Return march participants in eastern Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, April 12, 2019).
Return march demonstrators approach the security fence.
Return march participants in eastern Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, April 12, 2019).
Women and children in eastern Gaza City call for a boycott of Israel (Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March Facebook page, April 12, 2019).
Demonstration in Bethlehem in support of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners (Wafa, April 15, 2019).
Support demonstration in Gaza City organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (Shehab Facebook page, April 15, 2019).
- This past week the level of violence demonstrated at the return march was again relatively low (about 7,500 people participated in the march events). However, during the march IEDs were thrown at IDF forces, attempts were made to damage the border fence and three attempts were made to cross the security fence into Israeli territory. The Hamas-controlled internal security forces claimed that infiltrating into Israeli territory threatens Palestinian security and is dangerous to both the individual and Palestinian society.
- Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said the understandings reached meant an improvement in the standard of living in the Gaza Strip. That included the full opening of the crossings, extending the fishing zone, authorizing the entrance of aid funds into the Gaza Strip and finding solutions for the problems of electricity and unemployment. He said Hamas was committed to stopping the use of “strong measures” (throwing Molotov cocktails and IEDs) and to stopping attempts to cross the border. However, he claimed no agreement had been reached regarding stopping the return marches or distancing the demonstrators from the fence during march events.
- The Hamas-operated Night Harassment Units said they intended to renew their activities with greater intensity than in the past. They added they are planning to launch more than 100 IED balloons and more than 300 incendiary balloons. They claimed the understandings reached after the elections in Israel had failed and the situation in the Gaza Strip had not changed. In effect so far there has been no evidence of the renewal of their activities.
- On April 15, 2019, an agreement was reached to end the hunger strike of the Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails. According to Israel and Palestinian media reports, the agreement is based on rejecting the prisoners’ demands for removing the devices that block their cell phones and for restoring family visits, but on the other hand, public will be installed and prisoners will be permitted to make supervised phone calls three times a week.
The return march of April 12, 2019
- On Friday, April 12, 2019, the 54th return march was held. Its theme was “Together [we will] struggle against normalization.” About 7,500 demonstrators participated in the events, slightly fewer than the previous week. They gathered at the five usual sites, and threw IEDs and stones at IDF forces. Some of them tried to sabotage the fence. During the events three attempts were made to cross the security fence into Israeli territory. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, reported one Palestinian killed and 66 wounded (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Facebook page, April 12, 2019).
The Palestinian killed during the march, shown a short time before his death near the security fence in eastern Jabalia (Paldf Twitter account, April 13, 2019).
- Senior figures from Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other organizations who attended the events made speeches against normalization with Israel and called for a campaign to show solidarity with the hunger-striking prisoners in Israeli jails. Ahmed Bahar, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council, gave a speech at the al-Bureij refugee camp where he said normalization with Israel was treason. He called for a stop to be put to all forms of overt and covert normalization with Israel (Safa, April 12, 2019)
Senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya, interviewed during return march activities (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, April 12, 2019).
- The Supreme National Authority announced the theme of the return march of April 19, 2019, would be “Palestinian prisoners’ day” (Palinfo, April 15, 2019).
Activities of the Night Harassment Units
- The Night Harassment Units announced their intention to renew their activities with greater intensity than in the past (Night Harassment Units Facebook page, April 13, 2019). The “Sons of al-Zouari” unit announced its intention to launch more than 100 IED balloons and 300 incendiary balloons (“Sons of al-Zouari” Facebook page, April 11, 2019). An “exclusive source” in the Gaza Strip revealed that the understandings reached had “failed” after the general elections in Israel, and that the situation in the Gaza Strip had not changed. Therefore, the [terrorist] networks were examining the possibility of renewing the activities of the Night Harassment Units and launching incendiary kites and balloons (Ghaza al-‘An, April 14, 2019). Despite the threats, so far there has been no evidence of the renewal of the activities of the Night Harassment Units.
Contacts for an arrangement
- Senior figures in Hamas and the other organizations continued relating to understandings for an arrangement allegedly reached while threatening a renewal of violent activities if Israel does not carry out the measures agreed on:
- Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said they relate to a return to the understandings of 2014 (after Operation Protective Edge) and to the steps Israel is supposed to take in return. He said that included an improvement in the standard of living in the Gaza Strip through fully opening the crossings, extending the fishing zone, authorizing the entrance of aid funds into the Gaza Strip, and finding solutions for the problems of the supply of electricity and of unemployment. He said in return, Hamas was committed to ending the use of “strong measures” (Molotov cocktails and IEDs) during the return marches, and to putting an end to attempts to cross the fence. However, he said, no agreement had been reached regarding stopping the return marches or distancing the demonstrators from the fence during march events. He claimed that in effect some of the measures were already being implemented, and others depended on funds the donor states were supposed to give the Gaza Strip (al-Mayadeen, April 15, 2019).
- Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the political bureau of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and of the Supreme National Authority, said Israel was still delaying the implementation of the understandings for lifting the “siege.” He stressed that all options were currently open for increasing pressure to speed up the implementation of the understandings. He said that in the coming days the Supreme National Authority would examine the restoration of “pressure,” such as the activities of the Night Harassment Units and the mini-flotillas (Shabakat Quds, April 15, 2019).
