Palestinians burn tires near the Israel-Gaza border to mark Land Day (Paltoday.tv, March 29, 2015).
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces during a Land Day march in the village of Silwad (north of Ramallah) (Wafa.ps, March 30, 2015).
Clashes near the village of Wadi Fukin between Palestinians and Israeli security forces (Facebook page of Shihab, March 30, 2015).
Mahmoud Abbas speaks before the Arab summit at Sharm el-Sheikh (Wafa.ps, March 28, 2015).
A joint Hamas-PIJ march against the speech given by Mahmoud Abbas at the Arab summit (Facebook page of PALDF, March 29, 2015).
Mahmoud Abbas and the Tunisian prime minister at the formal reception held at the airport (Wafa.ps, March 29, 2015).
Walaa al-Batat, presenter of the children's program, tells young viewers that all the Palestinian cities occupied in 1948 will return to the Palestinians (Palestinian TV, March 6, 2015).
- This past week Israel's south remained quiet. In Judea and Samaria there were several instances of violence, part of the so-called Palestinians "popular resistance." In Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip Palestinians marked Land Day without exceptional events.
- Israel agreed to thaw tax revenues collected for the Palestinians, frozen for the past four months. Nimr Hamad, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, claimed the funds were thawed after pressure had been exerted on the Israeli prime minister by Arab and international agencies.
- Riyadh al-Maliki, foreign minister of the Palestinian national consensus government, said that on April 1, 2015 he would attend the ICC ceremony to formally admit the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a member of the Court
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week Israel's south remained quiet, and no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
"Popular Resistance" Terrorism and Violence Continue
- This past week the wave of violence and rioting continued, part of what the Palestinians call the "popular resistance." The violence mainly centered on throwing stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails. Some of the riots and clashes were related to Land Day, held on March 30th (See below). The prominent events were the following:
- On March 25, 2015, Palestinians rioted in the Jalazoun refugee camp (north of Ramallah). A Palestinian was shot and critically wounded, and later died in a hospital. Palestinians reacted to his death by burning tires in the region between Jalazoun and Beit El. They also threw stones at the Israeli security forces (Tazpit.org.il, March 25, 2015).
- On March 28, 2015, Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles on the road between the villages of Adam and Hizma (northeast of Jerusalem). There were no casualties but a bus was seriously damaged (Tazpit.org.il, March 28, 2015).
Rami Hamdallah Visits the Gaza Strip
- Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian national consensus government, arrived in the Gaza Strip on March 25, 2015, heading a Palestinian government delegation. While there he met with senior figures and representatives of the Palestinian organizations. He also attended a Palestinian-Turkish health conference.
- Rami Hamdallah said that Mahmoud Abbas had an obligation to ease the suffering of the Gaza Strip. He thanked the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait for their help and support in reconstructing the Gaza Strip. He told an interviewer that the crisis in the Gaza Strip's electrical supply would end in the near future. He also claimed the government was working to transfer control of the Gaza Strip crossings and to deliver building materials (Alresala.net, March 26, 2015).
Left: Gazans demonstrate against Rami Hamdallah's visit to the Gaza Strip. The sign says, "No welcome for the imposer of the siege on the Gaza Strip." Right: Rami Hamdallah holds a press conference in the Gaza Strip (Paltoday.ps, March 25, 2015).
- Mamoun Abu Shahla, minister of labor in the Palestinian national consensus government, called the delegation's meeting with the Hamas representatives "positive" and claimed solutions had been proposed for all the ills plaguing the civilians in the Gaza Strip. He said a committee would be appointed to find solutions for the issues of workers, reconstruction and electricity. He also claimed that Hamas had agreed to transfer control of the Gaza Strip crossings to the Palestinian national consensus government. He said its border and crossings authority would deal with all the issues involved. Regarding reconstruction, he claimed that in the near future the Gazans would begin to see that the funds received from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were being put to good use (Alwatanvoice.com, March 25, 2015).
