News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (June 30-July 7, 2009)

Hamas summer camps open throughout the Gaza Strip

Hamas summer camps open throughout the Gaza Strip

Rocket and mortar shell fire since the end of Operation Cast Lead

Rocket and mortar shell fire since the end of Operation Cast Lead

Abd al-Rahman bin Khalil Talalqeh

Abd al-Rahman bin Khalil Talalqeh

Hamas�s summer camps open (Al-Aqsa TV, July 4, 2009).

Hamas�s summer camps open (Al-Aqsa TV, July 4, 2009).

The homepage of the Safa news agency website

The homepage of the Safa news agency website

Educating the younger generation…
Hamas summer camps open throughout the Gaza Strip
Hamas summer camps open throughout the Gaza Strip, a traditional
means of indoctrinating Gazan youth (Al-Aqsa TV, July 4, 2009).


 This past week as well neither rockets nor mortar shells were fired into the western Negev from the Gaza Strip. There were more frequent shooting attacks targeting IDF patrols along the border security fence than in past weeks. Senior Hamas figures publicly admitted that the various terrorist organizations had agreed to refrain from firing rockets and mortar shells but denied that Hamas used force to compel the rogue organizations to accept its policy. This week it was revealed that on June 1, 2009 a Popular Resistance Committees terrorist was detained in Israel . He was dispatched into Israel to establish a network and carry out various kinds of terrorist attacks.

 In the internal Palestinian arena, another round of talks ended in Cairo without making progress in the Fatah-Hamas dialogue. Both sides continue detaining the other’s operatives. The Palestinian Authority has also taken action against Hamas funds and is working to increase its supervision of the mosques, which are a focus of Hamas influence.

Important Events

The Gaza Strip

Rocket and mortar shell fire

 During the past week no rocket hits were identified and no mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory.

 Several mortar shells were fired at IDF forces on routine patrol along the border security fence. Prominent events were the following:

•  On July 2 an IDF patrol was fired on south of the Karni crossing. The soldiers returned fire. According to reports in the Palestinian media, a girl was killed and several other civilians were wounded (Qudsnet website, Ma’an News Agency, July 2, 2009).

•  On July 5 three mortar shells were fired at an IDF patrol near the Sufa crossing. The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees claimed responsibility for the attack (Qawm website, July 5, 2009).

Rocket and mortar shell fire since the end of Operation Cast Lead

Rocket and mortar shell fire since the end of Operation Cast Lead

Testing a new rocket

 According to a surfer on a Fatah website, Hamas test-fired a new rocket, launched from the Zeitun neighborhood in Gaza City into the sea. He said the rocket, which he claimed to have seen with his own eyes, was unlike either Qassam or a Grad (Fatah forum, July 5, 2009).

Hamas’s rocket and mortar shell fire policy

 Musa Abu Marzuq , deputy head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus , referred to Hamas’s rocket-firing policy during an interview on television. He said that even if an agreement for a lull in the fighting were not achieved, the various organizations had agreed among themselves to refrain from firing rockets. However, he admitted that there were organizations which �took exception to the agreement� and were firing rockets and mortar shells into Israel . He claimed that Hamas did not act against the rogue groups and did not detain their operatives or confiscate their weapons, because Hamas supported the organizations in everything concerning the rocket-firing policy (Al-Jazeera TV, July 5, 2009). 1

Israeli security forces detain a terrorist operative who was dispatched

into Israel from the Gaza Strip to set up a terrorist network

 On June 1, a joint Israel Security Agency-Israeli Police operation led to the arrest of Abd al-Rahman bin Khalil Talalqeh , 25, from the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. He infiltrated into Israeli on June 1 with the intention of establishing a network of terrorist operatives and carrying out various terrorist attacks. On July 5 he was indicted at the magistrate’s court in Beersheba .

