Donald Trump and Mike Pence hung in effigy (Palinfo Twitter account, January 27, 2018).
Palestinian activists at the entrance to the Palestinian bureau of commerce in Bethlehem after the visit of the American delegation. They hold signs denouncing the United States and Israel.
Hospital in Beit Hanoun that closed its door for lack of fuel (Facebook page of the Beit Hanoun hospital, January 30, 2018)
Mass protest demonstration of UNRWA employees in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, January 30, 2018).
Hamas cartoon criticizing the cuts to UNRWA's budget (al-Risalah, January 29, 2018).
Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the African Union summit meeting (Egyptian Channel TEN, January 28 2018).
Hezbollah-organized demonstration protesting Trump's declaration. The demonstration was held near the Israeli-Lebanese border (Palinfo Twitter account, January 28, 2018).
- This past week in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip demonstrations and riots continued. In addition to protests against the Trump declarations regarding Jerusalem, Palestinians protested the American decision to cut funding for UNRWA. One rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, the first in four weeks.
- In Samaria there were two notable incidents: the detention of a uniformed Palestinian who tried to enter the community of Itamar and the discovery of a chain of 11 IEDs north of Tulkarm. The devices were discovered by a Palestinian police patrol. Composing and placing a chain of IEDs is an exceptional operation that demands teamwork and skill, which may indicate that one of the established terrorist organizations was behind the planting of the devices.
- In the Gaza Strip the hardships of the population increase: the hospital in Beit Hanoun stopped providing services because there was no diesel fuel for its generators. Two other hospitals may share the same fate in the upcoming days. The lack of diesel fuel also threatens the work of the local municipalities, especially pumping sewage and providing water for the residents. In addition, American financial support for UNRWA has been reduced. In the Gaza Strip protest rallies and demonstrations were held and 13,000 UNRWA employees went on strike.
Terrorist attacks and attempted terrorist attacks
- January 28, 2018 – the Israeli security forces detained Bassam Abd al-‘Aziz al-Hajj Muhammad, 42, from the village of Beit Furik (Nablus region). He attempted to enter the community of Itamar in Samaria while in uniform (not an IDF uniform). He was detained and taken for interrogation. A Palestinian with him at the time fled. Several Molotov cocktails ready for throwing were found. IDF forces entered Beit Furik to search for the Palestinian who escaped. Molotov cocktails and various objects were thrown at the soldiers. No casualties were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 28, 2018).
IDF surveillance point in Itamar that discovered and warned of the attempt to enter the community (IDF spokesperson, January 27, 2018).
- January 27, 2018 – A drive-by shooting was reported at an IDF guard post near Jba’a (northern Samaria). No casualties were reported. The shooters escaped (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 27, 2018).
Discovery of chain of IEDs by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces
- On January 26, 2018, a Palestinian police patrol found a number of suspicious objects hidden at the side of the road between A’llar and A’til, north of Tulkarm (Wafa and Palinfo, January 27, 2018). Demolitions experts arrived and found a total of 11 IEDs weighing between 20 and 30 kilograms (44 and 66 pounds) each, which apparently had been exposed by the recent heavy rains (Wafa, January 26, 2018; (Facebook page of the Palestinian police in the West Bank, January 27, 2018). So far it is unknown who placed the IEDs or what the target was. The road is used by Palestinian vehicles, although on occasion military vehicles use it as well.
- Adnan al-Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces, said the way the IEDs were found served the residents of the West Bank. He said thanks to the recent rains it had been possible to find the IEDs and prevent harm from coming to the Palestinian residents. He said that it was not known who had placed the IEDs, and that an investigation was being carried out (Facebook page of Adnan al-Damiri, January 26, 2018).
Right: The Palestinian security forces neutralize IEDs on the A’llar-A’til road (Shehab, January 27, 2018). Left: One of the IEDs (Facebook page of the Palestinian police force, January 27, 2018).
