The torched car of the Israeli civilian who mistakenly entered Abu Dis (Palinfo Twitter account, February 3, 2018; QudsN Twitter account, February 2, 2018).
Layla Ghanem, governor of the Ramallah district, and Abbas Zaki, member of Fatah's Central Committee, attend the funeral of Abu Naim (Facebook page of Layla Ghanem, January 31, 2018).
Results of the shortage of electricity: Gazans charge their phones using batteries in the street (Palinfo Twitter account, February 3, 2018).
Cartoon drawn by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha in support of Isma'il Haniyeh. The Arabic reads, "Whoever defends his homeland is not a terrorist!!" (Twitter account of al-Risalah, February 5, 2018). The key around his neck symbolizes the so-called "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees.
Mahmoud Abbas meets with the PLO's Executive Committee in the Muqata'a in Ramallah (Wafa, February 3, 2018).
- This past week terrorist events focused on the murder of an Israeli civilian, Itamar Ben-Gal, at the entrance to the city of Ariel. The mother of the terrorist who stabbed him is an Israeli Arab from Nazareth and his father is a Palestinian from Nablus; he was abandoned by his parents. His Facebook page shows that his opinions became radicalized in the weeks after the Trump declaration.
- In the village of al-Yamoun (northern Samaria) the Israeli security forces killed Ahmed Nasr Jarar, a senior operative in the squad responsible for the shooting attack that killed Rabbi Raziel Shevah (January 9, 2018). The Israel Security Agency investigation revealed that the network had been involved in other attempts to carry out attacks and was planning more.
- This past week two rockets fired from the Gaza Strip fell in Israeli territory. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft twice attacked Hamas terrorist targets in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.
- A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled ministry of health in the Gaza Strip warned of a deterioration in the humanitarian situation because of the continuing shortage of fuel. He announced the closing of 13 medical centers and three hospitals. On the other hand, a spokesman for the ministry of health of the national consensus government in Ramallah denied the centers had been closed because of a shortage of fuel and criticized Hamas’ decision to close them.
- According to a number of reports, given the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the limited response of participants in demonstrations and rallies, the possibility of holding mass “popular activities” against Israel is currently being examined. The objective is to motivate a large number of people to approach the Israel-Gaza Strip border. One of the suggestions is to have a permanent, intensive presence of people near the border and to carry out attempts to penetrate into Israeli territory. To that end a Facebook page has been opened called “The great return march.”
Terrorist attacks and attempted terrorist attacks
- Stabbing attack near Ariel, February 5, 2018:
- A terrorist went to the Ariel Junction (Samaria) in the afternoon on February 5, 2018. He crossed the road and approached an Israeli civilian who waited at the bus stop near the entrance. Surprising the Israeli, he stabbed him in the upper part of his body, wounding him fatally. The Israeli died in the hospital. The terrorist was injured by the car of an IDF officer but managed to escape, leaving behind a bag with clothing and his ID card.
- The terrorist was Abd al-Karim ‘Adel ‘Asi, 19, who recently lived in Jaffa. His mother, an Israeli Arab, lives in Nazareth and his father, a Palestinian, lives in Nablus. They abandoned him and he spent several years in various Israeli institutions. He regularly visited his father in Nablus. His Facebook page shows that recently, especially in the weeks following Trump’s declaration, his opinions became radicalized.
Abd al-Karim ‘Adel ‘Asi
- So far, no response to the attack from either the Palestinian Authority (PA) or Fatah could be found. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other terrorist organizations praised the killing, called by the Palestinian media “the Salfit operation.” They claimed it was proof that the “resistance” continued (Filastin al-A’an, February 5, 2017).
The Arabic reads, “The stabbing of the settler in Salfit, the stabber successfully safely returned to his base.” The sheath of the knife is the map of “Palestine” (Palinfo Twitter account, February 5, 2018).
- February 2, 2018 – On the evening of February 2, 2018, an Israeli civilian from Tel Aviv mistakenly entered the area of the university in Abu Dis (east Jerusalem). Palestinians threw stones at his car, wounding him in the head. The Palestinian security forces arrived at the site and protected him. He was taken to the Palestinian security force station in Abu Dis. When the Palestinian security force operatives took him out of the station to transfer him to the Israelis, the Palestinians rioted, throwing a hand grenade at the Israeli security forces. The Israeli’s car was torched. Border Police forces called to the site successfully extracted him. Two operatives of the Palestinian security forces were injured. On the night of February 3, 2018, six residents of Abu Dis were detained on suspicion of involvement in an attempt to injure an Israeli civilian.
