Members of the Swedish delegation to the flotilla in a pre-sailing training workshop
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution
A demonstration in Bila�in (Wafa News Agency, June 24, 2011)
Members of the Swedish delegation to the flotilla in a pre-sailing training workshop (HeneryAscher.blogg.se website, June 27, 2011).
This week sporadic rocket fire continued from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. In response IDF aircraft struck a Hamas attack tunnel in the central Gaza Strip.
On June 27 the organizers of the flotilla held a press conference in Athens and announced they would set sail within a few days. They said they expected 300 activists who would sail aboard ten ships, two of which would be cargo vessels. In effect, there are apparently fewer ships available, and it would seem that there are serious discrepancies between the original plans for the flotilla and the situation as it stands.
Important Terrorism Events in Israel’s South
This past week two rocket hits were indentified in Israeli territory, on June 21. The rockets fell in an open area in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire — Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire — Monthly Distribution
** Rocket and mortar shell hits identified in Israeli territory, not the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Air Force Response
Following the rocket fire into Israeli territory, Israeli Air Force aircraft struck a Hamas attack tunnel in the central Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman’s website, June 22, 2011). The Palestinian media reported the attack but did not report casualties.
Explosion near a UNESCO Building in Gaza
On June 25 there was an explosion next to a UNESCO building in Gaza. One Palestinian passerby was injured and a nearby mosque was damaged. A number of days previously an IED was found in the same area. So far it is not clear whether the UNESCO delegation was being targeted (Xinhua, June 26, 2011).
Judea and Samaria
The Situation on the Ground
This past week the Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and seizing weapons.
Stones were thrown at a number of Israeli vehicles. There were no casualties but the vehicles were damaged.
Demonstrations and riots were held at Bila�in and the other usual friction points in Judea and Samaria. The rioters, who included Palestinians, Israeli civilians and foreigners, threw stones at the Israeli security forces, who responded with riot control measures (Wafa News Agency, June 24, 2011).
Following a decision handed down by the Israeli Supreme Court, which instructed a change be made in the course of the security fence in Bila�in, on June 26 the IDF began dismantling a section of the fence. The change entailed the return of 700 dunams (about 173 acres) to the village residents. An IDF brigade commander said that the protests against the fence which take place in the village every week can be expected to continue because "a lot of money is involved." He added "a lot of Palestinians make their living from the demonstrations, and there are a lot of young people and large amounts of money that arrive every weekend from international sources" (IDF Spokesman’s website, June 26, 2011).
A demonstration in Bila�in (Wafa News Agency, June 24, 2011)
Developments in the Gaza Strip
This past week between 216 and 298 trucks carrying merchandise entered the Gaza Strip every day (Website of the Israeli government coordinator for the territories, June 21, 2011).
Five Years Since Gilad Shalit Abducted
Israeli Government decided to Change Conditions of Hamas Prisoners
This past week marked the fifth anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu told a government meeting he had "decided to change Israel’s policy regarding the terrorists in Israeli prisons. While we are obligated to respect [international] law, we are not required to go beyond [it]. Therefore, the extraordinary and exaggerated conditions for terrorists inside Israeli prisons�will end! We are taking a series of steps to change the prison conditions�[including] the absurd procedure whereby terrorists in Israeli prisons for murdering innocents can sign up for academic studies…"
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights Denounces the Conditions of Gilad Shalit’s Captivity
To mark the fifth anniversary of the abduction of Gilad Shalit, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights signed a joint announcement with Israeli and international human rights organizations calling for the return of Gilad Shalit, "to put an end to his inhuman and illegal treatment," and to enable him to contact his family and the Red Cross. Hamdi Shaqoureh, director of one of the Center’s units, explained that just as the Center demands the human rights of the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel be respected, he cannot ignore the violation of Gilad Shalit’s international human rights (Hamas’ Safa News Agency, June 27, 2011).
Riad al-Ashqar, spokesman for the ministry of prisoner affairs in the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, denounced the (exceptional) participation of a Palestinian human rights organization in criticizing the conditions of Gilad Shalit’s captivity and called for Palestinians to hold a protest in front of the Center’s offices in Gaza. Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas’ military wing, also condemned the announcement, claiming that it was neither patriotic nor moral (Filastin al-‘Aan and the Al-Qassam website, June 27, 2011).
The Internal Palestinian Arena
Mahmoud Abbas Calls for an Unarmed, Quiet Intifada and Condemns Hamas’ Actions
After the short respite following the announcement of the reconciliation agreement, the Hamas-Palestinian Authority media war was renewed. Interviewed by a Lebanese TV station, Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, said the following (LBC, June 20, 2011):
The Palestinians are in favor of an unarmed, "quiet intifada," because the intifada of 1990, which was "quiet," led to Oslo, while the armed intifada of 2000 "destroyed everything" (Hamas played a central role in the second intifada, which broke out in 2000).
