Operatives of Hamas security forces secure and direct Palestinians arriving at the demonstrations (website of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, December 6, 2019).
Palestinian demonstrators in the eastern part of Gaza City (Facebook page of the Malka return camp, December 6, 2019).
Senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya interviewed by the Lebanese al-Akhbar TV channel (December 5, 2018).
Khalil al-Haya interviewed by Paltoday TV (YouTube, December 4, 2019).
Senior Hamas figures at a reception held for Isma'il Haniyeh upon his arrival in Istanbul (Twitter account of Palestine Live, December 8, 2019).
Senior Hamas figures at a reception held for Isma'il Haniyeh upon his arrival in Istanbul (Twitter account of Palestine Live, December 8, 2019).
Hamad al-Raqab holds a press conference (Palestine Online, December 8, 2019).
Palestinians burn tires in the Old City of Hebron during a clash with IDF forces (QudsN Facebook page, December 9, 2019).
Tayseer Abu Sneineh, mayor of Hebron (right) and Husam Abu Alrub, deputy PA minister of endowments, at a press conference in Hebron (Wafa, December 5, 2019).
- On December 6, 2019, the return march was renewed after a hiatus of three weeks. About 4,200 Palestinians participated. Despite the presence of Hamas security operatives, routine demonstrations of violence continued near the border (throwing IEDs and Molotov cocktails and shooting firecrackers).
- On December 7, 2019, three rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. In response the IDF attacked Hamas targets. In the weeks since the most recent escalation there have been four rocket fire attacks in which seven rockets were fired at Israel. No organization claimed responsibility for the rocket fire, but rogue organizations were responsible and not Hamas. No casualties or damage were reported but the continued rocket fire disrupts the daily lives of the residents of southern Israel, mainly in the communities near the Gaza Strip.
- This past week a senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) delegation arrived in Egypt to discuss a lull arrangement. Egyptian sources reported that a long-term lull is being formulated. However, senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya, interviewed by various media outlets, said that the reports about a long-term understanding that would lead to ending the “resistance activities” were incorrect. He said any understanding had to be based on those reached after Operation Protective Edge, and would ease the “siege” of the Gaza Strip without tying Hamas’ hands.
- On December 9, 2019, Fatah called a general strike in the Hebron district to protest Israel’s plan to build in the city’s wholesale market. The strike, enforced by Fatah operatives, was complete and included educational institutions and businesses. In the meantime, senior Fatah and Palestinian Authority (PA) figures continue to strongly criticize the Israeli plan to build in Hebron, threatening to cancel all Palestinian agreements with Israel and the United States.
The return march of December 6, 2019
- The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March called on Palestinians to participate in the December 13, 2019 return march, whose theme will be “Palestine unites us, and Jerusalem is our capital.” The theme was chosen as a reminder of Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel and as a sign of resistance to the existence of the “cancerous entity” [i.e., Israel] on any Palestinian land (Amad, December 6, 2019).
Contacts in Egypt for a lull
- On December 2, 2019, delegations of senior figures from Hamas and the PIJ arrived in Egypt: the Hamas delegation was headed by Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau; and the PIJ delegation was headed by Ziyad al-Nakhalah, PIJ leader. Egyptian and Palestinian sources revealed that senior figures of the organizations’ military wings had also arrived in Egypt. The deliberations related to understandings with Israel, and the need to establish the lull and end the rocket fire (al-Quds, December 4, 2019). “Egyptian sources” reported that an outline was currently being formulated for a long-term lull (al-Araby al-Jadeed, December 4, 2019).
- Following the discussions in Cairo, senior Hamas figure Khalil al-Haya was interviewed by the media and related to reports in the media about a long-term lull agreement with Israel whose details were under discussion. His main points were the following:
- “The talk about a lull for ten years or ending the activities of the resistance against the enemy is incorrect.” Hamas, he said, is a “resistance movement” and the forms of the “resistance” [i.e., terrorist activity] may change from time to time, but Hamas “will not stop resisting the enemy.” Isma’il Haniyeh, he said, was in Egypt with the objective of reaching an agreement “for a lull that will not tie the hands of the resistance, and certainly one that will not prevent it from responding to all forms of aggression.” On every quiet day in the Gaza Strip, he said, the resistance grows stronger. He said that “we will not come to any table for negotiations with the occupation about a long-term understanding…” (interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar, December 5, 2019).
