Participants in the 50th "return march" in eastern Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, March 8, 2019).
Participants in the 50th "return march" in eastern Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, March 8, 2019).
Palestinian women try to sabotage the barbed wire fence near the border fence in the al-Bureij region (central Gaza Strip) (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, March 8, 2019)
Palestinian women try to sabotage the barbed wire fence near the border fence in the al-Bureij region (central Gaza Strip) (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, March 8, 2019)
Children in the front lines of the "return march." Right: Children climb up the security fence.
Children pull at the barbed wire near the fence in the central Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, March 9, 2019).
Children in the front lines of the "return march." A child slings a burning object at the security fence east of Gaza City.
A child rolls a burning tire near the security fence east of Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, March 9, 2019).
Launching the balloon with the RPG warhead attached ("sons of al-Zouari in Rafah" Facebook page, March 9, 2019).
RPG warhead attached to a balloon launched from eastern Rafah into Israeli territory.
Shattered windshield of bus attacked near Teqoa (QudsN Facebook page, March 10, 2019).
A Molotov cocktail that caught fire on an IDF jeep (QudsN Facebook page, March 9, 2019).
Palestinian rioters sabotage the security fence (Palinfo Twitter account, March 8, 2019).
- This past week the Palestinians continued to demonstrate a high level of violence at the “return march” and the days afterwards. The main manifestations of the violence were throwing IEDs and hand grenades, launching IED balloons, daily penetrations into Israeli territory and activities of the night harassment units. In addition, three rockets were fired into Israeli territory. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Hamas targets.
- In the meantime, Egypt continued its efforts to bring calm and to formulate an arrangement acceptable to Israel and Hamas. Palestinian sources (including a senior Hamas figure) said that the understandings have to include the lifting of the “siege,” extending the range of fishing waters, a solution for the electricity crisis and projects for reconstructing the Gaza Strip infrastructure. The Hamas organ reported that Israel demanded the Palestinians distance themselves from the border, stop launching balloons and put an end to the mini-flotillas.
- Hamas and the other organizations are planning a variety of activities for Saturday, March 30, 2019 (the first anniversary of the “return marches”). So far they have not publicized what the activities will include but it can be assumed there may be a high level of violence. (Note: the march will take place a few days before the April 9, 2019 general elections in Israel).
- Popular terrorism continues in Judea and Samaria. This past week a stabbing attack was prevented, a shooting attack was carried out and stones, Molotov cocktails and a pipe bomb were thrown at Israeli vehicles on the roads in Judea and Samaria.
- The Palestinian media reported that Mahmoud Abbas appointed Dr. Muhammad Ashtiya, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, as the new Palestinian prime minister. (Dr. Ashtiya is a politician and an economist. He comes from the region of Nablus. He taught at Bir Zeit University and was minister of housing and public works in the Palestinian Authority (PA) government. In the past he headed the Palestinian economic delegation to talks with Israel. His background in economics may help him deal with the PA’s financial difficulties, following its refusal to accept monthly tax revenues from Israel.)
The “return march” of March 7, 2019
- On March 7, 2019, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip held the 50th “return march.” Its theme was “the Palestinian woman,” as it was held on International Women’s Day. About 8,5000 demonstrators and rioters gathered at five locations along the Gaza Strip border. During the events Palestinian rioters demonstrated a high level of violence, similar to that of recent weeks. The rioters threw IEDs and hand grenades at IDF forces, burned tires and launched IED balloons. A number of rioters crossed the border fence but immediately returned to the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that several demonstrators cut through the security fence east of the al-Bureij refugee camp (Paldf, March 8, 2019).
- The Palestinian ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported the death of one demonstrator and the wounding of 48 (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, March 8, 2019). According to reports, Ahmed Bahar, Hamas deputy chairman of the Legislative Council, participated in all the “return march” events and was hurt when he inhaled tear gas in eastern Khan Yunis (Paltoday, March 8, 2019).
- The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March called on the Palestinian public to prepare for Land Day (March 30, 2019) and to participate in the 51st Friday “return march,” whose theme will be “the marches [are] our choice” (Paldf, March 8, 2019). Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan said that a “return march” would not be held on Friday, March 29, 2019, and that the march would be held the following day, March 30 (al-Aqsa TV, March 10, 2019). It will mark the first anniversary of the “return marches” and take place a short time before the elections in Israel (April 9, 2019).
