Setting the Israeli flag on fire in Hebron (Palinfo Twitter account, December 22, 2017).
Riot at the Qalandia crossing (Wafa, December 20, 2017).
Yahya al-Sinwar at a meeting with young Gazans (Palinfo, December 21, 2017).
Kindergarten children "overcome Israeli security forces" on the Temple Mount, take their weapons and kill them (Facebook page of the al-Hada kindergarten, December 19, 2017).
Cartoons in the Palestinian media after the UN vote (Palinfo Twitter account, December 22 and 23, 2017).
Hamas notice calling for the intifada to continue. The Arabic reads, "the intifada continues" (Palinfo Twitter account, December 23, 2017).
- This past week riots and demonstrations continued following Trump’s declaration and the emergency vote held in the UN General Assembly. While there was a slight decrease in the number of participants (over the weekend, about 3,000 at a number of sites in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, and about 4,000 in various locations in the Gaza Strip). However, the Palestinian protests which began after the declaration have not ended.
- This past week rocket fire from the Gaza Strip stopped, while in Judea and Samaria there was an attempted stabbing attack. Hamas’ efforts to channel Palestinian anger into a new intifada have so far failed (because, among other reasons, the Israel Security Agency prevented terrorist attacks).
- In the international arena, the Palestinians perceived the vote in the UN as a great achievement. They intend to continue intense political activity, including joining international organizations and an appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, warned the IDF not to harm Palestinian rioters, and threatened to “strike the head” of any Israeli soldier who shot at a Palestinian. He also claimed that Hamas’ military wing was in contact with Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Corps Qods Force, and that all of Iran’s military resources were at the disposal of Hamas to defend Jerusalem.
Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Terrorist Attacks
- On December 20, 2017 there was an attempted stabbing attack: a Palestinian went to the checkpoint near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. He aroused the suspicion of the Israeli security forces and was asked to pass through a metal detector, which revealed a metallic object in his pocket. He refused to remove it, took out a knife and threatened the soldiers. Israeli security force operatives detained him. According to the initial investigation, he was 20 years old, lived in Dahariya and went to the checkpoint to carry out a stabbing attack (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, December 20 2017).
Foiling of terrorist attacks
- Nadav Argaman, head of the Israel Security Agency, told a meeting of the Knesset foreign relations and defense committee that during the past year there has been a decrease in terrorist attacks. That was apparently because of the increase in the number of attacks foiled. Among the terrorist attacks prevented were (Haaretz, December 24, 2017):
- Eight abductions, 13 suicide bombing attacks, 94 “self-sacrifice” attacks (stabbing or vehicular attacks). In addition, 228 shooting attacks were prevented, and 50 attacks involving IEDs.
- The Israeli security forces took action against 1,100 potential lone wolf terrorists. In most instances they were Palestinians who posted suspicious notices on the social networks or held suspicious conversations recorded by the Israeli security forces indicating an intention to carry out a terrorist attack. Only 20 of them were detained. Some of the suspects were turned over to the Palestinian security forces for further action. Argaman warned that Hamas would attempt to carry out terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. He said the Palestinian arena in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip was unstable. He added that the current calm was misleading because beneath the surface Palestinian territories were simmering.
Riots, clashes and popular terrorism
- This past week protest demonstrations and riots continued in Judea, Samaria, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the wake of Trump’s declaration that the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As in previous weeks, the events peaked after the Friday prayers. To enable as many Palestinians as possible to participate, work stopped early in Palestinian governmental offices and the school day was cut short in some of the educational institutions (website of Ajel from Palestine, December 19, 2017). The head of public transportation in Ramallah and al-Bireh said there would be free transportation to the protest at the Qalandia crossing (Paldf, December 19, 2017). Senior Fatah figures participated in some of the events.
- After the Friday prayers on December 22, 2017, riots broke out in many locations in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem. The riots were held in Bethlehem near the Tomb of Rachel, Hebron, the entrance to the al-Aroub refugee camp, the traffic circle northeast of Ramallah, Nabi Saleh and Bayt Ummar. There were also riots in a number of locations in east Jerusalem. According to reports, about 3,000 Palestinians participated in the riots in Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem, fewer than in recent weeks.
- In the Gaza Strip about 4,000 Palestinians demonstrated and rioted on Friday at various locations along the Gaza Strip. Protest marches were held in Beit Lahia, Jabalia, al-Nuseirat, Deir al-Balah and Rafah. Two Palestinians were killed near the border, one in Jabalia and the other, apparently a Fatah operative, east of Gaza City (al-Anadolu News, Facebook page of the spokesman of the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, December 22, 2017). The ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that two demonstrators injured in previous riots had died. One of them was apparently a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative (alresalah.net, December 23, 2017). A number of Palestinians were reported injured.