Detention of Palestinian who tried to detonate powerful a IED to attack IDF forces
- In June 2017 the Israeli police force detained a Palestinian from al-Khader (southwest of Bethlehem) who placed a powerful IED on the Husam detour road (in the Gush Etzion region). The IED was neutralized by IDF forces who called in police demolitions experts. The findings of the investigation led the police to the suspect, who confessed to having placed the IED to harm IDF soldiers. The Palestinian was indicted (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 28, 2018).
Riots, clashes and popular terrorism
- This past week demonstrations and riots continued in Judea, Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip to protest Trump’s declaration of American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In addition, Palestinians protested the pressure the United States is exerting on UNRWA and the decision to cut American funding for the agency. The demonstrations and protests were held mainly in the refugee camps, with the participation of children and adolescents who were students in UNRWA schools. In Nablus demonstrators closed in UNRWA offices in protest.
Right: Demonstration in the al-Am’ari refugee camp in Ramallah, with the participation of UNRWA school students (Facebook page of ‘Anata Mubasher, January 28, 2018). Left: Demonstration in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus (Facebook page of the popular committee for services in the Balata refugee camp, January 29, 2018).
- A demonstration was held in the al-‘Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem on January 27, 2018. During the demonstration a show trial was held for the American president and vice president on the charge of “policies biased towards Israel.” Demonstrators first hanged effigies of Trump and Pence then burned them (Ma’an and Palinfo, January 27, 2018). The event was attended, among other people, by Muhammad al-Masri, Fatah movement chairman in Bethlehem, and Muhammad al-Laham, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, who also posted pictures of the event to his Facebook page (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-Laham, January 27, 2018).
Right: Palestinian activists at the entrance to the Palestinian bureau of commerce in Bethlehem after the visit of the American delegation. They hold signs denouncing the United States and Israel. Left: Palestinian police disperse the demonstrators (Ma’an, January 29, 2018).
- In the meantime, Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. The Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity. Weapons were seized. The more prominent events were the following:
- January 28, 2018 – Palestinians threw stones at a vehicle near Tekoa (Gush Etzion region). No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 28, 2018).
- January 27, 2018 – Israeli security forces engaged in an activity in east Jerusalem were attacked with stones. One Border Policeman was injured (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 27, 2018).
- January 27, 2018 – Israeli security forces operating in Bethlehem and Hebron seized weapons, including an FN MAG machine gun (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 27, 2018).
- January 27, 2018 – Stones were thrown at vehicles on the road near the village of al-Mugheir (northwest of Beit El). No casualties or damage were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 27, 2018).
- January 26, 2018 – A military vehicle stalled near the al-Fuar refugee camp (Hebron region). Palestinians gathered and threw stones and Molotov cocktails. No casualties were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, January 26, 2018).
Significant terrorist attacks during the past year 
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- On January 30, 2018, a rocket hit was identified in the western Negev. The rocket exploded in open territory. No casualties or damage were reported. So far it is not known who fired the rocket.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel since January 2016
* The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
** Six of the rockets fired in February 2017 were launched from the Sinai Peninsula at Israeli territory, apparently by ISIS’s Sinai Province. In April a rocket was launched from the Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province. In October 2017 two rockets were fired from the northern Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province. They fell in an open area in the western Negev.
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Clashes along the Gaza Strip border
- On January 26, 2018, in clashes near the border security fence in the eastern Gaza Strip, nine Palestinians were wounded by IDF fire: three in the eastern part of Jabalia, three east of Gaza City and three in the eastern part of Khan Yunis (Ma’an and the Twitter account of the Hamas-controlled ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, January 26, 2018).
Supplies of electricity and water
- The management of the Rafah crossing announced that during the past week trucks carrying fuel for the power plant entered the Gaza Strip (quds.net, January 24, 2018). According to reports today electricity is provided in cycles of four hours with power and 12 to 16 hours without (Twitter account of Amana, January 27, 2018). Previously there were six hours with electrical power. The reduction is apparently the result of the stormy weather, which led to an increase in the demand for electricity.
