Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Wafa News Agency, November 22, 2009
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces the suspension of building in the settlements (Israeli Government Press Office, November 25, 2009).
This past week there was no rocket or mortar shell fire into Israeli territory. Two mortar shells were launched but fell inside the Gaza Strip. A homemade rocket was fired and fell on the house of a family living in the Nuseirat refugee camp, wounding two residents. An attempt to cross the Israeli-Egyptian border was prevented. The infiltrator fled but left behind a bag with a 15-kilogram (33-pound) IED, apparently intended to be used in a terrorist attack in Israel.
Internal political affairs focused on the announcement made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Cabinet had authorized the suspension of new construction and the issuing of building permits for housing units in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months. The limitations do not include Jerusalem. The prime minister expressed hope that the Palestinians and the Arab world would use the opportunity to make� a new beginning. Mahmoud Abbas and other senior figures in the PA responded that the decision was not new and stressed that only a complete freeze of construction, including in Jerusalem, would make it possible to renew negotiations with Israel.
Rocket and mortar shell fire
During the past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. On November 26 two mortar shells were fired and fell inside the Gaza Strip. Several networks affiliated with the global jihad claimed responsibility (Global jihad forums, November 27, 2009).
The Palestinian media reported that on November 25 a homemade rocket fell on a house in the Nuseirat refugee camp, wounding two of the residents, a man and his wife. The house was destroyed and neighboring houses were severely damaged (Fatah forum, November 25, 2009). Immediately afterwards police arrived on the scene to detain the rocket squad (Qudsnet website, November 25, 2009). Apparently the rocket fell short of its target and was meant to land within Israel.
Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1
Israeli Air Force response
On November 27, in a joint Israeli Air Force-security force action, Israeli aircraft struck a terrorist squad east of Jabaliya. The terrorists were preparing to fire rockets into the western Negev (IDF Spokesman, November 27, 2009).
The Palestinian media reported that four were wounded in the air strike. The director of emergency services in the Hamas de-facto administration�s ministry of health said they were four civilians who have gone to visit graves in the nearby cemetery (Qudsnet website, November 27, 2009). Forums frequented by surfers affiliated with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad reported that the wounded belonged to the Jerusalem Battalions, the military-terrorist wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees. One of the wounded was the son of a Jerusalem Battalions commander (Jerusalem Battalions website, Hamas� PALDF forum, November 27, 2009).
Terrorist activity apparently prevented near Eilat
An IDF force operating along the Israeli-Egyptian border detected a suspicious individual carrying a bag who was trying to cross into Israel. When the force tried to detain him he threw down the bag and fled. It contained an IED weighing approximately 15 kilograms (33 pounds) and was apparently meant to be used in an attack inside Israel (IDF Spokesman, November 26, 2009).
Judea and Samaria
Two Israeli civilians stabbed
On November 26 there was a terrorist attack near the community of Kiryat Arba. A Palestinian terrorist armed with an axe and a knife arrived at the the bus stop near the Kiryat Arba gas station. He stabbed two Israeli civilians, a 49-year old man and a 52-year old woman. They sustained minor injuries and were evacuated to a hospital. The terrorist was shot and wounded by an IDF soldier who was at the bus stop at the time (IDF Spokesman, November 26, 2009).
This past week the Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities. Throughout the week stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles. Two Israeli civilians sustained minor injuries.
Among the incidents were the following:
November 30: At the Atarot checkpoint south of Ramallah a Border Police force discovered a knife among the tools of a Palestinian trying to pass through (IDF Spokesman, November 30).
November 29: Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus southwest of Bethlehem. An Israeli woman sustained minor injuries. Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southeast of Qalqiliya and stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Bethlehem. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, November 29).
November 28: Stones were thrown at Israeli buses southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the buses were damaged (IDF Spokesman, November 28).
November 26: Molotov cocktails and burning tires were thrown at an Israeli vehicle northeast or Ramallah. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged. Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Ramallah, wounding an Israeli civilian (IDF Spokesman, November 26).
November 26: An IDF force on patrol east of Shomron came upon masked Palestinians armed with knives. They threw stones at an Israeli vehicle, slashed the tires and fled (IDF Spokesman, November 26).
November 25: Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southwest of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged. Stones were thrown at an Israel vehicle southwest of Jenin. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman, November 25).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip crossings
The crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip were open all week, allowing for the entrance of 749 vehicles delivering merchandise.
