Salam Fayyad presents his plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
Al-Alam TV, August 25, 3009
Mahmoud Abbas visits Qatar
Salam Fayyad presents his plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state
(Wafa News Agency, August 26, 2009).
This past week there was a slight increase of attacks initiated by terrorist networks operating in the Gaza Strip. A rocket was fired at the western Negev and in two separate incidents Israeli civilians working near the Gaza security fence were shot at. In response the Israeli Air Force attacked a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip. In Judea and Samaria there were a number of incidents, including the attempted stabbing of two IDF soldiers, the planting of an IED, and the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad presented his government�s plans for the construction of functioning administrative systems for a Palestinian state within two years. The plan is supposed to promote a series of reforms in administration, the urban system, legal and judicial institutions, internal security, education and the economy. Hamas is extremely critical of the plan
Rocket fire and gunshot fire at civilians
This past week there was an escalation of attacks originating in the Gaza Strip. On August 29 a rocket hit was identified near a village in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done. In addition, in two separate incidents Israeli civilians working near the security fence were shot at:
On August 30 Palestinians opened fire at Israeli civilians conducting an engineering project near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, August 30, 2009).
On August 27 Palestinians opened fire at Israeli civilians engaged in non-military activities near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties and no damage was done. �(IDF Spokesman, August 27, 2009). The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack (Official PFLP website, August 27, 2009).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israeli territory
since the end of Operation Cast Lead1
Israeli Air Force operations
In response to the rocket fire, on August 29 the Israeli Air Force attacked a tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip (apparently the source of the rocket fire). A hit on the tunnel was identified. According to reports in the Palestinian media, no one was hurt (Ma�an News Agency, August 30, 2009).
Hamas spokesmen in the Gaza Strip blame Israel for the escalation
Following the deaths of five Palestinians in a retaliatory IDF action in the Gaza Strip (Israeli Air Force strikes on August 24-25), Hamas spokesmen accused Israel of escalation and related to the lull in the fighting:
Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas de-facto administration, condemned what he called �Israeli escalation,� but noted that the organizations in the Gaza Strip were continuing to adhere to the lull in the fighting (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, August 25, 2009).
Ismail Radwan, spokesman for the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that Israel would bear the results of the escalation, which, he said, was meant to inflame the situation in the Gaza Strip, and that the Palestinians had the right to defend themselves (Al-Bayan Center website, the Gulf States, August 25, 2009).
- Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman, called the Israeli Air Force�s retaliatory strike �crimes against humanity.� He said Israel was not content with imposing a �siege� on the Gaza Strip, but was now attacking the �besieged� (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, August 25, 2009).
Smuggling tunnels near Rafah (southern Gaza Strip) after the Israeli Air Force strike
(Al-Alam TV, August 25, 3009).
Judea and Samaria
There were a number of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria this past week, which included the attempted stabbing of IDF soldiers, the planting of an IED, and the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails:
August 31: A terrorist squad threw a number of Molotov cocktails at an IDF post near Beit-El, north of Ramallah. Three of the Palestinians were hit by IDF return fire. Among them were a 15-year old boy, who was critically wounded and later died (IDF Spokesman, Wafa News Agency, September 1, 2009).
August 30: Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli bus southwest of Hebron. There were no casualties but the bus was damaged. Stones were also thrown at Israeli vehicles south of Nablus. There were no casualties but the vehicles were damaged (IDF Spokesman, August 30, 2009).
August 27: An IED exploded near the border fence south of Ramallah. There were no casualties but the fence was damaged. The so-called Imad Moughnieh squad of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack (QudsNet website, August 27, 2009). In Nablus an IDF force uncovered a pipe bomb, which was detonated by IDF demolitions experts (IDF Spokesman, August 27, 2009).
August 26: Palestinians threw stones at a bus and other Israeli vehicles north of Hebron. There were no casualties and no damage was done. Near a village southeast of Qalqilya three Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles. There were no casualties but the vehicles were damaged (IDF Spokesman, August 26, 2009).
August 26: A Palestinian attempted to stab two soldiers at a roadblock in Hebron. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman, August 26, 2009).
The Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria and detained several dozen suspected Palestinians in Bethlehem, Jericho, Jenin and Qalqilya.
Developments in the Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip crossings
The Erez, Karni, Kerem Shalom and Nahal Oz crossings were open this past week, and 516 trucks carrying supplies passed through.
The Rafah crossing was opened for three days (August 26-28). During the first two days about 400 pilgrims passed through, and on the third day about 500 people.
Ghazi Hamad, Hamas head of the crossings authority in the Gaza Strip, reported that a plan had been prepared to improve the administrative and security work at all the crossings. He said that the administration had allotted a budget for the Erez crossing, which would be used to fence it in, install caravans and large overhead sun shelters, provide computers and increase security activity. There is also a plan to develop the Kerem Shalom crossing (Felesteen, August 31, 2009).
