News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (February 10-16, 2010)

Hamas� Palestine-info website, February 13, 2010

Hamas� Palestine-info website, February 13, 2010

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Ibrahim Zawara�a

Ibrahim Zawara�a

Salman Abu Atiq

Salman Abu Atiq

Rafiq al-Husseini

Rafiq al-Husseini

Hamas� Palestine-info website, February 13, 2010
Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, February 12, 2010 (Hamas� Palestine-info website, February 13, 2010).


 An IDF soldier sitting in his car near the Tapuah junction in Samaria was stabbed and killed by a terrorist who served as an officer in the Palestinian police force. As far as is known, he carried out the attack on his own initiative with neither direction nor support from a terrorist organization. The Palestinian Authority denounced the attack.

 Sporadic rocket fire continued into the western Negev this past week. There were two incidents near the security fence, one in the northern Gaza Strip and the other in the south. The IDF attacked terrorist targets in the southern and central Gaza Strip.

 It can now be revealed that in December 2009 the Israeli security forces prevented an attempt by Hamas to place IEDs in crowded locations in Israel with the objective of abducting and murdering an Israeli soldier. The attacks were supposed to have been carried out by Hamas operatives dispatched to Israel from the Gaza Strip though the Egyptian border.

Important Events

Gaza Strip

Rocket and mortar shell fire

 During the past week sporadic rocket fire from the Gaza Strip continued. One rocket hit was identified near a village in the western Negev on February 12. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

 There were two attacks:

  • February 12 � An IDF force identified a squad of armed Palestinians approaching the security fence in the central Gaza Strip, apparently with the intention of placing an IED near the fence. The force fired at the squad (IDF Spokesman, February 12, 2010). The Palestinian media reported that no one had been injured in the incident (Safa News Agency, Al-Aqsa TV, February 12, 2010).

  • February 10 � A squad of suspicious Palestinians was identified near the Erez crossing. Light arms were used to shoot at them. One of them was wounded and taken to a hospital in Israel. Two others were detained.

Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Israeli Air Force Activity

 On February 9, in response to the rocket fire during the previous week, the Israeli Air Force attacked suspicious buildings in the region of the Dahaniya airport. On February 11 the IAF attacked a squad of terrorists near the Karni crossing, killing one Palestinian (IDF Spokesman, February 11, 2010). The Palestinian media reported that some of the operatives, snipers who had shot at IDF soldiers near the Karni crossing, were hit. The media also reported that a Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine operative was killed and a number of operatives were wounded. According to other reports, the dead terrorist operative belonged to the military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or to the Popular Resistance Committees (Hamas� Paltoday website, Hamas� Palestine-Info website, February 11, 2010).

Activity of Salafist Jihadists Affiliated with the Global Jihad

 Hamas� security services operating in the Shati refugee camp detained Mahmoud Taleb, a senior member of a network in the Gaza Strip� affiliated with the global jihad. He was accused of bombing Internet caf�s in the Gaza Strip. That type of activity is characteristic of Salafist Jihad networks, which attack targets identified with the West and its culture.

 There has been a series of bombs detonated in caf�s in the Gaza Strip in recent months, among them the following:

  • November 1, 2009 � There was an explosion in the Andalib caf� in Gaza City after unidentified perpetrators threw an IED into it. It was the second time the caf� had been attacked. There were no casualties (German News Agency, November 1, 2009).

  • January 6, 2010 � Unidentified armed men detonated an IED in a caf� in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City.

 In addition, the Palestinian media reported that a motorcycle exploded in a crowded location in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City. According to reports from surfers on the Hamas website, the motorcycle was loaded with mortar shells and one of them exploded. According to the reports, two Army of Islam operatives were killed in the explosion (Ma�an News Agency, February 14, 2010).

 Sources affiliated with the global jihad in the Gaza Strip denied any connection to the explosions, claiming that Hamas� accusations against them were untrue. The networks claimed that some of the explosions were the result of internal confrontations between senior members of Hamas� security services. They also protested the fact that Hamas prevented their operatives from firing rockets into Israeli territory (Radio Sawt al-Quds, February 10, 2010).

Hamas Attempt to Carry Out Mass Killing Attack and Abduct Soldier Prevented

 It was recently revealed that the Israeli security forces prevented Hamas from implementing plans to carry out attacks, including the abduction and murder of a soldier to use his body as a bargaining chip. On December 12, 2009, in the midst of efforts to close the deal for the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the IDF detained Salman Abu Atiq and four other infiltrators. They attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip through Egypt. The infiltrators were found to be carrying $15,000 in counterfeit bills. In addition, searches of the area revealed a silencer which Salman Abu Atiq tried to smuggle into Israel. He later surrendered a gun he had in his possession.

 Salman Abu Atiq, 43, from the Gaza Strip, is a senior Hamas operative, most of whose activity centers around smuggling weapons. During interrogation he said that Hamas had sent him to infiltrate into Israel to kill Israelis and abduct a soldier as a bargaining chip. He also provided information about another Hamas operative, Ibrahim Zawara�a, who was supposed to infiltrate Israel to help him carryout the attack, and who would have two IEDs in his possession. Salman Abu Atiq said that in October 2009 he left the Gaza Strip for Sinai through one of the tunnels with the intention of infiltrating into Israel. He said Hamas had sent him a number of times previously to carry out attacks in Israel, including using booby-trapped cars, but for various reasons the attacks were never completed. He also said that as part of his military training in Hamas, he had been taught to assemble explosive devices.