- During another interview, al-Haya said the reports about Egyptian negotiations to reach a long-term understanding are rumors spread by Israel and the PA. “Hamas does not pay much attention to them.” All Hamas desires, he claimed, is the implementation of the understandings reached after Operation Protective Edge and to ease the siege on the Palestinian people. If the siege is not eased there will definitely be a confrontation and explosion, for which, he said, Israel will be responsible. Al-Haya said that it is unacceptable for two million Palestinians to remain imprisoned in the large jail known as the Gaza Strip. According to al-Haya they are without food and hungry, they have no medicines, work, freedom, movement and no horizon. Those who imposed the siege have to lift it. Hamas, he said, negotiates while fighting and confronting the “Israeli occupation” (Paltoday TV, December 3, 2019).
Khalil al-Haya interviewed by Paltoday TV
(YouTube, December 4, 2019).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- On the evening of December 7, 2019, three rockets were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. They were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. In response, the IDF attacked terrorist targets, including a Hamas military base with storehouses, offices and observation posts. A military post of Hamas’ naval force in the northern Gaza Strip was destroyed in an attack (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, December 7, 2019).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Rockets fired into Israel since the end of the recent round of escalation in the Gaza Strip
- The following were the rockets fired since November 17 include the following:
- December 7, 2019: Three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. They were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.
- November 29, 2019: Rocket fire into Israeli territory was identified. The rocket fell in an open area.
- November 26, 2019: Rockets were fired at the communities near the Gaza Strip. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome. The other fell in an open area.
- November 25, 2019: A rocket was fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. It fell in an open area. No casualties or damage were reported.
Other events on the ground
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets (mainly vehicles). Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and seizing military grade and improvised weapons, and funds intended for financing terrorism.
- The more prominent events were the following:
- December 9, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near the village of Luban al-Sharqia (northeast of Ramallah). No casualties were reported. In addition, stones were thrown at an Israeli bus near the al-Aroub refugee camp (north of Hebron). No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, December 9, 2019).
- December 8, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near the village on Sinjil (northeast of Ramallah), damaging the front windshield. In addition, stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle in Mt. Hebron, damaging the front windshield (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, December 8, 2019).
- December 8, 2019 – During the morning the Israeli security forces detained a young Palestinian girl near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. She took out a knife in the presence of the Israeli security forces and said she “wanted to be a shaheeda [female shaheed]” (Israel Police Force, December 8, 2019). The Palestinian media reported she was Afnan Abu Sneineh, 14 years old, from Hebron (QudsN Facebook page, December 8, 2019).
- December 8, 2019 – A Palestinian holding a knife was detained near the Cave of the Patriarchs (Israel Police Force, December 8, 2019).
- December 5, 2019 – The Israeli security forces seized a lathe used in the manufacture of weapons in the town of Dhahiriya (southwest of Hebron) (IDF spokesman, December 5, 2019).
Lathe seized in the town of Dhahiriya (southwest of Hebron) during an Israeli security force activity (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, December 5, 2019).
- December 5, 2019 – During Israeli security force searches in Bayt Umar (north of Hebron) an improvised Carlo machine gun was seized (IDF spokesman, December 5, 2019).
Illegal weapon seized during an Israeli security forces’ activity in Bayt Umar
(IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, December 5, 2019).
- December 4, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an IDF post at the al-Fawar Junction (southwest of Hebron). In addition, a paint bottle was thrown at an Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, December 4, 2019). An Israel vehicle was damaged by stones thrown by Palestinians at the Adoraim Junction (south of Hebron) (Mt. Hebron spokesman’s unit, December 4, 2019).
Israeli vehicle damaged by stones thrown by Palestinians at the Adoraim Junction (south of Hebron) (Mt. Hebron spokesman’s unit, December 4, 2019).
- December 3, 2019 – Two Molotov cocktails were thrown on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near the al-Aroub refugee camp. In addition, two Molotov cocktails were thrown on the Tunnel Road. In both instances no casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, December 3, 2019).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017
Detention of ISIS operatives planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Jerusalem
- On October 28, 2019, two Palestinians from Jebel Mukaber (east Jerusalem) were detained on suspicion of having joined ISIS. The indictment handed down revealed their main activities (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, December 5, 2019):
- Between 2016 and 2019 the two surfed Internet websites dealing with ISIS’s military, religious and political activities. They looked at instruction manuals for the manufacture of explosives and rockets.
- In June 2019 one of them tried to join ISIS operatives in the Sinai Peninsula, but the Jordanian border police prevented him from crossing the border.