Right: Palestinians riot against IDF soldiers near the border security fence east of Khan Yunis (Palinfo Twitter account, December 22, 2017). Left: Palestinian children burn Israeli and American flags at a demonstration organized by the PIJ in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City (Paltoday, December 19, 2017).
- This past week Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israel military and civilian targets. The Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and seizing weapons and a lathe used in the manufacture of weapons. The more prominent events were the following:
- December 26, 2017 – During an Israeli security force activity in the al-Aida refugee camp (north of Bethlehem) Palestinians threw cinder blocks at the forces. No casualties were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 26, 2017).
- December 22, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli bus and three other vehicles about half a kilometer (3/10 of a mile) east of Ariel. One man was wounded in the head. His vehicle was damaged. (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 22, 2017).
- December 21, 2017 – Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle near Tekoa (west of Bethlehem). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 21, 2017).
- December 21, 2017 – Two Molotov cocktails were thrown on the road near Ma’aleh Adumim. There were no casualties and no damage was reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 21, 2017).
- December 21, 2017 – Dozens of Palestinians threw stones at Israeli security forces in al-Aroub (Gush Etzion). One IDF soldier incurred minor injuries and received medical treatment at the site (Facebook page of Red Alert, December 21, 2017).
Significant terrorist attacks during the past two years 
Additional information revealed about the murder of the IDF soldier in Arad
- According to the interrogation of Khaled Abu Jawda, one of suspects accused of murdering an IDF soldier in the southern city of Arad, he identified with the terrorist organizations and held extremist ideas. The murder was committed in revenge for IDF activity in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. The initial plan was to abduct an IDF soldier to promote the release of Palestinian prisoners. Abu Jawda planned to use a sedative he stole from his job at the Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. He then changed his mind and decided to murder a soldier and steal his weapon for use in future attacks. He acquired a car which he used to escape. He also hid money he was planning to use in his hiding place after the murder.
- In October and November Khaled Abu Jawda and Zahi Abu Jawda, his accomplice, toured the region around Arad. Both of them were armed with knives. Riding around in Arad on November 30, 2017, they came upon a soldier. They stabbed him to death and stole his weapon. After the murder he met Zahi and they hid the weapon. Later the weapon was turned over during the interrogation (Israel Security Agency communications unit, December 22, 2017)
Rocket Fire Attacking Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. A mortar shell was fired at Israel on December 21, 2017, hitting a house in the Absan neighborhood of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip.
- “Sources close to Hamas” reported that on December 18, 2017, operatives from Egyptian General Intelligence contacted Hamas and asked them to prevent small organizations from firing rockets at Israel. The Egyptians claimed it exerted pressure on the Israeli government, which could lead to the outbreak of another war. According to the sources, Hamas replied that it was not responsible for the Gaza Strip because authority had been transferred to the Palestinian national consensus government (al-Akhbar, December 19, 2017).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket Hits in Israel since January 2016
Six of the rockets fired in February 2017 were launched from the Sinai Peninsula at Israeli territory, apparently by ISIS’s Sinai Province. In April a rocket was launched from the Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province. In October 2017 two rockets were fired from the northern Sinai Peninsula by ISIS’s Sinai Province. They fell in an open area in the western Negev.
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
The transfer of authority to the national consensus government
- The internal Palestinian reconciliation process remains stalled. Employees in the Gaza Strip held a rally in front of government headquarters in Gaza City to protest the government’s disregard for their rights (al-Aqsa, December 21, 2017). Khalil al-Ziyan, spokesman for workers’ union, called on the government to pay workers’ salaries and fulfill its commitments. He said the workers would not waive their rights, and called on Mahmoud Abbas and Rami Hamdallah to find a solution (al-Aqsa TV, December 25, 2017). Members of the medical services union held a protest rally and demanded the national consensus government lift the sanctions on the Gaza Strip. They said the government would be held responsible for every future medical and humanitarian crisis (al-Aqsa, December 21, 2017).
- Senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya said the continuation of the reconciliation agreement depended on finding a way to pay the salaries of Hamas employees. He said Hamas would not recognize decisions made by the administrative judicial committee established by the national consensus government, and that Hamas was not prepared to back down on the issue of the workers in the Gaza Strip. He said that as long as there was no solution for the problem there would be no solution for the problems of the government’s functioning and the reconciliation. He claimed that Egypt continued to negotiate the process and had also met with senior Hamas figures, but, he said, no date had yet been set for another meeting between Hamas and Fatah in Egypt (Filastin al-A’an, December 25, 2017).
