Palestinians sabotage the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip (QudsN Twitter account, August 31, 2018).
Khalil al-Haya, deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip (gray shirt), in eastern Gaza City (Supreme National Authority of the Return March Facebook page, September 1, 2018).
Fathi Hamad (white shirt, center) at the "return camp" in eastern Rafah (Supreme National Authority of the Return March Facebook page, August 31, 2018)
Yahya al-Sinwar meets with authors and media personnel, 2018 (Hamas website, August 30, 2018).
Yahya al-Sinwar meets with authors and media personnel, 2018 (Hamas website, August 30, 2018).
The boats sailing towards Gaza's northern border (Twitter accounts of Palinfo and Palestine Online, September 2, 2018).
- The “return march” and Gaza flotillas continued this past Friday. Rioters threw stones, burned tires and broke into Israeli territory in the northern Gaza Strip. At one of the riot sites a hand grenade was thrown at an IDF force. Another flotilla of boats sailed from the Gaza port; the sea voyage ended without unusual events. In the meantime Egyptian efforts continued to forge an arrangement with Israel, but there are difficulties because of the Palestinian Authority’s insistence that an internal Palestinian reconciliation has to precede the arrangement.
- Senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya said Hamas had accepted the demands of Egypt and the UN to decrease the launching of incendiary balloons. He said Hamas also invested great effort in dealing with those who launch the balloons. In effect, there has recently been a significant decrease in the number of balloon launchings, but they continue nevertheless. However, the statement made by Khalil al-Haya indicates that incendiary kites and balloons are part of Hamas’ policy and that Hamas can decrease or increase the level of arson terrorism at will, according to its interests.
- The main event in Judea and Samaria was the prevention of a stabbing attack at the entrance to a neighborhood in Kiryat Arba. A Palestinian from Hebron armed with a knife approached IDF soldiers at the roadblock. He was shot and killed.
- The American administration announced it was ending funding for UNRWA, evoking reactions of rage from the Palestinians. Senior PA and Fatah figures emphasized that the United States did not have the right to revoke the UN decision, and called on the international community to condemn the American decision and provide for UNRWA’s needs. A Palestinian presidential spokesman said Mahmoud Abbas was examining the possibility of appealing to the UN General Assembly and Security Council to cope with the American decision.
The “return march”
- As on every Friday since March 30, 2018, on August 31, 2018, the Gazans held a “return march” at sites along the Israel-Gaza border, the 32nd. Its theme was “The marches continue.” Several thousand Gazans gathered at five sites along the border security fence. Rioters threw stones and burned tires. At one site a hand grenade was thrown at an IDF force. IDF forces responded with riot control measures and also fired shots. The Palestinian ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that 240 Gazans were injured, 82 of whom were hospitalized (Facebook page of the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, August 31, 2018).
- According to the Palestinians, a number of demonstrators cut through the security fence and entered Israeli territory in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media issued a video documenting the break-in (Shabat Quds Twitter account, September 1, 2018). The Palestinians also claimed that during the “return march” they had managed to down an Israeli drone that was spraying demonstrators with tear gas, east of Rafah (Shehab, August 31, 2018).
- The “return march” organizers issued an announcement calling on the public to attend the “march” on this coming Friday, September 7, 2018. Its theme will be “We return regardless of Trump” (Filastin al-Yawm, August 31, 2018).
Palestinians sabotage the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip (QudsN Twitter account, August 31, 2018).
Palestinians hold a drone they claimed was used to spray demonstrators with tear gas and downed east of Rafah (Palestine Live Facebook page, September 1, 2018).
- As they have every week, senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figures attended “return march” events. They gave speeches in which they stated that the “marches” would continue and even grow in strength. Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, stressed the importance of continuing the “marches.” He claimed they were an answer to the “confusion” in the Palestinian street regarding the issue of an arrangement. He said the Gazans would continue to act to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and they would not stop until “all the Palestinian interests had been realized” (al-Aqsa, August 31, 2018). Khalil al-Haya said the “marches” would continue and grow in strength until the Palestinians’ objectives had been achieved, the foremost of which were “the return [of the Palestinian refugees] and lifting the siege of the Gaza Strip” (al-Aqsa, Filastin al-Yawm, August 31, 2018).