Israeli security forces kill another operative in the terrorist squad that carried out the shooting attack at Havat Gilad
- In a joint Israeli security force operation in the village of Yamoun (norther Samaria) and after a joint intelligence effort, on the morning of February 6, 2018, Israeli security forces killed Ahmed Nasr Jarar. He was a senior operative in the terrorist squad that murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevah (January 9, 2018). During the attempt to detain him, Nasr Jarar, armed, exited the building where he was hiding. He was shot and killed by the Israeli security forces. He was found to be in possession of an M16 rifle and a bag containing IEDs. According to investigations conducted by the Israel Security Agency, the squad was involved in various attempted attacks and planned others (Israel Security Agency website, February 6, 2018).
- Hamas’ military-terrorist wing issued an official death notice for Ahmed Nasr Jarar. The media praised his courage and the courage of his comrades, and said he had become a role model for all free men in the struggle against the [so-called Israeli] occupation. It also said the Palestinians would continue to inflict painful blows on Israel and would not stop the intifada (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, February 6, 2018) .
Right: The death notice issued by Hamas’ military-terrorist wing (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, February 6, 2018). Left: Death notice issued by Hamas for Ahmed Nasr Jarar (Hamas Twitter account, February 6, 2018).
- On February 3, 2018, during an Israeli security force activity in the village of Burqin to locate Ahmed Nasr Jarar, Ahmed Samir Abu Obeid, 19, was killed, after being wounded in the head in a clash with IDF forces. During his funeral shouts of praise were heard for Ahmed Nasr Jarar and for the “resistance” [i.e., violence and terrorism] (Palinfo and QudsN, February 4, 2018). Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum issued a statement praising the firm stance of the residents of Burqin and calling to turn the experience of Nablus, Jenin and Burqin into a role model for fighting against the “occupation” and the defense of the “resistance” (Hamas website, February 4, 2018).
Cartoons glorifying Ahmed Nasr Jarar for having evaded capture. The Arabic reads, “Ahmed Jarar…the ghost that broke Israeli security” (Palinfo and Shehab Agency Twitter accounts, February 4, 2018).
Riots, clashes and popular terrorism
- This past week demonstrations and riots continued in Judea, Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Trump’s declaration regarding Jerusalem continues as the main issue, and has been joined by protests of the difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. Local figures in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip try to fuel the demonstrations and riots by declaring specific days as “days of rage” or “days of escalation,” but apparently the response of the Palestinian public is partial at best. In the riot held on January 30, 2018, in the village of al-Mugheir northeast of Ramallah, Leith Hitham Abu Naim, 16, was killed (Ma’an, fan 30, 2018). It was also reported that several Palestinians were wounded in clashes with the Israeli security forces during the demonstrations.
- In the meantime, this past week Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets. The Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and seizing weapons.
Significant terrorist attacks during the past year
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week two rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory; the rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. No casualties or damage was reported. It is not known who fired the rockets.
- On February 1, 2018, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev. No casualties or damage was reported.
- On the night of February 2, 2018, a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into the western Negev. It landed in an open area. No casualties or damage was reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, February 2, 2018).
- In response to the rocket fire, Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Hamas terrorist targets. On the night of February 1, 2018, a Hamas observation post in the northern Gaza Strip was attacked. On February 3, 2018, terrorist targets in the southern Gaza Strip were attacked. Israel has reiterated it regards Hamas as responsible for everything that occurs in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that among other targets, a Hamas military-wing post in the western part of the Rafah district was attacked, and that there were no casualties but property was damaged (Shehab and Dunia al-Watan, February 3, 2018).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel since January 2016
* The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
** Six of the rockets fired in February 2017 were launched from the Sinai Peninsula at Israeli territory, apparently by ISIS’s Sinai Province. In April a rocket was launched from the Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province. In October 2017 two rockets were fired from the northern Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province. They fell in an open area in the western Negev.
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Clashes along the Gaza Strip border
- Demonstrations were held at a number of locations along the border near the border security fence. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Hamas ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, said 15 Palestinians had been injured (Twitter account of Ashraf al-Qidra, February 2, 2018).
