IDF attack on Hamas' Hittin post in Beit Lahia after rockets were fired into the western Negev (Twitter account of Palinfo, February 27, 2017).
Left: IAF attack on a post in Rafah (Twitter account of Palinfo, February 27, 2017).
Cartoon by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha in al-Risalah, Hamas's official organ, after the deaths of three Palestinians in a tunnel. The Arabic reads, "Tunnel workers and their livelihood drown in blood" (alresala.net, February 27, 2017).
Ashraf Sabah, aka Abu al-Baraa', operative of ISIS's Sinai Province allegedly killed by Israel (Haq, February 24, 2017).
Mahmoud Abbas speaks at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva (Wafa, February 27, 2017).
Palestinian demonstrators in Hebron trample a picture of Donald Trump (Facebook page of QudsN, February 24, 2017).
Memorial posting for Sayid Ibrahim Mahmoud Slit (Haq, February 26, 2017).
- This past week terrorist events centered on rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. There were no casualties and no damage was reported. It was the fourth rocket attack in February 2017. So far it is unknown which organization fired the rockets. The Israeli Air Force responded by attacking five Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum claimed Israel's continued attacks on Hamas posts and facilities was a deliberate Israeli attempt at escalation. He warned that Hamas (the "resistance") would not allow Israel to impose a new rules of engagement on the ground, and warned Israel it would bear the consequences.
- Turkey hosted a conference called the "Conference of Palestinians Abroad." According to its organizers, it was supposed to examine ways Palestinians living outside the Palestinian Authority (PA) could contribute to "liberating" Palestine and establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. Fatah and the PA boycotted the conference, which they viewed as a Hamas initiative
Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
- In the meantime, demonstrations, clashes and riots continued, mainly involving the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails. The Israeli security forces detained a number of wanted Palestinians in Judea and Samaria and confiscated weapons.
- The more prominent incidents were the following:
- February 27, 2017 – A Palestinian woman went to the Qalandia crossing (north Jerusalem), where the bag she was carrying aroused the suspicion of the security guards. When she did not heed their calls to stop, they shot and wounded her. The Palestinian media reported she was Manar Ribhi Mujahed, 20, from the village of Aqab, north of Jerusalem. The Palestinian ministry of health reported that she had been wounded in the lower part of her body (Raya, February 27, 2017).
- February 27, 2017 – During an IDF activity near Efrat (Gush Etzion), Palestinians shot at the soldiers, wounding one seriously (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 27, 2017).
- February 25, 2017 – Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails and shot firecrackers at Israeli security forces in Silwan (east Jerusalem). There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 25, 2017).
- February 24, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli security forces near Issawiya (east Jerusalem), wounding two Border Policemen (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 24, 2017).
- February 24, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles in Gush Etzion and a bus north of Jerusalem. There were no casualties (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 24, 2017).
- February 23, 2017 – Palestinians threw a pipe bomb at Israeli security forces operating in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, wounding one soldier (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 23, 2017).
- February 22, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle near Hawwara (south of Nablus). There were no casualties; the vehicle was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 23, 2017).
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- Before dawn February 28, 2017, a rocket hit was identified in Israeli territory in an open area near one of the communities in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was reported. It was the fourth time Israel was attacked with rocket fire in February 2017. So far it is unknown which organization fired the rockets.
- In response to the rocket fire, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft attacked five Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, February 27, 2017). The Palestinian social media reported that among the targets attacked were the al-Shuhadaa post, west of the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip; the Hittin post in the northern Gaza Strip; and a post in eastern Rafah. An attack was also carried out in Khan Yunis. The Palestinian ministry of health reported that three Palestinians had been wounded (Ma'an, February 27, 2017).
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum claimed Israel was responsible for continuing escalation which, he said, harmed "the resistance" [i.e., terrorist organizations] and the residents of the Gaza Strip. He also claimed that continued attacks on "resistance" posts and facilities would be considered "deliberately igniting the situation in the Gaza Strip." He added that the "resistance" would not allow Israel to impose new rules of engagement on the ground (Shehab, February 27, 2017). In another statement, Hamas said Israel's "aggression" would not contribute to the current lull and that Israel would bear responsibility for the consequences of the escalation. Hamas also appealed to the international community to intervene to restrain Israel (Shihad, February 27, 2017).
Hamas UAV Intercepted
- On February 23, 2017, Israeli Air Force planes intercepted Hamas UAV flying from the Gaza Strip across the sea. The UAV fell into the sea and did not enter Israeli airspace (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 23, 2017).
