The scene of the vehicular attack at the Gush Etzion Junction.
The knife used by the Palestinian terrorist in the attempted stabbing of an IDF officer (Palinfo Twitter account, November 17, 2017).
The Palestinian terrorist, Izz al-Din Ibrahim Abu Ramishan Karaja (Palinfo Twitter account, November 17, 2017).
The front windshield of the Israel bus stoned by Palestinian near Tekoa, east of Bethlehem (Palinfo Twitter account, November 20, 2017).
Yahya al-Sinwar (facing camera) and Majed Faraj meet in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, November 17, 2017).
Hamas criticism of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for the slow transfer of the control of the Gaza Strip to the PA government (Palinfo Twitter account, November 20, 2017).
"The security portfolio" as an anvil preventing progress from being made during the meeting between Saleh al-'Arouri and Majed Faraj in Cairo (alresalah.net, November 20, 2017).
- This past week events focused on the vehicular and stabbing attack at two junctions in Gush Etzion. Two Israeli civilians were injured, one seriously. The terrorist was shot and critically wounded. The Gaza Strip was quiet.
- On November 18, 2017, the Rafah crossing opened for three days. It was the first time since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip that Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces supervised the crossing. The crossing was opened after a series of agreements was reached at a meeting held in the Gaza Strip by Majed Faraj, head of PA general intelligence, and Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip.
- On November 21, 2017, another round of talks began in Cairo between Fatah, Hamas and the other Palestinian organizations (“the meeting of the factions”), as stipulated in the reconciliation agreement. Their objective is to discuss additional issues related to the 2011 Cairo Agreement. Moreover, the meeting is being held to win support for the reconciliation agreement from the other Palestinians organizations. However, it can be assumed that bilateral talks will also be held with Egyptian sponsorship. Without agreement on fundamental issues (disarming Hamas and making the security forces in the Gaza Strip subordinate to the PA) it can be assumed that the talks will deal primarily with the transfer of administrative authority to the PA, which is still proceeding slowly and with many stumbling blocks.
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Terrorist Attacks
Vehicular and stabbings attack in Gush Etzion (November 17, 2017)
- On the morning of November 17, 2017, a Palestinian terrorist rammed his car into an Israeli civilian standing at the southern junction of the community of Efrat, injuring him. The terrorist drove from there to the Gush Etzion Junction, where he rammed into another Israeli civilian, seriously injuring him. The Palestinian then got out of the car holding a knife and tried to stab an IDF officer securing the site. The terrorist was shot and critically wounded (Ynet, November 17, 2017).
- The Palestinian media reported that the Palestinian terrorist was Izz al-Din Ibrahim Abu Ramishan Karaja, 17, from Halhul (north of Hebron) (Palinfo Twitter account, November 17, 2017). The terrorist’s father said his son was studying mechanical engineering in Bethlehem, and that during the vacation he had worked in the family bakery (YouTube, November 18, 2017).
- The Palestinian news agency Wafa (the organ of the office of the PA chairman) and Fatah’s Facebook page provided only informative reports of the event (Wafa and Fatah’s Facebook page, November 17, 2017).
Right: The scene of the vehicular attack at the Gush Etzion Junction. Left: The knife used by the Palestinian terrorist in the attempted stabbing of an IDF officer (Palinfo Twitter account, November 17, 2017).
Riots, clashes and popular terrorism
- This past week Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. The more prominent occurrences were the following:
- November 20, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli bus near Tekoa, east of Bethlehem. There were no casualties, but the bus was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 20, 2017).
- November 19, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles near Deir Abu Mash’al (northwest of Ramallah). There were no casualties and no damage was reported. Palestinians also threw stones at Israeli vehicles in the Gush Etzion and Hebron areas. There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 19, 2017).
- November 17, 2017 – Israeli security forces operating near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron detained a 20-year-old Palestinian who aroused their suspicion. He was in possession of a knife and admitted he was planning to carry out a stabbing attack (Israel Police Force, November 17, 2017).
