News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (January 6-12, 2010)

Poster for the birthday celebration of female terrorist Dalal al-Maghribi

Poster for the birthday celebration of female terrorist Dalal al-Maghribi

Salam Fayyad tosses goods manufactured in the Israeli settlements into the fire

Salam Fayyad tosses goods manufactured in the Israeli settlements into the fire

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Filastin Al-Yawm website, January 9, 2010

Filastin Al-Yawm website, January 9, 2010

America�s efforts to promote the peace process: going nowhere

America�s efforts to promote the peace process: going nowhere

Children on parade at the birthday celebration

Children on parade at the birthday celebration


Incitement and the political struggle against Israel by the Palestinian Authority

Poster for the birthday celebration of female terrorist Dalal al-Maghribi
Poster for the birthday celebration of female terrorist Dalal al-Maghribi, sponsored by Mahmoud Abbas
(Photo courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch)

 
Salam Fayyad tosses goods manufactured in the Israeli settlements into the fire
In a symbolic act, Salam Fayyad tosses goods manufactured in the Israeli settlements into the fire (Al-Ayam, January 6, 2010).

Overview

 This past week there was an increase in the number of rockets and mortar shells fired into Israeli territory. They were launched by rogue terrorist organizations contrary to Hamas� continuing policy of rocket fire restraint. In response the Israeli Air Force struck a number of terrorist squads and targets in the Gaza Strip, killing three Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives. According to the Palestinian and Arab media, Hamas tried to placate the rogue organizations.

 The tension between Hamas and Egypt continued following Egypt�s refusal to allow most of the Lifeline-3 convoy into the Gaza Strip, and its continuing construction of the barrier along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border. Hamas continued its media campaign against Egypt (accompanied by violent clashes along the border which caused the deaths of an Egyptian soldier and a Palestinian demonstrator, and wounded dozens of Palestinians). The Egyptians responded with a strong propaganda attack on Hamas in its media and mosques. Both Egypt and Hamas have sent signals that they are prepared to initiate contacts to resolve the crisis.

Important Events

Gaza Strip

Rocket and mortar shell fire

 This past week there was an increase in the number of rockets fired into Israeli territory, and a total of seven rocket hits were identified. Most of the incidents occurred on January 7. There were no casualties and no damage was done. The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the rocket fire (Qawm website, January 7, 2010). There were also a number of unsuccessful attempts to fire rockets and mortar shells, which failed. The military-terrorist wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for an unsuccessful attack of January 8 (Qudsnet website, January 8, 2010).

 During the week there were a number of attacks targeting IDF forces carrying out routine patrols along the security fence:

  • January 10 � An IED exploded near an IDF force patrolling along the security fence. There were no casualties and no damage was done. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Army of the Nation and the military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for an attack on an IDF observation post (Al-Fallujah forum, January 10, 2010).

  • January 7 � At IDF force was shot at near the Karni crossing. The force returned fire.

Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1

Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory

Israeli Air Force Strikes

 In response to the rocket and mortar shell fire, the Israeli Air Force made a number of strikes in the Gaza Strip:

  • January 10 � The Israeli Air Force struck a terrorist squad preparing to fire rockets in the region of Deir al-Balah (central Gaza Strip) (IDF Spokesman, January 10, 2010). The Palestinian media reported that three operatives of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad�s military-terrorist wing were killed in the strike and another was critically wounded (Hamas� Paltoday website, Qudsnet website, January 10, 2010).

  • January 7 � The Israeli Air Force struck a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip:

    • A weapons manufacturing site in Tel al-Hawa in Gaza City. According to the Palestinian media, the building was destroyed and there were no casualties.

    • Tunnels dug for terrorist activities near the Kissufim and Kerem Shalom crossings.

    • A tunnel for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip near the Rafah crossing. According to the Palestinian media, three Palestinians were killed and six injured (Al-Risala, Ma�an News Agency, Wafa News Agency, January 8, 2010).

Filastin Al-Yawm website, January 9, 2010
Evacuating the bodies of one of the three Palestinians killed in the Israeli Air Force strike

on the tunnel in Rafah (Filastin Al-Yawm website, January 9, 2010).

Fear of Escalation in the Gaza Strip and Rocket Launching Policy

 Following the increase in the number of attacks, there was fear of escalation in the Gaza Strip. The rogue terrorist organizations involved in the rocket attacks called for an escalation in response to IDF attacks:

  • Spokesmen for the military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad accused Israel of deliberate provocation and an attempt exhaust the PIJ�s forces. They claimed that the relative quiet was the result of an internal agreement between the organizations intended to restore a normal life to the residents of the Gaza Strip (Ma�an News Agency, January 8, 2010).

  • Abu Yussuf, spokesman for one of the Popular Resistance Committees� networks, said that the organization reserved the right to respond to any Israeli activity at any time and place it chose. He also appealed to all the other organizations to respond immediately to any Israel action and to strike at �anyone who tries to attack the resistance� [i.e., the terrorist organizations] (Muqawamah website, January 8, 2010).