- Mazen Ghanim, chairman of the Palestinian water authority, said efforts were being made to implement the program for future central desalination to solve the water crisis in the Gaza Strip. He said $600 million were necessary for the program. He said the water authority hoped to raise $200 million during the conference of donor states that will be held in Brussels in March (quds.net, January 27, 2018).
Difficulties in operating hospitals in the Gaza Strip
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Palestinian national consensus government’s disregard for the needs of the hospitals in the Gaza Strip was liable to cause a disaster (Hamas website, January 28, 2018). Doctors and employees of the Yusuf al-Najar hospital in Rafah protested the deterioration of medical conditions (Shehab, January 29, 2018).
Hospital in Beit Hanoun that closed its door for lack of fuel (Facebook page of the Beit Hanoun hospital, January 30, 2018)
- The heads of the local municipalities in the Gaza Strip also complained of the lack of diesel fuel. The head of the Deir al-Balah local municipality said the international institutions providing his municipality with diesel fuel said they would stop the supplies at the beginning of February. He said that stopping the provision of fuel included all the municipalities in the Gaza Strip, which threatened their work, especially everything concerning pumping sewage and water from the wells that supply the residents (Sawt al-Aqsa radio and Palinfo, January 29, 2018). During a demonstration held by municipality workers to protest their economic situation, the head of the Rafah municipality also warned that the services provided by the municipality would stop because of the lack of diesel fuel (Facebook page of the Rafah municipality, January 28, 2018)
Protests prompted by the economic situation
- In view of the deterioration of the economic situation in the Gaza Strip, Hamas launched a campaign on the social networks with the slogan, “Rescue Gaza.” The campaign is expected to include protest activities sponsored by various bodies. Throughout the Gaza Strip, and especially in the refugee camps, protest rallies and demonstrations have been held (Shehab, January 29, 2018).
- UNRWA in the Gaza Strip issued a statement regarding the reduction in funding and with a schedule for activities protesting the policies of the United States (quds.net, January 27, 2018). On January 29, 2018, UNRWA workers held strikes that closed all the UNRWA schools in the Gaza Strip. They also held a mass march that ended with a rally in front of UNESCO headquarters. Amir al-Meshal, chairman of the UNRWA employees in the Gaza Strip, said at the rally that they would not allow anyone to harm the rights of the employees (Palinfo, January 29, 2018). UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the agency needed $500 million to continue the aid it provided and that he hoped the Western countries would increase their donations (Palinfo Twitter account, January 26, 2018).
- In the Khan Yunis district Hamas organized a march in the town of Bani Suheila. Musheir al-Masri, a senor Hamas figure and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, gave a speech stressing that the PA had only the option of “resistance” [i.e., terrorism] to liberate the land and holy places. He said that the “resistance” was working day and night to plan the destruction of Israel. He called for the end of the recognition of Israel and to cancel all the agreements with it, especially the Oslo Accords. He called on the PA to stop the “crime of security coordination” because continuing it prevented the outbreak of the “Jerusalem intifada.” (Hamas movement website, January 26, 2018).
Right: Hamas rally in the Khan Yunis district. Left: Musheir al-Masri gives a speech (Hamas website, January 26, 2018).
Hamas rejects Israeli claims it is establishing a military presences in south Lebanon and the Golan Heights
- Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau and head of the bureau of international and political relations, responded to Israeli reports that Hamas, acting on direct orders from Iran, was constructing a force and base in the Golan Heights and a military infrastructure in Lebanon. He said the accusations that Hamas took orders from Iran and positioned rocket launchers in the Golan Heights and a military infrastructure in Lebanon were incitement, because Hamas’ presence in Lebanon was political and public among the Palestinians in the [refugee] camps.
