News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (March 29 – April 4, 2017)*

Participants in al-Futuwwa courses (paramilitary training given to youth in the Gaza Strip) simulate attacking an IDF base during graduation exercises held in the center of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior, April 2, 2017).

Participants in al-Futuwwa courses (paramilitary training given to youth in the Gaza Strip) simulate attacking an IDF base during graduation exercises held in the center of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior, April 2, 2017).

Participants in al-Futuwwa courses (paramilitary training given to youth in the Gaza Strip) simulate attacking an IDF base during graduation exercises held in the center of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior, April 2, 2017).

Participants in al-Futuwwa courses (paramilitary training given to youth in the Gaza Strip) simulate attacking an IDF base during graduation exercises held in the center of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior, April 2, 2017).

The screwdriver used by a Palestinian to threaten an IDF soldier near Qalqilya (Facebook page of Bethlehem al-Hadath, April 2, 2017)

The screwdriver used by a Palestinian to threaten an IDF soldier near Qalqilya (Facebook page of Bethlehem al-Hadath, April 2, 2017)

Siham Rateb Nimr, who carried out the stabbing attack  (al-Quds, March 29, 2017).

Siham Rateb Nimr, who carried out the stabbing attack (al-Quds, March 29, 2017).

Malik Bassem Ismail Sa'ada, from Halhul, in Israel illegally, who carried out a stabbing attack in Lod (Facebook page of Halhul, April 4, 2017).

Malik Bassem Ismail Sa'ada, from Halhul, in Israel illegally, who carried out a stabbing attack in Lod (Facebook page of Halhul, April 4, 2017).

One of the diving suits supposed to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip  (Crossings Authority, April 3, 2017).

One of the diving suits supposed to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip (Crossings Authority, April 3, 2017).

Al-Futuwwa participants demonstrate their military knowledge during graduation exercises held in the center of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, April 2, 2017).

Al-Futuwwa participants demonstrate their military knowledge during graduation exercises held in the center of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, April 2, 2017).

Mahmoud Abbas at the 28th Arab summit, held in Jordan (Wafa, March 29, 2017).

Mahmoud Abbas at the 28th Arab summit, held in Jordan (Wafa, March 29, 2017).

Israeli construction in the settlements (al-Quds, April 2, 2017).

Israeli construction in the settlements (al-Quds, April 2, 2017).

Land day events near the Erez crossing

Land day events near the Erez crossing

  • This past week popular terrorism attacks increased in Judea and Samaria, and apparently in central Israel as well. Two stabbing attacks were carried out near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem; there was a drive-by shooting attack near the community of Shavei Shomron in Samaria; and a Palestinian from Halhul staying in Israel illegally stabbed a woman in the city of Lod, apparently because of nationalist motives. Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, and rioted throughout Judea and Samaria. Most of the riots were held for Land Day, without exceptional event.
  • Hamas' new political platform, which was supposed to be made public in the near future, was leaked to the Lebanese media. Its contents (an unauthorized version) indicate that there is no significant change in Hamas' ideology and fundamental concepts, which it attempts to represent to the Palestinians, Arabs and international communityin a softer fashion.
  • Hamas refuses to recognize the State of Israel or give up "one inch" of land belonging to greater Palestine. It also refuses to waive the so-called "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees and supports an armed "resistance" as the strategic path to restore Palestine. However, Hamas does agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, on the condition that it is not accompanied by recognition of the "Zionist entity" or the waiving of the Palestinians' other "rights."
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Terrorists Attacks
  • April 3, 2017Palestinians fired shots, apparently in a drive-by shooting, at the entrance to the community of Shavei Shomron (northwest of Nablus). There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, April 3, 2017).
  • April 3, 2017 – A Palestinian went to an IDF post near Qalqilya and threatened a soldier with a screwdriver. The Palestinian was detained. There were no casualties (Judea and Samaria Rescue, April 3, 2017).
  • April 1, 2017Stabbing attack near the Nablus Gate in Old City of Jerusalem:
  • A Palestinian went to Hagai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem and stabbed two young, skullcap-wearing Jews with a knife, seriously wounding them. The Israeli security forces chased him to the entrance of a residential building. After a confrontation with the security forces, during which a Border Policeman was wounded, the terrorist was shot and killed.
  • The terrorist who carried out the attack was Ahmed Zaher Fathi Ghazal, 17 from Nablus, who worked in a dental laboratory. Before carrying out the attack he prayed in al-Aqsa mosque and had his picture taken. According to his father, he was religious and obeyed the precepts of Islam. His father claimed he had not been a member of any organization and was of the opinion that "the daily crimes of the [Israeli] occupation" were what caused his son to act as he had (Palinfo, April 1, 2017).
  • Hamas issued a death notice for him and praised him for the attack (Palinfo, April 1, 2017).

