Palestinian demonstrators making their way to the return camp in eastern Gaza City.
Hamas senior leader Ismail Radwan speaking at the return camp in eastern Gaza City (Facebook page of the Supreme National Authority of the Return March, September 20, 2019)
Demonstrators climbing the security fence in eastern Rafah (Facebook page of the Supreme National Authority of the Return March, September 20, 2019).
Operatives of the Hamas security services secure the access to the sites of the marches (Facebook page of the Hamas’s Interior Ministry in Gaza, September 20, 2019).
Poster calling on the public to take part in the 75th return march next Friday (Facebook page of the Supreme National Authority of the Return March, September 23, 2019)
Burning tires during the latest return march in eastern Khan Yunis (Palestine Live Twitter account, September 20, 2019).
- This week, over 9,000 demonstrators took part in the Friday demonstrations in the Gaza Strip, more than in previous weeks (in which there were about 6,000). This week as well, demonstrations were characterized by a relatively high level of violence. IEDs, hand grenades and Molotov cocktails were thrown at IDF forces. In addition, Palestinians attempted to damage the security fence and cross into Israeli territory.
Violent activity of young Palestinians near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip during the return march (Facebook page of Ahfad al-Nasser, a terrorist network affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees, September 21, 2019)
- In Judea and Samaria, a stabbing attack by a Palestinian woman was thwarted in the Kalandia Crossing. In the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, her death was falsely referred to as “execution.” Hamas’s spokesman once again called for an uprising in the West Bank and for resistance against the “[Israeli] death checkpoints.” According to reports in Israeli media, the Palestinian Authority’s security services thwarted an attempt to manufacture unsophisticated rockets, which PIJ operatives tried to assemble based on know-how from Iran.
- The Palestinian prisoners continue their hunger strike in Israeli jails demanding the removal of cellular jamming devices in jails. Throughout Judea and Samaria, there were expressions of sympathy with the striking prisoners. However, this did not gain widespread public support.
The return march
- The 74th return march took place on Friday, September 20, 2019. It was held with the theme, “The Refugee Camps in Lebanon,” to mark the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Over 9,000 Palestinians participated in the demonstrations, a number which is relatively higher than that of the previous weeks (about 6,000). The demonstrations were characterized by a relatively high level of violence. Rioters burned tires and threw hand grenades, IEDs and Molotov cocktails at the IDF forces. There were also attempts to sabotage the security fence and even cross into Israeli territory. One of the IEDs exploded near an IDF vehicle. There were no casualties. The spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip reported that 74 wounded Palestinians had been treated by the medical staff (Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra’s Twitter page, September 20, 2019).
Improvised hand grenades thrown during the march by operatives of Ahfad al-Nasser, a network belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees in the northern Gaza Strip (Al-Shabab al-Tha’er Ahfad al-Nasser Facebook page, September 20, 2019).
- The march was attended by Hamas’s senior leaders such as Khalil al-Hayya and Ismail Radwan. The latter held a press conference during the march (Al-Aqsa, September 20, 2019). Most of the speakers during the march events addressed the refugee camps in Lebanon, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, and the Palestinian refugees’ “right of return.” In the final press conference, the Supreme National Authority of the Return March announced that efforts were being made to move the return marches to other areas (Judea and Samaria). The Supreme National Authority announced that the theme of the protests next Friday, September 27, 2019, would be “Al-Aqsa Intifada and the Prisoners” (Al-Aqsa, September 20, 2019).
- On September 18, 2019, the Bani al-Zawari Unit released a video showing the launch of incendiary balloons to Israeli territory, in response to the death of the terrorist at the Kalandia Crossing (see below) (Facebook page of Bani al-Zawari Unit in eastern Khan Yunis, September 18, 2019). In practice, no incendiary or explosive balloons were detected in Israeli territory.