Hamas exploits the holidays to increase its public stature
On November 26 the de facto Hamas administration released 155 security and criminal prisoners from the Ansar prison in the Gaza Strip as a goodwill gesture for the three-day Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. In addition, 140 prisoners were temporarily released from various prisons throughout the Gaza Strip, to return on December 3. Hamas also reported that a delegation from the Haniya de facto administration, headed by welfare minister Ahmed al-Kurd, visited poor Palestinians and families of shaheeds in the northern Gaza Strip and gave them financial and humanitarian assistance.�
Muhammad Awad, secretary general of the Haniya de factor administration, said representatives would continue visiting homes during the holiday to distribute meat for Eid al-Adha (Felesteen, November 27, 2009). Hamas also stated that more than 241 homes had been visited by throughout the Gaza Strip to strengthen the relations between the movement and the public (Safa News Agency, November 26, 2009).
The Peace Process
The Israeli Prime Minister�s announcement about delaying new construction
in Judea and Samaria meets with negative Palestinian responses
On November 25 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Cabinet had authorized a suspension of new construction and of issuing permits for new dwelling units in Judea and Samaria for a period of ten months. He held a press conference where he announced that the step was being taken to encourage the renewal of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. He said he hoped the Palestinian and the Arab world would use the opportunity for a new beginning. He added that no restrictions would be placed on building in Jerusalem (Prime Minister�s website, November 25, 2009).
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, currently visiting Latin America, said in a speech to the Venezuelan parliament (the National Assembly) that the announcement regarding the freezing of the settlements was not new, and criticized it because it was not a total freeze and did not include Jerusalem. He again demanded to continue negotiations from the point at which they were stopped in 2008, and said that the Palestinian Authority was examining the possibility of appealing to the Security Council for a resolution to establish a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders (Ma�an News Agency, November 28 2009).
Other senior figures in the Palestinian Authority scoffed at Prime Minister Netanyahu�s announcement, claiming it was insufficient. They stressed that only a complete freeze on building in the settlements, including Jerusalem, would make it possible to renew negotiations with Israel. The most important responses were the following:
Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said that the basis for a return to the negotiating table with Israel had to be a comprehensive freeze on building in the West Bank settlements and Jerusalem. He said that the Palestinians would not accept a situation in which Jerusalem was not included in the building freeze (Wafa News Agency, November 25, 2009).
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat claimed that the Israeli prime minister had not said anything new, since building in the West Bank and Jerusalem would continue, �which is unacceptable.� He said that the Israeli prime minister had two choices: settlements or peace, but that he had chosen the settlements (Al-Jazeera TV, November 25, 2009).
- Fatah�s Central Committee propaganda head Muhammad Dahlan called the Israeli prime minister�s statement �deception� and �throwing sand in [people�s] eyes (Al-Ayyam, November 26, 2009)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas meets with leaders of the Brazilian Jewish
community and expresses his desire for peace (Wafa News Agency, November 22, 2009).
The Northern Front
Hezbollah activist indicted in the United States
On November 24 the FBI website reported that ten men had been indicted for planning to export weapons from Philadelphia to the Syrian port of Latakia2 According to the indictment, two of them, Hassan Hodroj and Dib Hani Harb, attempted to supply Hezbollah with 1,200 Colt M4 carbines. They were charged with �conspiring to provide material support to Hizballah in the form of proceeds from the sale of fraudulent passports, counterfeit money and stolen (genuine) money.� David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said that �…this complaint demonstrate[s] how terrorist organizations rely on…criminal activities to fund and arm themselves.�3
Hezbollah-affiliated Ali Fiyadh, a member of the �Loyalty to the Resistance� faction of the Lebanese Parliament, refused to respond to the American accusations or to answer any questions (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, November 26, 2009).
Hezbollah activists in the United States, Latin America and around the globe regularly integrate crime into their financial and operative support for Hezbollah. Hezbollah�s criminal involvement is especially prominent in the drug and counterfeiting industries, which have branches in Lebanon. That enables Hezbollah not only to create additional sources of income, but to improve its terrorist-operative capabilities by exploiting professional criminal networks.
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 MV Francop, which was bringing weapons to Hezbollah, was also heading for the port of Latakia. For further information see our November 5, 2009 bulletin �The Israeli Navy captures a ship carrying a large shipment of weapons (including rockets, mortar shells and anti-tank weapons) from Iran� at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/iran_e035.pdf.