Rocket and mortar shell fire
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Rocket and mortar shell fire during and between the recent rounds of escalation
Minimum number of rockets and mortar shells fired in May, June and July. At this stage the ITIC cannot distinguish between rocket and mortar shell fire.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
- This past week a small number of incendiary kites and balloons were launched into Israeli territory, setting a number of fires. During the Friday events an incendiary balloon set a fire in the Be’eri forest. Two incendiary kites were also sighted over the forest.
- Regarding arson terrorism, senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya said Hamas had agreed to the Egyptian and UN demands to reduce the number of incendiary balloons launched into Israeli territory. He claimed Hamas had invested considerable efforts in dealing with the Palestinians launching the balloons and the organizations that objected to stopping arson activities. He added that Hamas had therefore eliminated all of Israel’s “excuses” to use force against Hamas (al-Aqsa, August 31, 2018).
Operatives of the “Sons of al-Zouari” balloon-launching unit in eastern Gaza City. The Arabic on the kite reads, “To Yahya al-Sinwar, regards from the Malaka revolutionaries” [Malaka is the name of a Palestinian military post in eastern Gaza City] (Facebook page of the Supreme National Authority of the Return March, August 31, 2018).
Talks for an arrangement – update
- Egypt continues its efforts to have Hamas and the PA reach an agreement. Difficulties have arisen because of the argument between Hamas and the PA, which insists that an arrangement [with Israel] will follow the internal Palestinian reconciliation. Hamas continues accusing the PA of sabotaging efforts to reach an arrangement [with Israel]. Senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya said the Palestinian National Council and the Central Council do not represent the Palestinian people but only Fatah, and therefore the PLO cannot be a legitimate representative for leading an arrangement with Israel. Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh said that the top priority was the internal Palestinian reconciliation, whose objective was to defend the Palestinian cause. He added that the arrangement [with Israel] had to be formulated within a PLO framework (al-Arabiya al-Hadath, August 28, 2018).
- On the night of August 27, 2018, Fatah and the PA gave their responses to the document formulated by Egypt regarding the internal Palestinian reconciliation. The PA continues to insist on its demand that the reconciliation be discussed first and that the arrangement [with Israel] be discussed only once the issue has been settled. So far, Fatah still refuses to meet with the Hamas delegation (al-Hayat, August 29, 2018).
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, met with writers and media personnel. He told them that the Hamas delegation had received Fatah’s response to the Egyptian document. He claimed it was worse than the first. He said Mahmoud Abbas would lose a great deal by imposing sanctions on the Gaza Strip (Arabi 21, August 29, 2018) (See below).
- On September 1, 2018, an Egyptian intelligence delegation paid a visit to Ramallah. A meeting was held where it was decided that contacts between the Palestinian and Egyptian leaderships would continue. Mahmoud Abbas again emphasized that the Palestinians had faith in the role played by Egypt, and that the Palestinian people appreciated Egypt’s sponsorship in ending the internal Palestinian rift (Dunia al-Watan, September 1, 2018).
- Jason Greenblatt, the American envoy to the Middle East, said in a statement that “the Trump Administration strongly supports the efforts of President Al Sisi and the Egyptian government to help facilitate an agreement to restore calm in Gaza and bring about the conditions for the Palestinian Authority to fully assume its responsibilities in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority cannot criticize from the sidelines. The Palestinian Authority should be part of the solution for the Palestinians of Gaza and Palestinians as a whole. If not, others will fill that void…” (American State Department website, August 29, 2018). In response, Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said there is no replacement for the PLO, which is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. He added that the Palestinian leadership regards Greenblatt’s statement as the American administration meddling in internal Palestinian affairs (Wafa, August 30, 2018).
Attacks and attempted attacks
- On September 3, 2018, a Palestinian tried to stab an IDF soldier at the entrance to a neighborhood in Kiryat Arba. According to the initial investigation, the Palestinian, armed with a knife, approached the IDF soldiers at the roadblock. The soldiers shot and killed him. He was Wa’el Abd al-Fatah Abd al-Ghani al-Ja’abari, 27 (36, according to a different report), from Hebron. Hamas issued a death notice for him (Shehab Facebook page, Palinfo Twitter account, September 3, 2018).