Attempt to infiltrate into Israeli territory
- On February 1, 2018, IDF forces identified four suspicious figures approaching the border security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. After they crossed the fence they were captured by the Israeli security forces. One of them had two knives and a hand grenade in his possession. The four were taken for interrogation. The possibility that they planned to carry out a terrorist attack in Israeli territory is being examined.
- Security investigators of the crossings authority at the Kerem Shalom crossing prevented the smuggling of packages containing materials for making explosives. The packages were hidden inside a shipment of medical equipment consigned to the Gaza Strip. The materials were examined in a laboratory and identified as primary components for manufacturing explosives. Note: Every day several hundred trucks pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing with merchandise for the residents of the Gaza Strip.
Packages confiscated at the Kerem Shalom crossing
(Israeli ministry of defense spokesman’s unit, February 4, 2018).
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip
- Muhammad Thabet, spokesman for the Gaza electric company, said that after the power lines from Egypt that supply 24 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip resumed operations, electricity is now provided in cycles of six hours with and 12 hours without (Dunia al-Watan, February 3, 2018).
- Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the Hamas ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, warned of the worsening in the health situation because of the continuing shortage of fuel. During the past week he announced the closing of 13 medical centers and three hospitals in the Gaza Strip because their generators could no longer function without supplies of fuel (Facebook page of Ashraf al-Qidra, January 5, 2018).
Director of the Muhammad al-Durra children’s hospital in the eastern part of Gaza City holds a press conference at the entrance to the hospital and calls to save the lives of the sick children. That was after the hospital cut 60% of its services because the generators stopped working (al-Anadolu News, February 5, 2018).
- On the other hand, Usama al-Najar, spokesman for the ministry of health of the Palestinian national consensus government in Ramallah, denied that the hospitals closed because there was no fuel for their generators, and criticized Hamas’ decision to close them. He said that in a meeting with Jowad Awad, minister of health in the national consensus government, it had been stated that there was enough fuel to last until March. He said the ministry of health would not transfer fuel to the hospitals in the Gaza Strip before it was paid for (Shabakat Quds, January 31, 2018).
- Mazen Ghanim, chairman of the water authority, said the water authority was promoting projects in the Gaza Strip. He said two agreements had recently been signed with the electric company in the Gaza Strip to allot six megawatts for purifying sewage in the northern Gaza Strip and two megawatts for desalinating water in the southern Gaza Strip (Safa, January 26, 2018).
Plans to organize mass marches to the Israeli border
- Given the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and the limited public response to demonstrations and rallies, there have been increasing calls for mass popular activities against Israel to protest the so-called “siege:”
- The arabi21 website posted an article about the intention to organize mass, “non-violent” marches to the eastern border of the Gaza Strip.
- PIJ spokesman Da’ud Shehab said the organizations in the Gaza Strip were discussing the issue of organizing marches to the Gaza Strip borders with the participation of thousands of people to exert pressure on Israel and the international community to lift the “siege” and open the crossings. He also the forces of the “resistance” were now giving preference to popular activities.
- Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan also said they were considering activities that could force Israel and the international community “to end the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip, to lift the siege and to open the crossings.” He added that their intention was to organize marches of hundreds of thousands of people to the border “without clashes” (Palinfo, February 5, 2018).
- Palestinian websites reported on calls issued on the social networks to resolve the situation in the Gaza Strip with “return marches” or a permanent, intensive presence near the Gaza Strip border with Israel. To that end a Facebook page was opened called “The great return march,” which is described as “quiet popular marches” attended by “millions of Palestinians” in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria an Egypt to implement the [so-called] “right of return” (Facebook page of “The great return march,” February 5, 2018).
- Ibrahim al-Madhoun, a political commentator close to Hamas, wrote that Israel may suddenly discover that the fence will not protect the soldiers. That will happen when hundreds of thousands of Gazans stream in and cross the borders, the fences and the obstacles on their way back to their homes in a giant campaign that is now being considered. Calls for the campaign, he claimed, are increasing in light of the “siege” (alresala.net, February 1, 2018).