  • Jamil Muzher, a member of the central committee of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, denied that the PFLP had made a commitment to Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. He said that in the coming days the various organizations would consult about forming a joint resistance front (Qudsnet website, January 11, 2010).

 Sources within Hamas tried to calm the situation after the killing of the three Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives. They warned senior PIJ members not to respond to the attack. Hamas even said that it might detain operatives from the organization if they launched rockets into Israel. The heads of the PIJ said that they were determined to respond and demanded that Hamas allow them to do so (Al-Kawfia Press website, January 11, 2010).

Judea and Samaria

Counterterrorism activities

 This past week the Israeli security forces continued their preventative counterterrorism activities and detained Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities. Terrorist incidents continued, primarily the throwing of stones at Israeli vehicles. An Israeli girl sustained minor injuries. The noteworthy incidents were the following:

  • January 11 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southeast of Ramallah. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged. Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. There were no casualties and no damage was done. The stone thrower was detained by the IDF (IDF Spokesman, January 11, 2010).

  • January 10 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Bethlehem. There were no casualties and no damage was done. Stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles southwest and southeast of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the vehicles were damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 10, 2010).

  • January 9 � Stones were thrown at an IDF force patrolling southwest of Bethlehem. The stone throwers were detained. Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle northeast of Ramallah. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 10, 2010).

  • January 7 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southeast of Qalqiliya. A young Israeli girl riding in the car sustained slight injuries and was treated at the scene. Stones were thrown at two Israeli vehicles, which were damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2010).

  • January 6 � Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southwest of Hebron. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, January 6, 2010).

Developments in the Gaza Strip

Rafah Crossing Closed

 The interior ministry of the de facto Hamas administration reported that contrary to promises received, Egypt had closed the Rafah crossing to civilian traffic as of January 7, after only half of the Gazans who had registered had passed through. Ihab al-Ghussein, spokesman for the interior ministry of the de facto Hamas administration, demanded that Egypt reopen the crossing as soon as possible (Hamas� Paltoday website, January 7, 2010).

Supply Convoy Denied Entry into Gaza Strip

 The Egyptian authorities, which prevented the Lifeline-3 convoy from gaining access to the Gaza Strip, allowed 350 of its members (mainly Turks and Syrians) and 139 trucks to enter. The head of the delegation, pro-Hamas British MP George Galloway, was denied entry and declared persona non grata. The members of the delegation who were not permitted to enter the Gaza Strip left Egypt. Those who did enter were received by senior members of the de facto Hamas administration, visited areas destroyed during Operation Cast Lead and gave the humanitarian assistance they had brought to charitable institutions.

 Abu Al-Gheit, Egyptian foreign minister, said the Egypt would not allow similar convoys to enter its territory and that new arrangements would be made with the Red Cross or other Egyptian aid organizations for transferring humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip (Egyptian TV, January 8, 2010).

 Exchanges in the media regarding Egypt�s denying the convoy entry into the Gaza Strip continued:

  • At a reception for the members of the delegation who did reach the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration, praised George Galloway and the rest of the delegation for their �sacrifice� for the sake of the Gaza Strip. He called for an urgent meeting with Egypt to discuss the issues of the convoy and building of the barrier along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border (Al-Aqsa TV, January 7, 2010).

  • Convoy organizer John Hurnson said that Egypt was helping the �siege� of the Gaza Strip and that the Gazans had nothing but contempt for the way Egypt treated the members of the convoy (Al-Jazeera TV, January 7, 2010).

  • A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said that a propaganda campaign was being waged against Egypt by groups �supporting the regime in Gaza� [i.e., Hamas]. He rejected the criticism leveled at Egypt and said that it was willing to help the Palestinians, but on Egypt�s terms. He also said that Egypt had �security interests which must not be compromised� (Al-Ahram, January 7, 2010). 

The Barrier Along the Egypt-Gaza Strip Border

 After the violent confrontations in Rafah, elements within Hamas have been trying to calm the situation to prevent a worsening of relations with Egypt. Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar said that there was a great deal of tension between Hamas and Egypt but that the Hamas leadership was in contact with Egypt to resolve the crisis (Safa News Agency, January 7, 2010). Hamas also stated in an announcement that an official committee had been appointed to investigate the events, and demanded that Egypt appoint a similar committee (Hamas� Paltoday website, January 7, 2010).

 In the meantime however, Hamas continues its criticism of the construction of the barrier along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border:

  • Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the barrier was being constructed to paralyze the activity of the tunnels, to incite the residents of the Gaza Strip against the Hamas regime and to force political concessions from it (Al-Bayan Center website, January 7, 2010). He added that Hamas had information that the Egyptian soldier had been killed by Egyptian fire aimed at Palestinian demonstrators. He said Egypt was trying to exaggerate the incident to deflect public opinion from the barrier (Ma�an News Agency, January 9, 2010). Khaled Mashaal had a similar explanation for the death of the Egyptian soldier (Qatar News Agency, January 11, 2010).������

  • Hamas reportedly appointed a committee to prepare a program for ensuring continued smuggling into the Gaza Strip regardless of the barrier (Chinese News Agency Xinua, January 11, 2010).

