Palestinian rioters clash with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem on Yom Kippur (Facebook page of QudsN, October 12, 2016).
Palestinian rioters clash with Israeli security forces in east Jerusalem on Yom Kippur (Facebook page of QudsN, October 12, 2016).
Rahiq Shaji' Muhammad Yusuf, who attempted a stabbing attack (Madar News, October 19, 2016)
The money (cash and checks) found in the possession of the Hamas operative detained at the Tapuah Junction (Facebook page of QudsN, October 13, 2016).
Rioting in al-Ram after the Israeli security forces closed the store belonging to the family of Palestinian terrorist Musbah Abu Sabih (Twitter account of Paldf, October 11, 2016).
Palestinians at the Rafah crossing wait to leave for Egypt (Palestinian ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, October 20, 2016)
Palestinian security force operation in the Balata refugee camp (al-Quds al-Arabi, October 25, 2016).
- The Jewish High Holidays, often a time of trouble, were relatively quiet. There was a stabbing in Har Adar (north of Jerusalem) and an attempted stabbing and the Tapuah Junction in Samaria. Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails, and rioting in clashing with Israeli security forces. A rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel territory on October 23, 2016. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a Hamas terrorist target in the northern Gaza Strip.
- A Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist squad handled from the Gaza Strip was recently exposed in Israel. Its operatives planned to carry out a mass-killing attack at an event in a reception hall in Beersheba, using guns and hand grenades. They also planned to abduct and murder Israelis and then use their bodies as bargain chips to negotiate with Israel.
- Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's interview with the east Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper al-Quds was met with protests and outrage from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). He was quoted as saying that if Hamas stopped digging tunnels, smuggling arms and shooting rockets at Israel, Israel would be one of the first to invest in rebuilding the Gaza Strip. In response a Hamas spokesman said Israel's demands were not legitimate, that Hamas had a "natural right" to air and sea ports, and that in the past Israel had committed itself to making them possible.
- On October 15, 2016, during a Border Police activity along the border security fence in the region of Har Adar, a Palestinian terrorist emerged from the bushes where he had been hiding, stabbed one the Border Policemen in the arm and fled.
- On October 19, 2016, a young Palestinian woman went to the Tapuah Junction in Samaria and approached the Border Policemen guarding the location, arousing their suspicions. They ordered her to halt and fired shots into the air. She continued towards them and took out a knife. She was shot and killed. The Palestinian media reported that she was Rahiq Shaji' Muhammad Yusuf, 19, from the village of Asira al-Shimaliya, north of Nablus. According to the report, she was a student at al-Najah University in Nablus (Madar News, October 19, 2016).
Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
- In the meantime, riots, the throwing of stones, Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs and light-arms fire continue in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.
- The more prominent events were the following:
- October 23, 2016 – Dozens of Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces in the village of Deir Jarir, northeast of al-Bireh. Two IDF soldiers incurred minor wounds.
- October 21, 2016 – Palestinians gathered and rioted as Israeli security forces dealt with a traffic incident in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood of east Jerusalem. Two of the Palestinians tried to attack the security forces; they were detained and taken for interrogation.
- October 20, 2016 – Israeli security forces attempted to detain Palestinians who had thrown stones at vehicles near Bayt Umar, north of Hebron. One of them, a 16 year-old boy, was killed. An IDF soldier incurred minor injuries. The Palestinian media reported that the boy was Ali Bahar (Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc at Al-Najah University in Nablus, October 20, 2016).
- October 19, 2016 – The Israeli security forces reported having detained a squad of five Palestinian operatives from the village of Nil'in (near Ramallah). On October 11, 2016, they used an M-16 assault rifle to shoot at an IDF jeep near the village. During interrogation they said they had bought the rifle from an arms dealer in Samaria. They also said they operated locally and planned to carry out a shooting attack targeting IDF forces (Israel Security Agency website, October 19, 2016).
- October 18, 2016 – Two Israelis incurred minor injuries when stones were thrown at their vehicle in the a-Tor neighborhood of east Jerusalem. Israeli security forces chased and caught the 15 year-old boy from east Jerusalem who had thrown the stones. In another attack an Israeli was wounded when Palestinians threw stones near the Lion's Gate in Jerusalem.