- Muhammad Khalaf, a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said the Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip were considering the return to the use of violent measures during the return marches in response to Israel’s avoidance of implementing the understandings for a ceasefire reached recently through Egyptian mediation. He said from time to time the organizations reevaluate Israel’s commitment to the understandings and decide accordingly which measures to use during the marches (Dunia al-Watan, April 14, 2019).
Rocket and mortar shell fire
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Attempted infiltration into Israeli territory
- On April 13, 2019, three Palestinians attempted to cross the security fence into Israeli territory. They were captured by an IDF force (IDF spokesman, April 13, 2019).
- Following recent events, in which Palestinians infiltrated into Israel territory from the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-controlled internal security force in the Gaza Strip announced that entering Israel from the Gaza Strip threated Palestinian security and was dangerous to the individual and society. That was because Israel intelligence made it easy to cross its borders in order to recruit Palestinians for intelligence activities and to acquire information that would harm Palestinian society and the “resistance.” The internal security forces called on families in the Gaza Strip to watch over their children and report any plan to infiltrate into Israeli territory (internal security force Facebook page, April 10, 2019).
Stabbing attack prevented
- On April 10, 2019, a young Palestinian woman went to a roadblock east of Jerusalem. She took out a knife and tried to stab the guards securing the site. The guards fired warning shots into the air. The shots were heard by police forces operating nearby, who went to the roadblock and detained the young woman (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, April 10, 2018).
Other events on the ground
- In Judea and Samaria 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 and seizing military grade and improvised weapons. The more prominent events were the following:
- April 16, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a vehicle on the Gush Etzion road. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 16, 2019).
- April 14, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 14, 2019).
- April 12, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 12, 2019).
- April 11, 2019 – Stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles at three locations near Tekoa (northeast of Hebron). No casualties were reported. One of the vehicles was damaged (Rescue Without Borders, April 11, 2019).
- April 11, 2019 – Stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles near the Tapuah Junction (east of Ariel). No casualties were reported. The vehicles were damaged (Rescue Without Borders, April 11, 2019).
- April 11, 2019 – Israeli security forces carried out searches in the village of Aja (northeast of Tulkarm), seizing an improvised “Carlo” assault rifle, magazines and ammunition (Police spokesman’s unit, Judea and Samaria district, April 11, 2019).
- April 10, 2019 – A hammer head was thrown near Tekoa (northeast of Hebron). A civilian was slightly injured and evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment (IDF spokesman, April 10, 2019).
- April 10, 2019 – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a police patrol car at the French Hill Junction in Jerusalem. The fire that broke out was extinguished. The hood of the vehicle was damaged (Israel Police Force in Jerusalem spokesman’s unit, April 10, 2019).
- April 8, 2019 – Shots were fired at an IDF post near the village of Ya’bed. No casualties were reported (IDF spokesman, April 8, 2019).
- April 8, 2019 – A pipe bomb was thrown at a bus near the village of Jinsafut (east of Qalqilya). It did not explode. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged (IDF spokesman, April 8, 2019).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since July 2017
Hunger strike of the security prisoners in Israeli jails
- Following the failure of negotiations with the prison authorities, on April 8, 2019, the prisoners’ representatives announced that the leaders of the prisoners’ movement and a number of other prisoners had declared an unlimited hunger strike. They called it “the battle for honor 2,” and would continue to strike until their demands were met (Palinfo, April 11, 2019).
- On April 15, 2019, an agreement was reached. According to the agreement, public telephones would be installed in the jails and prisoners could use them three days a week to call members of their immediate families. On the other hand, the prisoners’ demands to remove the devices blocking cell phone reception and the restoration of family visits were not met. Qadri Abu Bakr, chairman of the authority for prisoners and released prisoners, said that after the prisoners’ representatives had reached an understanding with the prison services and the prisoners would stop all protests, including the hunger strike (Authority for prisoners and released prisoners Facebook page, April 15, 2019).
Right: Hamas notice for the “victory of the Palestinian prisoners:” “Honor is victorious” (a reference to the name the prisoners gave the hunger strike: “Battle for honor 2”) (alresala.net Facebook page, April 16, 2019). Left: Hamas cartoon. The Arabic reads, “The prisoners force the ‘occupation’ to install public phone in the jails” (alresala.net Facebook page, April 15, 2019).
- During the eight days of the strike the Palestinian media intensified their coverage of the events and reported daily on additional prisoners who joined the hunger strikers (Dunia al-Watan, April 14, 2019). In the meantime, several events to show solidarity and support with the hunger striking Palestinians were held in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. In Jordan as well, a rally was held in support of the Palestinian and Jordanians held prisoner in Israeli jails (al-Bousulah, April 11, 2019).
- April 17, 2019, will mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Qadri Abu Bakr, chairman of the authority for prisoners and released prisoners, held a press conference in Ramallah to declare the events of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. He called on the Palestinian public to participate in the activities that would be held (Authority for prisoners and released prisoners Facebook page, April 14, 2019).
