News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (January 12-19, 2010)

Photo: Muhammad Hamad for Reuters, January 14, 2010

Photo: Muhammad Hamad for Reuters, January 14, 2010

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Al-Alam TV, November 16, 2009

Al-Alam TV, November 16, 2009

Muhammad Kazem Sawalha

Muhammad Kazem Sawalha

Wafa News Agency, January 15, 2010

Wafa News Agency, January 15, 2010



Photo: Muhammad Hamad for Reuters, January 14, 2010
Jordanian police examine the scene of the explosion after an attempted attack on a convoy of Israeli diplomats (Photo: Muhammad Hamad for Reuters, January 14, 2010).


 This week terrorist events focused on the attempted attack on a convoy of Israeli diplomats in Jordan, employing an IED detonated along their route. There were no casualties. No organization claimed responsibility for the attack. In the Gaza Strip, Hamas continues its policy of restraint and enforces it on the other terrorist organizations.

 The de facto Hamas administration is preparing to present the High Office for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip with a report of its �investigation,� as requested by the Goldstone Report. It is another move in Hamas� campaign to use the Goldstone Report to make political capital at the expense of the Palestinian Authority. In the meantime, a serious argument erupted between important Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qardawi, a source of religious authority for Hamas, and the Palestinian Authority, after Qardawi said that anyone who voted against bringing the Goldstone Report to the Human Rights Council in� Geneva should be stoned.

Important Events

Gaza Strip

Rocket and mortar shell fire

 This past week three rocket hits were identified in open areas in the western Negev. One mortar shell hit was also identified. In addition, a number of rockets and mortar shells were fired and landed in the Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Hamas� Policy of Rocket Fire Restraint

 Hamas continues to prevent attempts to launch rockets and mortar shells and to prevent a deterioration of the situation on the ground. According to reports, there has been intensive action in a number of fields:

  • The Hamas security forces have conducted extensive searches in the northern Gaza Strip (a favorite spot for launching rockets) and seized weapons (Fatah forum, January 17, 2010).

  • Senior Hamas figures met with the terrorist organizations to reach an agreement regarding rocket fire in the Gaza Strip. According to reports, the meetings did not bear fruit (Al-Ayam, January 14, 2010).

  • A Palestinian source who asked to remain anonymous reported that the interior ministry of the de facto Hamas administration secretly warned the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations not to launch rockets into Israeli territory. According to the source, the warning was �threatening� because the Gaza Strip could not stand another battle with Israel (Awan website, January 14, 2010).

  • The interior ministry of the de facto Hamas administration ordered that anyone who launched a rocket into Israeli territory would be tried and subject to a fine (Fatah forum, January 17, 2010).

Statements Made by Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Figure regarding the Rocket Firing Policy

 Ziyad Nakhaleh, deputy secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was interviewed by the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan. He claimed that there would soon be another war in the Gaza Strip because the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority had stalled and because of American policy. He said that Israel would start a war to break the back of the �resistance� [i.e., the terrorist organizations] in the Gaza Strip because it was an obstacle to �the arrangements which will be made at the expense of the Palestinian people.�

 Ziyad Nakhaleh said that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad had not decided to renew broad activities or rocket fire against Israel, but on the other hand no decision had been made about a formal cease fire. He said the situation would continue until circumstances had been created which would make it possible to respond [to actions taken by Israel]. He said that the organization was not interested in a formal lull agreement or in ending rocket fire because it would not give up the right to �resist.� He also denied that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad had recently fired rockets (Al-Watan, January 13, 2010).

Al-Alam TV, November 16, 2009
Ziyad Nakhaleh, Deputy General Secretary of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad

(Al-Alam TV, November 16, 2009).

Judea and Samaria

Counterterrorism activities

 The Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities this past week, detaining Palestinian suspected of terrorist activities. Rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles. Four Israelis were wounded, including a baby girl.

 Among the incidents were the following:

  • January 18 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. An Israeli civilian sustained slight injuries and was evacuated for medical treatment (IDF Spokesman, January 18, 2010).

  • January 17 � A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Nablus. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, January 17, 2010).

  • January 16 � A Molotov cocktail and stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle east of Qalqiliya. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 16, 2010).

  • January 16 � Five pipe charges were found among the tools of two Palestinians who crossed into Israeli territory at the Beqa�ot checkpoint east of Nablus.

