The SS Gaza
The SS Gaza
IDF officer close to the security fence
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution
Poster of Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya and Khaled Mashaal
Planned route of the Turkish ships
Presidential compound currently under construction on Yahya Ayash Street in Ramallah
The SS Gaza, purchased by the Turkish organization IHH for the voyage to the Gaza Strip
During the past week the western Negev was quiet. Terrorist squads continued their attempts to confront IDF forces engaged in preventive counterterrorism activities along Israel�s border with the Gaza Strip. Hamas� security services continue their attempts to prevent rogue terrorist organizations from carrying out attacks which do not conform to Hamas� policy of restrained terrorism.
The de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip and pro-Palestinian European organizations (particularly an Islamic-oriented Turkish organization) are making preparations to transport large amounts of aid to the Gaza Strip by sea. The voyage is expected to begin at the end of April or beginning of May. The organizers are apparently taking into consideration a possible confrontation with the Israeli Navy, accompanied by a media/diplomacy campaign.
The IDF prevents attempted terrorist attack near the Kissufim crossing
In the early morning hours of April 13 an IDF force identified a terrorist squad in placing an IED near the security fence close to the Kissufim crossing. The force fired at the squad and apparently hit one terrorist (IDF Spokesman, April 13, 2010). Palestinian sources reported that the squad belonged to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Ynet, April 13, 2010).
On March 25 there was a firefight in the same area. An IDF officer and soldier were killed and two soldiers were wounded when an IDF force identified a terrorist squad placing an IED. Recently there have been many instances of terrorists confronting IDF forces engaged in preventive counterterrorism activities along the Gaza Strip border, placing IEDs and firing mortar shells and anti-tank missiles.
IDF officer close to the security fence
(IDF Spokesman, April 13, 2010).
Rocket fire into the western Negev
During the past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory. Several rockets and mortar shells, fired at IDF forces engaged in counterterrorism activities, fell inside the Gaza Strip.
A number of terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for shooting at IDF forces: the military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Jerusalem Battalions website, April 8), the military-terrorist wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Alrisala.net, April 8), and the military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (Qawm website, April 8, 2010).
Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1
Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution2
Hamas Maintains its Policy of Restrained Rocket Fire
Hamas� security services continue to prevent rogue terrorist squads from carrying out attacks. Hamas� internal security service was reported to have detained a joint Palestinian Islamic Jihad-Fatah/Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades squad planning to attack IDF forces. Before they were released they were asked to sign a statement promising not to attack Israel (Jerusalem Battalions website, April 11, 2010). Palestinian Islamic Jihad sources said they had refused to sign (Hamas� Paltoday website, April 12, 2010). �Arab diplomatic sources� reported that Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, called the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades leadership in the Gaza Strip and instructed it to stop the rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel, even if it meant using force against other organizations (Palpress website, April 8, 2010).
The Arab media reported that Hamas was trying to defuse the security-related tension in the Gaza Strip. That was after a week during which the Hamas security services were on high alert, operated in civilian clothing, increased their presence along the Gaza Strip border with Israel to take action against the rocket-firing squads, and evacuated security force headquarters in fear of an Israeli reprisals. Ihab al-Ghussin, interior ministry spokesman, said that the security services had returned to routine operations. He said that the elements responsible for the rocket fire did not belong to the established organizations or were opposition forces in the organizations themselves, who rejected the understandings reached regarding rocket fire (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, April 7, 2010).
Poster of Hamas leaders Ismail Haniya and Khaled Mashaal,� with a masked
Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative (PALDF, Hamas� main forum, April 13, 2010).
Judea and Samaria
The Israeli security forces continued preventive counterterrorism activities, confiscating weapons and detaining several dozen Palestinians suspected of terrorism. Confrontations continued during riots in various locations in Judea and Samaria, during which a Border Policeman was slightly injured by stone-throwing Palestinians.
Israeli vehicles continued being attacked with stones and Molotov cocktails. One Israeli civilian sustained slight injuries. The most prominent incidents were the following:
April 12 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Nablus. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, April 12, 2010).
April 8 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, April 8, 2010).
April 7 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Bethlehem. An Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries and the vehicle was damaged. Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus and vehicle southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the bus and vehicle were damaged (IDF Spokesman, April 7, 2010).
April 7 � A 24 cm (9 1�) knife and a club were found in the tools of a Palestinian at the Hawara roadblock (west of Nablus) (IDF Spokesman, April 7, 2010).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
Hamas Responds to the Goldstone Report and the Human Rights Watch Report
On April 7 the de facto Hamas administration headed by Ismail Haniya held a meeting where it was reported that according to information received, the Israeli government had decided, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, to evade the recommendations of the Goldstone Report. The Hamas administration therefore instructed its justice ministry to contact international groups with the intention of trying Israel�s leaders in the international courts (Hamas administration information ministry website, April 8, 2010).
Human Rights Watch issued a report about the events of Operation Cast Lead, accusing both Israel and Hamas of violating human rights. Sources within Hamas were quick to reject the report�s claims. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said it was unjust to accuse Hamas because it was Israel which had carried out crimes and Hamas had only defended the Palestinians and itself. He appealed to international human rights organizations to clearly define their position vis-a-vis Israel�s so-called �crimes� and to bring its leaders to trial (Qudsnet, April 11, 2010).
