News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (September 13 – 18, 2017)

The Fatah delegation after one of its meetings with the Egyptians (Twitter account of QudsN, September 16, 2017).

The Fatah delegation after one of its meetings with the Egyptians (Twitter account of QudsN, September 16, 2017).

From the Palestinian media: an IED thrown by Palestinians at an Israel vehicle near al-Khader, west of Bethlehem (Palinfo Twitter account, September 12, 2017).

From the Palestinian media: an IED thrown by Palestinians at an Israel vehicle near al-Khader, west of Bethlehem (Palinfo Twitter account, September 12, 2017).

Muhammad Jamal Abu Dalal (Paldf forum, September 15,2017).

Muhammad Jamal Abu Dalal (Paldf forum, September 15,2017).

  • This past week no significant terrorist attacks were carried out in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. However, “routine” riots and demonstrations continued in Judea and Samaria and along the Israel-Gaza Strip border.
  • The focus of political events was Hamas’ announcement that it was prepared to dissolve the administrative committee it established in the Gaza Strip to replace the Palestinian Authority (PA). The announcement was the result of Egyptian mediation between delegations of Hamas and Fatah in Egypt (which did not meet with each other).
  • In ITIC assessment, the difficult economic situation in the Gaza Strip and the economic sanctions Mahmoud Abbas imposed on the Gaza Strip were behind the Hamas announcement. However, even if Hamas transfers its governance functions to the PA, it will continue security and military control over the Gaza Strip, and not allow the PA or Fatah to harm it in any way. In all probably, the conflicting interests and deep hostility between the sides will make the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation process very difficult.
Stabbing attack at the entrance to Kiryat Arba
  • On September 13, 2017, there was an attempted stabbing attack at the Elias Junction (at the entrance to Kiryat Arba). There were no casualties. A Palestinian went to a bus station where many girls were standing, arousing their suspicion. They called to an IDF soldier who was nearby. The Palestinian took out a knife and ran towards them. He was shot and critically wounded by soldiers stationed at the site. The Palestinian media reported he was Hitham Hassan Issa Jaradat, 15, from the village of Sa’ir, south of Hebron (Shehab, September 13, 2017).
Riots, clashes and popular terrorism
  • This past week riots continued in Judea and Samaria. 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 and objects used in riots were seized. The more prominent occurrences were the following:
    • September 17, 2017 – Following intelligence information, the Israeli security forces apprehended a Palestinian suspected of planning a terrorist attack near the town of Harish (in central Israel). The Palestinian was detained for interrogation (Facebook page of Red Alert, September 17, 2017).
    • September 17, 2017 – A Palestinian tried to throw an improvised hand grenade at the compound of the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem. He was seen and shot by the Israeli security forces. He was wounded and evacuated by other Palestinians (Judea and Samaria Rescue, September 15, 2017).
    • September 15, 2017 – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at the security fence around Kiryat Arba, causing a fire. There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, September 17, 2017).
    • September 14, 2017 –Israeli security forces operating in the village of Yatta (near Hebron) found 48,000 shekels (about $13,670) in the possession of an activist belonging to an unauthorized Hamas charity association. The money had been transferred by Hamas and was apparently meant for rebuilding the house of a terrorist operative who carried out a deadly attack in Otniel in January 2016.
    • September 14, 2017 – Acting on information, the Israeli security forces detained a Palestinian living in Issawiya, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem, who was planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Jerusalem (Facebook page of Red Alert, September 14, 2017).
    • September 14, 2017 – The Israel Police Force detained a Palestinian from east Jerusalem who was a senior operative in the Hamas-affiliated Shabab al-Aqsa organization, which is outlawed in Israel. He was involved in riots on the Temple Mount and used the social networks to state praise and express solidarity with the organization’s activity (Facebook page of Red Alert, September 14, 2017).
Significant Terrorist Attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem since September 2015[1]

Significant Terrorist Attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem since September 2015 

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

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.
** The rocket fired in April was launched from the Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province.

