Tag Archives: Children

Hamas has presented the first battalion of the Popular Army, to serve as an auxiliary force for the operatives of Hamas’s military wing in confrontations with Israel

Palestinian youths in the Hamas Popular Army holding M-16 rifles and a Hamas flag at the ceremony marking the end of the training of the first battalion  (Palinfo, November 7, 2014)
Palestinian youths in the Hamas Popular Army holding M-16 rifles and a Hamas flag at the ceremony marking the end of the training of the first battalion  (Palinfo, November 7, 2014)

Overview

1.   On November 7, 2014, in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, presented the First Battalion (Al-Fawj al-Awwal) of the so-called Popular Army. The new battalion is called the Knights of Freedom Battalion. According to Hamas, the new battalion numbers 2,500 operatives. Its creation was announced during a ceremony marking the end of the first training course, held in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The ceremony included a display of military capability, a parade and a march (Palinfo, Paldf, Filastin Al-’Aan, Al-Aqsa TV channel, November 7, 2014).

2.   Muhammad Abu Askar, a senior Hamas official in the northern Gaza Strip, spoke at the ceremony. He commented on the events at the Al-Aqsa mosque, saying that the presentation of the first training course is taking place at a time when the Al-Aqsa Mosque is subject to “harassment by Israel” and that they are convinced that the battle against Israel will definitely come. He said that Hamas is getting ready and preparing its army so it will be ready for any encounter with Israel (Safa News Agency, November 7, 2014).

Muhammad Abu Askar at the graduation ceremony (Palinfo, November 7, 2014)
Muhammad Abu Askar at the graduation ceremony (Palinfo, November 7, 2014)

The Popular Army - Update

3.   At the end of September 2014, Hamas’s media reported that Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives had begun preparations for the establishment of a Popular Army. The Popular Army has recruited civilian volunteers of all ages. The purpose of the recruitment and training of volunteers is to set up an auxiliary force for the operatives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, in a future conflict with Israel.[1]

4.   Muhammad Abu Askaralso announced the opening of registration for the second training course for all those interested, aged twenty and over, saying that it would open soon (Safa News Agency, November 7, 2014). The first recruitment call at the end of September 2014 referred to civilians of all ages (aged 14 and over). The photos in our possession (see Appendix) create the impression that the participants in the first training course were very young.

5.   It is not yet clear how big the Popular Army will be, but completion of the training of a battalion of 2,500 operatives and preparations to open a second course may indicate that the force will number thousands of operatives and will serve as an auxiliary militia of the semi-regular forces of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades. In the ITIC’s assessment, such a force is needed in order to expand the military wing’s future cadre and the circle of support for Hamas, with an emphasis on popular support for the military wing on the day after Operation Protective Edge.

6.   The inclusion of teenagers in the military activities of Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip is a familiar phenomenon. Mobilization of large numbers into the ranks the Popular Army in the first training course isliable to increase the involvement of teenagers in fighting against the IDF in ongoing incidents and in a new round of fighting in the future. The activity of these teenagers in the ranks of terrorist organizations is liableto provide Hamas with a propaganda tool for Israel-bashing (in the event of the death of teenagers in military confrontations) and to make it even harder to distinguish between operatives in established military units and non-involved civilians.[2]

Appendix
Graduates of the first training course demonstrate their abilities

Graduates of the first training course demonstrate their abilities
Left: Palestinian teenager in a Popular Army uniform, holding a rifle and practicing getting out of a vehicle (Palinfo, November 7, 2014). Right: Military parade of Popular Army combatants with camouflage makeup 

Left: Teenagers in military uniform holding rifles. The photos serve as an indication of the large number of teenagers (Paldf, November 7, 2014). Right: Teenagers and children in military uniform in a parade.
Left: Teenagers in military uniform holding rifles. The photos serve as an indication of the large number of teenagers (Paldf, November 7, 2014). Right: Teenagers and children in military uniform in a parade.

Military exercises presented by the soldiers of the Popular Army at the ceremony marking the end of the training of the first battalion (Al-Aqsa TV, November 7, 2014)
Military exercises presented by the soldiers of the Popular Army at the ceremony marking the end of the training of the first battalion (Al-Aqsa TV, November 7, 2014)

Examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge – Part Five*

Left: Death notice of PIJ senior commander Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh (website of the Center for Languages and Translations, September 11, 2014). Right: Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh (Abu Awad), battalion commander in the PIJ’s northern Gaza Strip brigade (saraya.ps). Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh is one of several senior military commanders of the PIJ killed in Operation Protective Edge.
Left: Death notice of PIJ senior commander Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh (website of the Center for Languages and Translations, September 11, 2014). Right: Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh (Abu Awad), battalion commander in the PIJ’s northern Gaza Strip brigade (saraya.ps). Mahmoud Awad Ali Ziadeh is one of several senior military commanders of the PIJ killed in Operation Protective Edge.[1]

The findings to date

1.   This information bulletin is the fifth in a series of publications of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), as part of a project examining the names of the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge. The project’s goal is to determine which of the fatalities are terrorist operatives and which are non-involved citizens, and to examine the ratio between them. The findings of our investigation so far (based on approximately 40% of the names of the dead) suggest that terrorist operatives constitute about 49% of the fatalities who have been identified, while non-involved civilians constitute approximately 51%. This ratio may change as we continue our examination.


2.   The number of names of those killed, examined by the ITIC to date, is around 750, i.e., about 35% of the number of Palestinians killed to date (a total of 2157, according to a report by the Palestinian Ministry of Health issued on September 14, 2014). The examinations carried out by the ITIC are based on the names of the dead that appear on the Palestinian Health Ministry’s lists, despite the reliability problems and deficiencies found in them. From the lists examined we have removed duplicate names and added the names of terrorist operatives, who do not appear on them (both for technical reasons and as a result Hamas’s policy of concealment and deception). Therefore, the number of fatalities examined by the ITIC to date is 842 (i.e., approximately 39% of the total number of fatalities).

3.   Weighting the findings of the current examination and the findings of the four previous examinations (detailed in the ITIC’s previous documents) indicates the following distribution of the 842 fatalities:

A.  354 of those killed were terrorist operatives.

B.  367 of those killed were non-involved civilians.

C.  121 people who were killed are unidentified at this stage. Therefore, it is not possible to determine whether they were terrorist operatives or non-involved civilians.

4.   Of the 721 dead who could be identified, terrorist operatives constitute approximately 49% of the names. Non-involved civilians constitute approximately 51%. This ratio may vary as the ITIC continues to examine additional names of those killed.


Methodological notes

5.  The current document examined an additional basic list issued by the Palestinian Health Ministry. The list includes the names of 150 Palestinians, most of whom were killed from July 22 to July 24, 2014.

6.  In this document as well, to the number of dead who appeared on the Palestinian Health Ministry’s list we added 25 terrorist operatives who were killed in battle in Shejaiya and whose names have not yet been published due to Hamas’s policy of concealment (as we did in the two previous documents). To date, a total of 75 terrorist operatives have been added (three groups of 25 operatives). This was done in order to balance the bias that was created by the lists of the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry (for an explanation of our methodology, see Part Three of the examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge). If Hamas publishes reliable data about its operatives who were killed in the fighting in Shejaiya, the ITIC will carry out the necessary adaptations and will change the number of operatives that were added.

7.  On the basis of additional information that we have obtained, a number of errors have been corrected and supplementary data has been added to the previous examinations that we performed. Principal corrections and supplementary data (for details see Appendix D):

A.  Three of the fatalities, who appeared in previous lists and were identified as non-involved civilians, have been re-identified as three terrorist operatives, according to the following breakdown:

1)   Two Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives.

2)   One PIJ Al-Quds Battalions operative.

B.  One operative, who was listed as unidentified, was identified as a terrorist operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

(Note: these changes were taken into account in weighting the findings of the examinations as appear in paragraph 3).

The findings of the current examination

8.  An examination of 150 namesthat appeared on the Palestinian Health Ministry’s list (Appendix C), with the addition of 25 terrorist operatives killed in battle in Shejaiya, yielded the following findings:

A.  52 of those killed were identified as terrorist operatives (photos of 29 terror operatives were found, see Appendix B). To this figure we added 25 operatives whose organizational affiliation is unknown (killed in battle in Shejaiya). Hence, the total number of terrorist operatives who were killed is 77.