Left: Death notice issued by Hamas for Ahmed Zaher Fathi Ghazal (Twitter account of Palinfo, April 2, 2017). Right: Pictures from his visit to the Temple Mount, taken before the stabbing attack (Twitter account of Palinfo and Facebook page of Bethlehem al-Hadath, April 1, 2017).
Left: Death notice issued by Hamas for Ahmed Zaher Fathi Ghazal (Twitter account of Palinfo, April 2, 2017). Right: Pictures from his visit to the Temple Mount, taken before the stabbing attack (Twitter account of Palinfo and Facebook page of Bethlehem al-Hadath, April 1, 2017).

  • March 29, 2017Stabbing attack at the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem:
  • A Palestinian woman from east Jerusalem tried to stab a Border Policeman with a pair of scissors. She was killed by the Israeli security forces.
  • The woman was Siham Rateb Nimr, 49, from the Shuafat refugee camp. She was the mother of Mustafa Nimr, who was accidentally killed by Israeli security forces in Shuafat refugee camp on September 5, 2016. The stabbing was apparently a "revenge attack," a familiar kind of popular terrorism attack.
  • March 27, 2017A woman was stabbed in the parking lot of her home in Lod (central Israel). Several days later it became apparent that the stabbing had been carried out for nationalist motives. The Palestinian who carried out the attack Malik Bassem Ismail Sa'ada, 19, from Halhul (near Hebron), was detained by the Israeli security forces. During interrogation he revealed he was working in Lod illegally and had decided to carry out an attack because he was tired of living. He took a knife from the bakery where he worked and went looking for a Jewish woman to kill. He went to the parking lot of an apartment building where he saw a woman, approached her, took out the knife and stabbed her. He then ran away and was caught the following day when he tried to return to Judea and Samaria (Israel Security Agency, April 3, 2017).
Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
  • In the meantime, demonstrations, clashes and riots continued. Most of the riots were held for the 41st anniversary of Land Day (see below)[2]. The Israeli security forces detained Palestinians in Judea and Samaria suspected of terrorist activities and confiscated weapons. The more prominent occurrences were the following:
  • April 3, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones and shot fireworks at Israeli security forces in Issawiya (east Jerusalem), wounding a Border Policeman (Spokesman for the Jerusalem Police Department, April 3, 2017).
  • April 3, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle in the neighborhood of A-Tor in Jerusalem. A stone shattered the rear windshield and a woman was injured by broken glass (Spokesman for the Jerusalem Police Department, April 3, 2017).
  • April 2, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle near Tekoa in Gush Etzion. There were no casualties; the vehicle was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, April 2, 2017).
  • April 2, 2017 – The Israeli security forces detained a Palestinian from Jenin who had thrown an IED at the Jalameh crossing a few days previously. He was taken for interrogation. A search of his house revealed seven improvised IEDs (Facebook page of Red Alert, April 2, 2017).
  • April 1, 2017 – Three Palestinians were caught by the Israeli security forces with knives in their possession. One was caught at the western gate of Kiryat Arba and the other two near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Judea and Samaria Rescue, April 1, 2017)
  • March 31, 2017 – A Palestinian who threw a Molotov cocktail at Israeli security forces in the village of Nil'in was seriously wounded by IDF fire. The 14 year-old Palestinian was taken to a hospital in Israel for medical treatment. An IDF soldier was injured by thrown stone (Facebook page of Red Alert, March 31, 2017).
  • March 30, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli bus near Hizma in Samaria. There were no casualties; the bus was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, March 30, 2017).
  • March 30, 2017 – IDF forces detained four Palestinians who threw stones at them in Hebron. The four were taken for investigation (Facebook page of Red Alert, March 31, 2017).
  • March 29, 2017 – An improvised IED was discovered near the security fence of the village of Kokhav Ya'akov (southeast of Ramallah). There were no casualties. The IED was neutralized (Facebook page of Red Alert, March 29, 2017).