- October 12, 2016 – Masked Palestinians rioted on Yom Kippur and clashed with Israeli security forces in the Silwan neighborhood in east Jerusalem, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. A 20 year-old Palestinian was killed. He had been released from an Israeli jail a number of months previously. Clashes were also reported in the region of Issawiya in east Jerusalem.
- October 12, 2016 – Israeli security forces detained a wanted Hamas terrorist operative at the Tapuah Junction in Samaria. He was found to have more than 100,000 Israeli shekels (about $26,000) in his possession. According to an IDF source, the money was meant to finance a terrorist attack (NRG, October 13, 2016).
- October 11, 2016 – The Israeli security forces closed the candy store in al-Ram (north of Jerusalem) belonging to the family of Palestinian terrorist Musbah Abu Sabih, who carried out a shooting attack in Jerusalem and killed two Israelis. According to the Israeli security forces, the store disseminated anti-Israel incitement. Palestinians clashed with the Israeli security forces after they closed the store.
Detention of Palestinian Suspected of Manufacturing and Dealing Weapons
- On September 21, 2016, the Israeli security forces detained Mahmoud Yusuf Hussein Abu Taha, from Khan Yunis (southern Gaza Strip), as he entered Israel through the Erez crossing to conduct business. Interrogation revealed that he headed a terrorist squad handled by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in the Gaza Strip. He was recruited by Wael Sufian Abu Taha, a senior PIJ operative, who lives in the Gaza Strip. Mahmoud Abu Taha recruited three other Gazans (who were also detained), two of them Gazans residing in Israel illegally.
- The four are suspected of planning terrorist attacks, including the following:
- A mass-killing attack in a crowded reception hall in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba– The terrorists planned to toss hand grenades at dancers on the dance floor and shoot at guests with guns which they were planning to hide in garbage pails nearby. In preparation they carried out reconnaissance at the hall where one of them worked, and put together a plan. They were detained before they could acquire weapons.
- The abduction and killing of Israelis: The terrorists planned to abduct and murder Israelis, bury their bodies and deliver their IDs to the Gaza Strip so they could be used to bargain for the return of the bodies. To plan the attack Mahmoud Abu Taha carried out reconnaissance around the central bus station in Beershebaon one of the occasions he was in Israel. He reported to his handlers that there were many people around the bus station who used drugs who could be abducted. His Gazan handler thought it would be more worthwhile to abduct a policeman or a soldier. He gave Abu Taha money to rent an apartment in Israel where the abductees could be brought and photographed, and then killed.
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- In the early morning hours of October 23, 2016, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev. It fell in the yard of a house in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip (Palinfo, October 24, 2016). There were no casualties and no damage was reported. In response to the rocket fire Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a Hamas terrorist target in the northern Gaza Strip, and IDF tanks fired at a Hamas position (IDF spokesman, October 24, 2016). According to a Twitter account in the Gaza Strip, a Hamas observation post in the northern Gaza Strip was hit.
The Rafah Crossing
- The Egyptians opened the Rafah crossing for an exceptional seven days (October 15-23, 2016), and 4,469 people left the Gaza Strip and entered Egypt. Egypt also permitted 5,000 tons of cement and lumber, gravel and bitumen (used primarily for road construction) to be delivered to the Gaza Strip (Al-Youm Al-Sabaa, October 24, 2016). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri issued an announcement thanking Egypt for various goodwill gestures, including opening the Rafah crossing (Hamas website, October 23, 2016).
The Kerem Shalom Crossing
- The Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories reported that despite the Jewish High Holidays, the Kerem Shalom crossing remained open for the routine delivery of goods to the Gaza Strip. Between October 14 and 19, 2016, the following entered the Gaza Strip: 115 tons of medical equipment, about 7,200 tons of food, 6,300 tons of agricultural produce and 58,000 tons of building materials (Arabic Twitter account of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, October 20, 2016).
