The Sons of al-Zawari in the northern Gaza Strip launch IED balloons.
IEDs attached to balloon clusters launched by the Sons of al-Zawari in the northern Gaza Strip (Facebook page of Thoar al-Shimal (Zawar al-Shamal), February 6, 2020).
The paper plane and its launchers (Twitter account of newpress, February 6, 2020).
Picture from a post reporting that the Sons of al-Zawari in the northern Gaza Strip launched a UAV with tear gas, entitled "Your merchandise is returning to you" (Facebook page of Zawar al-Shamal, February 6, 2020).
The shooting attack at the entrance to the Lion Gate in Jerusalem (Israel Police Force spokesman's unit, February 6, 2020).
The shooting attack at the entrance to the Lion Gate in Jerusalem (Israel Police Force spokesman's unit, February 6, 2020).
Senior Fatah figures Rawhi Fatouh and Isma'il Jabr arrive in the Gaza Strip (Sama, February 7, 2020).
Ziyad al-Nakhalah meets with the Iranian ambassador (alqudsnews.net, February 10, 2020).
The African Union summit meeting (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, February 9, 2020).
The African Union summit meeting (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, February 9, 2020).
- This past week was characterized by increased violence from the Gaza Strip and an increase in popular terrorism attacks and violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Senior Palestinian Authority figures linked the increase in violence to the Trump plan. Spokesmen for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad welcomed the attacks and riots, and called for an “continuing revolution” and a “popular intifada” in the West Bank. At this stage it is unclear if the rise in violence is a single outbreak or if we are facing the beginning of a trend in the rise of popular terrorism (which has tended to decrease in recent years).
- This past week five rockets and two mortar shells were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. The sporadic rocket fire has continued since the end of the November 2019 escalation (while since the publication of the Trump plan the frequency of rocket fire has increased). In addition, the launching of IED balloons into Israeli territory has increased. In ITIC assessment Hamas does not take effective measures which would put an end to the violence from the Gaza Strip. In response to the events, on several occasions the IDF attacked a number of Hamas targets, since Israel regards Hamas as responsible for the violence from the Gaza Strip.
- In Judea and Samaria there has been a rise in the number of popular terrorism attacks. This past week there was a vehicular attack in Jerusalem (12 IDF soldiers injured, one of them critically), a shooting attack at the entrance to the Lion Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem (a Border Police fighter slightly wounded), and a shooting attack west of Ramallah (an IDF soldier slightly wounded). In addition there was increased friction between Israeli security forces and Palestinians, and in some of the clashes Palestinians were killed: in Hebron a Palestinian was killed when he threw a Molotov cocktail, in Jenin two Palestinians were killed, one a policeman and the other a cadet at the Academy for Security Studies, when Palestinians shot at IDF soldiers during clashes, and a Palestinian was killed in a riot in Tulkarm.
- In the diplomatic arena Mahmoud Abbas and senior Palestinian Authority figures continue their activities in various Arab and international forums to enlist opposition to the Trump plan. In the UN Security Council the Palestinians failed to enlist sufficient support for a resolution against the plan.
- Violence from the Gaza Strip continues, expressed by the increase of rocket and mortar fire at Israel and the increase in the launching of IED balloons. Despite the fact that no return march was held, on Friday, February 7, 2020, hundreds of Palestinians gathered at locations near the security fence and burned tires, threw stones and IEDs, and some tried to cross the fence.
- In the wake of the escalation, on February 5, 2020, the Israeli ministry of defense held a meeting and announced the fishing zone would be decreased from 15 to ten nautical miles until further notice. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that Hamas was responsible and would be responsible for the consequences of continued violence against Israel (Israeli media, February 5, 2020).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- Rocket and mortar fire into Israeli continues. This past week five rockets and two mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory. No casualties were reported. No organization claimed responsibility. In response the IDF attacked Hamas targets, since Israel considers Hamas responsible for everything that happens in the Gaza Strip. The rocket fire was as follows:
- February 9, 2020: In the evening a rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. Red Alert sirens were heard in the southern city of Sderot and in several nearby communities. The rocket exploded in an open area. No casualties or damage were reported (spokesman for the western Negev regional council, February 10, 2020). In response IDF aircraft attacked a number of Hamas terrorist targets, including a training compound and military facilities in the southern Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, February 9, 2020).
