Improvised rifle belonging to a Palestinian terrorist network that carried out shooting attacks against IDF forces. Two of the terrorists belonged to the Palestinian Authority security forces (Israel Security Agency information unit, May 28, 2017).
Knife used to stab an IDF soldier at the entrance to Mevo Dotan (Facebook page of the Shehab news agency, June 1, 2017).
Knife found in the Palestinian woman's purse near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron (Facebook page of Shehab, May 30, 2017).
Contents of the bag belonging to the two Palestinians (Israel Police Force spokesman's unit, May 30, 2017).
Improvised IEDs seized by the Israeli security forces (Israel Security Agency information unit, May 28, 2017).
Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, Issa Qaraqe, chairman of the PA's authority for prisoners affairs, and Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners club, hold a joint press conference in Ramallah after the Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails end their hunger strike (Wafa, May 27, 2017).
Sabri Sidam, the Palestinian minister of education, and Adnan al-Husseini, the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs, meet in the office of the ministry of education in Ramallah (Dunia al-Watan, May 29, 2017).
- This past week Palestinian popular terrorism was manifested by a stabbing attack at the entrance to the community of Mevo Dotan (northern Samaria) in which an IDF soldier was seriously wounded. The female Palestinian terrorist who carried out the attack was mortally wounded and later died. In addition, a number of terrorist attacks were prevented this week. Palestinians rioted and held demonstrations, however they were less intense than in previous weeks.
- The Israel Security Agency exposed a Palestinian network that carried out a shooting attack against an IDF force near Tulkarm. The operatives had carried out seven attacks against IDF soldiers and were planning to carry out more. Two of the Palestinians detained were operatives in the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces.
- This week, after forty days, the hunger strike of the Palestinian prisoners ended. Despite the fact that the strike resulted in very limited achievements for the prisoners, the Palestinians tried to represent its end as a "historic victory." The PA reported that a committee had been appointed to continue negotiations with the Israeli prison authorities. The committee will be headed by Karim Yunis (an Israeli Arab who abducted and murdered IDF soldier Avraham Bromberg) and not Marwan Barghouti (for whom the way the strike ended was apparently a personal blow).
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Terrorists Attacks
- June 1, 2017 – Stabbing attack at the entrance to the community of Mevo Dotan (northern Samaria): A Palestinian woman went to the guard post at the entrance to the community. The guard ordered her to halt but she ran towards IDF soldiers stationed at the site and stabbed and seriously wounded one of them. She was shot and mortally wounded, and later died. The Palestinian media reported she was Nuf 'Uqab Abd al-Jabbar Infia't, 16, from the village of Ya'bad, west of Jenin (Watan, June 1, 2017).
Riots, Clashes and Popular Terrorism
- This past week Palestinian popular terrorism continued with demonstrations, clashes and riots throughout Judea and Samaria, primarily involving the throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails. Israeli security forces prevented a number of attacks and seized weapons. The more prominent incidents were the following:
- May 31, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle near the entrance to Kiryat Arba. There were no casualties; the vehicle was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 31, 2017).
- May 30, 2017 – The Israeli security forces detained a young Palestinian woman near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. A large knife was found in her purse. (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 30, 2017). The Palestinian media reported she was Nur Iman Abdallah Arziqat, 17, from the village of Taffuh, west of Hebron (Facebook page of QudsN, May 30, 2017).
- May 30, 2017 – Two 17 year-old Palestinians from Jabel Mukaber were detained when Israeli security forces noticed they were carrying a heavy bag. The bag was searched and found to contain two Molotov cocktails ready for throwing, a plastic bottle containing gasoline and a knife, among other items. "Bahaa Alian" was written in Arabic on the bag. (Israel Police Force spokesman's unit, May 30, 2017). In September 2015 Bahaa Alian, who lived in Jabel Mukaber, participated in a combined shooting and stabbing attack on a bus in Jerusalem, killing three Israelis.
- May 26, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones and set fire to tires during a riot near an IDF post in Jericho. An IDF soldier was injured. A number of Palestinians were injured when riot control measures were used (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 26, 2017).
- May 25, 2017 – Israeli security forces carrying out security operations in the village of Jbba (north of Ramallah) seized large quantities of weapons (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 25, 2017).
- May 25, 2017 – the Israeli security forces closed a workshop for the manufacture of weapons in the village of Nil'in (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 25, 2017).
- May 24, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at Israeli vehicles near Beit Ummar (north of Hebron), inflicting minor injuries on two Israelis (Facebook page of Red Alert, May 24, 2017).
Detention of Palestinians, Including Operatives of the PA Security Forces
- The Israeli security forces detained a number of Palestinians suspected of involvement in a shooting attack targeting IDF soldiers at the Jabara roadblock near Tulkarm on April 29, 2017. Two of the detainees were operatives in the Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces. One had been imprisoned in Israel and released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal (2011). Interrogation revealed that before the attack at the Jabara roadblock the terrorist operatives had attacked IDF forces seven times, and attempted two unsuccessful attacks. They planned to purchase standard weapons but could not because of funding problems. The interrogation led to the seizure of a large quantity of weapons, including two improvised assault rifles and several pipe bombs (Israel Security Agency, May 28, 2017).
