Encouragement for continuing the terrorist campaign side-by-side with some efforts to calm Palestinian youngsters.
The scene of the stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction.
The Palestinian who carried out the stabbing attack (Facebook page of QudsN, December 1, 2015).
Hamas death notice for Bassim Salah (Facebook page of Hamas in Nablus, November 29, 2015).
Hamas death notice for Samer al-Sarisi (Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Jenin, November 26, 2015).
Ayman Samih al-Abassi carries a Fatah flag on his release from an Israeli jail (Facebook page of QudsN, November 29, 2015).
The Israeli vehicle attacked near the village of Tekoa (Photo from Gush Etzion Security, November 28, 2015).
Akram al-Rajoub's call to parents to keep their children safe (Facebook page of Akram al-Rajoub, November 27, 2015).
Palestinians clash with the Israeli security forces on the Israel-Gaza Strip border (Facebook page of Gaza al-A'an, November 27, 2015).
Collapse of land on the Egypt-Gaza Strip border at Rafah caused by the Egyptian army's flooding of the tunnel region (Facebook page of PALDF, November 25, 2015).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Mahmoud Abbas at the climate conference in Paris (QudsN, November 30, 2015).
Mahmoud Abbas meets with American Secretary of State John Kerry at his office in Ramallah (Wafa News Agency, November 24, 2015).
- This past week the Palestinian terrorist campaign continued unabated. Terrorist attacks were carried out in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Most of them were stabbing attacks, and some were vehicular attacks. They were carried out by lone terrorists on their own initiative, who were unaffiliated with the terrorist organizations.
- However, some attacks were carried out by terrorists with profiles different from what we have witnessed so far. Some of the terrorists were in their thirties, married or had security records. Those are still not the general characteristics of the terrorists but in ITIC assessment the phenomenon and its significance have to be monitored.
- Some efforts were made by Palestinian figures to calm the Palestinian youngsters. The head of the department of education in Ramallah sent a circular to school principals calling on them not to allow students to leave for "national activities" during school hours. The governor of Nablus posted a notice on his Facebook page calling to parents to watch over their children and prevent useless loss of life. The calls were exceptional in view of the wave of incitement to violence and terrorism engulfing Palestinian politics and society.
Attacks and Attempted Attacks
- December 1, 2015 – stabbing attack: During the morning a Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli civilian at the Gush Etzion Junction. The civilian was wounded by shots fired at the Palestinian. The terrorist was shot and killed. The Palestinian media reported that the Palestinian was Mamoun Ra'ed Muhammad al-Khatib, 16, from Al-Duha (west of Bethlehem). He was in the 11th grade at the boys' high school in Sahur (Facebook page of QudsN, December 1, 2015).
- December 1, 2015 – attempted stabbing attack: A young Palestinian woman tried to attack an IDF officer with a pickaxe in the village of Anabta in Samaria. She was shot by the officer and later died. The terrorist was Maram Ramez Hassouna, 20, from the village of Rafidia (west of Nablus). She was an only child and studied English at Al-Najah University in Nablus. On November 30, 2013, she was detained after shooting fireworks and trying to stab an IDF soldier at a roadblock east of Tulkarm. When soldiers tried to detain her she took out a knife and tried unsuccessfully to stab one of them. She was released from jail in Israel on May 21, 2014, after a year and a half. She also paid bail of 5000 shekels (about $1,300) (Kinan News, Facebook page of QudsN and Facebook page of Shihab, December 1, 2015)
- November 29, 2015 – stabbing attack: During the morning a Palestinian stabbed a woman in the back near a bus stop in Jerusalem. The woman, a foreign national, incurred minor wounds. The terrorist who stabbed her escaped but was later apprehended. He was 17 years old and worked at a construction site nearby.