Significant Terrorist Attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem since September 2015

Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
  • This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.

Rocket Fire Attacking Israel

Smuggling of Diving Suits to the Gaza Strip Prevented
  • On April 3, 2017, the Israeli security forces and the Crossings Authority at the Kerem Shalom crossing prevented the smuggling of 30 professional diving suits into the Gaza Strip. It was suspected that the suits were being smuggled for terrorists in the Gaza Strip, possibly for Hamas' naval unit. They were concealed in a shipment of sports clothing imported from abroad to a supplier in the Palestinian Authority (PA), who sent them to the Gaza Strip. The shipment was confiscated (Crossings Authority, April 3, 2017).
Additional Reactions to the Death of Mazen Fuqahaa
  • Hamas continues blaming Israel for the death of Mazen Fuqahaa and publicly threatening reprisals. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas' military wing, said Israel's denials are an expression of the weight of its concerns and the pressure felt by Israel and its leaders (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, April 2, 2017). The Palestinian media published a video in response to the death of Mazen Fuqahaa, alleging it came from Hamas. The video contains threats against Israel and shows senior Israeli defense establishment figures in Hamas' crosshairs. The video ends with the subtitle, in Hebrew, "Retaliation will be [meted out] according to the deed."
  • In the meantime, the security forces in the Gaza Strip initiated a broad security operation to locate collaborators. Hamas also launched a campaign calling for the death penalty for collaboration with Israel. Senior Hamas figures claimed that in the coming days there would be an increase in security activities against collaborators and stiff punishments would be imposed (Shehab, April 1, 2017).
  • The following statements were made by senior Hamas figures who focused on Hamas' determination to locate collaborators with Israel and restore security:
  • Salah al-Bardawil said Israel killed Mazen Fuqahaa to challenge Hamas and drag it into a conflict [on the ground]. He refused to reveal details about the investigation but did say that the collaborators would be tried soon and severely punished (al-Jazeera, April 1, 2017).
  • Musheir al-Masri, speaking at a Land Day demonstration, said the Gaza Strip would not be a secure arena for the Israeli Mossad or for its agents, and that the "resistance" would "cut off the hand that killed Fuqahaa" (Ma'an, March 30, 2017).
  • At the graduation exercises of a course named for the shaheed Mazen Fuqahaa,[5] Tawfiq Abu Na'im, deputy minister of the interior in the Gaza Strip, said that an order had been given to all the security forces in the Gaza Strip to initiate security activities to preserve security, stability and quiet (Shehab, March 30, 2017).

Pictures from the Mazen Fuqahaa graduation exercises (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip and the website of the al-Quds newspaper, March 30, 2017).
Pictures from the Mazen Fuqahaa graduation exercises (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip and the website of the al-Quds newspaper, March 30, 2017).

Two cartoons by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha about Israel's threats to the Gaza Strip (Felesteen, March 31; and alresalah.net, March 30, 2017).
Two cartoons by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha about Israel's threats to the Gaza Strip (Felesteen, March 31; and alresalah.net, March 30, 2017).