Hamas Operatives Die in Tunnel Collapse
- On October 23, 2016, a Hamas terrorist operative died in a tunnel collapse east of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that the operative was Amir Jaber Abu Ta'ima, 22, from Khan Yunis. On October 22, 2016, Anas Salameh Abu Lashin was killed, an operative in the tunnel unit of the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military-terrorist wing. He was killed when a tunnel collapsed in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, not far from the Israeli border. Hamas did not elaborate on the circumstances of their deaths. Military funerals were held for both operatives and attended by senior Hamas figures (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, October 24, 2016).
Left: Amir Jaber Abu Ta'ima. Right: Anas Salameh Abu Lashin (Facebook page of QudsN, October 23, 2016).
Marking the Anniversary of the Death of PIJ Founder
- Palestinians in the Gaza Strip marked the 29th anniversary of the founding of PIJ and the death of its founder Fathi Shqaqi with a festive ceremony in Gaza City, attended by senior PIJ and other organization figures. Speeches were made calling for the escalation of the so-called "Jerusalem intifada." Abu Hamza, speaker of the Jerusalem Battalions, the PIJ's military-terrorist wing, claimed the organization was developing many surprises for Israel, and that the tunnels were not the only weapon they had at their disposal (Quds.net, October 20, 2016). A taped speech by PIJ secretary general Ramadan Shallah was played, who presented what he called a "new initiative," which included Mahmoud Abbas' retracting the Palestinian agreement to the Oslo Accords, revoking the recognition of Israel, the reestablishment of the PLO as the only Palestinian national framework, and escalating the "Jerusalem intifada" and turning it into a "comprehensive" [i.e., military-type armed] intifada (Paltoday, October 21, 2016).
Left: Ramadan Shallah, secretary general of the PIJ, in a taped speech (Ma'an, Dunia al-Watan and Paltoday, October 21, 2016). Right: The PIJ rally marking the 29th anniversary of its founding (Paltoday, October 21, 2016).
Al-Quds Interview with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman
- Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman gave an exceptional interview to the east Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper al-Quds. The interview focused on two issues:
- The situation in the Gaza Strip: According to Avigdor Lieberman, Hamas has invested more than a hundred million shekels (more than $26 million) in military enterprises instead of in education and health. He said that if Hamas stopped digging tunnels, smuggling weapons and firing rockets at Israel, Israel would be one of the first to invest in rebuilding the Gaza Strip, in the construction of sea and air ports, and in an industrial zone. He said it was even possible that one day the Gaza Strip could become a new "Singapore or Hong Kong." As to a new military clash, he said Israel had no intention of starting a war, but if it were forced to fight one in the Gaza Strip, it would be Hamas' last war, because it would be completely destroyed.
- The issue of a Palestinian state: Lieberman said he supported the two-state solution. However, he did not think the problem was with Israel, but rather with the Palestinian leadership. He said the guiding principle should not be peace in return for territory, but rather the exchange of territories and populations. He added that the problem was not Jerusalem, but extremism. Another problem, he said, was that Mahmoud Abbas refused to sign a final agreement. That would demand, he said, a different person, one capable of making difficult decisions for the Arab world, the Palestinians and Jerusalem.
The transcript of the al-Quds interview with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (al-Quds, October 24, 2016).
- The interview led to protests and enraged Hamas and the PA, and even the Palestinian public. Some criticized what Lieberman said and other criticized the paper for interviewing him. Users of the social networks attacked the paper and said it should be boycotted because it was "guilty" of normalization with Israel. The Palestinian ministry of information said in an announcement that it had expected the paper would refuse "to give a stage to the murderer Avigdor Lieberman." The head of the ministry of information in the Gaza Strip said he would examine stopping the distribution of al-Quds in the Gaza Strip. Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua called the interview a slap in the face for the feelings of the Palestinian people, a stab in the back of the Palestinians' struggle and a deviation from the national morality and principles which oppose every form of normalization with Israel and its leaders. He called on the paper to apologize and not to make the same national and media mistake again.
Cartoon criticizing the al-Quds interview with Avigdor Lieberman. The Arabic reads, "Media normalization. A Palestinian paper interviewed the Zionist minister of war" (Facebook page of Shehab, October 25, 2016).