- Sources in Hamas were critical of Rami Hamdallah's visit to the Gaza Strip. Taher al-Nunu, a member of Hamas' information department, claimed his arrival in the Gaza Strip had turned into a media event. He noted that Hamdallah had not given clear answers about solutions for the Gazans' problems. He said he hoped it would not take three or four months for Hamdallah to visit again, because the Gaza Strip was an integral part of the national consensus government and not an appendage (Al-Aqsa TV, March 26, 2015).
- Samir Sabri, the Egyptian lawyer who instituted the court case demanding that Hamas be designated a terrorist organization, dropped the demand. He did so after the Egyptian government Office of the General Counsel appealed the ruling of the Court for Urgent Matters. Sabri claimed he had dropped the demand to avoid problems for the Egyptian leadership in fulfilling its role in the internal Palestinian reconciliation. He claimed that differences of opinion between the Egyptian regime and the Hamas movement had to be resolved so that unity could be restored, and that Egyptian participation was central to the process (Shorouknews.com, March 27, 2015).
- At the same time, Hamas is trying to effect its own reconciliation with Egypt. Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, reportedly met with senior members of Egyptian general intelligence in an effort to improve bilateral relations. During the meeting they discussed the opening of the Rafah crossing, the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula and other issues (Quds.net, March 29, 2015).
- On the ground the Egyptian security forces continue operations along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Egyptian border guards reported that they had exposed the opening of a tunnel hidden in the ruins of destroyed houses. They claimed it was one of the largest tunnels exposed so far. According to reports, it was 2.8 kilometers (about a mile and three-quarters) long and 1.51 meters (almost five feet) wide, and several meters deep. The tunnel was used by terrorists for smuggling operatives, merchandise, weapons and ammunition (Facebook page of the Egyptian Armed Forces, March 29, 2015).
Fatah Operatives Finish Military Training Course
- On March 25, 2015, the Ayman Awda Squads of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades held final exercises for a military course given to what they called the "unit of those prepared to sacrifice themselves." The exercises, attended by senior military-terrorist figures, were held at one of the training facilities in the Rafah area (southern Gaza Strip). The course had 40 participants. During the course they trained using live ammunition, simulated infiltrating IDF posts, fired machine guns, threw hand grenades and launched rockets.
Land Day Events
- On March 30, 2015, annual Land Day was marked in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip and by Israeli Arabs, as it has been since 1976. Demonstrations and rallies were held in about ten locations and several hundred Palestinians participated. Most of the events were held without exceptional incident, with the exception of a number of clashes with IDF forces. During a clash in Wadi Fukin (west of Bethlehem) an IDF officer was hit by a stone and incurred minor injuries (IDF Spokesman, March 30, 2015).
- On the eve of Land Day Hamas called on the Palestinian organizations to wage an "armed resistance" [i.e., terrorist attacks] against the "Israeli occupation" (Hamas website, March 29, 2015). In the Gaza Strip the main Land Day event was a march through the center of Gaza City. Participants held signs reading, "Clinging to the land is the legitimate right of those who own the land," and "We will not negotiate a single inch of the land of Palestine." They called on the PA to end its security coordination with Israel (Alresala.net, March 30, 2015). Palestinians held a demonstration near the border security fence. The Palestinian media reported that several demonstrators had been wounded by shots fired by IDF forces to disperse those who had approached the border.
Left: Demonstrators near Israel's border security fence east of Khan Yunis wave Palestinian flags (Paltoday.tv, March 30, 2015). Right: The notice issued by Hamas for the 39th Land Day (Hamas website, March 30, 2015).
Speech Given by Mahmoud Abbas
- Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the Arab League summit meeting held at Sharm el-Sheik, where he discussed various issues and said the following (Palestinian TV, March 28, 2015):
- Negotiations with Israel – Negotiations with Israel have been completely stopped, despite the efforts of American President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to continue them. Israel stubbornly adheres to its settlement policy, refuses to release Palestinian prisoners and is trying to Judaize Jerusalem. Israel has disregarded every agreement it signed, seized more Palestinian lands, harmed the authority of the PA and employed a policy of collective punishment. The PA will examine its economic, political and security relations with Israel in light of the decision reached by the PLO's Central Council on March 5, 2015. However, the Palestinians want peace based on the Arab peace initiative and the resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly.
