The Amalthea (Amal) sets sail (Al-Quds TV, July 11, 2010).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution
The Libyan foundation's emblem attached to a pole on the ship
Gaza Strip supermarket (UAE News website, July 8, 2010).
The Amalthea (Amal) sets sail (Al-Quds TV, July 11, 2010).
This past week there was quiet in the western Negev and no rocket hits were identified.
Events focused on the launching of an aid ship to the Gaza Strip by a Libyan charitable society called the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation. There were conflicting versions regarding its final destination, however, it sailed to El-Arish.
Besides the Libyan ship various European and Arab groups are planning to organize aid flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip, without definite dates.
The Gaza Strip
During the past week no rocket hits were identified in the western Negev. Several rockets fell inside the Gaza Strip.
In isolated incidents IDF forces patrolling the security fence were shot at with light arms. There were no casualties.
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution *
*Rocket hits identified in Israeli territory. A similar number misfire and
Judea and Samaria
This past week Judea and Samaria were relatively quiet. The Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities this past week, detaining Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and seizing weapons. Riots continued near the security fence.
On July 11 a plank of wood was thrown at an Israel vehicle near the Tapuah junction south of Nablus. An Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries.
Flotillas and Convoys to the Gaza Strip
Flotillas and Convoys Update
The Libyan foundation’s emblem attached to a pole on the ship
(Al-Jazeera TV, July 11, 2010).
At 1900 hours on July 11 the Amalthea (whose name has been changed to Amal ("hope") set sail from the Greek port of Lavrio (50 kilometers, or 31 miles, from Athens) en route to the Gaza Strip. The voyage was organized by a Libyan charitable society called the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, directed by Saif al-Islam ("the sword of Islam") Gaddafi, son of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.2 There were conflicting reports regarding its final destination, however, in the end it sailed to El Arish.
Hamas sources continued to call for the ship to reach the Gaza Strip. That is in line with the movement’s basic desire for a media-covered confrontation (modeled on the Mavi Marmara), not for an arrangement which will make it possible to bring humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip. For example:
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said every alternative suggestion should be rejected, including sailing the ship to the port of El Arish, because "the goal is not only to bring humanitarian assistance but the complete lifting of the siege of the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a sea lane to break the continuing maritime blockade." He said that the arrival of the ship meant bringing "the intifada of the ships" to life (Al-Aqsa TV, July 11, 2010).
Ahmed Yussuf, deputy foreign secretary in the de facto Hamas administration and a member of Hamas’ Popular Committee to Break the Siege, said that the committee had completed preparations to receive the ship in the Gaza port (BBC and Hamas� Palestine-info website, July 13, 2010).�
According to the media, the United States exerted pressure on Libya to avoid a confrontation with Israel. P. J. Crowley, a spokesman for the American state department said that "We, along with our partners in the in the Quartet, urge all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that cargo can be inspected by the government of Israel, and transferred via land crossings into Gaza. We have urged the Libyan government to avoid unnecessary confrontations. We call on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza"3 �(ITIC italics) (VOA News, July 13, 2010).
There are other initiatives to organize aid flotillas and convoys to the Gaza Strip, some of which plan to transfer the goods through Egypt:
Lebanon: The sailing of the Lebanese flotilla is still delayed, the result of administrative and logistic difficulties. The organizers have currently lowered the high media profile which accompanied the preparations. So far no definite date has been set for the ships to sail.
• The so-called European Campaign to Lift the Siege, which participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla, said in an announcement that following the large number of requests to join Freedom Flotilla 2, its sailing may be postponed slightly until the beginning of August 2010. According to the announcement, so far 9,000 people have signed up to participate, and a large number of ships can be assumed. The organization also claimed that the flotilla would bring "surprises" for Israel (Hamas� Palestine-info website, July 6, 2010). One of the ships will carry 400 women activists from Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Arab world, and its cargo will consist of humanitarian assistance for the women of the Gaza Strip (Al-Alam TV, July 7, 2010).
• The Miles of Smiles convoy, carrying medial and possibly other aid, is expected to reach Egypt on July 25 or 27 and to enter the Gaza Strip two days later. Apparently there are 30 representatives from European institutions participating in the convoy (Hamas� Palestine-info website, July 13, 2010).
Libya: The so-called Libyan Coordinating Committee in Support of the Palestinian People said in an announcement that at the beginning of next week it would send an aid convoy overland from Libya to the Gaza Strip. The convoy would include 20 trucks carrying basic foodstuffs, drugs and medical equipment, and representatives from various organizations and doctors would participate� (Libyan News Agency, July 13, 2010).
Yemen: The so-called Popular Yemeni Authority to Support the Palestinian People began collecting donations to organize a flotilla of four ships. They are supposed to set sail from Yemen at the beginning of August. Muhammad al-Hamzi, a member of the Yemeni Parliament who participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla (and was photographed aboard the ship brandishing a dagger), claimed that the Yemeni people had responded enthusiastically and had a strong desire to participate in the flotilla. He said that the Turkish flotilla "strengthened our faith that our objectives will only be achieved by sacrifice, a firm stand and patience."
