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Marwan Barghouti: Partner for Peace Negotiations or Terrorist?*

Demonstration in Judea and Samaria during the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, led by Marwan Barghouti. Demonstrators waved yellow Fatah flags and held pictures of Marwan Barghouti. The Arabic reads, "The engineer of the intifada and the symbol of national unity" (Arabs48, May 16, 2017)
Demonstration in Judea and Samaria during the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, led by Marwan Barghouti. Demonstrators waved yellow Fatah flags and held pictures of Marwan Barghouti. The Arabic reads, "The engineer of the intifada and the symbol of national unity" (Arabs48, May 16, 2017)

This study examines the milestones in the life of Marwan Barghouti in an effort to reveal and analyzethe profound changes that occurred over the years within Fatah and in his positions regarding Israel. One of the issues examined was why Barghouti, who supported the Oslo Accords, was perceived as a peace activist and held talks with a broad spectrum of Israeli public figures, later became a terrorist operative (convicted of the premeditated murder of five people and of directing the second intifada). This study also tries to evaluate the degree of Marwan Barghouti's popularity within Fatah and Palestinian society, and his chances of becoming Mahmoud Abbas' successor. Another issue examined is whether Barghouti, even after having been convicted of terrorist activity during the second intifada, could be a partner in negotiations for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

Main Points

1.   Marwan Barghouti (Abu Qassam)was born in the village of Kobar (northwest of Ramallah) in 1959. He joined the ranks of Fatah in 1974, at the age of 15. When he was 19 he was detained by Israel for the first time and spent two years in prison for being an operative in a Fatah squad that had carried out a terrorist attack. He enrolled in BirZeit University in 1983. In 1986 he was detained and expelled to Jordan. He returned to Ramallah in 1994 after the Oslo Accords. He finished his BA with a degree in history and political science. He received an MA from BirZeit University in international relations in 1998.

2.   After Marwan Barghouti returned to Judea and Samaria he supported the Oslo Accords,believing that eventually Israel would withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967 and that a Palestinian state would be established. During that period he was in contact with a broad spectrum of public figures in Israel's left, center, and security establishment, who regarded him as an authentic Palestinian leader and a central partner for peace.

3.   In 2000 he headed the Tanzim(Fatah's ground operatives who spearheaded terrorist attacks against Israel during the second intifada). However, he lost the May 2000 Tanzim elections to Hussein al-Sheikh. He refused to cede the leadership because of a dispute over the election. Yasser Arafat, who wanted to encourage competition between the two, preferred not to tip the scales in favor of one or the other. Barghouti's power struggles and his frustration with the conduct of Arafat and the veteran Fatah figures who had returned from Tunis also played an important role in radicalizing his positions on Israel.

4.   Towards the end of the 1990s, and especially after the Camp David failure (July 2000), Barghouti jettisoned the expectations he had fostered after the Oslo Accords. He formed the concept that the only way the Palestinians could realize their rights was through armed struggle. Such a change in perspective made him extremely militant towards Israel when the second intifada broke out, and he became a key figure in fomenting and directing it until he was detained by Israel.

5.   Marwan Barghouti was detained by the IDF on April 15, 2002, during Operation Defensive Shield. On June 6, 2004, the Tel Aviv district court convicted him of the premeditated murder of five people in three shooting attacks carried out in 2001-2002. According to the verdict, he was directly involved in those attacks, and therefore sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment. He was also sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in a suicide bombing attack that had been prevented.

6.   In addition to being convicted for murder, Marwan Barghouti was accused of heading a terrorist network that carried out attacks, including those in which he was not personally involved, for which he was sentenced to an additional 20 years. He was found guilty of aiding the terrorists who planned and carried out the attacks by providing them with money and weapons. According to the verdict, "he encouraged and influenced his operatives to continue carrying out lethal attacks; in every way possible, he supported the leaders of the terrorist squads who planned or carried out the attacks..."During the trial he represented himself as a peace-seeking political figure; the judges rejected the claim. During sentencing they determined that he was "up to his ears in terrorist activity" and that as far as he was concerned, the road to peace was paved with the blood of terrorism.

7.   Even after Barghouti's conviction and sentencing, there were public figures in Israel, mainly (but not exclusively) on the political left, who called for his release. They regarded him as a pragmatic Palestinian leader who would one day probably replace Mahmoud Abbas and be Israel's partner for peace. Some of the main arguments for releasing Barghouti are the following:

a.   Argument number one: Marwan Barghouti is not a terrorist but rather a pragmatic political leaderwho lost his way during the second intifada. His release will encourage the moderates in Palestinian society.

b.   Argument number two: Marwan Barghouti's political program is moderate, and is based on the solution of two states living side by side with the 1967 borders.      

c.   Argument number three: Marwan Barghouti is a strong figure.He will be able to lead the Palestinians to peace, despite his actions during the second intifada because you make peace, as the argument goes, with enemies, not friends.

d.   Argument number four: It is not worth Israel's while to keep Marwan Barghouti in prisonbecause he will probably win the Palestinian presidential election. Once he does, Israel will be subjected to extreme pressure to release himas the president-elect of Palestine, and the Israeli government is liable to be forced into releasing him.

8.   The findings of this study, as detailed below, contradict the aforementioned arguments:

a.   Marwan Barghouti is not a leader who went astray but rather a terrorist convicted by a court of law which determined he was "personally and genuinely involved in terrorist attacks against innocent Israeli civilians," all of them carried out inside the Green Line. At the trial the court determined that he tried to represent himself as a "political figure," claiming he was opposed to killing innocent civilians. However, according to the court, his statements "contradict his actions, as they have been proved before this court"(from the sentencing of Marwan Barghouti, June 6, 2004).

b.   After the 1990s (and especially during 2000), Barghouti formed the extremist concept that the use of terrorism and violence was key to conducting the conflict with Israel. According to what he has said and done while in jail, he has not changed the concept and his days as a peace activist belong to history (the years immediately following the Oslo Accords). One of his most prominent talking points is that while negotiating with Israel, the Palestinians must also exert pressure on Israel through terrorism and violence(the so-called "resistance"). Moreover, according to Barghouti, any agreement with Israel must include the implementation of the so-called "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel. Thus there is no way to define Barghouti as a peace activist or pragmatist. Rather, he is motivated by an extremist worldview which can only interfere with genuine Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

c.   Marwan Barghouti is not as powerful a figure as the supporters of his release claim.

1)  However, he is important and influential, leads public opinion polls and enjoys considerable popularity. In addition, he has a very good chance of being Mahmoud Abbas' successor(or of being elected to virtually any other senior political position). However, there is apparently a great discrepancy between his popularity and his genuine influence: as opposed to the era of the second intifada, he does not currently have an organized support network or a firm foothold on the groundto translate his popularity into practical achievements in the Palestinian street or inside and the Fatah movement (as seen by the many difficulties he faces in his extensive activities while in jail, as noted below).

2)  Barghouti has no significant influence on Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Even if he becomes the leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA), it is unlikely that PA will be able to enforce its authority on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

3)  Thus even if he is elected to succeed Mahmoud Abbas, in ITIC assessment it is very unlikely that his power in Fatah, foothold on the ground or status as compared with Hamas and the other terrorist organizations will enable him to lead the Palestinians to peace negotiations in which any Palestinian leadership will have to make controversial and difficult historic decisions.

d.   It is also argued that if Marwan Barghouti is chosen to succeed Mahmoud Abbas, Israel will receive requests and be under pressure from international agencies to release him. However, his terrorist record may make it easy for Israel to deny the requests: he was convicted on five counts of murder and played a key role in the second intifada (which caused the deaths of more than 1,000 Israelis, most of them civilians), both weapons in Israel's arsenal of reasons not to release him. In addition, his extremist political views and blatant support for continuing anti-Israel terrorism ("resistance") may help Israel resist pressure to release him.

9.   Marwan Barghouti's extremist concepts regarding the conflict with Israel, coupled with his problematic position within the Fatah movement and with the leaders of the Palestinian street, would seem to indicate that the expectations of those who regard him as a potential partner for a peace agreement, a kind of Palestinian Nelson Mandela, are somewhat exaggerated. Given his criminal terrorist record from the era of the second intifada and his extremist views on Israel, which he has continually voiced while in jail, there is every reason to assume that releasing him would not contribute to or promote peace negotiations. Rather, releasing him may undermine the negotiations' chances of success because he would raise extremist, unrealistic demands and encourage the continuation of the campaign of terrorism and violence against Israel. Thus in ITIC assessment, Marwan Barghouti is in no way a suitable partner for peace negotiations with Israel.

 

Sources

10.   This study is based on a variety of sources, which include information about Marwan Barghouti published in the Israeli, Palestinian and Western media; interviews with and statements made by Barghouti; results of investigations conducted into the activities of Barghouti and other terrorist operatives appearing in published legal documents and statements from expert witnesses and seized documents referred to in the documents dealing with his trial (which include verdicts, sentencing and documents published during his trial); documents seized by the IDF during Operation Defensive Shield (which shed light on Barghouti's modus operandi in terrorism during the second intifada); books, academic research and articles written about the second intifada and the era that preceded it.

Structure

11.   This study has three parts

a.   Part One – Marwan Barghouti's conduct in the internal Palestinian area and towards Israel

1)  Section 1: Profile of Marwan Barghouti

- Biography

- Milestones in the life of Marwan Barghouti

2)  Section 2: Marwan Barghouti's positions on Israel and his involvement in Fatah's internal power struggles (before the outbreak of the second intifada)

- Overview

- Support for the Oslo Accords and contacts with Israelis

- Radicalization during 2000

- Message of despair to Israeli interlocutors and hint of a threat

- Barghouti's internal struggle in Fatah (2000)

- Nakba Day events: a dress rehearsal for the second intifada (May 2000)

- Marwan Barghouti's actions at the outbreak of the second intifada (September 28-29, 2000)

- Conclusion: What led to the radicalization of Marwan Barghouti?

3)  Section 3: Detention, Trial and Conviction

b.   Part Two – Marwan Barghouti's involvement in terrorism during the second intifada

1)  Section 4: Felonies of which Marwan Barghouti was convicted

2)  Section 5: Terrorist attacks in which Marwan Barghouti was personally involved

- Shooting attack that killed the driver of a car on the Jerusalem-Ma'alehAdumim road (January 12, 2001)

- Shooting attack at the gas station near GivatZe'ev (January 15, 2002)

- Shooting attack at the Sea Food Market restaurant in Tel Aviv (March 5, 2002)

- Attempted suicide bombing attack in the Malha shopping mall in Jerusalem (March 26, 2002)

3)  Section 6: Marwan Barghouti's modus operandi in directing Fatah's terrorist networks

4)  Section 7: Financial support as a means for handling terrorist squads

c.   Part Three – Imprisonment

1)  Section 8: Marwan Barghouti's activities in the internal Palestinian arena during imprisonment

- The campaign for his release

- Palestinian presidential election (January 2005)

- Palestinian Legislative Council elections (January 2006)

- Winning the Central Committee elections (2009, 2006)

- Leading figure in Palestinian public opinion polls

- Conclusion: What are Barghouti's chances of being Mahmoud Abbas' successor?

2)  Section 9:Barghouti's positions on Israel during his imprisonment

- Positions on Israel expressed in statements and interviews smuggled out of jail

- Involvement in the ceasefire (hudna) between the terrorist organizations and Israel (2003)

- The "prisoners' document" (May 2006)

- Marketing the "prisoners' document" to Israeli interlocutors

- Prisoners' hunger strike led by Marwan Barghouti (April-May 2017)

[*]The full version of this study can be accessed in Hebrew on the ITIC website and is currently being translated into English. 