- The election in Israel – Since Benyamin Netanyahu won the election Israel is apparently distancing itself from peace and marching towards extremism and racism. Israel is drunk with power and rejects the hand extended by its neighbors as part of the Arab peace initiative. It denies the Palestinians their independence and a life of self-respect. The election in Israel proves that Israel is not a partner for a negotiated arrangement.
- The PA in the international arena – On April 1, 2015, the PA officially joins the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. [However, no specific date for requesting an investigation was mentioned. Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to set a date for the end of the [so-called Israeli] occupation and the recognition of a Palestinian state.]
- Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed Mahmoud Abbas's speech was "empty and without content." He claimed Hamas would not agree to any separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and would seek to liberate all Palestinian lands. He noted that Mahmoud Abbas had no legitimate status and for a long time had not been elected by the Palestinian people(Al-Aqsa TV, March 29, 2015). Senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri said that Mahmoud Abbas' speech did not reflect the interests of the Palestinian people, but only reinforced the internal schism (Alquds.com, March 28, 2015)
Israel Thaws Palestinian Tax Revenues
- The office of the Israeli prime minister said in an announcement that following recommendations from the defense minister, the IDF and the Israel Security Agency, the prime minister had authorized the thawing of tax revenues collected by Israel for the PA (which had been frozen for the past four months). The funds would be transferred after payments had been deducted for the services rendered to the Palestinian population (such as electricity, water and hospitalization). According to the Israeli prime minister, humanitarian concerns also influenced the decision, as did the overall considerations for Israel's interests at the current time (Website of the Israeli Prime Minister, March 27, 2015).
- Palestinian sources denied the accusations that the Israeli decision to thaw the tax revenues was the result of "a secret political deal" with Israel. Nimr Hamad, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that the main factor was pressure exerted on Netanyahu by Arab and international agencies (Alresala.net, March 30, 2015).
The PA Joins the ICC
- Riyadh al-Maliki, foreign minister in the Palestinian national consensus government, said that on April 1, 2015, he expected to attend a ceremony at the ICC in The Hague formally admitting the PA as a member of the Court. He said that on January 17, 2015, the General Prosecutor had decided to hold a preliminary investigation to determine whether or not there was a foundation for investigating war crimes committed during Operation Protective Edge. Since then, he claimed, the Palestinian foreign minister had been in constant contact with the General Prosecutor's office. He claimed at as soon as the court ruled there was a foundation for a formal investigation, the Palestinians would supply the material required for two legal suits, one related to Operation Protective Edge and the other to the settlements [in Judea and Samaria] (Voice of Palestine Radio, March 30, 2015).
Mahmoud Abbas Participates in an International Anti-Terrorism March in Tunisia
- On March 29, 2015, Mahmoud Abbas, leading a delegation of senior figures, arrived in Tunis to participate in an international anti-terrorism march held under the aegis of the Tunisian legislature. The march was organized in the wake of a terrorist attack carried out by ISIS-affiliated global jihad operatives on March 18, 2015. (The operatives targeted a museum near the Tunisian Parliament and killed 20 people.) Habib Essid, the prime minister of Tunisia, held a formal reception for Mahmoud Abbas at the Tunis airport (Wafa.ps, March 29, 2015) and Al-ayyam.com, March 30, 2015).
Palestinian Public Opinion Poll
- The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), headed by Khalil Shqaqi, held a public opinion poll on March 19-21, 2015; 1,263 residents of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip participated. The results were the following [ITIC emphases throughout]:
- Regarding the Israeli elections, After the Israeli right-wing electoral victory, 47% expect increased confrontations [between Israelis and Palestinians] and worsening security conditions while 18% expect less [sic] confrontations and better security conditions. 32% expect conditions to remain as they are today.
- If new presidential elections are held today and only two were nominated, Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniya, the former would win 48% (compared to 42% three months ago) and the latter 47% (compared to 53% three months ago).
- 48% support return to an armed intifada. Three months ago, support for a return to armed intifada stood at 56%.
- Belief that Hamas has won the Gaza War drops from 66% three months ago to 60% in this poll; 24% believe the two sides were losers.
