News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (August 21 – 27, 2013)

  • This past week Israel's south was quiet. Events focused on Judea and Samaria, where an IDF force was attacked during an action in the Qalandia refugee camp. In the incident that developed three Palestinians were killed and 15 were wounded. The IDF spokesman said in an announcement that according to the initial investigation, the IDF force was faced with "extreme and unusual force." The incident led to several public disturbances that were limited in scope and did not spread to the rest of Judea and Samaria. Despite the incident, the Israeli-Palestinian meeting in Jericho was held as planned (according to an American announcement to the media).
  • On August 22, 2013, four rockets were fired into the western Galilee for the first time in two years. There were no casualties but property was damage. A global jihad organization called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which also operates in Lebanon, claimed responsibility, in our assessment to challenge Hezbollah. The IDF responded by striking a Palestinian terrorist target south of Beirut.
Rocket Fire
  • This past week no rocket hits from the Gaza Strip were identified in Israeli territory.

Rocket Fire

Three Palestinians Killed during an IDF Action in Qalandia
  • On August 26, 2013, an IDF-Border Police force carried out an action in the Qalandia refugee camp. It included the detention of Yussuf al-Khatib, an arms dealer who belonged to the Fatah-Tanzim. The force was confronted by scores of young Palestinian men who attacked them with Molotov cocktails, stones, cinder blocks and various other objects, and shot at them (IDF spokesman, August 26, 2013). In response the soldiers fired shots at the rioters. As a result, it was reported that three Palestinians were killed and 15 were wounded. Those killed were Rubin al-Abd Fayez Zayed (an UNRWA employee), Yunis Jihad Abu al-Sheikh Jahjuh (a young Fatah-Tanzim operative who was detained in the past for rioting) and Jihad Aslan (Ma'an News Agency and Ynet, August 26, 2013).
  • After the initial investigation, a high-ranking Israeli officer in the Central Command said that the soldiers had acted according to orders in a controlled fashion without excessive force and that the violence they encountered was "extreme and unusual" (IDF spokesman, August 26, 2013).
  • Senior figures in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah strongly condemned Israel. Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the office of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, said that "the event exposes Israel's real intentions for the peace process and will impact negatively on it." He called on the American administration to intervene to prevent the failure of the United States' efforts in the Middle East (Wafa News Agency, August 26, 2013). Rami Hamdallah, Palestinian prime minister, visited the wounded from the Qalandia incident who had been evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah. He condemned the incident, sent condolences to the families of those killed and wished the wounded a speedy recovery (Wafa News Agency, August 26, 2013). Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also condemned the incident (Paltoday website, Filastin Al-'Aan, August 26, 2013).
  • The funeral of the three Palestinians was held in Qalandia on August 26, 2013, and attended by senior member of Fatah and other organizations (including Hamas leader Jamal al-Tawil). The mourners called to stop the talks with Israel and demanded revenge (Paltoday website, August 26, 2013). Tawfiq al-Tirawi, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, called on the residents of the Judea and Samaria cities and villages to set up "human shields" to "protect the members of the resistance [i.e., terrorist organizations]" and guard the homeland (Wafa News Agency, August 26, 2013).
  • On the ground, the incident led to several public disturbances, limited in scope, which did not spread to the rest of Judea and Samaria. They focused on the Qalandia refugee camp, the Tomb of Rachel, Hebron and the Jalazoun refugee camp near Ramallah.
Violence Continues in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem
  • Violence continues in Judea and Samaria as part of the so-called "popular resistance." Stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles. Confrontations and friction also continued between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces at the weekly demonstrations and riots.
  • The main events were the following (Tazpit News Agency):
  • On August 22, 2013, Palestinians threw two Molotov cocktails at an Israeli vehicle driving along the Nahliel-Neveh Suf road, near Deir Nizam in the Ramallah district, setting dry vegetation on fire.
  • On August 21, 2013, the "Flowers House" near Herod's Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem was attacked. Two Molotov cocktails and a large number of stones were thrown at the house. Stones were also thrown at the house next door.
IDF Prevents Weapons Smuggling into Israeli Territory
