Hamas tunnel dug for terrorist purposes uncovered in the southern Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, March 21, 2014).
Hamas military-terrorist wing holds a press conference to discuss the discovery of the tunnel (Al-Aqsa TV, March 21, 2014).
Gazan women demonstrate in front of the Egyptian embassy, demanding the continuous opening of the Rafah crossing (Palestine-info.info, March 20, 2014).
The rally in Gaza City (Hamas forum website, March 23, 2014).
Ismail Haniya gives a speech at the rally (Palestine-info.info, March 23 2014).
Mahmoud Abbas meets in Jordan with Martin Indyk (Wafa News Agency, March 24, 2014).
A pessimistic cartoon from Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the PA's official newspaper.
Jibril Rajoub and the Jordanian, Egypt and Tunisian ministers of sports in Jeddah (Facebook, March 17, 2014).
- This past week IDF forces uncovered a tunnel dug for terrorist purposes by Hamas and penetrating into Israeli territory, one of the longest ever uncovered. It was apparently intended to be used in carrying out terrorist attacks against Israeli, including abductions. Hamas spokesmen tried to minimize its importance and Israel's achievement in uncovering it.
- Three terrorist operatives were killed in the Jenin refugee camp as an Israeli security force attempted to detain them. One of them was a Hamas operative who planned terrorist attacks against Israel. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) condemned the killing of the three; the Palestinian Authority (PA) joined in condemning them.
Tunnel Dug for Terrorist Purposes in the Southern Gaza Strip
- On March 18, 2014, IDF forces operating in the southern Gaza Strip uncovered a terrorist tunnel whose estimated length was 1,800 meters (1.1 miles), one of the longest ever found penetrating into Israeli territory. Inside were tools, generators, protective equipment and equipment for coating the walls with cement, indicating that until recently work was being done there.
- Apparently the tunnel was dug to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel, including abductions. According to General Sami Turgeman, chief of the southern command, the IDF had monitored its construction for a long period of time. He said it was "a strategic tunnel" for Hamas (IDF Spokesman, March 21, 2014). Note: In October 2013 the IDF uncovered a similar tunnel near one of the villages close to the Gaza Strip.
- Abu Obeida, spokesman for Hamas' military-terrorist wing, held a press conference where he tried to minimize the importance of the tunnel and its discovery. He claimed it was an old tunnel that had been destroyed in December 2013 by the rains, and therefore its discovery was not a security or military achievement for Israel. He also claimed that all the digging activity was part of the "resistance's" response to Israel's repeated acts of aggression (Al-Aqsa TV, March 20, 2014).
- This past week, after the most recent massive escalation, no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Three Terrorists Killed during an Attempt to Detain a Hamas Operative
- On March 22, 2014, three Palestinian terrorist operatives were killed in Jenin during an Israeli security force attempt to detain them. The three were killed after they opened fire on the IDF forces that went to the house they were hiding in to detain them. One of them was Hamza Abu al-Hija, a Hamas terrorist operative, son of Jamal Abu al-Hija, a senior Hamas operative in Judea and Samaria imprisoned in Israel. During the action two IDF soldiers incurred minor wounds. According to the commander of the Israeli forces participating in the action, the terrorist squad was planning to carry out a terrorist attack within the State of Israel in the immediate future, under the direction of Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip (Ynet, March 22, 2014).
- According to the Palestinian media, Hamza Abu al-Hija, 22, was a commander in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing. He was also wanted by the PA's security services. The Palestinian media reported that he planned to carry out a showcase attack against Israel. The second Palestinian killed was Mahmoud Omar Abu Zina, 25, an operative in the PIJ's Jerusalem Brigades. The third Palestinian terrorist killed was an operative from Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (Al-Aqsa TV, March 22, 2014).
- The deaths of the three led to a wave of protests and condemnations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip:
- Hamas issued a formal statement condemning the incident and warning Israel against committing so-called "additional crimes." Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the incident proved the advantages of the "resistance" and the fact that all attempts to crush it had failed (Filastin Al-'Aan, March 22, 2014). The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas military-terrorist wing, issued a formal death notice for the three and accused the PA of responsibility for their deaths because of its security coordination with Israel.