- February 8, 2020: A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. It landed in an open area in the western Negev. No casualties were reported. In response IDF tanks attacked two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, February 8, 2020).
- February 5, 2020: Three rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. They fell in an open area near the southern city of Netivot. One person was treated for shock (Israeli media, February 5, 2020). In response IDF planes attacked a Hamas facility for the manufacture of weapons in the southern Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, February 5, 2020).
- February 5, 2020: Two mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory. They fell in Israeli agricultural areas across the border from the central Gaza Strip. No casualties or damage were reported (Israeli media, February 5, 2020). In response IDF aircraft attacked an underground facility used by Hamas’ military wing (IDF spokesman, February 6, 2020).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Launching of IED balloons
- During the past week the launching of large numbers of IED balloons into Israeli territory continued. Every day several dozen balloon clusters were launched. Most of those that landed in Israeli territory had explosives attached to them. Some of the balloons exploded in the air. The wind carried a number of balloon clusters far from the Gaza Strip. Some of the more notable balloon launchings were the following:
- February 7, 2020: A balloon cluster was found north of the Gaza Strip south of Ashqelon.
- February 6, 2020: Israeli police forces were summoned to the Sderot area after a balloon cluster with an unidentified object attached to it landed near the city. Police forces were also summoned to the regions of Lachish and Ashqelon. They closed the road and dealt with an unidentified object that apparently detached from a balloon cluster (Lachish police spokesman’s unit, February 6, 2020).
- February 5, 2020: Police demolitions experts were summoned to Beit Shemesh (near Jerusalem) after a balloon cluster with a suspicious object attached to it was found on one of the city streets (Jerusalem police spokesman’s unit, February 5, 2020). In addition, a balloon cluster was found near an Israeli community in the western Negev.
- The balloon-launching units in the Gaza Strip said they would continue launching balloons and “other” things. They also issued notices which they claimed sent pamphlets to the Israeli residents of the communities near the Gaza Strip, calling on them to evacuate the area.
Right: The Sons of al-Zawari in the northern Gaza Strip launch IED balloons. Left: IEDs attached to balloon clusters launched by the Sons of al-Zawari in the northern Gaza Strip (Facebook page of Thoar al-Shimal (Zawar al-Shamal), February 6, 2020).
Right: Picture from a post reporting that the Sons of al-Zawari in the northern Gaza Strip launched a UAV with tear gas, entitled “Your merchandise is returning to you” (Facebook page of Zawar al-Shamal, February 6, 2020). Left: A pamphlet from the Sons of al-Qoqa unit (Twitter account of the Popular Resistance Movement, February 7, 2020).
The paper plane and its launchers
(Twitter account of newpress, February 6, 2020).
Vehicular attack in Jerusalem
- Before dawn on February 6, 2020 a Palestinian carried out a vehicular attack in west Jerusalem. He drove his car into a group of IDF soldiers who were walking near Jerusalem’s historic railway station en route to their swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall in the Old City. Twelve soldiers were wounded, one of them critically and one seriously. The rest incurred minor injuries. The Palestinian who carried out the attack drove away. His vehicle was found a few hours later, abandoned in the region of Beit Jala, north of the city. The terrorist who carried out the attack was detained after an operational and intelligence effort (IDF spokesman, February 6, 2020).
Right: From a video documenting the scene of the attack (Twitter account of the Israel Police Force, February 6, 2020). Left: The vehicle driven by the terrorist (IDF spokesman, Palinfo Twitter account, February 6, 2020).
- On February 6, 2020, the detention was reported of Sind Khaled al-Taraman, 25, from the a-Tor neighborhood of Jerusalem (Sama news, February 6, 2020), who carried out the vehicular attack. He was apparently inspired by Bassel al-‘Araj, who headed a terrorist squad that planned to attack Israeli targets and was killed by the Israeli security forces in Ramallah in March 2017. Al-Taraman’s last post to his Facebook page before it was closed was “I have found my answers,” a quote from al-‘Araj’s will (Platform22 website, February 7, 2020; Ultra Palestine website, February 6, 2020).