  • On August 21, 2013, on two separate occasions the IDF prevented weapons from being smuggled from Judea and Samaria into Israeli territory. The first attempt was thwarted at the Baqa crossing point in northern Samaria. A search was made of the vehicle of an Israeli Arab who raised the suspicions of the security personnel at the crossing. The search revealed that the rear seat had a double wall where weapons and 9,000 Israeli shekels in cash had been hidden. The second attempt was thwarted at the Beqaot roadblock in the northern Jordanian Valley, where a suspicious Palestinian was detained and searched. On his person were found a full M-16 magazine and a knife, both wrapped in aluminum foil (IDF spokesman, August 21, 2013). 
Hamas Support for Mohamed Morsi
  • The de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip continues to express its support for Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. At the end of last week a number of marches were held in support of Morsi and in condemnation of the Egyptian army. Demonstrators waved Egyptian flags and waved pictures of Morsi, and shouted slogans against Egyptian Minister of Defense al-Sisi (Filastin Al-'Aan, August 23, 2013).
  • In Rafah a mass march was held on August 23, 2013. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades put on a military display and hung banners with the logo of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt on their cars. In addition, a mass march was held in al-Nuseirat (central Gaza Strip) on August 23, 2013.
The De-Facto Hamas Administration and Egypt Continue to Trade Accusations
  • Senior Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip continue fending off Egyptian accusations of Hamas intervention in Egyptian affairs. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied reports in the Egyptian media claiming Hamas had set up a training center with the Muslim Brotherhood in the Khan Yunis area. He said the claims were meant to justify the actions taken by Egypt against the smuggling tunnels and to tighten the blockade of the Gaza Strip (Filastin Al-'Aan, August 25, 2013). In addition, senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar denied that Hamas intervened in Egypt's internal affairs in any way (Paltoday website, date, 2013).
  • Senior Hamas figure Yahya Mousa accused Egyptian general intelligence of training operatives belonging to the so-called "Tamarud Movement," which advocates getting rid of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip (Al-Nashra, Lebanon, August 23, 2013). A senior Egyptian figure rejected the claims, saying that Hamas had decided to dump the Gaza Strip's internal problems on Egypt (Ma'an News Agency, August 23, 2013).
The Rafah Crossing
  • Maher Abu Sabha, director of the Hamas crossings authority for the Hamas administration, said that the Rafah crossing had reopened on August 24, 2013, for four hours to allow the passage of Palestinians with humanitarian issues. He said opening the crossing had been made possible following contacts between the Hamas administration and officials in Egypt to relieve the distress of the Gazans (Filastin Al-'Aan, August 24, 2013). On August 24, 2013, it was reported that 1,019 Gazans entered and left the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing (Wafa News Agency, August 24, 2013).
  • However, deliveries of building materials for the Qatari project to rebuild the Gaza Strip continue to enter through the Rafah crossing (Paltoday website, August 25, 2013).
The Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
  • The Israeli-Palestinian talks continue. On August 20, 2013, the negotiating teams met in Jerusalem. According to an American announcement to the media, on August 26, 2013, the meeting planned for Jericho was held as scheduled. That was despite an earlier Palestinian announcement that following the events in Qalandia it would be canceled (Ynet, August 20; NRG, August 26, 2013).
  • On August 22, 2013, Mahmoud Abbas met with a delegation of Israeli Knesset members belonging to Meretz, a left-wing Israeli party. He said that during the talks he did not intend to demand Nazareth, Haifa or Acre. He also said that the final status agreement would mark the end of the Palestinian demands. He rejected any possibility of an interim agreement but said in principle he was willing to implement the agreement gradually, in stages (Haaretz, August 22, 2013). The Hamas department of refugees condemned Mahmoud Abbas' statement and called it a waiving of the so-called "right of return" (Filastin Al-'Aan, August 26, 2013).
Rockets Fired into Israeli Territory from South Lebanon
  • At 16:30 and 16:45 hours on the afternoon of August 22, 2013, four rockets were fired from the western sector of south Lebanon attacking Israeli population centers in the western Galilee. According to the claim of responsibility issued, they were medium-range rockets (40 kilometers, or about 25 miles). The Lebanese media reported that the rockets had been launched in two separate barrages from orange groves between the village of Al-Hush and the Rashidiya refugee camp south of Tyre (Al-Jadeed TV, August 22, 2013).
  • Two rockets fell in Israeli communities in the western Negev, a third fell in an open area and the forth was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system deployed in northern Israel. There were no casualties, with the exception of four civilians who were treated for shock, but seven buildings and three cars were damaged (Haaretz, August 23, 2013). One of the rockets hit Kibbutz Gesher Haziv and damaged several buildings and cars. Another hit a guest home for Holocaust survivors in the village of Shavei Zion (Ynet, August 23, 2013)

