Palestinians throw stones at Israeli security forces in Al-Ram (Wafa News Agency, February 25, 2012). This past week there was a rise in the number of violent demonstrations held in Judea and Samaria, including on the Temple Mount.
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip attacking Israel's south continues. This past week 12 rocket hits were identified. The IDF responded by attacking a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.
There were riots and violent confrontations in Judea and Samaria, including on the Temple Mount, during which one Palestinian youth was killed and Israeli police and Palestinian rioters were injured. In addition, Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles in Judea and Samaria.
Preparations continue for the March 30 Global March to Jerusalem. They include a propaganda and incitement campaign against Israel focusing on the topic of Jerusalem. Hamas is participating with the theme "Jerusalem is in danger."
Important Terrorism Events Israel's South
This past week the rise in the number of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev continued, and 12 rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. The rockets fell in open areas; there were no casualties and no damage was done. The Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for most of the rocket fire (Muqawama website, February 25, 2012). Among the rocket hits were the following:
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Israeli Air Force Attacks
In response to the rocket fire Israeli aircraft struck a number of terrorism targets in the Gaza Strip, as well as squads of Palestinian terrorists launching rockets:
On February 24 Israeli aircraft struck two terrorism targets in the northern Gaza Strip as well as a terrorist squad which was about to launch rockets into Israeli territory (IDF Spokesman, February 24, 2012).
On the night of February 26 Israeli aircraft struck a weapons manufacturing facility and a tunnel used for smuggling in the southern Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, February 26, 2012). The Palestinian media reported that two Palestinians in the Rafah region had sustained slight injuries (Wafa News Agency and the Paltoday website, February 26, 2012).
Judea and Samaria
A Weekend of Violent Demonstrations
The February 25-26 weekend was marked by riots and violent confrontations with the Palestinians, including on the Temple Mount and in East Jerusalem. One Palestinian youth was killed and Israeli police and Palestinian rioters were injured. On Friday, February 24, after the Friday prayer on the Temple Mount, young Palestinians burned tires and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers near the Mugrabi Gate. Some of them barricaded themselves on the Mount. The riots spread to other areas of Jerusalem, and stones were thrown at Israeli policemen. Eleven sustained minor injuries. Four rioters were detained.
A Palestinian youth from the village of Al-Ram was shot and killed by IDF fire near the Qalandia roadblock during one of the riots on February 25. According to the IDF's initial investigation, during a riot near the roadblock, the Palestinian, standing at close range, shot fireworks directly at a group of soldiers. The soldiers, perceiving that their lives were in danger, opened fire, killing the shooter (IDF Spokesman and Ynet, February 25, 2012). During the youth's funeral mourners confronted IDF forces and then rioted (Ma'an News Agency, February 25, 2012). Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, strongly denounced what he called "Israeli violence" and called on the international community to force Israel to stop its "use of violence" (Wafa News Agency, February 25, 2012).
Palestinians throwing stones at Israeli security forces in Al-Ram
(Wafa News Agency, February 25, 2012)
Other prominent events were the following (Ynet, date, 2012):
There was a riot in the vicinity of Al-Ram when 200 Palestinians gathered and threw Molotov cocktails, burned tires and threw stones at the Israeli security forces.
Near the village of Karmei Tzur, north of Hebron, Palestinians gathered and threw stones at Israeli security forces. IDF forces dispersed the rioters.
Rioting in Al-Ram (IDF Spokesman, February 25, 2012).
Click for the video
Stones and Molotov cocktails were also thrown at Israeli civilian and security force vehicles (IDF Spokesman, February 25, 2012):
Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus northeast of Ramallah. Two Israeli civilians sustained minor injuries.
Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an IDF vehicle southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
Hamas' Political Activity
In view of the escalation in violence in Syria and with the closing of Hamas headquarters in Damascus, Hamas spokesmen have begun publicly voicing criticism of the Syrian regime. Hamas spokesman Salah al-Bardawil said that Hamas opposed the bloodshed in Syria. He added, however, that Hamas had not frozen its relations with the Syrian regime (Al-Ghad, February 25, 2012). Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, in a speech given at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo on February 24, praised the Syrian people calling them heroes seeking democracy and reform (Agence France-Presse, February 24, 2012).
In addition, Hamas spokesman have also publicly admitted that the movement's leadership no longer has its seat in Damascus. Hamas spokesman Salah al-Bardawil said the Hamas leadership had left Damascus but so far had not decided on a permanent alternative seat. He said the leadership had left to facilitate carrying out its missions, but that the office in Syria was still open. Musa Abu Marzouk said that the Hamas leadership had left Syria because it could not continue functioning there (AP, February 27, 2012).
Ismail Haniya Visits Egypt
De facto Hamas head Ismail Haniya left the Gaza Strip for Egypt to discuss the Gazan electricity crisis. The Palestinian media reported that Haniya had reached a three-part agreement with the Egyptians (Alresalah.net website, February 24, 2012):
They decided to supply a quantity of fuel sufficient to run the Gaza Strip power plant by signing contracts with Egyptian fuel companies.
The Islamic Bank for Development would provide the funds for increasing the power plant's output and for repairing the plant's fourth generator.
Electric cables and gas lines would be laid to replace diesel fuel as a source of energy for the power plant.
While in Egypt, Ismail Haniya spoke at a rally held "for the sake of rescuing Al-Aqsa mosque" which took place at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo. He said that Hamas remained faithful to the option of "resistance" [i.e., violence and terrorism] as the way to "liberate" the Palestinian territories, and said that the Palestinian people "were on the brink of liberating Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque." He said that all attempts to restrict the "resistance" had ended in chaos and that the Palestinian people had proved its faith in "resistance." Demonstrations were also held in the Gaza Strip for the "sake of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque" whose theme was the familiar "Jerusalem is in danger" (Hamas' Palestine-info website, February 24, 2012).
