The Palestinian Authority leadership at a Nakba Day ceremony in Ramallah. The banner in the background reads ''The return is [our] right and the will of the people''
Violent confrontation between settlers and Palestinians
Fawzi Barhoum at a press conference after the meeting in Cairo
Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Qatar
The new Palestinian government
Confrontations and riots in Ramallah on Nakba Day
Confrontations and riots in Ramallah on Nakba Day
The Nakba Day rally in Ramallah
Ismail Haniya greets the members of the convoys
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israel's south. An IDF force opened fire at a Palestinian terrorist squad near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported seven wounded.
- A new Palestinian Authority government was appointed, headed by Salam Fayyad. The main change was the transfer of the ministry of the treasury to Nabil Qassis. In Cairo, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement which is supposed to renew the internal Palestinian reconciliation process.
- Nakba Day, which focused on the theme of the so-called "right of return," passed without exceptional incident. Palestinian youths confronted IDF forces at several of the traditional friction points in Judea and Samaria. Protest demonstrations were held in Jordan and Egypt, and slogans were heard denouncing their connections with Israel.
- This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israel's south.
Rockets Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Notes: The figures for March include 50 rockets intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome aerial defense system during the most recent round of escalation. In April three rockets were fired at Israel's southernmost city of Eilat.
IDF Force Shoots at Terrorists Who Approach the Security Fence
- On the morning of Friday, May 17, an IDF force identified a squad of operatives approaching the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. The force opened fire at the operatives, who fled (IDF Spokesman, May 17, 2012). The Palestinian media reported that seven Palestinians had been wounded by IDF fire (Filastin al-'Aan, Alresalah.net website, Paltoday website, May 17, 2012).
- Following the incident, Hamas accused Israel of "trying to export its internal distress to the Gaza Strip" (Safa News Agency, May 17, 2012).
An Attempt to Stab IDF Soldier at Roadblock
- During the afternoon of May 20 an IDF officer at the Gush Etzion roadblock in Judea stopped a Palestinian, who became violent during a security check. A knife was found in his possession. The Palestinian was evacuated to a hospital. Note: In the recent past there has been a rise in the number of attempts to stab Israeli civilians in Judea and Samaria. During the past month three Israeli civilians were wounded in stabbing attacks (IDF Spokesman, May 20, 2012).
Violent Confrontation between Settlers and Palestinians
- During the afternoon of May 19 a violent confrontation broke out between Palestinians and settlers from Izhar in the region of the village of Asira Qibilia (southwest of Nablus). A group of Palestinians threw stones at a group of settlers and set fires. In response the settlers fired rubber bullets at the Palestinians, wounding a number of them (Ynet, May 21, 2012).
Violent confrontation between settlers and Palestinians (Hamas' palestine-info website, May 20, 2012)
Israeli Security Forces Expose a Terrorist Cell Which Planned to Abduct Israeli Civilians 
- At the end of March Israeli security forces exposed a Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist cell of nine Palestinians from the Ramallah district. The cell had attempted to abduct Israeli civilians in the region of Beit El, whom they planned to use a bargaining chips in the release of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israeli facilities. The cell has headed by Muhammad Munzir and Muhammad Ramadan, a resident of El Bireh.
- To carry out the abductions, the terrorist operatives acquired various items including an electric shocker, tear gas, clubs and a cigarette lighter made to look like a pistol. They had a scout survey the area and inform them of the arrival of Israeli vehicles. They planned to hide the abductees in a cave or secret house in Ramallah. They also planned to photograph the abduction and upload the video to the Internet to promote negotiations for the abductees release.
- During March 2012 the cell tried to abduct an Israeli several times:
- The afternoon of March 11, 2012: Members of the cell attacked an Israeli driver on the road between the village of Rantis and Kiryat Sefer (northeast of Ramallah), near Beit Arieh. They blocked the car and tried to drag the driver out, but he escaped.
- March 12, 2012: Members of the cell attacked an Israeli woman driving along the road to the village of Ma'ale Lavonah in southern Samaria. They blocked the car and used various blunt objects in an attempt to shatter the front windshield. The driver escaped in her car.
- The night of March 15, 2012: Cell operatives attacked an Israeli woman driving with her infant daughter from Givat Assaf (north of Ramallah) to Beit El. They blocked the car and shattered the front windshield but fled when another Israeli vehicle approached.