 Egypt continued its strong criticism of Hamas. In a front-page headline, the daily newspaper Al-Gomhuriyya called Hamas a �gang ruling with iron and fire and working to smuggle drugs, Viagra and food� (Al-Gomhuriyya, January 7, 2010). In addition, many mosques in Egypt joined the attack on Hamas. The imam of the Abd al-Rahman mosque in Cairo asked the sniper who had killed the Egyptian soldier in �what you would say tomorrow to your Creator?� Another preacher attacked those who had killed the Egyptian soldier, saying that Egypt had sacrificed thousands of its sons for the sake of the Palestinians. The imam of the Al-Rahma mosque accused Hamas of being �the reason for the siege of the Palestinians� and said that its leaders, who stuck to their positions, wanted to remain in the Palestinian Authority even at the expense of starving the people and making them flee. He added that the Egyptian soldier who had been killed was a shaheed and that the person who had killed him would �burn in hell if he does not atone for his sin� (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, January 9, 2010).

The Palestinian Political Struggle

Renewing Negotiations with Israel

 Saeb Erekat, chief PLO negotiator, met with Daniel Rubenstein, the American Consul General in Jerusalem. Erekat reiterated the Palestinian position on renewing negotiations. He said that the Palestinians would reject any attempt made while building was still going on in the settlements (Wafa News Agency, January 8, 2010). He made similar statements in response to a request from American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to renew the negotiations without preconditions (Agence France-Presse, January 9, 2010).

 Fatah�s Central Committee, which met on January 11, repeated its demand to renew negotiations with Israel from the point at which they stopped, but only after a complete freeze of the building in the settlements and Jerusalem (Wafa News Agency, January 12, 2010).

America�s efforts to promote the peace process: going nowhere
America�s efforts to promote the peace process: going nowhere
(Al-Ayam, January 10, 2010).

Confiscating Goods Manufactured in Israel

 The Palestinian Authority has ramped up its struggle to remove goods manufactured in the settlements from Palestinian markets. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad participated in a ceremony in the town of Salfit where a large quantity of goods claimed to have been manufactured in the settlements was thrown into a bonfire. The Palestinian Authority�s minister of the economy said that the Palestinian Authority government had allotted one million dollars to implement a program which would �cleanse� the Palestinian markets of products from the settlements.

Mahmoud Abbas Sponsors Event to Celebrate Terrorist�s Brithday

 Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, sponsored an event organized to celebrate the 50th birthday of Dalal al-Maghribi, a female terrorist who participated in the terrorist attack on a bus on the Coastal Road in 1978.2 The ceremony was attended by senior members of the Palestinian Authority, and there was a parade of children. A giant poster bore a picture of Dalal al-Maghribi and the inscription, �With the sponsorship of his Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas.� Fatah and the Palestinian Authority have made the terrorist a role model in the same way Hamas makes its shaheed operatives killed in terrorist attacks against Israel into role models. She has been commemorated many times by the Palestinian Authority, and has had schools, computer centers, summer camps, sports tournaments and a square in Ramallah named after her.

Children on parade at the birthday celebration
Children on parade at the birthday celebration
(Photo courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch).

The Internal Palestinian Dialogue

Renewing the Internal Palestinian Dialogue

 Salah al-Bardawil, a member of the Hamas reconciliation delegation, said that last week Egypt had told the visiting Hamas delegation it agreed to discuss the Hamas leadership�s reservations over the wording of the recently-written reconciliation agreement (Al-Ayam, January 5, 2010).

 Azzam al-Ahmed, Fatah activist, rejected the Hamas claim, saying that Egypt had recently told Fatah that there had been no change in its [Egypt�s] position. He also said that Fatah opposed opening the Egyptian document to discussion because the Fatah leadership had already signed in its original version (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, January 5, 2010). On a number of occasions Egypt also publicly expressed its refusal to discuss Hamas� reservations (Al-Ayam, January 5, 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 Dalal al-Maghribi was a member of the Fatah squad which carried out the terrorist attack on the Coastal Road on March 11, 1978, during which she was killed. A group of 11 Palestinian terrorists in inflatable rubber dinghies landed on the beach of Kibbutz Maagan Michael. They took over a bus on its way from Tel Aviv on its way to Haifa and demanded that the driver turn around and head back to Tel Aviv. Thirty-five Israelis were killed in the attack and 71 were wounded. Dalal al-Maghribi�s body was released as part of the deal in which the bodies of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser were returned to Israel on July 16, 2008.