The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation as presented by a Hamas newspaper: Hamas will not abandon the "resistance," i.e., violence and terrorism (Felesteen, May 23, 2014).
Rioting Palestinians confront Israeli security forces in the village of Qadoum (Qalqiliya district) (Wafa.ps, May 23, 2014)
Palestinians attack Israeli security forces near the Ofer prison.
Azzam al-Ahmad is interviewed by local Gazan media upon his arrival in the Gaza Strip (Wataniya TV, May 26, 2014).
"Military police" forces deployed in Gaza City
March held in Hebron in support of the hunger striking prisoners
Mahmoud Abbas receives the Pope in Bethlehem (Wafa.ps, May 25, 2014).
- This past week one rocket hit was identified in the western Negev. Terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip claimed responsibility for mortar shell fire and an IED placed near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles. Three people were shot and killed in Belgium, two of them Israelis, in a shooting attack apparently motivated by anti-Semitism.
- In the internal Palestinian arena contacts for forming an interim government continue. According to Mahmoud Abbas, it will be made up of independent ministers without organizational affiliation and will operate according to guidelines he will set.
- The Palestinians exploited the Pope's visit to the Palestinian Authority (PA) for anti-Israeli political propaganda. At a joint press conference with the Pope, Mahmoud Abbas called on Israel to make peace with Israel but blamed its actions for the mass emigration of Muslim and Christian Palestinians from the West Bank (Note: In reality, many Palestinian Christians emigrated from Judea and Samaria because of pressures exerted by Muslims, not because of Israel's actions.)
Detention of Palestinian Who Planned to Abduct an Israeli
- An Israeli security force action led to the detention of Murad Ali Hussein, a Palestinian staying in Israel illegally who tried to carry out several terrorist attacks in the northern region of Israel (the Galilee), including an abduction in the village of Avtalion.
- Murad Ali Hussein, a resident of Qabatiya (in the region of Jenin), 25, was imprisoned in an Israeli jail between 2008 and 2009 for trying to stab an IDF soldier at a roadblock. On April 19, 2014, he entered the home of a family in Avtalion. He was armed with a knife and planned to abduct a member of the household as a bargaining chip for the release of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists. He did not succeed and fled the scene.
- During interrogation he admitted that several times during April he had thrown Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles on the roads around Avtalion. He also tried to use Molotov cocktails to set a forest grove on fire. He claimed to have acted alone although he tried to convince other Palestinians staying in Israel illegally to join him.
- This past year there was an increase in the number of illegal Palestinians who participated in terrorist attacks inside Israeli territory. They included involvement in planting a bomb on a bus in Tel Aviv in December 2013, the murder of IDF soldier Eden Atias in November 2013, and the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Tomer Hazan in September 2013.
Three People Killed, Two of Them Israelis, in a Terrorist Attack in Belgium
- Three people were killed and one critically injured in a shooting attack at the Jewish Museum in the center of Brussels, Belgium, on Saturday, May 24, 2014. At around four o'clock in the afternoon a man drove to the museum, parked his car, went into the museum and opened fire. He continued shooting as he left the museum and escaped in his car. Two of the victims were an Israeli couple from Tel Aviv who were in the museum lobby at the time.
- The motivation for the attack is still unclear but is assumed to have been anti-Semitic. After the attack the Belgian minister of the interior announced that security at Jewish institutions would be increased. The Belgian ministry of justice said in an announcement that the security camera footage revealed that the murderer had acted alone and in cold blood, indicating he might have had previous experience in terrorist activity (Ynetnews.com, May 25, 2014).
Rocket Fire into Israel
- This past week one rocket hit was identified in Israel's south. It fell in an open area. There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
Responsibility Claimed for Mortar Shell Fire, IED
- The information bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) said in an announcement that its operatives were responsible for firing mortar shells and planting an IED near an IDF bulldozer north of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip (Maannews.net, May 21, 2014). The military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees also claimed responsibility for the IED (Forum.qawem.org, May 21, 2014). Later the same day the Palestinian media reported that a Gazan from the region of Khan Yunis had been wounded by IDF fire (Al-Ra'i, Paltimes.net, May 21, 2014).
