Senior Hamas figures at a rally in the Gaza Strip protest the Egyptian court decision to designate the Hamas movement as a terrorist organization.
School children demonstrate at the Rafah crossing (Facebook page of PALINFO, February 26, 2015)
Senior PIJ figures pay a night visit to Jerusalem Brigades terrorist operatives (Paltoday.ps, February 27, 2015).
Senior PIJ figures pay a night visit to Jerusalem Brigades terrorist operatives (Paltoday.ps, February 27, 2015).
Activists in the campaign to boycott Israeli merchandise demonstrate at a store in Qalqiliya (PNN.ps, March 1, 2015).
Israeli Tnuva milk spilled on the ground in Manara Square in the center of Ramallah (Alwatan.today, March 2, 2015).
Cartoon in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official PA newspaper, in response to the Israeli Electric Company's cutting off electricity to the PA (Alhayat-j.com, February 25, 2015).
- This past week Israel's south remained quiet. In Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem mass demonstrations were held, including those marking the tenth anniversary of the Bil'in riots. There were violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces; four IDF soldiers and several dozen Palestinians were wounded.
- A large Hamas network smuggling raw materials and equipment to the Gaza Strip was recently uncovered in Israel. The materials, whose import into the Gaza Strip is strictly monitored, reached Hamas' military-terrorist infrastructure.
- On February 28, 2015, the Egyptian Court of Urgent Matters in Cairo designated the Hamas movement as a terrorist organization, not just its military-terrorist wing. The decision enraged senior Hamas figures, who claimed it was a political decision that served Israel, and was infamous and a "great disgrace" for Egypt.
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
- On February 26, 2015, a Palestinian attempted to stab an IDF soldier at the Gush Etzion junction. The soldier was not injured. The Palestinian was taken for interrogation (IDF Spokesman, February 26, 2015). This past week violence, rioting and terrorism continued in the usual locations in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem (Kafr Qadoum, near the Ofer prison, Bil'in, the Qalandia roadblock, etc.), part of what the Palestinians call the "popular resistance."
- Approximately 1,500 Palestinians, an unusually large number, participated in the Friday riots in close to a dozen locations throughout Judea and Samaria. In addition, approximately 500 Palestinians participated in riots in east Jerusalem. There were violent clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and IDF security forces, and several dozen Palestinians were wounded. Four IDF soldiers were wounded as well.
- This past Friday, February 27, 2015, Palestinians marked the tenth anniversary of the demonstrations in Bil'in. Several hundred Palestinians took part, including Layla Ghanam, the governor of the Ramallah district, Ali Abu Diyak secretary general of the Palestinian cabinet, and Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman. Violent clashes developed between Palestinians and Israeli security forces (Wafa.ps, February 27, 2015). According to the Ma'an News Agency, dozens of participants were wounded in the clashes and four were detained, two of them Israelis (Maannews.net, February 27, 2015).
Left: A Palestinian woman throws a stone at the Israeli security forces (Paltimes.net, February 27, 2015). Right: Layla Ghanam, governor of the Ramallah district, at the demonstration in Bil'in (Facebook page of the Ramallah district governor, February 27, 2015).
Surprise IDF Military Exercise in Judea and Samaria
- On March 1, 2015, the IDF held a large-scale surprise military exercise in Judea and Samaria involving 3,000 Israeli reserve soldiers. Its objective was to improve the IDF's operational capabilities and preparedness. The soldiers were being trained for the possible escalation of violence in the Jenin region, including riots and infiltrations into Israeli towns and villages (IDF Spokesman, March 3, 2015). The Palestinian media did not make particular mention of the exercise.
Two Terrorist Squads Apprehended
- Operatives of two Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) squads were apprehended by the Israeli security forces during December 2014 and January 2015. The operatives had recently carried out shooting attacks targeting Israeli vehicles and IDF posts. They were also involved in throwing Molotov cocktails and planting IEDs. As a result of the interrogation their weapons were handed over to the Israeli security forces.
- The following were some of the terrorist squads' activities (Israel Security Agency, February 26, 2015).
- The squad operating in the region of Bayt Rima (northwest of Ramallah) – The squad operatives carried out shooting attacks targeting Israeli vehicles and the IDF post at Nabi Saleh. During interrogation they confessed they were planning additional attacks, including a combined shooting-IED attack, a stabbing attack targeting an IDF soldier and the abduction of an IDF soldier. Five rifles, a handgun and ammunition were handed over to the authorities.