Pictures of Terrorist Prisoners and a Shaheed Distributed on the Temple Mount by Family of Palestinian Prisoner on Eid al-Fitr

"The prisoner Heisam al-Batat, serving two terms of life imprisonment" (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).

Israeli policemen attack the car of Musbah Abu Sabih in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem (al-Jazeera, date, 2017).

Israeli policemen attack the car of Musbah Abu Sabih in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem (al-Jazeera, date, 2017).

Terrorist Musbah Abu Sabih, called by the Palestinians

Terrorist Musbah Abu Sabih, called by the Palestinians "the lion of al-Aqsa," confronts Israeli security forces (Facebook page of mesh.hek, October 9, 2016). He had a long history of inciting violence and terrorism and of clashing with the Israeli security forces.

A prayer attached to the box, asking Allah to release the prisoners and return them to their families, safe and sound.   Picture of Musbah Abu Sabih, who on October 9, 2016, carried out a shooting attack at three locations in Jerusalem, killing two Israelis. Most of the pictures were of Hamas terrorists. The pictures of the boxes were posted to a Hamas-affiliated Facebook page (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).
For Eid al-Fitr, the family of a Palestinian prisoner distributed boxes of candy, decorated with pictures of Palestinian terrorists, on the Temple Mount. Left: A prayer attached to the box, asking Allah to release the prisoners and return them to their families, safe and sound. Right: Picture of Musbah Abu Sabih, who on October 9, 2016, carried out a shooting attack at three locations in Jerusalem, killing two Israelis. Most of the pictures were of Hamas terrorists. The pictures of the boxes were posted to a Hamas-affiliated Facebook page (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).
Overview

On June 26, 2017, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the family of a Palestinian terrorist prisoner distributed boxes of candy (or dried fruit) to people who had come to pray at al-Aqsa mosque. Pasted onto the boxes were pictures of Palestinian terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails for carrying out or planning to carry out terrorist attacks. Also pasted on the boxes was a prayer asking Allah to release the prisoners and return them safe and sound to the families. One box had the picture of a shaheed who carried out a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. He was shot and killed by the Israeli security forces.

Apparently the initiative to distribute the boxes came from a lone family (whose identity is unknown to us). However, it was not an exceptional occurrence, as shaheeds and prisoners are often glorified throughout the Palestinian Authority territories. The glorification is carried out both by the Palestinian establishment (media and the educational system) and through individual or local initiative (families, organizations, local councils, etc.)

The Pictures
Musbah Abu Sabih

Picture of Musbah Abu Sabih on a box of candy. The Arabic reads, "The shaheed Haj Musbah Abu Sabih. Imprisoned a number of times for..." (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).
Picture of Musbah Abu Sabih on a box of candy. The Arabic reads, "The shaheed Haj Musbah Abu Sabih. Imprisoned a number of times for..." (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).

On October 9, 20216, Musbah Abu Sabih carried out a combined shooting and vehicular attack on Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, killing two Israelis and wounding five. He drove from the French Hill to the light railway station across from Israeli police headquarters. He shot at people waiting for the train and at a woman sitting in her car at the side of the road. When he noticed Israeli security forces he shot at them as well. The Israeli security forces shot and killed him (IDF spokesman and ZAKA, October 9, 2017)

Musbah Abu Sabih came from a prosperous, well-known family (a branch of the Abu Sneina clan) originally from Hebron. Over the years part of the family moved to the neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem. Abu Sabih's father settled in al-Ram, in the northern part of Jerusalem. He bought a candy store, where Musbah Abu Sabih worked. As a child Musbah Abu Sabih lived in al-Ram, but after he married he moved to the village of 'Aqab, north of Jerusalem. After he carried out the terrorist attack IDF forces destroyed the house in 'Aqab.

Heisam al-Batat

"The prisoner Heisam al-Batat, serving two terms of life imprisonment" (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).
"The prisoner Heisam al-Batat, serving two terms of life imprisonment" (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017).

Heisam al-Batat lived in the village of Dhahiriya in south Mt. Hebron. He was an operative in Hamas' military-terrorist wing. He was responsible for dispatching a two-man Hamas squad to carry out a shooting attack near the headquarters of the IDF's Southern Command in Beer Sheba on February 10, 2002. Two soldiers were killed in the attack and 31 people were wounded. The two terrorist operatives were killed. Al-Batat met with them before they left for the attack, photographed them, received their "wills" and gave them weapons for the attack.

He was detained in June 2002. While he was under detention his squad carried out two shooting attacks in the region of Dhahiriya. In the attack on February 24, 2004, two Israelis were killed when Palestinians shot at their vehicle. Heisam al-Batat was released in February 2004, returned to his terrorist squad and was involved in a number of additional shooting attacks.

The last attack the squad under his command carried out was at the central bus station in Beer Sheba on August 28, 2005. More than 50 people were wounded. An explosive belt was prepared for the attack. Heisam al-Batat, also an explosives expert, took part in its preparation. After the suicide bomber was identified the squad's operatives were detained. Al-Batat was detained in his village on October 12, 2005. He is serving two terms of life imprisonment for being the squad's commander. He is the nephew of Hamas operative Iyad al-Batat, who carried out a number of terrorist attacks and was killed by IDF forces in 1999.

Haj Nihad Zghir worked in the waqf department in Jerusalem. He was detained at the beginning of June 2017 at the Allenby Bridge as he was returning from Mecca. In the past he had been removed from the Temple Mount and forbidden entry a number of times.

Imad Khaled al-Rajbi lived in Jerusalem. He belonged to a Hamas terrorist squad whose operatives from Hebron and Jerusalem were detained in December 2015. The squad planned to abduct and kill Israelis and to use their bodies as bargaining chips. He has not yet been sentenced.

Ziyad Abu Hadwan lived in east Jerusalem. He belonged to a Hamas terrorist squad whose operatives from Hebron and Jerusalem were detained in December 2015. The squad planned to abduct and kill Israelis and to use their bodies as bargaining chips. He was convicted of violent activity on the Temple Mount. After his release he returned to his former activities in a terrorist squad.

Female Terrorist Shurouq Dawiat

"Prisoner Shurouq Dawiat. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison" (Facebook page of Hima News, June 25, 2017).

Shurouq Dawiat, about 20 years old, came from the village of Sur Bahr in east Jerusalem. She studied education at Bethlehem University. On October 7, 2015, she carried out a stabbing attack on Hagai Street in the Old City of Jerusalem, seriously wounding an Israeli civilian. The man took his gun and shot her. She was evacuated to a hospital in critical condition. A few days before the attack she wrote on her Facebook page that she wanted to be a martyr.

Wa'el al-Rajbi

"Wa'el al-Rajbi, imprisoned for five years and eight months" (Facebook page of Palinfo, June 26, 2017). The picture in the background was taken during his detention.

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (June 14 –20, 2017)

Palestinians carried out a combined terrorist attack in two locations near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Palestinians carried out a combined terrorist attack in two locations near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Palestinians carried out a combined terrorist attack in two locations near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Palestinians carried out a combined terrorist attack in two locations near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

An old picture of the three terrorists (Palinfo Twitter account, June 18, 2017).

An old picture of the three terrorists (Palinfo Twitter account, June 18, 2017).

Usama 'Atta at the Kaaba in Mecca (Facebook page of Usama 'Atta, May 18, 2017).

Usama 'Atta at the Kaaba in Mecca (Facebook page of Usama 'Atta, May 18, 2017).

Stone thrown by a Palestinian at an Israeli vehicle near the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem (Facebook page of the Shehab news agency, June 15, 2017).

Stone thrown by a Palestinian at an Israeli vehicle near the village of Husan, west of Bethlehem (Facebook page of the Shehab news agency, June 15, 2017).

Demonstrators wave Palestinian and Qatari flags during a riot near the border security fence (Palinfo Twitter account, June 16, 2017).

Demonstrators wave Palestinian and Qatari flags during a riot near the border security fence (Palinfo Twitter account, June 16, 2017).

The Turkish ship anchored in the southern Turkish port of Mersin  (Palinfo Twitter account, June 19, 2017).

The Turkish ship anchored in the southern Turkish port of Mersin (Palinfo Twitter account, June 19, 2017).

  • This past week Palestinian terrorist events focused on a simultaneous combined terrorist attack carried out at two locations in east Jerusalem (the Nablus Gate and the nearby Cave of Zedekiah). A Border Policewoman was killed. The three terrorists who carried out the attack came from the village of Deir Abu Mash'al, near Ramallah. Two of them were affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the third with Hamas. According to their Facebook pages, their motivation was religious ("Allah, end our deeds with a righteous accomplishment so that through it we may meet you.").
  • Hamas and the PFLP both reported that operatives affiliated with their movements had carried out the attack. ISIS issued a false statement claiming responsibility. Fatah, as usual, accused Israel of "war crimes" without mentioning the terrorist attack or the death of the Border Policewoman.
  • The energy authority in the Gaza Strip reported that Israel had begun reducing the amount of electricity it supplied. A Hamas spokesman warned the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel about the measure's destructive consequences. The Hamas-affiliated "national authority to break the siege on the Gaza Strip" called on Gazans to demonstrate near the border and clash with the IDF to protest the cut in electricity.
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Terrorists Attacks
Combined Terrorist Attack near the Nablus Gate in East Jerusalem
  • In the early evening of June 16, 2017, three Palestinian terrorists armed with knives and an improvised sub-machine gun went to the area near the Nablus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem and carried out two simultaneous attacks:
  • One attack was carried out at in front of the Cave of Zedekiah on Sultan Suleiman Street. Two terrorist operatives, one armed with an improvised sub-machine gun ("Carlo") and the other with a knife, tried to attack Israeli security forces stationed there. The police shot and killed them.
  • The other attack was carried out near the Nablus Gate (a few hundred yards from the first). A Palestinian mortally stabbed a Border Policewoman. She was evacuated to a hospital and later died. Another Border Policeman suffered minor wounds and two civilians were wounded by gunfire. The terrorist was shot and killed by Israeli security forces.
  • The attacks were carried out by a local three-man terrorist squad whose operatives were 18-19 years old, all of them from the village of Deir Abu Mash'al (west of Ramallah). Two of them were affiliated with the PFLP and one with Hamas. They did not have permits to enter Israeli territory. Two of them had been detained in the past by the Israeli security forces for participating in riots and had served short prison sentences. According to the initial investigation, they had been planning the attack for weeks and apparently were not handled by any organization.
  • According to the investigation, the quick response of the Border Policemen and the fact that the machinegun misfired prevented a much more serious attack.

Communication between the three terrorists on Facebook. On April 17, 2013, Usama 'Atta, one of the terrorists, virtually told the other two operatives of the squad he was planning to end his life with a "righteous accomplishment" so that he could meet Allah. His friends, 'Adel 'Ankush and Baraa 'Atta responded that they fully agreed. Usama 'Atta's answer to them reads as follows: "We pass through life and the world is not ours. One day we will pass [away] and leave everything behind us. Allah, end our deeds with a righteous accomplishments so that through it we may meet you." 'Adel Ankush answered, "by Allah, amen." Baraa' Saleh ('Atta) answered, "Amen" (Facebook page of Usama 'Atta, April 13, 2017).
Communication between the three terrorists on Facebook. On April 17, 2013, Usama 'Atta, one of the terrorists, virtually told the other two operatives of the squad he was planning to end his life with a "righteous accomplishment" so that he could meet Allah. His friends, 'Adel 'Ankush and Baraa 'Atta responded that they fully agreed. Usama 'Atta's answer to them reads as follows: "We pass through life and the world is not ours. One day we will pass [away] and leave everything behind us. Allah, end our deeds with a righteous accomplishments so that through it we may meet you." 'Adel Ankush answered, "by Allah, amen." Baraa' Saleh ('Atta) answered, "Amen" (Facebook page of Usama 'Atta, April 13, 2017).

