News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (January 11-17, 2012)

Reception for Ismail Haniya on his return to the Gaza Strip from a series of visits to Arab-Muslim countries

Reception for Ismail Haniya on his return to the Gaza Strip from a series of visits to Arab-Muslim countries

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution

The PRC fires rockets into Israeli territory on December 29, 2011

The PRC fires rockets into Israeli territory on December 29, 2011

A poster welcoming Ismail Haniya back to the Gaza Strip

A poster welcoming Ismail Haniya back to the Gaza Strip

Contacts for a Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

Contacts for a Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

Salah al-Bardawil

Salah al-Bardawil

The members of the convoy welcomed by Ismail Haniya

The members of the convoy welcomed by Ismail Haniya


Reception for Ismail Haniya on his return to the Gaza Strip from a series of visits to Arab-Muslim countries
Reception for Ismail Haniya on his return to the Gaza Strip from a series of visits to Arab-Muslim countries (PALDF website, January 11, 2012).

Overview

 After two weeks of relative quiet, this past week two rockets launched from the Gaza Strip fell in Israeli territory. What was apparently a "work accident" occurred at the home of a high-ranking Popular Resistance Committees operative in Rafah, causing the death of an organization operative and wounding five Palestinians. In northern Samaria, for the second time two Palestinians were caught with ten pipe bombs. In all probability they intended to carry out a terrorist attack at the nearby military courthouse where the murderers of the Fogel family from settlement of Itamar were being tried.

 Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, ended his tour of visits to Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and Tunisia. His objectives were to strengthen Hamas’ ties with the various countries and the legitimacy of the Hamas administration. Hamas boasted of the positive results of the visits, saying they symbolized "breaking the political blockade" of the Gaza Strip.

 On January 14 a third meeting of Israeli and Palestinian representatives was held. They agreed to hold another meeting in the near future. The Palestinians claimed that no progress had been made. Mahmoud Abbas said in a speech that the meetings in Jordan would continue only until January 26, after which the Palestinian Authority would examine its next steps.

Important Terrorism Events Israel’s South

Rocket Fire

 After two weeks of relative quiet, this past week two rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. Both rockets fell in open areas in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

Activity of Terrorist Squad Prevented

 IDF tanks fired on a terrorist squad which approached the security fence near the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that two squad operatives were wounded (Safa News Agency and Al-Risala, January 12, 2012).

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket Fire — Monthly Distribution

Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Mortar Shell Fire — Monthly Distribution

Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution

Explosion in the Home of a High-Ranking Popular Resistance Committees Operative

 The Palestinian media reported that one Palestinian was killed and five wounded in an explosion which occurred at the home of Zuheir al-Qaisi, secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees in Rafah. The Palestinian who was killed was a PRC operative.

 Following the explosion, the organization said in a statement that Zuheir al-Qaisi was not at home at the time and was not injured, and that the operative had been killed while performing his "jihad duty." The house was burned to the ground and there were a number of secondary explosions (Safa News Agency and the Qudsnet website, January 14, 2012). The explosion was apparently caused by a "work accident."

The PRC fires rockets into Israeli territory on December 29, 2011
The PRC fires rockets into Israeli territory on December 29, 2011

(Picture from the Qawm website of the PRC’s military-terrorist wing, January 12, 2012).

Judea and Samaria

Ten Pipe Bombs and Ammunition Seized at the Salem Checkpoint

 On January 16 two Palestinians were detained for suspicious conduct at the Salem checkpoint in northern Samaria (on the road leading from Megiddo to Jenin). They were found to be carrying ten pipe bombs, an improvised gun and 100 bullets (IDF Spokesman, January 16, 2012).

 On January 8, at the same checkpoint, two Palestinians were detained carrying 11 pipe bombs of varying sizes, an improvised gun, a commando knife and ammunition. The seizure of the weapons apparently prevented a terrorist attack from being carried out near the military courthouse at the checkpoint, where yesterday one of the murderers of five members of the Fogel family were sentenced.2

Events on the Ground

 This past week the IDF carried out routine counterterrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and confiscating weapons. During the week there were a number of confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. On January 10 two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Azaria crossing east of Bethlehem. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

A New Crossing Opened at Shuafat

 The IDF opened an upgraded crossing at the refugee camp at Shuafat, northeast of Jerusalem. It is intended for the use of about 25,000 Palestinians who have blue Israeli ID cards. The new crossing, established in accordance with an Israeli supreme court ruling, is meant to significantly improve the passage of civilians and conditions for the security guards stationed there (IDF Spokesman, January 10, 2012).