  • January 15 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Qalqiliya. An Israeli civilian was seriously injured and evacuated to a hospital (IDF Spokesman, January 15, 2010).

  • January 14 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near Ramallah. An Israeli civilian woman was injured. Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southeast of Hebron. A baby girl riding in the vehicle was injured. Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah near Ariel. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 14, 2010).

  • January 13 � Stones were thrown at Israeli buses near the Jewish settlement in Hebron and south of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the buses were damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 13, 2010).

Attempted Attack on Israeli Diplomats in Jordan

 On the afternoon of January 14 a bomb was detonated in an attack on a secured convoy of diplomats from the Israeli embassy in Jordan on its way from Amman to Israel. There were no casualties. The explosion occurred near the Dead Sea about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from the Allenby Bridge. No claim of responsibility for the attempt was made.

 �A Jordanian security source� said that the bomb was improvised, not standard. Investigators collected samples from the scene to determine what the bomb was made of (Al-Arab Al-Yawm, January 15, 2010). Nabil al-Sharif, Jordanian minister of communications and information, said that Jordan would not agree to any attacks on its security or sovereignty. He also denied reports that an Israeli team was investigating the incident along with the Jordanians, emphasizing that the investigation was being conducted exclusively by the Jordanian security forces (Al-Ghad, January 16, 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, allowing for the passage of about 600 trucks.

A New Assistance Convoy Organized by a Hamas Activist in Britain

 Muhammad Kazem Sawalha, deputy chairman of a British organization known as the Global Committee to Break the Siege of the Gaza Strip, reported via a website affiliated with Hezbollah that a new aid convoy would leave for the Gaza Strip at the end of March 2010. He said its six or seven ships would set sail at the same time from Turkey, Greece and Cyprus and head directly for the port of Gaza. He said that �this time we want a direct confrontation with the Zionist enemy� (Al-Intiqad website, January 17, 2010).

 At the end of the 1990s Muhammad Kazem Sawalha was a coordinator for Hamas� propaganda office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Today he lives in Britain where he was granted political asylum (Felesteen, December 24, 2009). He is the president of the British Muslim Initiative, a group whose professed aim is to fight racism and Islamophobia in Britain.

Muhammad Kazem Sawalha
Muhammad Kazem Sawalha

The Political Struggle

Hamas� Answer to the Goldstone Report

 Diaa al-Madhoun, chairman of the Central Committee for Documentation and Bringing Suits against Israeli War Criminals (Al-Tawthiq2), said the Hamas administration welcomed the Goldstone Report and accepted it in its entirety, and would therefore implement its recommendations. He said the committee he headed would issue a detailed memorandum in which the government [i.e., the de facto Hamas administration] would present the information requested regarding human rights violations and the investigation it had undertaken. He added that the committee would also issue information about the steps taken to implement the Report�s recommendations. The report, he said, would be sent to the office of the High Commission for Human Rights in the Gaza Strip during the following week (Safa News Agency website, January 18, 2010).

 The Goldstone Report was welcomed by Hamas because as far as Hamas was concerned, it accused Israel of �war crimes� and relieved Hamas of responsibility for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and for using Gazan civilians as human shields. In the meantime, Hamas has been using the Report as a tool for an international campaign to smear Israel and brings Israelis to trial as a way to make political capital both internally and externally, at the expense of the Palestinian Authority.

Statements Made by Mahmoud Abbas

 On January 16, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke before a convention of the Palestinian Legislative Council, where he reiterated his policies toward Israel. His main points were the following (Wafa News Agency, January 17, 2010):

  • Praise for the �resistance� at Bil�in and Na�alin: �I salute the brothers who went to Bil�in, Na�alin and other villages to say no to the fence and to the settlements, and to emphasize that we will not agree to the destruction of any buildings or the expulsion of the residents of Jerusalem.�

  • Denial of a new armed intifada: �The resistance [at Bil�in and Na�alin] is our right. We are against military activity. Now I am against military activity. I am against an armed intifada.�

  • Criticism of the United States, which did not pressure Israel to completely freeze the building in the settlements and Jerusalem. He added that the Palestinians rejected that� position outright, and they �will not return to negotiations if Israel maintains its position and if America does not convince Israel of [our] position.�

  • Assurance that there were contacts between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, but emphasizing that those contacts did not amount to political negotiations: Mahmoud Abbas rejected accusations that Israel complained to the Palestinian Authority about incitement and attacked senior figures, including the prime minister, saying that he was more extreme than Arafat: �Well, Abu Amar [Arafat] was not an extremist, and neither am I.�

  • Assurance that the Palestinian Authority was taking steps against those who sold land [to Israelis] and stood firm in its decision to erect a square in honor of Dalal al-Magribi [the female Palestinian terrorist who participated in the 1978 lethal attack on a bus on the Israel�s coastal road].