Notice issued by the Supreme National Authority calling on Palestinians to participate in the 51st “return march” whose theme will be “the marches [are] our choice” (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, March 12, 2019).
Launching incendiary and IED balloons
- This past week Palestinians continued launching IED balloons into Israeli territory, one of the indications of the rising level of violence. Israel responded to some of the launchings with artillery fire and Israeli Air Force aircraft attacks on Hamas military targets. On March 6, 2019, “the sons of al-Zouari” night harassment unit announced the renewal of the launching of balloons towards the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip east of Rafah (“the sons of al-Zouari” Facebook page, March 6, 2019). According to Maher Musheir, a member of the political bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), launching incendiary balloons will continue and increase, and they have many other [so-called] popular means to use against the [Israeli] communities near the Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, March 6, 2019).
- Some of the prominent events were the following:
- On March 9, 2019, the Israeli security forces were summoned following a report that a suspicious balloon had landed in a wooded area in the western Negev. Demolitions experts examined the balloon and found it was attached to an RPG warhead. The device was neutralized. No casualties were reported. The previous day a similar cluster of balloons was launched but it apparently did not fall in Israeli territory.
- On March 8, 2019, the security forces in the western Negev located three clusters of balloons. One of them had a model figure of Ziyad al-Nakhalah, secretary general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), attached to it.
- On March 7, 2019, a number of incendiary and IED balloons were launched towards Israel. In response Israeli artillery force fired at a post belonging to Hamas’ “defenders of the frontier” east of Gaza City. The Palestinian media reported that a number of Palestinians were wounded by gunfire east of the al-Bureij refugee camp and in the Khan Yunis region (Palinfo, March 7, 2018).
- On March 6, 2019, three clusters of IED balloons were launched towards Israeli territory. One of the IEDs exploded near an Israeli community in the western Negev. No casualties or damage were reported. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked several terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. Among them was a Hamas military compound in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that IDF forces attacked a target in the region of the new port west of Khan Yunis (Palinfo, March 6, 2019).
- On March 11, 2019, a suspicious object was found attached to a balloon cluster in an open area in the western Negev. It is not known when the balloons were launched (western Negev regional spokesman’s unit, March 11, 2019).
Violent activities during the week between the Friday marches
- In addition to the “return march,” in the days between the marches violent activities continued near the security fence on the Israeli-Gaza Strip border. According to reports, on March 9, 2019, the activities of the night harassment units in Rafah suddenly stopped (“sons of al-Zouari” Facebook page, March 9, 2019). It was reported that the Supreme National Authority temporarily stopped their activities after the Egyptians requested an opportunity to exert pressure on Israel to implement the understandings (al-Araby al-Jadeed, March 10, 2019).
- Some of the more prominent events were the following:
- On March 9, 2019, a bullet fired apparently from the Gaza Strip hit a house in an Israeli community, Netiv HaAsara, near the northern Gaza Strip border. It made a hole in the roof and was found on the floor. No casualties were reported (western Negev regional spokesman’s unit, March 9, 2019).
- On March 8, 2019, a few hours before the “return march,” IDF soldiers detained two Palestinian suspects who crossed the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip and reached Israeli territory. They managed to get as far as the fields of one of the communities near the Gaza Strip. A search of their possessions revealed a hand grenade and a knife. They were taken for interrogation. Earlier two Palestinians crossed the fence. Three knives were found in their possession (IDF spokesman, March 8, 2019).
- On March 6, 2019, during the activities of the night harassment units an IED was placed near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. It exploded inside the Gaza Strip, leading to the sounding of Red Alert sirens in the area (IDF spokesman, March 6, 2019).
Preparations for the March 30 march
- Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan said Hamas would hold a press conference next week to publicize the activities it has planned for March 30. He called on the Palestinian people to make plans to participate in the activities. He said they were working to also hold marches in the West Bank and the “territories of 1948” [i.e., Israel], the refugee camps in the Palestinian dispersal and the European and Western arenas. He issued a special call to the Fatah movement to join the “resistance” activities throughout the week and especially on Land Day (al-Aqsa TV, March 10, 2019).
- Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said the marches would continue until their objectives had been achieved. He said the “resistance” [i.e., the terrorist organizations] would not limit the methods of their struggle against Israel. He added that the Palestinians had to respond every time Israel fired at the demonstrators. He said the more Israel continued its [alleged] “crimes” against the Palestinians, the more they felt a stronger need to participate in the marches. Regarding March 30, Abu Zarifa said that many would come to participate in the march, which would be “peaceful.” He warned Israel not to act against the demonstrators, otherwise, he threatened, Israel would pay an unexpected price (al-Aqsa TV, March 9, 2019).
- This past week a number of rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel, three of them landing inside Israeli territory. No casualties or damage were reported. The IDF responded by attacking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip:
- On the evening of March 9, 2019, a rocket was launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, March 9, 2019). The rocket landed in an open area in the western Negev. No casualties or damage were reported. In response to the rocket fire Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a number of terrorist targets in a military compound in the northern Gaza Strip and two Hamas vessels (IDF spokesman, March 10, 2019). The Palestinian media reported an attack on a “resistance” post west of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip (Shehab Twitter account, March 10, 2019). Also reported was an attack on a naval post west of Deir al-Balah (Shabakat Quds Twitter account, March 10, 2019). No casualties were reported (Shehab, March 10, 2019).
- On the evening of March 8, 2019, two rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. One rocket exploded in an open area between two Israeli communities in the western Negev. The other rocket apparently fell inside the Gaza Strip. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked several targets in a Hamas military compound in the southern Gaza Strip and an underground facility in the northern Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, March 8, 2019).
- On March 6, 2019, two rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. One fell in Israeli territory and the other inside the Gaza Strip. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked targets of Hamas’ naval force in the Khan Yunis region. The Palestinian media reported an attack in the region of the new port northwest of Khan Yunis (Shehab, March 7, 2019).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Attacks and attempted attacks
- On March 12, 2019, a Palestinian armed with a knife ran towards IDF soldiers who were between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. They repelled him and he ran towards a nearby civilian structure. They soldiers shot and killed him (IDF spokesman, March 12, 2019). The Palestinian media reported he was Yasser Fawzi al-Shweiki, 27, from Hebron, who worked as a clerk in the Sharia court (Ma’an, Wafa, March 12, 2019).
Yasser Fawzi al-Shweiki, 27, from Hebron (Ma’an, March 12, 2019).
- On the evening of March 11, 2019, a shooting attack targeted an Israeli vehicle near the village of Iskaka (east of Ariel). No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged. The Israeli security forces carried out searches in the village of Iskaka where they found a gun and two other weapons (IDF spokesman, March 12, 2019).
Other events on the ground
- Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets. Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity, seizing weapons and confiscating funds used to finance terrorist activities. Some of the prominent events were the following:
- March 12, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus near Teqoa (south of Bethlehem). The driver was slightly injured; the bus was empty. The front windshield was shattered (Rescue Without Borders, March 11, 2019).
- March 12, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near Bayt Umar. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, March 11, 2019).
- March 11, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a vehicle north of Hebron. A motorcycle rider was slightly injured (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, March 11, 2019).
- March 10, 2019 –Israeli security forces carried out searches in the village of Yatta (south of Hebron), finding illegal weapons. They included two hand guns, knives and ammunition. Thousands of shekels meant to finance terrorist activity were also confiscated (IDF spokesman, March 10, 2019)
- March 9 2019 – A pipe bomb was thrown at a vehicle on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion road between the Tunnels roadblock and al-Khader Junction ((Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, March 9, 2019).
- March 8, 2019 – In the region of Bayt Sira (west of Ramallah) there were clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. Rioters sabotaged the security fence (Palinfo Twitter account, March 8, 2019). A Molotov cocktail thrown at an IDF force caught fire on the jeep (QudsN Facebook page, March 9, 2019).
