The second attack tunnel shaft exposed in the Gaza Strip by the IDF (IDF spokesman, May 5, 2016).
Attacks on terrorist targets in the security forces.
A cartoon from Hamas' Facebook page. It links the day Muhammad ascended to heaven with the exposure of the attack tunnel in the Gaza Strip. The tunnel in the cartoon leads towards Al-Aqsa mosque (Facebook page of Paldf, May 6, 2016).
A knife used in the stabbing attack in Armon Hanatziv (Facebook page of Paldf, May 10, 2016).
Operatives of the nukhba unit put on a military display (Facebook page of the Hamas movement in the Ramallah and Al-Bireh district, May 5, 2016).
Mahmoud Abbas meets in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (Wafa, May 9, 2016).
Limited Clashes in the Gaza Strip
- About a month after IDF forces exposed an attack tunnel on the Gaza Strip border, a second tunnel was discovered at a depth of approximately 30 meters (almost 100 feet). It crossed the border in the southern Gaza Strip and entered Israeli territory. IDF forces operated to locate the route of the tunnel and destroy it. To that end IDF forces and engineering equipment were brought into the Gaza Strip along the perimeter near the border. The IDF activities led Hamas to complain that Israel was violating Palestinian sovereignty over the Gaza Strip (although in reality Hamas violated Israel's sovereignty by digging the tunnel into Israeli territory).
- Hamas' military-terrorist wing issued a statement falsely claiming that the the tunnel exposed by the IDF was the one Hamas had used in its first subterranean incursion into Israeli territory on July 17, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, May 5, 2016). The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades also claimed that Hamas considered the Israeli entrance [into the Gaza Strip] as a "gross violation" of the 2014 lull agreement and a case of "new aggression" against the Gaza Strip (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, May 4, 2016).
- Thus for several days Hamas and the IDF exchanged fire, although both sides tried to avoid escalating the hostilities along the border. Hamas terrorist operatives fired mortar shells at the IDF forces engaged in locating the route of the tunnel. There were no casualties. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Hamas terrorist targets and IDF tanks fired at Hamas targets in the Sajaiya region. The Palestinian media reported that a woman was killed in a shelling in the Al-Fakhri neighborhood in the southeastern part of Khan Yunis (Safa, May 5, 2016) and that a number of Palestinians had been wounded (Palinfo, May 5, 2016). About 16 mortar shells were fired in at least 12 incidents. The military-terrorist wings of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) claimed responsibility for the mortar fire (Twitter account of updates from Gaza and the Facebook page of Hadith al-Yawm, May 5, 2016).
- Hamas and the PIJ claimed Israel was responsible for escalating the hostilities. However, senior Hamas figures have signaled they do not want the situation to deteriorate. In a speech given during the Friday prayer, Ismail Haniyeh, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said Hamas would not allow Israel to make incursions into the Gaza Strip or establish facts on the ground. He claimed the situation along the border had deteriorated following the entrance of the IDF 100-150 meters (.06 to .09 of a mile) into the Gaza Strip on the claim they were looking for tunnels. He said Hamas would not permit the IDF to change the balance on the ground in the Gaza Strip and would not permit the establishment of a buffer zone. However, he said, Hamas did not want a new war but would not allow Israel to take control of areas inside the Gaza Strip (Al-Aqsa, May 6, 2016).
Detention of Hamas Operatives Involved in Tunnel Activity
- Hamas operatives who were detained revealed information about the tunnel project in the Gaza Strip (Israel Security Agency):
- About a month ago Muhammad Atawna was detained when he crossed the border from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory near Rafah. Muhammad Atawna, 29, from Jabalia, was detained carrying a knife. He said he was planning to kill Israeli soldiers or civilians. Interrogation revealed that he was an Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades operative involved in Hamas' tunnel project. He provided information about Hamas' tunnel activity, including information about the routes of the various tunnels in the northern Gaza Strip, the methods Hamas used to dig the tunnels, the building materials used and the use of private homes and public institutions in digging the tunnels.