  • Regarding the criticism leveled at the PLO and the calls that the Palestinian leadership �stop the series of concessions,� Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinians not only �did not make any concessions,� but that �quite the opposite, the other side [i.e., Israel] is the one who has made [concessions] for a year, two years, three years.�

Palestinian Authority Activity in Jerusalem

 Ahmed al-Rueidi, head of the unit for Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian presidential office, reviewed the activities of the Palestinian Authority in view of what he called Israel�s �conspiracies.� That activity included, he said, efforts in four areas:

  • Politically, making contact with the consuls of foreign countries active in the Palestinian Authority and organizing visits to observe Israeli activity.

  • Support for �popular activity� in Jerusalem, such as organizing marches and demonstrations.

  • Legally, monitoring legal issues and making an effort to support the neighborhoods in danger of being destroyed.

  • With regard to the media, presenting Israel�s activity to international public opinion and to the press.

 Al-Rueidi complained of the lack of sufficient Arab and Islamic activity in Jerusalem, without which, he said, the efforts of the Palestinians would be useless (Hamas� Paltoday website, January 13, 2010).

The Internal Palestinian Dialogue

The Goldstone Report Causes Tension between the Palestinian Authority

and Islamic Cleric Yusuf al-Qardawi

 Tension recently erupted between the Palestinian Authority and important Sunni cleric Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qardawi3 after he spoke against Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas:

  • On January 7, 2010, the IslamOnline website, which supports Qardawi, reported that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas demanded a retraction from Sheikh Qardawi of his fatwa asserting that Mahmoud Abbas should be stoned to death in Mecca for his responsibility in delaying the vote on the Goldstone Report. Al-Qardawi denied that he had issued such a fatwa , but confirmed that during a sermon he had said that if the charges [of supporting a cancellation of the vote on the Goldstone Report] against anyone in the Palestinian Authority proved true, that person should be stoned to death in Mecca as punishment for treason (IslamOnline website, January 7, 2010).

  • Mahmoud al-Habash, minister of endowments and religious affairs in the Palestinian Authority, said that his office had instructed all the preachers in the mosques in the Palestinian Authority to make personal attacks on al-Qardawi. He also called on al-Qardawi to apologize publicly for his statements on the same stage from which he had attacked Mahmoud Abbas a number of weeks ago (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, January 18, 2010).

 A Hamas website reported that several preachers in mosques in villages around Jerusalem controlled by the ministry of endowments had refused to carry out the ministry�s order and were detained for interrogation by the Palestinian security forces (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, January 18, 2010). Elsewhere it was reported that on January 16 a number of Palestinians refused to say the Friday prayers in ministry of endowment-controlled mosques in Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Hebron because of the Palestinian Authority�s criticism of al-Qardawi (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, January 18, 2010).  

The Struggle between al-Qardawi and Mahmoud Abbas.

Wafa News Agency, January 15, 2010
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the Friday prayers at the Yasser Arafat mosque in Ramallah (Wafa News Agency, January 15, 2010).
Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qardawi, important Sunni cleric has used the Goldstone Report to smear the Palestinian Authority (Photo:

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

2For further information see the December 17, 2009 bulletin �A Hamas �ministry of justice� committee called Al-Tawthiq (Documentation) claims to be behind the arrest warrant issued in Britain for former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. It is part of the Hamas campaign to pursue Israelis in Europe in the name of the victims of Operation Cast Lead � at

3Sheikh Dr. Yusuf al-Qardawi, an influential Sunni Muslim cleric, is today the religious authority for many Sunni Muslims in the Middle East and beyond. He is also one of Hamas� sources of authority, for example, with everything concerning permission to carry out suicide bombing attacks. For further information see the March 19, 2009� bulletin �Anti-Semitism on Arab media:The popular Qatari TV channel Al-Jazeera is still used as a venue for blatant anti-Semitism. The reputable cleric Sheikh Yussuf al-Qardawi presents the conflict with Israel as a campaign between Islam and the Jews and says that Jews should be killed, citing a well-known Islamic tradition� at