Demonstrators carry models of rockets at a rally in Nablus marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas
Hamas symbols at the weekly demonstration against the security fence in Ni'lin
Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, and the Qatari ambassador launch a project for the Qatari-funded rebuilding the Gaza Strip infrastructure
The Iranian-supported PIJ proudly displays the weapons it used to attack Israel in Operation Pillar of Defense
The Iranian-supported PIJ proudly displays the weapons it used to attack Israel in Operation Pillar of Defense
Hamas flags at the rally in Qalqiliya, December 15 (Ajnad Facebook page, December 15, 2012)
Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Benedict XVI (Shihab website, December 17, 2012)
A cartoon from Al-Ayam reading ''In real time…Palestine calls on you to boycott Israeli products'' (Al-Ayam, December 17, 2012).
- Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip continue to implement the understandings reached at the end of Operation Pillar of Defense. Since November 21 no rockets or mortar shells have been fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. In addition, frictions between Palestinians and IDF forces near the security fence have lessened.
- This past week the focus of violence was in Judea and Samaria. The most glaring incident occurred near the Cave of the Patriarchs when a woman Border Police soldier killed a Palestinian youth who had drawn a gun (which was later discovered not to be a real gun) and aimed it at a Border Police soldier. There were also violent incidents between Palestinians and IDF forces in other locations where stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown.
- Hamas marked the 25th anniversary of its founding with a series of rallies and demonstrations in Nablus, Hebron, Ramallah, Qalqiliya, Tulkarm and other locations. The events, which had been authorized by the Palestinian Authority, emphasized the path of "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] and participants carried models of rockets. The Palestinian Authority security forces supervised the events, which were held without exceptional occurrences.
- Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip continue to implement the understandings reached at the end of Operation Pillar of Defense. Since 2300 hours on November 21 no rockets or mortar shells have been fired into Israeli territory.
Rocket Hits in Israeli Territory since the Beginning of 2011
Annual Distribution of Rocket Fire
Increase in Violence in Judea and Samaria
- The level of violence has risen in Judea and Samaria since Operation Pillar of Defense, especially since the UN upgraded the PA's status. Throughout Judea and Samaria the number of stone-throwing and Molotov cocktail-throwing incidents increased, as did confrontations with IDF forces.
Incident near the Tomb of the Patriarchs
- The most glaring incident occurred on the evening of December 12 at an improvised Border Police post near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Border Police soldiers noticed a young Palestinian acting suspiciously. They approached and asked him to identify himself. He then attacked one of the soldiers and threw him to the ground, drew a gun and pointed it at him. A female Border Police soldier near the post shot and critically wounded the Palestinian, who later died. An IDF explosives expert arrived later and determined that the gun was not real but rather a metal imitation (Border Police website, December 12, 2012). The Palestinian media reported the Palestinian's name as Muhammad Ziyad Awad (Alresala.net, Safa News Agency and Filastin al-'Aan websites, December 12, 2012).
- The Palestinian Authority strongly denounced the killing. In a formal statement it said that the shooting was a manifestation of the Israeli government's extremist policies. The statement claimed that Israel had removed the limitations on the instructions the soldiers received for opening fire. According to the statement, the event brought the PA closer to appealing to the International Criminal Court and all the committees, courts and international organizations whose job it was to protect civilians (Wafa News Agency, December 12, 2012).
- The Palestinian's funeral was held in Hebron and attended by hundreds of participants, among them Aziz Dweik, a member of the Hamas faction in Palestinian Legislative Council, as well as the governor of Hebron and others. Hamas and Palestinian flags were waved during the funeral and participants called for the Palestinian terrorist organizations, especially the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, to respond to the incident. Some of the participants confronted IDF soldiers (Safa News Agency, December 13, 2012).
- The following incidents occurred this past week:
- On December 14, after the Friday prayer in the mosques in Hebron, Palestinians threw stones at IDF soldiers.
- At the weekly riots in Bila'in, Ni'lin, Qadoum and Qalandia, scores of Palestinians threw stones and mosques at Israeli vehicles. During the riots in Bila'in rioters waved Hamas flags and carried Hamas symbols, which they had not done for a long time. In Qalqiliya three IDF vehicles were damaged (Ynet, December 14, 2012).
