Attack on a post of Hamas' military wing in the northern Gaza Strip (Twitter account of Muhammad Bassam, November 2, 2019).
The result of the attack in western Khan Yunis (Facebook page of journalist Hassan Aslih, November 2, 2019).
The funeral held for Ahmed Muhammad al-Shahari, his body draped with a Fatah flag (Facebook page of the information department of the Fatah branch in western Khan Yunis, November 2, 2019).
Palestinian rioters climb on the security fence and burn tires in eastern Rafah (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, November 1, 2019).
75258559_514379082626387_7992478523430273024_oBurning a poster of Lord Balfour in the return camp in eastern Gaza City (Facebook page of the Malaka return camp, November 1, 2019).
Children step on a "coffin" draped with the Israeli flag (Facebook page of the Malaka return camp, November 1, 2019).
Burning a poster of Lord Balfour in the return camp in eastern Gaza City (Facebook page of the Malaka return camp, November 1, 2019).
Burning a "coffin" draped with an Israeli flag (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, November 1, 2019).
- This past week events focused on two rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip targeting the southern Israeli town of Sderot and the western Negev. Eight rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. One rocket hit a house in Sderot, causing damage to property. Several people were treated for shock. In response the IDF attacked a series of Hamas targets, since Israel regards Hamas as responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip.
- According to Israeli security sources quoted by the media, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was responsible for the rocket attacks. The Palestinian media also reported that the PIJ fired the rockets. At this point the reason for the attacks is unclear. During the return march of November 1, 2019, no exceptional events were recorded, so the PIJ had no immediate excuse to fire rockets.
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, gave a belligerent speech in which he described at length the military capabilities of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip (70,000 armed operatives, thousands of rockets, thousands of anti-tank missiles, hundreds of tunnels, hundreds of underground control and command rooms, hundreds and even thousands of ambushes). All those, he claimed, could hit Israel and be used against IDF forces if they decided to enter the Gaza Strip. In ITIC assessment, his remarks, which came after the rocket fire, were intended to deter Israel from carrying out a broad military operation in the Gaza Strip. However, al-Sinwar claimed Hamas had no interest in a broad military confrontation, noting that the rounds of clashes during the past two years had not developed into extended fighting.
Two rocket fire attacks from the Gaza Strip
- On the evening of October 31, 2019, two rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. One fell in an open field in the western Negev. The other fell inside the Gaza Strip. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft and an IDF tank attacked two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, October 31, 2019). The Palestinian media reported that an observation post of Hamas’ restraint forces in the eastern Gaza Strip was attacked (Shabakat Quds Twitter account, October 31, 2019).
- On the evening of November 1, 2019, 12 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Sderot and the western Negev. Eight were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. One fell in the yard of a house in Sderot. Five people were treated for shock (Barzilai Medical Center spokesman’s unit, November 1, 2019). The house was damaged, as were a number of vehicles parked nearby (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, November 1, 2019).
Right: The house in Sderot hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, November 1, 2019). Left: Vehicle damaged by shrapnel from the rocket fired at Sderot (Palinfo, November 1, 2019).
- According to Israeli security sources quoted in the media, the PIJ was behind the rocket fire. At this point the reason for the rocket fire is unclear. During the November 1, 2019 return march in the Gaza Strip no exceptional events were recorded and no Palestinians were killed, so the PIJ had no immediate excuse to fire rockets.
- The Palestinian media also reported that the PIJ was behind the rocket fire. Palestinian sources said the PIJ had an interest in instituting “a new equation” with Israel and wanted to stop cooperating with Egypt’s mediating attempts. “Palestinian sources” said that Egyptian General Intelligence, the UN and Qatar had held contacts to prevent further escalation, but they had not led to a commitment from the PIJ to restrain itself (al-Quds, November 2, 2019). The Israeli media recently reported that Bahaa Abu al-Atta, a military commander in the PIJ in the Gaza Strip, was conducting “his own personal policy.” In response to the report the PIJ declared Israel would be responsible for any harm that might come to Bahaa Abu al-Atta, and warned it would react harshly if Israel threatened him (Dunia al-Watan, October 30, 2019).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
- In response to rocket fire on November 1, 2019, Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a series of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. The targets belonged to Hamas, which Israel regards as responsible for what occurs in the Gaza Strip. Among them were a military compound of Hamas’ naval force and a military compound of its aerial defense system. Also attacked was a military compound in the Deir al-Balah region used by battalion commanders. The compound included an attack tunnel and a simulator for anti-missile fire. Among the IDF targets were training camps, a facility for the manufacture of weapons, a site used as a weapons warehouse and underground facilities (IDF spokesman, November 1, 2019).