Qadri Abu Bakr, chairman of the authority for prisoners and released prisoners, holds a press conference in Ramallah to declare the events of Palestinian Prisoners’ Day (beginning April 17, 2019) (Wafa, April 14, 2019).
Senior Hamas figure relates to terrorist attacks against Israel
- In an interview Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, related to the rocket he claimed as launched by mistake into Israel. He claimed the engineers of the production unit of Hamas’ military wing had developed more accurate rockets which could also carry larger warheads. He said the strategic weapon of the Palestinian “resistance” was its public, and that Hamas was not eager for a military escalation or a war, but if one was forced on them, they would fight courageously. Regarding the attacks in Judea and Samaria, he said “resistance” to the “occupation” was deeply ingrained in Palestinian perception. He claimed the strategic location of the West Bank made the acts of lone attackers more effective. He said the Palestinians would always know how to adapt the “resistance” to the limitations of the environment and that they had no lack of means to continue resisting (aljazeera.net, April 9, 2019).
Forming the new Palestinian government
- On the evening of April 13, 2019, the new PA government, headed by Muhammad Ashtiya, was sworn in. The following day Ibrahim al-Melhem, spokesman for the new government, said it had been sworn in a second time before Mahmoud Abbas because a sentence dealing with the national legacy of the Palestinian people had been omitted the first time (Filastin al-Yawm, April 14, 2019). Meeting with the members of the new government, Mahmoud Abbas said that in the coming days there would be “many difficult developments” but that the Palestinians would join forces to deal with them (Wafa, April 13, 2019).
- Among the new ministers are some who served in the previous government: Shukri Bishara, minister of the treasury and planning; and Riyad al-Maliki, foreign minister. Prime minister’s deputies Ziad Abu Amr and Nabil Abu Rudeina, both close to Mahmoud Abbas, and Rula Nabil Jibran Maayah, minister of tourism and antiquities.
The new Palestinian government, headed by Muhammad Ashtiya, at the swearing-in ceremony held in Mahmoud Abbas’ office in Ramallah (Wafa, April 13, 2019).
- Hamas said the composition of the new government was a continuation of the PA’s policy of distancing and isolating [itself from the Gaza Strip] and deepened the schism of the Palestinian people. According to Hamas, the government serves the interests of Fatah at the expense of the interests of the Palestinian people. In addition, according to Hamas, the government will only increase the rift between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as a step towards carrying out [Trump’s] “deal of the century” (Hamas website, April 13, 2019). Senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batash said the new government could not struggle against Israeli aggression in the West Bank or stop the strategy of detaining its residents (Sawa, April 13, 2019).
Reactions to the general elections in Israel
- The PA and Gaza Strip did not particularly relate to Israel’s elections and results. Most of the spokesmen noted that the elections did not change Israel’s policy regarding the Palestinian issue. Some of the reactions were the following, some of them made before the final results were announced:
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said that even after the results of the Israeli elections, the Palestinian people would continue to stand firm and work to establish a Palestinian state (Voice of Palestine Radio, April 10, 2019).
- Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said even if someone other than Netanyahu won the election, no one expected Israeli politics would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state (Dunia al-Watan, April 10, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said there was no expectation that Israeli policies would change after the elections, but would only become more radical. He said Netanyahu would continue his strategy of trying to calm the situation in the south near the Gaza Strip and would attempt to take control of more of the West Bank (al-Mayadeen, April 15, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua said any government would be an “occupation government” and a stand had to be taken against it (Palinfo Twitter account, April 10, 2019).
- Senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batash said the Palestinian organizations did not distinguish between the political parties in Israel, right, left or center, because they were all “murderers and criminals.” He praised the Israeli Arabs who boycotted the elections, saying they sent a message of protest about the “crimes” Israel carried out against the participants in the return marches (Filastin al-Yawm, April 14, 2019).
PA appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
- PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said there were developments in the PA appeal to the ICC. He said the objective was to exert pressure on Fatou Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, to open an investigation into senior Israeli figures. That is because of the [alleged] “crimes” Israel carries out against the Palestinian people. He said that in the coming weeks a meeting is expected to be held with the chief prosecutor regarding a number of files, among them the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem (Dunia al-Watan, April 8, 2019).
Omar al-Barghouti denied entry into the United States
- The United States denied entry to Omar Barghouti, a Palestinian activist from Ramallah, one of the founders and leaders of the BDS campaign. He was supposed to lecture at two events in Washington, DC, but his entrance visa was cancelled at Ben-Gurion Airport when he tried to leave Israel (article by Steve Emerson, IPT, April 11, 2019).
 Due to the Passover holiday, the next News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict bulletin will appear on April 30, 2019. We wish all our readers a happy holiday. ↑
 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. ↑
 The subject will be covered more fully in a separate bulletin ↑
 For further information about Omar Barghouti and the BDS campaign, see the April 7, 2019, bulletin, "The 6th Palestinian BDS Campaign Conference, Held in al-Bireh: The decisions and their significance." ↑