Hamas' New Political Platform
  • In the near future Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, is expected to make public Hamas' new political platform at the last press conference he holds before he steps down. The document is supposed to be published in Arabic and English, and will contain messages for the Arab world and the international community (al-Quds, April 3, 2017).
  • Before its publication, the Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen leaked an unofficial version of the documentcontaining 11 articles and 42 paragraphs. While the leaked version cannot be considered authorized by Hamas, it apparently reflects the spirit of the movement's new political platform. Examination of the leaked version indicates that no significant change in Hamas' extremist ideology and fundamental conceptsbut it now attempts to represent them to the Palestinians, Arabs and international community in a softer fashion. Examples include:

 

  • Hamas defines itself as a "nationalist, Palestinian, Islamic, liberation and resistance movement," whose objective is to liberate all Palestine within its historical borders and to struggle against the "Zionist project." Islam guides Hamas, which it represents as the religion of peace and tolerance.
  • Hamas is not prepared to give up "one inch" of the territory of Palestine but agrees to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital and without recognition of the State of Israel [according to the document, "the Zionist entity called Israel"]. Hamas also refuses to waive the "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees to where they lived before 1948.
  • The platform includes a call to repeal the Balfour Declaration, the UN Partition Plan and the Oslo Accords, since they all harm "the rights of the Palestinian people."
  • According to the document, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solely due to the "Zionist project" which has to be excised from Palestine. However, there is, the document claims, no conflict between Hamas and the Jewish religion.
  • The "resistance" to the [Israeli] "occupation" by any and all means and methods [i.e., also through terrorism] is a legitimate right. At the heart of the "resistance to the occupation" lies the "armed resistance," which is the strategic path to restoring the rights of the Palestinians. The organizations waging the resistance have the right to wage it through escalation or calm and, according to their considerations, to vary the means and methods used without abandoning the principle of "resistance."
  • Senior Hamas figure Ahmed Yusuf implicitly authorized the authentic version, claiming that the official version had six or seven articles that did not appear in the 1988 Hamas charter, in light of regional changes and the fact that Hamas was now in power [in the Gaza Strip].[6] He added that he expected the document would be received favorably by various countries, especially in Europe (Ma'an, April 3, 2017).
  • However, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed that al-Mayadeen TV had gotten hold of the document in an "inappropriate and unprofessional" way. He said it was Hamas that would publish the official document when the date had been determined by the movement's leadership (Twitter account of Sami Abu Zuhri, April 3, 2017)
Military Training for Youth in the Gaza Strip
  • On April 2, 2017, graduation exercises for al-Futuwwa training[7] were held at the Saraya compound of Gaza City. The graduation was attended by senior Hamas figures, among them Ahmed Bahar and senior members of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior. The exercises included a display of the participants' military capabilities, such as disassembling and reassembling guns, engaging in hand-to-hand combat and simulating an attack on an IDF base (Facebook page of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, April 2, 2017).
  • Ahmed Bahar, deputy chairman of the Hamas faction of the Legislative Council, gave a speech in which he said he was proud of the graduation [he was viewing] and of al-Futuwwa training, which were the responsibility of the security forces. He claimed the al-Futuwwa program was the only way to educate Gazan youth with the principles of religion and nationalism. Brigadier General Nidhal al-Zenati, in charge of al-Futuwwa training in the Gaza Strip, said it was al-Futuwwa's fifth year. He said the program had been implemented for 40,000 students in 62 high schools throughout the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of Shehab, April 2, 2017).
Arab Summit Meeting in Jordan
  • On March 29, 2017, the opening session of the summit meeting of Arab foreign ministers was held in Jordan. Eighteen Arab leaders participated. Also present were senior figures of the international community, including UN Secretary General António Guterres, special American envoy Jason Greenblatt, and Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union. One of the central issues discussed was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • On the eve of the meeting, Mahmoud Abbas, interviewed by the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad, said that at the current time there was no new peace plan or initiative. He said the Palestinians adhered to the Arab peace initiative, without change. He said the Palestinians coordinated on the issue with Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. According to Mahmoud Abbas, they were prepared to reach a peace agreement and the final status agreement by ending the [so-called Israeli] occupation and implementing the two-state solution. He also claimed all Israel's measures regarding the settlements had led to the current situation, in which there was one state [Israel] with two regimes, that is, an apartheid regime [for the Palestinians] (al-Ghad, March 29, 2017).