- On April 6, 2016, a minor from Jabalia crossed the border security fence along the Gaza Strip and was taken for interrogation. He belonged to Hamas' northern Gaza Strip brigade, having been recruited a short time after Operation Protective Edge. He received military training, most of it in attack techniques. During interrogation he provided a great amount of information about Hamas' attack tunnel project and the locations of tunnel shafts. It became evident that Hamas continues to dig tunnels even though it is aware of and follows Israel's preventive activities.
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Attacks
- May 10, 2016 – Two Palestinians attacked a group of elderly women (in the their eighties) walking along the promenade in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv. They then fled in the direction of Jabel Mukaber. Two of the women were wounded and evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment. Two suspects were detained. (Note: They were released when investigation proved they had not been involved in the attack.)
- May 3, 2016
- A Palestinian drove a van into a group of IDF soldiers near the village of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah. One soldier was critically wounded, two incurred minor wounds. A fourth soldier shot and killed the terrorist. The Palestinians issued a video showing the terrorist speeding towards the soldiers, who were engaged in examining vehicles on the road.
- The Palestinian media reported that the terrorist was Ahmed Riyadh Abd al-Hadi Shehadeh, 36, married and father of five. He lived in Bituniya but originally came from the Qalqilya refugee camp. He bought and sold scrap metal (Facebook page of Paldf, May 4, 2016).
- The Hamas movement in the Qalandia refugee camp issued a death notice for him (Facebook page of Paldf, May 3, 2016). Hamas spokesman Husam Badran praised him and said he was a Hamas operative from the Ramallah district (Hamas website, May 4, 2016).
Left: Notice issued by Hamas with a picture of Ahmed al-Hadi Shehadeh framed by a tire. The Arabic reads, "We brought you a vehicular attack. The intifada continues" (Facebook page of Paldf, May 4, 2016). Right: The death notice issued for Ahmed al-Hadi Shehadeh by the Hamas movement in the Qalandia refugee camp (Facebook page of Paldf, May 3, 2016).
- After the attack the Hamas movement in Ramallah and Al-Bireh posted a short video on their Facebook page encouraging more terrorist attacks. It showed pictures of Shehadeh next to pictures from the scene of the attack (Facebook page of the Hamas movement in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, May 4, 2016).
Pictures from the Hamas video. The Arabic in the center picture reads, "Run him over, run him over, he's a settler!" In the lower picture it reads, "Run [them] over!" (Facebook page of the Hamas movement in Ramallah and Al-Bireh, May 4, 2016).
Monthly Distribution of Terrorist Attacks in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem since the Beginning of the Current Terrorist Campaign
- This past week Palestinians threw stones, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs throughout Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. Demonstrations, protest marches and riots continued.
- The more prominent events were the following (including terrorist attacks that were prevented):
- May 9, 2016 – Palestinians shot fireworks at Israeli security forces in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of east Jerusalem. There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 9, 2016).
- May 9, 2016 – An Israeli mistakenly drove his car into Ramallah. Palestinians surrounded and attacked the car. The driver managed to drive back to the Qalandia roadblock (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 9, 2016).
- May 6, 2016 – Israeli Border Policemen detained a Palestinian at the Hebron roadblock near the Cave of the Patriarchs. He was found to be carrying a knife. When interrogated the Palestinian, who lived in Hebron, said he was planning to attack Israeli security forces.
Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire Attacking Israel
- On May 7, 2016, two rocket hits were identified in an open area in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was reported. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked two Hamas targets in the southern Gaza Strip. The rocket fire occurred during the tension along the Gaza Strip border after the exposure of the attack tunnel.
- The Palestinian media reported an Israeli aerial attack in the area east of Rafah and Khan Yunis (Twitter account of Paldaf, May 7, 2016)
The Crossings – Recent Developments
The Rafah Crossing
- The Rafah crossing was expected to open in both directions for two days to enable the passage of patients, students and other humanitarian cases (Paltoday, May 5, 2016). The date of the opening has been delayed.