�IEDs explode near Hamas security installations
On the night of August 29 two IEDs exploded a few minutes apart in the western section of Gaza City near Hamas security installations. Hamas security forces were deployed throughout the city and searched the streets for suspects. �Security sources� in Gaza reported that two additional devices had been neutralized. According to assessments in the Gaza Strip, the bombs had been planted by Jund Ansar Allah networks in retaliation for the violent suppression of their operatives on August 14 (BBC Radio in Arabic, Hamas�s PALDF forum, August 30, 2009).
Criticism of the tunnel industry
The tunnel industry continues claiming victims. Ma�an News Agency reported that three Gazans were killed and one was critically injured when a tunnel between the Gaza Strip and Egypt collapsed. The collapse occurred when a sewage pipe burst inside the tunnel (Ma�an News Agency, August 28, 2009). Muhammad Abdallah, a member of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, said that during the past three years there have been 107 tunnel-connected fatalities and that more than 500 people have been wounded (Al-Ayyam, August 30, 2009).
In view of the casualties, and because of various matters of principle, the criticism of the tunnel industry continues. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine�s workers� faction held a meeting in Rafah, attended by Rafah mayor Issa al-Nashar, to discuss the issue of the tunnels. Ziyyad Jaroun, a member of the DFLP central committee, claimed that the tunnels had done what Israel wanted, they had made the Gaza Strip economically dependent on Egypt. He criticized the Hamas administration, which had promised it would oversee the merchandise entering the Gaza Strip through the tunnels, but in reality it did not control prices or protect the security of the tunnel workers.
Criticism of the Islamization of the educational system
The decision of the educational system of the Hamas de-facto administration in the Gaza Strip to require schoolgirls to wear traditional Islamic clothing has led to criticism, primarily from secular organizations opposed to Hamas. The DFLP issued a statement accusing Hamas of continuing its Islamization of the Gaza Strip, after having enforced religious dress on the courts and broadcasting authority (Al-Ayyam, August 26, 2009). The People�s Party called on Gazans to object to religious dress in the schools, labeling the Hamas decision �illegal.� The Palestinian Women�s Association criticized the decision and called on Hamas to immediately stop its violations of individual rights (Al-Quds website, August 25, 2009).
However, Mahmoud Abu Haseira, head of the educational administration for the western Gaza Strip, called on schoolgirls to wear traditional Islamic dress, saying that all they are being asked to do is wear �wide clothing.� He also noted that the educational administration had decided to prevent men from entering girls� schools regardless of age, including teachers and principals (Agence France-Presse, August 23, 2009).
Hamas continues its propaganda attack against UNRWA because of its intention to include Holocaust studies in the curriculum
Hamas, which strives for exclusive control of the educational system in the Gaza Strip, customarily attacks the UNRWA and its head, John Ging, accusing them of corrupting Palestinian morality.2 This past week Hamas waged a propaganda attack against UNRWA because of its intention to include Holocaust studies in the curriculum for the coming school year. �The Popular Committees for Refugee Affairs,� a group affiliated with Hamas, criticized UNRWA and its head, John Ging, for a number of decisions recently made. The Committees criticized the decision to include Holocaust studies in the 8th grade curriculum (as part of human rights studies), claiming that the Holocaust had yet to be scientifically proven and that the studies were liable to lead to the students� identifying with the Jews. They completely refused to have their children �study the fiction invented by the Zionists� (Filastin al-�An website, August 30, 2009).
A senior figure in the Hamas administration Ministry of Education said that the ministry intended to meet with UNRWA and demand that the subject be removed from the curriculum. Yunis al-Astel, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that UNRWA�s decision to teach about the Holocaust in the schools was �a war crime and an attempt to spread lies which would support and serve the Zionists� (Filastin al-Yawm, August 30, 2009).
The Peace Process
The American administration is initiating a trilateral meeting between President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. It is supposed to take place outside the UN General Assembly meeting this September. Palestinian sources close to Mahmoud Abbas reported that he agreed to attend the meeting (Sama website, August 26, 2009). On the other hand, Yasser Abd Rabbo, secretary of the PLO�s executive committee, speaking on the official Palestinian Authority radio station, denied the news items about the meeting and said that �they were �balloons Israel is sending up� to show it is not isolated and continue its policy of settlement, especially in Jerusalem (The Voice of Palestine Radio, August 26, 2009).
During his visit to Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas said that �if the building in the settlements is not frozen and Israel does not take a clear stand, such matters [apparently the intention to hold the trilateral meeting] are out of the question� (Al-Jazeera TV, August 30, 2009).
Mahmoud Abbas visits Qatar (Wafa News Agency, August 30, 2009).