- March 7, 2019 – The Israeli security forces destroyed the house of Palestinian terrorist Issam Barghouti in the village of Qobar (northwest of Ramallah) (IDF spokesman, March 8, 2019). Issam Barghouti headed the terrorist squad that carried out the shooting attacks at the Ofra Junction (December 9, 2018) and at Givat Asaf (December 13, 2018). Hamas denounced the destruction of the house, claiming that collective punishment would not weaken the will of the Palestinian people to “resist” Israel (Dunia al-Watan, March 7, 2019).
The ruins of the house of Issam Barghouti in the village of Qobar
(Palinfo Twitter account, March 6, 2019).
- March 6, 2019 – Israeli security forces carried out searches in Nablus and the surrounding area, seizing weapons and ammunition (IDF spokesman, March 6, 2019).
Israeli court decision regarding the Golden Gate
- An Israeli magistrate’s court rejected the state’s request to close the structure of the Golden Gate in east Jerusalem that was opened without permission by the waqf. According to the court’s decision, the order closing the area which the state requested for security reasons will not take effect next week. The compound will remain open to allow the completion of the negotiations being conducted with Jordan (Israel Today, March 12, 2019).
- On Friday, before the decision of the court was handed down, the Hamas movement called on the Palestinian public in Jerusalem and the West Bank to arrive at the al-Aqsa mosque to prevent Israel’s activities in the area. It also called on Muslim worshippers to enlarge the gathering in the mosque and to come out en masse on Friday (Hamas website, March 6, 2019). Many Palestinians responded to the call and went to the Friday prayer, but no special activities were held.
- On March 12, 2019, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli police position at the Lions Gate in east Jerusalem. In response police forces entered the Temple Mount area and closed the entrance and exit gates. Three suspects were detained. Riots then broke out and worshippers were evacuated (Israel Police Force spokesman’s Jerusalem unit, March 12, 2019).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria during the past year and a half 
Detention of Palestinian who carried out a stabbing attack in the community of Efrat
- In February 2019 the Israeli security forces detained the Palestinian who carried out the stabbing attack in the community of Efrat. The attack was carried out on December 23, 2016. An Israeli civilian was slightly wounded. According to an Israel Security Agency investigation, the Hamas-affiliated stabber, Ayman Muhammad Ali Fawajra, acquired the knife he used to carry out the attack in advance and went to the community of Efrat to murder Israelis. He stabbed the first person he met (Israel Security Agency media unit, March 11, 2019).
Transferring support to the Gaza Strip
- Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of the Qatari committee for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East, arrived in the Gaza Strip for another visit (Dunia al-Watan, March 10, 2019). The reason behind the visit is the UN plan to begin implementing an employment project for the unemployed of the Gaza Strip during the coming week. After an agreement was signed to fund the project Qatar promised to contribute $20 million. According to UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna, in the coming days UNRWA will begin providing 6,400 places of employment for university graduates and skilled workers in all sectors (Filastin al-Yawm, March 10, 2019).
- Yusuf Ibrahim, deputy minister for social development in the PA, said 55,000 needy families in the Gaza Strip would each be given $100. The money will be distributed at branches of the postal bank in the Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, March 10, 2019). The distribution of the funds began on March 11, 2019 (Dunia al-Watan, March 11, 2019).
Right: Mohammed al-Emadi meets with Nikolay Mladenov (Qatari committee for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip Facebook page, March 10, 2019). Left: Distributing the funds from Qatar to needy families (Palinfo Twitter account, March 10, 2019).
Continuing attempts for a lull
- On March 5, 2019, a delegation of Egyptian General Intelligence arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing. While they were in the Gaza Strip they met with Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, representatives of the Palestinian organizations and members of the Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March (Dunia al-Watan, March 8, 2019). The members of the delegation visited both sides of the Rafah Crossing, accompanied by operatives of the security forces in the Gaza Strip. They also examined the working methods a the Kerem Shalom Crossing. Among the issued discussed were ways to ease the passage of Palestinians through the Rafah Crossing in both directions (Hamas website, March 8, 2019).
Right: Members of the Egyptian security delegation meet with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip (Shehab Twitter account, March 6, 2019). Left: members of the Egyptian delegation visit the Rafah Crossing (Ma’an, March 7, 2019).