Pro-Palestinian European Organizations Plan to Bring
Humanitarian Assistance to the Gaza Strip by Sea
The de facto Hamas administration and pro-Palestinian organizations in Europe are planning to organize an international voyage of several ships to the Gaza Strip at the end of April or the beginning of May. The ships will bring large quantities of aid to the Hamas administration. According to a press conference held in Istanbul on April 2, at least eight ships will participate, including three passenger ships carrying more than 500 people from at least 20 countries. The ships will carry more than 5,000 tons of equipment, including concrete and iron (whose delivery to the Gaza Strip is limited by Israel) (Website of Free Gaza, the organization behind the voyage, April 2, 2010). According to a Hamas report, the ships will sail from Turkey, Britain, Greece and Ireland (Hamas� Palestine-info website from Istanbul, April 2, 2010).
The Turkish involvement in the planned voyage is particularly conspicuous, especially the participation of an organization called IHH, a pro-Palestinian Islamic-oriented human rights organization (whose full name is Insan Hak ve H�rriyetleri Insani Yardim Vakfi). The IHH is an NGO whose stated objective is to operate in depressed areas to save lives and prevent violations of human rights. It was founded in 1995 and operates in Arab-Muslim countries, including Iraq, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Somalia, the Palestinian Authority-administered territories, etc. It is headed by B�lent Yildirim.
Apparently the organizers of the voyage (called the �intifada of the ships� by Jamal al-Khudri) are planning to provoke confrontations with the Israeli Navy, which Hamas and its partners will then exploit to make political and propaganda capital. On January 17, 2010, Muhammad Sawalha, a senior Hamas activist in Britain who was involved in sending the previous humanitarian assistance convoy (Lifeline 3), said that the next convoy would avoid a repetition of the �unwanted� confrontation with the Egyptian authorities. The next time, he said, �The confrontation will be held directly with the Zionist enemy on the high seas� (Al-Intiqad, Hezbollah website, January 17, 2010).3
Planned route of the Turkish ships (Website of the Turkish organization IHH,
one of the major organizers of the voyage, April 7, 2010).
The Political Struggle
Salam Fayyad Again Expresses Support for the �Popular Intifada�
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad continues stating his position on the �popular struggle� and the establishing of a Palestinian state. For example, in an April 7 interview with Al-Bayan Center he related to the following issues:�
The establishment of a Palestinian state: In 2011 an independent Palestinian state will be established. He appealed to the countries of the world to recognize it and to mark its borders with Israel, demanding that Israel evacuate �all the occupied territory.�
The popular resistance: He sees a great advantage to a �popular resistance.� He said it prevented all attempts to link the Palestinian national struggle to terrorism and increased pressure on Israel. The �popular resistance,� he said, had many forms, including boycotting products manufactured in the Israeli settlements and encouraging the consumption of Palestinian goods.
Palestinian Authority Glorifies Shaheeds
It was recently reported that there was a street in Ramallah named after Yahya Ayash, a founder and head of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas� military-terrorist wing. He was responsible for a series of suicide bombing attacks which killed dozens of Israeli civilians and wounded hundreds, part of Hamas� effort to undermine the Oslo accords. It was also reported that on the same street, the Palestinian Authority was constructing its new presidential compound.
Presidential compound currently under construction on Yahya Ayash Street in Ramallah
(Picture courtesy of Israel Channel 10 TV, April 7, 2010).
The perpetuation of Yahya Ayash�s memory is another example of the ongoing policy of certain elements in the Palestinian Authority to foster the images of Palestinian terrorist operatives (�shadeeds�) who were killed during terrorist attacks against Israel. It turns them into symbols and role models (even if they were involved in terrorist attacks which killed Israeli civilians) as part of preserving the belligerent legacy of the struggle against Israel and of constructing the national identity of the future Palestinian state.4
Severe Criticism of Israel�s Intention to Extend Definition of Illegal Palestinians
On April 11 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz printed an article stating that the Head of the IDF�s Central Command was about to implement a new edict extending the definition for Palestinians residing illegally in Judea and Samaria. It will mean that residents of Judea and Samaria, East Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs without permanent permission will not be allowed to remain in Judea and Samaria. The article led to a wave of denunciation and severe criticism in the Palestinian Authority and beyond. Sources in the PA called it �ethnic cleansing� and said that it violated previous bilateral agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
An editorial in the April 12 edition of Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda stated that the edict was �an open declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its leadership.� It was, according to the editorial, intended to annul the Oslo accords and the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. It also appealed to the public to employ �every peaceful means of action� to exert pressure on the international community to repeal the edict.
1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
2 The statistics refer to rocket hits identified in Israeli territory. A similar number misfired and landed inside the Gaza Strip.
3 A detailed analysis of the affair can be found on the ITIC�s Hebrew website. An English translation is forthcoming. �
4 �For further information see the April 11, 2010 bulletin, �The Palestinian Authority still allows and even encourages shaheeds to be turned into role models� at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/pa_e005.pdf.