B.  54 names were identified as non-involved civilians.

C.  The ITIC was unable to identify 44 names that appeared on the list, and have designated them as unidentified.

9.  Below is a breakdown of the organizational affiliation of the 77 terrorist operative fatalities:

A.  35 Hamas / Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives (one of them was an operative in Hamas’s security forces in Gaza)

B.  Eight PIJ / Al-Quds Battalions operatives

C.  Four members of Fatah's operational networks

D.  One PFLP military operative

E.  One DFLP operative

F.  One Salah al-Din Brigades operative (the military wing of the PRC)

G.27 terrorist operatives whose organizational affiliation is unidentified

10.   Of the 131 fatalities who have been identified in the current examination (75% of all the dead), 77 are terrorist operatives, representing approximately 59% of the fatalities who have been identified. 54 of those killed were non-involved civilians, representing approximately 41% of the fatalities who have been identified.


The PIJ has published data on its fatalities, while Hamas continues with its policy of concealment.

11.   On August 29, 2014, three days after the announcement of the ceasefire that ended Operation Protective Edge, the PIJ reported that 123 operatives of the organization were killed in the operation (Al-Quds Battalions website, August 29, 2014). The organization also published photographs of 96 operatives who were killed, some of whom held military positions (see Appendix A). On September 9, 2014, it was reported that another casualty of the organization had died in an Egyptian hospital (Al-Quds Battalions website, September 9, 2014). However, we believe that there is still a discrepancy between the number of fatalities reported by the PIJ and the actual number of fatalities, which is a few dozen higher, in our assessment.

12.   The PIJ’s practice of publishing the number of those killed and glorifying its senior military operatives (comparing them with Hamas officials who were killed in the war) is part of a propaganda campaign, which is designed to highlight the important role played by the PIJ in the fighting and its military “achievements”. Hamas, on its part, still continues to conceal the number of its casualties, which we estimate at hundreds of operatives and, in our opinion, exceeds 500. This despite the fact that Hamas pays a political and image-related price for this vis-à-vis the PIJ, and vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority, which also exploits the concealment policy in order to challenge Hamas. Hamas does so as part of its political and media strategy, which prioritizes the assimilation of the (false) message that the vast majority of those killed were civilians, a message used in its legal-political campaign against Israel on the day after.

13.   However, at this stage, these are still only overall estimates. The ITIC’s examination of the names of the casualties in Operation Protective Edge on an individual basis, as expressed in its five documents, is still in progress. On completion of the examination, it will be possible to achieve more accurate data about the number of terrorist operatives killed, their organizational segmentation, and the proportion of war casualties of each of the various terrorist organizations.

Erosion of Hamas’s policy of concealment?

14.   On September 12, 2014, Hamas senior figure Khalil al-Hayya delivered the Friday sermon at the Al-Farouq Mosque in Nuseirat (YouTube video).[2] During the sermon, he said that "it is no secret that over sixty members of the Al-Nukhba unit died in the operation." He added that those killed were members of the Quran Reciters Group (which operated in the Al-Farouq Mosque and possibly in other mosques as well). Hamas senior figure Fathi Hamad (former Interior Minister) said that most of the operatives in Hamas’s elite forces are Quran Reciters who underwent physical and security training (Palestine Online, September 16, 2014).

Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas's political bureau, delivering the Friday sermon at the Al-Farouq Mosque in Nuseirat, in which he admitted that the number of fatalities of the Al-Nukhba unit exceeds sixty (YouTube video, Hamas forum, September 12, 2014)
Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas's political bureau, delivering the Friday sermon at the Al-Farouq Mosque in Nuseirat, in which he admitted that the number of fatalities of the Al-Nukhba unit exceeds sixty (YouTube video, Hamas forum, September 12, 2014)

15.   Al-Nukhba is an elite unit of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, earmarked for “quality” operations in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere. In our assessment, choosing its members from among the Quran Reciters Group is intended to ensure that they are religiously motivated. During Operation Protective Edge, the unit was deployed for infiltration missions into Israeli territory through tunnels and for attacking IDF forces operating in the Gaza Strip. Following Khalil al-Hayya’s statement, videos were posted on YouTube (September 12 and 15, 2014) showing the wills of two Al-Nukhba operatives, Walid Tawfiq Darabiya and Amro Khadr Mehjiz, which were recorded before they left for the battlefield. They were killed in eastern Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Besides the reading of the wills by the operatives before leaving for battle, the video documents the training that the two men underwent in the Al-Nukhba unit.

16.   This is the first time that Hamas has published numerical data about the fatalities in one of its units, accompanied by photos of several operatives who were killed. However, to date Hamas has not published a systematic list of the names of the dead in the Al-Nukhba unit and the total number of those killed in its battalions and brigades, who bore the brunt of the fighting, so it is still continuing its policy of concealment. We believe that the figure that Khalil al-Hayya quoted (“over 60”) is minimal and does not reflect all the Al-Nukhba unit’s fatalities. This is either out of a desire not to significantly deviate from Hamas’s concealment policy or because Al-Hayya (and Hamas) do not yet possess complete data on the fatalities, some of whose bodies are still in the tunnels and various battle sites.

Exploitation of a child as a supporter of terrorist activity and an attempt to hide his age[3]

17.   The examination of the present list revealed the case of a nine year-old boy who was a terrorist supporter of his uncle, a senior Hamas operative in the Nuseirat refugee camp (central Gaza Strip). The boy and his uncle were killed in the fighting. The boy was Obeida Fadhel Mohammad Abu Hweishel who, according to our examination, was nine years old (born in 2005). However, in the Palestinian Health Ministry’s list his age appears as 24. In our assessment, this was done to conceal the fact that a child was exploited as a supporter of terrorist activity.

Obeida Fadhel Mohammad Abu Hweishel shown covered with a shroud bearing the insignia of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades with a headband bearing the words “the Al-Qassam Brigades” (facebook.com).
Obeida Fadhel Mohammad Abu Hweishelshown covered with a shroud bearing the insignia of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades with a headband bearing the words “the Al-Qassam Brigades” (facebook.com).

Obeida Fadhel Mohammad Abu Hweishel, whose age appears as 24 in Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra’s list (marked in yellow). We believe that this is not an innocent technical error but rather a deliberate manipulation.
Obeida Fadhel Mohammad Abu Hweishel, whose age appears as 24 in Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra’s list (marked in yellow). We believe that this is not an innocent technical error but rather a deliberate manipulation.

18.   The photo shows the dead child (referred to on the Facebook page as “the hero child shahid”) covered with a shroud bearing the insignia of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades with an Al-Qassam Brigades headband (facebook.com). The Hamas forum (July 23, 2014) reported that he had assisted his uncle, Adel Mohammad Abu Hweishel, in his “jihad activity” (Hamas forum, July 23, 2014). The uncle was a commander of Hamas’s rocket network in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

19.   The ITIC believes that the case of Obeida Fadhel Mohammad Abu Hweishel is not an isolated instance.In the ITIC’s assessment, it reflects a phenomenon whose extent is unclear, of terrorist organizations making use of children and teenagers as collaborators or even as operatives. Children and teenagers in the Gaza Strip undergo military training during the school year and summer vacations, so they possess basic military training, and probably also a high level of motivation to serve Hamas (or other terrorist organizations) during the fighting.[4]

Appendices

20.   The document includes four appendices:

A.  Appendix A: Findings of the examination of 150 additional names of those killed in Operation Protective Edge, based on a list released by the Palestinian Health Ministry’s spokesman, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra.

B.  Appendix B: Photos of 29 terrorist operatives out of 54 operatives who appear on Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra’s list.

C.  Appendix C: An additional 150 names (in Arabic), based on a list released by Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra.

