The scene of the vehicular attack in Jerusalem that injured five people (Photo by David Diamant for Tazpit.org.il, March 6, 2015)
Pictures taken after the Rafah crossing was temporarily opened (Paltoday.ps, March 9, 2015).
The demonstration held by the DFLP. Demonstrators hold the organization's flag (Facebook page of PALINFO, March 4, 2015).
Gazan women demonstrate at the Gaza port (Paltoday.tv, March 5, 2015).
Reinforced Hamas security forces along the Egypt-Gaza Strip border (Website of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, March 9, 2015).
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades operatives step on an Israeli flag (YouTube, March 8, 2015).
Pictures taken after the Rafah crossing was temporarily opened (Paltoday.ps, March 9, 2015).
Vehicular Attack in Jerusalem
- On March 6, 2015, a Palestinian drove a vehicle to a Border Police base in northern Jerusalem and rammed into five people standing on the sidewalk. Four of them belonged to the Israeli security forces. He then drove away. After shots were fired at the car from the direction of the base the driver got out, holding a meat cleaver. Security forces shot and subdued him. He was taken to a hospital in critical condition. Close to the same spot, in November 2014 a vehicular attack was carried out in which a Border Police officer was killed and 13 people were wounded.
- The terrorist was Muhammad Salaimeh, 22, from Ras al-Amoud in east Jerusalem; he had a criminal record. According to the Israeli media he was not known to the Israeli security forces as affiliated with terrorist organizations. The Palestinians claimed he carried out the attack following reports in the social networks that Muslims praying on the Temple Mount had been harmed. The day before the attack he posted a picture of himself on his Facebook page that showed him draped in the Palestinian flag with the words "Soon for the sake of Allah and the homeland." After the attack masked Palestinians smashed gravestones in Jewish cemeteries on the Mount of Olives not far from the terrorist's house.
Palestinian Responses to the Attack
- The Palestinian media provided extensive coverage of the attack. The PA, which in principle regards vehicular attacks as manifestations of the so-called "popular resistance," did not respond. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri and Fawzi Barhoum praised the attack on their Facebook pages, calling it a "heroic attack," calling it a "natural response" to "the crimes Israel commits against the Palestinian people." Fawzi Barhoum said that the "extremist, racist" Israeli government was responsible for the situation in Jerusalem and called for attacks to continue in the West Bank and Jerusalem (Facebook, March 6, 2015). Senior PIJ figure Ahmad Mudallal praised the attack, saying it sent the message to Israel that it could not evade punishment for all the "crimes" it committed against the Palestinian people.
Hamas spokesmen Sami Abu Zuhri and Fawzi Barhoum post praise for the attack on their Facebook pages.
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Clash between Israeli Navy Vessels and Fishing Boats
- On the night of March 6, 2015, Israeli Navy vessels identified boats from the Gaza Strip engaged in a suspected terrorist activity. The soldiers ordered the fishing boats to halt. The Palestinian media reported that on March 7, 2015, Israeli ships shot at fishing boats in the waters off the Gaza Strip west of Gaza City, killing one of the fishermen. Two other fishermen were detained and taken for interrogation (Safa.ps and Wafa.ps, March 7, 2015). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Israel of a gross violation of the lull agreement, and said Israel would be responsible for the consequences (Safa.ps, March 7, 2015).
"Popular Resistance" Terrorism and Violence Continue
- This past week the violence and terrorism continued in the usual locations in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, part of what the Palestinians call the "popular resistance." For the most part the violence centered on throwing stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli houses and vehicles. Some of the prominent attacks were:
- On March 6, 2015, Palestinians threw stones at the car of an Israeli family near Wadi Joz in east Jerusalem. There were no casualties. The rear window of the car was damaged.
- On March 7 and 8, 2015, stones were thrown at the light railway in the Shuafat neighborhood in north Jerusalem. There were no casualties but heavy damage was reported to the railway cars.