- November 29, 2015 – stabbing attack: A Palestinian stabbed a Border Policeman in the Old City of Jerusalem, inflicting minor wounds. The attacker was in Israeli illegally. He went from Nablus to the Old City, where he saw two Border Policemen on patrol. He took out a knife and stabbed one in the neck. The Border Policemen shot and killed the terrorist. A second knife was found oh his body. The Palestinian media reported the attacker was Bassim Abd al-Rahman Mustafa Salah, 38, from Nablus. He and was married, had no children, and worked as a tailor. According to Palestinian security sources he had psychological and social problems (Al-Quds, Huda News, November 29, 2015). Hamas issued a death notice for him (Facebook page of Hamas in Nablus, November 29, 2015).
- November 27, 2015 – stabbing attack: An Israeli Arab stabbed a Border Policeman near the central bus station in Nahariya, in northern Israel, inflicting minor wounds. The circumstances of the attack are under investigation and nationalist motivation has not been ruled out. The stabber escaped and was later apprehended. He was 16 years old and came from a village in northern Israel. He claimed that before he stabbed the Border Policeman the two had argued. The nature of the attack is still unclear.
- November 27, 2015 – vehicular attack: The attack was carried out at the entrance to the Bayt Umar refugee camp on the road between Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba. Soldiers at the site shot and killed the terrorist. Six soldiers were seriously injured and several suffered minor injuries. The soldiers were securing the area to prevent rioting, and were on a side road when a car driven by a Palestinian ran them down. The terrorist was Omar Arafat Issa al-Za'aqiq, 19, from Bayt Umar. Hamas spokesman Husam Badran praised the vehicular attack. Fatah issued a death notice for him and even hung a banner on the family house (Facebook page of Gaza al-A'an, Hamas, Facebook page of the Bayt Umar municipality, November 27, 2015).
- November 27, 2015 – combined vehicular and stabbing attack: Two soldiers were injured at the Kfar Adumim Junction (east of Jerusalem). The terrorist sped towards them them while they were standing at a bus stop, hitting them. The attacker then got out of his car holding a knife. He was shot and killed by a volunteer from a rescue unit. The terrorist was Fadi Muhammad al-Khasib, 30, from the village of Al-'Aroura. His brother was Shadi al-Khasib, who carried out a vehicular attack at the same site on November 22, 2015, and was also shot to death. The two had been orphaned at an early age and grew up in an orphanage. Fadi al-Khasib was apparently a devout Muslim. He was married, had two sons and worked in a store in his village. According to his wife, he did not belong to any political framework. According to his uncle, in the past he had worked in Israeli factories and neither he nor his brother had a security record (Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc at Al-Najah University, Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Nablus, Al-Jazeera, November 27, 2015).
- Hamas issued a death notice for Fadi al-Khasib. Hamas spokesman Husam Badran praised the attack because it wounded Israeli soldiers and officers. He said such "heroic actions" proved the intention of the Palestinian people to continue the intifada. He also expressed admiration for the shaheeds who "glorify the Palestinian people" and called for more "heroic actions" (Hamas website, November 27, 2015).
- November 26, 2015 – attempted stabbing attack: A Palestinian terrorist attempted to carry out a stabbing attack at the Tapuah Junction in Samaria. The Palestinian drove up to the Border Police post, got out of the car holding a knife and ran towards the Border Policemen. He was shot and killed. There were no Israeli casualties. The terrorist was Samer Hassan al-Sarisi, 51, from Jenin, married and father of four, apparently without steady work. Hamas issued a death notice for him. According to his wife, he did not belong to any organization (Walla!, Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Jenin, Safa News Agency, November 26, 2015).
- November 25, 2015 – stabbing attack: A Palestinian terrorist stabbed and seriously wounded a soldier at the IDF roadblock at the entrance to the Al-Fawar refugee camp (north of Kiryat Arba). The attack occurred during a routing security check of Palestinians. The terrorist was shot and later died. He was Muhammad Ismail al-Shoubaki, 20 from the Al-Fawar refugee camp.
