Courtesy of the Israeli police force, October 5, 2009
Gilad Shalit, the abducted Israeli soldier
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Wafa News Agency, October 4, 2009
Clashes between police and Palestinian demonstrators
Al-Ra�i, Qatar, October 5, 2009
A Gazan child carries a model of the Dome of the Rock
Sheikh Ra�ed Salah leading prayers
Hatem Abd al-Qader in Jerusalem
Israeli Foreign Ministry, October 2, 2009
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Hamas� smear campaign against the Palestinian Authority
Al-Aqsa TV, October 5, 2009
A wheelbarrow full of stones, one of some confiscated on the Temple Mount. They were stockpiled for throwing at Jews praying at the Western Wall (Photo: Courtesy of the Israeli police force, October 5, 2009).
Gilad Shalit, the abducted Israeli soldier, seen in the first video since his abduction three years ago (Israeli Foreign Ministry, October 2, 2009).
During the past week five rockets were fired at the western Negev, a continuation of the increase in attacks carried out by the rogue terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. In response the Israeli Air Force struck smuggling tunnels and a lathe for manufacturing weapons.
The public disturbances which began on the Temple Mount in� Jerusalem on the eve of Yom Kippur were renewed and spread to other neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. So far they are focused in Jerusalem and have not extended to Judea and Samaria. Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement of Israeli Arabs have led incitement to fan the emotional fires and make it difficult for the Israeli security forces to end the disturbances.
Other important events this past week:
Rocket and mortar shell fire
This past week there was an increase in rocket fire targeting the western Negev from the Gaza Strip. Five rocket hits were identified in open areas near Israeli communities. (Another rocket fell inside the Gaza Strip.) There were no casualties and no damage was done. It was a continuation of a certain increase in attacks carried out by the rogue terrorist organizations which began in August 2009. In our assessment, Hamas still maintains its policy of restraint.
In addition, light arms were used to attack IDF force and Israeli civilians near the security fence. There were no casualties.
The main events were the following:
September 29: An IDF force engaged in operations was shot at near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The soldiers returned fire. There were no casualties (IDF Spokesman, September 29, 2009).
September 29: During the day three rockets were fired into the western Negev, falling in open areas. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
October 2: A rocket hit was identified in a community in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done. Networks affiliated with the global jihad, Jund Ansar Allah and the Army of Jerusalem claimed responsibility for the attack (Ma�an News Agency, October 2, 2009). A network calling itself �The resting place of the lions of the jihad fighters,� also identified with the global jihad, claimed responsibility for firing at rocket at the southern Israeli city of Sderot (Al-Tahadi forum, October 3, 2009).
October 3:A rocket hit was identified in an open area near a community. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
October 5: Civilians working near the security fence were shot at. There were no casualties. The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Fatah�s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed joint responsibility for the attack (Abu Ali Mustafa website, October 5, 2009)
Rocket and mortar shell fired into Israeli territory 1
Israeli Air Force attack
In response to the rocket fire, the Israeli Air Force stuck a number of times, especially smuggling tunnels in the Rafah area (September 29, October 1, 2, 2009). According to reports in the Palestinian media, two Palestinians were killed and seven wounded in the September 29 attack (Radio Sawt Al-Aqsa, September 20, 2009). On October 1 a young Palestinian from Khan Yunis was electrocuted when one of the tunnels was struck (PalPress website, October 1, 2009). In addition, a lathe in the Tufah neighborhood in the eastern part of Gaza City was struck; it had been used in the manufacture of weapons (IDF Spokesman, October 2, 2009). There were no casualties but the site was extensively damaged (Qudsnet website, October 3, 2009).
Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative detained in the Gaza Strip
According to an article in the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad accused elements within the Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip of detaining a wounded operative for interrogation. He escaped being killed in the September 25 Israeli Air Force attack.2 Taken to a facility of Hamas� security forces, he was interrogated and only afterwards allowed to receive medical attention. According to the article, it was not the first time Hamas had interrogated operatives attempting to fire rockets or mortar shells into Israeli territory (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, October 2, 2009).
Judea and Samaria
The Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities. There were a number of incidents during the week, the most prominent of which were the following (IDF Spokesman):
September 29: Stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles west of Bethlehem. There were no casualties but vehicles were damaged.
October 1: An IED exploded near an IDF force south of Hebron. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, October 1, 2009). The Imad Moughnieh squads of Fatah�s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the bomb, saying it was in retaliation for �Israel�s activities in Jerusalem� (Sama website, October 1, 2009).
