Palestinians at the "return camp" in the eastern part of the central Gaza Strip district (Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March Facebook page, December 7, 2018).
Khalil al-Haya at the "return camp" in eastern Gaza City (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, December 7, 2018).
Senior Hamas figures at the "return march" in eastern Jabalia.
Pictures from the scene of the attack (Right: Wafa, December 11, 2018; left: Facebook page of Wa'el Masaeed, December 11, 2018).
Activity of the Israeli security forces to locate the shooters. Right: Israeli forces on the outskirts of Ramallah (QudsN Facebook page, December 10, 2018).
Mohammed al-Emadi and his deputy visit post office branches to make sure the funds are distributed properly (Facebook page of the Qatari Committee, December 7 and 8, 2018).
Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, at the Seventeenth session of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC (PA foreign ministry Facebook page, December 5, 2018).
- Events this past week focused on the shooting attack at the Ofra Junction (northeast of Ramallah). A vehicle carrying two masked terrorists opened fire at a group of civilians standing at a bus stop. Nine people were wounded, two of them critically. IDF forces are searching the Palestinian cities and villages to apprehend the shooters. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has not related to the attack, while Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) praised it
- In addition, this past week there were two vehicular attacks: one at Idhna (northwest of Hebron) and the other in the region of the village of Jiftliq (in the northern Jordan Valley). In the attack near Hebron a Border Policeman was slightly wounded. The driver of the vehicle was shot and killed.
- On Friday, December 4, 2018, the 37th “return march” was held along the Israel-Gaza Strip border. The march was similar to those of previous recent weeks, although there was a certain rise in the level of violence targeting IDF forces (several hand grenades were thrown at the forces and there was an attempt to cross the security fence). The 19th mini-flotilla and its attendant demonstration were held on December 10, 2018.
- Operation Northern Shield continues exposing and neutralizing Hezbollah tunnels that penetrate into Israeli territory from Lebanon. This past week a third tunnel was exposed penetrating into Israeli territory. Hezbollah continues to monitor Israel IDF activity to study the overall situation on the ground and learn Israel’s intentions (an updated bulletin on Operation Northern Shield has been issued separately).
The “return march” of December 7, 2018
- The 37th “return march” was held on December 7, 2018, with the theme “The intifada of rocks,” to mark the 31st anniversary of the first intifada. About 9,000 Palestinians gathered at the five usual sites.
- The march was similar to the marches of recent weeks (after the latest round of escalation). However, during the march there was a certain rise in the level of violence targeting the IDF forces (several hand grenades were thrown at the forces, Palestinians tried to cross the security fence, and a small number of tires were burned).
- The spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that 33 Palestinians had been wounded by IDF fire (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, December 7, 2018). A 62-year-old man died from smoke inhalation (Emad, December 7, 2018). The Supreme National Authority announced that the theme of the December 14, 2018 march would be “Resistance [i.e., terrorism] is a legitimate right” (Dunia al-Watan, December 7, 2018).
Isma’il Haniyeh pays a condolence call to the mourning tent erected for the Palestinian who died from smoke inhalation. The banner says that the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Hamas and its military wing announce the death of military wing operative Ahmed ‘Awad Hassan Abu ‘Awda (al-‘Aweidat) (Palestine Live Facebook page, December 8, 2018).
- As they have every Friday, this past Friday as well senior figures from Hamas and the other organizations participated in the march. Among those who attended were Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau; Ahmed Bahar, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council; and Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ political bureau. Khalil al-Haya was interviewed during the march and said the Palestinian people would continue the “return marches” to restore their rights, and would do everything with all the means at their disposal, including the “resistance” (al-Aqsa, December 7, 2018).
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem claimed “return marches” were a continuation of the first intifada, which brought the Palestinian cause to the attention of the whole world, and they again emphasize the rights of the Palestinians as opposed to the plans to eradicate their cause. He added that the Palestinian struggle would continue until it had achieved all its objectives, the most important of which was the breaking of the “siege” on the Gaza Strip (Hamas website, December 7, 2018).
- On the afternoon of December 10, 2018, the 19th mini-flotilla set sail from the Gaza Strip towards Israel’s southern naval border. There were about 20 mall boats whose slogan was “Resistance for [the sake of] freedom” (al-Aqsa, December 9, 2018). Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, said that 11 Palestinians had been injured during the mini-flotilla (al-Aqsa’s Facebook page, December 10, 2018). The Palestinian Red Crescent reported 32 wounded (Ma’an, December 10, 2018).
