News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (August 17-24, 2010)

Mahmoud Abbas chairs the meeting of the PLO's executive committee

Mahmoud Abbas chairs the meeting of the PLO's executive committee

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution

Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution

Hamas Praises IHH for its Activity for the Gaza Strip

Hamas Praises IHH for its Activity for the Gaza Strip

PALDF, Hamas� main forum, August 18, 2010

PALDF, Hamas� main forum, August 18, 2010

Mahmoud Abbas chairs the meeting of the PLO's executive committee
Mahmoud Abbas chairs the meeting of the PLO’s executive committee at which he announced that the Palestinian Authority agreed to relaunch negotiations with Israel (From, August 21, 2010).


 This past week no rockets were fired into the western Negev.

 The Lebanese women’s ship Maryam has not yet left the port of Tripoli. Reports continue about intentions and preparations being made in various countries for additional aid flotillas and convoys.

 The PLO’s executive committee announced its agreement to relaunch direct negotiations in Washington. Palestinian Authority spokesmen again said that if Israel did not continue with the construction freeze in the settlements they would end the negotiations. Hamas strongly denounced the renewal of the negotiations, and its senior figures launched a media attack against the Palestinian Authority.

Important Events

The Gaza Strip

Rocket Fire

 This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution *

Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution

* Since the beginning of 2010, 62 rocket hits have been identified in Israeli territory.
** As of August 24, 2010.

Flotillas and Convoys to the Gaza Strip

Flotillas and Convoys Update

 Reports continued to be received from countries around the world about initiatives and preparations for organizing aid flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip.


 The Lebanese women’s ship Maryam is still anchored in the port of Tripoli, despite the claims of its organizers that it would set sail on August 22. There are apparently difficulties with the Lebanese government and the refusal of Cyprus and other countries to allow the ship to sail to the Gaza Strip from their ports or territorial waters. According to reports, the ship’s organizers are in contact with Greece, Turkey and Egypt regarding the issue (NTV and Al-Safir, August 21, 2010).

 Rima Farah, spokesperson for the Maryam’s organizing committee, said they would wait until August 27 for a response from Greece. She rejected the idea of sailing directly to the Egyptian port of El Arish, saying that would mean entering the Gaza Strip overland and not "breaking the siege," and would "serve the interests of Ehud Barak" (Al-Ra�i, August 22, 2010).

 Yasser Qashlaq, chairman of The Free Palestine Movement, the group organizing the flotilla, claimed that if by August 27 no port willing to accept the ships had been found, they would sail directly to the Gaza Strip. However, Rima Farah admitted that so far the Lebanese authorities had not permitted such a move (Al-Arabiya TV and the Lebanese News Agency, August 22, 2010). It was also reported that an organization called the European Campaign to Lift the Siege on Gaza was involved in preparations for the flotilla. Amjad al-Shawa, organization coordinator, blamed Israel for delaying the flotilla’s sailing date, saying that the organization was in contact with Cyprus, and should that country continue to refuse to accept the ships, they would appeal to Greece (Voice of Palestine Radio, August 22, 2010).

 In the meantime, the organizers of the Lebanese flotilla announced their intention to expand their activities. Rima Farah said the Maryam Institution was being founded. She represented it as a humanitarian organization which would operate worldwide "on land, in the air and at sea." She added that the Maryam would not longer be used for "a specific mission or at a specific time." Yasser Qashlaq said that he intended to found a "committee for the right of return," by which he meant the right of "the Jew to return to his country" [i.e., outside Israel], because "our homeland is all of Palestine" (Lebanese News Agency, August 22, 2010).

Other Initiatives

 The Arab countries:

  • Jordan: The Jordanian Hashemite Charitable Society announced that on August 17 it had sent a humanitarian assistance convoy to the Gaza Strip which was expected to enter on August 19 (The Jordan News Agency, August 17, 2010). So far we have no information about a Jordanian convoy reaching the Gaza Strip.

  • Algeria: Amjad al-Shawa, coordinator for the international campaign to lift the "Israeli siege" of the Gaza Strip, announced that an Algerian ship would set sail for the Gaza Strip and unload its cargo in the port of El Arish (Voice of Palestine Radio, August 19, 2010).

Developments in the Gaza Strip

Hamas Praises IHH for its Activity for the Gaza Strip

 Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration, speaking at a ceremony for outstanding students, praised the activities of IHH in the Gaza Strip, saying that it had provided $1500 scholarships for the three best students. On another occasion a soccer tournament was held in memory of the "martyrs of the Freedom Fleet." The IHH’s Gaza representative also attended (Safa News Agency, July 24, 2010; Al-Quds, July 23, 2010).

Hamas Praises IHH for its Activity for the Gaza Strip
Left: A replica of the Mavi Marmara (Gaza City municipality website, August 24, 2010). Right: Ismail Haniya at the opening ceremony of a soccer tournament dedicated to the memory of the "martyrs" of the Mavi Marmara flotilla (Safa News Agency, July 21, 2010).