Significant Terrorist Attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem during the Past Two Years
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel since January 2016
*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 in Israel’s South
The head of Palestinian general intelligence visits the Gaza Strip
- On November 17, 2017, Majed Faraj, head of Palestinian general intelligence, arrived in the Gaza Strip for a short visit (a matter of hours). He met with the Hamas leadership, headed by Yahya al-Sinwar, chairman of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip. After the meeting Faraj returned to Ramallah. Yahya al-Sinwar then met with Isma’il Haniyeh, chairman of Hamas’ overall political bureau, and reported on the meeting with Faraj. He said they had discussed arrangements for the opening of the Rafah crossing and cooperation between the security forces in the Gaza Strip and employees of the PA’s crossings and borders administration for facilitating passage through the crossing (Ma’an and Safa, November 17, 2017).
- On November 18, 2017, Hamas claimed in a statement that on November 17 an important meeting had been held by the movement’s leadership and Majed Faraj. According to the statement both sides had emphasized that the “weapons of the resistance” were the right of the Palestinian people as long as an independent Palestinian state had not been established. When an independent state is established, according to the statement, the weapons will belong to the national Palestinian army. Both sides stressed that progress had to be made to reach a national Palestinian dialogue in Cairo sponsored by Egypt. The statement called for the implementing of the May 2011 Cairo Agreement, the continuation of transferring governmental authority to the PA government and turning control of the crossings over to the PA. Majed Faraj praised the activity of the security forces in the Gaza Strip, which, he said, had carried out their duties in the best possible way while directing the transfer of Rafah crossing to the PA and in preserving security and order (Hamas movement website, November 18, 2017).
The Rafah crossing opens for the first time under PA supervision
- On November 18, 2017, Egypt opened the Rafah crossing in both directions for the passage of Palestinians with humanitarian issues. The crossing was open for three days, during which 1,441 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip and 2,050 entered (Ma’an, November 21, 2017). The crossing was opened by the PA’s crossings and borders authority for the first time since Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip ten years ago. It was reported that Nazmi Muhanna, chairman of the crossings and border authority, arrived in the Gaza Strip on November 17, 2017 and met with a team of employees at the Rafah crossing in preparation for its opening (quds.net, November 17, 2017).
- Operating the crossing was made possible by a series of agreements between the PA and Hamas, reached at a meeting between Yahya al-Sinwar and Majed Faraj: Palestinians will leave the Gaza Strip according to lists prepared by Hamas’ ministry of the interior. They will present themselves at the sports arena in the Khan Yunis district where teams from the Hamas ministry of the interior will take their personal details and lead them to buses. Operatives of the (Hamas-controlled) security forces in the Gaza Strip will keep order on site and along the passage leading to the Rafah crossing. Operatives of the PA security forces will secure the Rafah crossing and keep order inside the terminal (quds.net, November 17; al-Hayat, November 19; the website of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, November 18, 2017).
- During the days the Rafah crossing was open, Hamas inserted news reports in all of its affiliated media about the PA’s lack of order in operating the crossing. According to the reports, residents blocked the vehicles of the PA employees, claiming they were allowing people connected to them to enter at the expense of people who were ill and of other humanitarian cases (Palinfo Twitter account, November 10, 2017).
Right: Operatives of Hamas’ security forces take the names of Palestinians about to pass through the Rafah crossing. Left: Operatives of the PA’s security forces stationed at the Rafah crossing for the first time in ten years (website of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, November 18, 2017).
Palestinian terrorist organizations meet in Cairo (“the meeting of the factions”)
- On November 21, 2017, a three-day meeting (“the meeting of the factions”) began in Cairo with the participation of 11 Palestinian organizations, headed by Fatah and Hamas. The meeting is being held at the headquarters of Egyptian General Intelligence, according to the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement signed on October 12, 2017. Under discussion are the Cairo Agreement of 2011 and topics such as the PLO, general elections, the issue of security and the Palestinian national consensus government. Hamas spokesman Salah al-Bardawil, participating in the meeting, criticized Fatah for wanting to discuss the transfer of control of the Gaza Strip and not the other topics (alresalah.net, November 21, 2017).