  •  Personal information about the three terrorists:
  • Baraa' Ibrahim Saleh 'Atta – 19 years old, reportedly a PFLP operative. He was detained in 2015 for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails and imprisoned in Israel for a year. His Facebook name was Baraa' Saleh; only his Facebook friends could view his page.
  • Usama Ahmed Mustafa 'Atta – 19 years old, reportedly a PFLP operative. He was detained in 2014 for throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and imprisoned in Israel for a number of months. His father was detained during the first intifada and sentenced to five years in prison. With his release he was deported to the Gaza Strip. When the Palestinian Authority was established the father returned to his village. Usama's older brother Muhammad was sentenced to a year and a half in prison. His younger brother Mansour, 14 years old, was detained two months ago and is awaiting trial (al-Araby al-Jadeed, June 17, 2017). Usama's Facebook page contains a great deal of Islamic religious material including, verses and entire pages from the Qur'an, and "shared" sections of Islamic sermons. In May 2017, about a month before the attack, he went to Mecca (Facebook page of Usama 'Atta, May 18, 2017).
  • 'Adel Hassan Ahmed 'Ankush
  • Eighteen years old, reportedly a Hamas operative. His brother Tareq was imprisoned in Israel for throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles. 'Adel's Facebook homepage has the inscription, " 'Adel 'Ankush, at your orders, al-Aqsa." He says he hopes Allah will be satisfied with him. His Facebook page is full of religious material, including quotations from Muslim sermonizers and an anti-abortion video. There are also pictures of Hamas terrorist operatives, including Bassem al-Takrouri who carried out a suicide bombing attack on the French Hill in Jerusalem in May 2003 (Facebook page of 'Adel 'Ankush).
  • His mother said he was determined to pray at al-Aqsa mosque and always complained of the restrictions Israel placed on Muslims who wanted to go there (Watan channel, June 17, 2017). Before he left for the terrorist attack in Jerusalem he left a "will" for his parents. In it he praised the path of jihad for the sake of Allah and the great rewards that accompanied it. He asked his family not to mourn him because he would be paradise. He asked his mother to behave like the mothers of other shaheeds, to be patient and understanding, and not to be sad because paradise was of high value (Nablus News, June 20, 2017).

Left: The "will" 'Adel 'Ankush left for his parents before he left to carry out the terrorist attack in Jerusalem (Nablus News, June 20, 2017). Right: 'Adel Ankush stands on the Israeli flag (Palinfo Twitter account, June 17, 2017).
Left: The "will" 'Adel 'Ankush left for his parents before he left to carry out the terrorist attack in Jerusalem (Nablus News, June 20, 2017). Right: 'Adel Ankush stands on the Israeli flag (Palinfo Twitter account, June 17, 2017).

  • Three terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for the attack:
  • ISIS – ISIS's Amaq agency, posting on a number of ISIS-affiliated websites, claimed the attack in Jerusalem had been carried out by "the lions of the Caliphate," calling the three Abu al-Baraa' al-Maqdisi, Abu Hassan al-Maqdisi, and Abu Rabah al-Maqdisi. The ISIS announcement threatened it was not the last "action" and that the Jews could expect their country to be destroyed by the "soldiers of the Caliphate." It was the first time ISIS had claimed responsibility for an attack carried out in Israeli territory in general and Jerusalem in particular. In ITIC assessment the announcement was baseless. The ITIC has no information about any link, either operative or ideological, between the terrorists who carried out the attack and ISIS, or even the possibility that they may have been inspired by ISIS. However, their families and the residents of Deir Abu Mash'al denied any connection between the terrorists who had carried out the attack and ISIS (Facebook page of Ramallah al-Akhbariya, June 16, 2017)
  • HamasSenior Hamas figure Izzat al-Rishq tweeted that the three "heroic shaheeds of the action in Jerusalem" had no ties to ISIS and belonged to the PFLP and Hamas. He added that the action had been carried out as a "private initiative" (Twitter account of Izzat al-Rishq, June 16, 2017). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said ISIS's claim was an attempt to blur the facts and that the action had been carried out by two Palestinians from the PFLP and one from Hamas (Paldf Twitter account and Hamas website, June 16, 2017). Senior Hamas figure Taher al-Nunu said Hamas' objective was to have such actions continue and that ISIS's announcement had been forged by Israeli intelligence (Dunia al-Watan, June 18, 2017).
  • The PFLP – The PFLP confirmed that two of its operatives had carried out the attack. They called it "Operation Promise of al-Buraq."[1] According to the organization's announcement, they would continue fighting Israel until the liberation of Palestine (Paldf Twitter account, June 16, 2017). Maher al-Taher, a member of the PFLP's political bureau, said the attack was the fruit of collaboration between the PFLP and Hamas, and that it was a call to the military wings of all the organizations to collaborate (al-Mayadeen, date, 2017).

Left: Hamas cartoon published after the terrorist attack in Jerusalem: "Operation Promise of al-Buraq" (Palinfo Twitter account, June 17, 2017). Right: Notice issued by the PFLP reporting the deaths of two of its operatives, released prisoners Baraa' and Usama 'Atta; it also mentions 'Adel 'Ankush (Twitter account of Voice of the PFLP, date, 2017)
Left: Hamas cartoon published after the terrorist attack in Jerusalem: "Operation Promise of al-Buraq" (Palinfo Twitter account, June 17, 2017). Right: Notice issued by the PFLP reporting the deaths of two of its operatives, released prisoners Baraa' and Usama 'Atta; it also mentions 'Adel 'Ankush (Twitter account of Voice of the PFLP, date, 2017)

  • The PA and Fatah, as usual, did not condemn the terrorists who carried out the attack. On the contrary, Fatah condemned the "occupation forces" in Jerusalem and the "war crimes" Israel had carried out against three young Palestinians. Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh said in a statement that the silence of the international community regarding the on-going occupation and its crimes encouraged Israel to spill Palestinian blood. He added that the crime Israel carried out in cold blood and the lives Israel had taken of three young Palestinians were proof of that (Wafa, June 16, 2017). His announcement made no mention of the terrorist attack the three had carried out and the murder of the Border Policewoman.

 

  • To celebrate, residents of Deir Abu Mash'al held a march to the houses of the three terrorists and distributed candy. The local Facebook page commemorated them and changed its theme picture to a picture of all three, adding, "To you. [You deserve] congratulations and all the purity of the sky. You are here and there and everywhere. May peace be upon your souls" (Facebook page Deir Abu Mash'al, June 18, 2017).

Left: The Facebook page of Deir Abu Mash'al commemorates and glorifies the three terrorists operatives who carried out the terrorist attack in east Jerusalem. Right: Spontaneous outbreak of joy: a celebratory march to the houses of the three terrorist operatives in Deir Abu Mash'al (Facebook page Deir Abu Mash'al, June 18, 2017).
Left: The Facebook page of Deir Abu Mash'al commemorates and glorifies the three terrorists operatives who carried out the terrorist attack in east Jerusalem. Right: Spontaneous outbreak of joy: a celebratory march to the houses of the three terrorist operatives in Deir Abu Mash'al (Facebook page Deir Abu Mash'al, June 18, 2017).

Israel's Response
  • In response to the attacks Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu held a meeting to evaluate the situation. It was decided to cancel permission for Palestinians to enter Israel during Ramadan. However, Palestinians who wanted to pray on the Temple Mount could continue to enter the country as usual.
  • The IDF and the Israeli security forces carried out activities in the village of Deir Abu Mash'al (where the terrorists lived). A closure was imposed on the village and relatives of the terrorists were forbidden to enter Israel. The security forces seized illegal vehicles, documents and personal items, and detained suspects for interrogation. Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with the Israeli security forces and the Palestinian media reported that three Palestinians had been wounded (Palinfo Twitter account, June 17, 2017).
Other Terrorist Attacks
  • On June 17, 2017, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli near the community of Alon Shvut (in Gush Etzion), inflicting minor wounds. The Palestinian was detained and taken for interrogation.
Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
  • This past week demonstrations, clashes and riots continued throughout Judea and Samaria, primarily involving the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails. The Israeli security forces detained a number of Palestinians suspected to terrorist activity. The more prominent occurrences were the following:
  • June 18, 2017 – Palestinians tried to barricade themselves on the Temple Mount. Three Israeli policemen were wounded. Two Palestinians who tried to attack a policeman were detained (Jerusalem Police spokesman's unit, June 18, 2017). Palestinian sources condemned what they called "Israel's escalation against al-Aqsa mosque" (Filastin al-Yawm, June 18, 2017). Note: For the approaching last Friday of Ramadan, Muslim clerics, among them Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, and the PA, are enflaming Palestinian emotions and encouraging the Palestinians to go en masse to al-Aqsa mosque (Palinfo Twitter account and IINA News, June 19, 2017)
  • June 18, 2017 – Palestinians threw a pipe bomb at Israeli security forces operating in the region of Abu Dis (east of Jerusalem). There were no casualties and no damage was reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 18, 2017).
  • June 17, 2017 – Palestinians fired shots in the region of the Tekoa Junction (Gush Etzion). The Israeli security forces searched the area and found a number of shell casings. The shooters escaped (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 17, 2017).
  • June 16, 2017 – The Israeli security forces detained six Palestinians who threw stones and Molotov cocktail in the region of Kokhav Hashahar (northeast of Ramallah). In addition, two vehicles were seized and found to be carrying stones and Molotov cocktails (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 16, 2017).
  • June 15, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle near Anata (east of Jerusalem). A woman was injured and evacuated to a hospital (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 15, 2017).
  • June 15, 2017 – Two Palestinians tried to throw a Molotov cocktail at the security fence around Kiryat Arba (near Hebron). They were unsuccessful, and fled (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 15, 2017).
Summary of Terrorist Attacks, May 2017[2]
  • According to statistics provided by the Israel Security Agency, during May 2017 the number of terrorist attacks increased, compared with April 2017. In May there 142 terrorist attacks were carried out (116 in April). Of them, 113 were carried out in Judea and Samaria, 29 in Jerusalem, and one deep inside Israel in Netanya. Most of the attacks (121) involved Molotov cocktails. Eleven involved IEDs, two were stabbing attacks, three were shooting attacks using light arms, and six were arson attacks.[3] Two Israelis were wounded, both members of the Israeli security forces (in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem, May 13, 2017, and in a stabbing attack in Netanya, May 23, 2017).
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.

Rocket Fire Attacking Israel

Riots at the Border Security Fence
  • This past week demonstrations and riots organized by Hamas continued along the border security fence with Israel, held to protest Mahmoud Abbas' decision to reduce resources directed towards the Gaza Strip. On Friday, June 16, 2017, demonstrations were held at four sites, with several hundred Palestinians participating in each. The Palestinian media reported that a number of Gazans were wounded in clashes with the IDF in the eastern Gaza Strip (Wafa, June 16, 2017).
The Electricity Crisis
  • On June 19, 2017, the Energy Authority in the Gaza Strip reported that Israel had begun to reduce the amount of electricity it supplied to the Gaza Strip by eight megawatts (of the 120 supplied until now). According to the authorities in the Gaza Strip, that will reduce the flow of electricity to the residents by 45 minutes (from four hours a day to 3 1/4 hours a day). The effects will be most severely felt in Gaza City and the Khan Yunis region.
  • Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum warned that the consequences of the cut in electricity would be disastrous, and accused the PA and Israel of responsibility. He said the reduction in electricity would "hasten the coming explosion" (Hamas website, June 19, 2017). The Hamas-affiliated "national authority to break the siege on the Gaza Strip" called on Gazans to demonstrate near the border and clash with the IDF to protest the cut in electricity and confront the "enemy" (i.e., the IDF) at the friction points along the Gaza Strip (Zone Press and Ma'an, June 20, 2017).
  • A report prepared by the Palestinian al-Mezan Center warned of a coming "ecological catastrophe" along the 42-kilometer (26-mile) Gazan coast. According to the report, the lack of fuel and ensuing lack of electricity prevent the operation of sewage purification plants, forcing many municipalities to dump their waste into the sea. Every day, 100 thousand cubic meters (about 26.5 million gallons) of waste are poured into the sea from the Gaza Strip' 23 sewage purification plants. The Gazan ministry of health and ecological authority have found a very high level of pollution in the sea water (Ma'an, June 20, 2017).