Hamas cartoon accusing Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah of
discriminating between workers in the Gaza Strip and PA workers
Palinfo Twitter account, December 19, 2017).
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, met with representatives of the civilian social institutions in the Gaza Strip. He told them that Hamas would not take control of the Gaza Strip again and would not manage it. He said Hamas’ decision in the matter had been strategic and Hamas would not change its mind. He said the schism had harmed Hamas as a “resistance” movement, harmed the Palestinian people and the national liberation project, and therefore the schism had to end. He claimed Hamas had made every possible concession and was prepared to continue on the path towards reconciliation (Watan, December 20, 2017).
- During a meeting with young Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, he warned of the collapse of the reconciliation process and said he wanted it to succeed. He appealed to the young Gazans and suggested they form a committee to monitor the reconciliation process, saying Hamas would provide them with all its documents and assistance (Safa, December 21, 2017).
The humanitarian situation
- The Rafah crossing closed after having been open for four days for the passage of civilians in both directions and the entrance of trucks delivering fuel. The civilian traffic was relatively light. During the four days the crossing was open about 2,500 Gazans left and about 1,000 entered. According to reports, the crossing was operated by the PA, which received control over it as part of the reconciliation, and the Hamas security forces participated in securing, guarding and preserving order (al-Watan, December 19, 2017).
Right: A bus leaves the Rafah crossing. Left: A Hamas security operative keeps order near the passenger terminal in Khan Yunis before travelers reach the Rafah crossing (Facebook page of News of the Rafah crossing, December 18, 2017)
- Muhammad Thabet, spokesman for the electric company in the Gaza Strip, said that electricity was currently being supplied in cycles of four hours with power and 12 without. He said 129 megawatts were provided on a daily basis from the Egyptian power lines and the power plant in the Gaza Strip. He said the Gaza Strip needed between 550 and 600 megawatts a day, with the result that the daily deficit was about 400 megawatts (Dunia al-Watan, December 22, 2017).
Humanitarian aid from Qatar for the Gaza Strip
- At a ceremony held in the in Khan Yunis for the Qatar National Day, Muhammad al-Amadi, chairman of the Qatari committee to rebuild the Gaza Strip, said Qatar had allotted 11 million Qatari riyals (more than $3 million) for the support of the residents of the Gaza Strip. He said the funds would go to health, education and humanitarian programs. Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, who participated in the ceremony, said Qatar was standing beside the Gaza Strip in support at a time when many others had turned their backs on it. He said Hamas would stand beside Qatar. He called for the establishment of a fund for the support of Jerusalem and defense of al-Aqsa mosque, as Qatar had proposed at the Arab summit (Hamas movement website, December 19, 2017).
The ceremony for Qatar National Day held with the participation of Isma’il Haniyeh (Facebook page of the Qatari committee for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, December 19, 2017)
Statements made by Yahya al-Sinwar to young Gazans
- Since Yahya al-Sinwar was elected to the position of head of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, he has often met with young Gazans. At a meeting held on December 21, 2017, he spoke about a number of current issues and answered questions from the audience.
- He related to a number of issues, including the following (Filastin al-Yawm and Safa, December 21, 2017).
- Clashes with the Israeli security forces along the Gaza Strip border: Yahya al-Sinwar warned the soldiers of the “Israeli occupation” on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip not to harm “demonstrating” Palestinians. He said [Hamas operatives] would “strike the head” of every Israeli sniper who shot at a young Palestinian. Asked why there was no Palestinian force to guard demonstrators, he answered that the question would be reported directed to Muhammad Deif, head of Hamas’ military wing, so that it could be translated into action. He called on all young Palestinians to participate in the demonstrations.
- War with Israel: Hamas, he claimed, was not interested in a war with Israel, unless all other ways to resolve the issue of Jerusalem and the popular intifada fail. Then Hamas will be willing to engage in a military response to Israel.
- Relations with Iran: Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, claimed al-Sinwar, is in contact with Hamas’ military wing. Soleimani said that all Iran’s military resources were at the disposal of Hamas for the defense of Jerusalem. Al-Sinwar also said the Iranians had not imposed any conditions on the “resistance.”
