Sporadic rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targets the western Negev.
Sporadic rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targets the western Negev.
Scenes from a video broadcast by Al-Aqsa TV about the construction of the road near the border security fence east of Rafah.
Scenes from a video broadcast by Al-Aqsa TV about the construction of the road near the border security fence east of Rafah.
Muhammad Roqa, ISIS operative from the Gaza Strip, killed in Syria (PALDF, June 7, 2015).
Activists of the Palestinian National Initiative (headed by Mustafa Barghouti) in Hebron, part of the campaign to boycott Israeli-made goods (Wafa.ps, June 7, 2015).
- This past week terrorist events focused on the two instances of rocket fire targeting the Ashqelon region and other locations in the western Negev. An ISIS-affiliated Salafist-jihadi network claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, representing it a response to the killing of one of its operatives by Hamas.
- Israel reiterated its policy of considering Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from the Gaza Strip (although Israel is aware it has been carried out by rogue terrorist organizations and that Hamas has made efforts to prevent it). In response to the rocket fire the Israel Air Force struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, causing damage but not casualties.
- Events held for Naksa Day (the day the Palestinians mark the Six Day War) passed without exceptional occurrences. In Judea and Samaria the wave of violence continued, including IEDs thrown at IDF forces and a stabbing attack which was prevented.
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week there were two instances of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip targeting the western Negev. Three rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory (five since the beginning of the year).
- At 2300 hours on June 3, 2015, two rockets were fired into the western Negev. One fell in an open area near the Gaza Strip and the other in the region of the coastal city of Ashqelon. There were no casualties and no damage was reported. According to IDF sources one of the rockets was launched from the Al-Shati refugee camp and the other from what formerly was the Israeli village of Netzarim.
- At 2130 hours on June 6, 2015, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev. It fell in an open area in the region of the coastal city of Ashqelon. There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
Claims of Responsibility
- In both instances responsibility for the rocket fire was claimed by an ISIS-affiliated Salafist-jihadi network (according to the logo) calling itself the Company of Sheikh Omar Hadid [an Iraqi jihadist killed by the American army] – Bayt al-Maqdis. The network issued a notice after the attack on June 3, 2015, claiming it fired three rockets at Ashqelon, Netivot and another Israeli population center near the Gaza Strip in response to the killing of Yahya al-Hanar. After the rocket attack on June 6, 2015, the network claimed it had launched a rocket at Ashqelon dedicated to the prisoners on hunger strikes in Israeli and Hamas jails (Twitter account of the network, June 6, 2015). (Note: See below for further information).
The claims of responsibility issued by the network (Twitter account of the Company of Sheikh Omar Hadid – Bayt al-Maqdis, June 3, 2015).
Israeli Responses to the Rocket Fire
- Senior figures reiterated Israeli policy regarding Hamas as responsible for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip (although Israel is aware it has been carried out by rogue terrorist organizations). In response to the rocket fire Israel Air Force (IAF) aircraft struck terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip:
- On the night of June 3, 2015, IAF aircraft struck three terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that Hamas posts in the western Gaza Strip and one east of Gaza City had been hit; a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) post was also hit. According to the reports, the posts were damaged but there were no casualties.
- On June 6, 2015, terrorist targets in the northern Gaza Strip were struck. The Palestinian media reported that a Hamas military-wing post in Beit Lahia had been hit; there were no casualties (Qassam.ps, June 7, 2015).
- Following the rocket fire attacks, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ordered the closing of the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings, with the exception of passage for humanitarian cases. On June 8, 2015, the crossings were reopened.
The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' Al-Khiyala post northwest of Gaza City, during and after the IAF attack (Facebook pages of QudsN and Gaza al-Aan, June 4, 2015)
- In a meeting with the heads of the local regional councils near the Gaza Strip, Major General Sami Turgeman, Commander of the Southern Command, said the IDF would not initiate an operation in the Gaza Strip because of sporadic rocket fire, but that the army would respond as necessary. He added that the Southern Command knew Hamas made efforts to prevent the fire but nevertheless, the State of Israel did not absolve it of responsibility (Ynetnews.co.il, June 8, 2015).
"Popular Resistance" Terrorism and Violence Continue
- This past week the wave of violence and rioting continued at the usual locations in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, part of what the Palestinians call the "popular resistance." The violence mainly centered on throwing stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli houses and vehicles. Some of the events were held for Naksa Day (the day the Palestinians mark the outbreak of the Six Day War).