October 5: Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus near Halhoul north of Hebron. There were no casualties but the bus was damaged (IDF Spokesman, October 5, 2009).
Public disturbances continue in the Temple Mount area in Jerusalem
On October 4 public disturbances were renewed on the Temple Mount. They began on September 27, Yom Kippur eve. The current round of disturbances began after the Israeli police limited entrance to the Temple Mount. (The police later released photos of stockpiles of stones in barrels and wheelbarrows which were meant to be thrown at Israelis.) During the disturbances dozens of Muslims threw stones and bottles at police, who used force to enter the area. Two policemen sustained minor injuries and five rioters were detained.
Kamal al-Khatib before his detention (Wafa News Agency, October 4, 2009).
On October 5, the day of the traditional Jewish high priests� Succot prayer at the Western Wall, the police, in view of the existing tensions and having received information about planned disturbances, limited the entrance of Muslims to the Temple Mount to men over 50 who had Israeli identity cards. Women of all ages were permitted to enter. From the early morning large police and Border Police forces were deployed to secure the worshippers. About 20,000 Jews came to the Western Wall. The event was held without disturbance.
The police deploy near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem to control the
continuing public disturbances (Wafa News Agency, October 4, 2009).
On October 5 violent disturbances increased both on the Temple Mount and in north Jerusalem. In the mosques in Jerusalem Palestinians were asked to go to Al-Aqsa mosque lest the Jews try to break in. The disturbances spread to other locations in East Jerusalem. So far they have not gone beyond Jerusalem but Israeli security is following the developments lest the disturbances spread to Judea and Samaria. On October 6 relative quiet prevailed (as of noon).
Clashes between police and Palestinian demonstrators
(Al-Alam TV, October 4, 2009).
An IDF soldier was stabbed in the throat by a 16-year old Palestinian when he entered a bus to check passengers. He was wounded and taken to the hospital for treatment. The stabber was detained.
A policeman sustained minor injuries when stones where thrown at the roadblock.
Responses to the events
The disturbances around the Temple Mount and in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem led to a wave of angry responses from the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the northern branch of the Islamic Movement of Israeli Arabs. They all accused Israel of responsibility for the events and tension. Prominent were the calls for Palestinian and Israeli Arabs to converge on the Temple Mount compound to prevent the imaginary danger of its being �attacked� by the Jews. The incitement fanned the flames of Israeli Arab and Palestinian emotions, making it difficult for the Israeli security forces to put an end to the disturbances.
The Palestinian Authority
The Palestinian Authority fully integrated itself into the anti-Israeli campaign by presenting a false picture of an attack on the Temple Mount by �extremist settlers� and of �Israeli provocation� allegedly intended to sabotage the peace process:
Salam Fayyad held a government meeting at which the events were discussed and which denounced what he called the attempts by �extremist settlers� to enter Al-Aqsa mosque and hold a religious service. The government stated that it regarded the event as an attempt by Israel to Judaize Jerusalem and the holy places, and it called on Arab, Muslim and international organizations to stop Israel (Wafa News Agency, October 5, 2009).
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad assembled the foreign ambassadors for a briefing. He described the confrontations as �an attack by extremist religious settlers on the Temple Mount� and warned that the situation there was sensitive and could deteriorate quickly into a situation in which �control will be lost.� He added that it was �a deliberate provocation� intended to sabotage the peace process (Haaretz, October 5, 2009).
In addition, the Palestinian Authority mobilized senior clerics affiliated with it who, as in the past, appealed to emotions by making false claims intended to present Al-Aqsa mosque as being in danger:
Taysir al-Tamimi, head of the Palestinian Sharia� court and chairman of the Islamic-Christian committee for Jerusalem and the holy places, appealed to the Arab-Muslim world for help to �lift the siege� of Al-Aqsa mosque and �to liberate the worshippers trapped inside.� He called on the masses to converge on the Temple Mount, especially women and children (The Voice of Palestine Radio, October 4, 2009). He also warned against a slaughter in the mosque after �extremist Jewish groups� called on their comrades to break into the mosque for the Succot holiday. He said that anyone who could come to Jerusalem and did not was committing a sin (Palestinian News Network website, October 1, 2009).
Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, director of Al-Aqsa mosque, speaking from within the building called on the Arab-Muslim nation and on international organizations to rein in the Israeli �extremist right-wing government� which, he said, had lifted all restraints from �extremist groups� which dream of �laying the imaginary cornerstone of their imaginary temple� in the mosque. He said that their breaking into the Temple Mount would be �crossing the line� and would set the region on fire (Ynet, October 5, 2009).
Muhammad Hussein, the Mufti of Jerusalem, denounced the situation in Jerusalem and said that contacts were being held to lift the so-called �siege� of the mosque. He called on the Arab-Muslim world to intervene immediately to �save the mosque.� He said that it was a question of an unprecedented �Israeli attack� against holy sites and worshippers, and that they would not accept desecration of the mosque.
Hamas is fully aware of the high sensitivity and explosiveness of Jerusalem and carries out an ongoing program of anti-Israeli propaganda to incite the Palestinians in general and the residents of East Jerusalem in particular. The incitement is continuous but on occasion rises if there are civilian, political or religious events which can be exploited.
This time as well Hamas was quick to exploit the disturbances in Jerusalem. The movement issued a statement placing full responsibility on Israel for the ramifications of the events at the mosque and in East Jerusalem, and called on the Arab-Muslim world to start a new intifada to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque (Ynet, October 5, 2009). Throughout the Gaza Strip there were well-attended solidarity demonstrations. Hamas� media joined in reporting the events in Jerusalem by calling for an awakening of the Palestinian public.
A cartoon by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha asserting the false claim that the
mosques on the Temple Mount are in danger (Al-Ra�i, Qatar, October 5, 2009).
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum placed full responsibility for the events on Mahmoud Abbas. He said that the link between Mahmoud Abbas (and the Palestinian Authority) and Israel was what had motivated Israel to take action at the mosque. He demanded that the Arab-Muslim nation act against the danger threatening the mosque and called for a broad popular awakening to express solidarity with the Palestinians and expose what he called �Israel�s crimes.�
A Gazan child carries a model of the Dome of the Rock
(Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 5, 2009).
The Islamic Movement of Israeli Arabs
As in the past, the northern branch of the Israeli Islamic Movement was prominent in inciting Israeli Arabs, accusing the police of implementing a deliberate program which the government has been waiting to use for years (Ynet, October 5, 2009). Two speakers were prominent:
- Ra�ed Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, speaking at the annual convention for Al-Aqsa TV, said that if �we have to choose between giving up Al-Aqsa mosque and being shaheeds (martyrs for the sake of Allah), we will choose to be shaheeds� (Ynet, October 5, 2009).
Sheikh Ra�ed Salah leading prayers
(Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 6, 2009).
- Hatem Abd al-Qader, Sheikh Ra�ed Salah�s deputy, held a meeting in Jerusalem where he called on Jerusalem residents and Israeli Arabs �to go to Al-Aqsa mosque to keep �the extremist Jewish groups from breaking into the mosque� (Wafa News Agency, October 3, 2009). He said the current events proved that Israel was still trying to impose a new order on the mosque and that Israel would be responsible for anything that happened in the future because of the attempts made by extremist Israelis to break into it. He called on Palestinians from� Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs to hurry to Al-Aqsa mosque (Voice of Palestine Radio, October 1, 2009).
Hatem Abd al-Qader in Jerusalem
�(Archive picture, ToAqsa forum website, May 4, 2009).4
In view of the events in Jerusalem, Nasser Judeh, Jordanian foreign minister, assembled the ambassadors of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and gave them letters for the foreign ministers of their own countries. The letters strongly denounced Israel�s activities. Judeh said that Jerusalem was �a red line� for Jordan and demanded that �Israeli violations� be stopped. He also called in the Israeli ambassador to Jordan and presented him with an official protest letter from the Jordanian government (Jordanian News Agency, October 4, 2009).
Incitement in the Muslim world
Well-known radical Sunni Muslim cleric, Sheikh Yussef Qardawi, calls on Muslims to hold a �day of rage� for Al-Aqsa mosque on Friday, October 9, 2009. He claimed that the �danger of the Zionist threat to the Al-Aqsa mosque has reached a new height, and any and all actions must be taken against it� (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 6, 2009).��
Developments in the Gaza Strip
The crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip
During September, 2,145 trucks delivered merchandise through the Kerem Shalom, Karni and Nahal Oz crossings, and 1,249 people passed through the Erez crossing.