Photos of the launch of incendiary balloons to Israeli territory by the Bani Al-Zawari Unit (Facebook page of Bani al-Zawari Unit in eastern Khan Yunis, September 18, 2019)
Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel
- On September 18, 2019, there was a failed attempt to launch a rocket at Israeli territory (IDF Spokesperson’s Office, September 18, 2019). The rocket triggered the “Color Red” alarm system in Israel. The launch was probably carried out from the Rafah area, and the rocket fell on a house in eastern Rafah. The Gaza Health Ministry reported seven wounded Palestinians as a result of the landing of the rocket. The identity of those who fired the rocket is unknown.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Attempted stabbing attack at the Kalandia Crossing
- On September 18, 2019, a Palestinian woman arrived at the Kalandia Crossing on foot and approached the lane intended for vehicles. Israeli security forces noticing and suspecting her initiated suspect-detention procedures and called on her to stop. She did not comply and took out a knife. The security forces shot and wounded her (Israel Police Force Spokesperson’s Unit, September 18, 2019). The woman was evacuated to the hospital and later died of her wounds. The PA Health Ministry reported that according to its information, the dead woman is Naifa Mohammad Kaabaneh, 50, from the village of Ramoun, northeast of Ramallah (WAFA News Agency, September 22, 2019).
- The Palestinian Authority and Hamas falsely referred to her death as an “execution.” According to Hamas, her death reflects “Israel’s sadistic policy” (Hamas website, September 18, 2019). Hazem Qassem, Hamas’s spokesman, noted that her death would fan the flames of intifada and revolution in the West Bank (Hazem Qassem’s Twitter account, September 18, 2019). A senior PIJ source called on the public to resist the “death checkpoints,” saying that it is the right of the Palestinian people to resist the occupation and fight its soldiers at the checkpoints (Filastin Al-Youm, September 19, 2019).
Thwarting the manufacture of rockets
- Israeli TV Channel 12 reported that the Palestinian security services had thwarted an attempt by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad to manufacture rockets in Judea and Samaria. These were unsophisticated rockets which the operatives tried to assemble on the basis of know-how received from Iran. Reportedly, according to the Palestinian security services, the information (on the thwarting activity) was submitted to the Israeli security forces (Channel 12, September 23, 2019).
Thwarting the smuggling of weapons at the Tarqumiya Crossing
- Israeli Defense Ministry security personnel at the Tarqumiya Crossing (northwest of Hebron) thwarted an attempt to smuggle weapons and equipment for a lathe designed to manufacture weapons. An Israeli vehicle with two passengers reached the Israeli side of the checkpoint. After arousing the suspicion of the security personnel, they searched the vehicle and found weapons’ parts, silencers, bullets of various types, drills, lathes and other equipment.
Equipment seized in the vehicle at the Tarqumiya Crossing
(Israel’s Ministry of Defense Twitter account, September 19, 2019)
Incidents 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 and seizing military-grade and improvised weapons, as well as funds intended to finance terrorist activity. The more prominent events were the following:
- September 23, 2019 – While carrying out searches in Jericho, IDF soldiers found tens of thousands of shekels in cash, intended to finance terror activities (IDF Spokesperson’s Office, September 22, 2019).
- September 22, 2019 – Stones were thrown in the Jewish neighborhood in Hebron. A man was wounded (United Hatzalah, September 22, 2019).
- September 22, 2019 – Stones were thrown at three trains in the Shuafat area in north Jerusalem. Damage was caused to windows and a door of one of the trains. Policemen who carried out searches detained two 14-year-old suspects (Jerusalem Police Spokesperson’s Unit, September 22, 2019).
- September 21, 2019 – Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at a vehicle on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion Road. No casualties and no damage were reported (Rescue Without Border in Judea and Samaria, September 21, 2019).
- September 21, 2019 – The Israeli security forces identified a Palestinian who aroused their suspicion near Beit Furiq (southeast of Nablus). After checking, they found a knife and tear gas in his possession (IDF Spokesperson’s Office, September 21, 2019).
- September 20, 2019 – Stones were thrown at civilian vehicles near the village of Azoun (east of Qalqilya). An IDF officer was moderately wounded by one of the stones and damage was caused to several cars (IDF Spokesperson’s Office, September 21, 2019).
Right: One of the stones thrown at the Israeli vehicles. Left: Damage caused to a vehicle window (Yediot Mehashetach, September 20, 2019)
- September 19, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a vehicle on the Gush Etzion-Hebron Road. No casualties were reported. The vehicle window was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, September 19, 2019)
- September 17, 2019 – IDF soldiers identified two Palestinians who aroused their suspicion near the Ein Bubin spring, in the vicinity of the town of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem. They found a knife in the Palestinians’ possession (IDF Spokesperson’s Office, September 17, 2019). About a month ago, a terrorist attack was carried out at that site, and an Israeli girl was killed.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017
Funds to be received from Qatar
- On September 23, 2019, Khaled al-Hardan, deputy chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, entered the Gaza Strip at the head of a delegation. He arrived to supervise the payment of the next part of the Qatari grant (Amad, September 23, 2019).