Right: The scene of the stabbing attack in Kiryat Arba (Shehab Facebook page, September 3, 2018). Left: Death notice issued by Hamas (Palinfo Twitter account, September 3, 2018).
- On September 2, 2018, a Palestinian threw stones at a vehicle near Teqoa (Gush Etzion). He then went to the community where he attacked a local resident with an metal object he took from one of the gardens. During the attack he shouted “Allahu akbar.” IDF forces detained him. No casualties were reported (IDF spokesperson, September 2, 2018).
Events on the ground
- Palestinians continued throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and IEDs. Israeli security forces continued carrying out counterterrorism activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and seizing improvised and military grade weapons. The more prominent events were the following:
- September 3, 2018 – During searches carried out by Israeli security forces in the al-Gaza refugee camp (Bethlehem area) clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. The Palestinians threw stones and an IED at the Israeli forces. No casualties were reported (IDF spokesperson Twitter account, September 3, 2018).
- September 3, 2018 – An IED was thrown at the Gilboa crossing (north of Jenin); the crossing was closed at the time. No casualties or damage were reported. IDF forces searched for the perpetrators (IDF spokesperson Twitter account, September 3, 2018).
- September 2, 2018 – A young Palestinian woman aroused the suspicions of the security guards at the Qalandia Crossing when she walked through a lane reserved for vehicles. She was ordered to halt and when she did not obey, she was detained by the Israeli security forces. A knife was found in her bag (Kikar Hashabbat, September 2, 2018).
- August 30, 2018 – Stones were thrown at a bus on route 443 (the road from Modi’in to Jerusalem) near a gas station. One woman sustained minor injuries from flying glass. Three Palestinians suspected of throwing the stones were apprehended (Rescue Without Borders, August 30, 2018).
- August 30, 2018 – Israeli Border Policemen searched two young Palestinians at the entrance to the military courthouse in Salem (Samaria). They found bags containing three IEDs. The two were detained (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, August 30, 2018).
- August 30, 2018 – Stones were thrown at a vehicle near Hizma (east of Jerusalem). One man sustained minor injuries from flying glass from the vehicle’s windshield (Rescue Without Borders, August 30, 2018).
- August 29, 2018 – During an activity carried out by Israeli security forces to locate weapons in Bituniya (south of Ramallah) and Harmala (near Bethlehem) the forces seized an improvised Carlo assault rifle, a pistol and an ammunition magazine (IDF spokesperson, August 29, 2018).
- August 29, 2018 – During an activity carried out by Israeli security forces in the region of the village of Bayt Rima (northwest of Ramallah) a riot broke out. Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails and a pipe bomb at the Israeli forces. No casualties or damage were reported (IDF spokesperson, August 29, 2018).
- August 29, 2018 – Stones were thrown at a vehicle near western Teqoa (Gush Etzion). One man was injured (United Hatzalah [“rescue”] of Israel, August 29, 2018).
Significant terrorist attacks during the past year 
Exposure of Hamas operatives in the Hebron region
- In recent weeks the Israeli security forces exposed an extensive network of Hamas operatives in Hebron. Some of the operatives were women. The operatives dealt with transmitting intelligence information, raising money from Hamas headquarters abroad, recruiting operatives, coordinating activities in mosques, paying the families of prisoners and incitement on the social networks.
- The network was headed by Nizar Shahadeh and Fares Abu Sharah, senior Hamas operatives, who in the past had been imprisoned in Israel. The head of the female section of the network was Dina Karmi, the wife of Nashat Karmi. Activities with women have increased in recent years, including the recruitment of dozens of women, some of whom were sent abroad to receive funds and instructions from terrorists who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal, including Haroun Nasser al-Din, who lives in Turkey (Israel Security Agency website, August 28, 2018).
The Rafah Crossing
- This past week the Rafah Crossing was open for pilgrims returning to the Gaza Strip from Mecca
Pilgrims return to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing (Shehab Facebook page, August 31, 2018).