- Naksa Day events were held without exceptional occurrence and there was relatively little mention in the Palestinian media. Prominent was the rally held in Kafr Qaddum attended by several dozen Palestinians, including Ms. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee (Wafa.ps, June 5, 2015). During the rally demonstrators clashed with the Israeli security forces (Alresala.net, June 5, 2015).
- Prominent events including the following:
- On June 7, 2015, Israeli police in Jerusalem noticed a young man who aroused their suspicions. The commander of the Temple Mount Unit spoke to the young man, who admitted he was planning to carry out a stabbing attack and had come to the Temple Mount to pray one last time before the attack. He led the police to the Nablus Gate where he showed them a bag hidden under some bushes. The bag held screwdrivers, a knife and a meat cleaver. The Palestinian, 25, from Hebron, was detained and taken for questioning (Facebook page of the Israel Police Force, June 8, 2015).
- On June 5, 2015, an IED was thrown at IDF soldiers manning the Qalandia crossing (northern Jerusalem). It was the sixth IED thrown during the past month. IDF sources noted the recent increase in the number of riots at the crossings in east Jerusalem. There has also been an increase in the number of Molotov cocktails and stones thrown at IDF soldiers at roadblocks (IDF Spokesman, June 6, 2015).
- On June 4, 2015, Palestinians threw a pipe bomb and Molotov cocktails at IDF forces in the Qalandia and Aida refugee camps. There were no casualties (Redalert.co.il, June 4, 2015).
- On the night of June 3, 2015, there was an IDF activity to locate weapons in Kafr Qalil (south of Nablus) and the village of Salim (east of Nablus). The Israeli security forces seized an M-4 assault rifle, a hand grenade, 40 ammunition magazines, a rifle sight and bulletproof vests (IDF Spokesman, June 4, 2015).
Palestinian Stabber Detained
- The Israeli security forces detained the Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack in Jerusalem on May 23, 2015. The perpetrator was John Kakish, a Christian Israeli Arab living in the Old City of Jerusalem. He had been detained in the past for attacking Israelis. During interrogation he admitted he had planned and carried out the stabbing of the two young men. Immediately after stabbing them he got rid of the knife he used and fled (Shabak.gov, date, 2015).
The Rafah Crossing
- After three days during which the Rafah crossing was open, it was closed again without the Egyptians' giving a date given for its reopening. Sources within Hamas warned of a deteriorating situation [as a result of the closing of the Rafah crossing]. During a demonstration held by Hamas activists at the port of Gaza, senior Hamas figure Ismail Radwan claimed the situation was grave, placing responsibility for the continuing siege of the Gaza Strip on Israel and the international community. He also warned of an "explosion" that would target Israel (Samanews.com, June 7, 2015).
Left: The demonstration at the port of Gaza (Facebook page of PALINFO, June 7, 2015). Right: Hamas' anger at the closing of the Rafah crossing. The genie says, "You can ask for anything you want except the opening of the Rafah crossing…" (Facebook page of PALDF, June 5, 2015)
Building the Road along the Israel-Gaza Strip Border
- Hamas' "information office" in the western Gaza Strip said in an announcement that the road being constructed near the border would be named for Ahmed Ja'abari (the commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, killed on November 14, 2012, by the IDF) (Alresala.net, June 3, 2015). Others name it after Ra'ed al-Attar, a senior Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades terrorist operative killed during Operation Protective Edge. Some call it Jakar, which in classic Arabic means "uncompromising bargaining" (PALDF, June 2, 2015).
Hamas Activities against the Salafi-Jihadists in the Gaza Strip
- Following the death of Yahya Hanar, a Salafi-jihadist operative killed by Hamas, tension increased between Hamas and the Salafi-jihadists in the Gaza Strip. An ISIS-affiliated network calling itself the Company of Sheikh Omar Hadid – Bayt al-Maqdis issued a notice and a video claiming al-Hanar had been executed with a shot to the head because he supported ISIS. The network threatened revenge for his death within 48 hours if Hamas did not accede to its demands, most importantly the release of all the Salafi-jihadists detained by Hamas, and if it did not cease all types of activity against them. The notice accused Hamas of increasing its activities against the Salafi-jihadists, despite their claim of not being involved in military activity concerning the "fragile lull" with Israel. According to the notice, Salafi-jihadists in the Gaza Strip would continue preparing to kill Jews without getting dragged into an internal confrontation with Hamas.