- Muhammad al-Shoubaki studied graphic design at the Palestinian Technical College in Al-Aroub. On his Facebook page he posted a notice calling himself "Muhammad al-Shoubaki (shaheed on the waiting list)." About half an hour before the attack he posted the following "You are honored, dear homeland… You are honored, Al-Aqsa… You are honored, our shaheeds#youth_the homeland." His cousin was released from prison the day before the attack. Shoubaki's Facebook page had postings calling for revolt and terrorism. Apparently he worked at a restaurant with Farouq Sidr (who carried out a stabbing attack on October 28, 2015) and expressed his condolences. Both Hamas and Fatah issued death notices for him, but apparently he did not belong to either organization (Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Hebron, Facebook page of the Al-Fawar refugee camp, Facebook page of Muhammad al-Shoubaki, Facebook page of Fatah in Al-Fawar, November 25, 2015).
Left: Posting on Muhammad al-Shoubaki's Facebook page about half an hour before the attack. The Arabic reads, "You are honored, dear homeland… You are honored, Al-Aqsa… You are honored, our shaheeds#youth_the homeland" (Facebook page of the Al-Fawar refugee camp, November 25, 2015). Right: The death notice issued by Hamas – Hebron for Muhammad al-Shoubaki (Facebook page of the Islamic Movement in Hebron, November 25, 2015).
- In the meantime, riots, protest marches, the throwing of stones, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs continue throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Families held demonstrations at a number of locations in Judea and Samaria demanding the return of the bodies of relatives held by Israel. Some of the prominent events were the following:
- December 1, 2015 – A suspicious Palestinian woman was apprehended at the Efrat Junction (north of Bethlehem). A large knife was found in her possession.
- November 29, 2015 – An improvised bomb was thrown during an Israeli force activity in the village of Yabed (northwestern Samaria). It exploded near the soldiers. There were no casualties and no damage was reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 29, 2015).
- November 29, 2015 – Three pipe bombs were thrown at an Israeli Border Police guard post near the Tomb of Rachel. There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 29, 2015).
- November 29, 2015 – Masked Palestinians threw ten Molotov cocktails at Border Policemen in Ras al-Amoud in east Jerusalem. There were no casualties. The Border Policemen shot at the terrorists (Facebook page of the Israel Police Force, November 29, 2015). The Palestinian media reported the death of Ayman Samih al-Abassi, 17. He was released after serving a year and a half in an Israeli jail for stabbing an Israel near the Nablus Gate in Jerusalem. After his release he was under house arrest for ten months, which ended only recently (Facebook page of QudsN, November 29, 2015).
- November 29, 2015 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles on the Atarot read near the neighborhood of Ramot in Jerusalem. Two Israelis suffered minor injuries. Four vehicles were seriously damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 29, 2015).
- November 28, 2015 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle on the Tekoa road. There were no casualties. The front windshield was shattered (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 28, 2015).
- November 28, 2015 – Palestinians threw an IED at a gas station near Issawiya (east Jerusalem). There were no casualties. An Israeli demolitions expert dealt with the remains of the device (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 28, 2015).
- November 26, 2015 – Israeli security forces conducted a security activity in the village of Qatanna in which they detained Palestinians. They found large quantities of weapons and ammunition, binoculars and knives, uniforms and other IDF military equipment in the house of one of the Palestinians (IDF Spokesman, November 26, 2015).
- November 26, 2015 – A Palestinian from Jelazoun with a knife was apprehended near the base of the IDF's Judea and Samaria Division (Beit El).
- November 26, 2015 – Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at two vehicles on Route 443, which links Modi'in with Jerusalem. One of the drivers was injured (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 25, 2015).
- November 25, 2015 – Palestinians fired shots near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. There were no casualties. The shooters were not apprehended.
Encouragement for Terrorist Attacks
- Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, Fatah's military wing, posted a notice on the social networks calling on the young Palestinians of Nablus to rise up and carry out attacks, especially lone wolf attacks, regardless of their political positions. It also called on them to carry out their religious obligation of jihad and to fight the enemy.
- Ismail Haniya, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, gave a speech at a meeting of Palestinian scientists. He claimed that "the Al-Quds intifada" had not yet peaked. He claimed it had damaged Israel's deterrent capabilities and called on the Palestinians to make an effort to restore the importance of the "resistance" (Hamas website, November 28, 2015).