The rocket hits in the western Negev (Photos by Shai Vaknin, Tazpit News Agency, August 22, 2013)
The rocket hits in the western Negev (Photos by Shai Vaknin, Tazpit News Agency, August 22, 2013)

The rocket hits in the western Negev (Photos by Shai Vaknin, Tazpit News Agency, August 22, 2013)
The rocket hits in the western Negev (Photos by Shai Vaknin, Tazpit News Agency, August 22, 2013)

Claim of Responsibility
  • The Twitter account of the Salafist-jihadi Lebanese Sheikh Siraj al-Din Zariqat reported that the Ziyad al-Jarrah Battalions of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades were responsible for the rocket fire. According to the announcement, the rockets had a range of more than 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, meaning that the responsibility of the "Iranian party" [i.e., Hezbollah] for "guarding the Jews" would become difficult. That was because with such rockets the jihad fighters would be able to reach Haifa and the other "strategic areas" of the Jewish enemy (Twitter account of sheikh Siraj al-Din Zariqat, August 22, 2013).
  • According to the Lebanese media, sheikh Siraj al-Din Zariqat is a senior figure in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon (Al-Akhbar, August 14, 2013). He is one of the preachers who deliver the Friday prayers in the mosques in Beirut, belongs to the Dar al-Fatwa Institution (a Sunni religious institution under the control of the Mufti of Lebanon) and supports the revolt against the Syrian regime. In the past he was detained and is closely monitored by Lebanese intelligence (YouTube, August 8 2013).
IDF Response
  • In response to the rocket fire on August 23, 2013, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) struck a terrorist target south of Beirut. A direct hit was reported (IDF spokesman, August 23, 2013). The target, located in the region of Al-Naameh south of Beirut, is a base belonging to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a Syrian-oriented Palestinian terrorist organization headed by Ahmed Jibril. However, according to the Lebanese media, there were no casualties and no damage was reported (Al-Nashra New Agency, Lebanon, August 23, 2013).
  • Hezbollah condemned the IAF attack, claiming it "showed the enemy's evil intentions toward Lebanon" (Website of the Lebanese Resistance [Hezbollah], August 24, 2013).
Reactions in Lebanon
  • So far Hezbollah had not formally issued a reaction to the rocket fire. Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah member of the Lebanese parliament, claimed that Hezbollah had no connection or information about the rocket fire from south Lebanon into northern Israel. However, he added that Hezbollah did not condemn any action directed at the Israeli enemy (Al-Ahed, August 22, 2013). The Lebanese government strongly condemned the rocket fire, claiming that its objective was to drag Lebanon into a confrontation with Israel.
Detention of Israeli Arab Who Joined the Al-Nusra Front in Syria
  • On July 14, 2013, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) detained Abd al-Qader Afif Abd al-Qader al-Tila, a resident of Taybeh, 26, who studied pharmacy in Jordan and went to Syria to join the rebel forces. During his studies in Jordan he was exposed to Salafist ideology, and in Syria he joined the Al-Nusra Front, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda. On August 9, 2013, the district court in Lod indicted him for contacting a foreign agent and leaving the country illegally (Israel Security Agency website, August 22, 2013).

Abd al-Qader Afif Abd al-Qader al-Tila, who joined the Al-Nusra Front in Syria (Bukra website, August 27, 2013).
Abd al-Qader Afif Abd al-Qader al-Tila, who joined the Al-Nusra Front in Syria (Bukra website, August 27, 2013).

  • Recruiting Israeli Arabs into the ranks of the rebels in Syria is a well-known occurrence, however it is limited to isolated volunteers. Nevertheless, the ISA regards Israeli Arabs leaving for Syria as "very dangerous," in view of the presence of elements hostile to Israel there, particularly global jihad operatives. Israeli Arabs who go to Syria are exposed to extreme anti-Israeli ideologies and may be exploited by terrorist elements as a source of intelligence or as a means of attacking Israel (Israel Security Agency website, August 21, 2013). 

[1] As of August 27, 2013. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
[2] The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.