Opening session of the 7th Fatah Movement conference in Ramallah, chaired by Mahmoud Abbas (Wafa, November 29, 2016).
Terrorists killed when the Egyptian army flooded a tunnel under the Sinai Peninsula-Gaza Strip border (Haq, December 4, 2016).
Emergency exercise held by Hamas (Facebook page of alresala.net, December 4, 2016).
The front page of Hamas al-Risalah gives prominence to the military exercise. The headline reads, "We are ready" (al-Risalah, December 5, 2016).
Senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batash leads the Friday prayer near Red Cross headquarters (Paltoday, December 2, 2016).
Ismail Radwan delivers a speech during the rally in front of Red Cross headquarters in the Gaza Strip (Paltoday, December 5, 2016).
- This past week Palestinian popular terrorism continued in Judea and Samaria with the routine throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails, and without exceptional incident.
- The 7th Fatah Movement Conference was held in Ramallah (November 29 – December 4). Mahmoud Abbas was reelected head of the Fatah movement. He gave a speech in which he presented the main points of Fatah's political program, which included the continuing struggle against Israel in the international arena and the strengthening of the so-called "peaceful popular resistance." Mahmoud Abbas' camp won overwhelming control of Fatah's Central Committee and his opponents, the younger generation, the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem district and women are not well represented.
- The so-called "popular resistance," which Mahmoud Abbas called to be strengthened, is the Fatah and Palestinian Authority (PA) strategy decided on at the 6th Fatah conference. It is not the peaceful, non-violent strategy Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly claims it to be. It makes massive use of violence and terrorism, mostly with knives, vehicles, stones and Molotov cocktails. By calling to continue and strengthen it, Mahmoud Abbas gives Fatah and the PA legitimization to continue popular terrorism attacks against Israel.
Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
- This past week there were no extraordinary popular terrorism attacks. However, routine popular terrorism attacks continue with the throwing of Molotov cocktails and stones. The more prominent events were the following:
- December 5, 2016 – During Israeli security force preventive activities in Hebron large quantities of weapons and anti-Israel incitement materials were seized. They included hand guns, a sawn-off hunting rifle and an IDF bulletproof vest. Two suspects, a father and son, were detained for interrogation (Spokesman for the Judea and Samaria district police, December 5, 2016).
- December 5, 2016 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle at Hawwara (south of Nablus). The driver incurred minor injuries (Judea and Samaria Rescue, December 5, 2016).
- December 3, 2016 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli police patrol car near A-Tor in east Jerusalem. There were no casualties; the car was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 3, 2016).
- December 1, 2016 – Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at passing cars south of Ofra (northeast of Ramallah). There were no casualties. A search for the terrorists was instituted (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 1, 2016).
- December 1, 2016 – Palestinians threw stones at Border Policemen near Adam Square (north of Jerusalem). Two Border Policemen incurred minor injuries and were evacuated to a hospital (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 1, 2016).
- November 30, 2016 – Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at an IDF force near the Husan bypass near Beitar. There were no casualties. A search for the terrorists was instituted (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 30, 2016).
- November 29, 2016 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli bus near the Azoun Junction in Samaria. They also threw stones at an Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near Bayt Ummar. There were no casualties. The bus was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 29, 2016).
- November 29, 2016 – Palestinians threw three Molotov cocktails at an IDF post near Beit El. There were no casualties. A search for the terrorists was instituted (Facebook page of Red Alert, November 29, 2016).
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Incidents along the Border between Israel and the Gaza Strip
- This past week there were a number of incidents along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip:
- December 3, 2016 – IDF forces detained an unarmed Palestinian who infiltrated Israel by sea. He was detained near the community of Zikim and taken for interrogation (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 3, 2016).
- December 2, 2016 – Gazans approached the border security fence near the community of Kfar Aza. An IDF force went to the site and the Palestinians retreated into the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 2, 2016).
- December 1, 2016 – The Palestinian media reported that a young Palestinian was wounded in the head by IDF fire near the IDF post at Nahal Oz (Paltoday, December 2, 2016).