- The squad operating in the region of Bani Naim (Hebron region) – The squad operatives carried out shooting attacks targeting Israeli vehicles near Kiryat Arba (Hebron). They gave up a handgun, a rifle and ammunition that had been hidden in one of their homes. A man suspected of providing them with ammunition was also apprehended.
Village Mosque in Jab'a Torched, Apparently by Israeli "Price Tag" Operatives
- Muslims who came to pray at the Al-Huda mosque in the village of Jab'a (Bethlehem region) found that the mosque had been damaged by fire and the walls defaced with anti-Arab graffiti (Maannews.net, February 25, 2015). It was apparently an action carried out by Israeli extremists, "price tag" operatives. About a hundred residents demonstrated at the village entrance and blocked the road to protest the arson. A verbal clash developed between Israeli villagers and local Palestinians. The demonstration ended without exceptional incident.
- The Palestinian Authority (PA) ministry of religious endowments (the wakf) condemned the arson and graffiti, claiming Israel was responsible because it was clearly an Israeli call for a religious war. They called on the international community to support the Palestinian people and to investigate the event (Facebook page of the ministry of religious endowments, Ramallah, February 25, 2015). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed the arson of the mosque reflected the terrorist activities carried out by the Israeli prime minister and the settlers, and called for steps to be taken to deal with Israeli attacks against places of worship in the Palestinian territories (Facebook page of Sami Abu Zuhri, February 25, 2015).
Hamas Smuggling Network from Israel to the Gaza Strip Exposed
- A large smuggling network operated by Hamas was recently exposed. It dealt with acquiring and smuggling contraband materials used by Hamas in its military buildup in the Gaza Strip. The smuggled goods entered the Gaza Strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing and included thousands of tons of raw materials and equipment used by Hamas to construct its military facilities, tunnels and weapons. In some instances the materials, which were acquired in Israel, were delivered directly to Hamas' military-terrorist training bases and facilities. Israeli citizens were also involved in the network, supplying, storing and delivering the materials to the Gaza Strip.
- Using authorized Palestinian merchants, Hamas acquired large amounts of materials including iron and iron products; electric, electronic and communications equipment; and industrial raw materials (whose import into the Gaza Strip requires special permission). The materials were provided by suppliers from Israel, Judea and Samaria, and abroad. They were stored in Israel and smuggled into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Thus, systematically and over time, large quantities of materials and equipment were acquired and delivered to the Gaza Strip, eventually reaching Hamas' military-terrorist infrastructure. It is estimated that Hamas acquired raw materials and equipment worth tens of millions of dollars.
- The activities of the network were exposed when it was discovered that raw materials and equipment were being smuggled into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing (including raw materials for the manufacture of weapons as well as engines and compressors for digging tunnels). Some of the contraband objects were hidden in items whose import into the Gaza Strip was permitted. In one instance raw materials for the manufacture of explosives were found in a truck carrying humanitarian aid.
The Crossings – Recent Developments
- An Egyptian security source reported that granting a request from Mahmoud Abbas, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi instructed the Rafah crossing to be opened in the near future for pilgrims leaving the Gaza Strip. Nazmi Muhanna, PA director of the crossings authority, claimed that the PA leadership was in contact with Egypt to open the Rafah crossing (Alwatanvoice.com, February 28, 2015).
- A delegation of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figures, on a visit to Cairo, met with Egyptians to resolve the situation of the Rafah crossing. Delegation members suggested that the Egyptians turn management of the Rafah crossing over to the PA and its presidential guard and to appoint a new administration for the crossing, including in it some of the Hamas activists who work there (Raialyoum.com, March 2, 2015).
- A convoy of medical aid donated by a French organization entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing. The convoy, which brought medicines and medical equipment, had initially planned to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. According to Rami Abu Sultan, the organization's representative in the Gaza Strip, the trucks were detained in Egypt for three months and not permitted to enter the Gaza Strip (Paltimes.net, March 1, 2015).
Reconstructing the Gaza Strip
- On February 25, 2015, the Palestinian ministry of economy and trade said in an announcement it would begin paying compensation to 1,650 Gazan businesses and factories damaged during Operation Protective Edge. According to the announcement, only businesses damaged to the maximum sum of $2,845 would be entitled to receive compensation from the ministry (Paltimes.net, February 25, 2015).