Demand to import tires from Egypt
- A delegation of Gaza Strip tire importers met with Salah al-Din Abu Sharakh, deputy minister of transportation in the Gaza Strip, and asked him to look into the possibility of importing tires to the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Abu Sharakh pointed out the need to examine ways to import tires to the Gaza Strip from Egypt based on an approved standard (Maan, September 22, 2019). Israel prevents the export of tires to the Gaza Strip from its territory because they are used by return march demonstrators as part of their violent activity.
Right: Tire traders meet with the deputy minister of transport in Gaza (Maan, September 22, 2019). Left: Burning tires during the latest return march in eastern Khan Yunis (Palestine Live Twitter account, September 20, 2019).
Initiative of Gaza Strip organizations to bring about internal Palestinian reconciliation
- In a meeting between head of Hamas’s political bureau in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar and other senior officials on the one hand, and heads of the Palestinian organizations on the other, the organizations’ leaders submitted to Sinwar a document formulated by eight organizations, including the PIJ, the PFLP and the DFLP. The purpose of the proposed document is to bring about internal Palestinian reconciliation. Sinwar expressed his appreciation of the initiative and said that Hamas would reply in the forthcoming days. The document was apparently also submitted to Mahmoud Abbas, Abbas Kamel, head of the Egyptian General Intelligence, and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmad Abu al-Ghait (Filastin Al-Youm; Al-Istiqlal, September 19, 2019). On September 23, 2019, the organizations held a press conference in which they officially presented the reconciliation initiative and elaborated on its clauses (Filastin Al-Youm, September 23, 2019).
- Hamas and Fatah announced that they welcomed any effort to bring about reconciliation. According to Khader Habib, PIJ’s senior leader, the Palestinian organizations intend to exert pressure to have their reconciliation initiative accepted. According to Habib, they will try to hold a meeting where the program will be presented and will also raise the initiative in their talks with the Egyptians (PalToday, September 20, 2019). Talal Zarifa, member of the DFLP’s political bureau, said that in order to promote the move and acquire more supporters for the program, protests, demonstrations and meetings would be organized (Filastin Al-Youm, September 22, 2019). However, it seems that the “positive” public reactions on the part of Hamas and Fatah in favor of reconciliation initiative are only lip service, and in practice, handling this issue is still bogged down.
Ziyad Nakhaleh’s statements
- At the PIJ conference held in Gaza to mark the 26th anniversary of the signing of the Oslo Accords, PIJ Secretary General Ziyad Nakhaleh spoke via video conference. Nakhaleh expressed his opposition to the signing of the Oslo Accords and to anyone promoting them. Speaking about the Deal of the Century, Nakhaleh described it as a “new Nakba for the Palestinian people” and noted that Israel and the US had decided to officially bury the Oslo Accords through it. Nakhaleh called on the Palestinians to unite and fight together against Israel and to defend “resistance” with all their might in and outside the Gaza Strip (PalToday, September 17, 2019).
Right: PIJ conference in Gaza (Palestine Online, September 17, 2019). Left: Ziyad Nakhaleh speaking at the conference (PalToday Channel website, September 17, 2019)
Death of a Hamas official in Turkey
- On September 19, Hamas announced the death of “the righteous brother and leader, jihad fighter Dr. Jihad Suwailam (Abu Abd al-Rahman),” who died on September 18, 2019, “after devoting his life to the service of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the diaspora.” It was said that “he left clear fingerprints in the area of charitable activity for Palestine” (Hamas website, September 19, 2019). Former Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mash’al spoke from Doha, Qatar, in the mourning tent erected in his memory.
Right: Hamas’s death notice (Hamas website, September 19, 2019). Left: Jihad Suwailam
(Hamas website, September 19, 2019)
- Suwailam was born in Kuwait in 1968 to a family from the village of Shaqba in Ramallah. After the Gulf War, the family moved to Jordan. Suwailam went to India where he completed his academic studies and earned a doctorate in Administration He spent several years working at the Africa Muslims Committee charity in Kuwait. Subsequently, he worked at the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) in Saudi Arabia as director of the charity coalition program. He worked at the organization until his office in Jeddah was shut down in 2015. He then moved to Istanbul, where he continued “to assist Palestinians” in and outside the territories (Al-Mujtama, September 19, 2019). The official death notice issued by Hamas may indicate that Suwailam played a role in the Hamas financial system operating in Turkey.