The new school year begins
- On August 29, 2018, the new school year began in the Gaza Strip in government, private and UNRWA schools. A total of 550,000 students began their studies. Of them 268,000 go to government schools and about 250,000 to UNRWA schools (Ma’an, August 29, 2018). UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Hasna said the year had begun with uncertainty because UNRWA had funds sufficient only for the month of September. He said many efforts were being invested in collaboration with the UN secretary general to find additional funding to continue the school year (Sama, August 29, 2018).
The opening ceremony at an UNRWA school in Deir al-Balah (al-Najah news website, August 29, 2018).
- Muhammad Hamdan, head of the teachers’ sector of the UNRWA Arab staff union, said UNRWA had changed its decision, allowing students who were not the children of refugees to study at its schools. He said the schools had many problems because of the cuts to the agency’s budget: teachers employed on a daily basis and needing tenure, and funds necessary for running and maintaining the schools, which had not yet been allotted. He said school supplies had not been provided for the students and that there were areas, especially in eastern Gaza City, where there were not enough schools, with the result that the children studied in three shifts (Palestine Online, September 3, 2018).
The organizations in the Gaza Strip meet to coordinate
- In addition to the talks for an arrangement being held in Egypt, the Hamas leadership held a series of meetings with senior figures and delegations of the organizations in the Gaza Strip (the PIJ, the al-Ahrar Movement, the Mujahideen Movement, the Popular Resistance Committees, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian National Initiative Movement and the Fida Movement). Yahya al-Sinwar was present at all but two of the meetings. The issues discussed were first and foremost the internal Palestinian reconciliation, the efforts to ratify the 2014 ceasefire, providing for the continuation of the “return marches” and coping with “the deal of the century” (Hamas movement website, August 29 and 30, 2018).
Right: A meeting with a delegation of senior PIJ figures (Hamas movement website, August 29, 2018). Left: A meeting with the DFLP delegation (Hamas movement website, August 30, 2018).
Statement from Yahya al-Sinwar
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, met with writers and media personnel. He spoke assertively about the talks for an internal reconciliation and an arrangement [with Israel], as well as the possibility of another round of escalation. He said Hamas had informed Israel, through intermediaries, that if the efforts to reach an arrangement failed and Israel acted aggressively against the Gaza Strip, the “resistance” would “set Israel on fire and the sirens would wail in [the Tel Aviv region] for six months.” He also said that if necessary waves of rockets would hit Tel Aviv. He said that the same number of rockets that hit Tel Aviv throughout the last war [Operation Protective Edge] would hit it again within five minutes (Arabi 21, August 29, 2018).
- Regarding Hamas’ military capabilities, Yahya al-Sinwar said that since Operation Protective Edge Hamas had improved its military capabilities, including the scope of its tunnels. He also said the precision of its rockets and mortar shells had been improved, and their warheads had been enlarged. He added that the Iron Dome aerial defense system had failed and caused Israel great damage (al-Watania, August 29, 2018).
- Yahya al-Sinwar also revealed that he had been the victim of an attempted assassination two weeks after the beginning of the reconciliation talks in Gaza. He claimed an IED had been detonated to kill him to keep reconciliation efforts from succeeding (PNN, August 30, 2018).
Summer camps end for PIJ recruits
- On August 31, 2018, the summer camps of the recruitment unit of the PIJ’s military wing ended. The camps, named majd (“honor” in Arabic), had about 5,000 young participants. The organizers said the camps were meant for Gazans between the ages of 18 and 22 who were interested in joining the PIJ’s military wing. According to the organizers, the campers underwent military training at sea and on land, had physical fitness training, and were trained in intelligence and given religious instruction (Paltoday YouTube channel, September 1, 2018).
- Senior PIJ figures attended the final ceremony, among them Ahmed al-Mudallal. He gave a speech in which he said that the camps’ final ceremony was meant to tell the Palestinian people that the Jerusalem Battalions would defend them and not sit idly by as long as the “Israeli occupation” continued (Paltoday, September 1, 2018).
Right: The graduation ceremony of the PIJ’s majd summer camps. Left: Ahmed al-Mudallal, senior PIJ figure in the Gaza Strip, interviewed during the ceremony (Paltoday YouTube channel, September 1, 2018).