 During interrogation he spoke about his military training and the exercises he was given by Popular Resistance Committees operatives in the southern Gaza Strip. The training included firing various weapons, manufacturing chemical compounds (used in making explosives and improvised weapons), rigging car bombs, preparing explosive belts and bags, detonating IEDs, using GPS devices, map reading and geographical orientation in collecting information. 2

Abd al-Rahman bin Khalil Talalqeh
Abd al-Rahman bin Khalil Talalqeh

(Photo courtesy of the Israel Security Agency, July 5, 2009).

Molotov cocktails and stones thrown in Judea and Samaria

 Molotov cocktails and stones continue to be thrown in Judea and Samaria . The most prominent attacks were the following:

•  On July 4 an IDF soldier was slightly hurt when stones were thrown at a routine patrol south of Bethlehem .

•  On July 2 a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli vehicle east of Qalqilya. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

•  On July 1 two Israeli civilians were slightly hurt when Palestinians threw stones and the driver lost control of the car, near the Jewish settlement in Hebron . An Israeli woman was slightly hurt when Palestinians threw stones at her vehicle southeast of Qalqilya . Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at an Israeli vehicle southwest of Bethlehem .

The Gaza Strip after Operation Cast Lead

A Free Gaza ship stopped at sea by the Israeli Navy

 On June 30 the Israeli Navy took control of Free Gaza ship which was sailing from Cyprus to the Gaza Strip. An Israeli Navy boat hailed the ship when it became clear it was heading for the Gaza Strip shore and made it clear that because the Gaza Strip was closed to maritime traffic and because of the inherent security risks in the area, it would not be permitted to continue. Despite the warning, the ship continued on course toward the Gaza Strip. For that reason and in view of the fact that warnings had been disregarded, the Israeli Navy boad took over the ship and sailed it to the Ashdod port, where its humanitarian assistance was unloaded and transported overland to the Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, June 30, 2009).

Pro-Palestinian activists arrive from America

 On July 5 a delegation of 100 pro-Palestinian American activists belonging to an organization called Viva Palestina arrived in Egypt . It was headed by British MP George Galway , who said they were waiting for additional activists and would organize to enter the Gaza Strip together. He said that the activists were bringing a million dollars for �non-government institutions� (Al-Jazeera TV, July 4, 2009). It can be assumed that Hamas, which is careful to control external aid funds, will channel the money to its own purposes .

Entrenching Hamas control of the Gaza Strip

Hamas increases its activity at the crossings

 The Hamas de-facto administration has set up an entity called �the directors’ council,� a body subordinate to the Gaza Strip crossings administration of its interior ministry. The new entity will be responsible for controlling the crossings from the Palestinian side (Sawt Al-Aqsa website, July 6, 2009).

Islamizing the Gaza Strip

 Hamas’s Islamizing of the Gaza Strip continues. Yunis al-Astal, Hamas representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council, admitted that Hamas translated religious Islamic law into civil laws and regulations, but claimed that it was a gradual process (Hamas website in Khan Yunis, June 28, 2009).

 On July 4 Hamas summer camps opened with the stated theme of �Victory for Gaza , honor for Jerusalem .� At the opening ceremonies Yunis al-Astal, Hamas representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council, attacked UNRWA’s summer camps, saying that they were intended to �influence the ideology of the younger generation and prepare it to agree to normalization with the enemy.� He also attacked UNRWA summer camps, claiming that in the past there were camps in which �the youth learned to dance, the sexes mingled, and even worse than the ones where boys and girls went on a joint trip to Western countries with Jewish youth� (Hamas website in Khan Yunis, Safa News Agency, July 4, 2009).

Hamas�s summer camps open (Al-Aqsa TV, July 4, 2009).
Hamas�s summer camps open (Al-Aqsa TV, July 4, 2009).