D.  Appendix D:Additional information and correction of errors that occurred in the previous documents.

[*]Further to the ITIC Information Bulletin from August 26, 2014:“Examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge - Part Four.”
[1]For information about PIJ fatalities in Operation Protective Edge, see the ITIC Information Bulletin from September 14, 2014: “War of the Casualties: The PIJ reported that 123 of its men were killed in Operation Protective Edge, including several senior commanders. Hamas continues its policy of concealing the number of casualties.”
[2]The Al-Farouq Mosque in Nuseirat, which was attacked by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge, was used to store rockets and other weapons, and as a compound for Hamas’s activity.
[3] For information about the exploitation of children and youths as collaborators or operatives within terrorist organizations further see the ITIC Information Bulletin from September 18, 2014: "The War of Casualties: An examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge revealed several instances of children and teenagers serving as military operatives in the terrorist organizations. The examination also revealed instances in which the ages of Palestinian casualties were falsified by Gaza's Hamas-controlled health ministry. The extent of the phenomenon is still unclear.”
[4]Extensive information about military training for children and teenagers administered by Hamas at schools and summer camps may be found on the ITIC website.

The War of Casualties: During Operation Protective Edge children and teenagers were exploited by terrorists as auxiliaries and operatives. The extent of the phenomenon is still unclear.

Obeida Fadhel Muhammad Abu Hweishel, 9, auxiliary in Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades insignia is on his shroud and

Obeida Fadhel Muhammad Abu Hweishel, 9, auxiliary in Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades insignia is on his shroud and "Al-Qassam Brigades" is on his headband). He was killed along with his uncle, commander of Hamas' rocket network in Nuseirat.

Anas Yusuf Qandil, 17, an operative in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Jerusalem Brigades.

Anas Yusuf Qandil, 17, an operative in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's Jerusalem Brigades.

Wasim Rida Salhia, 15, an operative in Fatah's Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades.

Wasim Rida Salhia, 15, an operative in Fatah's Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades.

Two children from the al-Batash family, who were killed in Operation Protective Edge. Left: Anas Alaa al-Batash, 10. Right: Qusay Assem al-Batash, 13. The two are called

Two children from the al-Batash family, who were killed in Operation Protective Edge. Left: Anas Alaa al-Batash, 10. Right: Qusay Assem al-Batash, 13. The two are called "young jihad fighters" (Facebook page of the al-Batash family)

Overview

1.   An examination of about a third of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge revealed several instances of children and teenagers serving as military operatives in the terrorist organizations. The examination also revealed instances in which the ages of Palestinian casualties were falsified by Gaza's Hamas-controlled ministry of health. For example, boys aged 15 and 17 were integrated into the terrorist operative networks; the age of a nine year-old terrorist auxiliary was listed as 24; and a terrorist operative in his twenties was listed as 13 years of age.

2.   Children and teenagers in Gaza's educational system undergo basic military training in the schools and summer camps.[1] Using them as auxiliaries and sometimes as operatives, in ITIC assessment, is not limited to isolated cases although at this stage it is difficult to estimate the extent of the phenomenon.

Using a Child as a Terrorist Auxiliary and Hiding His Age

3.   The ITIC's ongoing examination of the names of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge revealed the case of a 9 year-old child, who was assisting his uncle, a senor Hamas operative in the Nuseirat refugee camp (central Gaza Strip). The boy and his uncle were killed in an IDF attack. They were listed as casualties by the Palestinian ministry of health. The boy was Obeida Fadhel Muhammad Abu Hweishel, according to ITIC research, was nine years old (born in 2005). However, according to the list issued by Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Palestinian ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, was 24 years old (See pictures below). In ITIC assessment, listing his age as 24 was not an innocent technical error but rather a deliberate falsification whose objective was to conceal the fact that a child was exploited for terrorist activities.

4.   The Facebook picture shows the body of the child (referred to as "the child shaheed hero") wrapped in a shroud bearing the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades insignia and wearing an "Al-Qassam Brigades" headband. On July 23, 2014, the Hamas forum reported that he had supported his uncle, 'Adel Muhammad Abu Hweishel, in his jihad missions. The uncle, who was also killed, was a commander of Hamas' rocket network in the Nuseirat refugee camp (Hamas forum, July 23, 2014).

Obeida Fadhel Muhammad Abu Hweishel (highlighted), nine years old, listed as 24 by the spokesman for the Hamas-controlled ministry of health.
Obeida Fadhel Muhammad Abu Hweishel (highlighted), nine years old, listed as 24 by the spokesman for the Hamas-controlled ministry of health.

'Adel Muhammad Abu Hweishel, Obeida's uncle, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative. He headed the Hamas rocket network in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip (Elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il)
'Adel Muhammad Abu Hweishel, Obeida's uncle, an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative. He headed the Hamas rocket network in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip (Elderofziyon.blogspot.co.il)

Talkback on Hamas' Internet forum, reading "The shaheed hero, the lion cub Obeida Fadhel Abu Hweishel, nephew of the shaheed 'Adel Abu Hweishel. Aided his uncle in his jihad missions (PALDF.net, the Hamas forum, July 23, 2014).
Talkback on Hamas' Internet forum, reading "The shaheed hero, the lion cub Obeida Fadhel Abu Hweishel, nephew of the shaheed 'Adel Abu Hweishel. Aided his uncle in his jihad missions (PALDF.net, the Hamas forum, July 23, 2014).

Examples of Teenagers Killed in Terrorist Organization Activities

5.   The Palestinian ministry of health listed Wasim Rida Salhia from Khan Yunis, as killed on July 18, 2014. His age was given as 15. ITIC examinations revealed that he was, in fact, 15 years old, having been born in 1999. He that he was an operative in a Fatah terrorist network called the Abu Rish Brigades.

Wasim Rida Salhia, terrorist operative in Fatah's Abu Rish Brigades (upper right hand corner), killed in an IDF attack.
Wasim Rida Salhia, terrorist operative in Fatah's Abu Rish Brigades (upper right hand corner), killed in an IDF attack.

6.   The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) list of its operatives killed in Operation Protective Edge included (with picture) Anas Qandil, 17 years old (Saraya.ps, September 2014). An ITIC examination verified that he was, in fact, 17. Anas Yusuf Qandil was an operative in the Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ's military-terrorist wing. He was killed on July 12, 2014. His name and real age are also on the Palestinian ministry of health list.

Left: Anas Yusuf Qandil (YouTube.com). Right: Anas Qandil wearing a Jerusalem Brigades headband (Saraya.ps).
Left: Anas Yusuf Qandil (YouTube.com). Right: Anas Qandil wearing a Jerusalem Brigades headband (Saraya.ps).

Adult Terrorist Operative Represented as Child

7.   The Palestinian ministry of health listed Ibrahim Jamal Kamal Nasr, from Khan Yunis, who was killed on July 18, 2014, as a "13 year-old boy." In reality, he was in his twenties and a terrorist operative in Fatah's Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades. In ITIC assessment it was not an innocent technical error but the deliberate insertion into the list of a "13 year-old boy" with a name similar to that of the terrorist operative who was killed.

Left: Ibrahim Jamal Nasr (Facebook page of the Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades, July 19, 2014). Right: Ibrahim Jamal Kamal Nasr, senior Fatah Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades operative (YouTube, July 19, 2014).
Left: Ibrahim Jamal Nasr (Facebook page of the Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades, July 19, 2014). Right: Ibrahim Jamal Kamal Nasr, senior Fatah Abu al-Rish Martyrs Brigades operative (YouTube, July 19, 2014).

Pictures of Armed Children Who Were Killed

8.   The Facebook page of the al-Batash family, whose members were killed during Operation Protective Edge, posted pictures of two of its children with guns and an RPG launcher. The picture was entitled "Young jihad fighters." In ITIC assessment the picture did not necessarily indicate the involvement of children in supporting terrorist activity. Palestinian children are often photographed holding weapons to send the message that the younger generation will continue the armed campaign against Israel.

9.   The Facebook page dedicated to Salah Abu Hassanein, a senior PIJ commander, posted pictures of his son, Abd al-Aziz Abu Hassanein, 15, who was killed along with his father (the pictures many have been taken at a PIJ summer camp).

Abd al-Aziz Abu Hassanein, 15, son of senior PIJ commander Salah Abu Hassanein. He is photographed holding an RPG launcher (left) and two rifles (right), apparently at a PIJ summer camp in Rafah (Facebook page dedicated to "the shaheed commander, Salah Abu Hassanein (Abu Ahmed)," September 5 and 8, 2014).
Abd al-Aziz Abu Hassanein, 15, son of senior PIJ commander Salah Abu Hassanein. He is photographed holding an RPG launcher (left) and two rifles (right), apparently at a PIJ summer camp in Rafah (Facebook page dedicated to "the shaheed commander, Salah Abu Hassanein (Abu Ahmed)," September 5 and 8, 2014).

