Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad
Izz al-Din al- Qassam Brigades website, March 28, 2010
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Palestinian Authority-affiliated Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, April 2, 2010
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reiterates his plan to establish the institutions
and infrastructure for a Palestinian state (psp.org.lb, April 3, 2010
During the past two weeks rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory increased. There were two prominent incidents, one in which an IDF officer and soldier were killed (March 26) and one in which a Thai worker was killed in a village in the western Negev (March 18). Hamas continues its policy of restraint and attempts to impose it on the rogue organizations, not always successfully.
Violent demonstrations continued in Judea and Samaria, and Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles. Spokesmen for the Palestinian Authority encourage such behavior as part of what they call the �popular resistance,� but proclaim their objection to turning it into an armed conflict like the second intifada. Even as Palestinians rioted, Salam Fayyad, Palestinian prime minister, repeated his plan to establish the institutions and infrastructure for a Palestinian state (from the bottom up), to be implemented by the middle of 2011.
Two IDF Soldiers Killed
On March 26 the worst incident since Operation Cast Lead occurred, during which an IDF officer and soldier were killed and four others were wounded, two seriously and two who sustained minor injuries. The incident occurred in the afternoon near the Kissufim crossing in the central Gaza Strip. An IDF force identified a terrorist squad placing an IED and entered the area to carry out a search.� During pursuit and exchanges of fire a grenade belonging to the officer exploded. The two casualties were Major Eliraz Peretz, 32 from the village of Eli, and First Sergeant Ilan Sviatkovsky, 21, from Rishon Letzion. Two armed Palestinians were killed in the clash.
The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas� military-terrorist wing, claimed responsibility for the incident. Other terrorist organizations, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also claimed responsibility. According to Abu Obeida, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman, the action was carried out in response to the Israeli entrance into the Gaza Strip. He denied the participation of other organizations in the incident (Al-Jazeera TV, March 26, 2010).
Exchange of fire between IDF forces and Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operatives
(Izz al-Din al- Qassam Brigades website, March 28, 2010).
Other Hamas spokesmen referred to the incident:
Taher al-Nunu, spokesman for the de facto Hamas administration, said that Hamas agreed to the so-called �right� of the �Palestinian resistance� [i.e., the terrorist organizations] to defend the Palestinian people (Al-Arabiya TV, March 26, 2010).
Ismail Radwan, senior Hamas figure, also stressed the �right� of the �resistance� to react to Israel�s entrance into the Gaza Strip (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, March 26, 2010).
Increase in Rocket Fire into the Western Negev
Rocket and mortar shell fire targeting the towns and villages of the western Negev continued during the past two weeks. A total of five rocket hits were identifed in Israeli territory, and four other rockets were fired but fell inside the Gaza Strip. Three mortar shells were also fired, two of them at an IDF force during the incident on March 26. There were no casualties. Responsibility for the rocket and mortar shell fire was claimed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Fatah�s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (from the organizations� official websites).
Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1
�Rocket Fire 2010, Monthly Distribution2
The Israeli Air Force Response to the Rocket Fire
On April 2,� in response to the rocket attacks, the Israeli Air Force struck a number of targets in the Gaza Strip: an armed squad near Beit Lahiya, a post in Rafah and a weapons factory in Gaza City. In addition, on April 4 the IAF struck an armed squad which was apparently placing an IED near the security fence near Kissufim (IDF Spokesman, April 4, 2010).
Palestinian sources reported that most of the attacks did not cause casualties. According to the reports, an attack on the Zeitoun quarter of Gaza City wounded a number of civilians, among them children (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, April 2, 2010).�
Hamas Continues its Policy of Restrained Rocket Fire
Hamas maintains its policy of restrained rocket fire and attempts to impose it on the rogue organizations to prevent an escalation. It was reported that Hamas had increased its presence near the Gaza Strip�s border with Israel, prevented rocket attacks and detained rocket launching squads (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, April 5, 2010). After the recent incidents Hamas leaders denounced what they referred to as �the Israeli escalation,� but called for the situation to calm down:
Senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri said that Hamas was fully prepared to defend the Gaza Strip. He said the Palestinian organizations had agreed among themselves to maintain the lull despite the fact that Israel and Hamas had no formal lull agreement.
Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration, denounced the �Israeli escalation� and demanded that the international community put an end to it. He said Hamas was in contact with all the organizations in the Gaza Strip to preserve �national agreement� [i.e., to make them accept Hamas� policy of restraint] (Al-Jazeera TV, April 2 2010).