- The Palestinian media reported attacks on “resistance” posts, among them posts of Hamas’ military wing in Beit Lahia (northern Gaza Strip) (Shehab Twitter account, November 2, 2019). Military wing posts were also attacked in western Deir al-Balah, the southwestern part of Gaza City, Rafah and Khan Yunis. In addition, restraint forces’ posts in eastern al-Bureij were attacked (Shehab Twitter account, November 2, 2019).
Aerial photographs issued by the IDF spokesman of Hamas military targets that were attacked (IDF website, November 1, 2019).
- A spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that three Palestinians had been severely wounded during the attack in Khan Yunis. One of them, Ahmed Muhammad al-Shahari, later died (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, November 2, 2019). The Fatah branch in western Khan Yunis announced he was a Fatah operative (Facebook page of the information department of the Fatah branch in western Khan Yunis, November 2, 2019). According to reports, his brother, Abdallah al-Shahari, was killed in the return march held on April 12, 2018 (website of the Ajial radio network, November 2, 2019).
Right: Mourning notice issued by the Fatah branch. Left: The funeral held for Ahmed Muhammad al-Shahari, his body draped with a Fatah flag (Facebook page of the information department of the Fatah branch in western Khan Yunis, November 2, 2019).
Palestinian reactions to the IDF’s attacks
- Senior Hamas and PIJ figures condemned the IDF attacks and accused Israel of escalation, without relating to the rocket fire. The main responses were the following:
- The PIJ said it accused Israel of responsibility for the escalation in the Gaza Strip, claiming the Israeli prime minister was trying to whitewash his failures and corruption through escalation, attacking posts and harming residents (without accepting responsibility or mentioning the rocket fire) (alresala.net, November 2, 2019).
- The Jerusalem Brigades (the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing) said the threats issued by the Israeli leadership about starting a war against the Gaza Strip were not new and made the Palestinian people adhere to the “resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations] and the defense of the Palestinian people. The military wing said it had freedom of action to deal with the situation on the ground and would use it if Israel did “something foolish” that harmed the Palestinian people or “resistance” leaders (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 2, 2019).
Announcement issued by the Jerusalem Brigades
(Jerusalem Brigades website, November 2, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the attacks were part of Israel’s “aggression and crimes” against the Palestinian people and were a serious escalation against innocent residents. He said Israel would be responsible for the consequences of the attacks, stressing that an extreme worsening of the situation would harm Israel (alresala.net, November 2, 2019).
- Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan said Israel was fully responsible for the escalation and its consequences. He said they were not eager for a new confrontation, out of consideration for the Palestinians, but if one were forced on them they would defend themselves and their people (Dunia al-Watan, November 3, 2019).
- The Israeli media, according to “sources in the Gaza Strip,” reported that Hamas detained and interrogated several eye witnesses from the region where the rockets were fired. According to the sources the Hamas and PIJ leaderships agreed to detain anyone who deviated from the consensus and fired rockets without authorization (Israeli Kan TV, November 3, 2019). Palestinian sources close to the PIJ denied that operatives had been detained, stressing that the PIJ and all the other organizations had the right to defend themselves against Israel’s aggression (al-Quds, November 3, 2019)
The return march of November 1, 2019
- On Friday, November 1, 2019, the return march was held in the Gaza Strip with the theme, “May the Balfour Declaration be thwarted,” to mark the 102nd anniversary of the Declaration. Before the march the Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March held a press conference declaring it would be a “very powerful mass march.” The Authority also prepared a program to encourage the Palestinian public to participate in the march, part of which included announcing the march in all the mosques and churches in the Gaza Strip (Sawa, October 28, 2019).