- On November 20, 2017, a Hamas delegation left the Gaza Strip for Cairo. Among the members of the delegation were Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, his deputy Khalil al-Haya, and Salah al-Bardawil, a member of the political bureau. At the same time a Fatah delegation left for Cairo though the Allenby crossing. The delegation was headed by Azzam al-Ahmed, and among its members were Hussein al-Sheikh, Rawhi Fattouh and Majed Faraj (al-Anadolu News, November 20, 2017). Delegations of nine other organizations operating in the Gaza Strip also left for Cairo. Yahya al-Sinwar, chairman of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, called on Palestinians to demonstrate on November 21, 2017, during the “meeting of the factions,” to exert pressure on the participants (Safa, November 16, 2017).
- At a press briefing on November 19, 2017, Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said the first stage in the reconciliation agreement had ended successfully. The Hamdallah government, he said, had received full authority for the Gaza Strip on the ground, in the ministries and over the crossings. He expressed Hamas’ satisfaction with the functioning of the government in the Gaza Strip. He added that the Hamas movement was closely monitoring the activities of the ministers and ministries, and saw that matters were being handled professionally and with ease. He emphasized that the PA government was now fully responsible for the Gaza Strip, as it was fully responsible for the situation in the West Bank. He added that the government had to lift the sanctions it had imposed on the Gaza Strip and allow the Palestinians to live with respect (Hamas movement website, al-Anadolu News and alresala.net, November 10, 2017).
- Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, interviewed by the Voice of Palestine radio station on November 19, 2017, said the objective of “meeting of the factions” was to evaluate the steps already taken as part of the reconciliation agreement, particularly everything concerning the transfer of governmental authority in the Gaza Strip. That was so that the factions would be active participants in the process and not merely observers. He said that the transfer of governmental authority was a fundamental measure necessary for the completion of the reconciliation. He added that the transfer of authority in the ministries was proceeding slowly. He also said security was linked to securing the ministries, the movement and the crossings, for which the ministry of the interior was responsible. Al-Ahmed said that anyone who demanded the implementation of the reconciliation agreement as a whole was trying to sabotage the process (Ma’an, November 19, 2017).
Right: “The security portfolio” as an anvil preventing progress from being made during the meeting between Saleh al-‘Arouri and Majed Faraj in Cairo (alresalah.net, November 20, 2017). Left: Hamas criticism of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for the slow transfer of the control of the Gaza Strip to the PA government (Palinfo Twitter account, November 20, 2017).
Disarming Hamas and the other terrorist organizations
- Ahmed Bahar, chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, paid a visit, with other PLC members, to the home of Ahmed al-Jaabari to mark the fifth anniversary of his death. While there he said that “anyone who tries to disarm the resistance will be playing with fire.” He stressed that they were “legitimate weapons which defend the Palestinians from the aggressive actions of Israel” (palsawa, November 14, 2017).
- At a political meeting held by Hamas in the al-Bureij refugee camp, Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said that Hamas’ program was the “resistance” [i.e. the path of terrorism] as long as the occupation existed, and that the “weapons of the resistance” could not be negotiated. He called on the Palestinians to revive the “resistance” in the West Bank (website of the Sawt al-Aqsa radio station and the Facebook page of Wosta News, November 16, 2017).
The American administration’s intention to close the Palestinian’s office in Washington
- According to the American media, on November 17, 2017, the American Department of State sent a message to the PLO office in Washington threatening to close the office because the Palestinians were violating American law by promoting activity against Israel in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. According to reports, in September 2017, speaking before the UN General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas said the PA was planning to bring suit against Israel in the ICC. American law enables the American president to decide, within 90 days, whether or not to close the PLO office in Washington. That will depend on whether the Palestinians enter into serious negotiations with Israel (NBC News, Time, November 18, 2017).
- The PLO has had an office in Washington since 1994. In 2011 the Obama administration allowed the Palestinians to fly the Palestinian flag following the upgrading of the PA’s status in the UN. In March 2017 Husam Zomlot, who had been Mahmoud Abbas’ strategic advisor, was appointed head of the PLO delegation in Washington.