Israeli Activity against Radio Station Incitement
- On November 29, 2015, the Israeli security forces shut down the Radio Dream station, a station in south Hebron. According to its directors, it is the third largest radio station in the city. The reason given for its closing was incitement to violence and terrorism. It was the third radio station shut down by the Israeli security forces in Hebron during the past two months because of broadcasting incitement to violence and terrorism (preceded by Radio Al-Huriya and Radio Al-Khalil).
- The social networks reported that other radio stations had received letters warning them and that the director of Radio One in Hebron and the director of Radio Nas FM in Jenin had decided, for the time being, not to broadcast nationalist songs so that they could stay on the air.
- The Palestinian media reported that the Israeli security forces had confiscated Radio Dream's equipment and told its employees they were forbidden to broadcast for the next half year because the station broadcast programs inciting to violence. Taleb Ja'abari, director of Radio Dream, claimed it was "piracy" and demanded the PA act immediately to prevent the closing of local radio stations (Ma'an News Agency, November 29, 2015).
Radio Dream in Hebron was established in 2004 and legally licensed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, November 29, 2015). However, even after it was shut down it continued operating its website and official Facebook page, covering events and providing updates (Facebook page of Radio Dream, Hebron, November 30, 2015).
Left: Facebook page of Radio Dream in Hebron after the station was shut down (Facebook page of Radio Dream in Hebron, November 30, 2015). Right: The director of Radio Dream in Hebron holds the order closing the station (A'inab website, November 29, 2015).
- The Palestinian ministry of communications announced it was planning to file an urgent complaint with the UN Security Council through the relevant channels. It claimed it would continue to stand behind the media personnel and institutions that worked hard to transmit the "voice of liberty" (Fatah website, November 29, 2015).
- Other reactions were the following:
- Ihab Bseiso, spokesman for the Palestinian national consensus government, condemned the closing of the radio station. He claimed it was part of the "chain of attacks" carried out by Israel in violation of international conventions and agreements. He claimed the objective of the "authorities of the occupation" was to close Palestinian media, suppress freedom of expression, and prevent the exposure of the truth and the Palestinian narrative (Al-Ra'i, PA, November 29, 2015).
- Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, called the closing of the radio station a "crime" whose objective was to hide the true situation and prevent the Palestinian media from performing their role and condemning Israel's crimes. He expressed Hamas' support for Radio Dream (Hamas website, November 29, 2015).
Attempts to Calm the Palestinian Youth
- In view of the Palestinian terrorist campaign of the past months carried out for the most part by adolescents and young men and women, voices have been heard calling on parents and educational institutions to take responsibility and not allow children to carry out attacks or participate in clashes with the Israeli security forces. For example:
- Ayoub Alian, head of the department of education for the Ramallah district, sent a circular to the school principals of the Ramallah district government schools calling on them to make sure the children stayed in school during the day. They were also called on not to permit them to leave the school to participate in "nationalist activities" without official authorization. According to the circular, students could participate in such activities only after 13:00 in the afternoon, when the school day ended (Facebook page of the department of education in the Ramallah district, November 24, 2015).
- A number of journalists in Ramallah started a campaign calling "to stop sending children to their deaths." The campaign is led by several prominent journalists, among them Fadi al-A'rouri and Ihab al-Jariri. The initiative came from journalists who saw school children who went to riots with school bags and clashed with the Israeli security forces. The journalists put postings on their Facebook pages insisting they wanted the children in school and that they could only serve the Palestinian people by studying and going to university. They said, "Our children are executed and we applaud." They demanded parents and governmental institutions take responsibility for the children.
- Akram al-Rajoub, governor of Nablus, posted a call on his Facebook page to parents to keep their children safe and not let them take steps that would lead to senseless loss of life. He said a distinction had to be made between "resistance" and the useless sacrifice of the lives of children. He said, "the occupation enjoys killing children and does not want to see them advance in life."
