Israeli Navy forces take control of the two ships of the recent flotilla
An Israeli naval officer helps an activist off the boat (IDF Spokesman, November 4, 2011).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Abd al-Rahman Zayyid, the student suspected in the stabbing
This past week sporadic rocket fire continued into Israeli territory. Three rocket hits were identified in the Ashqelon region. There were no casualties and no damage was done. In addition, the IDF prevented IEDs from being placed next to the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip.
On November 4 the Israeli Navy took control of two boats, one Canadian and one Irish, which were on their way to the Gaza Strip to "break" the so-called Israeli "siege." The flotilla’s organizers said they intended to continue dispatching individual boats from various ports to make difficulties for Israel and exert continuous pressure on it.
Flotillas to the Gaza Strip � Update 1
On November 4 an Israeli Navy force took control of two small vessels, one Canadian and one Irish, which set sail from Turkey for the Gaza Strip on November 2. They carried 27 passengers and crew. When the vessels did not heed warnings that they were about to enter a closed area, and did not accept the alternatives presented to them, Israeli Navy forces boarded the vessels and conducted them and the passengers to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. From there the passengers were expected to return to their countries of origin. The Navy takeover was carried out without the passengers’ resorting to violence (IDF Spokesman, November 4, 2011). A search of both vessels revealed that contrary to statements made by the passengers, the boats were not carrying humanitarian equipment.
Click for a video of the Navy takeover of the boats
The organizers of the flotillas to the Gaza Strip announced that they had adopted a new strategy, and would not use the previous tactic of sending media-covered flotillas comprised of many ships. Instead, they said they intended to send isolated vessels from various ports to make difficulties for Israel and exert continuous pressure on it.
Hamas spokesmen denounced the Israeli takeover of the flotilla to the Gaza Strip. In a press release they called it "piracy" and said it was a gross violation of international law (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, November 5, 2011). Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said that the Israeli Navy takeover of the vessels was "a crime against humanity" and that the continuation of the so-called Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip was another "Israeli crime" against the Palestinian people (Safa News Agency, November 5, 2011).
The ministry of justice of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip demanded that the Irish and Canadian governments take steps similar to those taken toward Israel by Turkey after the Mavi Marmara affair. Yacoub al-Ghandour, director general of the office of the judicial advisor and legislation, called on the UN secretary general and the attorney general of the International Criminal Court in the Hague to initiate an investigation and bring those responsible to trial (The PIJ’s Paltoday website, November 5, 2011).
The flotilla’s activists claimed that the takeover of the vessels was accompanied by violence and that they were not well treated then or afterwards during interrogation. They called on their governments to impose sanctions on Israel (Irish Ship to Gaza website, November 6, 2011).
An Israeli naval officer helps an activist off the boat
(IDF Spokesman, November 4, 2011).
Important Terrorism Events Israel’s South
Rocket fire into Israel
This past week three rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. They were all launched on November 6, and fell in the western Negev in the Ashqelon district. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
IDF Force Attacked near the Security Fence
On November 3 terrorist operatives attacked an IDF force engaged in routine activities near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The force returned fire. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, November 3, 2011).
An official announcement of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, stated that one of those killed by the IDF fire was an operative killed during "a jihad action" (Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website, November 3, 2011).
IDF Force Prevents Terrorists from Placing IEDs
On November 7 an IDF force identified a squad of terrorist operatives placing IEDs near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The force opened fire (IDF Spokesman, November 7, 2011). The Palestinian media reported that three Palestinians were wounded (Ma’an News Agency, Paltoday website and Safa News Agency, November 7, 2011)
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 2
Rocket Fire — Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire — Monthly Distribution
Israeli Air Force Attacks
On November 4 Israeli aircraft attacked a terrorist squad in the southern Gaza Strip which was in the process of preparing to fire rockets into Israeli territory (IDF Spokesman, November 5, 2011). The Palestinian media reported that the aircraft attacked operatives belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and that one operative was killed and three wounded (Jerusalem Brigades website, Safa News Agency, Al-Risala, November 5, 2011).