Iran supplies Hamas with money and weapons, and intervenes in Palestinian affairs.
While Hamas uses the money it receives from Iran and other sources to pay its members and security forces, the residents of the Gaza Strip live in poverty and the Palestinian Authority is the one paying for their electricity, fuel, and health and educational services.
Billions of dollars are waiting to be transferred to Gaza, but are not because the international community knows it cannot trust the Hamas regime.
Hamas spokesmen strongly denounced Mahmoud Abbas:
Senior Hamas figure Salah al-Bardawil claimed that Hamas was surprised by Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks, which it regarded as an attempt to force his stance on the Hamas movement (Hamas’ Safa News Agency, June 21, 2011).
Yahya Musa, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, claimed that Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks were a "deviation from the path of reconciliation" and "submission to Zionist-American dictates." He said that Mahmoud Abbas had positioned himself as a dictator, and that he was a "despicable person" who was not committed to the basic principles of the Palestinian people and the reconciliation (The Voice of Al-Aqsa radio, June 21, 2011).
The Political Campaign against Israel
Calls for a “Popular Palestinian Protest” on July 9
Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative,3 called on the Palestinians to participate in "the next wave of broad popular resistance" expected to be held on July 9 to mark the anniversary of the UN decision in the Hague denouncing the Israeli "separation fence" (Palestinian Authority TV, June 27, 2011).
Calls continue for hundreds of international activists to fly to Ben-Gurion International Airport between July 8 and 16. They will arrive from Germany and other countries mainly on July 8. After a protest held at the airport, they are supposed to leave for solidarity meetings with Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. Fifteen organizations are behind the propaganda show, most but not all of them local and Palestinian. One of the most prominent is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which specializes in obstructing IDF activity in the Palestinian Authority-administered territories. The ISM sends volunteers and its own activists from abroad to the weekly demonstrations in Bila�in, Ni�lin and other friction points in Judea and Samaria, and its leaders have central positions in the flotilla campaign.4
Official Palestinian Authority Announcement about an Appeal to the UN
On June 26 a meeting of the Palestinian leadership was held, chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, after which an announcement was issued officially stating that in September 2011 the Palestinians would appeal to the UN to be admitted as a member nation, based on the outlines of familiar international initiatives and the plan proposed by American President Barack Obama in his speech this past May. According to the announcement, the step is not meant to replace negotiations with Israel (Wafa News Agency, June 26, 2011).
Flotillas to the Gaza Strip � Update
Freedom Flotilla 2 Plans to Sail in the Near Future
The organizations participating in dispatching the upgraded Freedom Flotilla 2 held a press conference in Athens on June 27, where they announced that the flotilla would apparently sail at the end of the week. They blamed the delay on technical difficulties and Israel’s attempts to prevent the ships from sailing. Organizers called on the Greek authorities to permit them to sail. The organizers claimed that about 300 activists were expected to sail aboard ten ships, two of them cargo ships. In our assessment, the number of ships available to the organizers may be smaller.
The flotilla organizers stressed that the flotilla would carry a message of peace and that it was not a "terrorist flotilla." Its objective was to end the so-called Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip, which, according to the claim, was "almost hermetic" and illegal. They criticized the reservations held by the international community regarding the flotilla, and accused Israel of harming the vessels and passengers (Freedomflotilla.eu website, June 27, 2011). However, in reality, there is apparently a hard core of participants who are liable to use violent tactics of "passive resistance" to prevent the IDF from taking over the ships.
So far some of the participants have arrived in Greece and others are on their way. The American and Canadian groups participated in a training workshop whose objective was to prepare them for a possible confrontation with IDF forces aboard the ship (the workshop may have been held for two delegations at the same time). In addition, the participants received instructions in various topics including safety and communications, and a political update.5 The Israeli Navy called on the flotilla participants not to join the "provocative flotilla," which violates international law (IDF Spokesman, June 27, 2011).
1 The statistics do not include the rockets and mortar shells which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
3 A leftist Palestinian organization which calls for "realizing the Palestinians’ national [sic] rights" by establishing a "national emergency leadership," holding democratic elections and instituting structural reforms in politics and the Palestinian national administration and institutions.
4 For further information, see the June 1, 2011 ITIC bulletin, "Anti-Israeli organizations examine implementing propaganda displays based on flying large numbers of activists to Ben-Gurion Airport on commercial flights" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e197.pdf.
5 For further information, see the June 27 ITIC bulletin, "The Canadians and Americans about to set sail with the flotilla from Greece participated in a short training workshop covering various topics and centering on "passive resistance" to IDF soldiers" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e205.pdf.