Palestinian Authority fire truck on its way to Mt. Carmel to help fight the forest fire (Photo: Amir Cohen for Reuters, December 5, 2010). Hamas spokesmen, on the other hand, expressed satisfaction with the blaze, representing it as an instrument in the hand of Allah against Israel.
The situation in the western Negev heats up: this past week two rockets and a mortar shell fell in Israeli territory. Two Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives planting an IED near the Gaza Strip security fence were killed by IDF forces. An IDF force was shot at near the Karni crossing, used for the passage of goods into the Gaza Strip. Following the attack the crossing was closed.
Brazil and Argentina announced that they recognized "a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders whose capital is Jerusalem." Other Latin American countries are expected to take similar steps in the near future. Israel's responded that such declarations violate the Oslo Accords and do nothing to further the peace process.
On the eve of the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority separately denounced it. Hamas said that the land of Palestinian was one unified entity from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, and that it was "the private property of the Palestinian people." The PA's information ministry said that because of the Plan the Palestinians had lost their lands and legacy, and called on the international community to put an end to the "occupation" and to realize the "dream of a state and the return."
Important Terrorism Events
Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
This past week two rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. On December 6 a rocket fell in an open area in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the rocket fire.
One mortar shell hit was identified in Israeli territory. The military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility (Jerusalem Battalions website, December 3, 2010).
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution *
* Rocket hits identified in Israeli territory. A similar number misfire and customarily land inside the Gaza Strip. **As of December 7, 2010.
IDF Forces Attacked
On December 6 an IDF force operating near the Karni crossing (northern Gaza Strip) was shot at. Minor damage was done of an armored vehicle. Following the attack the crossing was closed (Websites of the IDF spokesman and the Israeli government coordinator for the territories, December 6, 2010).
Two Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives planting an IED near the Gaza Strip security fence were killed by IDF forces. The terrorists' possessions included light arms, uniforms and an IED (Websites of the IDF Spokesman and the Jerusalem Battalions, December 2, 2010).
Judea and Samaria
This past week the Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and seizing weapons (IDF Spokesman's website, December 7, 2010).
There was a decrease in the number of stones thrown at Israeli vehicles in Judea and Samaria this week. On December 5 stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle northeast of Ramallah. An Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries (IDF Spokesman's website, December 5, 2010).
On December 3 "routine" demonstrations were held in the villages of Bila�in, Ni�lin and Nebi Salah (northwest of Ramallah). Palestinians, Israelis and foreign volunteers threw stones at IDF security forces (IDF Spokesman's website, December 3, 2010).
The Peace Process and its Opponents
Several Latin American Countries Recognize a Palestinian State with the 1967 Borders
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, sent an official letter to Ramallah recognizing a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders (Wafa News Agency, December 3, 2010). Argentina made a similar declaration, but stated that it did not conflict with Israel's right to exist "in peace and security." Uruguay also stated its intention to do the same.
It was apparently a joint decision of the Mercosur block, a South American trade alliance2. Other Latin American countries, such as Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay are expected to do so in the near future. It would seem that Japan and the European Union have also expressed support, but apparently not official recognition (Ma'an News Agency, December 5, 2010; Wafa News Agency and The Examiner, December 6 2010; arirang.co.kr and mercopress.com, December 7, 2010).
Behind the announcements is Mahmoud Abbas' political activity to promote international recognition of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders. For example, during his visit to Turkey on December 6 he asked President Erdogan to "convince many countries" to recognize such a state if the negotiations with Israel failed (Wafa News Agency, December 6, 2010).
In response, Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said that a disappointing and saddening step had been taken which would make no contribution whatsoever to the peace process. He called it a verbal gesture in violation of the Oslo Accords, according to which the final status arrangement can only be arrived at through negotiations (Ynet, December 6, 2010).
Senior Palestinian Authority Figures Laud the Non-Violent "Popular Resistance" against Israel
November 29 marked the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan. The Palestinians had the following to say:
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, restated his position that he "opposes recognizing Israel as a Jewish state." He also said he opposed the idea of establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders or the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority. He said that the Palestinians should continue their popular struggle against Israel, boycott products manufactured in the settlements and denounce Israel's acts in the international arena (Shuruq, November 30, 2010). On a different occasion he said the recent calls made by Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, to revive the "resistance" [i.e., terrorist attacks] in Judea and Samaria were "political schizophrenia." That was because, he said, Hamas itself adhered to a lull in the fighting and prevented rockets from being fired from the Gaza Strip (Palestinian Authority TV, December 3, 2010).
Nabil Shaath, member of Fatah's Central Committee, said during a visit to Austria that the Palestinians had "returned to an unarmed popular struggle," which was being undertaken alongside activity in the international arena. He said that there was no call being raised for a new violent intifada, because an unarmed uprising was "currently considered preferable." He noted that the Palestinians would not respond to pressure to renew the armed struggle. The Palestinian activity in the international arena was based, he said, on several factors, including the formation of ties with socialist parties agitating to boycott Israeli products and keep investors out of Israel. He also mentioned the Party of European Socialists (PES), whose conference he attended. He claimed that foreign activists make up 40% of the demonstrators at Bila�in, Ni�lin and Beit Jala (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, December 2, 2010).
