An Israeli police patrol car targeted in the terrorist attack in which a policeman was killed (Photo courtesy of Israeli Channel 10 V, June 14, 2010).
This past week�s terrorist events focused on the shooting attack of an Israeli patrol car on the road from Beersheba to Jerusalem. An Israeli policeman, one of passengers, was killed and three others were wounded. It was the first terrorist attack this year in which an Israeli was killed. The last deadly shooting attack was in northern Samaria in December 2009.
The results of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip spurred many countries and organizations to proclaim intentions to send ships of their own. Flotillas are apparently organizing in Lebanon and Iran, while additional initiatives in western Europe are being planned. The sailing dates are still uncertain.
Policeman Killed in Terrorist Attack near Hebron
On the morning of June 14 an Israeli police patrol car was shot at in the Mt. Hebron area on the road between Beersheba and Jerusalem. One passenger was killed and three were wounded (one was seriously wounded and two sustained minor wounds). The policeman killed was Sergeant Major Yehoshua Sofer, 39, a resident of Beersheba.
Sergeant Major Yehoshua Sofer (Photo courtesy of the Israel Police)
IDF forces carried out an extensive search to locate the shooters. It has not yet been determined whether the terrorists opened fire in a drive-by attack or from ambush (IDF Spokesman, June 14, 2010). It was the first terrorist attack this year in which an Israeli was killed. The last deadly shooting attack occurred in December 2009 on a road in northern Samaria and claimed the life of Rabbi Meir Chai.
So far the identity of the shooters and their organizational affiliation are unknown. Several networks, some of them fictitious, claimed responsibility (such as the Shaheed Yasser Arafat Brigades, the Strike Squads, Fatah�s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Al-A�asifa Hawks -- Palestine, and others).
Salam Fayyad, Palestinian prime minister, denounced the attack, saying that the Palestinian Authority would work to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. He also warned against being drawn into a cycle of violence which would harm the Palestinians� national interests. He noted the need to unite in the path of �peaceful popular resistance� (Wafa News Agency, June 14, 2010).
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the attack and called for more:
Hamas said in a statement that it congratulated the �heroic action� which killed one Israeli and wounded others. It confirmed yet again that �resistance� [i.e., terrorism and violence] was the Palestinian people�s choice and preferable to useless negotiations (Hamas� Palestine-info website, June 14, 2010).
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the attack, stressing the existence of the �resistance� (Ma�an News Agency, June 14, 2010).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
This past week one rocket hit was identified in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done. A number of rocket launchings were attempted but the rockets fell in the Gaza Strip.
During the week IDF patrols near the security fence were attacked with IEDs:
On June 14 an IED exploded near an IDF force carrying out routine security activities near a village in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no damage was done. (IDF Spokesman, June 14, 2010). The military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack (PIJ�s military wing website, June 14, 2010).
On June 9 an IED exploded near an IDF force on routine patrol near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties (IDF Spokesman, June 9, 2010).
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution *
|*As of June 15, 2010
Judea and Samaria
Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria this past week, arresting Palestinians suspected of terrorism and seizing weapons. The most prominent incidents were the following:
On June 14 an IDF force examined a suspicious bag placed by a Palestinian near the Hawara roadblock south of Nablus and found it contained five pipe bombs (IDF Spokesman, June 14, 2010).
On June 11 at attempt was made to attack Border Policemen by running them over with a car in the Wadi Joz neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Two policemen sustained minor injuries. The terrorist, who tried to flee the scene of the attack, was shot and critically wounded by a Border Police force� (IDF Spokesman, June 14, 2010). At its weekly meeting the Palestinian government accused Israel of �shooting with intent to wound.� It said it had its doubts about the Israeli version, according to which the terrorist attacked the police, and demanded an official investigation of the incident (Wafa News Agency, June 14, 2010).
The Flotilla to the Gaza Strip
Other Flotillas Planned2
The results of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip, the international media waves it made and especially the international pressure on Israel made many countries and organizations declare their intention to send more flotillas. In reality, it is possible that only some of them will be realized. Concretely speaking, there are two flotillas actually about to materialize, one from Iran and one from Lebanon. Their schedules are still unknown.
Flotilla from Lebanon
The ship Naji al-Ali is planning to set sail from Lebanon with correspondents from an organization calling itself �Reporters Without Borders.� Members of the Lebanese Parliament may also be on board (Al-Anbaa, Lebanon, June 14, 2010). An announcement appeared on the organization�s June 14 Facebook page from a member named Fadaa Itani, who said it was the last chance to register to participate in the flotilla and within 48 hours the organization would announce its next step.
The ship Miriam is expected to set sail from Lebanon, organized by a committee of women headed by Sama al-Hajj, the wife of the former head of Lebanese general security. At a press conference it was announced that the ship�s passengers would all be women, and that they would be bringing medicine and children�s food (Lebanese News Agency, June 13, 2010).