New Hamas Leadership elected in the Gaza Strip
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas' new political bureau in the Gaza Strip, spoke on the phone with Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas' overall political bureau. He updated him on the results of the recent elections in the Gaza Strip (Hamas website, February 26, 2017). On February 24, 2017, Yahya al-Sinwar appeared in public for the first time since his election. He joined Ismail Haniyeh and Khalil al-Haya, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, in inaugurating a new mosque in Rafah, named for Ra'ed al-Attar. Ismail Haniyeh gave a speech in which he said that electing Yahya al-Sinwar as head of the political bureau in the Gaza Strip was a source of pride for the Hamas movement (al-Aqsa TV, February 24, 2017). Al-Sinwar did not speak at the event.
Left: Yahya al-Sinwar sits between Ismail Haniyeh (left) and Khalil al-Haya (Khabar Press, February 24, 2017). Right: Yahya al-Sinwar arrives at the inauguration of the mosque in Rafah (YouTube, February 24, 2017).
- Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union, and the principal of an UNRWA elementary school in the Gaza Strip, was elected to Hamas' new political bureau in the Gaza Strip. His election presented a problem for UNRWA, which forbids its employees to engage in activity with Hamas and other organizations. Initially UNRWA denied that Suhail al-Hindi had been elected to Hamas' political bureau. However, two days later, following an internal investigation, a UNRWA spokesman announced that having been presented with "substantial information" from several sources, it had been decided to suspend Suhail al-Hindi from his post until the investigation had been completed. In 2009 Suhail al-Hindi was also suspended by UNRWA because of his Hamas activities, but he was reinstated after Hamas exerted pressure on the agency.
Three Hamas Operatives Killed in Tunnel on Gaza Strip-Egypt Border
- Three Hamas operatives choked to death and five were wounded from inhaling gas in a smuggling tunnel on the Egypt-Gaza Strip border when the Egyptian army blew up the tunnel (Facebook page of New24sinai, February 25, 2017). Hamas expressed its condolences to the families of those killed and condemned the "violent action." According to Hamas, there was no justification for the "dangerous methods" used by Egypt with regard to the population of the Gaza Strip. Hamas called on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing on a permanent basis and appealed to the international community to intervene immediately to end the "siege" on the Gaza Strip (Hamas website, February 25, 2017).
Salafist Activity in the Gaza Strip
- On February 24, 2016, the Ibn Taymiyyah Media Center, affiliated with jihadist networks in the Gaza Strip, issued a video of Ashraf Sabah, aka Abu al-Baraa', an operative in ISIS's Sinai Province. According to ISIS, he was killed by Israel. In the video recorded before his death, Sabah spoke about the tortures suffered by Salafist prisoners in jails run by Hamas' internal security forces in the Gaza Strip. He claimed he himself had been tortured and called on jihad fighters to wage jihad for the sake of Allah (Haq, February 24, 2017).
Mahmoud Abbas Visits Lebanon and Switzerland
- On February 25, 2017, Mahmoud Abbas began a three-day official visit to Lebanon. While there he met with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri and other senior figures. He also met with representatives from the Palestinian refugee camps (Wafa, February 25, 2017).
Left: Mahmoud Abbas meets with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri. Right: Mahmoud Abbas meets with Lebanese President Michel Aoun (Wafa, February 23 and 24, 2017).
- From Lebanon he paid an official visit to Geneva. While there he gave a speech at the 34th opening session of the UN's Human Rights Council (Quds.net, February 25, 2017). He raised the following issues (Wafa, February 27, 2017):
- Accusations against Israel of serious violations of international law and human rights conventions. He claimed the regulatory law passed by Israel was a "dangerous precedent" of what might happen in one state with an apartheid regime.
- An appeal to all the UN agencies to take full responsibility for Israel's violations of international human rights laws and to establish an international apparatus to protect the Palestinian people. He also demanded a mechanism and timetable to determine the end of the Israeli occupation and the removal of its manifestations, such as the settlements and the wall.
- A call on the states that recognized Israel to recognize Palestine as well for the sake of promoting the two-state solution, and to declare the independence of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital, to exist alongside Israel.
PA Foreign Ministry Activity regarding the Two-State Solution
- The PA foreign ministry issued a strong statement calling on all countries to announce their formal position on Israel's attempts to negate the two-state solution. The statement called on the American administration to make its voice heard against "provocative declarations" made by Israel that threatened peace, shut down negotiations and opened the door to escalating regional violence. The statement also claimed that declarations made by the Israeli prime minister exposed his "racist, extremist" positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the extreme right-wing ideology he held along with the members of his faction (QudsN, February 23, 2017).
Reactions to the Elor Azaria Verdict
- The verdict handed down in the Elor Azaria trial was widely condemned by the Palestinians. At its weekly meeting, the Palestinian national consensus government condemned the lenient given to the soldier who shot the "shaheed" Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif in Hebron. The government stated that the sentence gave "the soldiers of the occupation a green light" to continue committing their crimes. Ali Abu Diyak, minister of justice in the Palestinian national consensus government, said the sentence was more proof of the level of moral deterioration and racism reached by the "occupation country" (Sawa News, February 21, 2017). The family of terrorist operative al-Sharif announced it would attempt to have the soldier who "murdered Abd al-Fatah al-Sharif" tried in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Several dozen Palestinians organized demonstrations in Hebron (Ma'an, February 21, 2017).