Right: Sind al-Taraman (Facebook page of the east Jerusalem photojournalist Muhammad Qarut, February 6, 2020). Left: al-Taraman’s last post, “I have found my answers” (Ultra Palestine website, February 6, 2020).
Right: al-Taraman post from the day the “deal of the century” was published: “Jerusalem is the bride among your Arab women” (Ultra Palestine website, February 6, 2020). Left: Post from Fatah’s official Facebook page implicitly praising al-Taraman’s attack: next to his picture and name there is a hashtag, #Sind_Alquds, a play on words of his name, whose literal translation is “support for Jerusalem” (official Fatah Facebook page, February 6, 2020).
Reactions to the vehicular attack
- The Palestinian news agency Wafa (subordinate to the office of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas) reported that 14 Israeli soldiers were wounded in a traffic accident near the railway station in Jerusalem. The report added that the Israeli police claimed a Palestinian driver deliberately rammed into a group of soldiers and drove away. Wafa later reported the vehicle had been found in Beit Jala (Wafa, February 6, 2020).
- Senior Hamas figures, who customarily encourage terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, welcomed the attack and the harm done to the soldiers:
- Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanua praised the “uprising” of the West Bank residents and the vehicular attack in Jerusalem. He said the attack proved the revolution of the Palestinian people against Israel’s [alleged] “crimes” was continuing (alresala.net Twitter account, February 6, 2020).
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the confrontations throughout the West Bank and the vehicular attack in Jerusalem were the response of the Palestinian people to the declaration of the “deal of the century.” He said it was the Palestinian people that would determine the outcomes of the confrontations (Hazem Qassem’s Twitter account, February 6, 2020).
Shooting attack west of Ramallah
- On February 6, 2020, an IDF soldier was shot at close range at a junction west of Ramallah. It was apparently a drive-by shooting. An IDF soldier incurred minor wounds and was evacuated to a hospital for medical treatment. IDF soldiers responded by shooting at and chasing the terrorist (IDF spokesman, February 6, 2020).
Shooting attack in east Jerusalem
- On the afternoon of February 6, 2020, Border Police fighters were shot at near the entrance to the Lion Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The terrorist exited his vehicle and approached Border Police fighters, drew a handgun and shot at them, wounding one in the arm. Other Border Police fighters in the area shot and killed him. The shooter was an Israeli Arab from Haifa who recently converted from Christianity to Islam. In the wake of the attack the Temple Mount was closed to Muslim worshippers.
- Following the publication of the Trump plan, calls continued in Judea and Samaria for the Palestinian public to participate in protest demonstrations and to pray in the mosques. This week as well there was no great response to the calls. On Friday about 5,000 Muslims came to pray on the Temple Mount and about 1,370 at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Before the prayers a call was issued to Palestinians to participate in prayers in the mosques in Judea and Samaria as part of the campaign called “The great dawn” (Facebook page of “The great dawn,” February 6, 2020). Not many worshippers participated in the events and no unusual events were recorded.
- Four Palestinians were killed in three violent events during the week. Two were killed in clashes with the Israeli security forces when the house of a terrorist was demolished in Jenin. One Palestinian was killed in Hebron when he threw a Molotov cocktail. One Palestinian was killed in clashes with the Israeli security forces near the security fence in Tulkarm. Thousands of Palestinians participated in their funerals. Mahmoud Abbas spoke on the phone with the families of the Palestinians who were killed (Wafa, February 7, 2020). The events were the following:
Palestinian who threw a Molotov cocktail killed in Hebron
- On February 5, 2020 a young Palestinian was killed by IDF fire in Hebron after throwing a Molotov cocktail at IDF soldiers. The Palestinian media reported that he was Muhammad Sulman Tama al-Hadad, 17, from Hebron (Hadap News, February 5, 2020). His funeral was held in a mosque in Hebron. Mahmoud Abbas called the family and extended his condolences (Facebook page of Mahmoud Abbas, February 5, 2020).
(Hadap News, February 5, 2020).