Left: Hamas cartoon of Benyamin Netanyahu using Mahmoud Abbas to cut off electricity to the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of al-Risalah, June 16, 2017) Right: Hamas cartoon of Mahmoud Abbas, Rami Hamdallah and Israel working together to worsen the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The TV newsflash reads, "The Israeli cabinet meets to reduce electricity to the Gaza Strip" (alresalah.net, June 15, 2017).
Left: Hamas cartoon of Benyamin Netanyahu using Mahmoud Abbas to cut off electricity to the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of al-Risalah, June 16, 2017) Right: Hamas cartoon of Mahmoud Abbas, Rami Hamdallah and Israel working together to worsen the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. The TV newsflash reads, "The Israeli cabinet meets to reduce electricity to the Gaza Strip" (alresalah.net, June 15, 2017).

Turkish Sends Ship with Aid for the Residents of the Gaza Strip
  • The Turkish deputy prime minister said that following instructions received from President Erdogan, preparations were being made to send a Turkish ship with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip. It set sail from the southern Turkish port of Mersin. He said Turkey hoped the humanitarian aid aboard the ship would strengthen the Palestinian people (Shehab, June 17, 2017).
  • Fa'ed Mustafa, PA ambassador to Turkey, reported that on June 17, 2017, the ship had sailed from Mersin en route to [Israel's southern] port of Ashdod, carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip, which he said would be distributed to needy families for Eid al-Fitr (which falls on June 25, 2017 this year). It will be the third Turkish ship to unload its cargo at the port of Ashdod since the reconciliation between Israel and Turkey (alresalah.net, June 18, 2017).
Khalil al-Haya Statements at a Press Conference
  • Senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya held a press conference and addressed various issues (al-Aqsa TV, June 18, 2017)"
  • He claimed humanity's real enemy was Israel and that genuine terrorism was organized by Israel (the "Zionist entity"). He claimed the easy normalization of relations of a number of Arab states with Israel was dangerous and harmed the Palestinians.
  • He claimed the measures taken against the Gaza Strip by Mahmoud Abbas, as difficult as they were, would not make the Palestinians abandon the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism]. They would rather unite the Palestinian people both inside and outside the Gaza Strip. Not providing electricity, he said, was like not giving medicine to a sick person.
  • He claimed Hamas did not initiate wars with Israel and did not expect one to break out in the near future. However, he warned that the continuing "siege" of the Gaza Strip might lead to an "explosion." He informed the Israeli defense minister that Hamas would not give up "the weapon of resistance" but would only develop and strengthen it.
  • Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh condemned the statements made by Khalil al-Haya. He said there were internal contradictions in Hamas' political document whose aim was to appease Israel and the Western world. He added that Hamas was responsible for the difficult humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip because Hamas prevented the Palestinian national consensus government from operating. He said Hamas was determined to control the crossings and was destroying the private sector (Wafa, June 18, 2017).
Criticism of Hamas' Conduct during Operation Protective Edge
  • Interviewed by the Persian Gulf's "The National" news site, Mohammed al-Falahi, head of the UAE's Red Crescent, says Hamas "betrayed and sacrificed" the Red Crescent during Operation Protective Edge. He said that during the operation the Red Crescent has set up a field hospital in the Gaza Strip to reinforce the local health system, which was under heavy pressure because of the large number of wounded. He said the hospital's location had been made known to the Israeli authorities by the Red Cross.
  • "While we were in the field hospital that the UAE built," he said, "we were surprised someone from Hamas instigating Israeli forces by launching locally made rockets from the field hospital," he said. Inevitably, the Israelis hit back. "This shows their [Hamas’s] wicked intentions and how they sacrificed us," Fa'ed al-Falahi said. "They always claim that the enemy targets humanitarian envoys but the betrayal came from them"[6] (The National, June 12, 2017).
Payments to Palestinian Terrorist Prisoners
  • Three different aspects of the issue of payments to Palestinian terrorist prisoners were raised this week:
  • Israel legislation – The ministerial committee for legislation confirmed a proposal for a bill that would balance the salaries prisoners and their families receive from the PA by cutting the taxes Israel transfers to the PA. At its weekly meeting the Palestinian national consensus government condemned the law. The Palestinian government stressed that the funds in question belonged to the PA and not Israel, and therefore it was theft of public Palestinian money. That, he said, reflected Israel's decision to deliberately violate former agreements and international law (Wafa, June 18, 2017).
  • The diplomatic arena
  • Rex Tillerson, the American secretary of state, told a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Palestinian leadership had made a U-turn on payments to the families of convicted Palestinian attackers. He said, "They have changed that policy and their intent is to cease the payments to the families of those who have committed murder or violence against others." He continued, “We have been very clear with them that this [practice of paying terrorists] is simply not acceptable to us." The decision was made, he said, after Donald Trump’s hosting of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the US. and a visit with him in the West Bank city of Bethlehem(website of the American State Department, June 16, 2017).
  • At a press briefing held on June 15, 2017, State Department spokesman Heather Nauert was asked, "Secretary Tillerson told Congress the other day that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or the authority have agreed not to make payments to the families of prisoners and martyrs, as they call them. And then yesterday [Mahmoud Abbas] basically backtracked. Could you clarify this for us?" She answered, "The Secretary addressed this yesterday, and he said this type of thing is not acceptable to the American people; it is certainly not appropriate. I think those are very clear comments. We have a certain set of expectations, and the expectation is that that should, in fact, stop. Last month the Palestinian Authority announced that it was stopping payments to some Hamas-affiliated prisoners, but this step we consider to be inadequate to talk about – to address our concerns"  (Newsweek and other American media outlets, June 14, 2017).
  • The decision taken by the PA – The PA decided to stop paying the salaries of 277 Hamas prisoners released to the Gaza Strip, in view of the dispute between Hamas and the PA (al-Quds, date, 2017).
  • Issa Qaraqe, chairman of the prisoners and released prisoners' authority in the PA, and Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners club, reacted strongly to Tillerson's statement, claiming it wasn't true. They also claimed no complaint had been received from the prisoners' families about funds not having been paid this month. However, they both said that payments to 277 prisoners released to the Gaza Strip had been frozen. In addition, "senior Palestinian sources" said the PA had not changed its policy about paying salaries to the families of shaheeds and prisoners. According to the sources, news items about the issue were part of an incitement campaign waged by the Israeli prime minister and the Israeli media against the Palestinian leadership (Facebook page of prisoners and released prisoners' authority and al-Quds, June 15, 2017)
The PA Blocks Hamas Websites
  • The PA decided to block 40 Palestinian and Arab websites, including a number of popular social network pages. Most of the blocked sites are affiliated with Hamas or Mahmoud Dahlan. Among them was the Hamas affiliated Safa news agency (Majal Press, June 18, 2017).

Left: Campaign launched on the social networks protesting the PA's move to block Hamas websites: "#noblocking." The Arabic reads, "No to shutting us up" (Palinfo Twitter account, June 19, 2017). Right: Hamas cartoon criticizing the PA move to block its websites  (Palinfo Twitter account, June 16, 2017).
Left: Campaign launched on the social networks protesting the PA's move to block Hamas websites: "#noblocking." The Arabic reads, "No to shutting us up" (Palinfo Twitter account, June 19, 2017). Right: Hamas cartoon criticizing the PA move to block its websites (Palinfo Twitter account, June 16, 2017).

[1]Al-Buraq is the name of the mythological horse that carried Mohammad to heaven from al-Aqsa mosque. According to later Islamic tradition, Mohammad tethered al-Buraq to the West Wall when they arrived at al-Aqsa mosque from Mecca.
[2]Data from the Israel Security Agency website
[3]The data do not include the hundreds of incidents of Palestinian stone-throwing.
[4]A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicle, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included.
[5]The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
[6]http://www.thenational.ae/uae/red-crescent-chief-tells-of-hamas-betrayal-while-delivering-aid-in-gaza

Spotlight on Iran

June 4 – 18, 2017 Editor: Dr. Raz Zimmt

Overview
  • Senior Iranian officials expressed concern after several Arab states (led by Saudi Arabia) suspended relations with Qatar, calling on them to settle their differences. Iran accused Saudi Arabia and the American administration of responsibility for the crisis with Qatar. In the meantime, Iran allowed Qatar's planes to use its airspace and sent planes with food to Doha.
  •  Senior Iranian officials exploited ISIS's twin terrorist attacks on the Iranian parliament building and the shrine of the Islamic Revolution founder's grave to justify its military involvement in Iraq and Syria, and accused Saudi Arabia of responsibility for the attacks. The deputy commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) threatened to take revenge on those responsible for the attack.
  • The Iranian media reported that fighters of the Fatemiyoun Brigade (Afghans operating under the aegis of the IRGC in Syria) had recently arrived at the Syria-Iraq border. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, had his picture taken with the fighters near the border. The Iranian media continued their extensive coverage of American attacks against the Syrian forces near the Iraq-Syria border, representing the attacks as "an American-Zionist" effort to prevent the creation of an overland corridor linking Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Assad expressed his sympathy for the terrorist attacks in Tehran. Rouhani said they had only strengthened the Iranian people's determination to fight terrorism.
  • Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security, said Iran regarded the relations between Russia and Syria as strategic, adding that the Iran-Russia-Syria-Iraq-Hezbollah coalition had succeeded in changing the balance in the Syrian arena.
  • The Iranian foreign ministry expressed opposition to the Iraqi Kurdish authorities' decision to hold a referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan's independence next September. A spokesman for the foreign ministry said that unilateral decisions were liable to further destabilize Iraq.