Judea and Samaria
Palestinian Suspected of Stabbing in Jerusalem Detained
In a joint IDF, security forces and Israel Police action, Abd al-Rahman Zayyid, 20, from Beit Iksa, was detained. Zayyid, a student at Abu Dis University, is suspected of the October 22 stabbing of a young Israeli man in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem. The suspect, who was detained on Thursday, November 3, elaborated on how the stabbing attack was carried out and told the police his motives were nationalist (IDF Spokesman, November 7, 2011).
Abd al-Rahman Zayyid, the student suspected in the stabbing
(Israel Security Agency, November 6, 2011).
Note: On October 22 two young men were attacked in the Ramot neighborhood of Jerusalem by a young Palestinian armed with a knife. One of them, 17 years old, was seriously wounded and evacuated to a hospital. No organization claimed responsibility for the attack (IDF Spokesman, October 22, 2011).
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. In a number of incidents stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles. On November 6, between Nablus and Qalqilya, an Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at his vehicle (IDF Spokesman, November 6, 2011).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
The Lull in the Fighting
A "highly placed Egyptian source" quoted by Al-Hayat called on the Palestinian terrorist organizations to maintain the lull in the fighting because rocket and mortar shell fire would bring an Israeli military operation in its wake. The source stressed that Egypt was investing efforts to bring about a lull but was concerned that if the attacks continued Egypt would not be able to prevent Israel from undertaking a military action. The source added that Egypt had informed the Palestinians that Israel had an attack plan ready for the Gaza Strip which it would put into action if it were attacked and its cities were in danger of rocket attacks. The source hinted that there was a connection between preserving the lull and implementing the second half of the prisoner exchange deal (Al-Hayat, November 5, 2011).
However, in an interview Abu Ahmed, the spokesman of the Jerusalem Brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military-terrorist wing, said that the lull existed in theory only because in reality there was no lull. He said he was proud to say that Iran provided the organization with support [sic] but denied reports that Iran supplied the organization with advanced weapons or that its operatives underwent military training in Iran (Reuters, November 2, 2011).
Hamas’ Political Activity
Hamas’ Position on Direct Negotiations with Israel
In an interview Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, reiterated Hamas’ positions regarding an arrangement with Israel (Aljazeera.net website, November 5, 2011).
As opposed to Fatah, he said, Hamas’ principles do not change, and they are the following:
The Hamas movement rejects any and all direct negotiations with Israel, because such negotiations are "a waste of time."
Hamas does not reject conducting indirect negotiations with Israel on various subjects such as exchange or prisoners, the crossings, etc.
Hamas will never agree to the compromises offered by Israel regarding the territories [of Palestine] and the refugees.
Khaled Mashaal’s Visit to Jordan
Contacts continue between Hamas and the Jordanian government for Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, to visit Jordan. Izzat al-Rishq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said that the visit had been agreed to in principle through Qatari mediation and that it would most likely be carried out during Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice (November 6-8). Khaled Mashaal will apparently be accompanied by a Hamas delegation. Al-Rishaq said that despite the improvement in relations, so far Hamas was not planning to move its headquarters to Jordan3 (Al-Ghad, November 1, 2011).�����������
With regard to opening Hamas offices in Jordan, Yusuf Ruzka, advisor to Ismail Haniya, said that it was still too early to talk about moving Hamas headquarters to Jordan and that in his opinion the issue would not be discussed during the upcoming visit (Safa News Agency, November 1, 2011). On the other hand, Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said that it was one of the issues to be discussed during the visit in light of the fact that there were Hamas operatives still living in Jordan (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, November 1, 2011).