- Musa Abu Marzouq also claimed that Hamas’ policy was resistance to the [so-called Israeli] occupation inside the territory of “Palestine” and that it was Israel that wanted to move the campaign beyond the borders of “Palestine.” He claimed the best proof was Israel’s attempts to kill senior Hamas figures and activists abroad, from Khaled Mashaal in Jordan, Izz al-Din al-Sheikh Khalil in Damascus, and Mahmoud al-Mabhuh in Dubai to Muhammad Hamdan in Lebanon. Abu Marzouq stressed it was the right of Hamas to respond at the proper time and place (al-Quds, January 27, 2018).
Hamas struggle against ISIS and Salafist organizations in the Gaza Strip
- In response to a video issued by ISIS’s Sinai Province on January 3, 2018, which attacked Hamas and documented its operatives fleeing the Gaza Strip to join the ranks of ISIS, Hamas’ internal security agency in the Gaza Strip issued a video entitled “ISIS, the new mission.”
- The video accuses ISIS’s Sinai Province of imposing a “siege” on the southern Gaza Strip and helping Israel. In the video there were confessions from two ISIS operatives who returned to the Gaza Strip from the Sinai Peninsula. The first recounted how ISIS divided the merchandise that entered the Gaza Strip through the tunnels into three categories: forbidden merchandise, such as cigarettes, general merchandise and merchandise for the military organizations, including Hamas. Initially ISIS allowed the passage of general merchandise, but destroyed merchandise it was forbidden to destroy and confiscated military merchandise. However, later on ISIS prevented any merchandise from entering the Gaza Strip. The other operative said he had worked for ISIS’s Islamic police force in the Egyptian Rafah region, and that part of his job was to prevent the passage of merchandise and weapons to the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the internal security forces in the Gaza Strip, January 25; al-Anadolu News, January 26; and al-Ayam, January 28, 2018).
Pictures from the video. Right: ISIS blocks the Gaza Strip from the south and Israel surrounds it from the other directions. Left: ISIS operative detained by Hamas talks about ISIS activity along the Egyptian-Gaza Strip border (Facebook page of the internal security forces in the Gaza Strip, January 25, 2018).
Recording of Salafists in the Gaza Strip calling for terrorist attacks
- The al-Raya media institution issued a recording made by a network calling itself “the army of the Salafist nation in Jerusalem” in which the speaker was “Sheikh Hazifa.” The recording was entitled “Message for our people in the [West] Bank and inside the [Israeli] occupation.” In it Sheikh Hazifa encouraged the residents of Judea and Samaria as well as Israeli Arabs to attack IDF forces and Israeli civilians. He advised them not to use stones but rather knives, daggers, hand guns and sniper rifles. He called on Palestinians to carry out attacks in the “occupied cities” of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem, in “their houses, workplaces and places of entertainment.”
Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the African Union summit meeting
- Mahmoud Abbas headed a delegation of senior PA figures to Addis Ababa to participate in the African Union summit meeting. In a speech given before the meeting he said that it was important for every African country to make the commitment not to send diplomatic delegations to Jerusalem and not to take any step regarding Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause that violated Security Council resolutions. He claimed Israel treated Jerusalem “cruelly” and was working to change its spiritual nature and place in history, and harming the holy sites of Christians and Muslims.
- Mahmoud Abbas also claimed that Trump’s decisions regarding Jerusalem had turned the United States into a country identifying with Israel. He said a new mechanism was required to promote peace that would include many participants and be sponsored by the UN. He called for the establishment of an international UN-sponsored committee, and also called for the African Union to send delegations to the committee once it had been established (al-Jazeera, January 28, 2018).
- Relations between the United States and the PA became more strained when Donald Trump stated in Davos that by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the United States had “taken Jerusalem off the table.” Trump added that the Palestinians’ refusal to meet with Vice President Mike Pence was disrespectful, and that American aid for the Palestinians would stop until they returned to the negotiating table.
- In response Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said that if the United States did not reverse its decision regarding Jerusalem it would not have a role in the peace negotiations. Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said the declaration had disqualified the United States from playing an active role in efforts to achieve peace, and removed it from the international consensus. He called the threats to stop foreign aid “blackmail” and said Trump could buy many things with his money but not the honor of the Palestinians.