[1] Extensive information about military-terrorist training provided in Hamas-run schools and summer camps campaign be found on the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center website.

Saleh al-Arouri, Turkey-based senior Hamas operative who handles military-terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria, admitted that Hamas was behind the abduction and murder of the three Jewish youths from Gush Etzion

Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri (Imemc.org, July 20, 2014).

Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri (Imemc.org, July 20, 2014).

Saleh al-Arouri interviewed from Istanbul by Al-Aqsa TV during the funeral for the remains of Hamas operatives Adel and Imad Awadallah (Al-Aqsa TV, May 6, 2014).

Saleh al-Arouri interviewed from Istanbul by Al-Aqsa TV during the funeral for the remains of Hamas operatives Adel and Imad Awadallah (Al-Aqsa TV, May 6, 2014).

Saleh al-Arouri gives a speech at a meeting in support of Sheikh Ra'ed Saleh in Damascus (YouTube, August 13, 2014).

Saleh al-Arouri gives a speech at a meeting in support of Sheikh Ra'ed Saleh in Damascus (YouTube, August 13, 2014).

Overview

1.   Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri is a senior Hamas operative based in Turkey. On August 20 2014, he told the participants of the fourth conference of the World Union of Islamic Sages (held in Turkey) that Hamas' military-terrorist wing was behind the abduction and murder of the three Jewish youths in Gush Etzion (June 12, 2014). He read his speech, saying that he was speaking on behalf of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (calling him the "head of this resistance"). He was apparently recorded without his knowledge and his speech was uploaded to YouTube and received much feedback.

2.   In his speech he claimed that "the struggle of the masses has grown to include all the occupied lands. It reached a height in the heroic action carried out by the [Izz al-Din] al-Qassam Brigades, which captured three settlers in Hebron." He claimed the abduction and murder were committed to support the hunger strike of the Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons. According to the speech, the abduction and murder a part of Hamas' campaign to ignite a new intifada throughout all of Palestine (including Israeli Arabs, "the Arabs of 1948").

The video in which Saleh al-Arouri refers to the three murdered youths (YouTube, August 20, 2014)
The video in which Saleh al-Arouri refers to the three murdered youths (YouTube, August 20, 2014)
Click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1_eJjZCdZ4 for the video.

3.   It was the first time a senior Hamas figure admitted publicly (although the remarks were made in a closed forum) that Hamas' military-terrorist wing was behind the abduction and murder of the Israeli youths, setting in motion the events that led to Operation Protective Edge. Until now, while Hamas publicly supported the attack, its spokesmen were careful not to formally claim responsibility. Senior Hamas figures and Hamas spokesmen went so far as to claim Israel was spreading false accusations and repeatedly claimed the affair was "an Israeli invention" (Facebook page of Sami Abu Zuhri and Al-Aqsa TV, June 30, 2014).

Reactions

4.   In ITIC assessment, the large amount of media feedback generated by al-Arouri's speech annoyed Hamas. Khaled Mashaal, the head of Hamas' political bureau, admitted in a follow-up interview that Hamas operatives were in fact responsible for the abduction of the three Israeli youths, although he claimed that the Hamas leadership had no prior knowledge of it and only found out about it following the Israeli investigation. He added that the leadership understood the Palestinians were frustrated by the "hostility and the occupation," and therefore took any action possible (Yahoo, August 23, 2014).

5.      Saleh al-Arouri then fell in line with Khaled Mashaal, claiming that his speech had not been intended as a claim of Hamas responsibility for the abduction or killing of the three youths. He claimed that he had been referring to a group of Hamas operatives who carried out the abduction against Israel, as revealed by the Israeli investigations. He claimed the Hamas leadership had no prior knowledge of the group of abductors and only found out later that they belonged to Hamas (Hamas.info, August 23, 2014).

Profile of Saleh al-Arouri

6.      Saleh al-Arouri was born in the village of Aroura (in the Ramallah district) in 1966, is a member of Hamas' political bureau and held the prisoners' affairs portfolio. In the 1990s he was one of the founders of the Hamas' military-terrorist wing in Judea and Samaria. He was detained by Israel in 1992 and sentenced to five years in prison for membership in a terrorist organization. Since then he has served various prison sentences. He was released on March 30, 2010 and expelled from Israel. He went to Jordan and from there to Syria. In Syria he was appointed to Hamas' political bureau and given the prisoners' affairs portfolio. He was a member of the Hamas negotiating team in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

7.   Saleh al-Arouri recently moved to Turkey, which provides Hamas with political, propaganda and economic support. In Turkey he enjoys freedom of action, which he uses to handle Hamas military-terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria (Shabak.gov.il August 19, 2014). As part of Hamas' anti-Israeli incitement campaign, al-Arouri repeatedly calls on the residents of Judea and Samaria to carry out terrorist activities against Israel by beginning a third intifada.


Handling and Directing Hamas Military-Terrorist Networks in Judea and Samaria

8.      Released from prison in Israel and having moved to Syria, Saleh al-Arouri resumed his terrorist activities. Arriving in Syria, he was appointed to Hamas' political bureau and received the prisoners' affairs portfolio. He was involved in the Gilad Shalit deal. At the same time, as responsible for Judea and Samaria in Hamas' external headquarters, he continued to establish, fund and strengthen the Hamas military-terrorist infrastructure in Judea and Samaria. During the past two years his name has been mentioned in connection with the handling of Hamas terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria. Examples follow.

Directing a Military-Terrorist Network Planning to Carry Out Terrorist Attacks in Israel

9.      Between May and August 2014, the Israeli security forces detained several dozen Hamas operatives in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalemsuspected of involvement in establishing a military-terrorist infrastructure to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel. According to the Israel Security Agency (ISA) the infrastructure, which was directed by a Hamas headquarters in Turkey, recruited operatives and acquired weapons and may also have planned to overthrow the Palestinian Authority (PA). When the network was exposed large quantities of weapons, ammunition and money were discovered. The network was headed by Riyad Nasser, from Deir Qaddis (in the Ramallah district), who had previously been imprisoned in Israel (Shabak.gov.il August 19, 2014).

10.   The ISA investigation revealed that Riyad Nasser was recruited by Saleh al-Arouri, who was expelled from Israel and currently resides in Turkey. Before his expulsion he charged Riyad Nasser with constructing an extensive Hamas network in Judea and Samaria to undermine local stability and instigate a third intifada. To that end a number of local squads were formed which were directly handled by Riyad Nasser. Squads were formed in Nablus, Bethlehem, the Yatir region, Jerusalem and Tulkarm. Experts in engineering and chemistry were also recruited. According to the ISA, one of the network's objectives was to overthrow the PA, but apparently the plan was still in hits first stages (Shabak.gov.il August 19, 2014).

Left: One of the locations where weapons were hidden. Right: Some of the weapons found in the squad's possession (Shabak.gov.il August 18, 2014).
Left: One of the locations where weapons were hidden. Right: Some of the weapons found in the squad's possession (Shabak.gov.il August 18, 2014).

11.   Saleh al-Arouri denied involvement in directing a terrorist network. In response to the detention of 94 Palestinians suspected of membership in the Hamas network, he claimed the information was "false" and meant to "whitewash the failure of Israeli intelligence." He claimed "the weapon of the resistance" [i.e., terrorism] targeted only Israel and that the detainees were "resistance fighters." He also claimed that there was no network in Judea and Samaria with 94 operatives, because Hamas squads acted separately and in small groups (Al-Aqsa TV, August 19, 2014).

Funding Terrorist Activity

12.   At the beginning of 2013 two Hamas operatives were detained. They had tried to smuggle funds into Judea and Samaria via the Allenby Bridge. They were found to be carrying €10,000 and $900 hidden in cigarette cartons. During interrogation they revealed that they were supposed to receive additional funds for Saleh al-Arouri (Shabak.gov.il April, 2014). The money was to be used to finance Hamas' terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria.