- On March 8, 2015, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli bus in Gush Etzion (south of Jerusalem). There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
- On March 8, 2015, stones were thrown at an Israeli bus in Al-Fawar (near Hebron). There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
- On March7, 2015, stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near Talmon (northwest of Ramallah) There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
- Over the weekend there were clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces at a number of locations in Judea and Samaria, including a riot near the Ofer prison (west of Ramallah). Palestinians threw stones at the Israeli security forces and tried to block the road with rocks to prevent the arrival of Israeli military vehicles (Facebook page of PALINFO, March 6, 2015). On March 7, 2015, a march was held to the Qalandia roadblock to mark International Women's Day, attended by many Palestinian women. The marchers approached the Israeli security forces posted at the roadblock, who responded with crowd-dispersal measures (Wafa.ps, March 7, 2015).
Summary of Terrorist Attacks, February 2015
- In February 2015 there was a significant decline in the number of terrorist attacks carried out in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem compared with January 2015. A total of 96 attacks were carried out in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem (compared with 124 in January 2015). Of them, 84 were carried out in Judea and Samaria (compared with 105) and 12 in Jerusalem (compared with 18).
- Most of the attacks (76, 11 in Jerusalem) involved Molotov cocktails. There was also one stabbing attack in Jerusalem, in which an Israeli civilian was wounded. There were 15 attacks involvingIEDs and improvised hand grenades and four attacks involving light arms gunfire.
The Crossings – Recent Developments
- On March 9, 2015, the Egyptian authorities opened the Rafah crossing in both directions for two days for the passage of humanitarian cases only (AFP.com, March 7, 2015). According to the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, on March 9, 2015, 361 Palestinians left the Gaza Strip and 956 entered. Thirty-seven Palestinians were returned to the Gazan side after the Egyptian authorities refused them entrance into Egyptian territory. No reason for the refusal was given (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, March 9, 2015). After four buses had passed through the crossing, the Egyptians refused to allow any more Gazans to enter (Al-Aqsa TV, March 9, 2015).
- "A source close to the PIJ" claimed that opening the Rafah crossing was the result of contacts between last week's PIJ delegation and the Egyptian leadership. According to the "source," opening the crossing for longer periods of time would be conditioned on having the Palestinian national consensus government operate in the Gaza Strip and a commitment from Hamas that it would not intervene in Egypt's internal affairs (Aa.com.tr, March 6, 2015). Wael Atiya, Egyptian representative in the PA, said that the Rafah crossing would open only when it had been brought under the control of the Palestinian presidential guard in accordance with agreements. He added that Egypt was cooperating with the legitimate Palestinian regime, i.e., the PA.
The Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip
- A public opinion poll taken by the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency about the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip had the following results: 51.16% of all those who participated said that mistakes made by Hamas were responsible for the delay in the reconstruction; 45.2% said that mistakes made by the PA were responsible; 3.64% said that mistakes made by the UN were responsible. Israel was not given to survey participants as an option (Maannews.net, March 7, 2015).
- Civilian demonstrations protesting the delays continue:
- On March 4, 2015, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) organized a demonstration to demand that the Central Council begin reconstruction and that the so-called "siege" be ended (Facebook page of PALINFO, March 4, 2015).
- On March 4, 2015, the "association of the Palestinian displaced persons" held a demonstration to demand the implementation of their right to rebuild houses destroyed in Operation Protective Edge (Paltoday.tv, March 4, 2015).
- On March 5, 2015, Gazan women held a demonstration at the Gaza Port to demand its opening (Paltoday.tv, March 5, 2015).
Report: Gaza Strip Power Plant Out of Fuel
- The Palestinian Energy and Natural Resources Authority in the Gaza Strip announced that the Gaza Strip power plant had shut down on the night of March 4, 2015, due to lack of fuel. That occurred after the money donated by Qatar to buy fuel had run out. The Energy Authority reported it could not purchase more fuel (Website of the Palestinian Energy authority, March 5, 2015). The power plant provides 20% of the Gaza Strip's electricity.
Inquiry Commission into Operation Protective Edge Requests Delay
- The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Commission to investigate Operation Protective Edge, which was supposed to present its conclusions on March 23, 2015, sent a letter to the president of the council asking to delay the presentation until June 2015. According to the letter, the commission needed the extra time to examine additional information received in recent weeks (Website of the UNHRC, March 9, 2015). Note: Several weeks ago the commission chairman, William Schabas, resigned and a new chairperson was appointed.