 

Iranian Reactions to Qatar-Arab State Tensions
  • After various Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, suspended diplomatic relations with Qatar, senior Iranian officials expressed concern and called for the parties involved to settle their differences. Bahram Qasemi, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, said the growing tension between the Gulf States benefitted no one and threatened regional interests. He said Iran was concerned by recent developments and urged dialogue to resolve the crisis (Fars, June 5, 2017). Following the Arab states' aerial blockade of Qatar, Iran allowed Qatar's planes to land on its territory and sent Qatar five planes carrying 90 tons of food.
  • Hamid Aboutalebi, deputy head of the Iranian president's office of political matters, Tweeted that cutting off diplomatic relations, sealing borders and imposing a siege were not the way to resolve the crisis. He said the crisis was the first result of Donald Trump's sword dance with the Saudi king (Asr-e Iran, June 5, 2017).
  • Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis [Iranian parliament] committee for national security and foreign policy, also accused the United States of responsibility for the crisis, claiming the tensions between the Arab states had resulted from American intervention and Trump's visit to the Middle East. He said Iran had always contended that regional problems had to be resolved by the states themselves and had always opposed foreign intervention (IRNA, June 5, 2017).
  • Amir Abdollahian, special advisor on international affairs to the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, accused Saudi Arabia of responsibility for the crisis, saying that the six countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (the GCC) had never really been united and that Saudi Arabian policies were responsible for exacerbating differences, regional extremism and spreading terrorism throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world. He said the Saudi Arabian rulers mistakenly thought that by relying on foreigners they could lead the Arab-Muslim world by means of suspending diplomatic relations, military aggression against their neighbors and strengthening regional terrorism. However, their policies threatened regional security and worsened differences between regional states (Fars, June 5, 2017).
  • In view of the crisis, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian foreign minister, held a round of telephone conversations with other Muslim-world foreign ministers to discuss regional developments (Mehr, June 5, 2017). On June 5, 2017, he Tweeted that "Our neighbors are permanent, geography cannot be changed, coercion is never a solution and dialogue is essential, especially during Ramadan."
General Information
  • Senior Iranian officials exploited ISIS's twin terrorist attacks on the Iranian Majlis building and the shrine of the grave of the Islamic Revolution's founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, to justify Iran's military involvement in Iraq and Syria, and accused Saudi Arabia of being behind the attacks. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a speech after the attacks in which he claimed that without Iranian intervention in Syria and Iraq, terrorists would have begun operating in Iranian territory a long time ago (Fars, June 7, 2017). Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the IRGC, claimed Iran had precise information that Saudi Arabia had supported the terrorists who had carried out the attacks in Tehran (Fars, June 12, 2017). Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the IRGC, also claimed Saudi Arabia was behind the twin attacks, saying that they were the consequence of a joint political plan formulated by the Saudis, the Americans and the "Zionist regime" during the Riyadh summit meeting as a cover for their regional failures. He said the IRGC would take revenge on those behind the terrorist attacks (Tasnim, June 8, 2017).
Iranian Intervention in Syria
  • Three IRGC fighters were killed in battle near Hama, Syria. Javad Mohammadi was killed on June 6, 2017, Mostafa Sadeghi on June 8, 2017, and Heydar Jalilvand on June 11, 2017.
  • On June 12, 2017, the Iranian Tasnim News agency reported that fighters from the Fatemiyoun Brigade (Afghans operating under IRGC aegis in Syria) had recently arrived near the Syria-Iraq border. Tasnim News published a picture of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC's Qods Force, praying alongside Fatemiyoun Brigade fighters near the border.
  • In the meantime, the Iranian media gave extensive coverage to the American attacks on the Syrian forces near the Iraq-Syria border, representing the attacks as "an American-Zionist" attempt to prevent the "resistance axis" from advancing in Syria and Iraq and to keep it from establishing an overland corridor linking Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Bahram Qasemi, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, criticized America's activities in Syria. At his weekly press conference he said that the United States had often declared it was fighting terrorism, but its actions in Syria proved otherwise. Qasemi advised the United States to concentrate its efforts on ISIS and other terrorist groups, and to avoid any other action in Syria (Fars, June 12, 2017).
  • On June 5, 2017, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, former Iranian ambassador to Baghdad, gave an interview to the Iranian Tasnim News agency in which he said that in his opinion the Americans sought to take control of territory in southern and eastern Syria by supporting the terrorist groups operating there. He said that following ISIS's defeat, the United States had acted according to a plan aimed to establish a "terrorist army", increase its forces in the region and support the Kurds in Syria. The Iraqi and Syrian governments, he said, were faced with the threat of terrorism jointly supported by the United States, Zionism and "reactionary" regional rulers. He said the way to foil the American plan for regional division was through an Iraqi-Syrian coordinated effort to liberate the territories along their common border.
  • On June 8, 2017, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke on the phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad, who expressed his condolences following the twin terrorist attacks in Tehran. Rouhani thanked him, saying the attacks had only served to strengthen the Iranian people's determination to fight terrorism. He said Iran and Syria were engaged in a joint fight against terrorism and the ties between the two countries improved every day. He expressed hope that the ceasefire in Syria would continue and that in the near future Syrian forces would be victorious in the war on terrorism (website of the Iranian president, June 8, 2017)
  • On June 12, 2017, Javad Torkabadi, Iranian ambassador to Syria, met with Imad Khamis, the Syrian prime minister, to discuss ways to expand bilateral ties and regional developments. Torkabadi said Iran was prepared to increase its economic ties with Syria. Khamis noted the importance of economic cooperation between the two countries and the need to promote joint economic investments with private sector participation (Fars, June 12, 2017).
  • Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Majlis committee for national security and foreign policy, said Iran would spare no effort to reconstruct Syria once the civil war had ended. Meeting with Mohammad al-Ammouri, secretary general of the Syrian prime minister's office, he emphasized Iran's support for Syria, saying Iran would provide support to reconstruct Syria and share the experience it had gained in reconstructing Iran following the war with Iraq (Mehr, June 13, 2017).
  • On June 7, 2017 Alexander Lavrentiev, Vladimir Putin's special envoy for Syria, arrived in Iran for a visit at the invitation of Hossein Jaberi Ansari, deputy foreign minister. While there he spoke with Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security, about developments in Syria (Fars, June 7, 2017). On the eve of Lavrentiev's visit Shamkhani said that Iran regarded its relations with Russia and Syria as strategic. He said the Iran-Russia-Syria-Iraq-Hezbollah coalition had changed the balance of power in Syria and made it possible to liberate Aleppo from the terrorists. He said Iranian-Russian cooperation was aimed at achieving common goals and did not mean that Iran's national interests or independence were compromised (Tasnim, June 6, 2017).
Iranian Intervention in Iraq
  • Bahram Qasemi, spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry, said Iran opposed the Iraqi Kurdish authorities' decision to hold a referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan's independence next September. He said Iran supported Iraq's territorial integrity and that holding a referendum would cause new problems. He said Iraqi Kurdistan was part of Iraq and that unilateral decisions were liable to complicate the situation and further destabilize the country. He called on the Kurdish authorities to settle their differences with the central government in Baghdad through dialogue and in accordance with the Iraqi constitution (Fars, June 10, 2017).
Iranian Intervention in the Palestinian Arena
  • On June 5, 2017, IRNA official news agency posted photos of the Iranian Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation distributing Ramadan fast-breaking meals to "warriors on the Gaza border".

On June 5, 2017, IRNA official news agency posted photos of the Iranian Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation distributing Ramadan fast-breaking meals to "warriors on the Gaza border".
(IRNA, June 5, 2017). 

[*]Spotlight on Iran is an Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center bulletin illuminating Iran's activities to establish its influence in the Middle East and beyond. It is based on reports in the Iranian media and written for the ITIC by Dr. Raz Zimmt, an expert on Iran's politics, society, foreign policy and social networks.

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (June 7 – 13, 2017)

The financial hardships of Hamas. Cartoon by Ismail al-Bazam shows milestones in the decrease in funding for Hamas between 2012 and 2017.

The financial hardships of Hamas. Cartoon by Ismail al-Bazam shows milestones in the decrease in funding for Hamas between 2012 and 2017. "Iran: the conflict in Syria, 2012. Egypt: the fall of the Morsi regime, 2013. Turkey: the Turkish-Israeli reconciliation, 2016. Qatar: the Arab alliance against Qatar, 2017" (Facebook page of Ismail al-Bazam, June 8, 2017).

Knife found in the possession of a Palestinian woman at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Israel Police Force, June 12, 2017).

Knife found in the possession of a Palestinian woman at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Israel Police Force, June 12, 2017).

Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli security forces in the village of Qadoum during the weekly riot (Palinfo Twitter account, June 9, 2017).

Palestinians throw rocks at Israeli security forces in the village of Qadoum during the weekly riot (Palinfo Twitter account, June 9, 2017).

Violent demonstration east of Jabalia (Facebook page of Shehab agency, June 9, 2017).

Violent demonstration east of Jabalia (Facebook page of Shehab agency, June 9, 2017).

Ismail Haniyeh, Khalil al-Haya and Fathi Hamad attend the funeral of A'aed Jumaa (Website of the Jerusalem Battalions, June 10, 2017).

Ismail Haniyeh, Khalil al-Haya and Fathi Hamad attend the funeral of A'aed Jumaa (Website of the Jerusalem Battalions, June 10, 2017).

A family in the Gaza Strip breaks the Ramadan fast, eating by candlelight because of the lack of electricity (Facebook page of Shehab, June 12, 2017).

A family in the Gaza Strip breaks the Ramadan fast, eating by candlelight because of the lack of electricity (Facebook page of Shehab, June 12, 2017).

 Senior Hamas figures from the Gaza Strip visit Egypt. Left to right, Rawhi Mushtaha, a member of Hamas' political bureau, Tawfiq Abu Na'im, deputy minister of the interior, and Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip, on the banks of the Nile (thegazapost.com, June 10, 2017).

Senior Hamas figures from the Gaza Strip visit Egypt. Left to right, Rawhi Mushtaha, a member of Hamas' political bureau, Tawfiq Abu Na'im, deputy minister of the interior, and Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip, on the banks of the Nile (thegazapost.com, June 10, 2017).

  • This past week again, no significant terrorist attacks were carried out in Judea and Samaria or from the Gaza Strip. Riots and violent demonstrations continued at various locations along the Gaza-Israel border, in answer to calls from Hamas. So far the events have not spun out of control.
  •  The Palestinian Authority recently told Israel it was planning to cut 40% of the funds it gave Israel to pay for the electricity Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip. Israel's political-security cabinet acceded to Mahmoud Abbas' appeal, which will mean less electricity to the Gaza Strip from Israel.
  • A Hamas spokesman responded to the proposed cut by calling Israel's decision "dangerous and potentially disastrous," liable to accelerate the worsening of the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and lead to "an explosion." He called for international intervention and the provision of urgent alternatives for the electricity essential to run medical facilities in the Gaza Strip.

 

Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
  • This past week demonstrations, clashes and riots continued throughout Judea and Samaria, primarily involving the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails. The Israeli security forces detained a number of Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity. The more prominent occurrences were the following:
  • June 12, 2017 – A young Palestinian woman armed with a knife went to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. She was detained and taken for interrogation. She admitted the was planning to murder Jews. (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 12, 2017). The Palestinian media reported she was Manal Mahmoud Yusuf Abu Ali, 28, from the village of Yatta, south of Hebron (Facebook page of Shehab, June 12, 2017).
  • June 12, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle on the road between Ariel and the Gitai Avishar junction in Samaria. There were no casualties; the vehicle was damaged. (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 12, 2017).
  • June 11, 2017 – A Palestinian tried to attack a Border Policeman near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The Palestinian was detained (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 11, 2017).
  • June 11, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles on the road between Kiryat Arba and Hebron. Palestinians also threw stones at an Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near al-Aroub. There were no casualties; the vehicles were damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 11, 2017).
  • June 11, 2017 – Two Palestinians threw stones at a group of Jews visiting the Temple Mount. They were detained and taken for interrogation (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 11, 2017).
  • June 9, 2017 – Six Palestinians were detained for throwing stones at Israeli security forces and attempting to cross the border security fence near Jerusalem instead of passing trough one of the crossings. Three of them were terrorist operatives released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 9, 2017).
  • June 9, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. There were no casualties; the vehicle was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 9, 2017).
  • June 8, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle on route 443 near Beit Horon. There were no casualties and no damage was reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 9, 2017).

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.