- On the ground, however, the march was similar to those held in previous weeks. About 6,500 Palestinians participated, and the level of violence was similar to that of recent weeks. There were a number of attempts to sabotage the security fence, and IEDs, Molotov cocktails and stones were thrown at IDF forces. Senior figures gave speeches and mostly related to the Balfour Declaration and the Palestinian struggle against it. Calls were heard demanding the British apologize to the Palestinian people. Senior figures also stressed that the marches would continue (alresala.net, November 1, 2019). The Palestinian ministry of health reported that 96 people had suffered varying degrees of wounds (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, November 1, 2019).
- The Supreme National Authority announced that the theme of the return march held next Friday, November 8, 2019, would be “We are continuing,” to stress that they would continue to hold the return marches despite Israel’s threats (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, November 1, 2019). The Supreme National Authority also called on Palestinians to participate in events to be held on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, at the Erez Crossing, whose theme will be “Preachers and religious scholars against the siege” (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, November 4,2019).
- Visitors to the Mitzpe Ramon region (south of Beersheba) found a suspicious object. Police demolitions experts summoned to neutralize it found a booby-trapped book containing explosives and ball bearings. It is suspected that the book was attached to an incendiary balloon and flown into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, Haaretz, November 3, 2019).
Right: The IED found inside a book. Left: Ball bearings
(Israel Police Force, November 2, 2019).
- On October 29, 2019, IDF forces identified a drone flying at an unusual height above the Gaza Strip. IDF aircraft were sent to intercept it (IDF spokesman, October 29, 2019). On November 3, 2019, the Palestinian media reported that an Israeli drone had been shot down in the northern Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan Twitter account, November 3, 2019). In reality, no such event was reported.
- On October 30, 2019, explosions were heard in a number of locations in the Gaza Strip. They were caused by the test-firing towards the sea of two experimental rockets, part of the terrorist organization’s development of their military capabilities (Amad, October 30, 2019).
Attempted stabbing attack at the Flowers Gate in Jerusalem
- On October 30, 2019, a Palestinian woman went to the roadblock near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and tried to stab one of the Border Police fighters stationed there. A soldier shot and seriously wounded her (Border Police spokesman’s unit, October 30 2019). The Palestinian media reported she was Suheil Ahmed Sayid Slimiya, 37, from the village of Idhna (west of Hebron) (Ma’an, October 30, 2019).
Other events on the ground
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets (mainly vehicles). Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity, confiscating funds used to finance terrorist activities, and seizing military grade and improvised weapons.
- The more prominent events were the following:
- November 4, 2019 – During an Israeli security forces’ activity in Judea and Samaria a handgun was seized. Also seized were tens of thousands of shekels apparently intended to finance terrorist activities (IDF spokesman, November 4, 2019).
- November 3, 2019 – Stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at a vehicle on the trans-Judea road (between Tarqumiya and Hebron). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 3, 2019).
- November 3, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a vehicle on the Beit-El-Psagot road (northeast of Ramallah). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- November 1, 2019 – Two stones wrapped in burning cloth were thrown at an IDF post at the Halhul Junction on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 1, 2019).
- November 1, 2019 – During searches conducted by the Israeli security forces in the village of Qalil in Samaria a large number of parts of weapons were found (IDF spokesman, November 1, 2019),
- October 31, 2019 – Two pipe bombs were thrown at a parking lot at the Tomb of Rachel (near Bethlehem). They exploded near the Tomb precinct. No casualties were reported. Two parked vehicles were damaged (Border Police spokesman’s unit, October 31, 2019).
- October 29, 2019 – IDF soldiers detained a Palestinian driving near the village of Deir Sharaf (northwest of Nablus). He saw the soldiers, left the vehicle and threw away a gun he had been carrying. He was chased, apprehended and taken for interrogation (IDF spokesman, October 29, 2018).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017
Yahya al-Sinwar gives a belligerent speech
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, gave a speech in the Gaza Strip to young Palestinians, in which he spoke at length about a confrontation with Israel. In ITIC assessment it was a response to Israel’s recent threats to Hamas after the rocket fire, and was meant to deter Israel from initiating a broad military confrontation in the Gaza Strip.
Yahya al-Sinwar speaks before young Gazans
(Shehab Facebook page, November 4, 2019).