Khaled Mashaal, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, called Mahmoud Abbas to pay his respects for the Feast of the Sacrifice. Both sides said they were interested in holding a meeting in the near future to monitor the [Fatah-Hamas] reconciliation agreement and initiate a far-reaching national dialogue (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, November 7, 2011). Salah al-Bardawil, a high-ranking Hamas figure, said that the date for an Abbas-Haniya meeting had not yet been set (Sama News Palestine, November 5, 2011). Interviewed, Ismail Haniya said the date would be determined soon and that Hamas wanted the meeting to succeed to make it possible to implement the reconciliation on the ground (Alresalah.net website, November 7, 2011). Sources within Fatah said that Mahmoud Abbas intended to propose to Khaled Mashaal that general elections be held in May 2012, after the reconciliation agreement had been signed (Al-Hayat, November 7, 2011).
At the same time, Fatah and Hamas continue to trade mutual accusations. For example, sources within the de-facto Hamas administration accused the Palestinian Authority of not issuing passports to 30 of the terrorist operatives released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal and thus thwarting their intentions to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Fatah sources complained that the Hamas security forces confiscated the vehicle of Abdallah Abu Samhadana, an important Fatah figure in the Gaza Strip (PalPress website, November 5, 2011).
Israel and the Palestinians
Criticism of Israeli Construction
On November 1 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the government of Israel had decided to accelerate the construction of 2000 dwelling units in neighborhoods in Jerusalem, the Etzion Bloc and Maaleh Adumim, areas which will remain part of Israel in any future arrangement (Israeli Prime Minister’s website, November 1, 2011).
The announcement provoked a wave of denouncement in the Palestinian Authority:
Nabil Abu Rudeina, presidential spokesman, said that if Israel continued its policy and the International Quartet continued to exhibit weakness, the Palestinian leadership would make "important, serious" decisions in the near future (BBC in Arabic, November 3, 2011).
Yasser Abd Rabbo, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said that the construction would not deter the Palestinians from applying for membership in other international institutions and organizations (Voice of Palestine Radio, November 2, 2011).
Muhammad Ishtiya, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said that the accelerated construction was not in fact Israel’s response to the Palestinian appeal for membership in UNESCO, but rather part of an existing plan to increase the size of the settlements (Voice of Palestine Radio, November 2, 2011).
The Issue of Palestinian Authority Membership in International Organizations
Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian Authority foreign minister, said in an interview that after being accepted into UNESCO, the Palestinian Authority did not intend to apply to other international organizations until its application for membership in the UN had been deliberated by the Security Council. He said that at this stage the Palestinians wanted to focus on the appeal to the Security Council (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, November 2, 2011).
UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon said that the efforts made by the Palestinian Authority to gain acceptance to the UN did not benefit anyone, including the Palestinians, because they were liable to lead to various Western countries’ cutting back their contributions to the organization and thus harming millions of people.4 He recommended that the Palestinian Authority focus exclusively on its efforts to gain acceptance to the UN (AP, November 3, 2011 (
Convoys to the Gaza Strip � Update
On November 4 the Miles of Smiles 7 convoy entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. The first part of the convoy was comprised of 113 activists from 11 countries and 11 ambulances and medical aid. The second part is currently on its way and includes 21 ambulances, vehicles for the handicapped and medicines. Issam Yussuf, official spokesman for the convoy and head of the British Interpal Fund,5 stressed the assistance given the convoy by the Egyptian authorities (Wafa News Agency, November 4, 2011).
1 For further information see the November 3, 2011 bulletin "Another flotilla to the Gaza Strip: Two ships carrying pro-Palestinian and social activists as well as media personnel set sail from Turkey on November 2 to challenge Israel’s maritime closure of the Gaza Strip, despite the fact that the international community recognizes the closure as legitimate and the Palmer Report said it was a legal security measure compatible with international law" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e238.pdf.
2 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of date November 8, 2011.
3 The Hamas offices in Jordan closed in 1999 and Khaled Mashaal was expelled to Syria.
4 After the Palestinian Authority was accepted as a member of UNESCO the United States announced it was stopping its contributions to the agency.
5 For further information see the date bulletin "Seniors figures in Interpal, a British fund that supports Hamas, play a major role in sending aid convoys to Gaza…" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e148.pdf.