Ad Hoc Studies

Support for Hamas in Belgium and the Netherlands since the Outbreak of the Swords of Iron War

Since the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, and the beginning of the Swords of Iron War, pro-Palestinian demonstrations against Israel have been held in Belgium and the Netherlands, like in many European Union (EU) countries, calling for a ceasefire and ending support for Israel alongside anti-Israeli slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free. The demonstrations in Belgium and the Netherlands are organized in cooperation between local Palestinian communities and solidarity organizations based on far-left organizations, anti-government organizations, student organizations, anarchist movements, and even political parties. Organizations and activists taking part in the protest have expressed support for the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack and massacre and later for the Palestinian armed resistance, accusing Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip. The prominent presence of large Muslim communities in Belgium and the Netherlands contributes to the strengthening of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli attitudes among the public in both countries.
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Appointment of New Palestinian Authority District Governors

On August 10, 2023, Mahmoud Abbas announced the enforced retirement of most of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Gaza Strip district governors, with three exceptions. Only on March 3, 2024, about seven months after the announcement, did an official round of appointments of eight new district governors begin, ending on March 10, 2024, after they were sworn in at Mahmoud Abbas' office in Ramallah.An examination of the new district governors reveals the following: Unlike previous years, this time Mahmoud Abbas appointed local people who were familiar with and had connections to the territory and the population. All eight governors are veteran Fatah members who belong to the movement's "middle generation" Some of them served or still serve in senior positions within Fatah.Appointing governors who are familiar with the district and its issues and have and good relations with the local residents is intended to strengthen the PA's control and improve its position and image.
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Five Months of Hostilities on the Israel-Lebanon Border

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Public Criticism in Lebanon of Hezbollah Activity along the Israel-Lebanese Border

Hezbollah joined the fighting against Israel on October 8, 2023, in support of the Palestinians. The fighting in south Lebanon, and especially the damage caused to the area, led the Lebanese public to criticize Hezbollah, especially for dragging Lebanon into a war which did not concern it. The main criticisms of the war have been that it is a war being fought by the Palestinians, not the Lebanese; Hezbollah is not "protecting Lebanon," although it represents itself as such, but rather it is destroying Lebanon; Hezbollah serves the interests of the Iranian regime; even without a war, Lebanon is undergoing a serious economic and political crisis, and Hezbollah is sending the country into the abyss; Hezbollah operates in the Christian, Sunni and Druze towns and villages in south Lebanon to force local residents to migrate to other areas inside the country. Critics include public figures and politicians, mainly Christians, and the Lebanese street, especially the residents of the south, who are the main victims of the war. There is also criticism from Shi'ite elements in south Lebanon. However, incidents of criticism have been relatively few, and in most cases the critics express their protest orally or in writing, mainly on social networks. So far there are no signs of organized protest, since in some instances speaking out or being active against Hezbollah could be fatal. Hezbollah is trying to moderate the criticism against it, mainly with the help of promises to restore south Lebanon after the war and help local residents. Senior organization figures claim Hezbollah operates not only for the Shi'ite population but for all Lebanese citizens.
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Public protests and criticism of Hamas in the Gaza Strip during recent months

During the past three months, in light of the continued fighting, public criticism of the Hamas government and leadership has increased significantly in the Gaza Strip compared to the protests in the first months. An analysis of the demonstrations indicates that currently they are local and sporadic, apparently organized spontaneously. They are not held particularly frequently, only a few per month, and are attended by a few hundred people. Apparently Hamas is not trying to stop them, possibly because it does not currently regard them as endangering its status. Furthermore, Hamas [falsely] claims that most of the demonstrations do not represent the feelings of the population and are fabricated or directed by Israel. Criticisms are also posted on the social networks. However, at the moment there are relatively few threads, managed by a handful of people with a limited number of followers. So far, the number the protests is small and they do not endanger the Hamas administration. However, as time passes and Israel's military pressure increases in the Gaza Strip, and as a result the humanitarian crisis worsens and the lack of food and shelter for the residents increases, the protests will continue and most likely increase. It is also possible that the approaching month of Ramadan, which begins on March 11, 2024, will further increase the public's sense of want and its frustration, and therefore the extent of the protests.
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More than half of the Palestinian journalists killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Iron Swords were affiliated with terrorist organizations (Full version)

The government media office of Hamas in the Gaza Strip reported that as of February 18, 2024, 131 Palestinian journalists had been killed in the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the war (October 7, 2023). The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center's comprehensive examination of the 131 names revealed that approximately 60% were operatives in or affiliated with the terrorist organizations, Fatah or the Palestinian Authority. Hamas alleges that Israel deliberately attacks journalists to "hide the truth" and prevent the disclosure of events in the Gaza Strip during the war. Of the 78 journalists identified as having organizational affiliation, 44 were identified with Hamas, five were identified as the operatives of the military wing and the rest were employed by or represented Hamas media. Nineteen were affiliated with PIJ, six of them actual PIJ terrorist operatives. It is not the first time we have dealt with journalists who also had a military role in a terrorist organization, covered operations and wars and worked to influence the battle for hearts and minds, considered of utmost importance by the terrorist organizations.
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