Preparations continue for the Global March to Jerusalem
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Demonstration in solidarity with the hunger-striking terrorist
Rocket fire continues from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev. This past week two rocket hits and three mortar shell hits were identified. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
Preparations continue for the events of March 30, centering around marches to Israel’s borders from the Arab countries surrounding it, with events planned for Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip and within Israel. As the preparations continue their radical Islamist character becomes more conspicuous. The time table of the Asian convoy was recently made public. It will leave from India and pass through Iran (where a media circus is being prepared to receive it) and Turkey on its way to Lebanon.
Israel’s South Important Terrorism Events
This past week rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory continued. Two rocket hits were identified in the western Negev on March 3 and three mortar shell hits on March 1. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the three mortar shell hits (PFLP website, March 1, 2012).
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire — Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire — Monthly Distribution
Judea and Samaria
This past week the IDF carried out routine counterterrorist activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and confiscating weapons. Rioting continued, and stones were thrown at civilian Israeli vehicles and at the Israeli security forces.
The most important events this week were:
On March 5 an IDF force detained two Palestinians who had attempted to infiltrate the community of Elon Moreh (northeast of Nablus) but were detected before they could enter. After a chase the two were caught in the village of Azmut (east of Nablus) with knives in their possession. The two were apparently planning a terrorist attack (Ynet, March 5, 2012).
On March 6 the Palestinian police detained a woman at the security fence near the village of Emanuel (north of Ariel). The woman, who was apparently mentally unbalanced, had a large knife and claimed she was planning to stab someone (Ynet, March 6, 2012).
Administrative Detainee Begins Hunger Strike
According to our information, Hana Yahya Saber al-Shalabi, a Palestinian woman held in administrative detention in an Israeli prison, began a hunger strike. Hana al-Shalabi, who has been on a hunger strike for 18 days, was born in the village of Burqin in 1982. She was detained in September 2009 for her participation in Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist activities. During questioning she expressed particularly extremist views and threatened to kill her interrogators. However, while the evidence was insufficient to bring her to trial on criminal charges, there was enough reliable and definite intelligence pointing to her involvement in terrorist activities to warrant placing her in administrative detention. Her detention was authorized by all the necessary judicial bodies, including the Israeli Supreme Court. It was extended a number of times until she was released in October 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. After her release new intelligence was received regarding which indicated she was dangerous to regional security. Therefore, she was put in administrative detention for a second time on February 16, 2012 for six months.
According to Hamas, in view of her hunger strike, on March 4, 2012 a military court reduced her incarceration by two months. Nevertheless, she continued her hunger strike with the objective of achieving immediate release (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, March 5, 2012).
Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority began a media campaign to effect her release. Saeb Erekat met with UN envoy Robert Serry and the president of the European Union to give them a communiqu� from Mahmoud Abbas for the UN secretary general and the EU’s foreign minister. In it the Palestinian Authority demanded her release and the revocation of the administrative detention law (Voice of Palestine Radio and Wafa News Agency, March 5, 2012).
Demonstration in solidarity with the hunger-striking terrorist
(Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, March 5, 2012).
TV Station Broadcasting Equipment Confiscated
Following Palestinian Authority TV station broadcasts which interfered with communications at Ben-Gurion International Airport, and complying with a request from the Israeli Ministry of Communications, an IDF force confiscated the broadcasting equipment of two local Palestinian TV stations (Wattan and Al-Quds Al-Tarbawi, which belongs to the Al-Quds University in Ramallah (February 29 2012).
Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority condemned the act, claiming it violated international law and freedom of the press. Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, said that in his opinion it was a clear violation of the freedom of the press ensured by every international convention (Wafa News Agency, February 29, 2012). Salam Fayyad, Palestinian prime minister, called the confiscation "piracy" and said that a quick response was necessary to ensure the renewal of broadcasts (Wafa News Agency, February 29, 2012).
The Gaza Strip Crossings
Passage of Merchandise
On March 6 two trucks belonging to the UN’s World Food Programme passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing. They were carrying date snacks from the Gaza Strip meant for Judea and Samaria. Trucks will continue leaving the Gaza Strip throughout the week. It was the first time WFP trucks had exited the Gaza Strip since Hamas’ violent takeover. The date snacks came on the heels of the export of tomatoes from the Gaza Strip to Jordan, which began last month (IDF Spokesman, March 6, 2012).
Hamas’ Political Activity
Senior Hamas figures still insist that they are not a participant in the Syrian arena and that all the events in the country are an internal Syrian issue. However, they also express cautious support for the Syrian people and its demands. Regarding the removal of the Hamas offices from Syria, they continue to adhere to their original assertion that they are still in Syria but that the security situation has caused a temporary cessation of its activities and its senior members have left and gone to other countries.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, referring to the Syrian uprising, said that every people had the right to realize its desires and choose its leaders. The Syrian regime, he said, gave Hamas much support but it was now facing internal problems Hamas could not be a part of. He said that from the beginning, Hamas had advised the Syrian regime to institute political reforms but its advice had been ignored (BBC, February 29, 2012). Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, spoke of the rights of the Syria people and its aspirations. However, he said that Hamas did not oppose the Sy
Interviewed by Al-Hayat, Ziyad al-Nakhaleh, deputy secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, expressed his organization’s position on the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, as follows (Al-Hayat, March 1, 2012):
The possibility of the PIJ’s joining the PLO: The PIJ, he said, would not join the PLO as long as it recognized Israel and did not adopt the path of "resistance" [i.e., terrorism].