The funds to purchase the ships for the flotilla are being raised by Yasser Kashlaq, a Palestinian businessman who heads the �Movement for a Free Palestine.� It is unclear whether they have already been purchased. Kashlaq refused to say when the ships would set sail or whether they would sail together or individually (Al-Akhbar, June 14, 2010). Reporters Without Borders and the Movement for a Free Palestine put an ad in the newspapers asking for donations to pay for the flotilla�s expenses (Al-Akhbar, June 12, 2010).
Flotilla from Iran
Mohammed Ali Noorani, chairman of the Society for the Defense of Palestine held a press conference where he announced that an Iranian assistance flotilla called �Toward Gaza� would be dispatched. He said it would set sail in the coming days from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas (Fars News Agency, Iran, June 14, 2010). Before the flotilla set sail a convoy would be organized and pass through Iranian cities to collect donations. Noorani said that there was an organizational headquarters for flotillas which claimed that they would continue dispatching them �until the siege is broken� (ISNA News Agency, June 14, 2010).
Iran is organizing another flotilla, three or four of whose 230 passengers will be members of the Majlis (the Iranian Parliament). According to Mahmoud Ahmedi Bighash, Majlis representative for the residents of Shazand (north central Iran), one of the organizers of the flotilla, it is expected to set sail on June 23 or 24 (Mehr News Agency, Khabar TV, June 14, 2010). The Iranian Red Crescent is also organizing a flotilla (ISNA News Agency, June 14, 2010).
There are also other initiatives for flotillas currently in the early stages of preparation, such as the European campaign to lift the siege which is planning to send a flotilla called �Freedom Fleet 2.� Amin Abu Rashad, the campaign�s coordinator, said that the flotilla, which is planned for 4,000 passengers, will include members of the European Parliament and set sail in the middle of July (Al-Resalah.net, June 14, 2010). It is unclear how many ships the organizations have. Rami Abada, one of the organizers, said that they already had six ships (Wafa News Agency, June 10, 2010).
An activist for an organization called European Jews for a Just Peace3 said that they were planning to launch an aid ship for the Gaza Strip in the middle of July. She said there would be between eight and sixteen passengers aboard (Agence France-Presse, June 10, 2010).
Hamas Activity to Operate the Gaza Port under European Inspection
Hamas has exploited the flotilla and the contingent events for activity aimed at lifting the closure of the Gaza Strip. For example, Jamal al-Khudari, head of the Popular Committee to Break the Siege, held a press conference where he presented an initiative to operate the Gaza port under European inspection, which would include an agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Greece (according to the agreement ships bound for the Gaza Strip would load their cargoes at a Greek port). He said his initiative would obviate all Israeli intervention in the port�s activity and enable the European inspectors to examine the cargoes and be present during the voyages to the Gaza Strip. The initiative would also include the establishment of a designated company to run it and renovate the port. Al-Khudari added that the �intifada of the ships� would continue alongside his initiative (Ma�an News Agency, June 12, 2010).
The Palestinian Authority Calls for the �Siege� of the Gaza Strip to Be Lifted
Following the crisis of the flotilla, senior figures of the Palestinian Authority called for the so-called �siege� to be lifted and for PA involvement in overseeing the crossings:
Muhammad Dahlan, a member of Fatah�s Central Committee, revealed that talks were being held with Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian General Intelligence, to formulate a Palestinian-Egyptian plan to lift the siege of the Gaza Strip based on the crossings agreement of 2005. He said that Egypt and the Palestinian Authority were in contact with France and Spain concerning the issue (Al-Hayat, June 11, 2010).
Salam Fayyad, Palestinian Authority prime minister, called for the Israeli �siege� of the Gaza Strip to be lifted not only by ending the maritime closure, but by opening the crossings in accordance with the agreement of 2005 (the Rafah agreement) which also deals with operating the port, the airport and ensuring a safe passage to Judea and Samaria. He claimed that opening the Gaza Strip only to the sea would be politically dangerous because it was liable to turn the Gaza Strip into a country in and of itself which would enable Israel to rid itself of the pressure to lift the siege, perpetuate its relations with the Gaza Strip as a hostile entity and sever the geographic connection between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (Reuters, June 10; Al-Hayat, June 11).
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, responded to the remarks made by Muhammad Dahlan and claimed that the move the Palestinian Authority was leading with Egypt to open the crossings was �part of the attempt Fatah and the Arab groups supporting it are making to exploit the current international efforts to perpetuate the siege and return the PA to the Gaza Strip� (Al-Hayat, June 11, 2010).
1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
* �Rocket hits identified in Israeli territory. A similar number misfired and landed inside the Gaza Strip.
2 �Follow-up of the June 7 bulletin �Arab and Islamic countries and international organizations declare that there will be other aid flotillas to the Gaza Strip, some of which will depart in the near future,� at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e111.pdf.
3 �An organization founded in Holland in 2002 and active in ten European countries, among them Germany, France and Britain (Organization website).