- Palestinian journalist Akram al-Jariri wrote an article called "I want my children near me" in which he criticized the glorification of children killed during the current events. He said Palestinian children were dying for no reason. He did not want a victory, he said, he wanted the children to experience their childhood, since they were still far form death (Radio 24FM, November 25, 2015).
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Riots near the Border Security Fence
- Riots and violence continue in the Gaza Strip near the border security fence in a show of solidarity with the events in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. It would seem, however, that there has been a certain reduction in the number of participants. The weekend riots were held in four main locations: the area around the Erez crossing, the area of Shejaiya, the area of Al-Bureij and Khan Yunis. According to reports, some of the rioters were injured.
The Crossings – Recent Developments
The Rafah Crossing
- Efforts continue to reach an arrangement for the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing. A power struggle is being waged between PA and Hamas representatives for control of the crossing. According to Amin Maqboul, chairman of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, a new proposal has been drafted for regulating the temporary opening of the Rafah crossing. He claimed only one stage was left before an understanding was reached with Hamas. He said that according to the proposal the PA would be deployed at the border crossings (Samaa, November 26, 2015).
- Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas figure, claimed Hamas supported any agreement or understanding that would lead to the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing. He claimed Hamas was willing to cooperate with any position regarding the opening of the crossing (Hamas website, November 30, 2015).
Flooded Land Collapses on the Rafah Border
- Sources in the Gaza Strip reported extensive collapse of land on the Rafah border following Egypt's flooding of the tunnel regions. According to reports, most of the collapse occurred across from the Al-Salam neighborhood west of the Rafah crossing. The flooding also reportedly caused the collapse of large sections of the asphalt road along the border, which is used by the Hamas security forces for patrols. Part of the road was closed to traffic out of concern for the lives of Hamas operatives (Safa News Agency, November 25, 2015). Osama Abu Naqira, director of health for the town of Rafah, said that the flooding had caused land to collapse and salinity to increase in some of the wells along the border (Dunia al-Watan, November 28, 2015).
Reconstructing the Gaza Strip
- The Hamas newspaper Felesteen published an investigative report entitled "Distributing cement…extortion to double profits." It accused the owners of the cement warehouses of exploiting and extorting Gazans entitled to receive cement as part of the reconstruction process. The warehouse owners were reportedly trying to convince Gazans to let them sell the cement they had been allotted on the black market for twice the price. In return the warehouse owners would share the profits with them. Imad Al-Baz, deputy director of the ministry of economics, said that to prevent such occurrences, in the near future the ministry would announce a change in the system of cement distribution (Felesteen, November 25, 2015).
Relations between Hamas and the Salafist Organizations in the Gaza Strip
- Hamas released 20 Salafist jihadist operatives who were imprisoned in Hamas jails in the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the association of the families of imprisoned Salafists, November 26, 2015). A possible reason for their release may be Hamas' concerns of ISIS's rising strength in the Gaza Strip. Reports were recently published indicating the rise of ISIS's presence in the Gaza Strip, represented by the Salafists. It is also possible that Hamas is worried and decided to make a gesture of good faith to lessen the tension between the sides. However, it was also reported that Hamas had not released Abu al-Zubeir Abu Rumiya, an extremist operative responsible for terrorist attacks against Israel, which in Hamas' opinion harms its own national interests (Pal Press News Agency, November 30, 2015).
- The Ibn Taymmiyah Center, the media wing of the Salafists in the Gaza Strip, claimed that Hamas' security forces forced the families of the operatives detained on accusations of firing rockets into Israel to sign an agreement. According to the agreement, they would pay reparations to the owners of houses or posts of Hamas' military wing damaged by Israel's response to rocket fire. On the other hand, Iyad al-Bazam, spokesman for Hamas ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, denied the reports, claiming Hamas did not hold any operatives accused of firing rockets (Quds News, November 30, 2015).
Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas Shake Hands in Paris
- The Palestinian media prominently reported the handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas at the international conference on climate currently held in Paris. The Palestinian media noted that it was the first time in five years Netanyahu had shaken hands with Mahmoud Abbas; the two were also photographed standing next to each other (QudsN, November 30, 2015).
- Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at the conference, called for time not to be wasted and to exploit the last opportunity for a two-state solution to turn peace with Israel into actual fact. He claimed the hand of the Palestinians was extended to a just, genuine peace with its neighbors. However, he added, the Palestinian people did not accept the existing situation and would not continue to live under the shadow of the occupation and the settlements.
- Mahmoud Abbas demanded the international community expand its participation for the sake of peace, in accordance with what the French initiative proposed. He claimed the Palestinians would not accept temporary or partial solutions. He also exploited the stage to condemn Israel for its so-called violation of international laws regarding ecology. Israel, he claimed, took over the PA's natural resources, uprooted trees, polluted the groundwater and threw garbage into the Palestinian territories (QudsN, Wafa News Agency, November 30, 2015).
Mahmoud Abbas Meets with John Kerry
- On November 24, 2015, American Secretary of State John Kerry arrived for a one-day visit and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The PA called the visit "disappointing." According to Saeb Erekat, chairman of the PLO's Executive Committee, no new American proposal or initiative was forthcoming. He claimed Mahmoud Abbas and John Kerry discussed the question of who carried out terrorism in the region, Palestinians or Israelis. He claimed there was a serious difference of opinion between the Palestinians and the Americans on the issue. Saeb Erekat claimed that if the United States wanted to stamp out global terrorism and ISIS, it first had to "drain the swamp of the Israeli occupation" (Voice of Palestine Radio, November 26, 2015).
The PA in the International Arena
- Saeb Erekat gave a speech at the beginning of a conference held Ramallah on the role of the media in covering the conflict. He said that the Palestinian leadership would soon present four files to the UN Security Council relating to the conflict with Israel. He said they dealt with proposals for the PA's acceptance as a full member in the UN, and files concerning the Israeli settlements, Jerusalem and "the settlers' terrorism."
PA Activities against Al-Aqsa TV
- Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV reported that the PA's security services had summoned for investigation the employees of a broadcasting company which had signed a contract with the channel, and prevented them from working with it. In addition, claimed Al-Aqsa TV, the channel had tried to work with other broadcasting companies and was surprised to be refused. That was after the PA's security services had warned other broadcasting companies not to cooperate with Al-Aqsa (Alresala.net, November 26, 2015).
- The limitations the PA's security services imposed on the channel's broadcasts led to serious criticism from senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figures. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the PA for preventing Al-Aqsa TV employees from working in Judea and Samaria and detained them because they supported the "Al-Quds intifada." He appealed to Mahmoud Abbas and Rami Hamdallah to take responsibility and end the "crimes" (Hamas website, November 28, 2015).
Public Opinion Poll
- Between November 20 and 22, 2015, the center for public opinion polls and statistics at Al-Najah University in Nablus conducted a public opinion poll of 1,363 Palestinians 18 years old and older, 863 from Judea and Samaria and 500 from the Gaza Strip. The findings were the following:
- 52.2% called the recent events an "intifada." 43.7% called them a "popular awakening."
- 89.9% are convinced that the Israeli government and the IDF encourage the settlers to harm Palestinian residents.
- 89% are of the opinion that if the "attacks" against Al-Aqsa mosque continue, they will be the catalyst for a new Palestinian intifada.
- 46.9% support the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority and the merging of the PA's institutions with those of the PLO.
Palestinian Media Encouragement for the Current Terrorist Campaign
- Hamas continue posting calls on its Facebook pages and notices encouraging Palestinians to carry out vehicular attacks, and continue the violence and stone throwing. On its official Facebook page it posted a picture of a clothing store in the Gaza Strip with dummies holding knives to show solidarity with Judea and Samaria and the "Al-Quds intifada" (Facebook page of PALDF, November 25, 2015).
Clothing store in the Gaza Strip with dummies holding knives (Facebook page of PALDF, November 25, 2015).