Rebuilding the Gaza Strip
- Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, held a press conference on the ruins of an administration building leveled during Operation Pillar of Defense. He announced that the first stage of rebuilding the Gaza Strip, financed by Qatar, had begun. The project, he said, would include rebuilding roads at a cost of $22 million. Present at the press conference was Muhammad al-Imadi, head of the Qatari committee for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, who said that the first stage was part of a donation of $407 million from Qatar to Gaza (Ma'an News Agency, December 13, 2012).
- Regarding the project, Abd al-Islam Siam, Hamas administration secretary, said that Hamas there was an agreement in principle with Egypt for delivering the building materials. However, he said, if Hamas could not acquire them in conventional ways, they would come in "underground" (that is, through the smuggling tunnels) (Paltoday website, December 15, 2012).
- As to the tunnels, it has been reported that many of the ones attacked in Operation Pillar of Defense have returned to their previous levels of activity. Most of the tunnels are used to smuggle in building materials and basic goods (Samaa News, December 16, 2012).
Lawfare and Propaganda in the Wake of Operation Pillar of Defense
- Hamas and Palestinian NGOs specializing in lawfare against Israeli are collecting "testimonies" and "evidence" about what they refer to as the so-called "crimes" Israel committed during Operation Pillar of Defense:
- Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), an NGO based in the Gaza Strip which plays a leading role in anti-Israeli lawfare, said that a team of experts in international law had arrived in the Gaza Strip, entering through the Rafah crossing, to help the Center conduct examinations of IDF activities during Operation Pillar of Defense. He said the team would remain in the Gaza Strip for a number of days and examine sites where the IDF carried out what he referred to as "war crimes" and meet with residents and local experts who were investigating the issue. The team, whose members come from Norway, Britain and Ireland, would form a legal opinion with the objective of bringing suit in the International Criminal Court in The Hague against IDF officers who were responsible for making decisions in Operation Pillar of Defense (Ma'an News Agency, December 15, 2012).
- Issam Younis, director of the Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, an NGO based in the Gaza Strip, emphasized that the harm done to civilians, the destruction of houses and the Gaza Strip infrastructure during the operation were "deliberate Israeli actions." Noting what he referred to as the so-called "violations" "documented" by his NGO during the operation, he claimed that most of the actions were "war crimes or crimes against humanity," and had been premeditated. He claimed that the Israeli prime minister and the Israeli legal system held joint criminal responsibility for the so-called "war crimes" (Al-Quds TV, December 12, 2012).
- At the same time, Hamas continues to issue spurious claims branding Israel as a "war criminal" and to reject claims that Hamas itself carries out war crimes. For example, Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas military-terrorist wing, claimed in an interview that 95% of the IDF attacks focused on civilian targets (Note: an out-and-out lie) and that most of the targets Hamas attacked in Israel were military and not civilian (Note: another out-and-out lie) (Al-Jazeera TV, December 15, 2012).
Using Civilian Facilities for Military-Terrorist Purposes during Operation Pillar of Defense
- During Operation Pillar of Defense Hamas again extensively used civilians as human shields and carried out military activity from within civilian facilities. According to our information, during the operation Hamas used a large number of mosques and schools for military purposes, turning them into command and control headquarters and into protected areas for the use of terrorist operatives. In addition theAl-Shifaa hospital in the western part of Gaza City was also used for military purposes.
- Using the Al-Shifaa hospital for military purposes is a well-known method often employed by Hamas during Operation Cast Lead. During that operation senior operatives of Hamas' military-terrorist wing sought refuge in the hospital, closing off some of the wings and turning them into closed areas secured by armed operatives. Among those seeking refuge in the hospital were Mahmoud al-Zahar and Sayid Siam, while Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, set up his headquarters in the Al-Shifaa burn unit. Using medical facilities for military-terrorist purposes, is exploitation based on the knowledge that Israel will not attack a humanitarian facility.
Iranian Support for the Gaza Strip
- nterviewed in Cairo, Ramadan Shalah, secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said that Iran was generous with the help it gave the Palestinian people. Iranian support, he said, was meant to reinforce the "firm stand" of the Palestinians," and it was expressed in terms of money and weapons. He said all the countries in the Arab-Muslim world should follow Iran's example and support the Palestinians because "Palestine" was not only an Iranian issue but one that was relevant to the entire Arab-Muslim world, and that defending "Palestine" was a religious and moral duty (Anadolu News Agency, Turkey, December 17, 2012). Ramadan Shalah's remarks were more in a series by PIJ and other terrorist organization leaders made to glorify Iran as militarily supporting the Palestinians.