Rebuilding Hamas' Military-Terrorist Headquarters in Judea and Samaria

13.   According to reports in the Israeli media at the end of 2013, Hamas rebuilt its military-terrorist headquarters in Judea and Samaria. It was directed by a group of terrorist operatives who served long prison sentences in Israel for killing Israelis. They were released in the Gilad Shalit deal and expelled to the Gaza Strip, and led by Saleh al-Arouri. He is supported by a group of operatives in the Gaza Strip, who regularly transmit instructions and sums of money for the Judea and Samaria squads (Amos Harel in Haaretz, December 20, 2013).

Propaganda Activity

14.   On May 5, 2014, a rally was held in Istanbul in support of the hunger-striking administrative detainees in Israel. Among those present were Husam Badran, an external spokesman for Hamas, and Saleh al-Arouri, who were Hamas' representatives at the rally (Al-Aqsa TV, May 10, 2014).

15.   Interviewed by Al-Quds Al-Arabi, he claimed he expected the outbreak of an armed popular intifada against Israel in Judea and Samaria. He claimed the "resistance" in Judea and Samaria were constantly gaining power, which would eventually lead to an overall confrontation with Israel. He also expressed hope that the "resistance" in Judea and Samaria would be able to acquire rockets. Asked if that were possible, he claimed that rockets could be manufactured in the Gaza Strip, which was under siege, and that in Judea and Samaria it would also be possible to overcome the difficulties and manufacture rockets. He also claimed that in a new war against Israel there would be "surprises" and that every future round of confrontation would be different from the previous one because Hamas did not stop developing its capabilities (Alquds.co.uk, May 4, 2014).

16.   On May 6, 2014, Saleh al-Arouri was interviewed from Istanbul during the funeral held for the remains of Hamas operatives Adel and Imad Awadallah,[1] which were returned by Israel to the Palestinians. He praised the Awadallah brothers and stressed the concept of "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] against Israel (Al-Aqsa TV, May 6, 2014). He claimed [the day of the funeral] was an important day in the history of jihad and the struggle in Judea and Samaria, stressing that "the option of resistance" had not disappeared: it was currently to be found in sleeper cells and the underground, the result of external pressures, but it would arise at the first opportunity. He claimed the Palestinians had no way of extricating themselves from the [so-called Israeli] "occupation" except for jihad, which resulted in casualties. He also claimed that the Palestinians were at a crossroads, because their attempts to restore their rights through negotiations, UN agencies and international organizations had reached a dead end (Al-Aqsa TV, April 30, 2014).

17.   During an interview at the end of 2013, asked about Hamas' situation in Judea and Samaria, Saleh al-Arouri said that the "resistance" was Hamas' raison d'être. He claimed that Hamas in the Gaza Strip was always in one of two situations: either preparing for battle against Israel or waging a battle, and those were the only two activities Hamas engaged in. He claimed that in Judea and Samaria two main actors had joined forces against Hamas, the PA's security forces and Israel. Hamas had made great efforts to renew the "resistance" but the PA was an obstacle (Al-Intilaqa, December 16, 2013).

[1] The Awadallah brothers were among the founders of Hamas' military-terrorist wing in Judea and Samaria. They were killed on September 10, 1998, in an exchange of fire with IDF forces near Tarqumia (near Hebron). Their remains were returned to the Palestinians on April 29, 2014, according to an agreement following an Israeli Supreme Court decision. On April 30, 2014, Hamas held a mass funeral for the two, which turned into a show of force for Hamas in Judea and Samaria. It was made possible by the agreement between Hamas and Fatah for a national consensus government.

Operation Protective Edge – Update No. 7 (As of 1200 hours, July 17, 2014)

A terrorist squad is prevented from using a terrorist tunnel to infiltrate Israel.

A terrorist squad is prevented from using a terrorist tunnel to infiltrate Israel.

Some of the weapons found in the possession of the terrorist operatives.

Some of the weapons found in the possession of the terrorist operatives.

Hamas' military-terrorist wing claims of responsibility for the attempted infiltration near the Sufa crossing in the southern Gaza Strip (Qassam.ps, July 17, 2014).

Hamas' military-terrorist wing claims of responsibility for the attempted infiltration near the Sufa crossing in the southern Gaza Strip (Qassam.ps, July 17, 2014).

The house of senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya  (YouTube, July 16, 2014)

The house of senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya (YouTube, July 16, 2014)

Hamas' national security headquarters after the attack (Facebook page of the Hamas ministry of the interior, July 16, 2014).

Hamas' national security headquarters after the attack (Facebook page of the Hamas ministry of the interior, July 16, 2014).

Mahmoud Abbas meets in Cairo with Nabil al-Arabi, secretary general of the Arab League

Mahmoud Abbas meets in Cairo with Nabil al-Arabi, secretary general of the Arab League

Overview

1.            On July 16, 2014, the UN asked for a "humanitarian pause [in the fighting]" to allow the Gazan population to purchase necessities and repair the infrastructure. Israel and Hamas agreed. The pause began on July 17 at 1000 hours and ended at 1500 hours. It was violated after two hours by mortar shell fire from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev. At 1459 hours heavy rocket fire attacks into Israel recommenced. In addition, on the morning of July 17, a showcase attack in the western Negev was prevented. (Note: In view of the ongoing rocket fire and ground attacks, and Hamas' rejection of the ceasefire, on the night of July 17 the IDF began a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.)

2.            Futile contacts have begun in Cairo for an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with the participation of Mahmoud Abbas (the Palestinian Authority), Musa Abu Marzouq (Hamas) and Ziyad al-Nakhaleh (the Palestinian Islamic Jihad). The Israeli media reported an Israel delegation that included Yoram Cohen, head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), paid a short visit to Cairo and returned to Israel.

3.            Statements from senior Israeli and Hamas figures indicate that both sides oppose the limited understandings of the ceasefire that ended Operation Pillar of Defense. Israel wants an agreement that will ensure a long-term ceasefire based on a severe blow to the infrastructures of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, which will improve Israel's deterrence. Hamas wants to wrest societal and economic achievements from Israel and make political capital from the agreement that will relieve the political-strategic straits it finds itself in and help it secure its control of the Gaza Strip. (For example, it wants the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing, the revoking of limitations on the crossings with Israel, arrangements for paying the salaries of its tens out thousands of employees, economic help to rebuild the Gaza Strip, and the release of the Hamas operatives and terrorist operatives freed in the Gilad Shalit deal redetained in Operation Brothers' Keeper.)

Infiltration into Israeli Territory via Terrorist Tunnel Prevented

4.            Before dawn on July 17, a few hours before the humanitarian pause in the fighting was supposed to go into effect, IDF forces prevented a Hamas attack by operatives using a tunnel. At around 0430 hours a terrorist squad of 13 operatives attempted to enter Israeli territory via a tunnel from the Gaza Strip. They were identified by IDF surveillance near the Sufa crossing (southern Gaza Strip) as they entered Israeli territory. IDF forces sent to the site attacked the terrorist operatives and the tunnel shaft, identifying a number of hits. There were no casualties among the IDF forces. Weapons left by the terrorists were found near the tunnel opening (IDF Spokesman and Ynetnews.co.il, July 17, 2014). Thus the IDF again prevented Hamas from carrying out a showcase attack in Israeli territory to create an "image of victory."

5.            Hamas' military-terrorist wing claimed responsibility for the attempted attack near the Sufa crossing (Qassam.ps, July 17, 2014).

Left: Some of the weapons found at the site of the infiltration (IDF Spokesman, July 17, 2014). Right: The region of the attempted attack.
Left: Some of the weapons found at the site of the infiltration (IDF Spokesman, July 17, 2014). Right: The region of the attempted attack.
Click https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=741768219203031 for the video

The Humanitarian Pause in the Fighting

6.            On the evening of July 16, 2014, after the UN had made repeated requests (including from Robert Serry, the UN envoy to the Middle East), Israel decided to authorize a five-hour humanitarian pause in the fighting. It was in effect on July 17, 2014, between 1000 hours and 1500 hours, to allow the Gazan population to purchase necessities and repair damages to the infrastructure (IDF Spokesman, July 17, 2014).

7.            Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that Hamas would comply with the UN request and stop fighting for five hours (Facebook page of Sami Abu Zuhri, July 16, 2014).