- Abu al-Inaa' al-Ansari, a senior Salafi-jihadist figure in the Gaza Strip, said in an interview that the Salafist-jihadi groups in the Gaza Strip were not committed to the lull with Israel, and therefore they would continue attacking it with rockets. He said they did not want a confrontation but Hamas' ceasefire (hudna) with Israel harmed the jihadist residents of the Gaza Strip, causing them to be detained and tortured without a trial and without their being accused of anything. He threatened they would continue the rocket fire and continue undermining the hudna as long as Hamas did not accept their conditions and release the prisoners, stop monitoring them and allow them freedom of action (Alqudsnews.net, June 6, 2015).
Gazan Salafi-Jihadist Operative Killed in Syria
- On June 7, 2015, the social networks reported the death of a Palestinian named Muhammad Roqa (aka Abu Anas al-Muhajer) in Al-Raqqah in Syria, while fighting in the ranks of ISIS. He came from the Al-Shati refugee camp in the western Gaza Strip. According to reports he left the Gaza Strip three years ago, going to Lebanon and from there to Syria, where he joined ISIS, and was killed in a coalition attack in the eastern part of Al-Raqqah, an ISIS stronghold. It was also reported that before joining ISIS, he had been an operative in the PIJ's military-terrorist wing (Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade website, PALDF, June 7, 2015),
Hamas Military-Terrorist Wing Operative Dies in Tunnel Collapse
- The Palestinian media reported the death of Issam Omar Sayyid al-Kitnani, 23, from the Shejaiya neighborhood, an operative in Hamas' military wing. He died when a tunnel collapsed in Shejaiya. Two other Palestinians were injured (Alresala.net, June 5, 2015).
- Hamas' military-terrorist wing issued a death notice and gave him a military funeral attended by many Hamas operatives (Qassam.ps and the Facebook page of PALDF, June 5, 2015). Before the funeral Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas' political bureau, gave a speech in which he said Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives would continue digging more and more tunnels day and night and that they were "the best weapon to overcome Israel " (Safa.ps, June 5, 2015).
Left: The military funeral held for al-Kitnani. His body was wrapped in the Hamas flag and carried by masked Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives (Paltimes.net, June 5, 2015). Right: The death notice issued by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (Qassam.ps, June 5, 2015).
- After the death of Omar al-Kitnani, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' "information office" issued a video it had produced showing a tunnel being dug by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives (with a hint that it was an attack tunnel). The video showed the operatives digging with various tools and fixing concrete slabs in place. It also showed the attack from a tunnel carried out by Hamas terrorist operatives near the Israeli village of Nahal Oz during Operation Protective Edge. The background music throughout the video was a song called "Here, we prepared this for you," about Hamas' continuing construction of anti-Israel attack tunnels (YouTube, June 8, 2015).
- The Egyptian Court of Urgent Matters in Cairo accepted the appeal regarding its decision to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and reversed the ruling of the Court of First Instance (Almasryalyoum.com, June 6, 2015). However, the ruling refers only to the organization's political wing. Thus, since January 2015, Hamas' military wing has been designated as a terrorist organization. Hamas is now working to reverse the ruling outlawing its military-terrorist wing.
- Hamas was overjoyed with the reversal, representing it as the beginning of an improvement in its relations with Egypt:
- Senior Hamas figure Ismail Radwan claimed the court's reversal "corrected an error" and was an important positive development, which might lead to an improvement in relations with Egypt (Alresala.net, June 6, 2015).
- Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri claimed Hamas was happy with the ruling, and that it would have a positive influence on relations between Hamas and Egypt (Al-Jazeera, June 6, 2015).
- Senior Hamas figure Salah al-Bardawil praised the ruling and said he hoped that in its wake the Egyptian media campaigns distorting Hamas' image would cease. He said he also hoped relations between Hamas and Egypt would remain friendly because both had a common enemy – Israel (Alquds.com, June 6, 2015).
- Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, praised the ruling and said it meant turning over a new leaf in promoting the reconciliation and negotiations for establishing a ceasefire with Israel (Alrai.com, June 8, 2015).
- An [independent] news agency in the Gaza Strip reported that a meeting had recently been held in Qatar attended by senior Hamas figures and senior members of Egyptian intelligence headed by Khaled Fawzy, director of Egyptian general intelligence. Fawzy presented Hamas with three points, two of which Hamas accepted: non-intervention in Egypt's internal affairs and the enforcement of security oversight of the Egypt-Gaza Strip border. According to the report, Hamas did not agree to the third point, i.e. to cooperate with Egypt in fighting ISIS-affiliated organizations in the Sinai Peninsula (Samanews.com, June 6, 2015).