American state department imposes sanction on Isma’il Haniyeh
- On January 31, 2018, the American state department announced it designating was Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. According to the announcement, “Ismail Haniyeh is the leader and President of the Political Bureau of Hamas, which was designated in 1997 as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and in 2001 as an SDGT. Haniyeh has close links with Hamas’ military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians. He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. Hamas has been responsible for an estimated 17 American lives killed in terrorist attacks.”
- Another organization so designated was Harakat al-Sabireen, “an Iranian backed terrorist group that was established in 2014. The group operates primarily in Gaza and the West Bank and is led by Hisham Salem, a former leader of the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a State Department designated FTO [Foreign Terrorist Organization] and SDGT. Harakat al-Sabireen has carried out terrorist activities targeting Israel, pursues an anti-American agenda, and has attracted members and supporters of PIJ.” According to American secretary of state Rex Tillerson, “these designations target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran – who are threatening the stability of the Middle East, undermining the peace process, and attacking our allies Egypt and Israel. Today’s actions are an important step in denying them the resources they need to plan and carry out their terrorist activities.”
- Hamas, the PA and other organizations were furious about the announcement. Hamas held a rally in the Gaza Strip with the participation of senior Hamas figures Isma’il Radwan, Isma’il Haniyeh and Khalil al-Haya. During the rally Hamas denounced the United States for the announcement and for the recent American activities regarding Jerusalem, calling them “terrorist activities” (al-Aqsa TV, February 1, 2018). Isma’il Haniyeh said in response he considered the announcement a “badge of honor,” adding that he was proud he headed the Hamas movement and supported the Palestinian people (al-Mayadeen, February 1, 2018).
- Other responses included:
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in an announcement that Hamas rejected the state department’s decision and regarded it as a serious development and a violation of international laws which gave the Palestinians the right to defend themselves, to “resist” the “occupation” and to choose their leaders. The decision proved the complete American bias towards Israel, which gives its official backing to “Israeli crimes” against the Palestinians and encourages harming Palestinian leaders (Hamas website, January 31, 2018).
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said it was a failed attempt to exert pressure on the “resistance.” He said it would not deter Hamas from adhering to its struggle to expel the “occupation.” He added that it proved America’s bias towards Israel and its denial of the rights of the Palestinians, and that it was an attempt to legitimize the occupation. He called for the “leaders of the occupation” to be given the same designation [as Haniyeh] (Ma’an, February 1, 2018).
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee said he objected to and denounced the American designation (Facebook page of Saeb Erekat, February 1, 2018).
- Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh claimed there were no terrorists among the Palestinians and that the terrorist was the occupation, which violated the rights of the Palestinian people (Twitter account of Shabakat Quds, February 1, 2018)
- Fatah spokesman Fayiz Abu ‘Itta said Fatah rejected and denounced the American decision, claiming that the United States was completely biased towards Israel and related to all the Palestinians as terrorists (arabi21, February 1, 2018).
Operative of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing killed in a tunnel
- Hamas’ military-terrorist wing announced the death of Mahmoud Abd al-Hay al-Safdi, 32, from the al-Daraj neighborhood of Gaza City, who was killed on January 31, 2018, while working in a “resistance” tunnel (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, January 31, 2018). According to the announcement he had worked in the tunnels for 12 years. His brother Ibrahim al-Safdi, also a Hamas military-wing operative, was killed during Operation Cast Lead (Felesteen, February 3, 2018).
Right: Mahmoud al-Safdi. Left: Khalil al-Haya, deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, at the funeral (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, January 31, 2018).
Decisions and statements about cutting off relations with Israel
- The PLO’s Executive Committee met in Ramallah. According to the concluding announcement, the national consensus government was instructed to plan steps to cut off all relations with Israel and was requested to present the plans to the members of the Executive Committee for confirmation. According to the announcement, the government was to begin by gradually ending security ties with Israel and releasing itself from the “chains” of the Paris agreement, which defines economic relations between Israel and the PA. It was also decided to appoint a committee to implement the Central Council decision regarding suspension of recognition of Israel until Israel recognized a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders (Wafa, February 3, 2018).
- Muhammad Ashtiya, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and responsible for its funds and economics, said the Palestinian people could begin to implement the decisions of the Central Council regarding gradual cutting off of economic relations with Israel. He also called for an examination of the transition to a different currency, claiming the use of the Israeli shekel and not a local currency damaged the Palestinian economy and increased Palestinian dependence on Israel. He also said the current situation, in which the PA imported merchandise worth 5 billion shekels (about $1.4 billion) and exported about 750 million shekels (a little less than $216 million) had to be changed (Wafa, February 5, 2018).