Palestinian "Popular Resistance" 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. The Friday riots held at the traditional friction points (Bil'in, Ni'lin, Nebi Saleh, Qadoum, etc.).
- The Friday events in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip centered on the hunger-striking administrative detainees in Israeli jails ,and their theme was "Friday of rage." There were solidarity demonstrations, public prayers, sermons in the mosques and mass marches during which marchers waved Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) flags. The demonstrations ended without exceptional incident.
- The following incidents occurred this past week:
- May 23, 2014 – During the afternoon hours stones were thrown at vehicles at the Asaf Junction (near Ofra). On man sustained minor injuries and his vehicle was seriously damaged. The man, a Palestinian, was evacuated to a hospital (Tazpit.org.il, May 23, 2014)
- May 25, 2014 – The IDF trapped four members of a Palestinian terrorist squad. The four, all residents of the Jelazoun refugee camp (near Ramallah), planted several IEDs in the region of Beit El (near Ramallah). At the time of their apprehension one of them dealt with detonating an IED he was planning to throw at Beit El. IDF soldiers opened fire at the squad and wounded one of them. The detainees, some of them Hamas operatives, belonged to a larger squad, some of whose members had previously been detained (IDF Spokesman, May 25, 2014).
- May 26, 2014 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus and other vehicles near the Al-Aroub refugee camp (Hebron region). There were no casualties. The bus and another vehicle were damaged (Tazpit.org.il, May 26, 2014).
Implications of Disbanding Hamas' Tunnel Committee
- Following the disbanding of the de-facto Hamas administration's tunnel committee in the wake of the destruction of the tunnels by the Egyptian authorities, Issam al-Da'alis, advisor to Ismail Haniya, head of the Hamas administration, issued an announcement. He said that the permanent workers of the borders and tunnels' authority, whose work had ended, would be integrated into the national security services (Al-Ra'i, May 21, 2014).
- Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the heads of Hamas, said that relations between Hamas and Egypt would improve after the Egyptian presidential elections. He said the upcoming regime would determine the nature of Egypt's relations with Hamas. He said Hamas' relations with Egyptian general intelligence continued as before and that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's call to Hamas to rehabilitate its relations with Egypt was proof that he did not consider Hamas a terrorist organization (Al-Jazeera, May 19, 2014).
Three PIJ Terrorist Operatives Killed
- This past week three operatives of the PIJ's military-terrorist wing were killed in "work accidents" in the Gaza Strip:
- On May 24, 2014, the Palestinian media reported that two PIJ [terrorist] operatives were killed and two more were seriously injured in a blast that occurred in a Jerusalem Brigades training camp west of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip (Paltoday.ps, May 24, 2014).
- On May 26, 2014, a spokesman for the Hamas administration ministry of the interior announced the death of a Jerusalem Brigades operative, the result of an explosion in Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. The explosion apparently occurred when a local rocket or IED blew up (Maannews.net, Safa.ps, May 26, 2014).
Gazan Killed in Syria
- The Facebook page of the Hamas-affiliated Aza al-A'an issued a notice of the death of Wadi' Nafez Washah, akaAbu Khatab the Gazan, who lived in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. He died in the battles around Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, fighting in the ranks of the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) (Facebook page of Aza al-A'an and alplatformmedia.com, May 25, 2014).
- A Salafist-jihadi network based in the Gaza Strip calling itself the Company of Sheikh al-Nur al-Maqdis issued the announcement of his death. Apparently, more than 30 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have left for Syria, most of them jihad organization operatives. So far about ten of them have been killed in the battles.
Left: The death notice issued for Wadi' Nafez Washah, aka Abu Khatab the Gazan (Alplatformmedia.com, May 25, 2014). Right: Wadi' Nafez Washah, aka Abu Khatab the Gazan (Aza al-A'an, May 25, 2014).