- In response to the report, Hamas sources claimed that Hamas' external leadership had in fact agreed to cooperate with the Egyptian security forces in the fight against terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula. According to the sources, Hamas had a list of many terrorist operatives who had infiltrated from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula, and Hamas was prepared to give the list to Egypt (Youm7.com, June 7, 2015). Senior Hamas figure Ismail Radwan claimed Hamas did not intervene in Egypt's internal affairs and was interested only in preserving the security of the Gaza Strip (Sawa.ps, June 8, 2015).
Hamas Summer Camps in the Gaza Strip
- According to an investigative report by the Hamas-affiliated Safa website, Hamas has begun holding its annual summer camps for Gazan youngsters. According to Rajib Abd al-Bari, coordinator for the camps, they are being held simultaneously in a number of districts in the Gaza Strip. Another series will begin after Ramadan. Al-Bari noted the camps would be military in nature and include training according to the ages of the campers, and also have cultural and leisure activities. He also said they would be called the camps of "the knights of Hamas" and their objective was to prepare a [new] generation capable of defending its land and homeland, as well as brains that would be able to plan the liberation of the land of Palestine (Safa.ps, June 2015).
- On June 8, 2015, a delegation of senior Hamas figures visited one of the summer camps in the western part of Gaza City. The delegation was headed by Faraj al-Ghoul, a Hamas member of the Legislative Council, and former minister of justice in the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip. He noted the need to give an effective response to the next generation in the best possible way so that it would be able to liberate the land and holy places from the "pollution of the occupation" (Al-Arabi Center for Research and Studies, June 8, 2015).
Left: Children in a summer camp undergo military training, including the preparation of IEDs (Paltimes.net, June 8, 2015). Center: Target practice (Facebook page of the network for public activities in the western Gaza Strip, June 8, 2015). Right: Entrance to one of the summer camps. Everyone entering walks on an Israeli flag (Paltimes.net, June 8, 2015).
The BDS Campaign
- The Palestinian media gave prominence to calls around the world to boycott Israel and claimed the BDS was driving Israel crazy. Mahmoud Nawajaa', general BDS coordinator, claimed Israel and its head of state could not stop the movement, which had scored many achievements during the past year. He claimed the escalation of the boycott was "the natural result of Israel's apartheid racist policies against the Palestinians" (Al-ayyam.com, June 4, 2015). Jamal Nazzal, Fatah spokesman in Europe, called on all the student councils in British universities to vote in favor of boycotting Israel, after 19 councils had already supported the boycott. He also called on all the universities in Europe to boycott Israel and stop their collaboration with it (Maannews.net, June 3, 2015).
- However, Fayiz Abu Shamala, a Hamas-affiliated Palestinian columnist, warned of having too many expectations from the BDS campaign. He wrote an article (exceptional in nature) entitled "The [Israeli] boycott will not liberate our homeland." he wrote that boycotting Israel would not lead to Israel's withdrawing from Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and that it would not lead to the liberation of "the occupied homeland." He said it was a mistake to rely on others and relieve the Palestinians from [carrying out] the mission [of liberating Palestine]. He claimed the Palestinian National Council had fallen into a trap when it called on the parliaments of the world to condemn Knesset laws regarding the settlers and the settlements, while at the same time it did not call on the PLO's leadership to demand an end to security collaboration with Israel. He asked, why do you run away from a confrontation with Israel and put your trust in others? (Felesteen.ps, June 7, 2015).
On June 2, 2015, the Palestinian media reported the death of a Salafi-jihadist operative named Yahya Hanar, 27, from the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City. He was killed during an attempt by the Hamas police to detain him, according to reports in an exchange of fire after he refused to surrender. Large quantities of weapons were found in his possession, including explosive belts, IEDs and RPG launchers (Facebook page of QudsN, June 2, 2015).
As of June 9, 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.
On the night of May 23, 2015, two young Israelis near the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem were stabbed. They were on their way to pray at the Western Wall when a young Palestinian attacked them with a knife. He stabbed them and fled into the Old City. One of the victims, 15 years old, was critically wounded; the other, 19 years old, suffered minor injuries (Ynetnews.co.il, May 24, 2015).