Delegations to the Gaza Strip
- While the experts look for "evidence" of so-called Israeli "war crimes," international aid continue arriving in the Gaza Strip:
- The Iranian government appealed to the Egyptian authorities to allow an Iranian aid convoy to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing in two weeks. The Egyptians reportedly agreed and a ship bringing humanitarian aid is supposed to dock in El-Arish. Its cargo allegedly consists of food and medicines, and it will be accompanied by a delegation of Iranians who will tour the Gaza Strip (Ma'an News Agency, December 12, 2012).
- Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, led by Ahmed al-Bahar, received a Bahraini delegation to the Gaza Strip which entered through the Rafah crossing (Safa News Agency, December 12, 2012).
- In addition, a Greek anti-Israeli network called Ship to Gaza sent a delegation of activists to the Gaza Strip. They entered the Gaza Strip after several days of bureaucratic delays. Their main objective is to collect information about the situation in the Gaza Strip following Operation Pillar of Defense.
Fatah Rally in Gaza?
- While the Palestinian Authority allowed Hamas to hold rallies in Judea and Samaria (see below), the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip continues raising obstacles for Fatah. Islam Shahawan, spokesman for the ministry of the interior of the Hamas administration, said in an announcement that Fatah would not be given permission to hold a rally on the anniversary of its founding in the Al-Katiba square in Gaza City (a suitable venue for mass rallies). He said the administration had given permission in principle for a rally but its location had not yet been decided. (Hamas' Felesteen and the Hamas forum, December 16, 2012).
- Official sources in Fatah "expressed sorrow" over the decision. Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Ita said that the Hamas' response to the request was an implicit refusal and that it would have a negative influence on the positive atmosphere in the territories and on the efforts for reconciliation (Wafa News Agency, December 17, 2012). Hamas' response led to criticism of Fathi Hamad, Hamas minister of the interior, from people surfing the social networks, who claimed he was trying to sabotage the reconciliation.
Hamas Rallies in Judea and Samaria
- Hamas marked the 25th anniversary of its founding with mass rallies and demonstrations in Judea and Samaria. The events, which were held with the authorization of the Palestinian Authority, made a popular impact. They were a striking demonstration of Hamas' strength in Judea and Samaria after a number of years during which the PA had forbidden or limited Hamas from conducting that sort of activity.
- The main rallies were held in the large cities, among them Nablus, Hebron, Ramallah, Qalqiliya and Tulkarm. They featured the "victory narrative" of the "resistance" in Operation Pillar of Defense, and demonstrators carried cardboard models of rockets, symbolizing the "resistance" [i.e. terrorism and violence] and "victory." The rallies were held under PA security apparatus supervision, preventing them from turning into confrontations with the IDF.
Poster issued by Hamas for the rallies in Judea and Samaria making the 25th anniversary of its founding: "The [West] Bank renews its commitment and swears allegiance to the resistance" (Ajnad Facebook page, December 15, 2012).
- Summary of the Hamas rallies in the main cities in Judea and Samaria:
- Hebron: A mass rally was held, attended by Aziz Dweik, Hamas chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, and representatives of the local Palestinian organizations. Ismail Haniya greeted the participants in a telephone conversation. Aziz Dweik gave a speech in which he called on Mahmoud Abbas to end the internal Palestinian schism, put an end to political detentions in Judea and Samaria and release Hamas operatives from Palestinian jails (Safa News Agency, December 14, 2012). Palestinian policemen prevented the demonstrators from approaching IDF forces (Ajnad Facebook page, December 14, 2012).
Right: A rally in Hebron to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas (Hamas forum, December 14, 2012). Left: Palestinian police prevent demonstrators from approaching IDF forces (Ajnad Facebook page, December 14, 2012).
- Nablus: A mass rally was held in the center of the city on December 13, attended by Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, public figures, the governor of the Nablus district, and Amin Maqboul, secretary of Fatah's Revolutionary Council. A speech relayed by telephone was given by Husam Badran, a terrorist operative released from an Israeli jail and deported to the Gaza Strip. He said that "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] was the only way to restore the rights of the Palestinian people and the only way to achieve national unity. Amin Maqboul also spoke praising Hamas and "the hands which brought victory to Pillar of Defense" (Safa News Agency, December 13, 2012).