The Peace Process

 On August 20, American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to meet in Washington on September 2 to relaunch direct negotiations. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordan’s King Abdallah and International Quartet envoy Tony Blair were also invited to Washington to attend the event and meet with the president of the United States on September 1 (CNN, August 20, 2010).

 Clinton’s invitation did not provide details of the substance issues of the negotiations. However, she noted that the objective of the talks was to resolve the final status issues within a year. On August 20 the International Quartet issued a general statement which called for undertaking negotiations which would resolve all the final status issues, lead to an settlement which would end the "occupation" which began in 1967 and lead to the emergence of an independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel (European Union Council website, August 20 2010).

 The main Palestinian reactions to the invitation were the following:

  • The Palestinian Authority � The PLO’s executive committee held a meeting in Ramallah on August 20 chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, and said it agreed to relaunch direct negotiations based on the announcement of the International Quartet (Wafa News Agency, August 20 2010). Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO’s negotiating division, said he hoped the International Quartet and the United States would work to prevent Israel from building in the settlements (Reuters, August 21, 2010). He made similar statements to Al-Sharq al-Awsat (August 22, 2010). At a press conference held in Ramallah on August 23, he said he hoped Israel would chose to continue the construction freeze in the settlements, because if it did not, the direct negotiations would end. Hana Amira, a member of the PLO’s executive committee, said that Mahmoud Abbas told the committee members he was not hopeful about the negotiations. He said "the real test is September 26, 2010," that is, the final date of the Israeli decision to freeze construction in the settlements (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, August 23, 2010).

  • The Hamas movementHamas strongly denounced the Palestinian Authority’s agreement to relaunch direct negotiations with Israel. It said in a statement that such a move was "neglect of the Palestinians’ rights" and that it enabled Israel to continue its building programs in the West Bank and its "aggression" against the Palestinians. The American administration, according to the statement, was biased in favor of Israel and the International Quartet’s announcement was nothing more than a "fig leaf" given to Mahmoud Abbas and the so-called "Oslo team." The statement also noted that the Palestinians were not committed by "the results of those absurd negotiations" and that their "rights" would be achieved only on the basis of national unity based on the "resistance" (i.e., the terrorist organizations) (Hamas� Palestine-info website, August 21, 2010). Senior Hamas spokesmen, among them Khaled Mashaal and his deputy Musa Abu Marzuq, repeatedly denounced the Palestinian Authority’s agreement to relaunch direct negotiations with Israel.

The Internal Palestinian Arena

 Senior Hamas figures, among them Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniya, recently launched a vicious media against the Palestinian Authority. The reasons behind it were the increased Palestinian Authority supervision of the mosques in Judea and Samaria during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and its decision to relaunch direct� negotiations with Israel.

 The following remarks were made in Damascus by Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, at a charity fund-raiser for Ramadan (Al-Jazeera TV, August 18, 2010).

  • Accusing the Palestinian Authority of persecuting clerics: Khaled Mashaal claimed that the Palestinian Authority detained clerics, imams and university teachers, leaving 1,000 mosques in the West Bank without clerics to deliver sermons or muezzins, thereby "plotting against the faith." In addition, the PA forbade sheikh Hamed Bitawi [a Hamas activist who often incites Palestinians against Israel and the PA] to deliver sermons in the mosques in Nablus. (Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, made similar remarks on August 16, and called on the residents of the West Bank,� first and foremost clerics, to take to the streets and declare their objection to the steps taken by the PA.)

  • Calling on the Palestinians in the West Bank and "the rest of Palestine" to rebel against the Palestinian Authority. That was because the PA was "persecuting" and disarming "resistance" activists [i.e., operatives of Hamas and other terrorist organizations]. He wondered "if we [should] believe a leadership which disarms the resistance and blames it, while claiming it wants the territories and Jerusalem."

  • Strong opposition to the Palestinian Authority’s holding negotiations with Israel. He said the PA was "going to [hold] direct and indirect negotiations on the orders of its American master, despite the fact that it was not convinced that any good would come of them." He also said that the PA obeyed foreign orders even if no force was exerted on it, and in that way it was "stabbing both the people and the resistance in the back."

  • An appeal to the Arab world and the international community to work for the sake of Jerusalem. He asked them to take the example of the "project to break the siege" with flotillas and convoys. He claimed that just as the Palestinians had enlisted the conscience and strength of the world to work for a "just cause" like "breaking the siege," in the same way the world should be recruited for the "sake of Jerusalem," because, according to Khaled Mashaal, it was " the heart of all the problems."

PALDF, Hamas� main forum, August 18, 2010
Khaled Mashaal in Damascus speaking at a charity fund-raiser for the holy Muslim month of Ramadan (PALDF, Hamas� main forum, August 18, 2010).

1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.