Proposal for a Long-Term Lull with Hamas
- The Israeli news site Wallah! reported that Western diplomats had sent communiqués to Israel according to which Hamas was interested in reaching a long-term lull, including the cessation of all conflict with Israel and the lifting of the siege of the Gaza Strip (Walla.co.il, March 9, 2015). Hamas confirmed it had received an appeal from a European source but claimed it had not yet responded:
- Salah al-Bardawil, senior Hamas figure, said there had in fact been a European appeal, but claimed that Hamas had not yet responded. He claimed that the lull with Israel would have to be part of "a comprehensive national program" and that all the organizations in the Gaza Strip had to agree to it (Alresala.net, March 9, 2015).
- Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, claimed that a number of international agencies had in fact presented Hamas with the proposal, but that Hamas had not yet given its answer. That was because it wanted to discuss it first and reach a national consensus (Facebook page of Sami Abu Zuhri, March 9, 2015).
- The issue of Hamas' relations with Egypt and the ruling of the Egyptian court to outlaw the entire Hamas movement continue to be a matter of concern for the Hamas leadership. Ismail Haniya, former head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, said, in a telephone conversation with Muhammad Subhi, aide to the secretary general of the Arab League, that Hamas was willing to listen to any suggestion that would lead to an improvement in its relations with Egypt. He said that Egyptian security was at the top of Hamas' priorities and denied accusations that Hamas intervened in Egypt's internal affairs (Paltimes.net, March 4, 2015). In a Friday sermon he said that Hamas was committed to Egypt's security. He said that Hamas had received communiqués from the Egyptian political leadership stating that the decisions of the Egyptian court did not reflect government policy (Al-Aqsa TV, March 6, 2015).
- On the ground it was reported that Hamas' security forces had reinforced their presence along the border with Egypt, erected earthworks and redeployed. According to a senior figure in the general security force, the steps were taken to increase Hamas' control of the border region. However, the source denied that there was a connection between the steps taken by Hamas and the ruling of the Egyptian court (Aa.com.tr, March 4, 2015).
Hamas Military-Terrorist Wing Propaganda Video
- Hamas' military-terrorist wing produced a propaganda video aimed at the Israeli audience. Entitled "You have no security, not even when you sleep," it shows a stereotype ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israeli civilian awoken from a nightmare in which he is chased by Hamas operatives (Qassam.ps, March 9, 2015).
Left: An "ultra-Orthodox Jewish man" and to the right, Arabic reading, "You have no security, not even when you sleep." Right: The ultra-Orthodox Jew run over (Qassam.ps, March 9, 2015).
Reconstruction of the Terrorist Organizations' Military Capabilities
- The PIJ's military-terrorist wing held a military exercise in the central Gaza Strip. Several dozen military-terrorist operatives participated, simulating an attack involving emerging from tunnels (Youm7.com, March 5, 2015). According to Abu Ahmed, responsible for training new PIJ recruits, the objective of the exercise was to expose the capabilities of Al-Nukhba operatives (an elite unit), entrusted with storming IDF posts (AFP.com, March 6, 2015).
- The Agence France-Presse team accompanying the PIJ training exercise was permitted to enter one of the tunnels and watch the activity first hand. Senior PIJ figure Abu al-Baraa', interviewed by the team, said that today, half a year after Operation Protective Edge, the organization's military capabilities were much higher than they had been at the beginning of the operation. He claimed the organization did not rely only on tunnels but had "other capabilities." He claimed that because they could not smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip from Egypt they were relying on their own abilities to develop and manufacture them. Abu Ahmed, responsible for training new recruits, claimed that their training lasted from between one to six months (depending on their future duties) and that after training they would be integrated into the various units (AFP.com, March 6, 2015).
Training Exercise for Fatah's Military-Terrorist Wing in the Gaza Strip
- On March 8, 2015, it was reported that an elite group of 60 Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades/Al-Asifa Army operatives (Fatah's military-terrorist wing in the Gaza Strip) had finished a course held at one of the training sites in Khan Yunis. During the course the operatives were trained in a number of fields, including conducting ambushes and storming IDF posts (Al-Mayadeen TV, March 8, 2015).