- In September 2019 the two talked about the possibility of carrying out a mass-killing attack in the name of ISIS. Among the possible attacks they talked about were a shooting attack during a mass event in the Jerusalem city hall square and an attack at the Sultan’s Pool during the Independence Day festivities. To carry out the attacks they talked about the possibility of acquiring weapons and planned a stabbing attack in case they could not get guns.
- One of them raised 2,000 shekels (about $570) which he transferred to ISIS through a middleman.
Isma’il Haniyeh’s first round of visits to countries outside the Gaza Strip
- On December 8, 2019, Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, arrived in Turkey from Egypt (Hamas website, December 8, 2018). That began a round of visits abroad after he had received permission from Egypt, the first time since he was appointed to head Hamas’ political bureau (2017). The round of visits will last a number of months, possibly even half a year. He will visit Turkey, Malaysia and Qatar. It was also reported that arrangements were being made for visits to other countries (al-Andalou News, December 7, 2019; Arabi21, December 6, 2019). According to Hamas sources, Haniyeh will also visit Russia, but not Iran (al-Khalij Online, December 7, 2019).
Hamas prepares to mark its 32nd anniversary
- At a press conference held on December 8, 2019, in front of the house of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, Hamas declared the beginning of the activities to mark its 32nd anniversary. Senior Hamas figure Hamad al-Raqab said the activities would be held in the Gaza Strip and abroad, and with the slogan of “the path of jihad and the Palestinian resistance” (Palestine Online, December 8, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that this year a central rally would not be held because of the internal Gaza Strip and regional situations, but that local activities would be held and announced later (Filastin al-A’an, December 8, 2019). Muhammad al-Turq, in charge of Hamas’ mechanism for public activities, said the activities would begin on December 13. He said Hamas had decided to hold marches in the Gaza Strip districts and to launch an electronic campaign on the social networks. In addition, there will be volunteer activities of movement activists, such as blood donation drives and organized activities to clean the main streets (Palestine Online, December 7, 2019).
Right: Hamad al-Raqab holds a press conference (Palestine Online, December 8, 2019). Left: The logo marking the 32nd anniversary of Hamas’ founding. The inscription on the rocket reads, “Joint [operations] room,” and below it, the motto, “With the blade of a sword…we shattered the lie” (Paldf forum, December 8, 2019).
Ongoing disputes over the American hospital
- The PA and Fatah continue to strongly object to the construction of an American hospital in the northern Gaza Strip by the American Friend Ships NGO. At a meeting of the PLO’s Executive Committee Mahmoud Abbas stated that the PA would not allow the construction of the American hospital in the Gaza Strip (Wafa, December 6, 2019). In response, senior Hamas figures made it clear that Hamas welcomed humanitarian services given without recompense, but the hospital would have to stop its activity and leave the Gaza Strip if it turned out that it harmed the national and security interests of the Palestinians (Hamas website, December 3, 2019; Palestine Online, December 5, 2019). In the meantime, on December 4, 2019, more equipment for the hospital entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, December 4, 2019).
Protest against the American hospital under construction near the Erez Crossing. Mahmoud Abbas prepares to deliver a karate chop to a woman holding a referral for medical treatment in Israel. He says, “Referrals [to Israel] are forbidden and the [American] hospital goes against the national interest. Go back to Gaza to die” (Palinfo Twitter account, December 7, 2018).
- At the beginning of the weekly PA government meeting in Ramallah on December 9, 2019, Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced that the PA was working with the Turks to activate the Turkish-built hospital as quickly as possible. The hospital was built in recent years but is not yet operational (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, December 9, 2019). The PA appeal to the Turks may be a sign of defiance against Hamas, given the dispute over the American hospital. The head of the Turkish TIKA agency reported that during December the Turkish parliament was expected to authority the budget necessary to operate the hospital in the Gaza Strip (QudsN website, December 8, 2019).
Right: The Turkish hospital in Gaza, built in recent years but not yet operational (QudsN website, December 8, 2019). Left: More equipment arrives through the Kerem Shalom Crossing for the American hospital (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, December 4, 2019).
- Mazen Ghaneim, chairman of the Palestinian water authority, reported that the sewage purification plant in Khan Yunis was being operated on a trial basis. He said its operation was being funded with $55 million from the Qatar Fund for Development and the Japanese government (Wafa, December 4, 2019).