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
The crisis of the Humanitarian Situation
- Civilian sources in the Gaza Strip, among them a spokesman for the ministry of health, continue to warn of a crisis in the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, especially with regard to health and the supply of electricity. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health, said fuel necessary to power Gazan hospitals would run out before the end of the week and that there was a serious lack of medicine throughout the Gaza Strip (Twitter account of 'Ajel from Palestine, May 28, 2017). Electricity in the Gaza Strip is now provided in cycles of four hours with a 12-hour hiatus in power (alresalah.net, May 28, 2017).
- The Hamas energy authority and the Gaza Strip electric company reported they would agree to the conditions of the Palestinian national consensus government to resolve the crisis. However, during a meeting of the heads of the Ramallah-based Palestinian energy authority and international actors, it was stressed that "solving the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip is by ending the division [between the PA and the Gaza Strip] and enabling the Government of National Reconciliation to work freely in the Gaza Strip and by transferring the electricity bills collected by the distribution company in Gaza to the Ministry of Finance without preconditions" (Wafa, May 29, 2017).
- Binali Yildirim, prime minister of Turkey, spoke to Ismail Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau, about the energy crisis. Yildirim promised he would help the Gaza Strip, including donating Turkish funds to purchase fuel for the power plant (Hamas movement website, May 31, 2017).
Exposure of Hamas Exploitation of Civilians Entering Israeli for Medical Treatment
- The Israel Security Agency exposed a number of instances in which Hamas exploited Gazans entering Israel for medical treatment to transfer funds to terrorist networks. One case was Amal Ahmed, a 52 year-old woman from Jabalia, who accompanied her son when he went to Jerusalem for cancer treatments. She was asked by Hamas to transfer funds and various items to terrorist operatives in Judea and Samaria. Another case was Laila Hamoud, 61, also from Jabalia, who had an entrance visa for Israel. She entered Israel accompanying her grandson, who was being treated for cancer. She carried funds from Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip to pay for Hamas activities in Samaria (Israel Security Agency, May 28, 2017).
Execution of Suspected Killers of Mazen Fuqahaa
- On May 25, 2017, the Hamas ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip ordered the execution of three Palestinians accused of killing Mazen Fuqahaa. They were executed publicly in the center of Gaza City in the presence of thousands of Palestinians, including senior officials, without representatives of the media (Safa, may 25, 2017). The ministry of the interior warned against publishing pictures or videos of the executions (Palinfo, May 25, 2017). Iyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the ministry of the interior, said the execution of the three suspects showed collaborators that Israel would not help them (alresalah.net, May 25, 2017).
- At the inauguration of the Mazen Fuqahaa Mosque in the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya said Fuqahaa's death had initiated a new security and military war between Hamas and Israel. He said the Palestinian people did not fear death and had not been broken by the siege, and that the deaths of their commanders only strengthened them. He added that the relations between Hamas and the [so-called Israeli] occupation were struggle and fighting. He called on the Palestinian people to unite their weapons and join the Palestinian national plan to end the occupation, return the refugees and establish a Palestinian state on all the land of Palestine (al-Aqsa TV, May 26, 2017).
Left: The Mazen Fuqahaa mosque in al-Zawayda, in the central Gaza Strip. Right: Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas' political bureau, delivers the Friday sermon at the inauguration of the mosque (Facebook page of Shehab, May 27, 2017).
- Palestinian sources reported that in recent weeks senior figures from Hamas, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah held meetings in Lebanon, and decided to renew Iranian financial support for Hamas. It was also reported that in the near future Ismail Haniyeh, who was elected head of the new Hamas' political bureau, would visit Iran (Dunia al-Watan, May 30, 2017). In response Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said there had been no change in the relations between Hamas and Iran, and that all the information published about the issue was false (al-Quds, May 30, 2017).
- Mahmoud al-Zahar, also a member of Hamas' political bureau, said Hamas had to align itself with every country that supported it, especially Iran, as long as the country did not harm the principles or holy sites of the Palestinian people. He called for a reassessment of relations with Iran, Turkey, Korea and other countries (Dunia al-Watan, May 25, 2017).
Special Israeli Gestures for Ramadan
- In accordance with a decision made by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, announced a series of gestures to improve everyday life for the Palestinians during the Muslim religious month of Ramadan: residents of Judea and Samaria will be able to visit relatives in Israel between Sundays and Thursdays and during Eid al-Fitr; be able to enter the Temple Mount for the Friday prayers; the opening hours of the crossings will be extended; and residents of Judea and Samaria will be able to go abroad through Ben-Gurion International Airport. In addition, residents of the Gaza Strip will be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount (website of the Israeli Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories, May 21, 2017).