- Two responses to the remarks made by Avigdor Lieberman were the following:
- The PA's foreign ministry issued a statement claiming that Lieberman repeatedly used his "racist opinions" to strengthen his position with the Israeli right and the world at large. Lieberman, according to the statement, was used to marketing "lies" that contradicted previously signed agreements, violated international law and reflected his adherence to "occupation and settlement" (Wafa, October 24, 2016).
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Israel's demands for Hamas to disarm and stop digging tunnels were "not legitimate." He claimed that the so-called "siege" Israel had imposed on the Gaza Strip was a crime and violated human rights, and had to stop. He claimed Israel kept the Palestinian people from realizing their natural right to free access to the world through a sea port and an airport, to say nothing of the fact that in the past Israel had committed itself to allow them to be built (Paltoday, October 24, 2016).
PA Activity in the International Arena
- On October 18, 2016, the PA's foreign ministry said in a formal announcement that it would continue to operate at the political and diplomatic level to publicize the UN Security Council resolution that committed Israel to immediately stop the construction of settlements (al-Kofia Press, October 18, 2016). On October 19, 2016, the Security Council held a session with the participation of 60 representatives to deliberate the Palestinian issue, claiming that the settlements were an obstacle to implementing the two-state solutions (al-Kofia Press, October 19, 2016).
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO's Executive Committee, sent formal letters to various countries and organizations, among them the United States, the EU, the UN and Russia, demanding immediate action and the exerting of political pressure on Israel to turn over the bodies of dead Palestinians unconditionally, and to allow them to be buried with honor. He also demanded that Israel provide a list of all the bodies of Palestinians it was holding (Ma'an, October 23, 2016).
PA Security Force Activity
- On October 21, 2016, the PA security forces, numbering several hundred operatives entered the Balata refugee camp in Nablus to detain wanted Palestinians. As they entered they were met with gunfire. According to reports, seven residents of the refugee camp were wounded during exchanges of fire and many vehicles were damaged (Paltoday and Ma'an, October 21, 2016). On October 22, 2016, young Palestinians in the Jenin refugee camp clashed with operatives in the PA security forces. They threw stones at policemen, and gunshots were reported (Safa, October 22, 2016). There were also clashes in the al-Mari refugee camp near Ramallah (Paltoday, October 25, 2016).
The UNESCO Resolution and Palestinian Reactions
- On October 13, 2016, UNESCO passed a resolution proposed by the PA and Jordan as part of the Old City of Jerusalem's being designated a World Heritage Site. According to the resolution the Temple Mount and the Western Wall are designated as a "sacred Muslim site," which can be understood as denying the connection between Jews, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. The resolution, proposed by representatives of the Arab League, passed by a majority of 24 votes. Six countries voted against and 26 abstained. The vote was widely criticized and called by many mistaken and harmful to the Jewish people. Even Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director general, opposed the resolution and said the Temple Mount was sacred to the Jews. She was pilloried by the PA and Hamas, who regarded her criticism as "surrendering" to Israel and exceeding the mandate of her office (Dunia al-Watan and Hamas website, October 15, 2016).
- In the wake of the criticism three countries changed their positions. However, at the end of a second deliberation UNESCO decided not to change the resolution and passed it without a revote. Thus on October 18, 2016, UNESCO ratified the resolution. On October 26, 2016, UNESCO will vote again following a demand from the Palestinians and Jordan regarding a new resolution on Al-Aqsa mosque. The resolution was promoted by Kuwait, Lebanon and Tunisia (Ma'an, October 23, 2016).
- The Palestinians welcomed the resolution and represented it as a "historic victory" and another achievement in the international arena. Hamas activist Ahmed Bahar, who is deputy chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, demanded the EU take legal steps against the members of the EU parliament who opposed the resolution, leading to revoking their status as parliament members because of their support for Israel (Quds.net, October 22, 2016). Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said he hoped the resolution would lead other international organizations to take similar steps (Alresala.net, October 14, 2016).
Hamas cartoon. The Arabic reads, "UNESCO: there is no religious link between the Jews and Al-Aqsa mosque [i.e., the Temple Mount]" (Facebook page of Paldf, October 15, 2016).
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.