The "Conference of Palestinians Abroad" in Istanbul
- On February 25, 2017, a Palestinian conference began in Istanbul called the "Conference of Palestinians Abroad." According to its organizers, it was held to examine ways Palestinians living beyond the borders of the PA could contribute to the "liberation of the Palestinian lands and the achievement of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital" (Ma'an, February 26, 2017). Ziyad al-Alul, spokesman for the conference, said more than 6,000 people attended.
- The conference lasted for two days. Participants called on the national Palestinian institutions to be opened to the millions of Palestinians living in the dispersal and for all Palestinians to be able to vote in elections for the Palestinian National Council. A concluding statement was issued calling for the struggle to continue until the Palestinian people had fully achieved their rights (Twitter account of Ziyad al-Alul, February 26, 2017). Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said the conference was a "strategic measure" that could advance the Palestinian cause and, in the name of Hamas, thanked the organizers and participants.
Left: Conference attendees (Quds.press, February 20, 2017). Right: logo for the Istanbul conference (Facebook page of Ziyad al-Alul, February 20, 2017).
- Fatah and the PA strongly opposed the conference and did not send representatives. Fatah movement spokesmen condemned the conference and its decisions and announcements. According to Fatah, holding the conference at this time served the interests of the right-wing government in Israel, deepened the internal Palestinian rift and was an attempt to harm the status of the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people (QudsN, February 27, 2017).
- Palestinian figures affiliated with Fatah and Mahmoud Abbas strongly denounced the conference:
- Before the conference, Fatah spokesman Osama al-Qawasmeh said the conference served the interests of Israel and that it had been an ineffectual attempt to harm the PLO. He said the conference proved Hamas continued to deepen the rift in the Palestinian arena and called on all Palestinians not to participate.
- Jamal Nizal, a member of Fatah's Revolutionary Council and Fatah spokesman for the EU, said Hamas had initiated the conference without coordinating with Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah, and therefore no Fatah representative had attended. He said Hamas did not agree to the two-state solution and had therefore initiated the conference to negate the possibility of its being implemented (Voice of Palestine, February 21, 2017).
- Mahmoud al-Habash, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas for religious affairs, called it "Satan's conference," adding that the Palestinian people had one and only one address, and it was the Palestinian leadership (Facebook page of QudsN, February 20, 2017).
Trump Picture Trampled in Hebron
- On February 24, 2017, Palestinians held a demonstration in Hebron to open al-Shuhadaa Street in the center of the city (which has been closed to Palestinians since 2000). During the demonstration Palestinians threw shoes at pictures of Donald Trump which had been brought to the demonstration, and then trampled on them (Facebook page of QudsN, February 24, 2017).
ISIS Operative from Jenin Killed in International Coalition Airstrike in Syria
- On February 26, 2017, ISIS announced that Sayid Ibrahim Mahmoud Slit, 30, from Jenin, had been killed in an international coalition airstrike on an ISIS position in Syria. According to the announcement, Slit, who had a degree in chemistry from the Arab-American University in Jenin, had fought in the ranks of ISIS for more than a year. His family was notified of his death (Haq, February 26, 2017).
- On the morning of February 25, 2017, dozens of Lebanese demonstrators gathered at the Israel-Lebanon border south of the community of Menara. They claimed they were protesting the IDF's placement of a "spying device," thereby violating Lebanese sovereignty. During the demonstration some of the demonstrators crossed the border but were sent back to Lebanese territory by IDF forces. The incident ended without casualties.
- Before the demonstration Hezbollah's combat information unit said in a statement that IDF forces had crossed the fence in the region of Meiss al-Jabal and positioned solar-powered spying devices (Hezbollah's combat information unit, February 22, 2017). According to Qassem Hashem, a member of the Hezbollah faction in the Lebanese parliament, Israel does not follow international law and is trying to occupy new territory along the border with Lebanon. He called on the Lebanese people to continue "resisting the Zionist entity" to defend Lebanon's national sovereignty, and accused UNIFIL of not doing anything (al-Manar, February 25, 2017).
Left: UNIFIL soldiers monitor the protest of Meiss al-Jabal residents near the border fence. Right: Protesters from Meiss al-Jabal (Facebook page of Meiss al-Jabal, February 25, 2017).
A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicle, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included.
The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
Ra'ed al-Attar was a senior operative in Hamas' military-terrorist wing in the southern Gaza Strip. He was killed in an Israeli aerial attack in Operation Pro
tective Edge (2014)
For further information, see the February 27, 2017 bulletin "UNRWA announced the suspension of Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, after his election to Hamas' political bureau. In 2011 he was also suspended by UNRWA for his affiliation with Hamas, but remained in his position," at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/21163.