  • The final communiqué of the summit stressed that its participants would continue working to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations according to a fixed schedule. The objectives would be to end the conflict based on the two-state solution, which would ensure the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as its capital. According to the statement, comprehensive, viable peace was the Arabs' strategic choice, expressed by the peace initiative adopted by all the Arab states at the Beirut summit in 2002. The initiative was a comprehensive program that could bring about a historic reconciliation based on Israel's withdrawal from all the occupied territories – Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese – and ensure that the issues pertinent to the permanent solution be dealt with, first and foremost the refugees and security (Jordanian News Agency, Petra, March 29, 2017).
Palestinian Reactions to Israel's Decision regarding Construction in the Settlements
  • According to the Israeli press, at a meeting of Israel's Political Security Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said that in consideration of the positions of the American president, and to ensure the progress of the peace process, Israel would take significant steps to curb construction in the settlements. Israel would continue construction on previously built-on land insofar as possible. In the meantime, a new community was authorized for the residents who had been evacuated from the community of Amona (Israeli media).
  • In response to the decision, Riyad Mansour, Palestinian representative to the UN, sent three letters, one to the UN security force, one to the president of the Security Council, and one to the president of the General Assembly. The letters expressed his protest to Israel's decision to construct a new settlement which was, he claimed, a violation of international law and UN resolutions, especially Resolution 2334. He also stated that the hope of achieving a genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinian "was rapidly fading" in light of Israel's "racist policies." Therefore, he claimed the UN and the Security Council had to exert pressure on Israel to make it respect international law and UN resolutions (Ma'an, April 1, 2017).
  • Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, issued a condemnation of Israel, claiming it was waging a campaign to expropriate Palestinian lands and obscure the connection between the Palestinian people and its lands. He claimed Israel implemented a policy of apartheid and ethnic cleansing which was manifested by its laws, the lands it stole and its policy of destroying houses (Wafa, March 30, 2017).
Land Day Events
  • On March 30, 2017, Palestinians marked the 41st Land Day[8] without exceptional event. Popular events were held in several locations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Trees were planted and marches and cultural events were held. Several hundred Palestinians participated. The Friday prayer in the mosques was devoted to Land Day. After the prayer Palestinian demonstrators clashed with Israeli security forces in a number of "traditional" locations including the villages of Qadoum, Bituniya and Bila'in. Similar events were held in the Gaza Strip. Several hundred Palestinians demonstrated near the Erez crossing.
Fatah Prisoners in Israeli Jails Plan Hunger Strike
  • Fatah prisoners in Israel jails led by Marwan Barghouti announced they would begin an unlimited hunger strike on Palestinian Prisoners' Day, April 17, 2017. They would strike for a series of demands intended to improve their conditions of imprisonment. In another statement they said that they would not obey prison rules which violated human rights and international agreements (official Fatah Facebook page, March 24; Ma'an, March 30, 2017).

[*]Because of the Passover vacation, News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict will not appear next week. We wish all our readers a happy Passover.
[2]Since 1976, every March 30 Palestinians mark Land Day, expressing their adherence to their land and their opposition to its expropriation by Israel.
[3]A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicle, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included.
[4]The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
[5]On March 30, 2017, graduation exercises were held for 227 male and 17 female officers who had successfully completed an officers' training course. The ceremony included wo other courses with 700 graduates. The event was held on the parade grounds of the Hamas-controlled ministry of the interior in Gaza City. The graduating class of officers was named for the shaheed Mazen Fuqahaa, who was represented as a member of the ministry of the interior with the rank of brigadier general (websites of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip and the al-Quds newspaper, March 30, 2017).
[6]See the February 3, 2006 bulletin, "The Hamas Charter" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/18894
[7]Paramilitary training undergone by youth in the Gaza Strip as part of their school studies.

[8]Since 1976, every March 30 Palestinians mark Land Day, expressing their adherence to their land and their opposition to its expropriation by Israel.