- Some of the Palestinian responses to the report of the State Department’s intention to close the PLO office were the following:
- Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said the PA was surprised by the administration’s attitude towards the PLO’s Washington office. That was especially true because Mahmoud Abbas’ last meeting with the president had been marked by a general understanding, intended to create an atmosphere to support renewal of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Nabil Abu Rudeina said the American threat was unprecedented and it would have repercussions on the peace process. In addition, he claimed, the United States was not worthy of mediating in the peace process (Wafa, November 18, 2017).
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee (currently recuperating in the United States from a lung transplant), said that if the United States closed the PLO office in Washington, the Palestinians would suspend all their connections with the American administration until the office was reopened (Wafa, November 18, 2017).
- Taysir Khaled, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, condemned the conditions imposed by the American administration. He claimed it was blatant and unprecedented American meddling in the PLO. He said the United States had gone from extortion to dictating to the Palestinians. For that reason, he said, he called on the Palestinian leadership to pursue its efforts to join various international organizations and to continue working against Israel in the ICC and the UN Security Council (Ma’an, November 20, 2017).
The district court in Jerusalem orders the PA and Marwan Barghouti to give financial compensation to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism
- According to reports in the Israeli media, on November 17, 2017, the district court in Jerusalem ordered Marwan Barghouti, the PA and six Palestinian terrorists to pay reparations of 62 million shekels (more than $17,635,000) to the relatives of three Israelis murdered on route 443 (the Modi’in-Jerusalem road) in 2001. The verdict was based on a decision made in September 2014, which made the terrorists who carried out the attack responsible for damages incurred by the relatives of the victims. The decision also accused the PA of solicitation and support of the attack and of responsibility for funding it and providing weapons with the mediation of Marwan Barghouti (who also received a report of the attack). The court determined that of the 62 million shekels, the PA would pay 40% (24.8 million shekels, or about $7,054,000) and those who carried out the attack would pay 60% (37.2 million shekels, or about $10,581,000) (Israel Hayom, Ynet and Haaretz, November 19, 2017).
- The shooting attack was carried out on route 443 on August 25, 2001, at the beginning of the second intifada. At around 23:00 at night five members of the same family were driving home from Jerusalem. When they reached the area of the village of Ur al-Tahta, the vehicle of a terrorist squad drove up next to them and opened fire directly at the passengers. The family car continued for a few hundred meters until it hit a safety railing. The three adults in the car were shot to death but two baby girls were wounded and survived. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military-terrorist wing, claimed responsibility for the attack (Wallah! and Ynet, August 26, 2001; Channel 7 Radio, November 19, 2017).
- The Israeli court verdict was widely covered by the website of the Bethlehem-based Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, one of the most popular Palestinian media sides. Two Palestinian responses to the verdict with the following:
- Issa Qaraqe, chairman of the prisoners and former prisoners’ authority, said the Palestinians would not pay [money to] “the occupiers and murderers of our people” and that the resistance of the Palestinians to the occupation was legitimate and in accordance with international law. He warned against the policy of the Israeli courts, which in recent years had obliged Palestinian prisoners to pay huge sums in reparations. He claimed that imposing Israeli criminal law on residents of the [PA] territories was against the Geneva Convention and a step towards annexing the West Bank to Israel (Facebook page of the prisoners and former prisoners’ authority, November 29, 2017)
- Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners’ club, said “The state of the occupation recruited all its institutions, including its judicial system, and turned them into servants of its security. It is a government of thieves and robbers. They issued the decision because they know that the salaries of the prisoners are paid by the Palestinian government. The courts of the occupation are invalid, and anything based on something invalid is itself invalid. That does not relieve the [Israeli] occupation of its responsibility for highway robbery.” Qadoura Fares called on the PA to appeal to the ICC and lodge an immediate suit for the theft of Palestinian money. He claimed Israel owed the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars it had stolen. He added that anyone who fought against the “occupation” was using a right anchored in international law (website of al-Najah News, November 19, 2017).
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip. ↑
 The Cairo Agreement of 2011 was the previous reconciliation agreement, signed in Cairo in May 2011 by Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal. According to the agreement, among other things, a government of experts would be established and presidential elections would be held within a year, as well as elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council. ↑
 Speaking before the General Assembly, Mahmoud Abbas said the PA had asked the ICC to open an investigation against senior Israeli figures regarding the settlements and harm done to the Palestinian people. ↑