Economic disengagement from Israel
- The PA continues to report on activity being performed as part of the so-called economic disengagement from Israel. Speaking at a press conference, Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh presented three key steps that the Palestinian people must take in order to disengage from the Israeli economy: increasing domestic production, increasing direct imports, and reducing the use of Israeli goods (WAFA News Agency, September 19, 2019).
- Speaking at the opening of the National Diagnostic Center in Ramallah, Shtayyeh said that the opening of the center was part of the process of disengaging from Israel and strengthening the Palestinian hospitals. At a meeting with businessmen from the Palestinian private sector, he said that one of the steps in the economic disengagement from Israel was diversifying the energy supply sources. According to him, Iraq welcomed the sale of oil to the Palestinians at lower prices than global crude oil markets (Anatolia News Agency, September 19, 2019; Al-Iqtisadi, September 19, 2019). According to Khaled al-Osaily, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of national economy, talks are underway with various countries, especially Arab countries, to increase Palestinian exports and overcome technical obstacles making it difficult for Palestinian products to reach the markets (WAFA News Agency, September 15, 2019). In the ITIC’s assessment, the effectiveness of these moves is doubtful, since the Palestinian economy is still deeply connected with Israel.
Mohammad Shtayyeh with Health Minister Dr. Mai Salem Hanna Kaileh at the inauguration of a new medical center in Ramallah (Mohammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, September 22, 2019)
Power cuts in Judea and Samaria because of debts
- The Israel Electric Corporation has decided to limit the supply of electricity to Judea and Samaria due to a NIS 1.7 billion debt owed by the Palestinian Authority. In a letter to the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Energy and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Israel Electric announced that due to the debt it intended to implement the power cut procedure (Israeli media, September 22, 2019). The PA has condemned the power cuts. According to PA Energy Authority Director Thafer Melhem, the cuts reflect a systematic policy on the part of the Israeli government to pressure the Chairman of the PA and the Palestinian government to accept the terms dictated by the Israeli side. At the same time, Melhem called on the Palestinian electricity distribution companies to settle their debts in order to prevent additional power cuts.
Cartoon published in the Gaza Strip condemning Israel’s intention to cut the electricity supply in Judea and Samaria (Ismail Al-Bazm’s Facebook page, September 22, 2019)
UNRWA Donor Country Conference
- UNRWA Spokesman Sammy Mshasha said that despite US and Israeli pressure, the meeting of donor countries in New York would be held on schedule, on September 26, 2019. According to him, the donor countries will discuss ways of funding the agency, and countries that have not yet decided how much to donate will be given an opportunity to reach a decision. He expressed the hope that more countries would decide to assist UNRWA and that UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl would hold meetings to encourage donations from Arab countries (Dunia Al-Watan, September 19, 2019). According to Majdi Khaldi, Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser on diplomatic affairs, the upcoming donor countries conference will examine economic activity and how donor countries can continue to help. According to him, the conference will be attended by PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and Finance Minister Shukri Bishara, (Dunia Al-Watan, September 21, 2019).
- In advance of the conference on September 19, 2019, the World Bank published a report on the Palestinian economy. The report warns of the Palestinian Authority’s liquidity difficulties, which pose a threat to the Palestinian economy. According to the report, due to the drop in aid and the non-consent to the transfer of tax revenue funds from Israel, the Palestinian Authority will face a funding gap that could exceed $1.8 billion in 2019. According to Palestinian economist Tareq al-Haj, the figure cited by the World Bank refers only to this year. According to him, the situation is far more grave because for years the PA has not paid its debts, which now amount to $6 billion (Ma’an, September 21, 2019).
Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to Norway and New York
- A delegation of senior officials from the PA, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, made a three-day visit to Norway. During the visit, the Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Riyad al-Maliki mentioned the elections in Israel and told journalists that the PA respected the democratic elections held in Israel and their results and was prepared to negotiate with any Israeli prime minister in order to resume negotiations (Al-Quds, September 18, 2019).