Nakba Day Statements about the Right of "Resistance"
- At the Nakba Day conference held in Qatar, Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, gave a speech praising the "resistance" [i.e., the path of terrorism and violence] and stressing its importance. He said "the resistance has a long history and it will only stop with the liberation of Palestine and the return of the refugees to the lands of the homeland." He added that "the resistance will exist as long as the occupation exists." He said that the "path of resistance" was rooted in Palestinian tradition. He mentioned that at the outset Hamas was a resistance organization and only later did it also turn to political activity. He claimed there was no contradiction between political activity and the "resistance," but made it clear that political activity was not a substitute for the "resistance." He added that the West Bank had to be "liberated" as the Gaza Strip had been "liberated" (Al-Aqsa TV, May 20, 2014).
- Hamas' military-terrorist wing issued a video for Nakba Day in which Abu Obeida, its spokesman, said that the Nakba had been the main motivation for the existence of the "resistance," which, he said, would continue "to brandish its arms in the struggle against the occupation." He stressed the commitment of the Palestinian people to continue jihad and its "resistance" to the "Zionist occupation" until they had achieved their objectives (Paltimes.net, May 25, 2014).
Left: Abu Obeida in a Hamas military-terrorist wing video (Paltimes.net, May 25, 2014). Right: Khaled Mashaal gives a speech in Qatar (Palestine-info.info, May 20, 2014).
Calls for the Abduction of Israeli Soldiers
- During a march held by Hamas in Khan Yunis in solidarity with the hunger-striking administrative detainees, Atallah Abu al-Sabah, minister of prisoner affairs in the de-facto Hamas administration, called on the Palestinian terrorist organizations to recruit armed groups to abduct Israeli soldiers who would be exchanged for Palestinian prisoners. He said it was unthinkable that an Israeli soldier could enjoy security and walk around the streets of Ramallah and Al-Bireh while Palestinian prisoners were behind bars (Filastin al-Yawm, May 23, 2014).
- Political contacts continue between senior Hamas figures and Iranian representatives. Khaled Mashaal met on the sidelines of the Nakba Day conference in Qatar with an aide to the Iranian minister of foreign affairs, who was there in an official capacity. According to sources in Doha, Khaled Mashaal, hinting at Hamas-Syria relations, stressed Iranian support for the Palestinian people without Iran's forcing Hamas to make concessions (Alquds.co.uk, May 24, 2014).
- Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV reported that a delegation of Hamas figures had secretly visited Iran and met with senior representatives of the Iranian regime. According to the report, during the visit documents were signed for Hamas-Iran military support (Al-Mayadeen TV, May 23, 2014). Mahmoud al-Zahar, a leading Hamas figure in the Gaza Strip, said that progress was being made in relations between Hamas and Iran and that he expected relations to be restored to the status quo ante. He said that it was logical to improve relations with anyone who supported the "resistance" (Quds.net, May 26, 2014).
Contacts to Form an Interim Reconciliation Government Continue
- This past week contacts continued to form an interim government as part of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah's Central Committee and responsible for the reconciliation talks, arrived in the Gaza Strip on May 26, 2014. Upon arrival he said that apparently the upcoming meeting would be the last before the government was formed (Maannews.net, May 26, 2014). While in the Gaza Strip he met with Hamas representatives, including Musa Abu Marzouq, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau (Alresala.net, May 26, 2014).
The Gaza Strip's Military-Security Networks within the Reconciliation Talks
- In view of a possible decision to form an interim government as part of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, the Hamas administration is establishing facts on the ground. For example:
- Fathi Hamad, Hamas minister of the interior, ordered the name of the General Department of Military Affairs to be changed to the "military police" and for it to merge with the national security apparatus. On May 26, 2014, the "military police" deployed throughout the Gaza Strip for the first time. Their role is defined as preserving order and discipline, supervising the military appearance of the security forces and responsibility for the department of military medical and legal services (Website of the Hamas administration's ministry of the interior, May 26, 2014).