- In light of the tension along the Israeli-Gazan border, the terrorist wings of the various terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip displayed their military capabilities:
- · Operatives of the nukhba, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades' elite unit, put on a military display in the northern Gaza Strip.
- The information unit of the PIJ's Jerusalem Battalions issued a video of operatives training and old pictures of them firing rockets. There were continuous subtitles reading "We are prepared" and "We are mighty" (Facebook page of Shabakat al-Quds, May 8, 2016).
Hamas Blames Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the Deaths of Three Children
- Three children died in a fire in their house in the Shati refugee camp, caused by the use of candles. Ismail Haniyeh, speaking at the funeral, blamed Israel for the children's deaths (Palinfo, May 7, 2016). Others blamed the chairman of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian national consensus government, citing the PA's "policy of discrimination" against the Gaza Strip disrupting the regular flow of electricity. A military funeral was held for the three children. In the wake of their deaths Hamas organized a protest rally in the Jabalia refugee camp, where Israel and the PA were blamed (Facebook page of Shihab, May 7, 2016).
Upper left: The sign hung in Gaza City accusing PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of the deaths of the children. The Arabic reads, "Our blood is on your neck, Mr. President and Your Majesty the Prime Minister." Bottom left: Sign hung at the rally in Jabalia directed at Mahmoud Abbas and Rami Hamdallah. The Arabic reads, "Abbas...lift the siege of the Gaza Strip" and "Lift the siege...Stop the killing." Right: The military funeral held for the three children (Facebook page of Shihab, May 7, 2016).
PLO Decision to Redefine the PA's Relations with Israel
- The PLO's Executive Committee decided on the immediate implementation of a Central Council decision made in March 2015 redefining the PA's political, economic and security relations with Israel (Wafa, May 4, 2016). A Palestinian source claimed the Executive Committee decision would be implemented gradually and did not imply a complete cessation of relations with Israel (Al-Sharq al-Awsat, May 6, 2016).
- Sources in the PA expressed reservations about the immediate implementation of the decision, especially regarding the cessation of security coordination with Israel:
- Amin Maqboul, chairman of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, said that this time the decision was very serious and that orders had already been given to the Palestinian security services. He said the decision did not mean a declaration of armed struggle or escalation [of the current struggle] but only an addition to the PA's response to Israel's not having acceded to the request not to enter areas under full PA control [A areas]. However, he said, there were also complex issues where ending security coordination might lead to [a violent] eruption (Ma'an, May 7, 2016).
- Muhammad Yunes, a correspondent for Al-Hayat newspaper, reported that sources within the PA were of the opinion that the leadership would not carry out the threat and end security coordination as stated. He said the PA would make do with certain minor changes in the current situation. Such changes might include lowering the grade of the Palestinian officials attending security meetings or holding them less frequently. He claimed the PA was concerned about Israel's reaction to the move, which could harm the daily lives of the Palestinians. He said senior PA figures were concerned they could be personally harmed by measures Israel might take in response, such as confiscating their personal [VIP] documents [which, among other things, facilitate their movements] (Al-Hayat, May 6, 2016).
Cartoon on a Hamas-affiliated website mocks Mahmoud Abbas for his decision to end security coordination with Israel. The Arabic reads, "Ending security coordination" (Al-Risalah, May 5, 2016. The Hamas-affiliated media are trying to minimize the meaning of the PLO Executive Committee's decision.
Mahmoud Abbas' Visit to Egypt
- Mahmoud Abbas visited Egypt, heading a Palestinian delegation that included Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, and Majid Faraj, head of PA intelligence. Mahmoud Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Khaled Fawzi (head of Egyptian General Intelligence) and other senior Egyptian administration figures. They discussed recent developments in the Palestinian issue in light of the events in Judea and Samaria and the escalation in the Gaza Strip (Wafa, May 9, 2016).
As of May 10, 2016. 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 or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.