- In Deir al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip a water desalination plant opened. Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the peace process in the Middle East, participated at the opening ceremony. He said that during the past five years the construction of three desalination plants had begun at the same time. He said that at peak activity the plant would provide drinking water for 35,000 people and that efforts were currently being made so that by 2021 it would be able to supply drinking water for a million people (Sawa, December 4, 2019).
Terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip boast of their capabilities to collect intelligence
- The National Resistance Battalions, the military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, issued a video on December 8 entitled “On Guard.” The video shows the activities of the communications unit, the unit for intelligence collection and surveillance, and the military information unit. According to the video, the intelligence gathering and surveillance unit monitors the activities of the IDF on land, in the air and at sea, and is developing a bank of military targets. In addition, the intelligence collection unit will aid in directing direct and indirect fire on the battlefield (YouTube channel of the National Resistance Battalions, December 8, 2019).
PA and Fatah protests against Israel’s plan to build in the Hebron wholesale market
- On December 9, 2019, Fatah announced a full general strike in the Hebron district to protest Israel’s plan to build in the Hebron wholesale market. The strike included commerce, educational institutions, local authorities and government offices. In several locations Fatah operatives were obliged to enforce the strike by closing businesses. The strike protested Israel’s plan to build in Hebron and its razing of buildings throughout the district. There were clashes with IDF soldiers and riots in the Old City of Hebron, which included Palestinians’ throwing stones and burning tires (Wafa, QudsN Facebook page, December 9, 2019).
Right: The general strike in Hebron to protest Israel’s activity (Wafa, December 9, 2019). Left: Masked Fatah operatives enforce the general strike in Hebron (QudsN Facebook page, December 9, 2019).
- In the meantime, senior PA and Fatah figures continue making strong critical statements about the proposed building plan:
- On December 6, 2019, Mahmoud Abbas met with the PLO’s Executive Committee in his office in Ramallah. He spoke about Israel’s plan to build in the wholesale market in Hebron. He said that if the plans were put into practice, all the Palestinians’ relations with Israel and the United States, everything written and agreed to, would be cancelled (Wafa, December 6, 2019).
- On December 5, 2019, Tayseer Abu Sneineh, the mayor of Hebron, and Husam Abu Alrub, the PA deputy minister of endowments, held a press conference where they warned of the consequences of Israel’s plans to build at the Cave of the Patriarchs and in the Old City of Hebron. Abu Sneineh said that the Israeli plan was a “declaration of war” against the Palestinians. Husam Abu Alrub said that in accordance with instructions from Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian prime minister, all measures are to be used to defend the area. He called on the Palestinian public to go out en masse to the Cave of the Patriarchs (Wafa, December 5, 2019).
- Hussein al-Sheikh, minister of civilian affairs and a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, warned of an “explosion” in the wake of the Israeli minister of defense’s decision to construct a Jewish neighborhood in Hebron, and called for a confrontation of a “different kind” (Hussein al-Sheikh’s Twitter account, December 4, 2019).
Israel issues order forbidding the activity of the PA’s “governor of Jerusalem”
- The Israeli media reported that Gilad Erdan, minister of internal security, issued an order forbidding the activity of Adnan Ghaith, called by the PA the “governor of Jerusalem” (personally appointed to the position by Mahmoud Abbas). Ghaith was brought to the Jerusalem district police station where he was presented with an order limiting his activity. It set a precedent directed at an individual because of his position and actions in the name of the PA in Israeli territory, and forbid him to conduct any activity for or funded by the PA (Ynet, December 9, 2019).
- The Palestinian media reported that the order forbids Ghaith from collecting or distributing money, holding meetings with organizations or holding meetings or conferences in Jerusalem. The order is valid for six months (official Fatah Facebook page, December 10, 2019).
- Adnan Adel Tawfiq Ghaith lives in Silwan in east Jerusalem and is a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council. Since his appointment to the position, he has been detained a number of times by the Israeli police and interrogated about his involvement in holding various events and funding various projects in Jerusalem, some of which were vetoed by the Israeli minister of internal security. He was also interrogated for his involvement in the affair of real estate broker Issam Aqel, who held dual Israeli and American citizenship. Aqel was abducted by the PA and held in detention illegally for a long time. He was finally released after American intervention.
Adnan Ghaith, the PA-appointed “governor of Jerusalem”
(Adnan Ghaith’s Facebook page, December 10, 2018)
 On the night of November 16, 2019, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. Apparently they were fired by Hamas operatives, who refrained from firing rockets as Israel during the recent escalation. The incident was a way of having the last word and therefore is not included in the above statistics. ↑
 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. ↑