The tunnel industry in Rafah
A resident of Saja�iya neighborhood (in the northern part of Gaza City) was killed on October 2 when a tunnel collapsed in the neighborhood of Al-Salam in the eastern part of the city. According to other reports, two more Palestinians were hurt when it collapsed (Ma�an News Agency, October 2, 2009).
The de-facto Hamas administration tries to improve its image
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan the de-facto Hamas administration was particularly active in attempts at improving its image and aiding the population despite its dire financial straits. It organized fast-breaking meals, visited families, dealt with the homeless and released prisoners. The activities of the charitable societies in the Gaza Strip, especially those affiliated with Hamas, also increased during Ramadan. In addition, the de-facto Hamas administration is trying to thaw relations with UNRWA� through joint activities and to turn over a new leaf in relations with extremist Islamic networks by releasing jihadist operatives it has detained.
The issue of Gilad Shalit, the abducted Israeli soldier
Hamas gives Israel a videotape of Gilad Shalit
After more than three years since Gilad Shalit was abducted, on October 2 his family received a two and a half minute videotape, the first, of their son.5 Gilad Shalit appeared healthy although very thin, and was photographed wearing a Hamas uniform and sitting in a chair in front of a blank wall. He was holding a copy of Hamas� Felesteen newspaper dated September 14, 2009. He read from a prepared statement held behind the newspaper.
Left: Gilad Shalit reads a prepared statement while holding a copy of the Hamas newspaper Felesteen.
Right: A close-up of the paper shows the video was taken on or after Monday, September 14, 2009
(Israeli Foreign Ministry, October 2, 2009).
The �videotape deal,� described as a confidence-building measure, was put together with Egyptian support and German mediation. In return for the tape Israel released 20 women Palestinian prisoners who had been involved in terrorist attacks (19 to the West Bank and one to the Gaza Strip). Those released were not accused of murder although 14 were accused of manslaughter.�
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak watches the video
(Photo: Ariel Hermoni for the Israeli ministry of defense, October 2, 2009).
According to Arab and Western media reports, the videotape deal is the first stage of a comprehensive deal. A round of talks between Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, and the German mediator is supposed to begin in the near future regarding further prisoner exchanges (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, October 2; Der Spiegel, October 2, 2009). However, Israeli sources have made it clear that despite the receipt of the videotape, the road to Gilad Shalit�s release is still long (Ynet, October 3). Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leader of the negotiations for Hamas, also said he expected them to take a long time. He said Hamas had given Israel a list of 450 prisoners and was now conducting negotiations through German mediation regarding the names (Haaretz, October 5, 2009).
Reactions to giving the tape to Israel and the release of the prisoners
|Hamas spokesmen represented the videotape deal as a major achievement for Hamas and its path to the Palestinians and external target audiences.� Hamas made sure to represent itself as working toward the release of all the Palestinian prisoner and not only its own operatives, and as having succeeded far more successfully than Mahmoud Abbas. (Hamas spokesmen were careful to stress the fact that most of the prisoners released were not Hamas operatives.) The spokesman represented the deal as proof that Hamas could impose its conditions on Israel. They repeatedly emphasized the need to continue the �resistance� [i.e., violence and terrorism] and to abduct more soldiers and civilians to effect the release of all the Palestinian prisoners after the Gilad Shalit trade was effected.|
As for the continuation of negotiations to release Gilad Shalit, Hamas spokesmen stated that the success of the videotape deal was a positive step toward completing the trade and that the �ball is now in the Israeli court.� They claimed they did not intend to change their conditions for the final deal. Some of the comments were the following:
Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, referred to the issue in a speech at the events marking the anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem by Salah al-Din (12th century AD). He said that the Palestinian organizations would abducting more soldiers until all the prisoners in Israeli jails had been released (Al-Aqsa TV, October 2, 2009).
Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, congratulated the prisoners who had been released, calling the deal �a deal of free men.� He said that the one small step along Hamas� path had perhaps been complex and difficult, but that it signified that a �respectable deal� could be successful. He stressed that the prisoners belonged to various organizations and that proved that it was in the �national interest� and not a private matter of Hamas. He also praised the Egyptian and German mediation which made the deal possible (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 2, 2009).
Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar stressed the symbolic nature of the release of women prisoners who were, he said, Hamas� top priority. He stressed the fact that only four of them belonged to Hamas. He said that negotiations for the release of others were at their peak and described them as difficult but not impossible. He claimed that one of the main obstacles was Israel�s demand to receive political positions from Hamas in return for completing the deal (Al-Yawm Al-Sabaa, October 2, 2009). Interviewed by a correspondent of an Israeli radio station, he said that during the coming week another round of talks would be held but that there were still differences of opinion between the sides (The Voice of Israel, October 4, 2009). In another interview he minimized his role in the deal, saying he had not been involved to the extent portrayed by the media. However, he said he hoped the prisoner exchange deal would be finalized as soon as possible, but he refused to name a date (Al-Quds TV, October 4, 2009).
Musa Abu Marzuq, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, said that giving Israel the tape was a correct step because it made it possible to know what the captive soldier�s condition was. Those were the first steps in the negotiations. He said that the number of prisoners to be freed in the deal was 1,000. He added that the release of the 20 women prisoners was a great achievement, which questioned the functioning of the Palestinian Authority (Al-Quds TV, October 2, 2009).
Osama al-Muzeini, senior Hamas figure, said that the success of the deal proved that the �resistance� could impose its conditions on Israel (Al-Manar TV, October 2, 2009). He added that Hamas� demand to release 1,000 prisoners was not the final goal and that the movement would continue its efforts to release all the prisoner in Israel jails, including by abducting additional IDF soldiers (Al-Alam TV, October 2, 2009).
Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman, said that the release of the 20 women prisoners was a victory for the resistance and the firm stance of the Palestinian people. He said that it emphasized the failure of gambling on international diplomacy, and that only by abducting soldiers would Hamas succeed in freeing the prisoners. He added that the Palestinians would not soften their position and that this was the way to succeed in realizing their ambitions (Qudsnet website, October 2, 2009).
The Palestinian Authority
The Palestinian Authority praised the deal but remained reserved. A reception was held for the released women by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the Muqataa in Ramallah. He congratulated them and said he hoped others would be released. He said that the release of every prisoner was an achievement, and that there were still 11,000 Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails (Al-Arabiya TV, October 2, 2009). Nabil Shaath, a member of the Fatah�s central committee, said that the Palestinian Authority viewed the release of the Palestinian women favorably and that �the issue of releasing the prisoners was linked to the liberation of the homeland� (BBC, October 2, 2009).
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas meets the released
prisoners at his office�(Wafa News Agency, October 2, 2009).
The other Palestinian terrorist organizations
The other Palestinian terrorist organizations represented the deal as a great achievement and proof that prisoners could be released from Israeli jails through the abduction of Israelis:
Khaled al-Batash, senior figure in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said he had great estimation the �resistance�s� achievement, which had succeeded in imposing its conditions on Israel. He called on the Palestinians to concentrate their efforts on abducting other soldiers to achieve the release of the prisoners held by Israel. He said that abducting soldiers and settlers was an effective way of releasing prisoners (PalToday website, October 2; Al-Alam TV, October 2, 2009).
Jamil Muzhir, a member of the central committee of the PFLP, said that the release of the women prisoners was a victory for the �resistance� and a partial victory on the way to releasing all the prisoners. He said the option of the �resistance� [i.e., terrorism] was the most effective way to release the prisoner from Israel�s jails (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 2, 2009).
Iran and Hezbollah
Ali Larijani, chairman of the Majlis (Iran�s Parliament), praised the release of the Palestinian women and the role played by Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. He said that it was a victory which again illustrated the adherence of the Palestinians to their struggle against Israel. He said the history of the Palestinian �resistance� proved that only a long struggle made Israel surrender to the Palestinians� demands (ISNA,� October 4, 2009).
Hassan Hanizadeh, Iranian commentator on Middle East affairs, said it was a political, security and intelligence victory for Hamas, and that for three years Israeli and French intelligence had not succeeded in discovering where Gaza Strip was being held. He said Khaled Mashaal�s stating that Hamas would abduct other Israeli soldiers showed that Hamas was using a new tactic to utilize its intelligence capabilities to free prisoners (Iranian TV, Channel 1, October 3, 2009).
Hezbollah issued a statement congratulating the women and noting that their release was an achievement which could not have been accomplished without the determination of the �resistance� [i.e. terrorism]. It said that the achievement was an incentive for the �resistance� to continue to its efforts to release all the other prisoners held in Israeli jails (Al-Intiqad, October 4, 2009).