- During March the cell tried to abduct Israeli civilian hitchhikers from the gas station at the village of Mishor Adumim, east of Jerusalem. They stopped their car and one of the Israelis almost got in, but a friend prevented him.
Fuel Donated by Qatar Not Yet Delivered
- Hamas and Egypt have not yet reached an arrangement for the delivery of the fuel donated to the Gaza Strip by Qatar. Hamas' energy authority has repeatedly blamed Egypt for deliberately causing the delay, citing what it claims is the faulty coordination between Egyptian General Intelligence and they Egyptian fuel authority. Hamas also warned that delivering the fuel through the Nitzana crossing, as Israel wants, would delay delivery and give Israel means to extort and control the Palestinians, and increase the transport costs (Alresalah.net website, May 16, 2012).
- Yasser Othman, the Egyptian representative in the Palestinian Authority, said that the delay was the result of internal bureaucracy and the logistics involved in the delivery of such a large quantity of fuel. He rejected Hamas' complaints against Egypt and stressed his country's firm stand in support of the Gaza Strip and its efforts to resolve the issue (Safa News Agency, May 19, 2012). Meanwhile, the Egyptian authorities reported they had detained a number of smugglers and prevented thousands of liters of fuel from being smuggled into the Gaza Strip through the tunnels (Ma'an News Agency, May 19, 2012).
Attempts to Renew the Reconciliation Process
- On February 6, 2012, Fatah and Hamas representatives met in Cairo, the meeting arranged through Egyptian mediation. It was held several months after the Doha agreement had been signed, during which attempts to achieve an internal Palestinian reconciliation were stalled. On May 20, 2012, they signed an agreement to renew the process (Al-Ayam, May 21, 2012).
- Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman, and Izzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah delegation to the talks, said after the meeting that the agreement was composed of a number of clauses, among them the following (Al-Ayam, May 21, 2012):
- The Gazan election committee will renew its activitiesand begin contacts for the establishment of an interim government based on the Doha agreement. It will be headed by Mahmoud Abbas.
- A joint announcement will be made by Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal within ten days after the beginning of contacts regarding the establishment of the interim government.
- The interim government will be in force for half a yearand promote the process of holding general elections for the presidency, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council.
Fawzi Barhoum at a press conference after the meeting in Cairo (Hamas' palestine-info website, May 20, 2012).
Mahmoud Abbas' Political Activity
- PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas visited Jordan, Egypt and Qatarto report on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's answer to his letter, which he said "did not fulfill the practical demands for renewing negotiations (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, May 20, 2012).
Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Qatar (Wafa News Agency, May 19, 2012).
- Mahmoud Abbas was interviewed by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat during his stay in Cairo. He said that if the Palestinian leadership did not receive a positive answer from Israel regarding the renewal of the negotiations, based on an international source of authority and relating to a construction freeze in the settlements, the PA would be forced to appeal to the UN for permanent membership in the organization and its various agencies. He added that he was certain the Palestinians could very easily receive temporary membership in the UN because they had a majority in the General Assembly (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, May 20, 2012).
- On May 16 the ministers of the new Palestinian Authority government were sworn in before Mahmoud Abbas. The changes in the government comprise about half the portfolios; seven ministers left the government and ten new ones joined it. Conspicuous was the transfer of the treasury portfolio from Salam Fayyad, who now serves only as prime minister, to Nabil Qassis. In addition, the ministry dealing with the [Israeli security] fence and the settlements was closed and the activity of the ministry for Jerusalem affairs was renewed (Al-Jazeera TV, May 16, 2012).
The new Palestinian government (Al-Khaleej, Dubai, May 17, 2012)
- Nakba Day passed without exceptional event and was marked mainly in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.Most of the events had relatively poor attendance, apparently the result of fatigue due to the large number of Palestinian political events. Apparently the understanding with Israel achieved for the prisoners also dulled enthusiasm for the events this year. The Palestinian security forces, which wanted to contain the events and prevent them from spinning out of control, also acted to lower their profile.
- Some of the Nakba Day events in the Palestinian arena and several Arab countries were the following:
- Judea and Samaria: The main rally was held in Ramallah and attended by several thousand Palestinians. At the same time a rally was held in Hebron attended by Hamas activists. At the traditional friction points of Qalandia, Betunia, the Tomb of Rachel and others, young Palestinians confronted IDF forces. Israeli security forces used riot control equipment to disperse the demonstrations. Two IDF soldiers were injured by stones thrown at them in Betunia (south of Ramallah) (IDF Spokesman, May 15, 2012).