Palestinians sources related publicly to the conditions of the understandings with Israel and the arrangements they discussed with the Egyptian delegation:
The al-Ghad channel broadcast a report giving details of the lull agreement. According to the report information about the understandings will be made clear after the Egyptian delegation pays another visit to the Gaza Strip. Quoting “well-informed Palestinian sources,” the report said that Israel had already agreed to a number of issues, among them extending the limits of the fishing waters; the establishment of projects; increasing the supply of electricity; the establishment of two industrial zones, one in Beit Hanoun and one in eastern Gaza City; the delivery of money and the expanding of the agricultural regions near the eastern border of the Gaza Strip (al-Ghad, March 11, 2019).
Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said Hamas-Egyptian relations were “firm” and said he hoped the Egyptian efforts would bear fruit. He said the coming week would be a turning point in relations with Israel regarding the lifting of the “siege.” Apparently there will be a development in the extension of fishing waters and a solution for the electricity crisis, as well for projects to rebuild the Gaza Strip infrastructure (al-Istaqlal, March 9, 2019).
According to “a source in the Palestinian organizations” Israel presented three conditions related to the Palestinians by the Egyptian mediator: the Palestinians will distance themselves 300 meters from the border, they will stop launching incendiary and IED balloons once and for all, and they will stop the mini-flotilla activities (alresala.net, March 11, 2019).
Al-Aqsa TV declared a terrorist organization
- Following the exposure of the use made by Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV in recruiting terrorist operatives, the Israel Security Agency and the Israeli national headquarters for economic warfare recommended declaring the channel a terrorist organization. On March 6, 2019, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formally declared the channel a terrorist organization in accordance with the law of the struggle against terrorism (Israel Today, March 6, 2019).
- The declaration led to a wave of Palestinian reactions, especially from Hamas. Al-Aqsa TV broadcast an announcement in stating it operated according to international laws and condemned the Israeli attack that hit the channel’s offices. The channel also thanked the Arab-Muslim nation for its financial support (al-Aqsa TV, March 6, 2019). A protest rally was held in the Gaza Strip in front of the ruins of the al-Aqsa building (Shabakat Quds Twitter account, March 7, 2019). A campaign was also begun on Twitter to support the channel (Paldf, March 8, 2019). The so-called “democratic organization of journalists” called on all journalists to participate in the solidarity campaign with the channel (Safa, March 7, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua denounced the decision made by the Israeli prime minister, claiming the “aggressive attempts” made against the Palestinian people and against Palestinian media institutions would fail (Filastin al-Yawm, March 6, 2019). PIJ spokesman Mus’ab al-Brim denounced Israel’s designation of al-Aqsa TV as a terrorist organization, claiming Israeli attacks on Palestinian media institutions would not prevent them from defending the rights of the Palestinian people and exposing Israel’s “crimes” (Shehab, March 6, 2019).
Attempted assassination of senior Fatah figure in the Gaza Strip
- Unknown assailants shot at the vehicle of Ahmed Hiles, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee and head of Fatah’s mobilization and recruitment commission in the Gaza Strip. The bullets hit the front of the vehicle but Hiles was not harmed (Filastin al-Yawm, March 8, 2019). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem condemned the attack and called on Hamas’ security forces to find the shooters and bring them to trial. He said Hamas would not allow anyone to ruin the atmosphere of the joint national struggle. Senior Hamas figure Yahya Musa said the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip was investigating the matter (Dunia al-Watan, March 9, 2019). Iyad al-Bazam, spokesman for the Hamas ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, said the security forces had detained two suspects (Dunia al-Watan, March 9, 2019).
- Ahmed Hiles said Hamas was responsible for the attack on his life because it was sovereign on the ground. He said the attempt on his life was a new level in Hamas’ lack of control in the Gaza Strip (Palestinian TV, March 8, 2019). Others in the PA blamed Hamas. Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and said the crime was a danger to popular and national unity (Wafa, March 8, 2019). Salim Za’noun, chairman of the Palestinian National Council, condemned the shooting and said it was the outcome of the ongoing Palestinian schism (Wafa, March 9, 2019). Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said Hamas was fully responsible for the attempted assassination (Wafa, March 9, 2019).