Propaganda attack on the Palestinian Authority following the postponement of the discussion of the Goldstone Report in the UN Council for Human Rights in Geneva
The UN Council for Human Rights in Geneva postponed voting on the adoption of the Goldstone Report and referring it to the UN Security Council until March 2010. According to a �political source in Jerusalem,� the vote, which was supposed to be held on October 2, was postponed after the Palestinian Authority withdrew the draft of the decision (which it intended to bring to a vote). That was because of heavy pressure brought to bear by the American administration through its representatives in Geneva, and through direct contacts between Washington and Ramallah. The Americans told the Palestinians that the renewal of the peace process came before dealing with the Goldstone Report, and therefore it was necessary to avoid any step that might harm the changes of renewing negotiations (Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgavaya for Haaretz, October 2; Frank Jordans from Geneva, AP, October 1, 2009).
|Postponing the vote on the Goldstone Report led to scathing criticism and a propaganda attack against the Palestinian Authority both in the internal Palestinian arena and in the Arab-Muslim world. In the front line was Hamas (supported by Iran and Syria), which is trying to derail the peace process, and regard the defamation of Israel through the biased Goldstone Report as a means of undermining the process, and as a way of slinging mud at the Palestinian Authority.|
The smear campaign against the Palestinian Authority was led by Hamas (despite reports of progress in the internal Palestinian dialogue), which exploited the affair to embarrass the� Palestinian Authority leadership. Hamas held protests in the Gaza Strip, centering on a mass rally in Rafah on October 3. The rally included the display of a coffin labeled �The Fayyad government.� Musheir al-Masri, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, gave a speech denouncing �Mahmoud Abbas and his gang� for �betraying the blood of the shaheeds by plotting with the Satans� [i.e., Israel and the United States] (Al-Aqsa TV, October 3, Fajr al-Islam lil-I�lam website, October 4; Qudspress website, October 4, 2009).
Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, said that in deciding not to adopt the Goldstone Report, the Palestinian Authority was �trading in the blood of the women and children� killed during Operation Cast Lead. He falsely claimed that the Palestinian Authority�s conduct in the matter was what had encouraged the �Zionist settlers� to break into Al-Aqsa mosque and commit their �crimes� there (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 4, 2009).� Muhammad Faraj al-Ghoul, minister of justice in the de-facto Hamas administration, claimed that the Palestinian Authority had decided to withdraw its adoption of the report to minimize the political achievement Hamas had made by obtaining the release of the women prisoners in the videotape deal (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, October 4, 2009).
Hamas� smear campaign against the Palestinian Authority
Left: �News that the Palestinian Authority repudiates the Goldstone report� (Felesteen, October� 4, 2009). Right: �The Palestinian Authority defers discussion of the Goldstone Report�� (Felesteen, October 6, 2009).
The criticism led Palestinian Authority spokesmen to repudiate the accusations:
Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority was not responsible for the deferral because it was not a member of the Human Rights Council. He said that Russian, the United States, Europe and China had done so with the agreement of the relevant Arab, African and Islamic elements (Al-Jazeera TV, October 4, 2009).
Ibrahim Kharisha, Palestinian representative at UN headquarters in Geneva, who had attended the Human Rights Council meeting, told Al-Jazeera TV that the vote had been postponed to achieve an international consensus for the report. He said that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO had accepted it, and he rejected the allegations that the Palestinian Authority had retracted its support (Al-Jazeera TV, October 2, Al-Sharq Radio, October 2, 2009). In addition, Kharisha wrote an article for Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda stating that the Goldstone Report was �objective� and that �the Palestinian people will not forgive the international community if it does not punish Israel for the crimes it committed against it� (Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, September 30, 2009).
Nabil Abu Rudeina, presidential spokesman, said that the Human Rights Council had postponed its decision following requests from Russia, the United States and Europe, and with the agreement of the other groups. He denied that the Palestinian Authority had asked him to withdraw or cancel the decision to adopt the report (Wafa News Agency, October 2, 2009).
Nimr Hamad, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said that a few countries had reservations about the report and that the Human Rights Council felt it would be better to wait until wider support could be mustered. He said that the report had not changed even though the vote had been postponed (Russian Al-Yawm TV, October 2, 2009).