Hamas’ Political and Propaganda Activity

Ismail Haniya Visits Arab-Muslim Countries

 Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, returned to the Gaza Strip from visits to Egypt, Sudan, Turkey and Tunisia. The visits received extensive sympathetic media coverage, and he repeatedly stressed his extremist positions regarding every aspect of the conflict with Israel.

 At a press conference held in Rafah on his return to the Gaza Strip and in a report to the Hamas administration, Haniya boasted that the outcome of the visits was positive with regard to both the official and popular aspects.3 He said that the visits symbolized "breaking the political blockade" of Hamas and the Palestinian government, and boasted that Gaza had a revolutionary role in the Arab Spring. He added that he was planning another round of visits to other Arab and Islamic countries which had invited him.4

A poster welcoming Ismail Haniya back to the Gaza Strip
A poster welcoming Ismail Haniya back to the Gaza Strip
(PALDF website, January 11, 2012).

Moving Hamas’ Offices from Syria to Jordan

 In reference to the possibility that Hamas will move its offices from Syria to Jordan, Musa Abu Marzouk, head of Hamas’ political bureau, said that he rejected statements made by the Jordanian prime minister according to which the condition for returning senior Hamas figures to Jordan was that they did not engage in political activity within the borders of the kingdom. Musa Abu Marzouk said that political activity was a right which could not be denied because its objective was to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people (Alresalah.net website, January 12, 2012).

Fatah-Hamas Relations

Contacts for a Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation

 This past week contacts continued for the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. The social reconciliation committee met twice in the Gaza Strip; a third meeting will be held on January 18. The committee members agreed to appoint sub-committees which would deal with various topics over which there was disagreement. A working plan for implementing the social reconciliation was also discussed (Alresalah.net website, January 16, 2012).

 Concurrently, a delegation of senior Fatah figures met with Ismail Haniya in the Gaza Strip, and others met with him at his home. The objective was to lessen the tension created on January 6 when a Fatah delegation was denied entrance into the Gaza Strip (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, January 14, 2012). At a press conference held after the meeting, Khalil al-Hayeh, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said that the atmosphere at the meeting had been good and the need to implement the reconciliation was stressed (Al-Aqsa TV, January 14, 2012).

Contacts for a Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation
Right: Fatah and Hamas representatives meet in the Gaza Strip (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, January 14, 2012). Left: A cartoon depicting the distance between Fatah and Hamas as greater than that between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The flag on the upper table reads “Negotiations [with Israel],” and on the lower table “Reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas] (Hamas’ newspaper Felesteen, January 11, 2012).

 Senior Hamas figures continue referring to the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism], stressing the theme that Hamas has no intention of abandoning the so-called "armed struggle." Salah al-Bardawil, head of the Hamas information bureau, said that the agreements between Hamas and Fatah did not involve "non-violent resistance," but rather "popular resistance." He said popular resistance had several levels which "depend on the degree of public rage" and might involve violence and the use of knives and cold weapons. He claimed an intifada was also a form of "popular resistance" (Al-Sharq, January 15, 2012).

Salah al-Bardawil
Salah al-Bardawil: “Popular resistance” may involve violence

(Hamasinfo.net website, January 16, 2012).

Israel and the Palestinians

Israeli, Palestinian Authority and International Quartet Representatives Meet in Amman

 On January 14 a third meeting was held, attended by Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestinian negotiating team, and Yitzhak Molcho, the Israeli prime minister’s envoy, without an International Quartet presence. Another meeting will be held on January 25, at which the participants will decide whether or not to meet again (Al-Hayat, January 15, 2012).

 Senior Palestinian Authority figures claimed that the third round of talks were not productive and blamed Israel for the failure of contacts to renew the negotiations. Yasser Abd Rabbo, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said that Israel had still not proposed "anything serious" regarding the issues on the agenda (Ma’an News Agency, January 15, 2012). Nabil Shaath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, claimed that the Palestinians were not surprised and that they had gone to the talks in Amman only to show that Israel was responsible for destroying the negotiations (Voice of Palestine Radio, January 15, 2012).