Formation of a new Palestinian government
- The Wafa News Agency published a document signed by Mahmoud Abbas appointing Muhammad Ashtiya, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, as the new Palestinian prime minister. In the document Mahmoud Abbas called on Muhammad Ashtiya to adhere to the interests of the Palestinian people during the formation of the government. According to the document, the new government has to begin operating as quickly as possible to achieve national unity and restore the Gaza Strip to the bosom of the PA. The document also calls to take all steps necessary to hold elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council and to provide support for the “victims of the occupation” and their families (Wafa, March 10, 2019). (The Rami Hamdallah national consensus government resigned in January 2019 and since then there has been an interim government.)
Mahmoud Abbas gives senior Fatah figure Muhammad Ashtiya the job of forming the government (Wafa, March 10, 2019).
- Hamas strongly criticized the decision, claiming that forming a new government without national agreement was not legitimate and violated reconciliation agreements. The critics stated they would not recognize the new government. The main Hamas reactions were the following:
- Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan said it was a “separatist government” that was not legitimate in the eyes of the Palestinian organizations and it separated the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. He said Hamas was not willing to recognize the new government (al-Aqsa TV, March 10, 2019).
- Ahmed Bahar, Hamas deputy chairman of the Legislative Council, said the new government headed by Ashtiya was not legal and showed political failure. He said Mahmoud Abbas had thereby ignored the results of the most recent elections to the Legislative Council (Filastin al-Yawm, March 11, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said that any Palestinian government or institution composed without mutual agreement existed in violation of the agreements signed under Egyptian aegis. He said the steps being taken to form a new government violated the discourse on elections. He said Hamas would not recognize any governmental body formed by Mahmoud Abbas without national consensus (Sawa, March 10, 2019).
Cartoon criticizing the appointment of Muhammad Ashtiya on the claim that the government will cause an internal rift (an untranslatable Arabic play on words) (al-Quds, March 11, 2019).
Financial distress in the PA
- Following the PA decision not to accept tax revenue funds from Israel, the financial distress in the PA has increased. However, Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, held a press conference where he said that in accordance with a decision made by Mahmoud Abbas, the PA would not stop paying the salaries of the prisoners, the wounded and the families of shaheeds.
- Shukri Bishara, the PA minister of finance, held a press conference where he said the PA would begin paying February 2019 salaries to PA employees on March 10, 2019, according to the following format: workers whose salaries were up to 2000 shekels [a month] [about $550], about 40% of the PA workforce, would receive their full salaries. PA employees who earned more than 2000 shekels a month would receive 50% of their salaries, but no more than 10,000 shekels [about $2750]. During Ramadan (May-June 2019) the PA would pay between 60% and 70% of the salaries. In addition, Bishara announced a series of measures to limit the economic crisis, including stopping new appointments would be made, raises in salaries or promotions, the purchase of buildings or new vehicles. He said they were currently operating on the format of an emergency budget (Wafa, March 10, 2019)
Issue of the Israeli deductions of Palestinian tax revenues raised in the UN Security Council
- The United Nations Security Council met behind closed doors to discuss the issue of the monthly tax transfer at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia. U.S President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt represented Washington at the meeting. He told the assembled diplomats that “It is entirely inappropriate to focus on Israel as the source of this crisis. It is the Palestinian Authority that has chosen to manufacture the current crisis.” The Kuwait ambassador to the UN claimed it was ” a unilateral decision in violation of existing bilateral agreement.” According to diplomats present at the meeting, Greenblatt said the Palestinian payments to militants’ families created “incentives for further acts of terrorism.” He reportedly called on other council members to join the United States in urging the Palestinian Authority to end the payments (Reuters, March 9, 2019).
- Riyad Mansour, PA representative to the UN, said the issue of the “theft of funds” from the Palestinian people carried out by Israel was on the agenda of a meeting of the UN Security Council. He said the UN had taken responsibility for the matter. He said they would continue to exert pressure on the UN so that it would take responsibility and condemn the [alleged] “crimes” against the Palestinian people (Palestinian TV, March 9, 2019).
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 For further information, see the February 22, 2019 bulletin, " Terrorism and the Media: Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip who also worked as media personnel were involved in recruiting a terrorist network exposed in Judea and Samaria. ↑