Shaheed Display at Al-Najah University
- On March 29, 2015, Islamic Bloc activists at Al-Najah University in Nablus launched a display, held for the second time in the same format. Its objective was to glorify the Palestinian shaheeds and its theme was "Following the path of our commander" (according to the organizers, the name was also meant to mark the anniversary of the death of Hamas movement founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin).
- The display featured pictures, posters and presentations glorifying the Palestinian shaheeds, among them suicide bombers, Hamas commanders and terrorist operatives killed in Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014). The opening ceremony was attended by Hamas members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, among them Sheik Fathi al-Qara'wi and Ms. Mona Mansour (Facebook page of Al-Najah University in Nablus, March 30, 2015; Palestine-info.info, March 29, 2015).
Left: Display of Hamas operatives killed in the various Israeli operations in the Gaza Strip (including Operation Protective Edge). Above the entrance is the picture of Yahya Ayash, "the engineer." Right: The entrance to the display. The flag of Israel serves as a mat for visitors to wipe their feet on. The Arabic over the entrance reads, "Following the path of our commander"(Facebook page of Al-Najah University in Nablus, March 30, 2015).
Left: An IED hidden in a guitar. The sign reads, "The music of the resistance [i.e., terrorism]... played on... bombs." Right: An explanation of the "Zikim operation" [the attempted infiltration of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades via the sea during Operation Protective Edge] (Facebook page of Al-Najah University in Nablus, March 30, 2015).
- The display is part of the continuing incitement to terrorism carried out by the Islamic Bloc at Al-Najah University. On March 1, 2015, the Bloc launched a display featuring Jerusalem, glorifying the operatives who carried out terrorist attacks against Israel and incitement to terrorism. Since the second intifada Al-Najah University has been notorious as a hotbed of Palestinian terrorist incitement and terrorism, especially Hamas, which operates a student cell (the Islamic Bloc) for that purpose.
Palestinian Initiative for Anti-Israel Sanctions in the International Soccer Association
- The Palestinian Football Federation, headed by Jibril Rajoub, formally requested that FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the international governing body of association football [soccer]) suspend Israel from the organization if it did not meet a number of conditions. Among them were permission for free and unexamined [security] passage for players, team members and equipment, as well as assurance that Israel would take firm steps to eliminate "racism" from the Israeli soccer leagues. A two-thirds vote is required to pass the request (Paltoday.tv, March 30, 2015).
Continuing Anti-Israeli Incitement of the Official Fatah Facebook Page
- The official Fatah Facebook page continues to post messages and pictures commemorating and glorifying suicide bombers, and encouraging anti-Israeli violence and terrorism. Pictures were recently posted commemorating Alaa' Faza' al-Daraghmeh, a Fatah "Force 17" operative, who was killed in an exchange of fire with IDF forces near the Muqata'a compound in Ramallah in 2002. There was also a notice commemorating the 13th anniversary of the death of Ms. Ayat al-Akhras, who carried out a suicide bombing attack in a Jerusalem supermarket in 2002. In addition, there was a poster of a gun and bullets arranged to spell "Fatah" in Arabic (Official Facebook page of Fatah, March 25, 2015).
Left: A gun and bullets spell "Fatah" in Arabic. Center: A picture of Ayat al-Akhras, a suicide bomber of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Right: Pictures commemorating Alaa' Faza' Daraghmeh (Official Facebook page of Fatah, March 25, 2015).
Inculcating the "Right of Return" Narrative among Palestinian Children
- On March 6, 2015, the official Palestinian TV channel (directly subordinate to the office of the PA chairman) broadcast another episode of a weekly children's program. The presenter, Walaa al-Batat, explained to the children watching the show that all the Palestinian cities occupied in 1948, among them Jaffa, Haifa, Acre and Nazareth, would, when the time came, return to the Palestinians (Palestinian TV, March 6, 2015).
As of March 24, 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.
 Since 1976 Land Day has been the day Israeli Arabs mark their adherence to the land and their objection to its confiscation.
For further information see the March 8, 2015 bulletin "Incitement to terrorism by the Hamas student association at Al-Najah University in Nablus."