�Palestinian sources� said that on April 3 representatives of the four leading terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip had met: Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They agreed to appoint committees which would supervise coordination on the ground between the various organizations. The representatives said that rocket fire was only one of the ways of struggling against Israeli, and that Hamas had not asked them to hold their fire but only �to have consideration for the situation in the Gaza Strip� (Al-Hayat, April 5, 2010). Senior sources in the PIJ denied that following the meeting it had agreed to stop its rocket fire and stressed that the organization would carry out attacks �in accordance with conditions on the ground� (Hamas� Paltoday website, April 4, 2010).
Judea and Samaria
�Land Day� Events in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip
�Land Day,� marked by Israeli Arabs every March 30, was exploited throughout Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip for demonstrations, rallies and protest meetings:
In Judea and Samaria a rally was held in Ramallah. Marches were organized in the village of Budrus, west of Ramallah, where demonstrators clashed with an IDF force. Rallies and marches were also held in Nablus and near Qalqiliya. Salam Fayyad participated in an event which took place near Salfit (in central Samaria, south of the Israeli city of Ariel) (Wafa News Agency, March 30, 2010).
In the Gaza Strip a number of marches were held. Demonstrators marched to the security fence and waved Palestinian flags and anti-Israel signs. The Palestinians claimed an IDF force opened fire on the demonstrators, wounding several of them (Hamas� Paltoday website, March 30, 2010).�
Criticism of Arab helplessness: Al-Aqsa mosque goes up in flames
and there is no one to pick up the fire extinguisher
(Palestinian Authority-affiliated Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, April 2, 2010).
Israeli security forces continued their preventive counterterrorism activities, confiscating weapons and detaining several dozen Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks. Confrontations continued at riots in various locations in Judea and Samaria, during which several IDF soldiers were wounded by stones.
Stones and Molotov cocktails continued being thrown at Israeli vehicles. Several civilians sustained minor injuries. Among the more prominent incidents were the following:
April 3 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus west of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the bus was damaged (IDF Spokesman, April 3, 2010).
April 2 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle northwest of Ramallah. An Israeli woman sustained minor injuries. Stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles south and southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the vehicles were damaged (IDF Spokesman, April 3, 2010).
April 1 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near the Yizhar junction south of Nablus in Samaria. An Israeli civilian man sustained minor injuries. Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at an Israeli vehicle northeast of Ramallah. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, April 1, 2010).
March 31 � Stones were thrown at an IDF vehicle near the Jewish settlement in Hebron. An IDF soldier sustained minor injuries (IDF Spokesman, March 31, 2010).
March 30 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, March 30, 2010).
March 28 � Two pipe bombs were thrown at an IDF force patrolling southwest of Bethlehem. The bombs exploded. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, March 29, 2010).
March 27 � A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the bus was damaged (IDF Spokesman, March 27, 2010).
March 23 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Nablus. Two Israeli civilians sustained minor injuries (IDF Spokesman, March 23, 2010).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
Pro-Hamas European Organizations Plan to Sail Aid to the Gaza Strip
Free Gaza, the Turkish-based organization IHH and the European Campaign to End the Siege of the Gaza Strip joined other European pro-Hamas organizations planning to leave by ship for the Gaza Strip at the end of April or the beginning of May. There will be more than 500 participants from various countries. They are expected to bring the Gaza Strip 5,000 tons of aid, including concrete, pre-fabricated houses, building materials and medical equipment. The fleet will consist of at least eight ships and leave from European ports (Free Gaza website, April 4, 2010). Two more voyages are planned to set sail in June 2010.
According to Jamal al-Khudari, a Hamas activist, head of a committee to end the so-called �siege,� most of the participants in the first voyage will be Europeans and Turks, including members of various parliaments, activists in humanitarian assistance organizations and members of the media. The ships will set sail from Turkey, Greece, Ireland and Britain. They are planned to meet at an appointed site and enter the Gaza Strip together to exert pressure on Israel. Al-Khudari said that as opposed to previous ships which sailed to the Gaza Strip, this time a large number of ships would arrive at the same time. Their arrival will be covered by the media and they will be formally received by 100 boats which will leave from Gaza port (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, April 2, 2010; Al-Aqsa TV, April 5, 2010).
In our assessment, the planners of the voyages assumed the participants would confront Israel, and possibly even desire the confrontation. Note: Muhammad Kazem Sawalha, a leading Hamas activist in Britain who participated in organizing the Lifeline 3 convoy, has said that �next time there will be a direct confrontation with the Zionist enemy on the high seas�3� and not with �the Egyptian regime� as in the past (Al-Intiqad, January 17, 2010).