Nabil Shaath at the PES conference in Berlin
�(PES website, November 6, 2010).
Statements from Senior Hamas Figures
Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, claimed that although according to the Hamas charter Israel was to be annihilated, the movement would accept the results of a Palestinian referendum regarding any peace agreement with Israel. That would be true on the conditions that it was held in the "territories" and among Palestinian communities living abroad, and that it included the establishment of a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders, realization of the so-called "right to return," and the release of the Palestinian prisoners held in Israel (Al-Bayan Center website, December 1, 2010). Following his statement, Salah Bardawil, head of Hamas' "information" department, clarified Ismail Haniya's remarks, claiming that Hamas would not recognize Israel "under any circumstances" (Hamas� Paltoday website, December 4, 2010.)
Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas faction member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that Hamas members "would not recognize Israel or cede any part of Palestine" and that he would not accept a referendum about fundamental principles. He said that a referendum could be held regarding "modus operandi" but not about "the holy places, faith, money, land or personal worth." He hinted that should a future agreement which ran counter Hamas' position be accepted, the movement would renounce it as it had renounced the Oslo Accords (Al-Dustour, December 6, 2010).
Ayman Taha, senior Hamas figure, again stated that Hamas' position was Palestinian withdrawal from the negotiations and agreement on a national program which "will unite all the Palestinians under the option of jihad and resistance [i.e., terrorism and violence]." He said Mahmoud Abbas was "confused and unstable" and called him "an agent of Israel" (Hamas� Palestine-info website, December 4, 2010).
Ahmed Bahar, Hamas figure and deputy chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, visited Algeria, where he participated in a conference about Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. Speaking at the conference he said that the only way to secure their release was "resistance" [i.e., terrorism]. He suggested abducting "more Israeli soldiers and not relying only on [Gilad] Shalit" (Al-Shuruk Al-Yawmi, December 2, 2010).
Hamas and Palestinian Authority Remarks on the Eve
of the Anniversary of the UN Partition Plan
Hamas' information bureau issued a statement to the press on the eve of the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan. It claimed that the Plan was unjust and caused great suffering to the Palestinians. It called the UN plan "oppressive and invalid" and called for a "return to a national liberation program of resistance [i.e., terrorism]" (Hamas� Palestine-info website, November 29, 2010).
Hamas' department of refugee affairs stated that "the land of Palestine is one unified entity from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, and the private property of the Palestinian people." According to the announcement, the Partition Plan was legally and politically null and void. It called for unity in the Palestinian struggle against "the Zionist-American project" and for "the full return of all the refugees to the entire Palestinian territory." It also denounced the American attempt "to create legal legitimacy" for the existence of Israel, which was a "racist, non-humanitarian entity, foreign to the region" (Al-Bayan Center website, November 29 2010).
The Palestinian Authority's information ministry also sent a press release claiming that the Partition Plan had created the "foundation for the wounds caused by the nakba [the Palestinian "catastrophe" of 1948]�which were still open" and the reason the Palestinians had lost "their land and historical legacy." The press release called for the UN General Assembly to translate its calls to "wipe out colonialism" into action and said it hoped the international community would act to put an end to the "occupation" and realize the "dream of a state and the return" (Wafa News Agency, November 29, 2010).
American Response to the Denial of the Bond between
the Jewish People and Jerusalem3
Philip Crowley, spokesman for the American state department, strongly denounced the Palestinian "research" [issued November 22 by the Palestinian Authority's information ministry] according to which Muslims held the original right of ownership of the Western (i.e., Wailing) Wall. He said that the United States "strongly condemn[s] these comments and fully reject them as factually incorrect, insensitive, and highly provocative." He said that the American administration had "repeatedly raised with the Palestinian Authority leadership the need to consistently combat all forms of delegitimization of Israel, including denying historic Jewish connections to the land."4 Apparently, in the wake of his remarks, the Palestinian Authority removed the results of the "research" from the website of the PA's information ministry (Huffingtonpost website, December 6, 2010).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
This past week between 154 and 306 carrying merchandise entered the Gaza Strip every day (Website of the Israeli government coordinator for the territories, December 6, 2010).
The Continuing Islamization of the Gaza Strip
The Hamas police used force to disperse a demonstration of young people who were protesting the closing of the Gaza City branch of the Sharek youth organization on December 2. Thirteen demonstrators were injured. The Palestinian media claimed that Gaza's attorney general, Muhammad A'bed, claimed that the branch had been closed following a number of "criminal incidents, some of them concerning shameful acts and others reviling the name of Allah." Apparently branches of the organization in other Gazan cities were also closed (Ma'an News Agency, December 1 and 5; Al-Hayat, December 2; Arabs48, December 1, 2010).