- From Norway, Mahmoud Abbas traveled to New York to attend sessions of the UN General Assembly. He is expected to address the General Assembly on September 27, 2019. On the sidelines of the General Assembly, Abu Mazen plans to meet with around 50 leaders from various countries. The meetings will reportedly focus on political and economic issues (Palestinian TV, September 23, 2019).
The prisoners strike
- The Palestinian prisoners strike in Israeli prisons continues. A total of 109 prisoners are striking, 106 for the failure by the prison authorities to remove the devices preventing cellphone reception. Throughout Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, displays of solidarity with the hunger strikers continued, although the hunger strike has apparently not gained much public support, unlike previous strikes. According to Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, Palestinian organizations are holding talks with various parties, especially with Egypt, to exert pressure on Israel to commit to an agreement signed with the prisoners (Al-Aqsa, September 19, 2019).
- Barhoum blamed the Israeli government and the Prison Service for the consequences of continuing the so-called “violations and escalation against prisoners” and renouncing the understandings that were reached with prisoners’ leadership (Hamas website, September 17, 2019). At a press conference in the Gaza Strip, national and Islamic forces called on Israel to abide by agreements signed with the Palestinian prisoners under the auspices of Egypt and called on Egypt to demand that Israel remove the devices installed in the prisons. They warned Israel of the consequences of the continued presence of the jamming devices (Amad, September 19, 2019).
Results of a Palestinian public opinion poll
- The PSR Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah, headed by Dr. Khalil Shikaki, published a Palestinian opinion poll held on September 11-14, 2019 in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, which included 1,270 participants. Several noteworthy findings emerged from the survey  (PSR website, September 22, 2019):
- 60% of the respondents demand that Mahmoud Abbas resign.
- 61% believe that Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to terminate the agreements with Israel is not the appropriate answer to the destruction of houses by Israel. 76% believe that this is a media exercise on the part of Mahmoud Abbas.
- In view of the recent visit to Iran by a Hamas delegation, 48% of the public in the Gaza Strip and 36% of the public in Judea and Samaria believe that Iran is a friend and an ally.
- 50% support the return to an armed intifada.
- 62% support “peaceful popular resistance.”
- 61% support the recent attack west of Ramallah (in Ein Dani / Ein Bubin).
Return of bodies of terrorists to the Palestinian Authority
- On September 20, 2019, Israel returned the bodies of two terrorists to the Palestinians: Nassim Mukafeh Musa Abu Rumi from Al-Eizariya, a 14-year-old who was shot dead while carrying out a stabbing attack at the Chain Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 15, 2019; and Omar Younis from Saniriya, who died on April 27, 2019, a week after he was shot and wounded while attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at Tapuach Junction (WAFA News Agency, September 20, 2019).
Right: Abu Rumi’s funeral in Al-Eizariya. He has a DFLP headband. The funeral was attended by armed DFLP operatives. Left: Nassim Abu Rumi’s brother at his funeral (Twitter account of Muhammad Qarot Adakidak, press photographer from Jerusalem, September 20, 2019)
- A military funeral was held for Omar Younis in the village of Saniriya, in southern Qalqilya. The pallbearers were operatives of the PA security apparatus. The funeral was attended by the Governor of the Qalqilya Governorate, Liwa (General) Rafe Rawajbeh, and Qadri Abu Bakr, Chairman of the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission (Wafa News Agency, September 20, 2019).
Operatives of the PA security services carrying the body, with an honor parade in the background (Facebook page of the Qalqilya Governorate, September 21, 2019)
[*] Due to the High Holidays, there will be changes in the dates of publication of the forthcoming bulletins. The ITIC wishes all our readers a Happy Jewish New Year. ↑
 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. ↑
 In this context, see the ITIC's Information Bulletin from September 19, 2019, “New designations recently published by the US Department of State and Department of the Treasury reveal Turkey’s central role as a hub from which Hamas handles its financial matters, including funding terrorist networks in Judea and Samaria.” ↑
 It should be noted that for most of the topics in the survey, no distinction was made between Gaza, on the one hand, and Judea and Samaria on the other, as was the case in previous surveys. ↑
 On the glorification of Abu Rumi, see the ITIC’s Information Bulletin from September 18, 2019: “Glorification of a shahid who recently perpetrated a stabbing attack, at an annual ceremony of appreciation for high school and university graduates in the village of Al-Eizariya, east of Jerusalem.” ↑