 Hamas has increased its enforcement of the Islamic code in the Gaza Strip. The ministry of endowments initiated a campaign whose theme was �yes to goodness, no to abomination.� Its goal was �to stamp out immorality in the Gaza Strip.� �Immorality� was defined as going out for a night’s entertainment, events in which both sexes participated, corruption, Internet caf�s, women’s clothing considered revealing, etc. The campaign would be enforced by the Hamas police force (PalPress website, July 4, 2009). For example, Asma al-Ghoul, a Palestinian correspondent who writes for Al-Ayyam , was detained by the Hamas security forces when she was on a Gazan beach without a head covering (Al-Arabiya TV, July 3, 2009). The Hamas security forces troll the beaches looking for couples violating the modesty laws, and visit hotels looking for unmarried couples. They also confiscate the alcohol smuggled into the Gaza Strip through the crossings (Avi Issacharoff in Haaretz , July 6, 2009).

 Hamas’s ministry of justice has trained close to 30 lawyers and judges in the Shari’a (Islamic religious law) ( Felesteen , June 30, 2009). The Hamas reconciliation committees (which are Islamic in nature) continue resolving inter-clan disputes of the sort which were previously resolved by independent reconciliation committees.

Hamas-affiliated news agency established

 On July 5 a newly-established Palestinian news agency called Safa opened (with a name similar in sound to the Palestinian Authority’s Wafa News Agency). Its offices are in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City . Its directors claim that dozens of its correspondents are already scattered throughout the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria , Jerusalem , Israel and the refugee camps in Syria and Lebanon . The agency is headed by Yasser Abu Hin , affiliated with Hamas, who previously managed Hamas’s PalMedia news website.

 Establishing a news website in the Gaza Strip is part of Hamas’s intensive efforts to rebuild, reinforce and extend its media empire , which took hits during Operation Cast Lead. Allotting resources and giving priority to rebuilding its media illustrate the importance Hamas gives to the battle for hearts and minds both with the Palestinian populations in the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria as wall as abroad.

The homepage of the Safa news agency website
The homepage of the Safa news agency website (safa.sp, July 7, 2009).

The Political Front

Remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

 At the beginning of the July 5 meeting of the Israeli government, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the negotiations with the Palestinians, saying that the Palestinians had to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. He said that the problem of the refugees would be solved outside the borders of the State of Israel, and that Israel would receive defendable borders, including the demilitarization of the Palestinian-controlled area (Israeli Prime Minister’s office, July 5, 2009).

 Interviewed by Al-Filastiniyya (Fatah’s new television station 3), Mahmoud Abbas said that accepting the two-state principle and freezing construction in the settlements were not pre-conditions for negotiations, but the demands of the international community, headed by the United States. He added that Netanyahu did not intend to negotiate about Jerusalem , the 1967 borders and the refugees, and wondered what there was to negotiate about (Al-Filastiniyya, July 6, 2009).

 Hamas has made it clear that even if a Palestinian state were established it would not recognize Israel . Hamas de-facto administration spokesman Taher al-Nunu said that Hamas would not even recognize Israel within the 1967 borders, because � Israel occupies Palestinian lands within the green line,� i.e., all of the State of Israel is �occupied.� He said that the continuing �occupation� necessitated �resistance� [i.e., terrorism] and not normalization ( Al-Mashad Al-Siyasi , July 6, 2009). Musa Abu Marzuq , deputy head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus , said that Hamas wanted to establish a Palestinian state, but made it clear that that would not mean recognizing �the Zionist entity,� and that relations with it would be based on a cease fire and not mutual recognition (Al-Quds, June 29, 2009).

The Internal Palestinian Arena

The internal Palestinian dialogue

 On June 30 another round of talks between Fatah and Hamas ended in Cairo without progress having been made . Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas de-facto administration in the Gaza Strip, said that the talks were difficult and tense because Fatah’s stubbornness over the issue of the detainees whose release Hamas demands, and because of what he termed its �acts of hostility� toward Hamas in the West Bank (Hamas’s Palestine-Info website, July 1, 2009). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Hamas did not intend to back down on the issue of the detainees (QudsPress News Agency, July 1, 2009). In a Friday sermon he gave on July 3, Haniya added that �outside intervention� in the dialogue and Fatah’s yielding to it were the main obstacles to reaching an agreement (Al-Aqsa TV, July 3, 2009).