The organization, which is funded by the UN, organized social activities for young people in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria. Apparently the head of the Gaza City branch was interrogated by the Hamas authorities a number of times, especially for organizing coeducational activities. One of the summer camps attacked this past May was a joint Sharek-UNRWA project (Ma'an News Agency, December 5, 2010).
Palestinian and Hezbollah Reactions to the Forest Fire on Mt. Carmel
The giant forest fire on Mt. Carmel led to various reactions from the Palestinians and Hezbollah. While the Palestinian Authority expressed regret and even sent fire trucks and firefighters to help extinguish the blaze, the terrorist organizations represented it as a sign of the Israeli home front's "weakness" and Allah's support for the "resistance:"
Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority chairman, sent a letter to Israeli President Shimon Peres to express his regret. The Palestinian Authority sent four fire trucks and 21 firefighters to help (Wafa News Agency and Ynet, December 3, 2010; Jerusalem Post, December 5, 2010).
Mustafa al-Sawaf, a Hamas-affiliated columnist, claimed that "the fire clearly exposed Israel's internal helplessness" and that "the east winds which were sent to spread the fire were meant especially for that purpose." He claimed that it was proof that the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation was "a divine war" and that "the winds are one of Allah's columns which he brings into play as he sees fit" (Hamas� daily Felesteen, December 5, 2010).
Issam Shawar, also a columnist for Felesteen, claimed that "what happened on Mt. Carmel brought us contentment," not because "several jailers," whom he called "human garbage," were killed, but because it proved "unequivocally" that Israel was nothing but "a paper country" which could not hold out against the resistance [i.e., violence and terrorism] and there was no need of a balance of military forces or nuclear capabilities "to wipe it off the map" (Hamas� daily Felesteen, December 5, 2010).
Filastin Al-Yawm, a newspaper affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, called the fire "good news" and said it hoped it would "wipe out all of Israel." He also denounced the aid given to Israel by European and Arab countries and demanded that the Arab countries not give Israel aid because it was "treason" (Filastin Al-Yawm, December 3, 2010).
Al-Manar TV, Hezbollah's TV channel, broadcast news of the forest fire and stressed that it exposed Israel's "almost total lack of preparedness" to deal with "the consequences of an all-out war" and showed that Israel "does not have the capabilities to cope with emergency situations" (Al-Manar TV, December 3, 2010).
Al-Manar TV's Internet coverage shows an exhausted firefighter, flames and the remains of the burned-out bus. In the foreground, a Magen David in flames (Al-Manar TV, December 3, 2010).
Flotillas and Convoys Update
The Asian Convoy Starts Out but Meets with Delays
The Asian convoy set out from Delhi in India on December 1. It was delayed for a number of days by the Indian and Pakistani authorities on the border between the two countries, but on December 5 it crossed the border on its way to Lahore, Pakistan, and from will continue by plane by Iran (Convoy website, December 5, 2010).
The convoy, called the Asia to Gaza Solidarity Caravan, is comprised of various Indian organizations and activists. It is supposed to include 500 activists from 17 Asian countries, some of them Muslim countries. The convoy will leave India and pass through cities in Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. From there it will continue to Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. It apparently plans to sail from the port of Latakia to El Arish, and from there to enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing at the end of December (close to the anniversary of the start of Operation Cast Lead, December 28).
An anti-Israeli umbrella organization called the Asian People's Solidarity for Palestine (APSP) is prominent among the convoy's organizers. En route activists are expected to join from Pakistan and Iran. The convoy's objectives, as spelled out at a press conference in Karachi (Pakistan) on the eve of its departure (November 29, 2010), are to "liberate Palestine," "break the siege of the Gaza Strip," "destroy Israel's system of apartheid" and rally Asian countries around those goals (Fars News Agency, Iran, December 4, 2010).5
APSP logo shows the entire State of Israel covered by the Palestinian flag, a familiar
expression of establishing a Palestinian state on all the lands of "Palestine," erasing
Israel from the map (Convoy website, December 6, 2010).
The convoy starts out (PressTV, Iran, December 2, 2010).
Freedom Fleet 2: According to Arab media reports, the upgraded flotilla organized by the anti-Israeli coalition is expected to set sail in April 2011. It will consist of 34 ships (Al-Quds, December 2, 2010).
The Prisoners' Ship: Nabil Shaath, visiting Europe, again raised the possibility of sending a Palestinian ship to raise world consciousness to the issue of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. He claimed the ship would be called "candles of freedom" and would carry pictures of prisoners and visit various Middle Eastern cities (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, December 2, 2010).
1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
2 Mercosur has four full members, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Venezuela is waiting for authorization to join. Other states are "partners," including Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Mexico serves as an observer.
3 For further information see the date bulletin, News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (November 23-30, 2010).
4 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2010/11/152148.htm, November 30, 2010.
5 A Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center bulletin in English about the convoy will appear on our website in the near future. It already appears in Hebrew.