- During the event Ahmed al-Mudallal, a senior PIJ figure and a member of the Supreme National Authority, said the Palestinians would break the “siege” with ongoing, uninterrupted participation in the “return marches” and naval activity. He claimed “the children of the stones” had overcome the IDF in 1987, and the “suicide bombing attacks had kept the ‘occupation’ awake at night.” He said the joint operations room had united the Palestinians during the most recent round of escalation, which proved that what always united the Palestinian was the battlefield against Israel (Palinfo, December 10, 2018).
Right: The mini-flotilla (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, December 10, 2018). Left: The demonstration accompanying the mini-flotilla (QudsN Facebook page, December 10, 2018).
- This past week no rockets or mortar shells were launched at Israeli territory.
Rocket and mortar shell fire during and between the recent rounds of escalation
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Shooting attack at the Ofra Junction
- On the evening of December 9, 2018, there was a drive-by shooting at the bus stop at the Ofra Junction (northeast of Ramallah). According to the initial investigation, two masked terrorists drove a Peugeot from Ramallah to the bus stop. The terrorist sitting in the back seat opened fire at the people standing at the stop. The IDF force securing the location shot at the vehicle but it succeeded in driving away. Nine civilians were wounded, two of them critically. IDF forces arrived at the scene of the attack and began searching the villages in the region to find the shooters (IDF spokesman, December 10, 2018)
Pictures from the scene of the attack (Right: Wafa, December 11, 2018; left: Facebook page of Wa’el Masaeed, December 11, 2018).
- The PA did not relate to the attack, but many Palestinians welcomed and praised it. Hamas claimed it showed the right of the Palestinian people to carry out the “resistance” against Israel at a time when Israel and the United States were trying to designate the “resistance” as a crime. Hamas claimed it was expanding the “resistance” in the West Bank and instilling the spirit of “resistance” in the Palestinian people (Hamas website, December 10, 2018). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the attack, saying it sent a message of loyalty to the Palestinian people (Filastin al-Yawm, December 10, 2018).
Hamas cartoon published after the shooting attack in Ofra indicating that the “resistance” can flower in Judea and Samaria in spite of the PA’s security coordination with Israel. The Arabic reads, “The operation in Ofra… Security coordination” (Palinfo Twitter account, December 10, 2018).
- As of December 11, 2018, the Israeli security forces were still searching for terrorists who carried out the attack. They entered a number of cities and villages in the area, including Ramallah. The forces entered the offices of the Wafa News Agency in Ramallah to look for documentation on the terrorists. Dozens of Palestinians threw stones at them (Shabakat Quds Twitter account, December 10, 2018). Palestinians called for the erasure of security camera recordings of the events northeast of Ramallah (Shehab Twitter account, December 10, 2018).
- In view of the Israeli security force activity, Mahmoud Abbas contacted a number of Arab and international figures to stop “the Israeli escalation.” Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, condemned the IDF activity in Ramallah and the “break-in” to the Wafa offices. The PA foreign ministry issued a statement condemning the “raid” of IDF forces in a number of cites, villages and refugee camps in Judea and Samaria, and the “break-in” to the Wafa offices (Wafa, December 10, 2018). No mention whatsoever was made in the condemnations of the deadly shooting attack, which was the reason for the Israeli security force activities.
Two vehicular attacks
- On December 11, 2018, there were two attempts to carry out vehicular attacks against Israeli security forces:
- In Idhna, northwest of Hebron, a Palestinian vehicle trying to escape from Israeli security forces attempted to hit Border Policemen securing an activity of civil administration enforcement. The Palestinian vehicle hit a vehicle belonging to an administration inspector and tried to drive off. As the Palestinian fled, he ran into a Border Policeman, slightly injuring him. The driver was shot and killed by the Border Policemen (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, December 11, 2018). The Palestinian media reported that the driver was Omar Hassan A’wad or Omar Hassan al-‘Awawda, 27, from Idhna (Ma’an and Wafa, December 11, 2018).
Death notice issued by Hamas in the Hebron district for Omar Hassan al-‘Awawda (Twitter account of the Amama website, December 11, 2018).
- In the region of the village of Jiftliq in the northern Jordan Valley, during the demolishing of an illegally-built house, a Palestinian tried to run over the soldiers carrying out the activity. The soldiers shot at him. He was slightly wounded and detained by the security forces (Rescue Without Borders, Judea and Samaria, December 11, 2018). The Palestinian media reported shots were fired at the vehicle of Omar Abd al-Karim Rahahila, the owner of the house, who rushed home from work when he was told his house was being demolished (Ma’an and Wafa, December 11, 2018).