- International agencies continue warning of the consequences of the situation in the Gaza Strip. Thirty international agencies issued a joint statement in which they warned of a renewal of the fighting in the Gaza Strip because of the delays in its reconstruction, and called to firmly establish the ceasefire. The announcement blamed Israel for most of the situation, claiming that according to international law it was an "occupying power" (Paltoday.tv, February 26, 2015).
The Hamas Movement Outlawed by Egypt
- On February 28, 2015, the Egyptian Court of Urgent Matters in Cairo designated Hamas as terrorist organization. The ruling was handed down following an appeal of two Egyptian lawyers, Dr. Samir Sabri and Ashraf Said. A month previously, on January 31, 2015, Hamas' military-terrorist wing was designated as a terrorist organization in a previous ruling by the same court.
- Hamas spokesmen strongly condemned the ruling, claiming it was a way for Egypt to "export its internal crises" and a political ruling that served Israel. Protest marches were organized throughout the Gaza Strip where marchers held signs and banners condemning the ruling (Maannews.net and Paltimes.net, February 28, 2015). The Palestinian Legislative Council issued a statement claiming the ruling contravened the principles of international law, which recognized the legitimate right of Hamas' "resistance" [i.e., terrorism and violence]. The Council demanded that Western countries intervene, and called on the Egyptian people and various Egyptian organizations to oppose the ruling (Safa.ps, February 28, 2015).
One of the protest marchers holds a sign reading, "The Egyptian court ruling, a deliberate overturning of [Egyptian] history." At the bottom the Arabic reads, "Hamas [is] resistance...Hamas is not terrorism" (Paltimes.net, February 28, 2015).
- The main reactions from Hamas were the following:
- Musheir al-Masri, senior Hamas figure, called the ruling "abusive and incompetent." He claimed the Egyptian judges had not reflected the will of the Egyptian people, who identified with the Palestinian people and the "resistance." He added that the ruling was "a desperate attempt" to export Egypt's internal crises at the expense of the Palestinian people, and only Israel benefitted from it (Al-Aqsa, February 28, 2015). At a demonstration in Jabaliya (northern Gaza Strip) he said that the ruling showed total support for Israel and damaged Egypt's honor. However, he also noted that Hamas sought to establish strategic relations with Egypt and wanted only security and stability for Egypt (Paltoday.tv, February 28, 2015).
- Fathi Hamad, former minister of the interior in the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, claimed the ruling did not surprise Hamas, but the entire movement hoped Egypt would revoke it. He claimed the ruling was a watershed in Egyptian policy and turned an enemy into a friend and a friend into an enemy. He said the ruling was "a mark of infamy" for Egyptian policy and completely divorced from Egyptian public opinion, which supported the Palestinian cause (Alquds.com, February 28, 2015).
- Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, claimed the Egyptian court ruling was political, harmed the Palestinian people and served Israel. He claimed the court was not authorized to make such a ruling. He noted that in the past the same court had refused to try a similar case regarding Israel on the grounds it did not have the authority to do so (Twitter account of Musa Abu Marzouq, March 1, 2015).
- Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman, claimed that because of the ruling Egypt could no longer be considered an honest broker for the various Palestinian issues, especially the internal Palestinian reconciliation. He claimed he did not reject the possibility that the Egyptian ruling had been coordinated with Israel to "strike a blow at the resistance in Gaza" (Samanews.com, February 28, 2015).
- Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas spokesman, claimed that the Egyptian court ruling was grave and "a great humiliation" for Egypt. Its objective was to harm the Palestinian people and the forces of the "resistance." The decision, he claimed, turned the "occupation" into a friend and the Palestinian people into an enemy (Maannews.net, February 28, 2015).
- Ghazi Hamed, senior Hamas figure, called the ruling "grave and unjust." He claimed it gave Israel "a green light" [to hurt Hamas]. He denied Hamas had any involvement in Egypt's internal affairs, and that Hamas only "struggled against the Zionist enemy" (Quds.net, February 28, 2015).
Statements about the Confrontation with Israel
- Fathi Hamad, minister of the interior in the former de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, gave a belligerent speech at a so-called international scientific conference held in the Gaza Strip. He claimed the Muslim nation and the Arab countries had to prepare for the liberation of Palestine. He called for a long range plan against Israel which would include all the Arab peoples. He also said a new front against Israel had to be opened by the Middle Eastern states, including those not bordering on Israel (Website of the ministry of the interior international he Gaza Strip, February 27, 2015).