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel’s South[2]

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel's South

Violence along the Israel-Gaza Strip Border
  • On September 15, 2017, the Palestinians renewed riots along the border with Israel. According to a report from the spokesman of the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, in the eastern part of Jabalia three Palestinians were slightly injured by tear gas inhalation (Palinfo and the Twitter account of the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, September 15, 2017).
The electricity shortage in the Gaza Strip
  • Muhammad Thabet, director of public relations and information for the Gaza electric company, said that electricity was now being supplied in cycles of four hours, with 12-hour hiatuses. He said the two generators in the Gaza Strip power plant had been reactivated after fuel was received from Egypt. He said the plant currently produces 45 megawatts in addition to the 70 megawatts received from Israeli power lines. He said the Egyptian lines are still inoperative (Safa, September 16, 2017). He later reported that if the current flow of electricity from Egypt continues as it is now, the Gaza Strip will have electricity in cycles of six hours with and 12 hours without electricity (Shehab, September 17, 2017).
  • In view of the shortage of electricity in the Gaza Strip, Hamas decided for the first time to participate in financing the expenses of the power plant to extend the periods of electricity supplied to Gazans. Additional electricity bought by Hamas from Egypt will extend the hours of electrical power in the Gaza Strip (Rai al-Youm, September 13, 2017). The actual transfer of funds to Egypt for purchasing electricity has not yet been reported.
Hamas announces readiness to dissolve its “administrative committee”
  • On September 17, 2017, Hamas said in an official statement that in response to Egyptian efforts to reach internal Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas was announcing that:
    • Hamas is ready to dissolve the governmental administrative committee it established in the Gaza Strip.[3]
    • Hamas calls on the national consensus government to come to the Gaza Strip immediately to carry out its duties and meet its commitments.
    • Hamas agrees to general elections.
    • Hamas agrees to the Egyptian request to discuss with Fatah the establishment of apparatuses to implement the 2011 Cairo Agreement and its corollaries to establish a national unity government. To that end, all the Palestinian organizations that signed the agreement will participate[4] (official Hamas website, September 17, 2017).


The Hamas announcement (official Hamas website, September 17, 2017).

  • The statement was issued after a Fatah delegation went to Egypt. The delegation was headed by ‘Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of the Central Committee and responsible for matters of reconciliation; Rawhi Fattouh, a member of the Central Committee and responsible for international relations; and Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Central Committee and head of the general authority for civilian affairs (Wafa, September 15, 2017; al-Quds, September 16, 2017).
  • The Fatah delegation met with senior figures in Egyptian General Intelligence three times to discuss the solutions proposed by the Egyptians for ending the Fatah-Hamas rift and achieving national unity (Wafa, September 15, 2017; Quds.net, September 16, 2017). The Fatah delegation did not hold direct meetings with the senior Hamas figures in Egypt, which delayed its return to the Gaza Strip. According to Hamas spokesman Husam Badran, the Hamas delegation had delayed leaving Egypt to give the Egyptians time to convince Fatah to come of Egypt and conduct a serious discussion about the internal Palestinian reconciliation (Hamas website, September 16, 2017).
Reactions to the Hamas announcement
  • ‘Azzam al-Ahmed, who headed the Fatah delegation to the talks in Cairo, welcomed Hamas’ response. He said a meeting between Fatah and Hamas will be held soon, after which there will be a meeting of all the Palestinian organizations to begin taking practical steps for implementing the agreement (Wafa, September 17, 2017). Al-Ahmed said that the first practical step will be the arrival of representatives of the national consensus government at the Gaza Strip. He also said that there was no new agreement and no need for one (YouTube channel of the Egyptian DMC TV channel, September 17, 2017). On another occasion he said that first the national consensus government will have in the Gaza Strip and begins operating in offices, public institutions and the crossings “in a natural fashion” without obstacles. Then the steps taken by Mahmoud Abbas in the Gaza Strip will be revoked. He claimed that only 20% of the steps had been implemented in practice (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, September 17, 2017)
  • The PA announced it regarded Hamas’ statement as an important step but demanded Hamas explain how it was planning to carry out what it had announced. Mahmoud Abbas said he was satisfied with the agreement that had been reached, which enabled the national consensus government to implement its authority in the Gaza Strip and hold elections for the presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council. Mahmoud Abbas also said he will hold a meeting of the Palestinian leadership once he returns from New York, to be able to monitor developments (Wafa, September 17, 2017).
  • According to a statement from the official Egyptian news agency, Egypt welcomes the positions of the Fatah movement and Hamas, and the response of the two delegations to the Egyptian efforts led by President El-El-Sisi. The efforts are being made to unite the Palestinian people, end the rift and reach Palestinian national unity. The statement stressed that Egypt will continue its efforts and contacts with Mahmoud Abbas and all the Palestinian power groups in a way that will serve their best interests and the Palestinian cause (al-Ahram portal, September 17, 2017).
  • The Palestinian organizations welcomed Hamas’ statement, saying that “the ball is now in Mahmoud Abbas’ court,” and calling on him to revoke the steps he had taken against the Gaza Strip (Ma’an and Shehab, September 17, 2017). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also praised Hamas’ decision (alresalah.net, September 16, 2017).
Cartoon drawn by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha illustrates the desire of the Palestinian people for the success of the internal Palestinian reconciliation. The Arabic reads, "Oh, Allah. This time [let it] succeed" (alresalah.net, September 18, 2017).   Hamas cartoon showing how easily Isma'il Haniyeh solves problems compared with Mahmoud Abbas (alresalah.net, September 18, 2017).
Right: Hamas cartoon showing how easily Isma’il Haniyeh solves problems compared with Mahmoud Abbas (alresalah.net, September 18, 2017). Left: Cartoon drawn by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha illustrates the desire of the Palestinian people for the success of the internal Palestinian reconciliation. The Arabic reads, “Oh, Allah. This time [let it] succeed” (alresalah.net, September 18, 2017).