Other events on the ground
- Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and improvised weapons. This past week as well Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles. The IDF military police is investigating the death of a 22- year-old Palestinian man from the refugee camp in Tulkarm who was shot to death during a riot at an IDF activity in the camp (Ynet, December 9, 2018).
- The more prominent events were the following:
- December 9, 2018 – IDF forces guarding Jewish worshippers at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus found a pipe bomb at the site. In addition, there were riots in Nablus where Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israeli security forces; no casualties were reported (Red Alert Facebook page, December 9, 2018).
- December 8, 2018 – A pipe bomb was thrown at Israeli security forces in the village of Azoun. No casualties or damage were reported (Red Alert Facebook page, December 9, 2018).
- December 6, 2018 – Previous information allowed Border Policemen operating in the area around Jerusalem to stop a vehicle in Mishor Adumim carrying a passenger suspected of transferring money to Hamas. A search found tens of thousands of Israeli shekels and dollars hidden in the vehicle. The Palestinian, who came from Bethlehem, was detained (Red Alert Facebook page, December 6, 2018).
- December 5, 2018 – In an Israel security force activity in the village of Samoa (south of Hebron) a homemade gun was seized (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, December 5, 2018).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria during the past year 
- On December 6, 2018, Mohammed al-Emadi, Qatari ambassador to the Palestinian territories entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing. He brought $15 million, the second installment of Qatar’s payment of salaries to officials in the Gaza Strip (Emad, December 6, 2018). The money will pay 50% of the salaries and be distributed through the branches of the post office of the department of motor vehicles in the Gaza Strip (al-Ra’i, December 7, 2018). Mohammed al-Emadi and his deputy visited post office branches to make sure the funds were being distributed properly (Facebook page of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, December 7 and 8, 2018).
- According to reports, the distribution of the funds caused anger because it was unclear how the sum was reached and because less money was received than during the first installment (Filastin al-Yawm, December 8, 2018).
- On December 8, 2018, a ceremony was held during which Mohammed al-Emadi presented vehicles for cleaning the streets to the Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah municipalities. The vehicles are for cleaning the main roads in the Gaza Strip, especially the Salah al-Din and al-Rashid streets, which were repaved with a $407 million grant from the Amir of Qatar, and to clean the streets in the neighborhoods built with funds from Qatar (Facebook page of the Qatari Committee, December 8, 2018).
- Mohammed al-Emadi gave an interview in which he emphasized the positive role Qatar played in supporting the Gaza Strip. He expressed satisfaction with the mechanism for transferring the money, which he said had been approved by Israel, coordinated with Europe and the United States, and was fully transparent. He added that the PA refused to transfer the funds by itself. He explained that Qatar’s support of the Gaza Strip was an Islamic matter and that Qatar was fulfilling its post Operation Protective Edge promise to give the Gaza Strip a billion dollars (Sawa, December 9, 2018).
Right: Mohammed al-Emadi meets with Isma’il Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, December 6, 2018). Left: Cartoon claiming the Israeli prime minister is poisoning the help from Qatar. The Arabic reads, “Poison and honey” (Isma’il al-Bazam’s Facebook page, December 8, 2018).
Other funds for the Gaza Strip
- Mufeed al-Hassayna, the Palestinian minister of housing and public works, said that Kuwait had transferred the sum of $4.5 million for a housing project and the establishment of a maternity hospital within the Shifaa’ hospital complex in the Gaza Strip (Wafa, December 6, 2018).
- The World Bank announced a grant of $23 million from Britain through a foundation of many donors. The funds are for water and energy projects. According to the Bank, the money will develop the infrastructure (Wafa, December 8, 2018).
- The head of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development said that in 2019 Germany would allow $62.5 million for development programs in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. He said the funding for the Gaza Strip would focus mainly on infrastructure (Middle East Monitor, December 9, 2018).
Proposed American UN Resolution to condemn Hamas fails to pass
- On December 6, 2018, a proposed American resolution to condemn Hamas and other terrorist organizations was voted on by the UN General Assembly. The resolution failed to pass because it did not receive the necessary two-thirds vote. The vote was 87 in favor (ten short of the required number), 57 against, with 33 abstentions (UN website, December 7, 2018
- Preventing the resolution from passing was regarded by the PA as a success for its diplomatic efforts to enlist a large number of states to vote against it. Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said the objection of the PLO, together with that of the Arab bloc in the UN, proved the world supported the rights of the Palestinian people and that its leadership, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, could defend the rights of the Palestinian people and foil plans to harm those right (Wafa, December 7, 2018).