- In a rare public appearance, Marwan Issa, head of Hamas' military-terrorist wing, claimed that Hamas did not seek a military confrontation with Israel at the present time. He said Hamas was currently in the process of doubling its strength for a future confrontation by manufacturing rockets. He claimed Hamas understood the complexity of the current situation, but would not surrender to it, and therefore was forging alliances with anyone who could donate weapons (possibly a reference to Iran), "without [Hamas'] being in anyone's pocket" (Paltoday.tv, March 2, 2015).
Senior PIJ Figures Visit Terrorist Operatives on the Ground
- On February 26, 2015, senior PIJ leaders paid a night visit to operatives of its military-terrorist wing deployed in the Rafah region. The delegation included Sheik Nafez Azzam (a member of the PIJ's political bureau) and Ahmed al-Mudallal. The visit was meant to support the morale of the operatives of the Jerusalem Brigades, the organization's military-terrorist wing (Facebook page of the PIJ in Rafah, February 27, 2015)
Boycott of Israeli Merchandise
- Boycott of Israeli merchandise in the PA territories intensified:
- Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf called on all Palestinians to participate in the so-called "popular resistance" by boycotting Israeli merchandise and keeping it from reaching the shelves of Palestinian stores and markets (Wafa.ps, February 27, 2015).
- On March 1, 2015, the national campaign to boycott Israeli merchandise began in the Qalqiliya district, with the participation of senior Fatah figures and Qalqiliya's mayor. Throughout the day activists entered local stores to verify whether or not they were selling Israeli merchandise (PNN.ps and Fatehwatan.ps, March 1, 2015).
- On March 2, 2015, dozens of Palestinian residents and campaign activists hijacked a truck in Ramallah carrying Israeli Tnuva dairy products and threw its contents into the street in Manara Square in the center of the city (Alwatan.today, March 2, 2015).
The Italian Parliament Approves Non-Binding Recognition of Palestinian State
- By a vote of 300 to 45, the lower house of the Italian parliament approved a non-binding appeal to the government to recognize an independent Palestinian state, but without de facto parliamentary recognition. A motion was also approved calling on Israel and the Palestinians to return to direct negotiations. The PA praised the vote and called on Italy for full recognition of the Palestinian state. The PA claimed the step strengthened the two-state solution agreed on by the international community (Wafa.ps, February 28, 2015).
Supply of Electricity to Judea and Samaria Decreased
- The Israeli Electric Company cut back the supply of electricity to the PA, especially in the regions of Nablus and Jenin, because of the PA's enormous debt. The action is meant to exert pressure on the PA to pay its debt. The State of Israel said that the State was not a side in the business dispute between the Electric Company and the PA.
- According to an unverified Palestinian report, the Israeli Electric Company reached an agreement with the government of Israel by which the government would transfer Palestinian tax revenues to the Electric Company in compensation for the debt and delay in payment, and electricity would no longer be supplied (Al-Najah Radio, March 1, 2015).
Incitement to Terrorism at an Jerusalem Exhibition in Nablus
- On March 1, 2015, the Islamic Bloc at Al-Najah University in Nablus launched an exhibition devoted to Jerusalem. The opening was attended by the head of the engineering department and Muna Mansour, a Hamas-faction member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. The exhibition, which lasted a week, had displays of the Temple Mount with cardboard figures of armed Hamas military-terrorist operatives. It also had cartoons of Israel and the Israeli prime minister destroying the Temple Mount, a display of a vehicular attack, and similar items (Facebook pages of the Islamic Bloc of Al-Najah University and PALDF, March 1, 2015).
Displays from the exhibition. Upper left: Yehuda Glick, dressed as an ultra-Orthodox Jew with targets on his forehead and over his heart. Yehuda Glick is an Israeli activist who promotes the entrance of Jews onto the Temple Mount, and recently escaped death by assassination. Upper right: A vehicular attack with a bleeding body. Above the car are pictures of the Palestinian terrorists who carried out vehicular attacks in 2014. Lower picture: A Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative "defending" Al-Aqsa mosque (Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc of Al-Najah University, March 1, 2015).
As of march 3, 2015. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
According to the Israel Security Agency website, March 2, 2015.