- Tulkarm: A mass rally was held in Tulkarm on December 14, where demonstrators waved Hamas and "Palestine" flags and chanted slogans praising the "resistance." A speech was given by Hassan Kharisha, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council affiliated with Hamas. He said that the Palestinian people wanted to unite around the idea of resistance (Ajnad Facebook page, December 14, 2012).
- Qalqiliya: A rally was held on December 15 at which demonstrators called for support of Hamas and its military-terrorist wing after Operation Pillar of Defense, and for national Palestinian unity. A speech was given by Nasser Abd al-Jawad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He said that Hamas had preserved a strong presence in Judea and Samaria despite the difficulties it had encountered over the past few years. Sheikh Talal al-Baz, a Palestinian terrorist released from an Israeli jail who currently lives in Qatar, gave a speech relayed by telephone in which he emphasized Hamas' adherence to the concept of jihad and "resistance" until the liberation of "Palestine" (Alresala.net website, December 15, 2012).
Mahmoud Abbas' Remarks in Turkey
- Mahmoud Abbas visited Turkey where he met with senior officials in the Turkish government and spoke at length about the negotiations with Israel:
- Speaking before members of the Turkish parliament he said that the Palestinian Authority wanted to create a chance for peace and had called on the government of Israel to fulfill its commitment to freeze construction in the settlements, release prisoners and restart negotiations from where they left off at the end of 2008 with an agreed-on time limit (Wafa News Agency, December 10, 2012).
- At a press conference held by Turkish President Abdullah Gul after meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Ankara, Abbas said the Israeli government had to choose between continuing construction in the settlements and the occupation on the one hand, and peace which would ensure security and stability based on legitimate international decisions on the other. He claimed that the Israeli government's recent announcement about the construction of new neighborhoods was "aggression" and "a red line" which violated international agreements (Wafa News Agency, December 11, 2012).
- From Turkey Mahmoud Abbas flew to Portugal and from there to Italy, arriving on December 16. On December 17 he met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican and discussed the upgrading of the PA's status in the UN. Mahmoud Abbas presented the Pope with a mosaic of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It bore the heading "Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine." It was the first time Mahmoud Abbas used the title in a visit to the Vatican (Shihab website, December 17, 2012).
Continuing Threats to Appeal to the International Criminal Court
- The Palestinian Authority, after having had its status upgraded by the UN, continues to deal with possible lawsuits against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Palestinian Authority foreign ministerRiyadh al-Maliki said in an interview that the PA had not ruled out an appeal to the International Criminal Court. He said it was a card the PA could play but for the time being the PA wants to play it wisely. He also quoted Mahmoud Abbas, saying that if Israel did not fulfill its commitments regarding the settlements, the PA would appeal to the International Court to try Israelis for so-called "war crimes" carried out against the Palestinian people over the years (Voice of Palestine Radio, December 12, 2012).
- Salah Rafat, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, said that the Palestinians wanted to appeal to the International Criminal Court and were deliberating the signing of the Rome Statute to be able to bring a suit against the Israeli government because the settlements constitute a war crime (Palestinian TV, December 13, 2012).
Boycotting Israeli Products
- The weekly meeting of the Palestinian Authority government, headed by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, denounced the Israeli freeze of the Palestinian tax revenues and called it "an attempt at political blackmail." The PA government warned that the freeze could paralyze the PA's ability to provide services and deepen its financial crisis (Wafa News Agency, December 12, 2012).
- Salam Fayyad, during a meeting with media correspondents in Ramallah that he called on the Palestinian public to boycott products made in Israel in protest of the Israeli decision not to transfer tax revenues owed them from Israel to the Palestinians. He said that "the steps taken by Israel are piracy and aggression toward the source of income of Palestinian residents." He called on the United States and the European Union to intervene (Wafa News Agency, December 16, 2012).
Left: A cartoon from Al-Ayam reading "In real time…Palestine calls on you to boycott Israeli products" (Al-Ayam, December 17, 2012). Right: Salam Fayyad calls for the boycott of Israeli products at a meeting with Palestinian media correspondents in Ramallah (Wafa News Agency, December 16, 2012).
 As of December 18, 2012. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
 The statistics for 2008 and 2009 include rocket hits identified during Operation Cast Lead. They do not include mortar shell fire.
 For further information see the March 2010 bulletin "Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip –The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings," Part Two, Section II, p. 143 ff.
 The Rome Statute is an international convention and source of authority for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. It became valid in July 2002, signed by 139 countries and authorized by 67. It defines the authority of the International Criminal Court and the types of crimes tried there.