8.            On the morning of July 17, 2014, before the pause went into effect, Israel was attacked with a heavy barrage of rockets. The locations attacked were the greater Tel Aviv area, the entire coastal plain, Beersheba, Ashqelon, Ashdod and the populated areas around the Gaza Strip. Several civilians sustained minor injuries, primarily from running to shelters. Five civilians were treated for shock. One rocket hit high tension wires and there were power outages in several Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip. Israel was also attacked with rocket fire during the humanitarian pause. At 1200 hours, two hours after it went into effect, sirens were sounded in the western Negev. Three rocket hits were identified in open areas. There were no casualties and no damage was reported. Heavy rocket and mortar shell fire was renewed as soon as the pause ended.

IDF Activity
Attacks on Terrorist Targets in the Gaza Strip

9.            The IDF continued attacking terrorist targets from the air. More than 1,800 terrorist targets have been attacked since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. They include more than 700 concealed rocket launchers, 300 military camps and posts, approximately 220 terrorist tunnels, and about 100 senior terrorist operatives (IDF Spokesman, July 17, 2014).

10.          During the past 24 hours more than 100 terrorist targets have been attacked, including the following:

1)               On the evening of July 16, 2014, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft attacked operatives who were preparing to fire or in the process of firing rockets into Israeli territory.

2)               On the afternoon of July 16, 2014, during an attack on a target near the shore from which terrorist activity was launched, four children were killed. The IDF is investigating the circumstances. Hamas is trying to use the deaths to win the support of world public opinion by representing them as "slaughter" and "the murder of the children of the Gaza Strip."

3)               On the evening of July 16, 2014, Hamas buildings were attacked, including Hamas' national security service headquarters and the house of senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya.

The Gazan Population

11.          According to ITIC information,243 Gazans have been killed since the beginning of the operation (as of noon, July 17), and more than 1,700 have been wounded.

12.          Distribution (not final) of those killed is as follows:

1)               93 terrorist operatives:

a)   48 Hamas operatives

b)    33 PIJ operatives

c)   12 operatives from other terrorist organizations      

2)               95 non-involved Palestinians

3)               55 Palestinians whose identity is not yet known

 

Support for the Gazan Population

13.          The Hamas ministry of the interior and national security announced it had opened a joint situation room for all its security services, which would operate around the clock. They would deal with requests for help from Gazans and provide a hotline for emergencies (Website of the ministry of the interior, July 16, 2014). In ITIC assessment, opening the situation room is a Hamas attempt to respond to the distress of the Gazan population.

14.          The UAE's Red Crescent Society announced it had completed preparations for sending equipment for a field hospital to Ismailia, Egypt, from where it would be transferred to the Gaza Strip. According to the hospital director there were operating rooms, and intensive care, surgical and burn units. A staff of more than 50 will accompany the hospital (Alresala.net, July 16, 2014).

Rocket Fire

15.          Since the beginning of the operation approximately 1,185 rockets have fallen Israeli territory. The Iron Dome aerial defense system has intercepted more than 176 rockets targeting population centers throughout the country. In addition, according to the IDF Spokesman, about 100 rockets misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, July 16, 2014).

16.          During the past 24 hours heavy rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory continued, and 120 rocket hits were identified. The main events were the following:

1)               In the late evening a barrage of seven rockets was fired at Ashdod. One of the rockets hit the roof of a school. There were no casualties but the building was damaged. A short time earlier, a barrage of six rockets was fired at Ashqelon.

2)               In the evening the Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted three rockets targeting Kiryat Gat (north of Beersheba).

3)               In the morning a barrage of rockets was fired at the center of the country. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted four of them. A house in Tel Aviv was hit.

Daily Distribution of Rocket Fire from the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge[1]

Daily Distribution of Rocket Fire from the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge

 Claims of Responsibility for Rocket Fire

17.          The military-terrorist wing of Hamas continued claiming responsibility for most of the rocket and mortar shell fire during the past 24 hours, including the attacks on Tel Aviv. Responsibility was also claimed by the military-terrorist wings of the PIJ, the PFLP, the DFLP and the Popular Resistance Committees. Local networks claimed responsibility for firing at populated areas around the Gaza Strip.

Left: An announcement issued by the PIJ's military-terrorist wing, warning Israel of "surprises" (Gaza al-A'an website, July 17, 2014). Right: PIJ claims of 906 rockets and missiles fired as of July 17, 2014 (a number that seems exaggerated): 582 107mm rockets, 287 Grads, 32 Buraqs, five Fajrs, 81 mortar shells and one Kornet missile (Paltoday.ps, July 17, 2014).
Left: An announcement issued by the PIJ's military-terrorist wing, warning Israel of "surprises" (Gaza al-A'an website, July 17, 2014). Right: PIJ claims of 906 rockets and missiles fired as of July 17, 2014 (a number that seems exaggerated): 582 107mm rockets, 287 Grads, 32 Buraqs, five Fajrs, 81 mortar shells and one Kornet missile (Paltoday.ps, July 17, 2014).

18.          Mahmoud Nizal, a member of Hamas' political bureau, criticized the statement made by Ibrahim Kharisha at the UN about the rocket fire from Gaza Strip attacking Israeli civilians (Sawt al-Aqsa, July 16, 2014). Kharisha, the Palestinian representative to the UN Council of Human Rights, said that every rocket fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip was "a crime against humanity" (Odeh TV, July 13, 2014).

Activity on Other Fronts
Rocket Fire from Lebanon

19.          The Lebanese security forces continue to deal with rockets fired from Lebanese territory into Israel. According to the Lebanese media, Lebanese military intelligence detained two men suspected of firing the rockets from the region of the Lebanese coast. According to reports, interrogation established that the two were Palestinians from the Al-Rashidiya refugee camp, and operatives of a Palestinian Islamic organization. Lebanese army searches revealed additional rockets mounted on vehicles (Assafir.com, July 16, 2014).

Regional Distribution of Rocket Fire into Israel

Regional Distribution of Rocket Fire into Israel

The Crossings – Update
The Kerem Shalom Crossing

20.          Despite the unabated rocket fire and the IAF's attacks, the Kerem Shalom crossing remains open and continues functioning. Since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge 605 trucks have entered the Gaza Strip through the crossing, carrying food, medicines and medical equipment (as of the morning of July 16, 2014). In addition, 2.4 million liters of fuel for Gaza's power station were delivered, as well as 1.2 million liters of diesel fuel, 304,000 liters of gasoline, and 915 tons of cooking gas. More than 20 repairs were made to water, electrical and communications facilities (Cogat.idf.il, July 16, 2014).

The Erez Crossing

21.          During the operation so far, more than 1,000 individuals have entered Israel through the Erez crossing, more than 500 of them residents of the Gaza Strip with dual citizenship. On July 12, 2014, the crossing opened for medical evacuation although it is usually closed on Saturdays. On July 15, 2014, following the killing of an Israeli civilian, Hamas closed access to the crossing for five hours and delayed the exit of patients leaving for medical treatment (Cogat.idf.il, July 16, 2014).

Contacts in Cairo for a Ceasefire

22.          Contacts have begun in Egypt for an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, so far without result. On July 15, 2014, Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Egypt to discuss the situation and the possibility of a ceasefire. While in Egypt he met with Musa Abu Marzouq, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau. They discussed ways of supporting a lull and the Egyptian initiative. He also met with Nabil al-Arabi, the secretary general of the Arab League (Wafa.ps, July 16, 2014). According to reports, Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, the PIJ's deputy secretary general, arrived in Cairo after having received a formal invitation to discuss the proposal for a lull agreement (Paltoday.ps, July 16, 2014).

23.          The Israeli media reported that an Israeli delegation paid a shot visit to Cairo for contacts leading to a ceasefire. The delegation was made up of ISA head Yoram Cohen, Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu's representative to the talks, and Amos Gilad, head of the political-military affairs bureau in the ministry of defense.

24.          According to a "source reputedly close to Hamas," Hamas is supposed to present a document detailing its concept of a lull, whose conditions include the following (Aa.com.tr, July 16, 2014):

1)               Opening all the Gaza Strip crossings, including the Rafah crossing, 24 hours a day.

2)               The establishment of a naval passage to the Gaza Strip.

3)               Release of the terrorist operatives freed in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal who were redetained by Israel in Operation Brothers' Keeper.

[1]The graph indicates rocket hits in Israeli territory and does to include the massive mortar shell fire or rocket launches that failed.