- In a telephone interview Da’ud Shehab, spokesman for the PIJ, claimed Iranian support for the Palestinian people and the “Palestinian resistance” had been especially evident recently. He said Qasem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, was in contact with the leadership of Hamas and the PIJ’s military wings. He claimed Soleimani had told them that Iran was prepared to use all means for the sake of the intifada to defend the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem (al-Mayadeen, December 25, 2017).
Palestinian Islamic Jihad military wing (PIJ) holds exercise
- The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)’s military-terrorist wing, held a broad military exercise called “Dawn of the Eagles 1” to mark the 50th anniversary of the organization’s founding. The exercise was held on the shore of the southern Gaza Strip. Several hundred operatives from various units participated, including rockets, artillery, snipers, infantry, commando and engineering. During the exercise rockets were fired and an attack on an IDF post and jeep was simulated. A new rocket was exhibited for the first time. A spokesman named Abu Jamal said the objective of the exercise was to examine the readiness of the military wing for a confrontation, and to stress objection to the Trump declaration (Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade website and the Facebook page of PFLP’s information unit in the Gaza Strip, December 22 2017).
Right: Simulating an attack on an IDF post and jeep. Left: Preparing to fire a rocket on the shore of the southern Gaza Strip (Facebook page of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade, December 23, 2017).
Displaying a new rocket (Abu Ali Mustafa Brigade website, December 22, 2017).
Incitement to anti-Israeli violence in a kindergarten in the Gaza Strip
- The al-Huda kindergarten in the Gaza Strip, operated by the PIJ-affiliated Dar al-Huda al-Islamiya association in the Gaza Strip, put on a presentation of kindergarten children as “Muslims praying” in al-Aqsa mosque while secured by Israeli security forces. During the presentation the children “overcome” the weapons of the security forces, kill them and then wave a Palestinian flag and signs reading “Jerusalem is ours” (Facebook page of the al-Huda kindergarten, December 19, 2017).
- It was not the first time children in the kindergarten put on presentations encouraging the killing of Israeli civilians and security forces. At an end of the year party in June 2017 kindergarten children put on a presentation in which they simulated elite Palestinian forces (al-nukhba) attacking and killing Orthodox Jews at roadblocks. According to the presentation’s story line, Orthodox Jews had killed a Palestinian and his sister. Similar presentations were held at the end of various school years in the past.
Five ISIS operatives from the Gaza Strip killed in Syria
- Salafist sources in the Gaza Strip reported the deaths of five ISIS operatives from the Gaza Strip who went to Syria in recent years. According to the sources, four of them were killed along with ten other operatives in a coalition attack on an ISIS facility in the region of Deir al-Zor. Another died under different circumstances. Four of them came from Rafah and one from Jabalia (Sahem, December 24, 2017). Sources in the Gaza Strip reported that one of those killed was the brother of Mustafa Kulab, who in August 2017 blew himself up at the border in Rafah and killed an operative of Hamas’ military wing (Paldf, December 24, 2017).
Palestinian reactions to the vote in the UN General Assembly
- As part of its international activity to protest the declaration of Donald Trump of American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at the request of the Palestinians, on December 21, 2017, an emergency session was held in the UN General Assembly to discuss a proposed resolution about Jerusalem. The proposal called for the member states to act on the issue of Jerusalem according to previous General Assembly resolutions which stressed the special status of Jerusalem and rejected the possibility of relocating national embassies to Jerusalem. According to the resolution the future of Jerusalem will be decided as part of the final agreement between the sides. The resolution was passed by a large majority: 128 states voted in favor, nine voted against and 35 abstained. The resolution proposed in the General Assembly was very similar to the one proposed in the Security Council and vetoed by the United States.
The vote in the UN General Assembly and the results (UN website, December 21, 2017).
- The Palestinians regard the UN vote as an impressive achievement. Mahmoud Abbas’ office issued an announcement welcoming the vote and thanking the international community for not surrendering to pressure. Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said the vote again showed the international community’s support for the Palestinians. He added that that PA would continue its efforts in the UN and every other international forum (Wafa, December 21, 2017). Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, thanked the states that had expressed their objection to the Trump declaration. He called the vote “historic” and said it proved Trump’s declaration invalid (Palestinian TV, December 21, 2017).
- Hamas and the PIJ also reacted favorably to the General Assembly vote:
- Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, during a meeting about Jerusalem held in the Gaza Strip, welcomed the results of the vote in the General Assembly and said he was satisfied that most of the states had stood up for “historical justice and truth.” He also said that Jerusalem was united and “not east and not west,” and that it was the eternal capital of Palestine. He claimed the issue of Jerusalem would not be on the negotiating table. He also said that since there was no such thing as the State of Israel, Jerusalem could not be its capital (al-Jazeera, December 23, 2017).