 On December 31, 2009, Ibrahim Zawara�a, 44, from Beit Lahiya and Salman Abu Atiq�s accomplice, was detained. In his possession were found two IEDs weighing between 6 and 7 kilograms, or 13.2 and 15.4 pounds, apiece, and detonating systems. During interrogation he admitted that he was supposed to place the IEDs in crowded locations in Israel. He said he had to carry out the attack within ten days of his arrival in Israel. He also admitted that he was supposed to help Salman Abu Atiq, whom he knew, to abduct and murder a soldier.

Ibrahim Zawara�a
Ibrahim Zawara�a
Salman Abu Atiq
Salman Abu Atiq

Judea and Samaria

IDF Soldier Stabbed to Death at Tapuah Junction

 On the afternoon of February 19 Sergeant First Class Ihab Hatib sat in a military vehicle in a traffic jam near the Tapuah Junction. A Palestinian terrorist exploited the opportunity to approach the vehicle and stab Sergeant Hatib through the open window. Sergeant Hatib stepped on the gas pedal and the car turned over in a nearby ditch. He was wounded fatally and died. Police who were called to the site apprehended the terrorist before he could escape. The knife was found at the scene. Sergeant Hatib lived in the Druze village of Mrar and served as a non-commissioned logistics officer in the IDF�s Kfir Brigade.

 According to assessments, the terrorist, who served as an officer in the Palestinian police force, operated alone and on his own initiative, was motivated by personal issues and did not receive directions from any organization. Non-affiliated activities of lone terrorists have been characteristic of most of the terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria and in Israel during the past year.

 The Palestinian Authority denounced the attack. In an announcement, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad warned the Palestinian populace not to undertake similar actions in the future. He said that the way to oppose Israel was through �resistance in peaceful ways� (a term coined by Mahmoud Abbas during the Fatah conference in August 2009). Salam Fayyad also instructed the Palestinian Authority security services to increase supervision of their members (Wafa News Agency, February 3, 2010).

Counterterrorism Activities

 The Israeli security forces continued their preventive counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria this past week, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist attacks and confiscating weapons. Disturbances and incidents continued, primarily in the area of the security fence near the villages of Ni�lin and Bila�in (west of Ramallah).

 Among the incidents were the following:

  • February 15 � A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, February 15, 2010).

  • February 14 � An IDF force at a checkpoint east of Nablus discovered three pipe bombs and a knife among the tools of three young Palestinians (IDF Spokesman, February 14, 2010).

  • February 12 � A Palestinian tried to stab a soldier during an IDF patrol in the Kasbah (Old City) of Hebron. One of the soldiers opened fire at the Palestinian, seriously wounding him.

  • February 10 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Nablus. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, February 10, 2010).

  • February 9 � An IDF force at a checkpoint near the Etzion Block found a knife concealed on the person of a Palestinian (IDF Spokesman, February 9, 2010).

Developments in the Gaza Strip

The Crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip

 This past week the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip were open, through which 515 trucks passed.

Khaled Mashaal Visits Russia

 Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, headed a delegation to Russia on February 12. During the visit he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Interviewed by the media, he attempted to present Hamas� �pragmatic� side and smear Israel (similar to the messages Hamas sends to the West while it adheres to its radical positions in statements to Palestinian, Arab and Muslim target audiences).

 Interviewed by Al-Hayat on February 12, Khaled Mashaal said the following:

  • He expressed his great regard for Russia, which he said was different from the rest of the International Quartet. He said Hamas expected the international community to �exert genuine pressure� on Israel to make it honor the �rights of the Palestinians� and to establish �a just peace� based on the end of the Israeli occupation.

  • Hamas found Russian understanding for its positions. He said the Russians understood that Hamas was not an obstacle to achieving an arrangement and to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, but it insisted that efforts for peace in the region would be based on the a �just peace,� which would give the Palestinians their �rights.�

  • The visit of Nabil Shaath, senior Fatah figure, to the Gaza Strip, was positive and helped end the stalemate� between Fatah and Hamas, and create a good atmosphere between them. However, he said, it was not enough and more concrete understandings had to be realized.

  • Hamas did not want war, but if it were forced on it, Hamas would present a �firm stance� and �resistance� to Israel.

 Interviewed by Izvestia, Khaled Mashaal claimed that Hamas had already made �considerable concessions� in agreeing to the establish of a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria with the 1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital. Hamas also demanded that all the Palestinian refugees return to their homeland. However, Israel denied them that �right,� refused to conduct negotiations on the status of Jerusalem, and did not intend to evacuate the settlements in Judea and Samaria (Izvestia, February 11. 2010).

The Internal Palestinian Dialogue

Mahmoud Abbas Suspends Rafiq al-Husseini, Director of the Presidential Office, Following Exposure of Involvement in Corruption

 Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, ordered that a committee be appointed to investigate the conduct of Rafiq al-Husseini, director of his office, part of a corruption scandal involving the Palestinian Authority leadership exposed by Israeli Channel 10 TV. Mahmoud Abbas also suspended al-Husseini until the investigation undertaken by the committee had been completed (Wafa News Agency, February 14, 2010). Rafiq al-Husseini blamed �the gang which ambushed [him] and worked for Israeli intelligence services.� He claimed that the �gang� tried to exploit him for �material and political blackmail,� but said he had no intention of surrendering to extortion (Palestinian TV, February 15, 2010).

Rafiq al-Husseini
Rafiq al-Husseini, director of Mahmoud Abbas� office, announces his acceptance

of the decision to suspend him (Palestinian TV, February 15, 2010).

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