This year, as in years past, summer camps in the Gaza Strip were exploited by Hamas for radical Islamic ideological indoctrination and semi-military training

A child fieldstrips a rifle in a summer camp held in a school classroom (Facebook page of the summer camps held in the region of Rafah, June 2, 2014).

A child fieldstrips a rifle in a summer camp held in a school classroom (Facebook page of the summer camps held in the region of Rafah, June 2, 2014).

Demonstrating firing a rocket: a child places a cardboard rocket in a rocket launcher while his instructor watches.

Demonstrating firing a rocket: a child places a cardboard rocket in a rocket launcher while his instructor watches.

Ismail Haniya speaks at the opening ceremony of the Al-Shati refugee camp summer camp.

Ismail Haniya speaks at the opening ceremony of the Al-Shati refugee camp summer camp.

Indoctrinating hatred of Israel: important visitors at the Khan Yunis summer camp are welcomed with a military

Indoctrinating hatred of Israel: important visitors at the Khan Yunis summer camp are welcomed with a military "honor guard" of youths wearing green Hamas caps as they walk on the Israeli flag

Activities in the Khzaa' summer camp, east of Khan Yunis

Activities in the Khzaa' summer camp, east of Khan Yunis

Military training the schoolyard during the summer camp held in Khzaa'.

Military training the schoolyard during the summer camp held in Khzaa'.

Gazan children simulate abducting an Israeli soldier from a burning jeep

Gazan children simulate abducting an Israeli soldier from a burning jeep

Girls at the Islamic Bloc's summer camp  (Facebook page of the summer camps at Tel al-Islam, June 10, 2014)

Girls at the Islamic Bloc's summer camp (Facebook page of the summer camps at Tel al-Islam, June 10, 2014)

Overview

1.            Every year summer camps are held throughout the Gaza Strip during the summer vacation, for the most part organized by Hamas (a small number are organized by the other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip and by Islamic associations). This year more than 120,000 Gazan children and pupils in the eighth through twelfth grades participated. The camps featured social activities, sports and entertainment alongside radical Islamic Hamas ideological indoctrination and semi-military training (including instruction in firing rockets and abducting IDF soldiers). The activities focused on three areas:

1)               Semi-military exercises – The exercises were an important part of the campers' activities this year as well, and included uniformed campers crawling on their stomachs, standing in parade formation, firing light arms, simulating firing rockets into Israeli territory, abducting and beating IDF soldiers, etc. They also studied military theory, such as operating weapons. Their instructors wore uniforms and some of them belonged to the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing. Military training is integrated into the Al-Futuwwa[1] program held in the schools during the academic year, introduced into the curriculum by Hamas in 2012, for tens of thousands of Gazan youths who receive theoretical and practical military training as part of their required studies.[2]

2)               Radical Islamic Hamas indoctrination – Hamas operatives indoctrinate the youths with Hamas' brand of radical Islam. They particularly stress themes of the conflict with Israel, among them the so-called "liberation" of Palestine [i.e., the destruction of the State of Israel], adherence to jihad and the armed terrorist struggle against Israel [the "resistance"] as the only way to resolve the conflict, and the so "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees.

3)               Current events and propaganda – The activities focus on solidarity and identification with the Palestinian terrorist operatives imprisoned in Israeli jails. Especially prominent this year was the hunger strike held by the administrative detainees. The campers prepared displays related to the theme of hunger strikes and similar activities were held. The campers also participated in solidarity marches, walked on Israeli flags and held mock trials for high-ranking Israeli military and political figures.

2.            Hamas (and the other terrorist organizations) use the summer camps effectively to indoctrinate Gazan children and adolescents with the ideology of jihad and radical Islam. The camps are part of the Gaza Strip's educational system, in which tens of thousands of Gazan children and youths receive semi-military training in governmental schools. Hamas uses its educational system to train new generations of activists, operatives and supporters who will join the Hamas movement and its military-terrorist wing, will take part in terrorist activities against Israel, and ensure Hamas' long-term control over the Gaza Strip.

3.            Summer camp and Al-Futuwwa activities illustrate how Hamas uses its control over the Gaza Strip's educational system. In theory, the governmental schools are subordinate to the office of Khawla Shakhsheer, the Palestinian minister of education (in the recently-formed national consensus government). However, in reality, the educational system is controlled and directed by Hamas and the national consensus government in Ramallah has no effective influence on it.[3]

Dr. Ziyad Thabet, deputy minister of education in the Gaza Strip, who supervises school activities (with no effective control) from Ramallah (Website of the ministry of education in the Gaza Strip, July 2, 2014)
Dr. Ziyad Thabet, deputy minister of education in the Gaza Strip, who supervises school activities (with no effective control) from Ramallah (Website of the ministry of education in the Gaza Strip, July 2, 2014)

The Hamas Summer Camps
Overview

4.            At the end of April 2014 Hamas announced the opening of its annual summer camps. This year, according to the announcement, the slogan of the camps would be "The torch of freedom," whose objective would be to indoctrinate the youth with the need to preserve "the historical, national rights of the Palestinian people."[4] The summer camps began at the beginning of June in 17, 2014 refugee camps in the Gaza Strip. The camps were divided into weekly sessions. About 100,000 children and pupils in the eighth to twelfth grades participated in the Hamas summer camps. Most of them were controlled by Hamas, partially because UNRWA, Hamas' main competitor, stopped running camps because of a budget deficit and because of Hamas' efforts to influence the themes imparted to the campers, as well as physical attacks by Salafist elements.

5.            The camps, especially those for boys, featured extensive semi-military activities which included theoretical military subjects, learning about weapons and practicing presenting arms. They were divided into groups to learn how to use weapons, how to navigate and run obstacle courses, etc. (Al-monitor.com, June 19, 2014). Most of the lessons, including those about the use of weapons, were held in schools or mosques.

The Objectives of the Camps

6.            The Hamas leadership considers the camps and their activities very important, and many of them visited the camps in session and participated in the opening and closing ceremonies. Ismail Haniya, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, attended the opening ceremony in the Al-Shati refugee camp. He gave a speech in which he said that Hamas was educating the Palestinians both ideologically and religiously, and inculcating them with the concept of jihad so that they would be able to release the [Palestinian terrorist] prisoners from Israeli jails. He also said that the fact that the camps continued to be held proved that Hamas "adheres to its path of jihad" (Safa.ps, June 7, 2014). Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said that the camps were the first spark of what he called the "generation of liberation," which would bear the task of liberating the prisoners and the holy places (Kotla.ps, june3, 2014).

7.            Hamza Ahmed, an instructor at one of the camps in the Saraya region of the Gaza Strip, said in an interview thatthe military exercises corresponded to Hamas' ideology. He said that because the Palestinians were in a state of conflict with Israel the camps had to hold military activities as well as cultural activities. He said that the younger generation bore a great responsibility for the future, and therefore it had to be emotionally and physically ready to deal with a military confrontation. "The Zionist enemy took the land by force and it will only be taken back by force. This is what we teach these boys, who are the future generation..." (Al-monitor.com, June 19, 2014).

8.            At the closing ceremony of a camp held for high school students in the Rafah region, Tawfiq Abu Naim, a released prisoner, head of the Waad Association for Detainees and Released Prisoners said that "We rely on these young people, who in the future will liberate Palestine and the holy places and the prisoners." He added that "We are proud of them because these camps are meant to create a new generation, strong and determined" (Facebook page of the Rafah region's summer camps, June 19, 2014; Safa.ps, June 20, 2014).

Indoctrinating hatred of Israel: important visitors at the Khan Yunis summer camp are welcomed with a military "honor guard" of youths wearing green Hamas caps as they walk on the Israeli flag  (Facebook page of the Khan Yunis region's summer camps, June 16, 2014).
Indoctrinating hatred of Israel: important visitors at the Khan Yunis summer camp are welcomed with a military "honor guard" of youths wearing green Hamas caps as they walk on the Israeli flag (Facebook page of the Khan Yunis region's summer camps, June 16, 2014).

Hamas Summer Camp Program
Examples of Semi-Military Exercises and Training

9.            The following are examples of semi-military exercises and training held in summer camps in the Gaza Strip during June 2014. The pictures and inscriptions indicate that most of them took place in schools, and some of them in mosques.