Rocket Fire Attacking Israel

Violence at the Border Security Fence
  • This past week riots incited and organized by Hamas continued along the Israel-Gaza border to protest the "siege" of the Gaza Strip (al-Aqsa, June 9, 2017). The riots took place at a number of locations and each was attended by several hundred Gazans. On June 9, 2017, Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas' political bureau, participated in a riot held in the eastern part of Jabalia (Palinfo, June 90, 2017).
  • On June 6, 2017, according to reports, a number of Gazans were wounded and one was killed by IDF fire east of Khirbet Ikhza'a in the southern Gaza Strip (Twitter account of Ashraf al-Qidra, June 6, 2017). The Palestinian killed wasFadi Ibrahim al-Najar, a traffic policeman from Bani Suheila(website of the police in the Gaza Strip, June 8, 2017). On June 10, 2017, another Palestinian was killed during a riot in the Jabalia region. He was A'aed Khamis Jumaa, an operative in a special unit of the northern brigade of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)(Website of the Jerusalem Battalions, June 10, 2016). Senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batashsaid he was killed during what al-Batash referred to as the campaign "to break the siege." He said the Palestinian people were fed up with the siege and the "cold-heartedness" of the "neighboring countries," and the only way to cope was to fight along the border with Israel (al-Aqsa, June 9, 2017).
  • The funeral held for A'aed Jumaa in Jabalia was attended by senior Hamas figures Ismail Haniyeh, Fathi Hamad, Khalil al-Haya and Muhammad al-Hindi. Ahmed Bahar, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, gave a speech in which he said the Palestinians would continue to fight the "jihad" to liberate [Palestinian] land and the holy places. He said their "weapon" was the "resistance" of the military wings of Hamas and the PIJ, which the Palestinians should aim only at the "Zionist enemy" (al-Aqsa, June 9, 2017).

The Continuing Electricity Crisis

  • Several weeks ago the Palestinian Authority (PA) told General Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, that it was going to reduce (by 40%) the money it paid Israel for the electricity Israel supplied to the Gaza Strip. The decision was made by PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, one of his efforts to exert pressure on Hamas. On June 11, 2017, the Israeli political-security cabinet voted to accede to his appeal, which would mean reducing the amount of electricity Israel supplied to the Gaza Strip (from 125 megawatts to 75 megawatts). According to Muhammad Thabet, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled electric company in the Gaza Strip, that would mean electrical power for only between three and four hours a day.

 

  • Muhammad Thabet said the decision would be catastrophic for the Gaza Strip because the electricity supplied by Israel today was barely sufficient for four hours a day (and the Egyptian electric company announced it was cutting off electric power from Egypt for "maintenance work"). According to Thabet, the Gazan electric company had not yet received notice of the cut in electricity from Israel (alresalah.net, June 12, 2017).
  • Hamas responded with rage and threatened Israel with escalation:
  • Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua claimed Israel's decision was "dangerous and potentially disastrous" because it affected every aspect of life in the Gaza Strip. He said it would worsen the humanitarian crisis and lead to "an explosion." He claimed Israel was responsible, as well as Mahmoud Abbas who, he claimed, collaborated with Israel (al-Ra'i, June 12, 2017).
  • Jamal al-Khudari, member of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council and chairman of the "popular committee to struggle against the siege," warned the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip was worsening. He called for international intervention and for urgent alternatives for Gazan medical facilities to deal with the consequences of the cut in electricity (Ma'an, June 12, 2017).
  • PIJ spokesman Daoud Shehab claimed the decision was a "war crime." He said Israel's justifications for the "siege" on the Gaza Strip were false and prepared the ground for "additional crimes." He claimed anyone who thought the "siege" would make the Palestinians surrender was mistaken (Palinfo, June 12, 2017).
  • On the other hand, Yusuf al-Mahmoud, spokesman for the Palestinian national consensus government, said Hamas was responsible for the situation in the Gaza Strip. That, he said, was because since 2007 Hamas had collected money from the residents of Gaza to pay for electricity and had not transferred it to the PA. Therefore, he said, today the Palestinian government was financing the electricity supplied to the Gaza Strip (Wafa, June 12, 2017).
Article in Hamas Newspaper Calls for a Limited War against Israel from the Gaza Strip
  • On June 7, 2017 Hamas' newspaper Felesteen published an article written by Dr. Issam Adwan, head of Hamas' department of refugee affairs. It was entitled, "A controlled confrontation[3] is necessary." It called for "delivering controlled blows to the enemy" as an alternative that could provide a response to the intensification of the siege on the Gaza Strip through local, regional and international forces.
  • The so-called "controlled confrontation," according to Adwan, should be completely different from a comprehensive confrontation without borders. Controlled blows would, he claimed, cause Israel to respond strongly. In such a scenario the "resistance" [i.e., Hamas and the other terrorist organizations] would not respond in kind but would keep their responses "measured and minimal." Thus, he claimed, after a number of days, "the enemy will lower the level of its aggression, understanding the nature of the confrontation wanted by the resistance." In Adwan's opinion, Israel would also react minimally to prevent escalation and agitation on the home front.
  • A "controlled confrontation," in Adwan's opinion, can be very profitable politically. That is because itwould put the Gaza Strip and its needs at the top of the global media's agenda and cause all international, regional and local forces to act to find solutions for the new situation created by the "resistance." The article recommended that Hamas' decision-makers examine the scenario, which would be the most beneficial "in the current complex circumstances" (Felesteen, June 7, 2017).

 

Tunnel Located in a Compound of Two UNRWA Schools
  • UNRWA announced that on June 1, 2017, during summer construction of an extension for one of the buildings of its schools in the al-Maghazi refugee camp, part of a tunnel was exposed under the schools. The schools were a boys' elementary and middle school, which shared property. According to the announcement (ITIC emphasis throughout), "Following a thorough inspection of the site, UNRWA can confirm that the tunnel has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way...UNRWA has robustly intervened and protested to Hamas in Gaza."
  • The announcement continued, "The construction and presence of tunnels under UN premises are incompatible with the respect of privileges and immunities owed to the United Nations under applicable international law, which provides that UN premises shall be inviolable. The sanctity and neutrality of UN premises must be preserved at all times"[4] (UNRWA website, June 9, 2017). On June 11, 2017, the Israeli prime minister instructed the Foreign Ministry Director General to file an official protest against Hamas at the UN Security Council(Israeli prime minister's website, June 11, 2017).
  • Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the UNRWA announcement, claiming Israel exploited such claims to make excuses for its "crimes." He said all the "resistance organizations" [i.e., terrorist organizations] had stated they had undertaken no activity at the specific location mentioned by UNRWA and that they were careful to exclude UNRWA from all "resistance" activity (Hamas website, June 9, 2017).

Left: The al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where a Hamas tunnel was exposed. Right: The location of the two UNRWA schools (red star). The yellow arrow leads to the border security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip (Wikimapia, June 12, 2017).
Left: The al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where a Hamas tunnel was exposed. Right: The location of the two UNRWA schools (red star). The yellow arrow leads to the border security fence between Israel and the Gaza Strip (Wikimapia, June 12, 2017).

  • Hamas and the other terrorist organizations use educational facilitiesin the Gaza Strip for military purposes (many of the facilities are run by UNRWA). Such use endangers the students and faculty, and is a gross violation of the international laws of war. NoteDuring Operation Protective Edge UNRWA announced it had found twenty rockets hidden in one of its schools in the Gaza Strip (without specifying the name or location of the school). It was summer and the children were on vacation. Immediately after finding the rockets UNRWA reported to the "relevant parties" (without specifying) and reportedly took all measures necessary to secure the school.[5]

 

Hamas Delegation Visits Cairo
  • A Hamas delegation led by Yahya al-Sinwar, the head of the new Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, returned after a one-week visit to Cairo, during which talks were held with senior figures in the Egyptian government. Palestinian sources reported that the visit had positive results for every aspect of Hamas-Egypt relations and would influence how Egypt related to the Gaza Strip, the crossings and Gazan security. The sources also reported that regularly scheduled meetings would be held to implement the understandings reached, and that "the residents of the Gaza Strip will feel of the results of the visit in the near future" (Samaa News, June 10, 2017).
  • Commentator Fayez Abu Shamala wrote an article revealing the understandings he claimed had been reached between the Hamas delegation, the head of Egyptian General Intelligence and Muhammad Dahlan. The understandings reportedly included appointing a joint committee to manage the Rafah crossing and control the Israel-Gaza Strip crossings. Egypt also said it would keep the Rafah crossing open (Ma'an, June 11, 2017). Senior Hamas figures denied they had signed a memorandum and claimed talks had been held without the presence of another party (Safa, June 12, 2017).
Saudi Arabia-Qatar-Hamas Relations
  • The Saudi Arabian foreign minister called on Qatar to cut off its relations with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood movement. He said Qatar had to keep its past promises to stop supporting extremist organizations. Hamas condemned the Saudi Arabian statement, expressed sorrow at its contents and said such a statement did not reflect the views of Saudi Arabia, which supported the rights of the Palestinian people and their struggle (Hamas website, June 7, 2017). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the hostile statement of the Saudi foreign minister was an attempt to "curry favor with the Zionists" and foment anti-Palestinian incitement, and relinquished [Palestinian rights to] Jerusalem (Twitter account of Sami Abu Zuhri, June 7, 2017).
  • The Saudi daily newspaper al-Okaz published an article strongly attacking Hamas. Among other accusations, according to the article, during the past three years Hamas had invested $120 million in constructing tunnels and had used millions of dollars donated by Saudi Arabia and the UAE for tunnels. In addition, Hamas dug tunnels under schools, private homes and hospitals, endangering lives. What Hamas did in the Gaza Strip, according to the article, was no different from what ISIS did in Mosul (al-Okaz, June 10, 2017).
  • A "senior Hamas source" reported that if Qatar requested, senior Hamas figures currently residing in the country would be prepared to leave to keep Qatar from experiencing difficulties (Dunia al-Watan, June 7, 2017). Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman gave a statement to Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN during a meeting. According to the statement, senior Hamas figure Saleh al-Arouri, who operated against Israel from Turkey and later from Qatar, had arrived in Lebanon along with two other Hamas operatives (Haaretz, June 9, 2017).
Death of Hamas Military-Terrorist Wing Operative
  • Hamas announced the death of Ibrahim Hussein Abu al-Naja, 51, commander of the engineering unit of the Rafah brigade of the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades. He died after having been injured in an explosion while preparing IEDs in Rafah (Shabakat al-Quds, June 7, 2017). Three other terrorist operatives were injured in the same explosion (Facebook page of the spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, June 7, 2017).
  • Abu al-Naja joined Hamas' military-terrorist wing in 2000 at the beginning of the second intifada, and was deployed to its unit for military production because of his great proficiency in manufacturing IEDs. He then commanded the Rafah Brigade's training department, and later its engineering unit. His house in Rafah was attacked during Operation Protective Edge. The prominent attacks in which he participated included preparing IEDs and barrels of explosives for an attack on an IDF post on December 17, 2003; preparing IEDs and barrels of explosives for an attack in a tunnel dug under an IDF post on June 27, 2004; preparing IEDs and barrels of explosives for an attack in a tunnel dug under an IDF post near the Rafah crossing on December 12, 2004; preparing a vehicle and IEDs for an attack on the Kerem Shalom crossing on April 19, 2008 (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, June 11, 2017).

Left: Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau, and Ahmed Bahar, deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, at Abu Naja's funeral in Rafah (Facebook page of ahdath.ps, June 8, 2017) Right: Ibrahim Abu al-Naja (Twitter account of Hamas' military-terrorist wing, June 8, 2017).
Left: Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau, and Ahmed Bahar, deputy head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, at Abu Naja's funeral in Rafah (Facebook page of ahdath.ps, June 8, 2017) Right: Ibrahim Abu al-Naja (Twitter account of Hamas' military-terrorist wing, June 8, 2017).