The boards showing the results of the vote on the American resolution to condemn Hamas (Twitter account of Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, December 6, 2018).
- Hamas thanked the PA for its efforts to prevent the passage of the resolution. Hamas said the PA sent a message that despite the differences of opinion between the PA and Hamas, it had enlisted for the sake of Hamas. In a telephone interview Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, spoke to Hamas and stressed that the PA had acted out of a sense of duty and did not expect Hamas to thank it (Palestinian TV, December 7, 2018).
Right: A smirking Mahmoud Abbas says, “How could we let the resistance by condemned as a terrorist organization when we fired the first shot?” To his right is a picture of Yasser Arafat (official Fatah Facebook page, December 7, 2018). Left: Hamas cartoon of Trump trying to blow out the “flame of the resistance.” The Arabic reads, “Washington failed to pass a resolution in the UN condemning Hamas” (Felesteen, December 7, 2018).
- Hamas said that the failure of the American administration was a great victory for the Palestinian people and the Arab-Muslim nation (Hamas website, December 7, 2018). Isma’il Haniyeh said the vote was a very important achievement for the Palestinian people and its allies, it stressed the legitimacy of the Palestinian struggle and showed that real terrorism was within the [so-called Israeli] occupation (Shehab, December 7, 2018). Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said the Palestinian people thanked the countries that had voted against the American resolution. He claimed the failure of the resolution to pass stressed the right of the Palestinians to resist the occupation (al-Aqsa, December 7, 2018).
Hamas delegation visits Lebanon
- On December 9, 2018, a Hamas delegation headed by Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of the Hamas political bureau, arrived in Lebanon for a state visit. The members of the delegation met with Michel Aoun, the Lebanese president, and with senior officials. Aoun stressed Lebanon’s solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to restore their land and establish a state with Jerusalem as its capital. The parliamentary Hamas delegation wished “safety for our sister Lebanon in the face of the Zionist plot following the claims of the occupation [i.e., Israel] about finding a tunnel in south Lebanon.” Mahmoud al-Zahar claimed Israel was transferring its internal crisis to south Lebanon (Michel Aoun’s Facebook page, December 10, 2018; the Facebook page of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, December 10, 2018).
PA delegation visits France
- A Palestinian delegation headed by Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the national consensus government, went to France to participate in meetings of the French-Palestinian Committee, attended by Edouard Phillipe, the French prime minister (Dunia al-Watan, December 5, 2018).
- During the visit, Riyad al-Maliki, PA foreign minister, said that France had authorized cooperation with the Palestinians in reviewing the Paris Protocol. He added that the inspection of the Protocol should be redefined and it should be changed in favor of the Palestinians. He claimed that the years of economic collaboration with Israel had harmed Palestinian economic interests. Riyad al-Maliki said Rami Hamdallah had appointed him and Abir Awda, the minister of the national economy, to be directly responsible for cooperation with the French in every aspect of the Protocol and the necessary inspection. He added that required France to contact Israel to understand its responses and see if Israel was willing to cooperate on the issue (Wafa, December 8, 2018).
Palestinian activity in the International Criminal Court in The Hague
- Ahmed Barrak, the Palestinian attorney general, was elected to serve as a member of the consulting committee for appointing judges to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC). It was the first time a representative from the PA was elected to the committee (Wafa, December 6, 2018). Hana Issa, a Palestinian expert in international law, said it was a significant move for the Palestinians, symbolic and important, and reflected the respect Palestine had in the world (Wafa, December 6, 2018).
- During the 17th conference of the members of the ICC the annual report was presented, dealing with the pre-examinations of the Palestinian issue. Despite the fact that the attorney general, Fatou Bensouda, said progress had been made in the pre-examinations, the report did not note any decision to open an investigation. Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, expressed dissatisfaction and asked that an investigation be opened into the Palestinian victims. He said postponing the nomination of an investigating committee meant postponing justice, and that it gave additional immunity to Israel. He also held a meeting with Attorney General Bensouda, which he claimed was to examine various issues, including an appeal the PA lodged about Israel’s [so-called] “war crimes” and the issue of Khan al-Ahmar (website of the Palestinian foreign ministry, December 5, 2018).
 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. ↑
 or further information, see the December 6, 2018 bulletin, "The United States proposed a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip." ↑
 Signed in 1994 and part of the Oslo Accords, the Paris Protocol defines the economic relations between Israel and the PA. The Palestinians have recently been threatening to renege on the agreement. ↑