The Internal Palestinian Arena
The Palestinian National Council meets to elect the PLO�s executive committee
Mahmoud Abbas successfully refreshed the PLO leadership as a step in completing the elections to the new Fatah leadership. That was done to strengthen his position before the elections for the head of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council (PNC) in 2010. On August 26 deliberations began in the PNC. Six new members were elected to the PLO�s 16-member executive committee (some new members were elected and some appointed by the PNC). The new members are Abu Alaa�, Saeb Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi, Ahmed Majdalani, Hana Amira and Salah Rafat.
In his speech before the PNC, Mahmoud Abbas said that there would soon be progress in the negotiations with Israel, and claimed that the Palestinians has met all their commitments as specified by the Road Map. He stressed the importance of strengthening the PLO�s political position, since it was the legitimate basis for making political decision. He added that the Palestinian Authority would adhere to the Palestinian peace initiative which had been ratified by the PNC in 1988 (Al-Jazeera TV, August 26, 2009).
Mahmoud Abbas� decision to convene the Palestinian National Council was met with criticism from Hamas spokesmen:
Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas de-facto administration, said that �convening the PNC would reinforce the political schism between Hamas and Fatah� (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, August 26, 2009).
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, blamed Mahmoud Abbas for the failure of the internal Palestinian dialogue and repeated Hamas� objections to Fatah�s representing the Palestinian Authority elections as sthe main issue of the dialogue (Al-Quds TV, August 26, 2009).
Elections to the Palestinian Authority institutions
In an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on August 31, Mahmoud Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority was facing two important issues. One was the establishment of a national unity government, if Hamas agreed. The other issue was the elections. He said that if a national unity government were not established, �we will announce elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council and presidency in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, since that must be done before January 24, 2010.� �Senior Palestinian sources� said that Mahmoud Abbas was determined to issue a presidential edict to the central elections committee in October 2009, which would instruct it to make full preparations for holding the elections for the presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council at the appointed time (January 2010) (Ma�an News Agency, August 28, 2009).
Dr. Salam Fayyad presents his plan for constructing
functioning governmental systems within two years
At a press conference on August 25 Palestinian Prime Minister, Dr. Salam Fayyad, presented his government�s plan for constructing the institutions of the Palestinian state by 2011 as a means of removing the �Israeli occupation� from the Palestinian territories. He added that the Palestinian Authority planned to unilaterally proclaim the establishment of the Palestinian state during 2011, because �the Palestinian people cannot wait forever for the final arrangement after the interim stage which, according to the Oslo Accords, ended in 1999� (Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, August 26, 2009; Wafa News Agency and the Palestinian News Agency, August 25, 2009).
Salam Fayyad�s plan is intended to promote a series of reforms in the administration, urban system, legal and judicial institutions, and internal security, educational and economic systems. His stated objective is to complete the reforms and establish functioning, effective administrative systems within two years without dependence on the peace process with Israel. The plan has four main topics: administration, society, economy and infrastructure. It includes a section called �national goals� which contains an article stating that East Jerusalem must be the eternal capital of the future Palestinian state. An article dealing with �defense of the refugee issue� notes that any solution has to be based on UN Resolution 194 (The plan was published by Wafa News Agency, August 25, 2009).
Hamas spokesmen strongly criticized the plan:
Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, said that �Fayyad�s document is not legal because his government is not legal.� He claimed that the document relates to the unilateral proclamation of the establishment of a Palestinian state within two years while Israel is not committed to anything (Hamas� Palestine-Info website, August 25, 2009).
Khalil Abu Layla, in charge of Hamas� foreign relations, told Iranian television in Arabic that Fayyad�s plan was �a kind of cover for the Palestinian Authority�s crimes against the resistance� [i.e., Hamas and the other terrorist organizations operating in Judea and Samaria] (Al-Alam TV, August 25, 2009).
Translating the names of town and village signs in Judea and Samaria into Arabic
A correspondent for Al-Hayat in Ramallah reported that on August 27 the Palestinian Authority initiated a project, the first of its kind since 1967, to translate road and regional signs in the West Bank into Arabic. The new signs will show the names of cities, streets, villages and refugee camps in Arabic and English.
Dr. Saadi al-Karnaz, minister of transportation in the Salam Fayyad government, told Al-Hayat that �the project is one of various government projects whose objective is to lay the foundation for a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.� He said that the new signs, which have begun to be erected in the Ramallah region, do not include the names of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank because as far as the Palestinians and international community are concerned, they are illegal. He said that the first step of the project would be carried out in Palestinian areas A and B, and later the Palestinians would insist on continuing into area C, which is under Israeli political and security control. Howard Sumka, head of USAID, which is financing the project, told the Al-Hayat correspondent that the project was part of America�s aid toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and that it supported of the vision of the Palestinian prime minister (Al-Hayat, August 28, 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 For further information see our July 28, 2009 bulletin �The Islamization process promoted by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and its social and political implications on the local, the Middle Eastern, and the international scenes� at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e076.pdf.