Iranian Payments to Families of Shaheeds in the Gaza Strip Continue
  • The PIJ-affiliated al-Ansar charity association, which operates in the Gaza Strip, posted an official statement to its website, Facebook page and Twitter account. It instructed the families of shaheeds killed in Operation Protective Edge (2014) to go to the association's offices in the Gaza Strip to receive funds. According to the announcement, the families of shaheeds younger than 15 were not entitled to financial support (website of the al-Ansar charity association, June 11, 2017).
  • The PIJ-affiliated Paltoday website posted a notice from the al-Ansar charity association saying the support was financed by the Iranian Islamic Republic (Paltoday, June 11, 2017). The al-Ansar charity association recently distributed $2 million worth of financial aid from by the Palestinian Shaheed Foundation. The money was given to the families of shaheeds in the Gaza Strip killed between the beginning of the second intifada and June 30, 2014.[6] The funds for shaheeds killed in Operation Protective Edge are additional.
Positive Signals from the PA to Israel?
  • Muhammad Mustafa, chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund and financial advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, told Bloomberg[7] that to revive the peace process the Palestinian leadership had temporarily suspended its demand that Israel freeze construction in the settlements as a pre-condition for negotiations. He also alleged that the PA would be prepared to soften its condemnation of Israel in the UN and its demands to try Israel [in the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC)] for "war crimes." He claimed that the increase in unemployment and the failure of donor countries to meet their commitments had forced Mahmoud Abbas to deal once again with the issue of negotiations (Bloomberg, June 8, 2017). In the meantime Wafa, the official PA news agency, published a statement from Muhammad Mustafa in which he said that the Palestinian position regarding construction in the settlements was clear and that first and foremost construction had to be frozen, and then the settlements should be dismantled as part of the final agreement (Wafa, date, 2017).
  • In addition, a Palestinian source speaking on condition of anonymity said Mahmoud Abbas had ordered a halt to any appeals and legal proceedings against Israel in the ICC as well as the call to boycott Israeli-manufactured products. His intention, according to the source, was to take steps that would lead to the renewal of the negotiations (Shehab, June 10, 2017).
Muslims Pray on the Temple Mount during Ramadan
  • The Palestinian ministry of endowments (wakf) estimated that on June 9, 2017, the second Friday of Ramadan, 300,000 Muslims from Judea and Samaria and the Arab-Muslim countries had prayed at al-Aqsa mosque. The Friday sermon was given by Ikrima Sabri, the official sermonizer of al-Aqsa mosque and chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council. His sermon was entitled "al-Aqsa mosque is for the Muslims and the Western Wall is part of it" [a message to Jibril Rajoub]. He said the wave of people surging towards al-Aqsa illustrated the love, devotion and feelings of Muslims for the mosque. Therefore, they had to protect it and would not allow compromises, negotiations or giving up even a centimeter of it. Ikrima Sabri condemned the statements made by Jibril Rajoub and stressed that the Western Wall was part of al-Aqsa mosque and considered part of the Islamic endowment (wakf), as authorized by UNESCO, which had made it clear that there was no connection between the Jews and al-Aqsa mosque or the Western Wall (Ma'an, June 9, 2017).
Palestinian Reactions to Israel's Intentions to Cut Prisoners' Salaries
  • The Palestinian media reported that the Israeli ministerial committee for legislation confirmed the proposal for a law to cut the salaries received by Palestinian terrorist prisoners and their families from the tax money Israel collects and transfers to the PA.
  • Confirming the proposal was met with a series of enraged responses from Palestinian spokesmen:
  • Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners' club, said the proposal made it legal to steal money from the Palestinian people and that it was clearly in violation of international law (Dunia al-Watan, June 11, 2017).
  • Issa Qaraqe, chairman of the PA authority for prisoners affairs, said the proposed law was the beginning of a war against the rights of the Palestinian people. He called for reinforcing the status of the Palestinian prisoners by appealing to the ICC. He said every international decision stressed the legitimacy of the struggle of the prisoners against the Israeli occupation (Ma'an, June 12, 2017).
  • Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem called the proposed legislation a "crime," and claimed Israel was stealing money from the Palestinian people and trying to break their spirit. He claimed the law harmed important Palestinian figures and the leaders of the national struggle. He also called on the PA to end its coordination with Israel (Hamas website, June 12, 2017).

[1]A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicle, 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]In Arabic, al-muwajaha al-munthabita.
[4]https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-condemns-neutrality-violation-gaza-strongest-possible-terms
[5]See the July 20, 2014 bulletin, "Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip use schools for military-terrorist purposes: The case of rockets found hidden in an UNRWA school during Operation Protective Edge."
[6]See the May 28, 2017 bulletin, "Iranian Support for Palestinian Terrorism: This year funds were again transferred to families of shaheeds in the Gaza Strip by the Iranian Martyrs Foundation through the PIJ-affiliated al-Ansar charity association."
[7]A private American investment company which also runs Bloomberg News.

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict* (May 17 – 23, 2017)

Palestinians in Hebron riot in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails (Facebook page of the Shehab news agency, May 22, 2017)

Palestinians in Hebron riot in solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails (Facebook page of the Shehab news agency, May 22, 2017)

Israeli vehicle blocked by a Palestinian ambulance (Ma'an, May 18, 2017).

Israeli vehicle blocked by a Palestinian ambulance (Ma'an, May 18, 2017).

Palestinian terrorist Ra'ed Ahmed Radaydeh runs towards the Abu Dis roadblock carrying a knife in his right hand (Palinfo Twitter account, May 17, 2017).

Palestinian terrorist Ra'ed Ahmed Radaydeh runs towards the Abu Dis roadblock carrying a knife in his right hand (Palinfo Twitter account, May 17, 2017).

Rami Hamdallah (second from right), Palestinian prime minister, and Akram Rajoub, governor of the Nablus district (right) in the village of Bayta, sitting in the mourning tent erected by the family of the Palestinian who was killed (Wafa, May 20, 2017).

Rami Hamdallah (second from right), Palestinian prime minister, and Akram Rajoub, governor of the Nablus district (right) in the village of Bayta, sitting in the mourning tent erected by the family of the Palestinian who was killed (Wafa, May 20, 2017).

The front windshield of an Israeli vehicle attacked by stone-throwing Palestinians near Deir Abu Mash'al, northwest of Ramallah (Palinfo Twitter account, May 19, 2017).

The front windshield of an Israeli vehicle attacked by stone-throwing Palestinians near Deir Abu Mash'al, northwest of Ramallah (Palinfo Twitter account, May 19, 2017).

Ismail Haniyeh (right), newly-elected head of Hamas' political bureau, shakes hands with Muhammad al-'Amadi, chairman of Qatar's Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, at the laying of the corner stone for the committee's offices in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, May 21, 2017).

Ismail Haniyeh (right), newly-elected head of Hamas' political bureau, shakes hands with Muhammad al-'Amadi, chairman of Qatar's Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, at the laying of the corner stone for the committee's offices in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, May 21, 2017).

Mahmoud Abbas meets with Donald Trump in Bethlehem (Wafa, May 23, 2017).

Mahmoud Abbas meets with Donald Trump in Bethlehem (Wafa, May 23, 2017).

Mahmoud Abbas meets with International Committee of the Red Cross chairman Peter Maurer in Ramallah (Wafa, May 19, 2017).

Mahmoud Abbas meets with International Committee of the Red Cross chairman Peter Maurer in Ramallah (Wafa, May 19, 2017).

Palestinians riot against the Israeli security forces at the Qalandia crossing (north of Jerusalem) (Palinfo Twitter account, May 22, 2017)

Palestinians riot against the Israeli security forces at the Qalandia crossing (north of Jerusalem) (Palinfo Twitter account, May 22, 2017)

  • This past week Palestinian population terrorism was manifested with three stabbing attacks (Abu Dis, the Qalandia crossing and apparently in the central Israeli city of Netanya). On the ground there were demonstrations and riots in various locations in Judea and Samaria in solidarity with the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. A Palestinian was shot to death by an Israeli civilian caught up in a violent demonstration.
  • In the Gaza Strip international organizations warned that the residents' situation was deteriorating to the point of humanitarian crisis. The Hamas ministry of health in the Gaza Strip also warned of an impending collapse. Hamas spokesmen called on the Gazans to go to the "contact lines" with Israel to protest the "siege" of the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman warned that the activity near the border was liable to escalate and it might become difficult to control the "enraged population." They called on the world to intervene because the situation was "about to explode."
  • Hundreds of young Gazans answered Hamas' call. They gathered near the border security fence and rioted against IDF soldiers. A spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that dozens of Palestinians had been injured.
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Terrorists Attacks
  • May 23, 2017Stabbing attack in Netanya: A 45 year-old Palestinian from Tulkarm stabbed a Border Policeman in the neck, inflicting minor wounds. The terrorist was shot and seriously wounded. According to the initial investigation, the attack was nationally motivated (Israel Police Force, May 23, 2017).
  • May 22, 2017Attempted stabbing attack in Abu Dis: A Palestinian terrorist tried to stab a Border Policeman at the Abu Dis roadblock (southeast of Jerusalem). The terrorist was shot and killed. The Palestinian media reported he was Ra'ed Ahmed Radaydeh, 15, from Ubeidiya (east of Bethlehem) (Palinfo Twitter account, May 17, 2017).
  • May 20, 2017Attempted stabbing attack at the Qalandia crossing: A Palestinian girl tried to stab soldiers stationed at the Qalandia crossing. They took the knife away from her and she was taken for interrogation. She was 14 years old and came from the Jilazoun refugee camp, north of Ramallah (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 20, 2017).
Violent Incident between and Israeli and Palestinian Demonstrators
  • May 17, 2017 – An Israel from the community of Itamar driving through the village of Hawwara (south of Nablus) found himself in the midst of about 200 Palestinian demonstrators. They attacked his car with stones. In response he shot at them, wounding two of his attackers, one of them fatally. During interrogation he said he had felt he his life was in danger. The Israeli police have documentation of a stationary Palestinian ambulance blocking the Israeli car and preventing it from driving away, enabling the mob to rush the car and throw stones at it.
  • The Palestinian who died was Mu'ataz Hussein Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, from the village of Bayta, south of Nablus. Tareq Rashmawi, spokesman for the Palestinian national consensus government, claimed Israel was responsible for his death (Wafa, May 18, 2017). The Palestinian foreign ministry condemned the act of the Israeli which led to the death of one Palestinian and the wounding of another. The Palestinian foreign ministry called on human rights organizations to have the International Criminal Court in The Hague deliberate the matter in order to bring Israel to trial (Dunia al-Watan, May 18, 2017).
  • The following day the Israeli security forces detained one of the Palestinians who had participated in the attack on the Israeli in Hawwara. The ambulance driver who blocked the Israeli's car was also detained and the ambulance was seized. Investigation revealed it was a private ambulance belonging to the village of Aqraba (east of Hawwara). During the attack the ambulance driver was on a private call.
  • Hamas and Fatah each issued death notices. On May 20, 2017, Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian national consensus government, and Akram Rajoub, governor of the Nablus district, went to the family's mourning tent in the village of Bayta (Wafa, May 20, 2017).

Left: Death notice issued by Hamas (Palinfo Twitter account, May 18, 2017). Right: Death notice issued by Fatah (official Fatah Facebook page, May 18, 2017).
Left: Death notice issued by Hamas (Palinfo Twitter account, May 18, 2017). Right: Death notice issued by Fatah (official Fatah Facebook page, May 18, 2017).

Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
  • In the meantime, this past week demonstrations, clashes and riots continued throughout Judea and Samaria, mainly involving the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails. May 19, 2017, was declared a "day of rage" in solidarity with the hunger-striking security prisoners. Several hundred Palestinians rioted against Israeli security forces at a number of locations, including Ramallah, Nebi Saleh, Bethlehem, and the villages of Qadoum, Nil'in and Bila'in. Two IDF soldiers sustained minor injuries.
  • In the Gaza Strip demonstrations were held near the border security fence. Their slogan was "a warning of rage." At some clashes attended by several hundred Gazans, rioters threw stones and tried to vandalize the fence. IDF forces responded with gunfire. According to IDF sources, the riots were initiated by Hamas, which usually restrains the riots held along the border (Ynet, May 19, 2017). Palestinian sources reported that in the clashes in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip several dozen Palestinians were injured, some of them seriously (Wafa, May 19, 2017).
  • The more prominent occurrences were the following:
  • May 21, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles at a number of locations in Judea and Samaria, among them Gush Etzion. Windshields were damaged. Near Paduel (in southwestern Samaria) Palestinians threw stones at a bus. Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle north of Ofra (northeast of Ramallah) (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 21, 2017).
  • May 19, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli security forces in the village of 'Aboud (north of Ramallah). A Border Policeman sustained minor injuries (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 19, 2017).
  • May 16, 2017 – An Israeli shot and seriously wounded a Palestinian near the village of Silwad (Ramallah area) after the Palestinian threw stones at his car (NRG, May 16, 2017).

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

Detention of Palestinians Who Planned Terrorist Attack
  • Israeli security forces detained four Palestinians from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus. They were planning to carry out a combined terrorist attack by placing an IED and shooting at IDF forces on the road leading to Alon Moreh. Their interrogation led to the exposure of a laboratory for the manufacture of IEDs and improvised weapons. Many weapons belonging to the terrorists were also seized (Israel Security Agency, May 17, 2017).
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
  • On the morning of May 23, 2017, a rocket was fired at the western Negev from the Sinai Peninsula. Israeli security forces searched the area but found nothing. It is possible the rocket did not fall in Israeli territory.

Rocket Fire Attacking Israel

Warnings of a Deterioration of the Conditions of the Residents of the Gaza Strip
  • Internationalorganizations warned that the Gazans' situation was deteriorating to the point of humanitarian crisis. Hamas' ministry of health also warned of collapse. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, wrote on his Facebook page that the health services in the Gaza Strip had deteriorated because of a lack of medicines, medical equipment and basic products, such as milk substitutes for infants and fuel. He said there was a lack of 175 types of medicines, 35 of which were basic (Dunia al-Watan, May 17, 2017).
  • Given the so-called deteriorating situation, Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas' political bureau, called on the Palestinians to hold a day of "contact lines" with Israel to protest the "siege" of the Gaza Strip. He said that from now on "the language [used by the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip] would change" from rallies, talk and threats to "the language of stones and clashes." He said the clashes would start with throwing stones and continue to a "great explosion." He called on Palestinian men and adolescents to make plans for attacking "the Zionist enemy" (al-Aqsa, May 17, 2017).

 

Clashes near the Border Security Fence and Hamas Threats of an "Explosion"
  • On May 19, 2017, in answer to Fathi Hamad's call, hundreds of young Palestinians gathered at several locations near the border security fence. A spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that in the wake of clashes between the Palestinians and IDF forces eight Palestinians who had been wounded by live ammunition and about 30 suffering from tear gas inhalation had been taken to hospitals (Hamas' al-Ra'i news agency and the Twitter account of Ashraf al-Qidra, May 19, 2017)
  • Hamad al-Raqab, Hamas spokesman for the Khan Yunis region, was interviewed after one of the riots and warned that the near future the activity near the border would be more intensive, and might reach a point where it would become difficult to control the enraged Gazans. He said that any "act of aggression" [against the Gazans] could force the "resistance" [i.e., terrorist] organizations to intervene to defend them, which might prepare the ground for another confrontation. He called on the world to intervene because the Gaza Strip was on the brink of an explosion (Alam radio website, Hebron, May 20, 2017).

 

  • Speaking on Hamas' al-Aqsa TV, Hamad al-Raqab was more aggressive. He said one of two things would happen: either the siege of the Gaza Strip would be lifted, or the [so-called Israeli] occupation would see maximum escalation, which would take the form of masses of Gazans who would go to every one of the occupation's gates [i.e., most probably the crossings] and break [through] them. He said the Gazans would not look back. Anyone who said nothing about the continuation of the siege was complicit in it. He said Hamas was losing what was left of its firm stance and that it had fewer and fewer options. He said the only thing Hamas could do was either fight with all its strength or agree to the "slow death" of the siege. He added that the Palestinian organizations all agreed with Hamas in everything connected to measures for "breaking the siege" (Dunia al-Watan, May 19, 2017).
Visit of the Chairman of Qatar's Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip
  • On May 16, 2017, Muhammad al-'Amadi, Qatar's envoy to the Gaza Strip and chairman of Qatar's Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, arrived for a visit. While in the Gaza Strip he will launch a $12 million building project (palsawa.com, May 17, 2017). On May 21, 2016, he and Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' new political bureau, attended the ceremony laying the corner stone for the committee's new officers in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, May 21, 2017). Regarding the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, al-'Amadi said it was a complex issue and work was being done with the UN to solve the problem (Shehab, May 21, 2017).
Transfer of Funds from Iran to the Families of Shaheeds in the Gaza Strip

Nasser al-Sheikh Ali, spokesman for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)-affiliated al-Ansar charity association in the Gaza Strip, said the association, along with the Iranian Shaheed Foundation, would transfer the sum of $2 million to the families of shaheeds in the Gaza Strip who had been killed between the beginning of the al-Aqsa intifada [the second intifada, 2000-2005] and July 31, 2014. He claimed the funds would be distributed to 5,000 families at post office branches. The family of an unmarried shaheed would receive $300, and the family of a married shaheed would receive $600 (Filastin al-Yawm, May 21, 2017).

 

  • This is not the first time the Iranian Shaheed Foundation has transferred funds to the families of shaheeds in the Gaza Strip. On February 24, 2016, the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon reported Iran's intention to provide financial support for the "Jerusalem intifada" (Hamas' term for Palestinian popular terrorism attacks). He said Iran would donate $7000 to the family of every Palestinian shaheed and $30,000 to every family whose house had been destroyed. The total amount given to the Gaza Strip by Iran was estimated by the ITIC at close to $2 million (similar to the current sum). The funds were transferred to the families in the Gaza Strip by the al-Ansar charity association.[1]
Hamas Protests Speech by Donald Trump Calling It a Terrorist Organization
  • In the speech Donald Trump, the American president, gave at the Islamic Arab summit meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he said, "The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas...must be counted not only in the number of dead..."[3] The remark enraged Hamas' and other organization's spokesmen:
  • Musheir al-Masri, Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, condemned the remark and said it was more proof that the American administration was biased in favor of Israel. He said Hamas was the main political force in the Palestinian arena, adhered to "just principles" and believed in the future of its jihad program, whose objective was to liberate the lands [of Palestine] from the occupation (Shehab, May 21, 2017).
  • Thulfikar Swairjo, a senior figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), said Trump's saying Hamas was a terrorist organization was an attempt to defend the interests of the United States and Israel. He claimed Trump had a regional and international plan to end the idea of the "resistance" and to prepare the region for the interests of the United States and Israel at the expense of the "rights" of the Palestinians (Shehab, May 21, 2017).
  • On May 22, 2017, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) held a demonstration in Rafah to protest the remark made by Trump in Riyadh. Dozens of PRC operatives burned Trump in effigy, as well as pictures of Trump and the American and Israeli flags (al-Qawm website, May 22, 2017).

The PRC demonstration in Ramallah (Twitter account of Muhammad al-Dayah from Gaza, May 22, 2017).
The PRC demonstration in Ramallah (Twitter account of Muhammad al-Dayah from Gaza, May 22, 2017).

Meeting between President Trump and PA Chairman Abbas
  • On May 22, 2017, Donald Trump visited Israel for the first time. On the second day of his visit, May 23, 2017, he went to Bethlehem for a short visit (less than an hour) and met with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. They held a joint press conference where Mahmoud Abbas stressed the two-state solution, saying the independence of the Palestinian people was the key to regional peace. He also claimed he was committed to cooperating with Trump to reach a historic peace agreement with the Israelis and to be a partner with Israel in the fight against terrorism. Trump noted the desire of both Mahmoud Abbas and Benyamin Netanyahu for peace, and said he intended to do everything in his power to help reach the goal. He also said he expected to work with Mahmoud Abbas to help the Palestinian economy (Wafa, May 23, 2017).
The Palestinian Prisoners' Ongoing Hunger Strike
  • The hunger strike of the Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails has passed its 37th day. Mahmoud Abbas met with Peter Maurer, chairman of the International Committee of the Red Cross. They discussed the health of the hunger-striking prisoners. Mahmoud Abbas asked the Red Cross to exert pressure on Israel to accede to the prisoners' demands (Wafa, May 19, 2017). Meeting in Bethlehem with the families of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners, Mahmoud Abbas said he would not let anyone break the hunger strike (Ma'an, May 22, 2017).
  • Other Palestinian remarks about the hunger strike were the following:
  • Issa Qaraqe, head of the PA ministry of prisoners' affairs, reported that his recent meetings with Israel to end the strike had hit a dead end. That, he claimed, was because Israel demanded the prisoners end the strike before negotiations were held. He warned that Palestinian prisoners might die because many of them had reached a dangerous stage and he was worried about their health (alresalah.net, May 20, 2017).
  • Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh said that Israel's disregard for the prisoners demands, which were ensured by international law, would not weaken their resolve. He called on international human rights organizations to intervene rapidly to end the prisoners' suffering and to fight against the policies of Netanyahu's government, which refused to negotiate with the prisoners (Dunia al-Watan, May 18, 2017).
  • Representatives of the military-terrorist wings of the various terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip held a press conference where they warned that any harm done to any prisoner would result in a response. They called on the Palestinian people to rise up against the "Zionist enemy" and demanded the Palestinians go to the "contact lines" with Israel and places where there were soldiers and settlers. They claimed the Palestinian "resistance" would continue to defend the Palestinian people and the prisoners, and that there were many ways the resistance could hurt Israel (al-Aqsa, May 18, 2017).
  • An Internet survey conducted by the Ma'an news agency revealed that about 65% of responders were of the opinion that the hunger strike led by Marwan Barghouti had achieved only minimum results. On the other hand, about 24% thought it had achieved most of its goals (Ma'an, May 22, 2017).
  • In recent days, in the Palestinian street there has been an increase in manifestations of solidary with the hunger-striking prisoners. On May 19, 2017, a "day of rage" was held in Judea and Samaria, during which Palestinians rioted against the Israeli security forces at the traditional friction points. On May 22, 2017, there was a general trade strike throughout the Palestinian territories. Following the call of national committee to support the prisoners' strike, Palestinians on "rage marches" went to places where IDF soldiers were stationed. The Palestinians blocked roads and clashed with the Israeli security forces. At the Qalandia crossing, north of Jerusalem, Palestinians reported that 11 had been wounded in the clash (Ma'an, May 22, 2017). The national committee called for another "rage march" at noon on May 23, 2017, and night marches at 20:00 hours on May 24. After the Friday prayers on May 26, Palestinians are called on to march towards the bypass roads, prison gates and friction points (Dunia al-Watan, May 19, 2017).

 

* Because of the Shavuoth holiday next week, publication of News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict will be delayed.
[1]A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicle, 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]See the March 2, 2016 bulletin, "Encouragement for the Palestinian Terrorist Campaign through Financial Support. Iran announces its intention to provide funds for the families of Palestinian shaheeds and families whose houses were demolished by Israel."