- Fathi Hamad inaugurated a new center for the civil defense apparatus in the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip (Safa.ps, May 25, 2014).
- Senior Hamas figures continue making statements relating to the future of the security apparatuses and the military-terrorist wings of Hamas (and the other terrorist organizations): Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said that the rebuilding of Hamas' security apparatuses would be controlled by an Arab committee headed by Egypt. He repeated his rejection of the possibility of taking steps against the military wings of the various organizations operating in the Gaza Strip as part of the reconciliation agreement (Al-Jazeera, May 24, 2014). Iyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the Hamas ministry of the interior, said that he expected the security apparatuses in Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria to remain without alteration until the elections. He said they would absorb 3,000 operatives from the PA's security apparatuses [in the Gaza Strip]. He added that the presidential guard would become responsible for the Rafah crossing (Safa.ps, May 24, 2014).
PIJ Position on the Reconciliation Agreement
- Ramadan Shallah, PIJ secretary general, said that his organization would not take sides in the [reconciliation] process because it was not party to the rift [between Hamas and Fatah]. However, in principle, he was in favor of the reconciliation. He said both sides had assured him that the "resistance" would not be negatively affected by the agreement, although it would necessitate coordination, mainly with Hamas (Alhayat.com, May 20, 2014).
- Khader Habib, a senior PIJ figure, said that his organization supported the reconciliation agreement because it was the best way to cope with the various problems facing the Palestinians. However, he said, his organization would only join the PLO if it underwent reforms which included rehabilitating its institutions, electing a new Palestinian Legislative Council, and a commitment that PLO policy would not be based on recognition of Israel. He added that he hoped that after the government had been formed, Hamas would continue to carry out its role of "armed resistance," because, he said, the military wing of the PIJ could not deal with Israel on its own (Al-monitor.com, May 14, 2014).
Remarks by Mahmoud Abbas
- Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah with Israeli journalist Avi Issacharoff. Mahmoud Abbas told him that the PLO did not intend to apply for membership in additional international organizations, at least not in the near future. However, he said that the Palestinians were awaiting further political developments. He also said that during his meeting with Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni he had made it clear that the new unity government would operate according to guidelines determined by him. He said the entire government would be formed of independent ministers without organizational affiliation. However, he said, there was no way to be certain that he would head the government (Walla.co.il, May 21, 2014).
Hunger Strike of Administrative Detainees in Israeli Prisons Continues
- The hunger strike of 235 administrative detainees in Israeli prisons continues and was joined by 1,290 additional detainees who held a one-day warning strike. Throughout Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip solidarity events were held. Rami Hamdallah, PA prime minister, said that the issue of the prisoners was at the top of the PA priority list and that the PA would continue its efforts in the international arena to secure their release. He said Israel was responsible for the hunger-strikers' health (Wafa.ps, May 20, 2014).
- Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners' club, warned of a possible deterioration in the condition of the hunger striking prisoners and those who had joined them. (Voice of Palestine, May 25, 2014). He said the PA leadership continued speaking to the international community to exert pressure on Israel (Voice of Palestine, May 25, 2014).
Pope's Visit to the PA Exploited for Anti-Israeli Political Propaganda
- The Pope's visit to the PA was exploited for anti-Israeli political propaganda. At a joint press conference held by the Pope and Mahmoud Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas called on the Israeli government to stop its activities which violated international law. He claimed that Israel's violations were what had caused many Christian and Muslim Palestinians to emigrate from the West Bank. He also called on Israel to make a just peace with the Palestinians (Maannews.net, May 25, 2014). (Note: In reality, many Palestinian Christians have emigrated from Judea and Samaria, especially from the region of Bethlehem, because of pressures exerted by Muslims, not because of Israel's actions.)