Palestinian Prisoners End Hunger Strike
- On May 27, 2017, the eve of Ramadan, after 40 days, the Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails ended their hunger strike. The Israel Prison Authority reported that there had been no negotiations with the prisoners, but that they had reached "understandings." According to the Prison Authority announcement, the only prisoners' demand, from a list of many, met by the authorities and the Red Cross was increasing the frequency of visits by relatives to two per month. According to the prison authorities, 1,578 prisoners participated in the strike for various periods of time, most of them Fatah operatives. More than 750 ended their strike before May 27. Eighteen prisoners were hospitalized because of the strike (Haaretz, May 27, 2017).
- The Palestinian National Committee to Support the Prisoners' Hunger Strike held a press conference in Ramallah to announcement the end of the strike. Jamal Muheisen, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, claimed that after negotiations with the Israeli prison authorities lasting more than 20 hours, an agreement had been reached. He claimed victory for the struggle of the prisoners and the Palestinian people. He congratulated the prisoners on their firm stance and thanked them. He also thanked Mahmoud Abbas for defending them. He called in the International Criminal Court to oversee Israel and the "crimes" it had committed against the prisoners (al-Aqsa, May 27, 2017). In the meantime, the PA announced the appointment of a committee of strike leaders to continue negotiations with the Prison Administration. The committee chairman is Karim Yunis, who was recently appointed to Fatah's Central Committee, chosen over Marwan Barghouti (alresalah.net, May 29, 2017).
- While the strike resulted in few achievements, the Palestinians represented its end as a victory. Marches and rallies were held in a number of locations in Judea and Samaria to mark the prisoners' "victory" (Wafa, May 27, 2017). Some of the responses to the end of the strike were the following:
- Marwan Barghouti claimed the hunger strike was stopped to give the prison authorities an opportunity to find common discourse with the prisoners. He said [without specifying] that "unless promises are kept" the prisoners would resume the strike. He called on Mahmoud Abbas and all the Palestinian organizations to fulfill their commitments to the prisoners and do their utmost to effect their release. He also called for conditioning the resumption of negotiations on the release of prisoners and detainees (almayadeen.net, May 30, 2017).
- Issa Qaraqe, chairman of the PA prisoners' and released prisoners' authority, held a press conference where he claimed the agreement was "a terrific achievement and historic victory" for the strike, the most serious since 1976. He claimed that beyond the great achievement for the prisoners, the strike also chalked up political achievements, such as the appointment of prisoner leader Karim Yunis to Fatah's Central Committee. He claimed the prisoners had received 80% of their demands but said a number of issues remained open, and therefore the committee headed by Yunis had been appointed to discuss them (Filastin al-Yawm, May 29, 2017).
- Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian national consensus government, posted his congratulations to the prisoners on his Facebook page. He claimed the victory proved to the world that the Palestinians' will power had prevailed (Facebook page of Rami Hamdallah, May 27, 2017). During a Palestinian government meeting he congratulated the prisoners and referred to the end of hunger strike as a "victory" (Wafa, May 30, 2017).
Celebrating the end of the hunger strike. Left: Relatives of prisoners in a protest tent in Jenin (Palinfo Twitter account, May 27, 2017). Right: Palestinians take to the streets in Ramallah (Wafa, May 27, 2017).
PA Objections to Israeli Plans for East Jerusalem
- The government of Israel accepted a suggestion from the ministries of education and Jerusalem affairs and heritage to appoint an inter-ministerial committee to devise a program to reduce social and economic gaps in east Jerusalem (website of the Prime Minister's office, May 28, 2017). One of the goals of the program is to improve the quality of the education in east Jerusalem, especially by encouraging the introduction of the Israeli curriculum into east Jerusalem schools.
- The decision led Sabri Sidam, PA minister of education, and Adnan al-Husseini, PA minister for Jerusalem affairs, to meet with senior Palestinian ministry of education figures at the ministry's office in Ramallah. They warned of Israel's intention to "Judaize" the curriculum currently taught in east Jerusalem schools. They asked that all means be employed to keep Israel from carrying out its plan (Dunia al-Watan and Ma'an, May 29, 2017)
- The PA ministry of education said in a statement that funding a government five-year plan to improve education in east Jerusalem proved Israel wanted to attack the foundations of Palestinian national identity. The ministry warned of the "dangers" inherent in the Israeli program, which proved Israel's way of thinking and policies were oppression, racism and disdain for international laws. According to the statement, for the sake of preserving Palestinian national identity, as part of its educational program in Jerusalem the ministry would use all available means to fight the Israeli government plan (Wafa, May 28, 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.
Karim Yunis, an Israeli Arab who lives in the town of 'Ara in Wadi 'Ara in central Israeli, holds an Israeli identity card. He and his brotherabducted and murdered Israeli soldier Avraham Bromberg in 1981, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2012 his sentenced was reduced to 40 years by Israeli President Shimon Peres. His brother was released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal. Karim Yunis became one of the prominent leaders of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
Since the end of the 1960s Palestinian security prisoners have been trying to improve their conditions and change their status. The hunger strike is one of their main "weapons" in the prisoners' arsenal. In 1976 Palestinian security prisoners struck for 65 days. Their demands included books, notebooks, freedom from work within the prison and longer showers.