Recommendation to End to Security Coordination with Israel
- A meeting of the PLO's Central Council passed a series of resolutions to limit relations with Israel. The main one was a recommendation to put an end to every aspect of security coordination with Israel. According to an announcement, the council stressed the need to limit connections with Israel and to promote the PA's joining international institutions, and to end every aspect of security coordination. The reason given was Israel's non-compliance with bilateral agreements (Wafa.ps, March 5, 2015).
- It was a recommendation, not a resolution that had to be carried out. The council did not determine a date or specific method for implementing the recommendation, authorizing the PLO's Executive Committee to implement it. In effect, the Central Council left responsibility for a decision with Mahmoud Abbas. "Senior PA figures" claimed that in any event Mahmoud Abbas would not take any step related to implementing the recommendation before the elections in Israel (March 17, 2015) (Alhayat.com, March 7, 2015).
- Hamas called for the resolution to be implemented immediately:
- Senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri claimed he was waiting for a practical program and not statements to the media. He also claimed that PLO's Executive Committee had to implement the resolution (Al-Quds TV, March 5, 2015).
- Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on his Facebook page that the resolution suggested by the Central Council exposed the involvement of the Palestinian security forces in security coordination with Israel. He called on the PA to show commitment to implementing the resolution (Facebook page of Sami Abu Zuhri, March 6, 2015).
- However, on the ground the Palestinian security forces continue to detain Hamas operatives. The Palestinian media reported that on March 7, 2015, there were a number of clashes between the PA security forces and Hamas operatives in the Balata refugee camp. The clashes broke because the extensive detentions of Hamas operatives continued. There was an exchange of gunfire and a number of people were wounded (Alresala.net, Maannews.net and Paltoday.ps, March 8, 2015).
- Senior Hamas figures strongly condemned the wave of detentions, claiming Mahmoud Abbas, PA chairman, and Rami Hamdallah, Palestinian national consensus government prime minister, were responsible. They claimed the wave of detentions proved the resolutions regarding the end of security coordination with Israel were meaningless. They also claimed the detentions confirmed the fact that Fatah had no interest in the internal Palestinian reconciliation (Alresala.net and Qudspress.com, March 9, 2015).
Cartoon in Hamas' newspaper Felesteen. The Arabic reads, "Abbas [a flightless parrot grounded on Israel's finger] objects to security coordination" (Felesteen.ps, March 5, 2015).
- The UN Secretary General urged the Palestinians and Israel to show restraint. He repeated his call to Israel to resume the transfer of tax revenues to the PA. He also called on the international community and the Security Council on the international community "to exercise leadership and help create conditions for a negotiated final peace agreement that will end the Israeli occupation and realize the creation of a viable Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside Israel" (UN website, March 6, 2015).
Boycotting Israeli-Manufactured Merchandise
- In the PA the boycott of Israeli-manufactured merchandise continues. On March 3, 2015, activists of Fatah's so-called "national committee for boycotting Israeli merchandise" stopped a truck in Tulkarm that was carrying bottles of fruit juice produced in Israel. They dumped the contents of the truck on the road (PNN.ps, March 3, 2015). On March 8, 2015, Fatah organized patrols to visit grocery stores in the villages in the Nablus district to see if Israeli goods were being sold (PNN.ps, March 8, 2015).
Left: Fatah's so-called "national committee for boycotting Israeli merchandise" visits a grocery store in the Nablus district (PNN.ps, March 8, 2015). Right: Destroying Israeli merchandise in Tulkarm (PNN.ps, March 3, 2015).
Cartoon in the PA's Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda editorializes that Israeli products are some of the weapons the IDF uses against the Palestinians. The Arabic reads, "Israeli products" (Alhayat-j.com, March 5, 2015). The gun is composed of a bottle of milk and two bottles of fruit juice.
As of March 10, 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 information from the Israel Security Agency. The statistics do not include the scores of incidences of stone-throwing.