Statements from senior PA figures about international activities
- Given the tense relations between the PA and the United States, the PA is increasing its efforts with the UN and Europe. Riyadh al-Maliki, foreign minister in the Palestinian national consensus government, declared 2018 the “year of international recognition of Palestine.” He claimed that at the end of February 2018 the UN Security Council would discuss accepting the “state of Palestine” as a full UN member, the issue of international protection for the Palestinian people and implementing UN resolutions regarding the settlements (Dunia al-Watan, January 29, 2018).
- The following are further statements made by senior PA and PLO figures:
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said in an interview that the PA intended to lodge a suit in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the The Hague against the Trump declaration recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He did not mention when that would happen but did say that the PA had a comprehensive plan to respond to the American president’s decision. He also said the PA would try to join international professional agencies and appeal to the UN Security Council for full membership [in the UN]. He said the Palestinians would not back down even if the United States vetoed the resolution.
- Saeb Erekat reiterated that the Palestinians did not view the United States as a negotiator in the peace process but did not want to replace the United States with the European Union because the EU was an American ally. Therefore, they wanted the UN, which adhered to international legitimacy. Erekat also called on all the Arab states to cut their diplomatic ties with the United States. He based his demand on Arab and Islamic decisions that committed them to cut off relations with any country that recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated its embassy (al-Anadolu News, January 29, 2018).
- Taysir Jaradat, deputy foreign minister in the national consensus government, said a number of European countries were seriously considering the possibility of recognizing the “state of Palestine.” He claimed such discussions were being held by Luxembourg, Ireland, Portugal and Belgium, and claimed Slovenia was about to decide in the very near future about recognition of Palestine. He said contacts were also being held with large countries, such as France, Germany, and Spain. He also said that recently the possibility had arisen that the EU would make a collective decision to recognize Palestine, and that every member could then vote at a time that was appropriate for it (Dunia al-Watan, January 24, 2018).
Results of Palestinian public opinion poll indicate decrease in faith in the peace process
- On January 25, 2018, Khalil Shqaqi’s Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research issued the results of semi-annual a Palestinian-Israeli public opinion poll focusing mainly on the political process. The poll was held during December 2017 and 1270 people participated from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The poll examined mainly the influence of Trump’s declaration of American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Compared with the poll held in June 2017, results indicated a decline in the Palestinian public’s faith in the peace process and a rise in the number of people who support an armed struggle.
- The results of the poll were the following (PSR website, January 25, 2018):
- Support for the two-state solution: 48% of the residents of Judea and Samaria support the two-state solution (similar to June 2017). in the Gaza Strip 44% support the two-state solution, compared with 61% in June 2017. among Fatah supporters, 67% support the two-state solution and among Hamas supporters, only 30%.
- Is the two-state solution practical: 60% of the Palestinians polled (62% in Judea and Samaria and 56% in the Gaza Strip) are of the opinion that the two-state solution is no longer practical (compared with 52% in the last poll). 37% think it is still practical. However, 75% of the Palestinians do not foresee the establishment of a Palestinian state in the next five years.
- Have the Israeli settlements made the two-state solution impractical?: 62% of respondents in Judea and Samaria and 65% in the Gaza Strip answered yes.
- Choice of the peace process as the preferable option: 26% responded yes, compared with 45% in the June 2017 poll.
- Choice of an armed struggle as an option: 38% responded yes, opposed to 21% in June 2017.
Hezbollah-organized demonstration protesting Trump’s declaration.
The demonstration was held near the Israeli-Lebanese border (Palinfo Twitter account, January 28, 2018).
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, shooting, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 The army of the Salafist nation in Jerusalem is a Salafi-jihadist network in the Gaza Strip headed by Isma'il Hamid, aka Abu Hafez al-Maqdisi. Al-Maqdisi was detained in the past a number of times by Hamas. Network operatives launched rockets into Israeli territory a number of times. They collaborated with jihad organizations in the Sinai Peninsula. ↑