The Israeli-Gaza Crossings – Recent Developments
- The unit of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories issued a report on merchandise that passed through the Kerem Shalom crossing between November 27 and December 2, 2016. According to the report, 229 tons of medical equipment, 66 tons of agricultural produce, 82 tons of building materials, 13,000 tons of food products, 4.7 million liters (about 12.5 million gallons) of fuel and 1,282 tons of gas entered the Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, December 5, 2016). Four tons of strawberries consigned to European markets for the Christmas holidays were exported from the northern Gaza Strip to Israel through the Erez crossing (Facebook page of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, December 1, 2016).
- At the Erez crossing, the delivery of packages sent to the Gaza Strip by mail was recently renewed after a hiatus of several months. Delivery was stopped in the wake of attempts to smuggle contraband equipment into the Gaza Strip by mail (Facebook page of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, December 4, 2016).
Left: Delivery of packages to the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing renewed (Facebook page of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, December 4, 2016). Right: A shipment of strawberries from the northern Gaza Strip consigned to European markets (Facebook page in Arabic of the Israeli coordinator for government activities in the territories, December 1, 2016)
The Egyptians Flood Border Tunnels
- On November 26, 2016, the Egyptian army flooded three smuggling tunnels on the Egypt-Gaza Strip border in the Rafah region, trapping 20 Palestinians in the tunnels. Rescue teams extracted 16 of them. Four remained underground and contact with them was lost. Their bodies were found several days later (Safa, December 4, 2016).
- Hamas condemned the Egyptian army for flooding the tunnels and causing the deaths of the four Palestinians. Hamas claimed there was no justification for using such dangerous methods against the Gazans. Hamas called on the Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing and leave it open permanently (Quds Press, December 5, 2016).
Hamas Security Forces' Emergency Exercise
- The ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip held a broad emergency exercise for all the security forces in a simulated aerial attack. It included the evacuation of command posts and headquarters, the extensive deployment of security forces, sounds of gunfire and explosions, and the extensive movements of fire and police vehicles.
- According to Iyad al-Batash, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, the objective of the exercise was to prepare the security forces in the Gaza Strip for any possible emergency scenario (Website of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, December 4, 2016). Hamas' organ al-Risalah put the exercise on its front page with a headline reading "We are ready" (al-Risalah, December 5, 2016).
Hamas Military-Terrorist Wing "Work Accidents"
- The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas military-terrorist wing, reported the death of Ahmed Atia Mansour, aka Abu al-Hasna, from Jabalia, who died in the northern Gaza Strip when a hand grenade exploded (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, December 5, 2016). Another Hamas terrorist operative was killed, electrocuted while working in one of Hamas' tunnels in the eastern part of Khan Yunis. The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades reported him as having died "while working on one of the resistance [i.e., terrorist] tunnels" in Abasan al-Jadeeda in the eastern part of Khan Yunis (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, December 4, 2016).
Left: Ahmed Mansour (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, December 5, 2016). Right: Abd al-Rahman Arafat, electrocuted in a tunnel in the eastern part of Khan Yunis (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, December 4, 2016).
Military Parade of Gazan Youths
- School children in the al-Futuwwa program (a semi-military program taught in schools in the Gaza Strip) held a "military" parade whose slogan was "From the minaret of Gaza to the minaret of al-Aqsa." They held the parade in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. Participants included senior officers of Hamas' security forces and senior Hamas figures. The children "presented arms" with wooden rifles, waved Palestinian flags and exhibited a Magen David with a knife stuck in its center.
Left: A Magen David with a knife stuck in the center. Its hilt is decorated with "the flag of Palestine." Center: Students in the al-Futuwwa program hold a banner reading "From the minaret of Gaza to the minaret of al-Aqsa...Futuwwa in the central Gaza Strip [camps] province." Right: Students in the al-Futuwwa program armed with wooden rifles march in the parade (Palinfo, December 5, 2016).
Activities Held for the Sake of the Palestinian Prisoners
- The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organized a mass Friday prayer in front of Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City in a show of support for the prisoners conducting hunger strikes in Israeli jails. Khaled al-Batash, a senior PIJ figure, gave a speech in which he held Israel responsible for the condition of the prisoners in Israeli jails and hospitals. He claimed Israel would pay the price if it caused the deaths of the prisoners (Paltoday, December 2, 2016).
- The PIJ held another rally in front of Red Cross headquarters in Gaza City on December 5, 2016. It was attended by Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas figure, who called on the military wings of both organizations to abduct Israeli soldiers to secure the release of Palestinian prisoners (Samaa News, December 5, 2016).