Demonstrations in the Gaza Strip "for the sake of Jerusalem." The banner reads
"Jerusalem is in danger" (Hamas' Palestine-info website, February 26, 2012).
On February 23 Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, met in Cairo with a delegation of senior figures and members of Hamas' political bureau. Among the members of the delegation were Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, and Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy Hamas political bureau head. They discussed way of implementing the reconciliation agreement (Wafa News Agency, February 24, 2012).
Right: Ismail Haniya and Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo. Left: The Fatah-Hamas meeting in Cairo (Hamasinfo.net.website, February 23, 2012).
The Palestinian media reported that Hamas' political bureau held on a closed meeting to impose new conditions for the implementation of the agreement reached in Doha (to establish an interim Palestinian government headed by Mahmoud Abbas). Reportedly, the conditions included swearing in Mahmoud Abbas before the Palestinian Legislative Council, most of whose members belong to Hamas. Hamas would choose the deputy prime minister from among its members and hold three portfolios: the interior, justice and the treasury (Al-Ahram, February 23, 2012).
A Call to Abduct Israeli Soldiers
Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV now broadcasts a new weekly news program, presented by Palestinian terrorist Ahlam al-Tamimi (who participated in the suicide bombing attack at the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem and was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal). The first program featured an interview with Salah al-Arouri, a member of Hamas' political bureau, who said that the only way to release the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails was through the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] and the abductions of more Israeli soldiers. He called on all the Palestinian organizations to abduct Israelis as a way of releasing Palestinian prisoners (Al-Quds TV, February 17, 2012).
Events to Capture Hearts and Minds
The International Conference on Jerusalem
The International Conference on Jerusalem opened in Doha, Qatar, attended by an envoy of the UN secretary general. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who spoke at the opening session, called on the Arab-Muslim world to visit Jerusalem, support its Arab residents and foil Israel's policy of changing the face of the city. Mahmoud Abbas seconded the proposal of the emir of Qatar to raise the issue of Jerusalem at a meeting of the UN Security Council and to appoint a committee to investigate the Israeli government's policies in the city (Wafa News Agency, February 26, 2012).
The International Conference on Jerusalem, Doha, Qatar
(Hamas' Palestine-info website, February 26, 2012)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded strongly to Mahmoud Abbas' speech. He issued a statement calling it "a harshly inflammatory speech from someone who claims that he is bent on peace," saying that "[t]he time has come for the Palestinian leadership to stop denying the past and distorting reality. For thousands of years Jerusalem has been the eternal capital of the Jewish People. Jerusalem, under Israeli sovereignty, will continue to be open to believers of all faiths. There is freedom of worship for all and Israel will continue to carefully maintain the holy places of all religions. Abu Mazen knows full well that there is no foundation to his contemptible remarks, including his baseless and irresponsible claims regarding the Al Aqsa Mosque. The State of Israel expects that one who supposedly champions peace would prepare his people for peace and coexistence and not disseminate lies and incitement. This is not how one makes peace (ITIC emphasis)."2 Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, denounced the Israeli prime minister's announcement, calling it incitement against Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (Voice of Palestine Radio, February 27, 2012).
The Global March to Jerusalem
Preparations continue for the events planned for Land Day, March 30, centering on the so-called Global March to Jerusalem. The violent confrontations on the Temple Mount over the February 25 weekend served as an excuse for increased activity on the march's Facebook page and for the posting of anti-Israeli incitement and propaganda. Pictures of the events were posted and calls were made for participation in the march and to "defend" the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Anti-Israeli incitement and propaganda exploiting the sensitivity of the Jerusalem issue: a picture posted on the Global March to Jerusalem Facebook page. It offers fabricated news from Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV channel reporting the "destruction" of Al-Aqsa mosque. The picture was posted over the February 25 weekend under the headline "While you were sleeping!" (GMJ Facebook page, February 26, 2012).
Meetings have been held in various countries in preparation for the march:
On February 21 another preparatory meeting was held in Lebanon in the Hamas offices in a southern suburb of Beirut. In attendance was Hezbollah representative Sheikh Abd al-Majid Omar. Also present were representatives from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Council of Muslim Sages and other organizations. The participants spoke of the need to mark Land Day and organize a march to Jerusalem from the Israeli-Lebanese border. It was reported that the organizers plan to hold a mass march to the Israeli-Lebanese border similar to the one held on Nakba Day in May 2011 (Al-Sapir, February 23, 2012).
Ribhi Halloum, the general coordinator and chairman of the march's executive committee, said that a general meeting would be held in Amman, Jordan, on February 26, in preparation for the march to concentrate efforts and improve coordination.
On February 21 the Palestinian Information Center reported that a coordinating meeting was supposed to be held in London attended by international pro-Palestinian organizations where arrangements for the march would be discussed. Organization representatives were expected from Britain, Germany, Austria, Italy and Holland. Sarah Colborne, head of the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, reported that on Land Day, March 30, a large demonstration would also be held in front of the Israeli embassy in London (Palestinian Solidarity Campaign website, February 21, 2012).
Israeli Apartheid Week Events in South Africa
Israeli Apartheid Week in South Africa, part of the campaign to delegitimize Israeli, will be held between March 5 and 11 at 13 universities and in many cities throughout the country. According to the organizers, there are about 25 activists spread around the country who will organize and coordinate the Apartheid Week events.
Notice of Israeli Apartheid Week incorporating the BDS campaign,
posted on the campaign's Facebook page.
1 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of February 28, 2012.