In ITIC assessment, Hamas’ statement was prompted by the difficult economic situation in the Gaza Strip and the economic sanctions imposed on it by Mahmoud Abbas. Apparently, in view of the difficulties for the population which are worsening daily, Hamas concluded that having to deal with governmental functions had become a burden that was better transferred to the shoulders of the PA. In the meantime, in ITIC assessment, Hamas will continue its security and military control of the Gaza Strip and not permit the PA or Fatah to influence it. Putting the Hamas decision into practice is likely to face many difficulties because of the mutually conflicting interests and hostility which have been gathering for years.

Possible opening of Hamas political bureau in Egypt
  • Sources linked to Hamas confirmed that Egypt had agreed to a Hamas request to open a political bureau in Egypt. The bureau will be headed by Rawhi Mushtaha, a member of the Hamas’ political bureau who lives in Egypt. Senior Hamas figure Ahmed Yusef said that opening the Hamas’ political bureau is the result of a series of understandings reached between Hamas and Egypt. He said that opening the bureau will make cooperation and coordination easier between Egypt and Hamas ((al-Masri al-Youm, September 16, 2017).
  • Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanu’ denied the reports of a Hamas political bureau in the Egypt, claiming the issue had not been discussed (al-Anadolu News, September 15, 2017). Rawhi Mushtaha, a member of political bureau, also denied the reports, as well as his appointment as Hamas representative to Egypt (Dunia al-Watan, September 16, 2017). He did say, however, that he would remain in Cairo for the time being to monitor a number of subjects and implement the understandings reached concerning “easing the siege” of the Gaza Strip (al-Istaqlal, September 16, 2017).
  • Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, interviewed by the east Jerusalem-based Palestinian daily newspaper al-Quds, said a number of senior Hamas figures would remain in Egypt in addition to those already there and who had resident visas. Their objective in remaining in Egypt was to monitor developments with Egypt (al-Quds, September 17, 2017).
Two Hamas terrorist operatives killed in tunnels in the Gaza Strip
  • Two Hamas operatives from Hamas military-terrorist wing were killed in two separate tunnel collapses in the Gaza Strip. Yusuf Sabri Abu al-‘Aabd, 22, from Bani Suheila (east of Khan Yunis) was killed in a tunnel collapse in the Khan Yunis region (al-Aqsa, September 15, 2017). Khalil Bassem al-Dimiati, 32, from the al-Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, was killed in a tunnel collapse in Gaza City (Palinfo, September 15, 2017).
Khalil Bassem Khalil al-Dimiati (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, September 15, 2017).   Yusuf Sabri Khalil Abu 'Aabd.
Right: Yusuf Sabri Khalil Abu ‘Aabd. Left: Khalil Bassem Khalil al-Dimiati (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, September 15, 2017).
ISIS operative from the Gaza Strip killed in the Sinai Peninsula
  • The Palestinian media reported that an ISIS operative from the Gaza Strip was killed in the Sinai Peninsula on September 15, 2017. He was Muhammad Jamal Abu Dalal, 24, from the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. He was wanted by Hamas for his involvement in launching rockets at Israeli territory and terrorist activities against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He fled to the Sinai Peninsula about a year and a half ago (Paldf forum, September 15,2017).
International activity
Mahmoud Abbas arrives in New York for UN General Assembly deliberations