 In the Gaza Strip, as in Judea and Samaria , mutual detentions continued . According to Hamas data, in June the Palestinian Authority detained more than 470 of its activists, three of whom were killed (Imana, a Hamas West Bank website, July 2, 2009). According to Fatah data, more than 190 of its activists were detained and interrogated (Wafa News Agency, July 2, 2009). Sources within the Palestinian Authority’s security forces told the Israeli daily Haaretz that a Hamas-affiliated squad had been detained which had planned to attack senior Palestinian Authority figures and among others, had followed the movements of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. According to the sources, when the squad was captured it had in its possession weapons, maps and pictures of senior Palestinian figures. The squad operated in the Ramallah region, directed by Hamas both in the Gaza Strip and abroad (Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz , July 3, 2009).

 The Palestinian Authority has also taken steps against Hamas funds . On July 4 the Palestinian Authority security forces in Ramallah detained a Palestinian who had �3 million in his possession, which, sources within the security forces claimed, he had received from Hamas. They said that the Palestinian was connected to the Hamas plot to kill Palestinian Authority figures; the plot was exposed during an interrogation on July 2 (Ramattan News Agency, July 4, 2009). A spokesman for the PA security forces, Brigadier General Adnan al-Samiri, said that in recent months the security forces had confiscated �8.5 million intended to strengthen Hamas in the West Bank (Ma’an News Agency, July 5, 2009). On July 6 the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jareeda reported that in addition to the euros, in recent months $23 million which had arrived for Hamas from Beirut had also been confiscated. The funds were transferred by businessmen and money changers in return for large commissions. Hamas rejected accusations that the funds had been earmarked for the purchase of weapons, claiming that it was private money and not Hamas funds, and belonged to charitable societies and institutions (PalToday website, July 5, 2009).

 While the Palestinian Authority security forces carry out security operations, the ministry of religious endowments in the Salam Fayyad government continues activities intended to increase PA supervision of the contents of the sermons delivered in the mosques in the West Bank . One of the steps will be to formulate a unified format for the Friday sermons, and the employment of the imams and muezzins in the mosques will be arranged to prevent intervention and influence on what they say [i.e., Hamas’s influence] (Wafa News Agency, June 3, 2009). Hamas accused the ministry of religious endowments of using the mosques for political purposes (Hamas’s PALDF forum, June 6, 2009). Hamas also accused the Palestinian Authority government of firing teachers because of the their political leanings ( Felesteen , July 1, 2009).

The Palestinian Authority prevents the Liberation Party from holding a conference

 The radical Islamic Liberation Party was supposed to hold its annual conference in Ramallah on July 4 to mark the anniversary of the dissolution of the Islamic Caliphate ( Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda , June 30, 2009). Shortly before the event the Palestinian Authority security forces in Ramallah deployed and prevented it from being held. Adnan al-Samiri, PA security forces spokesman, said that the Liberation Party had asked for authorization to hold the conference, but that its organizers insisted on holding it at a venue of their own choosing and not the closed location they had been authorized to use (Ma’an News Agency, July 4, 2009). 4

1 In reality Hamas does try to impose its policy of restraint on the other terrorist organizations, but it refrains from admitting it in public because it does not want to seem to oppose the �resistance� (i.e., terrorism) ideology.

2 Our bulletin entitled �The Israeli security forces detained Abd al-Rahman Talalqeh, a Popular Resistance Committees operative in the Gaza Strip who infiltrated into Israel through Sinai to establish a network to carry out attacks� is available in Hebrew on our website and will soon be available in English.

3 Our bulletin about Al-Filastiniyya is available in Hebrew on our website and will soon be available in English.

4 Last year the Palestinian security forces in Judea and Samaria prevented the Liberation Party from holding a series of conferences. The Islamic Liberation Party is an Islamic movement established in 1953 in East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule. Since its establishment its objective has been to revive the Islamic Caliphate and institute Islamic law by preaching ( da’wah ) and indoctrination.