Confrontations and riots in Ramallah on Nakba Day (Wafa News Agency, May 15, 2012).
- The Gaza Strip: A march was held in Gaza City, ending with a Nakba memorial ceremony.
- Lebanon: Nakba Day was mostly marked with rallies in the Palestinian refugee camps. In addition, a march was organized in memory of those killed in Maroun al-Ras on Nakba Day last year. A Hezbollah representative gave a speech (FTV, Lebanon, May 16, 2012).
- Jordan: A rally attended by several hundred demonstrators was held near the Israeli embassy in Amman. During the rally an Israeli flag was burned and the demonstrators called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.
- Egypt: Dozens of students, mainly activists belonging to Muslim Brotherhood groups, held demonstrations and protests during which they held up pictures of "shaheeds" (Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel) and shouted slogans against Egypt's connections with Israel. Several demonstrators marched from the Al-Omar mosque to the American embassy.
- Palestinian TV devoted the day to special Nakba Day broadcasts. Senior members of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas gave speeches, most of which dealt with two issues: the achievements of the prisoners' hunger strike and the so-called "right of return." The main speakers were:
- Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, who denounced the continuation of what he called Israel's "settlement policy," which, he said, considered itself "above international law," and called on the Palestinian people to oppose the Israeli "occupation" with non-violent popular means.
- Yasser Abd Rabbo, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, who said that despite the many years that had passed, the Palestinians still held fast to the hope that they would return to their lands (Voice of Palestine, May 15, 2012).
- Abbas Zaki, member of Fatah's Central committee, who said that the so-called "right of return" was the right of every [Palestinian] and that no one could cancel or waive it (Official Palestinian TV channel, May 15, 2012).
The Nakba Day rally in Ramallah (Wafa News Agency, May 15, 2012).
- Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, who called for adherence to the so-called "right of return" and told Palestinians not to go to an alternative homeland, emigrate or waive the right to return to the homeland (The PIJ's Paltoday website, May 15, 2012).
- Musheir al-Masri, Hamas spokesman in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that the so-called "right of return" was sacred and could not be waived or interfered with, as it was the right of all the generations (Al-Aqsa TV, May 15, 2012).
Aid Convoys to the Gaza Strip
- On May 17 the Ansar 2 aid convoy from Jordan arrived in the Gaza Strip. Its 90 members included activists, representatives of Jordanian trade unions and members of Islamic movements, most of them from Jordan (Al-Quds TV, May 20, 2012). The Miles of Smiles 12 convoy also entered the Gaza Strip, composed of 43 activists from Arab-Muslim countries. For the most part the convoys brought medical equipment and vehicles for the handicapped and wounded. The convoy activists met with Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration and with members of the Legislative Council (Safa News Agency, May 17, 2012).
Ismail Haniya greets the members of the convoys (Hamas' palestine-info website, May 17, 2012).
- At a reception given for them, Ismail Haniya thanked the convoy activists and stressed that they had arrived on Nakba Day and for the "victory of the prisoners." Haniya emphasized that "the land of Palestine does not belong only to the Palestinians, but also to the Arabs and Muslims." He added that throughout history, whenever the land of Palestinian had been occupied, it was eventually liberated (Al-Aqsa TV, May 18, 2012).
- Members of the Viva Palestina convoy organized by George Galloway, who had planned to arrive in the Gaza Strip for Nakba Day, have not yet received permission from the Egyptian authorities to enter the Gaza Strip.
The Planned Arrival of Other Convoys
- In addition to the aforementioned convoys, others are expected to arrive:
- A convoy called "Ready to go to Jerusalem" will bring medical aid and about 70 pro-Palestinian activists from 14 Arab-Muslim countries (Hamas' palestine-info website, May 20, 2012).
- Activists from South Africa Relief for Gazaintend to send their fourth humanitarian assistance convoy. The date of its arrival is unknown (South Africa Relief for Gaza website, May 17, 2012).
New Canadian Initiative
- An organization calling itself The Canadian Boat to Gaza said in an announcement that it was inaugurating a new initiative which would begin in the summer of 2012, called "Gaza Ark." Palestinians, with the support of international groups, would build a ship in the Gaza Strip from raw materials found locally and sail it from the Gaza Strip with Palestinian products for export on board (Canadian Boat to Gaza website, May 21, 2012).
1 The statistics do not include rockets fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of May 22, 2012.
2 According to the Israel Security Agency website, May 20, 2012.