- Saeb Erekat asked the UN human rights agency to issue a “blacklist” of 120 companies including six Israeli and American companies whose activities support the development of the settlements (al-Jazeera, February 1, 2018).
- Relations between the PA and the United States remain tense. On January 30, 2018, an American delegation was sent by the consulate to the Chamber of Commerce in Bethlehem to teach a course, and was violently expelled by local Palestinians. The office of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas denounced the act, which he claimed violated “Palestinian morality” (al-Quds, January 30, 2018). He ordered the detention of four Palestinians who had participated in the expulsion of the delegation (Shabakat Quds, January 30, 2018). Mahmoud al-‘Alul, deputy chairman of the Fatah movement, said the expulsion of the members of the American delegation had been justified because the Palestinians had decided not to conduct relations with official American representatives (Palestinian TV, February 1, 2018).
- Senior PA figures continue their condemnations of the United States and to exclude it from any role as mediator in the negotiations with Israel, calling for a replacement. Fatah’s Central Committee issued the concluding statement of a conference chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, calling on the international community to devise a mechanism that would enable a political process to reach a political solution (Wafa, February 4, 2018). The main statements were the following:
- Riyadh al-Maliki, minister of foreign affairs and emigrants, held a press conference with Turkish foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu after a meeting in Antalia. Al-Maliki said the era of an American monopoly of the peace process had ended. He added that the Palestinian leadership was in contact with various groups, including the EU and other countries, and was examining with them the formulation of an international mechanism for renewing the peace process according to international law and UN resolutions (Palestinian TV, February 3, 2018).
- Mahmoud al-‘Alul gave an interview in which he said it was impossible to separate the American position from the Israeli position, and that the American administration had become a partner in the “occupation.” He claimed the United States violated international law and said the Palestinians had nothing against the Americans but rather against the administration’s policies, which were hostile to the Palestinian people (Palestinian TV, February 1, 2018).
- Husam Zomlot, PLO representative in the United States, said that despite the deterioration of relations with the United States, and despite the decision to reduce funding to UNRWA, discussions with American lawmakers regarding bilateral relations had increased in recent days. He claimed there was agreement between the PA and members of the Congress in everything relating to the need to improve and protect relations between them. He claimed the PA greatly esteemed the role of the United States in supporting the Palestinians. The Palestinians, he said, recognized the need for the United States to continue its special role, because it was the main force in formulating international decisions for a solution to the conflict. However, he said, the role of the United States as mediator had ended as far as the PA was concerned, and it had to be replaced by an international mechanism (Quds News, February 2, 2018).
Funding UNRWA activity
- In light of the American announcement that it was cutting its financial aid to UNRWA, agency spokesman Sami Mshasha said there would be a meeting of donor nations in March 2018 to discuss the increase of international support. He said UNRWA was examining other ways to receive funding, such as an appeal to the International Bank, the Islamic Development Fund, and private companies and donors (Dunia al-Watan, January 31, 2018). UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl said Russia, Kuwait and nine European countries had agreed to transfer their support for the agency earlier than planned. It was part of a campaign to raise funds after the American announcement it was freezing some of its financial support for 2018 (Wafa, February 5, 2018).
- At the end of a conference of donor countries held in Brussels, Federica Mogherini, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, announced the Palestinians would receive an additional aid package of €42.5 million from the EU. She said the money would go to activities in east Jerusalem and to support the construction of a democratic Palestinian state though promoting reforms, reducing the financial deficit, strengthening the private sector and Palestinian society, and to supply water and energy (The Independent, January 21, 2018).
- Nabil Shaath, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas for foreign and international relations, announced that Japan would increase its donation to UNRWA to cover the financial deficit. He said Japan would recognize a Palestinian state through a process carried out in stages, the first of which would be gathering signatures from members of the parliament who would demand the government recognized the Palestinian state (Wafa, February 4, 2018).
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, shooting, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 Because of the electricity crisis, the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip has to operate hospitals using generators that run on diesel fuel. ↑
 https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/01/277792.htm ↑