- The main points al-Sinwar made were the following:
- He began by praising the youth in the Gaza Strip and criticized those spread rumors that young people were leaving the Gaza Strip. He claimed there were 70,000 armed young men in the [Izz al-Din Qassam] Brigades, Jerusalem Brigades, [al-Nasser Salah al-Din] Battalions (the military-terrorist wing of the Popular Resistance Committees), other military wings and the security forces.
- He claimed the Palestinian military force had hundreds of tunnels, hundreds of underground and above-ground control and command rooms and hundreds and even thousands of ambushes waiting for IDF forces if they should decide to enter the Gaza Strip. He said the “resistance” would continue building up its forces and would not allow Israel to change the “equation of the struggle.” He said that the struggle against Israel had to continue, but added that they knew how to cope with Israel without leading to an overall confrontation. He claimed the clashes during the past two years had not developed into long-term fighting.
- As to Iran, al-Sinwar said that Iran deserved a great deal of credit for the construction and strengthening the military power of the “resistance” in the Gaza Strip. He said that without Iranian support for the “resistance” and Palestine they would not have achieved what they had, and that Iran supported them with money, weapons and training.
Preparations for elections in the PA
- Preparations continue in the PA for holding elections. Hisham Kahil, executive director of the PA central elections commission, said that elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council would be held in February 2020. In preparation for the elections Hana Nasser, chairman of the central elections committee, again went to the Gaza Strip to complete preparations (Shehab Twitter account, November 3, 2019). Upon returning from the Gaza Strip he met with Mahmoud Abbas to update him on developments (al-Quds, November 1, 2019).
- Hamas spokesmen continue stressing that Hamas agrees in principle to elections, and will commit to agreements reached between the Palestinian organizations, the elections apparatus and its laws (Dunia al-Watan, October 30, 2019). Hamas spokesman also stressed that the elections would be the best resolution for the internal Palestinian crisis (al-Aqsa TV, October 30, 2019). However, senior Hamas figures Isma’il Haniyeh and Yahya al-Sinwar said there were two conditions for holding elections: calling a meeting of all the Palestinian organizations before the elections are held and holding elections in Jerusalem as well (al-Aqsa, November 3, 2019).
- Senior PIJ figures also had similar conditions. According to Khader Habib, despite their participation in the meeting held with Hana Nasser, the PIJ does not intend to participate in the elections unless a meeting is held beforehand of the leaders of the organizations which, he said, Mahmoud Abbas opposes. He also said the PIJ would make sure elections were held in Jerusalem (al-Aqsa, November 3, 2019).
PA economic disengagement from Israel
- The PA continues its activity for economic disengagement from Israel. According to reports the Palestinian government is investing efforts to find markets to replace Israeli markets from which the PA can import raw materials and to which it can export Palestinian products. One of the markets to which the PA has appealed is Russia. To promote economic relations with Russia, Khaled al-Asili, Palestinian minister of national economy, met with the director of the department of legal matters and international activity in the Russian ministry of labor to discuss ways to increase trade between Russia and the Palestinians, and to make it easier for the Palestinians to import raw materials. A joint committee is supposed to meet in Moscow during November 2019 to discuss signing a number of agreements. Financing for constructing an industrial zone near Nablus will also be discussed (al-Monitor, November 3, 2019).
Saeb Erekat warns of Israeli takeover of the Jordan Valley
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, took foreign and local correspondents on a tour of the Jericho and Jordan Valley sector. He showed them what he referred to as “Israeli violations” in the region, claiming that using the excuse of security, Israel had “stolen” about 90% of the territory of the Jordan Valley, about 28% of the West Bank. He accused Israel of extending the settlements by collaborating with international companies, and of stealing Palestinian water sources and then selling water back to the Palestinians (Wafa, November 4, 2019).
Saeb Erekat takes foreign and local correspondents on a visit to the Jericho and Jordan Valley sector (Wafa, November 4, 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. ↑
 Meeting the condition of holding elections in Jerusalem does not seem realistic. In ITIC assessment, raising the issue was done with the awareness that Israel will not allow it to happen. Meeting the condition of holding a meeting of the leaders of all Palestinian organizations or groups (including the PA) also does not seem realistic. ↑