Jordan: On July 13 a farewell ceremony was held for the Jordanian convoy Ansar 1, which is supposed to leave Jordan for Egypt. According to the organizers, the convoy is planning to go to Egypt and enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Abd al-Fatah, convoy chairman, said that there would be 150 participants, some of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sixteen women will ago participate. The convoy will carry medical equipment, drugs, building materials and the cornerstone for a children’s hospital which will be built in the town of Dir al-Balah (Al-Jazeera TV, July 12, 2010).
Germany Outlaws the Turkish Islamic Organization IHH
The German interior minister announced that the Turkish IHH operating in Germany has been outlawed because of its ties to Hamas. He said that IHH was registered in Frankfurt, transferred large sums of money to Hamas, and since 2003 had been designated as a terrorist organization by the European Union. He noted that the decision to outlaw the organization had been made after a year-long investigation (Agence France-Presse and other media, July 12, 2010).
The American State Department is also examining the inclusion of IHH in its list of terrorist organizations. According to a question at the July 7 State Department briefing, a bipartisan group of 87 senators sent a letter to the President regarding his support for Israel. In the letter, they called on him to consider putting the Turkish group, the IHH, on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations after an examination of the intelligence community, the State Department, and the Treasury Department. Mark C. Toner, acting Department spokesman, said he believed they were looking at the IHH, but that it was a long process to designate an organization as a foreign terrorist organization.4
Developments in the Gaza Strip
In June 3,072 trucks carrying merchandise entered the Gaza Strip from Israel.
Easing Restrictions Leads to Gazan Fears of Israeli Competition
According to reports in the Arab media, Israel’s policy of easing the restrictions on goods which can be imported into the Gaza Strip will lead to a glut of products on the Gazan markets and a fall in prices. A clothing dealer claimed that there was an "unprecedented abundance of goods" in the Gaza markets. He also claimed that clothing sold in the Gaza Strip arrived both through the tunnels and the Israeli crossings (Al-Ayam, July 5, 2010). However, there are relatively few buyers, perhaps because Hamas has not yet paid the salaries of public sector employees.
Sources in the Gaza Strip’s private sector said they were afraid Israel’s policy of easing restrictions would lead to competition with goods from Israel, and called for limiting imports from Israel. For example, the wood industry claimed that imports of furniture had to be limited. Soft drink manufacturers in the Gaza Strip said they feared they would have to close their factories because of the new Israeli policy, which allowed soft drinks to be imported. They claimed that they could meet the needs of the local market but could not compete with the prices of Israeli products, and called on the de facto Hamas administration to keep Israeli soft drinks out of the Gaza Strip (Hamas� daily Felesteen, July 4, 2010).�
Gaza Strip supermarket (UAE News website, July 8, 2010).
Hamas Criticizes Possible Implementation of the Agreement on Movement and Access
The de facto Hamas administration reacted strongly to statements made in the Palestinian Authority regarding the possible implementation of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access, known as the Gaza crossings agreement. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed that Israel’s desire to restore the crossings agreement with the Palestinian Authority was "part of an Israeli, Arab and European plot to restore the rule of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip." Atef Adwan, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, claimed that the Palestinian Authority was motivated by the desire to profit from the taxes on goods entering the Gaza Strip and emphasize its part in "lifting the siege" (Al-Risala, July 9, 2010).
Tension Between Egypt and the Hamas Regime
Its continuing tension with the de facto Hamas administration has led Egypt to make efforts to end the crisis: Hamas� daily Felesteen reported that a high-ranking "senior Egyptian" is expected to visit the Gaza Strip in the near future. During his visit he will deal with relations between the sides, the internal Palestinian reconciliation and the deal for the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit (Felesteen, July 5, 2010).
In the meantime, Egyptian security forces continue their efforts to prevent weapons from being smuggled into the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian authorities reported they had located and destroyed 400 tunnels since the beginning of the year, nine of them recently, and that a large quantity of merchandise for smuggling into the Gaza Strip had been confiscated (Qudsnet, July 4, 2010). It was also reported that Egyptian security forces discovered a weapons stockpile ready to be smuggled into the Gaza Strip, which included half a ton of standard explosives, mortar shells and anti-tank rockets (Ma�an News Agency, July 5, 2010).
The Peace Process
Responses to the Possible Renewal of Direct Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
In response to statements that direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would be renewed on August 1, Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestinian negotiating team, said that they would be renewed only when Israel announced a freeze on building in the settlements and its readiness to renew the talks from where they left off in December 2008. He also said that they had to be held according to a pre-determined time table (Voice of Palestine Radio and Ma�an News Agency, July 12, 2010).
Saeb Erekat added� that in a telephone conversation between Mahmoud Abbas and American President Obama, the president asked for direct negotiations and said that George Mitchell, American envoy to the Middle East, would elaborate. Erekat said that after the Mitchell-Mahmoud Abbas meeting on July 17, the PLO and Fatah leadership would put together recommendations to be presented to the Arab monitoring committee, which would decide whether or not to enter into direct negotiations (Voice of Palestine Radio and Ma�an News Agency, July 12, 2010).
1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
2 �For further information see the July 11, 2020 bulletin, �A Libyan charitable society headed by the son of Muammar Gaddafi organized an aid ship to the Gaza Strip. It set sail on July 10 and is expected to reach the region in four days� at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e105.pdf.