10.          In the summer camp held in the town of Khzaa', east of Khan Yunis, semi-military training was held in the schoolyard. The activities included rocket fire practice and navigating an obstacle course of burning tires while in uniform and holding toy guns. The Hamas instructors also wore uniforms. Hamas flags decorated the area (Facebook page of the Khzaa' summer camp, June 16, 2014).

11.          Simulating an abduction – On June 21, 2014, a military exercise was held in a schoolyard in the Khan Yunis region. The campers practiced firing rockets and abducting Israeli soldiers from a jeep and from an Israeli post after a raid (Gaza Al-'Aan, June 21, 2014). According to the summer camps Facebook page, "a camp in the central region carried out a 'military raid'... It ended with the abduction of two Zionist enemy soldiers. They [the campers who carried out the raid] negotiated for their release in return for the release of all our prisoners in enemy jails and in return for recognition of the state of Palestine and its capital, Jerusalem."

12.          High school students in the Rafah region participated in a summer camp called "Knights of Hamas." There were 250 campers and they were divided into companies. Each company was named for a senior Hamas terrorist currently imprisoned in Israel. The camp lasted for ten days and campers learned combat skills, underwent military training, and learned to give first aid. The closing ceremony was held in an area marked out for training near the Gaza-Egypt border on June 19, 2014. It was attended by senior Hamas national security apparatus figures, released prisoners, Rafah notables and the campers' families. During the ceremony the campers demonstrated various military exercises they had learned (Facebook page of the Rafah-region summer camp, June 19, 2014; Safa.ps, June 20 2014).

13.          Campers at a summer camp in the Ma'an neighborhood near Khan Yunis practiced firing Kalashnikov assault rifles (under the tutelage of Hamas terrorist operatives), and simulating the takeover of an Israeli military post and of the abduction of a soldier (Facebook page of the Khan Yunis-region summer camp, June 23, 2014).

Training for Girls

14.          Some of the summer camps, attended only by girls, also have semi-military training activities. For example, the girls' camp in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City they were seen masked and in uniform while marching with Hamas flags. They formed themselves into the words "water and salt," the slogan of the hunger-striking Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails, as a way of showing their solidarity (Facebook page of the girls' summer camps, June 23, 2014).

Inculcating Hamas' Radical Islamic Ideology

15.          As in past years, this year as well the summer camps provided a convenient pulpit from which Hamas could preach its radical Islamic ideology. Among the topics studied were the "themes" of "the liberation of Palestine" and the destruction of the State of Israel, adherence to the path of jihad ("the culture of the resistance"), the cult of the shaheeds, and other aspects of Hamas' ideology and strategy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Senior activists from Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations visited the camps and preached politics and Islam to the campers.

16.          One of the activities at a summer camp west of Gaza City was the Hamas version of Snakes and Ladders. The snakes were IDF soldiers, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and the late Ariel Sharon, while the ladders were rockets. The aim of the game was to reach Al-Aqsa mosque (Siraj, June 16, 2014).

17.          At a summer camp held in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip, the campers held a mock trial for senior IDF officers and Israeli government figures, trying them for their so-called "crimes against the Palestinian people." The "criminals" were put into cages, sentenced to death and executed (Siraj, June 11, 2014).

Including Campers in Propaganda Events

18.          Many campers attended Hamas rallies and marches. Particularly conspicuous was their attendance at events held to show solidarity with the administrative detainees. For example, there was a solidarity march for the hunger-striking detainees during the Khzaa' summer camp, sponsored by Hamas and its military-terrorist wing. The children marched holding rockets and toy rifles, carrying Hamas flags and pictures of the striking detainees (Facebook, June 17, 2014).

19.          A march was held in the summer camp in the Ma'an neighborhood of Khan Yunis, organized to show solidarity with the hunger-striking detainees and attended by children wearing uniforms, some of them masked. They held rifles and Qassam rockets, and carried pictures of terrorist operatives who had been killed and of Palestinian terrorist prisoners (Facebook page of the Khan Yunis-region summer camps, June 21, 2014).

20.          A Hamas-Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades march was held in Khan Yunis to show solidarity with the hunger-striking detainees. It was attended by about 1,000 campers. They carried Hamas flags and pictures of the detainees and Palestinian leaders held in Israeli jails (Facebook page of the summer camps east of Khan Yunis, June 11, 2014)

Summer Camps Sponsored by Islamic Associations

21.          Various Islamic associations also held summer camps throughout the Gaza Strip for Islamic indoctrination and Qur'an memorization. For example, Dar al-Qur'an wal-Sunna, affiliated with Hamas, held summer camps for Qur'an memorization. According to estimates they were attended by about 20,000 boys (Facebook page of Dar al-Qur'an wal-Sunna in the Rafah region, May 28, 2014). Separate camps were held for girls (Al-monitor.com, June 19, 2014).

22.          In the Zeitoun neighborhood in the southern part of Gaza City the Islamic Bloc ran a summer camp for girls. The girls wore uniforms at the opening ceremony (Facebook page of the summer camps at Tel al-Islam, June 10, 2014)

UNRWA Stops Running Its Summer Camps

23.          This year as well UNRWA will not open its traditional summer camps due, according to the agency, to a lack of resources for funding them. Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA's Gaza Strip spokesman, said that the agency had cancelled its camps this year because a financial crisis had rendered it unable to pay for them. He said he hoped next year the camps would reopen.

24.          According to a report, many parents who in the past had sent their children to UNRWA camps because they were cheap were forced this year to send them to camps run by Hamas or the other terrorist organizations. They said they were surprised to see their sons carrying weapons at camp. However, they also said that despite the fact that they did not agree with the camp activities, the need to give their children something to do during the summer vacation had forced them to send them to camps run by the various [terrorist] organizations.

25.          In past years UNRWA camps customarily had more than 250,000 children in attendance, but they have been closed for the past three years. In addition, in ITIC assessment, there are other reasons for their closure, the most salient of which are Hamas' strong criticism of the camps and their accusations of "corrupting the morality of the youth" because the camps were coeducational. Hamas also criticized the camps' educational program, which included issues such as peace and coexistence (See the Appendix for more information).

Appendix
Summer Camps in the Gaza Strip in Previous years

1.   The following is a list of ITIC bulletins relating to summer camps in the Gaza Strip:

1)  June 17, 2013 – "This Year as Well Summer Camps Open in the Gaza Strip, Run Mostly by the Terrorist Organizations."

2)  July 30, 2012 – " Hamas and the other terrorist organizations' summer camps in the Gaza Strip."

3)  August 7, 2011 – "This year’s summer camps in the Gaza Strip were once again used by Hamas and its military wing to combine social activity with Islamic and political indoctrination and paramilitary training."

4)  May 27, 2010 – "Educating the younger generation in the Gaza Strip: summer camps organized by UNRWA in “competition” with Hamas, are a target for threats and assaults."

5)  August 17, 2009 – "Hamas summer camps in the Gaza Strip integrate social activities with political and Islamic indoctrination and semi-military training."

6)  August 28, 2008 – "Summer camps in the Gaza Strip run by Hamas and other terrorist organizations inculcate youngsters with radical Islamic ideology and the culture of terrorism."

[1]Al-Futuwwa: "youth, courage, nobility of spirit."
[2]For further information about Al-Futuwwa see the May 8, 2013 bulletin "Hamas has introduced a program in Gaza Strip schools called Al-Futuwwa, which provides military training for tens of thousands of adolescent boys."
[3]Ziyad Thabet, deputy minister of education in the Gaza Strip, told newspaper correspondents that his ministry maintained connections with the minister of education of the national consensus government in Ramallah. However, the connections were weak and impractical. He said the minister in Ramallah did not help the ministry in the Gaza Strip conduct its day-to-day activities or allot it funds. Ministry employees in the Gaza Strip, he said, did not receive salaries from the government in Ramallah, and his ministry had to cancel a large number of programs because of lack of funding (Website of the ministry of education in the Gaza Strip, July 2, 2014).
[4]Musa al-Musak, chairman of the high camps' committee, said that the objective of the camps was to teach the campers values, morality and patriotism. He said that the slogan this year was meant to "promote the culture of inculcating the national fundamental principles in their hearts and to stress the commitment of the [Hamas] movement to the historical and national rights of the Palestinian people" (Felesteen.ps, June 1, 2014).