Palestinians enraged by the measures taken by President Trump
- On September 1, 2018, the American administration said that it had decided to stop its funding for UNRWA. The statement came after the United States had announced in January that it was freezing $65 million of the funding it gave to the agency every year. Until then the United States had provided $350 million, one third of the UNRWA budget.
- The statement was strongly condemned by the PA. The PA said it was considering appealing to the UN General Assembly and Security Council. The Palestinian leadership represented the American decision as an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian cause and the “right of return.” Some of the Palestinian responses were the following:
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said the United States did not have the right to abolish UNRWA, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949. He claimed the American decision was a violation of international law. He also said that UNRWA was not an institution that belonged to the PA, and that the international community had to strongly condemn the American decision and to provide for UNRWA’s needs so that it could continue to care for the Palestinian refugees (Wafa, September 1, 2018).
- Riyadh al-Maliki, the PA’s foreign minister, said that as opposed to the hopes of the president of the United States, the American decision would not lead to the disbanding of UNRWA. That was because the decision would cause many countries to respond strongly to “Trump’s thuggish policies,” and act to protect the agency (Wafa, August 1, 2018).
- Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said that the American decision was part of deliberate policy to harm the Palestinian people. He said PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership were examining an appeal to the UN General Assembly and Security Council to cope with the American decision. Nabil Abu Rudeina said Mahmoud Abbas’ upcoming speech in the General Assembly would also relate to the issue of the refugees (Wafa, September 1, 2018).
- Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh said that the American president had declared war on the Palestinian people in the two most important issues, the refugees and Jerusalem (Dunia al-Watan, September 1, 2018).
- Hamas strongly condemned the American announcement: Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri called for the countries of the world to fight “American tyranny.” He claimed that the objective behind the American decision was to abolish the “right of return.” He called it a serious escalation of the conduct of the United States against the Palestinian people, saying it reflected the deeply rooted Zionist element of the American leadership, which had made it the enemy of the Palestinian people (Sami Abu Zuhri’s Twitter account, August 31, 2018). Husam Badran, a member of Hamas’ political bureau and head of the office of international relations, stressed Hamas’ adherence to the “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees to their occupied lands. He said the “right” was deep within the heart of every Palestinian. He called on the human rights institutions around the glove to stand up to “American arrogance,” which had violated all international conventions and laws (Hamas website, September 1, 2018).
Right: Trump as a tool in the hands of Israel (the Star of David on the sleeve of the man holding the pencil) as the eraser wiping UNRWA off the board (Felesteen, September 2, 2018). Left: The “key of the Palestinian return” strikes Trump after his decision to cut funding to UNRWA (Palinfo Twitter account, September 2, 2018).
Boats again set sail from the Gaza port towards the north
- On September 2, 2018, for the sixth time the so-called National Authority for Breaking the Siege of the Gaza Strip sent boats sailing from the fishing port to the northern Gaza Strip (the maritime border with Israel). About 50 boats participated in the sea voyage, with Palestinian fishermen, students and wounded individuals aboard. The IDF fired warning shots and the boats returned to the Gaza Strip. In the meantime, Gazans held a demonstration on the northern border (Shabakat Quds Twitter account, September 2, 2018).
- Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of Supreme National Authority of the Return March and a senior DFLP figure, said at a press conference that the naval activity was part of the Palestinians’ struggle to realize their demands, and that the National Authority had decided to deal with the maritime buffer zone exactly as it was leading with the buffer zone along the Gaza Strip’s eastern border. He said the activity on land and at sea would continue until the “siege” was lifted (Ma’an, September 2, 2018)
The boats sailing towards Gaza’s northern border (Twitter accounts of Palinfo and Palestine Online, September 2, 2018).
[*] Due to the Rosh HaShana holiday, the next News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict will appear on September 16, 2018. We wish all our readers a very happy New Year
 The statistics do not include rockets that fell inside the Gaza Strip. ↑
 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. ↑
 Nashat Karmi was a Hamas terrorist operative who on August 31, 2010, carried out a shooting attack at the Bani Naim Junction, killing four people. He was killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli security forces about two months later. ↑