American Congressman Visits the Gaza Strip
Congressman Keith Ellison, a Democrat from Minnesota, entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing on April 3. According to Hamas governmental sources, he came with an American diplomatic delegation from the embassy in Cairo. According to Ellison, the objectives of his visit were to find out about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and to meet civilians (Ma�an News Agency and the Chinese News Agency Xinua, April 3, 2010). Note: All of the Hamas branches, including the governmental, are interconnected and� designated by the American administration as a terrorist organization.
The Egyptian Security Forces Find a Weapons Storehouse in Sinai
The Egyptian security forces located a storehouse full of weapons in a desert region in the center of the Sinai peninsula about 200 kilometers (about 125 miles) south of El-Arish. An Egyptian security force raided a storehouse located three meters (or 3.3 yards) underground. According to reports it contained 100 portable anti-aircraft missiles, 20 shells, 20 RPGs and 35 IEDs. It was also reported that the storehouse was used by arms smugglers in Sinai who planned to smuggle the weapons in the Gaza Strip through the tunnels (Al-Masrawy, Egypt, March 3, 2010).
Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said he doubted the reliability of the information and denied that the weapons belonged to Hamas and the so-called �resistance factions� [i.e., terrorist organizations]. He said that the �resistance factions� could introduce weapons into the Gaza Strip far from the gaze of the Egyptian security forces (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, April 2, 2010).
The Political Struggle
Salam Fayyad: Declarations Regarding the Plan to Establish a Palestinian State
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was interviewed by the Israeli morning newspaper Haaretz on April 2, and reiterated his intention to establish an independent Palestinian state:
The decision made by the International Quartet to support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state turned it into an international project. According to Salam Fayyad, if the plan fails, �the situation on the ground will force itself on the political process.�
Support for the so-called �popular resistance:� He said that �oppressed peoples will never raise their heads against the occupation. It is not reasonable to expect the Palestinians to swallow the injustice of the occupation. We are doing everything that Martin Luther King and Gandhi did.�
The settlements: He rejected the claim that the Palestinian Authority regarded the settlements as an excuse not to negotiate with Israel. He added that in retrospect it was stupid of the Palestinians to agree to a situation in which they were unable to stop the expansion of the settlements.
Incitement: He claimed that the Palestinian Authority was dealing with incitement and believed in promoting dialogue.
Jerusalem: The Palestinian Authority, he said, would not agree to postpone the issue of Jerusalem to a later stage in the final status arrangement talks. He added that the talks had to deal with arrangements and accessibility and not with principles.
The refugees: He said the plan for a Palestinian state took into consideration the construction of an infrastructure for absorbing the refugees so that they would have the right to live in the state of Palestine.
On April 3 he was interviewed by the popular Arabic paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, and reiterated his plan to establish the institutions and infrastructure of an independent Palestinian state:
The date of the establishment of the Palestinian state: According to Salam Fayyad, there was no specific date involved and the Palestinian Authority would continue to create the new reality. The establishment of state institutions would be implemented in the middle of 2011. It was not a question of proclaiming a state but of establishing institutions and an infrastructure. The timeframe of two years was chosen to prevent a delay and negate Israel�s excuse that the Palestinians were not ready to run a state.
The �resistance:� He again spoke against an armed �resistance� and said that it only caused the unnecessary deaths of young Palestinians. He said that those who supported an intifada were ignoring the situation on the ground, because the Palestinians had risen up against the settlements and the fence quietly and without casualties.
Hamas� information office said in a statement that Salam Fayyad did not represent the Palestinians in any way and his intention was to destroy the Palestinian cause. Hamas complained that Salam Fayyad had wished Israel a happy Passover and in that way not only �recognized Israel as a Jewish state,� but waived the so-called �right of return� by agreeing that the refugees return [only] to the state he was planning to establish. Hamas also complained that Salam Fayyad was �an illegal figure who stole rule of the West Bank without any authority from the Palestinian Legislative Council� (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, April 5, 2010).
Nabil Shaath: the �Popular Resistance� Will Not Become an Armed Confrontation
Nabil Shaath, a member of Fatah�s Central Committee, stated that the �popular resistance� would not turn into an armed confrontation despite Israel�s continuing attempts to make it one. He said that Palestinian leaders in the West Bank were overseeing the situation and keeping it from turning into an intifada. He said that Palestinian strategy was based on four factors: the �popular struggle,� international political, legal and economic activities against Israel, achieving Palestinian unity, and building the political institutions of the future Palestinian state (Wafa News Agency, April 4, 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 The statistics refer to rocket hits identified in Israeli territory. A similar number misfired and landed inside the Gaza Strip.
3 For further information see the February 21, 2010 bulletin �Britain as a Focus for Hamas� Political, Propaganda and Legal Activities in Europe� at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_097.pdf