The 7th Fatah Movement Conference
- Mahmoud Abbas was reelected leader of the Fatah movement. He gave a three-hour speech in which he presented the main points of Fatah's political program. He praised Palestinian accomplishments in the international arena, stressed the importance of Jerusalem and called for national unity. The main topics were:
- The Palestinian-Israeli conflict – Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of refusing to hold negotiations and said the Palestinians would continue their struggle to bring the Israeli occupation to an end and to establish an independent Palestinian state. He said Palestinian recognition of Israel had to be mutual but he stated unequivocally that he would not recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He said 2017 would be the "year the occupation ended." He also said that a solution for the problem of the Palestinian refugees had to be based on UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (on which the Palestinians base their claim of the so-called "right of return"). He also said that Israel had to honor its commitments regarding the cessation of building in the settlements and the release of Palestinian prisoners, and had to honor agreements such as operating a joint anti-incitement committee.
- The "popular resistance" – Mahmoud Abbas claimed he personally opposed violence, terrorism, extremism and all forms of incitement. However, the Palestinians had to and were entitled to "peacefully resist," and he called for the so-called "peaceful popular resistance" to be strengthened. During the speech he mentioned several times that east Jerusalem was the capital of the Palestinian state, and promised that the next Fatah conference would be held there.
- The struggle against Israel in the international arena – Mahmoud Abbas presented the political struggle he was waging for international recognition and its achievements, among them upgrading the PA to observer status in the UN. He noted that so far the Palestinians had joined 44 international conventions and forums, among the UNESCO and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He added that the Palestinians intended to join all the international conventions.
- Internal Palestinian affairs – Mahmoud Abbas stressed the need to construct a stable Palestinian state. He listed the successes of Fatah and the PA in improving civilian welfare and developing every aspect of life for the Palestinian people. He called for an internal Palestinian reconciliation, claiming he had no objection to establishing a government in which all the Palestinian organizations would be represented. He said there would be no Palestinian state without the Gaza Strip. He called for the end of the Palestinian schism, saying the foundation for its end would be democracy and elections for a president, a legislative council and a national council. He said Fatah had no objection to a broad government to which all the organizations would belong (i.e., including Hamas).
- On the last day of the conference elections were held for the 22 members of the Central Committee and the 80 members of the Revolutionary Council. Marwan Barghouti received the most votes for chairman of the Central Committee. He is currently serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail for involvement in terrorism. Second place was taken by Jibril Rajoub, currently head of the Palestinian soccer association. Fifteen Central Committee members served on the previous committee and Mahmoud Abbas' campis in full control, with almost no representation of his opponents. Most of those elected came from Judea and Samaria, with only two from the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem was not represented at all and women were not well represented (only one woman was elected to the Central Committee). Most of those elected belonged to the older and middle generations, while members of the younger generation were not well represented.
- On December 5, 2016, the new Central Committee held its first meeting, chaired by Mahmoud Abbas. In his welcoming remarks he expressed hope it would be a new beginning and lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Members of the Central Committee said they hoped for the fastest possible implementation of the decisions and resolutions voted on by the 7th conference (Wafa, December 6, 2016).
Left: Mahmoud Abbas in his office in Ramallah with members of Fatah's newly-elected Central Committee (Wafa, December 5, 2016). Right: Mahmoud Abbas casts his vote for Fatah's Central Committee and Revolutionary Council (Wafa, December 3, 2016).
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and PIJ spokesmen noted that the attendance of their representatives at the opening session was part of rebuilding trust between the sides and creating a positive atmosphere on the road to ending the schism and implementing a reconciliation (Watan, November 28, 2016).
The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194 in 1948, during Israel's War of Independence. It gives a general outline for ending the conflict through the establishment of a conciliation commission. However, the return of the Palestinian refugees was mentioned as part of the general outline and not as a "right" given to the Palestinians (the word "right" is not used).
The Palestinian strategy of "popular resistance," which was initiated at the 6th Fatah conference, has since been implemented and includes violence and terrorism (including stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks, and the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails). The strategy of "popular resistance," which is actually popular terrorism, is encouraged and legitimized by Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah and the PA.