- Fatah's Central Council, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, met in Ramallah and praised the Pope's visit to Bethlehem. The Council stressed that the historic visit was important for the liberation and defense of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and that it bore a message of freedom and independence (Al-ayyam.com, May 25, 2014). For the Pope's visit the Palestinian museum in Beir Zeit, commissioned by the presidential committee for church affairs, constructed giant pictures describing "the life of the Palestinians under the occupation." The posters were based on Renaissance pictures depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments which were photomontaged with pictures of Palestinians (PNN TV, May 19 and 21; palwatch.org, May 26, 2014).
Left: Caravaggio's "The Incredulity of Thomas" (1602), in which "Doubting Thomas" inspects Christ's wounds. Right: The Palestinian version of the painting, in which the wounds have been replaced by a PA identity card. Below: The giant picture hanging in Bethlehem (PNN TV, May 19 and 21; palwatch.org, May 26, 2014)
Reporter from Israel's Channel 2 TV Visits the Refugee Camp in Jenin
- A reporter from Israel's Channel 2 TV filmed a visit to the Jenin refugee camp. According to his report, the refugee camp is a Hamas-PIJ stronghold and the PA finds it difficult to control it and impose law and order. The day of the reporter's visit Hamas held a rally in memory of the son of senior Hamas operative Jamal Abu al-Hayja, who was killed in an IDF action in the refugee camp. The rally was attended by representatives of Hamas, the PIJ and Fatah. Among them were also masked, armed operatives who fired live ammunition into the air. They displayed their weapons and said that Israel was their enemy and that "peace with Israel will be achieved only with a rifle." Thereporter met with Palestinian children, who carried improvised weapons and expressed the desire to become shaheeds in the war against Israel (Channel 2 TV, Israel, May 25, 2014).
Senior Hezbollah Operative Killed in Syria: Former Israeli Prisoner and Wanted by the FBI
- On May 26, 2014, Hezbollah said in an announcement that Fawzi Ayoub (Haj Abu Abbas), a Hezbollah military commander in Syria, had been killed in Aleppo. According to Lebanese and Syrian websites, Fawzi Ayoub, from the town of Eyn Qana in south Lebanon, died in an ambush set by rebel forces for Hezbollah fighters (Saidalonline.com, May 26, 2014). He had been imprisoned in Israel in the past and released in the Tannenbaum exchange deal. He was also wanted by the FBI.
- Fawzi Ayoub was detained by the Palestinian police in Hebron in 2000, having gone there from Jerusalem. Interrogation revealed he was a Hezbollah agent. He went from Lebanon to Europe in October 2000 on a Canadian passport. In Europe he changed his identity, bought new clothes and removed all indication of his being Lebanese. He met with a Hezbollah handler who took his Canadian passport and gave him a fake American passport, which he used to enter Israel. He went to Jerusalem and looked for places where he could hide weapons (Ynetnews.com, nrg.co.il, May 27, 2014).
- In June 2002 Ayoub was apprehended by IDF forces during an action in Hebron. In 2003 Israel released him in the Tannenbaum exchange deal (Ynetnews.com, nrg.co.il, May 27, 2014). In 2009 the FBI put him on its most wanted terrorist list because he tried to fake a passport to enter Israel and carry out a terrorist attack for Hezbollah.
Left: Fawzi Ayoub on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list (Fbi.gov). Right: Fawzi Ayoub in Hezbollah uniform (Alhadathnews.net, May 26, 2014).
According to the Israel Security Agency website, May 21, 2014.
May 27, 2014. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire and rocket hits inside the Gaza Strip.
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
For further information about Gazans who have gone to Syria to fight, see the January 19, 2014 bulletin "Israeli Arabs and Palestinians Join the Ranks of the Rebels in Syria, Mainly Organizations Affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Global Jihad."
To see the other pictures, visit http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=11523.
Elhanan Tannenbaum, a reserve officer in the IDF, was tempted to participate in a drug deal and was abducted to Lebanon where he was turned over to Hezbollah. He was released in an exchange deal that also returned to Israel the remains of three IDF soldiers abducted in Har Dov (the eastern sector of south Lebanon). In return for his release and the release of the remains of the IDF soldiers, Israel freed hundreds of Palestinian and Lebanese security prisoners.