Mahmoud Abbas’ Speech at the Fatah Advisory Council

 In a speech Mahmoud Abbas gave at a conference of the Fatah Advisory Council on January 12 he mentioned a number of issues on the agenda (Wafa News Agency, January 12, 2012):

  • �Contacts with Israel: He reiterated his position that the contacts with Israel in Jordan were not negotiations. He said that no progress had been made at the meetings in Jordan and they would continue only until January 26. After that date the Palestinian Authority, in collaboration with the Arab League, would examine its next steps. He added that negotiations would be renewed only after agreement had been reached on the issues of borders, freezing construction in the settlements and the release of the Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli jails. At the same time the Palestinian Authority would continue its efforts in the UN Security Council to achieve UN membership.

  • The reconciliation with Hamas: Mahmoud Abbas claimed that the Hamas leadership wanted reconciliation and that Hamas had agreed to "a non-violent popular resistance," to a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders and to elections on May 4, 2012. With regard to the elections he called on Fatah to function better so that it would not be defeated again the way it was in 2006.

Meeting of the Committee for Popular Resistance against the Fence and Construction in the Settlements

 On January 11 a meeting was held in Ramallah whose theme was "The Second Conference for Popular Resistance against the Fence and Construction in the Settlements." It was attended by members of the PLO’s Executive Committee and senior figures in the Palestinian Authority. The opening speech was given by Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, who stressed the importance of "non-violent resistance" alongside a continued national effort to construct a foundation for the establishment of a Palestinian state (Wafa News Agency, January 11, 2012).

The Campaign to Boycott Israeli Products

 Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the National Initiative Movement, said that the campaign to boycott Israeli products has been very successful. He said that following the campaign there was a decrease of 70% in the purchase of Israeli products. He added that the second stage of the campaign was underway and included hospitals, universities and schools (Ma’an News Agency, January 2, 2012).

Convoys and Flotillas to the Gaza Strip

A Miles of Smiles Convoy Reaches the Gaza Strip

 The Miles of Smiles 8 convoy reached the Gaza Strip on January 14, 2012. After coordinating with the Egyptian authorities it entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing on January 15. It was the eighth Miles of Smiles convoy to enter. According to the organizers, the convoy has participants from Arab-Muslim countries as follows: 32 Tunisians, four Palestinians,one Moroccan, 35 Algerians, 23 Jordanians and five Bahrainis. There are also six British subjects, five Frenchmen and one Pole.

 The convoy brought medicines and medical equipment worth 3 million Egyptian pounds (about $500,000) as well as ambulances and vehicles for people with special needs (Humanitarian Voice website, January 3, 2012). The convoy participants received a festive welcome from Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, January 16, 2012).

The members of the convoy welcomed by Ismail Haniya
Left: The members of the convoy welcomed by Ismail Haniya (Hamas’ Palestine-info website,
January 16, 2012). Right: "Miles of Smiles 8" enters the Gaza Strip (Al-Risala, January 15, 2012).

Italian Volunteers Work in the Gaza Strip

 There is currently volunteer activity in the Gaza Strip in a program named for the Italian journalist Vittorio Arrigoni, who was killed in the Gaza Strip in April 2011. European participants live in the Gaza Strip and report on Israeli security activities. It was reported that they recently appealed to a number of individuals in the Italian establishment for steps to be taken to protect the volunteers in the Gaza Strip and against "the continuing violations of the Palestinians’ human rights" which they claim are carried out by Israel (Italian Freedom Flotilla website, January 3, 2012).

Attempted Terrorist Attacks Abroad

 This past week Thai security detained a Lebanese Hezbollah operative involved in planning terrorist attacks in Bangkok. He and a companion are suspected of having left Lebanon and entering Thailand on Swedish passports. They are suspected of having planned to station car bombs at the Israeli embassy, synagogues and restaurants frequented by Israeli tourists (Ynet, January 13, 2012). The chief of the Thai police reported that the police received from the Lebanese suspect the address of an apartment in northwestern Bangkok were the materials for making the bombs were hidden.


1 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of date January 17, 2012.

2 Five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death or had their throats slit in the settlement of Itamar on March 11, 2011. The two murderers, both residents of the village of Awarta, were apprehended, tried and sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment.

3 However, Haniya’s rivals claimed that the tour was a great waste of "public money." Dr. Yusef Rizka, Haniya’s political advisor, rejected the claims, saying that the governments of the various countries had paid for the visits and that they had resulted in many achievements, costing the Hamas administration "only small change" (Hamas’ Felesteen, January 13, 2012).

4 A bulletin summarizing Haniya’s visits to Arab-Muslim countries is available in Hebrew on the ITIC website and will shortly be available in English.