In the end, on� October 3 the PLO�s Executive Committee, with instructions from Mahmoud Abbas, voted to appoint a committee to investigate the circumstances leading to the Human Rights Council�s decision and to find out who was responsible. The committee is supposed to present its conclusions to the Executive Committee within two weeks. To give the committee an air of neutrality it includes three members who do not belong to Fatah. It is headed by Hana Ameira, a member of the PLO�s Executive Committee, and include Dr. Azmi al-Shaibi, responsible for Palestinian NGOs, and Iman Varami al-Hamdallah, secretary of the Central Elections Committee (Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, October 5; Wafa News Agency, October 4, 2009). In response Hamas said that by appointing the committee Mahmoud Abbas was trying to fool the Palestinians and evade his political responsibility (October 5, 2009).
In Ramallah a protest march and rally were held in Manara Square, organized by the PFLP and attended by hundreds of Palestinians. The demonstrators carried signs protesting the postponement of the discussions and denouncing the negotiations with Israel. They called for those in the Palestinian Authority who were responsible for the postponement to be judged and dismissed (Wafa News Agency, Filastin al-�An website, October 5, 2009).
Demonstration in Ramallah against the decision to postpone discussion
of the Goldstone Report (Al-Aqsa TV, October 5, 2009).
In the Muslim-Arab arena Syria and Iran were quick to denounce the delay. A source within the Syrian foreign ministry said that Syria would continue to work in the international arena to settle accounts with �those who carried out those inhuman crimes� (Syrian News Agency, October 4, 2009). A spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry expressed sorrow at the postponement, saying that Goldstone Report �proved� that the �Zionist regime� had made extensive use of unconventional weapons in the Gaza Strip (ISNA, October 5, 2009).
The Peace Process
Another round of talks in the United States
Saeb Erekat, chief PLO negotiator, arrived in the United States on September 30 for another round of talks with American envoy George Mitchell and senior American personnel. At a press conference he claimed that the delay in relaunching the negotiations was caused by Israel�s continued activity in the settlements. He added that the Palestinians did not want a new initiative because, he claimed, the situation was clear: Israel had to stop all activities in the settlement, including building for natural growth. Only when that condition was met would the negotiations begin again (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, October 3, 2009).
The Internal Palestinian Arena
Hamas releases 50 Jund Ansar Allah operatives for Eid al-Fitr
As Hamas continued it smear campaign against the Palestinian Authority, the Egyptian foreign ministry announced that it intended to invite all the Palestinian organizations to sign a reconciliation agreement on October 22 (QudsNews website, October 3, 2009).
According to a report in the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram, the agreement includes a return the political situation in the Gaza Strip to the status quo ante of June 2007 before the Hamas takeover. According to the agreement, control of the Gaza Strip will be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, which will include the return of its security apparatuses to the Gaza Strip (Al-Ahram, October 3, 2009). In addition, stated the report, during a meeting between Khaled Mashaal and Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian general intelligence, an agreement was reached according to which elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, the presidency and the Palestinian National Council would be held on June 25, 2010 (Al-Hayat, October 4, 2009).
Jibril Rajoub, deputy secretary of Fatah�s Central Committee, said that Egypt would invite all the Palestinians sides to sign a reconciliation agreement on October 22 to close the rift. Representatives of the Palestinian organizations would arrive in Cairo on October 20 and hold meetings before they signed. He said Egypt had told the Palestinian Authority that Hamas agreed to the reconciliation and to holding the elections in June 2010. He also said that Hamas had agreed to integrate 3,000 Palestinian Authority security operatives currently in the Gaza Strip into its security forces (Agence France-Presse, October 1, 2009).
On the other hand, senior Fatah figure Muhammad Dahlan said that there were still a number of fundamental points of dissention between Hamas and Fatah, especially Hamas� reservations regarding the issue of establishing a joint committee of all the organizations to connect the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas administration. In addition, he said, Hamas insisted on supervising the joint security force in the Gaza Strip, which, by implication, should be subordinate to the Palestinian Authority (Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, October 5, 2009).
1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
2 �On September 25, 2009, the Israeli Air Force struck a Palestinian Islamic Jihad squad in the northern Gaza Strip which was planning to fire rockets into Israel. Three of the operatives were killed.
3 After he was released and expelled from Jerusalem, he said that �the decision to expel me [from Jerusalem] was taken at the historic stage [facing] Al-Aqsa mosque, in which the [Israeli] occupation seeks to distance Muslims from it in preparation for establishing the temple which [the Jews] falsely claim [existed]� (Al-Jazeera TV, October 5, 2009).
5 �So far they had received four letters and one audio cassette (IDF Spokesman, October 2, 2009).