- Senior Hamas figure Musheir al-Masri welcomed the UN vote and said it was a victory for the Palestinian cause. He said the vote had isolated the United States. He called on the Palestinian people to leverage the victory into continuing the intifada to invalidate the declaration of the American president (al-Mayadeen, December 22, 2017).
- PIJ spokesman Da’ud Shehab said they congratulated all the countries that stood against the United States. He said the UN vote was an opportunity to isolate and boycott the “Zionist entity” and to oppose the American takeover of nations in the Middle East (al-Mayadeen, December 21, 2017).
Hamas notice calling for the intifada to continue. The Arabic reads, “the intifada continues” (Palinfo Twitter account, December 23, 2017).
PA activity in the international arena
- In light of its success in the UN General Assembly, the PA is working to promote a series of political measures in local and international arenas. According to Muhammad Ashtia, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, the Palestinian leadership will not be satisfied with appeals to the UN Security Council and General Assembly, but will continue its efforts to recruit international support (Dunia al-Watan, December 23, 2017).
- Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said a meeting would be held of the PLO’s Central Council in Ramallah in the middle of January 2018. It will discuss the possibility of declaring Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip a “Palestinian state under occupation” and would discuss relations with Israel in the future. Representatives from Hamas and the PIJ were also invited to participate in the meeting, but according to Azzam al-Ahmed, they had not yet responded to the invitation (Voice of Palestine, December 24, 2017). In the meantime, according to Azzam al-Ahmed, the Palestinians were pursuing measures in the UN Security Council, the Human Rights Council, joining international organizations and lodging an appeal with the ICC (al-Ghad, December 25, 2017).
- The PA continues to emphasize that the United States cannot play any role in mediating negotiations for peace, and that the Palestinians are looking for replacements. Mahmoud al-‘Alul, deputy head of Fatah, said deliberations were being held with a number of countries to choose a mediating body for the peace process, which would include more than one country (Sawa, December 25, 2017). Nabil Shaath, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas for foreign affairs and international relations, said during a meeting of a Palestinian delegation with Russians and Chinese that a preparatory meeting had to be held to discuss a new path for the peace process. He said Russia had expressed willingness to act with China and European countries to find an international alternative that would oversee a peace process with UN sponsorship (Ma’an, December 24, 2017).
- Senior PA figures met with the heads of several countries. Mahmoud Abbas met with French President Emanuel Macron (Wafa, December 23, 2017), Nabil Shaath met in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (Facebook page of Nabil Shaath’s Admirers, December 21, 2017), Riyad al-Maliki, PA foreign minister, met with the foreign minister of Malta (al-Khabar and Wafa, December 24, 2017).
- Wasel Abu Yusef, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said the Palestinian leadership was formulating specific ways to exploit the “victory” in the UN Security Council and General Assembly (Dunia al-Watan, December 24, 2017). He claimed that in the near future a meeting would be held by 28 European foreign ministers in Brussels (al-Ghad al-Arabi, December 24,2017).
The Danish foreign ministry cuts funding for Palestinian NGOs
- Anders Samuelsen, the Danish foreign minister, announced Denmark would cut funding for a number of Palestinian NGOs and tighten aid criteria for others. According to the announcement, beginning in 2018 the Danish government would continue financial aid for ten of the 24 Palestinian organizations currently receiving support. The decision was made after an internal investigation recently launched by the Danish foreign ministry revealed that the millions of dollars in aid given to the NGOs were not used for humanitarian aid but rather transferred to promote anti-Israeli activities. The investigations was initiated following pressure from the Israeli prime minister and minister for strategic affairs, and following the exposure that an NGO called WATC (Women’s Affairs Technical Committee), which received half a million dollars from the Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Secretariat, to which Denmark belongs, had built a women’s center named for Palestinian terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi (Times of Israel, December 23, 2017).
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip. ↑
 For further information about kindergarten end of the year presentations, see the June 8, 2017 bulletin, "Incitement to Terrorism and Hatred Brainwashing Children with Anti-Israel Hatred and Violence at a Gaza Strip Kindergarten Run by a Charity Association Affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." ↑
 For further information about the center named after Dalal al-Mughrabi, see the August 21, 2017 bulletin, "European countries freeze donations to anti-Israel women’s organization after learning it supported the establishment of a women’s center named after Palestinian terrorist Dalal al-Mughrabi." ↑