Left: The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' formal death notice for the three killed in the Far'a refugee camp south of Jenin (Qassam.ps, March 22, 2014). Right: Hamza Abu al-Hija (Hamas forum, March 22, 2014).
- Bassam al-Sa'adi, senior PIJ figure in Jenin, said that Israel was trying to isolate the Palestinian people and damage its holy sites. He called on the PA to end its security coordination with Israel (Paltoday.ps, date, 2014).
- A joint Hamas-PIJ protest rally was held in the northern Gaza Strip. Khaled al-Batash, PIJ activist, gave a speech accusing Israel of responsibility for the deaths of the three, saying that his organization had chosen "jihad and resistance" (Ma'an News Agency, March 22, 2014).
- Nabil Abu Rudeina, PA spokesman, condemned what he called "Israeli escalation." He said the Israeli government was responsible and demanded the American government act quickly to "prevent everything from collapsing" (Wafa News Agency, March 22, 2014).
Cartoon from the PA-affiliated daily newspaper Al-Ayam. The caption reads "Bathing in Jenin." The figure in the tub is Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu (Al-Ayam, March 23, 2014).
- Residents of the Jenin refugee camp issued a statement praising the three "shaheeds" for adhering to the path they had chosen and for their struggle against the Israeli forces. They called for the continuation of the "resistance" and the end of the negotiations with Israel.
Palestinian Violence Continues
- This past week violent incidents continued in Judea and Samaria, part of the so-called "popular resistance." Stones were thrown at Israeli civilians and Israeli security forces and Molotov cocktails were thrown at vehicles on main roads. Friday riots were held at the traditional friction points (Bil'in, Ni'lin, Nebi Saleh, Qadoum, Beit Umar, etc.).
- On March 20, 2014, a Molotov cocktail and stones were thrown at a bus en route from Jerusalem to Kiryat Arba. The Molotov cocktail shattered on the bus' front windshield. There were no casualties. The bus was damaged (Tazpit News Agency, March 20, 2014). Stones were thrown at a bus near the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem. One of its windows was cracked (Tazpit News Agency, March 20, 2014).
Left: Palestinians confront IDF forces in the village of Silwad, north of Ramallah. Right: Palestinians throw stones at IDF soldiers during the weekly riot in Bil'in (Filastin TV, March 21. 2014).
The Rafah Crossing
- The Rafah crossing remains closed (for 65 days, according to Hamas sources). The de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip continues protesting its closure to the Egyptians. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called Egypt's persistent closing the crossing to Palestinians "a crime against humanity." He appealed to the Arab states and the world at large to intervene to lift the siege of the Gaza Strip (Ma'an News Agency, March 19, 2014). On March 23, 2014, the crossing was opened for a short time to allow for the passage of Gazan pilgrims going to Mecca; several hundred exited the Gaza Strip (Ma'an News Agency, March 23, 2014).
- Ihab al-Ghussin, spokesman for the Hamas administration, said that the Hamas administration was in contact with diplomatic and international entities to exert pressure on Egypt to open the crossing. He claimed Egypt and Israel were responsible for the welfare of the Gazans, who could not receive medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip (Radio Al-Aqsa, March 19, 2014). The Gaza Ark project issued an appeal to join its campaign to exert pressure on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing (Gazaark.org. March 19, 2014).
Rally Marks the Anniversary of the Killings of Hamas Leaders
- On March 23, 2014, a rally was held to mark the tenth anniversary of the killing of Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas. It also marked the anniversaries of the killing of senior Hamas operatives Aziz al-Rantisi and Ibrahim al-Muqadma. The rally was held in Gaza City and attended by senior figures from Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Rally participants waved Hamas and Palestinian flags. Occasional Egyptian flag were also seen. A rally was also held at Al-Najah University in Nablus, sponsored by the university's Islamic faction. It was attended by several senior Hamas figures from Judea and Samaria.
- Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, gave a speech broadcast live by the Hamas media. He condemned the negotiations with Israel, calling for them to end immediately and for a joint Palestinian strategy to be formulated to deal with Israel. He also said that it was forbidden for the Palestinian people to waive the "right of return" and called for [an Arab] conquest of Jerusalem. Regarding the three terrorist operatives killed in Jenin, he said they were "shaheeds and heroes who refused to surrender." He said martyrdom and the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] were the ways to liberate the land of Palestine and restore Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque (Ma'an News Agency, March 23, 2014).
- Other statements made at the rally were the following:
- Senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri, who gave the first speech, stressed Hamas' adherence to the "resistance."
- Senior PIJ figure Muhammad al-Hindi said that the participation of representatives of his organization showed the "unity of the resistance and jihad" (Alresala.net, March 23, 2014).
- Fathi Hamad, minister of the interior in the de-facto Hamas administration, said that the rally was actually a referendum in favor of the "resistance" that would destroy the "occupation" [Israel] within a number of years (Alresala.net, March 23, 2014).
Demonstration Thanking Qatar
- On March 18, 2014, Hamas held a demonstration to thank Qatar for its support. The demonstration was attended by senior figures in the Hamas movement and a number of ministers from the de-facto Hamas administration. According to the speakers, in the recent past Qatar had given the Gaza Strip $407 million to complete construction and agricultural projects and to finance its supply of electricity (Ma'an News Agency, March 19, 2014).
Iranian Weapons Trickle into the Sinai Peninsula
- Sharif Ismail, Egypt's former security consultant in the northern Sinai Peninsula, said in a newspaper interview that because of the Sinai Peninsula's distance from the center of Egypt and its proximity to Israel, contacts had been made between Salafist-jihadi networks and "Palestinian Islamic organizations with ties to Iran." He said that there were large quantities of weapons in the region that had been sent from Iran. The weapons, he said, had been flown from Iran to the airport in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where they were stored. Later they were smuggled through Egypt to the Sinai Peninsula with the assistance of local Bedouins (Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, March 19, 2014).
The Negotiations with Israel
- After Mahmoud Abbas's return from meeting with American President Barack Obama, contacts with the United States continued. He spoke with John Kerry, the American secretary of state, and met with Martin Indyk, the American emissary to the peace process, in Jordan and in his office in Ramallah (Wafa News Agency, March 23, 2014).
- A senior Palestinian source said that Mahmoud Abbas told Barack Obama he agreed to extend the negotiations with Israel in return for the release of more Palestinian prisoners and a freeze on construction in the settlements. He said that if Israel delayed the fourth phase of prisoner release the Palestinians would appeal immediately to international organizations (Ma'an News Agency, March 24, 2014).
Mahmoud Abbas' Son Interviewed in the United States
- Tareq Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas' son, was interviewed by the New York Times and proposed his own solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Calling the negotiations futile, he said the ideal solution would be one state. He also rejected the idea of extending the negotiations, saying that the PA should appeal immediately to international agencies because of what he called the "procrastination of the occupation." He also proposed to his father that he bring the negotiations to an end, dismantle the PA and transfer responsibility for Judea and Samaria to Israel as a way of exerting pressure on it (New York Times, march 19, 2014).
Call to Boycott Israeli Sports
- On the sidelines of the Second Islamic Conference of Youth and Sports in Jeddah, the capital of Saudi Arabia, Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, met with ministers of sports from Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. They discussed how to enlist support for Palestinian sports and ways to expose international bodies to what he called the "Israel's racist methods in the field of sports." He stressed the need to force Israel to obey "the accepted rules" of international sports in their dealings with Palestine. He also threatened to act to have Israel ejected from all international sports bodies (Jibril Rajoub's Facebook page, March 17 and 20, 2014).
As March 25, 2014. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire and rocket hits inside the Gaza Strip.
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
The Gaza Ark is a project of activists inside the Gaza Strip and beyond trying to carry out actions to defy and challenge Israel inside the Gaza Strip against the so-called "Israeli siege."