  • On September 17, 2017, Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York heading a Palestinian delegation to the UN General Assembly. While there he is supposed to give a speech before a session of the General Assembly. He is also supposed to meet with Donald Trump, the Russian foreign minister, and a number of other leading figures (Wafa and Dunia al-Watan, September 17, 2017). Muhammad Ashtia, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that during the General Assembly session no trilateral meeting would be held of Israel, the United States and the PA, and that Mahmoud Abbas would not meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (Ma’an, September 14, 2017).
  • Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas’ office, said Mahmoud Abbas’ speech would be “important” and would clarify the landmarks for the next stage. He noted that Mahmoud Abbas would not discuss a temporary state, nor a state in the Gaza Strip without the West Bank, nor a state without borders, unless it was an independent state with the 1967 borders (Wafa, September 17, 2017).
Palestinian activity to undermine Israel’s efforts to join the Security Council
  • In response to Israeli efforts to join the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, Yusuf al-Mahmoud, a spokesman for the Palestinian national consensus government, said the Palestinian government denounced the efforts because Israel was insubordinate and had no commitment to international law. He said Israel represented the world’s evil because Palestine was the last remaining occupied territory (Palestinian TV, September 13, 2017). Riyad al-Maliki said the council of foreign ministers of the Arab League had nominated Muhammad Abu al-Ghaith, secretary general of the Arab League, to appoint a committee of ministers to monitor Israel’s attempts to gain membership in the UN Security Council in 2019-2020, and to prevent it (Wafa, September 13, 2017). According to the Palestinians, one of the committee’s roles will be to convince the countries which can vote not to support Israel into the Security Council (Palestinian TV, September 13, 2017).

Hamas cartoon to mark the 24th anniversary of the Oslo Accords. It makes fun of Mahmoud Abbas, who tries to prop up the Oslo Accords which has already collapsed. The Arabic reads, "Oslo" (alresalah.net, September 14, 2017).
Hamas cartoon to mark the 24th anniversary of the Oslo Accords. It makes fun of Mahmoud Abbas, who tries to prop up the Oslo Accords which has already collapsed. The Arabic reads, “Oslo” (alresalah.net, September 14, 2017).

[1] 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.
[2] The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
[3] Hamas established the administrative committee several months ago. According to Hamas, it is supposed to carry out the functions of the national consensus government which did not meet its obligations to the Gaza Strip and in fact left a vacuum of governance. Establishing the committee worsened the conflict between Hamas and Fatah, and led Mahmoud Abbas to impose sanctions, mainly economic sanctions, on the Gaza Strip, which worsened the situation, which was already bad in any case.
[4] As part of the efforts to achieve an internal Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, on April 27, 2011, representatives of both organizations announced that an agreement had been brokered by Egypt. It included establishing a joint government after elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative Council. It also included the release of prisoners and the establishment of a joint supreme security committee composed of highly-qualified government ministers who were not affiliated with any organization. The agreement was signed in Cairo on May 4, 2011.