The peace agreement and recognition of the State of Israel: The PIJ did not accept the Oslo Accords. Any mention of the "right of return" in the same breath as recognition of Israel was a contradiction in terms, because recognition of Israel was incompatible with the return of six million Palestinian refugees to the territory of the State of Israel.
The issue of the "resistance" [i.e., the path of terrorism]: At the [Fatah-Hamas] talks in Cairo the issue of "popular resistance" was discussed. Everyone, he said, had agreed that the Gaza Strip could not endure another war and there was no desire to drag Israel into another one. However, the Palestinian national plan was based on the idea of "resistance" and the liberation [sic] of the land, and that the "resistance" could not be ended for any reason whatsoever.
Iranian aid and support: Iranian aid and support for the Palestinian people had not stopped for a second. The Iranians, he said, were supporting the Palestinians and did not demand they waive their "rights."
Abdallah Ramadan Shalah, secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, also made it clear that his organization would not participate in the Palestinian Authority or in any government whose basic platform and dealings with Israel were incompatible with the PIJ’s ideology. He added that if the Palestinians were forced into a war there would be "surprises in favor of the resistance" (Al-Ra’i, Qatar, March 4, 2012).
Propaganda and Incitement Events
The Global March to Jerusalem logo
Preparations continue for the marches expected to take place on March 30, 2012. To that end a meeting was held in Jordan on March 4, where it was decided that the participants in the Jordanian march would gather in the Jordan Valley (GM2J website).
Meanwhile, the timetable for the convoy from Asia was also made public. It is supposed to leave India on March 9, after having received the blessing of the Palestinian embassy in New Delhi. Its participants plan to spend March 10-14 in Karachi, Pakistan, and from there to fly to Iran. From March 15 to 20 they will tour Iran, visiting a number of cities including Tehran, Tabriz and Qom, and from there make their way to Turkey. From Turkey, according to the information available, they will sail to Beirut, arriving on March 27 or 28 (One of the delegation heads’ blog, March 3, 2012). Judging from past experience, the visit to Iran will be exploited for a public relations circus held by the Iranian regime and the defamation of the State of Israel and the West.
Attempts were made in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to recruit Palestinian activists and senior figures to participate in the events. Hatem al-Bitawi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Council of Islamic Sages, said that every Arab and Muslim had the religious and national duty to defend Al-Aqsa mosque and liberate [sic] Jerusalem. He added that after the attempt to turn Jerusalem from an Arab-Muslim issue to a limited Palestinian issue, it had to be restored to the Arab-Muslim bosom (GMJ website, March 1, 2012).
A program broadcast on the Hamas-affiliated Al-Quds TV channel dealing with the Global March to Jerusalem featured Zaher Birawi, a Hamas activist in Britain who serves as GMJ spokesman. He called the march "a broad popular move" which included Israeli Arabs as well as Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He said that it would be a turning point in the nature of the struggle against Israel, which would be forced to cope with "a million people" who would say "no" to the occupation and call for the liberty of Jerusalem (Al-Quds TV, March 3, 2012).
Despite the intensive preparations, to date it seems that the march organizers have lowered their expectations. Rib hi Hallo um, the general coordinator and chairman of the GMJ Executive Committee, said that it would not be called the "million-man march" but rather the Global March to Jerusalem because what was important was holding a march which would be attended by representatives of many countries around the globe, and the actual number of participants was less important (Al-Quds TV, March 4, 2012).
Palestinian Authority and Sheikh Qaradawi Disagree over Visits of Jerusalem
In response to Mahmoud Abbas’ call to Arabs and Muslims to visit Jerusalem, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an important Sunni Muslim cleric affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, repeated the fatwa he had previous issued according to which it was forbidden for anyone who was not a Palestinian to visit Jerusalem so as not to legitimize the "occupation." He said Jerusalem had to be fought for to restore it to Muslims and its liberation was the responsibility of all Muslims and not only of the Palestinians (Al-Hayat, February 28, 2012).
Mahmoud Abbas expressed reservations regarding the fatwa and said he wondered what it was based on, since visiting Jerusalem was a religious duty (Al-Ahram, March 4, 2012). Mahmoud al-Habash, Palestinian endowments minister, posted a response on his Facebook page, saying that the fatwa contradicted the tradition of the prophet and was in line with Israeli policy, which aspired to isolate Jerusalem from its surroundings and its Arab-Muslim depth.
1 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of March 6, 2012.