work for workers in the Gaza Strip unemployed because of the closure."

28.3.96 376 Palestinians are arrested in the vicinity of Ramallah. All are students from Gaza studying at Bir Zeit University. Israel deports most of them to Gaza, arrests some, and all are barred from continuing their studies at Bir Zeit University.
During this period, 31 Israeli civilians and 13 members of the security forces were killed by Palestinians.

Above figures from B'Tselem