Two Palestinians killed in Jenin
- On the night of February 6, 2020, IDF soldiers secured the demolishing of the house of Palestinian terrorist Ahmed Qunbu in the Jenin refugee camp. He was an operative in the terrorist squad that shot and killed Rabbi Raziel Shevah in January 2018. The house was demolished for a second time, having been rebuilt after it had been demolished in April 2018. During the operation Palestinians shot at the Israeli security forces. The forces returned fire. The Palestinians shot at the security forces again under cover of a riot during which Palestinians threw IEDs. The forces again returned fire.
- In the riots that followed the IDF activity Yazan Munzir Abu Tabikh, 19, from Wadi Burqin, was killed. He was a student at the Palestinian Academy for Security Studies in Jericho. Also killed (wounded and later died in hospital) was First Sergeant Tareq Lu’i Badwan, 25, from Azoun in the Qalqilya district, who served as a policeman in Jenin (Wafa, February 6 and 7, 2020). Six Palestinians were wounded in the riot.
The two Palestinians who were killed when they rioted after the terrorist’s house was demolished. Right: Yazan Abu Tabikh (al-Istaqlal University website, February 6, 2020). Left: (Tareq Badwan, website of the PA police force, February 6, 2020).
- Hundreds of Palestinian participated in the funeral held for Yazan Abu Tabikh, and called for the rejection of the “deal of the century” and for the renewal of the armed struggle. Following his death the stores in Jenin went on strike. Calls were also heard for the deleting of recordings in the security cameras in regions where there were clashes in order to protect those who operate against Israel (Shehab Twitter account, February 6, 2020). After the death of Tareq Badwan Palestinians in his home town of Azoun rioted (Israeli media, February 6, 2020).
Palestinian killed in a riot in the Tulkarm region
- On February 7, 2020, Palestinians gathered near the security fence in the Tulkarm region and rioted against IDF forces. The Palestinians threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the soldiers. During the riot one of the Palestinians was shot by IDF soldiers after he threw a Molotov cocktail at them (Israeli media, February 6, 2020). The PA ministry of health reported the death of Bader Nidal Ahmed Nafila Hirsha, 19, who had been wounded by a bullet during the riots near the security fence north of Tulkarm (Wafa, February 7, 2020). He was buried on February 8, 2020, in the village of Qafin; his body was wrapped in the Palestinian flag (Arabs of 48, February 8, 2020).
Bader Nidal Ahmed Nafila Hirsha
(Hadap News, February 9, 2020).
Reactions of the PA, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to the events
- Senior PA figures linked the increased number of “events” in Judea and Samaria to the declaration of the Trump plan. Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said the main source of the violence was the “Israeli occupation” and is “colonial settlement” plan. Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the “serious Israeli escalation” against the Palestinians, which had led to the deaths of four young men and the wounding and detention of dozens. He said the “deal of the century” was what was behind the atmosphere of escalation and tension. He also said that any deal that did not respond to the rights of the Palestinians and did not seek a just, comprehensive peace would lead to escalation (Wafa, February 6, 2020).
- Senior Hamas and PIJ figures related to the tension in Judea and Samaria. They encouraged its continuation and heightening:
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the “resistance” that the Palestinian people had begun in the cities in the West Bank was not a one-time event but the beginning of a “continuing revolution.” He said the popular intifada in the West Bank was the correct way to respond to the Trump plan. He called on the Palestinian people to translate their position into deeds, saying that Hamas was ready to invest joint efforts to resist the “deal of the century” (Wafa, February 7, 2020).
- Husam Badran, Hamas spokesman outside the Gaza Strip, said the wave of rage that had reached the Gaza Strip was led by the “resistance” with Hamas in the forefront. He stressed that Hamas worked day and night to develop all forms of “resistance” in all the arenas and regions. He said Hamas would provide the political and media backup and comprehensive support for every “resistance” activity whether lone or collective (al-Aqsa, February 6, 2020).
- Senior PIJ figure Ahmed al-Mudallal said the West Bank was always the starting point of the revolution and of the great suicide activities. He added that they believed that the intifada currently taking place in the West Bank would escalate more and more (al-Aqsa, February 8, 2020).
- Abu Hamza, spokesman for the PIJ’s military wing, praised the jihad activity and “resistance” in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and praised the shaheeds. He threatened Israel, saying that the Palestinian people would ignite the ground under their feet (Twitter account of Abu Hamza, February 6, 2020).
- In the meantime, in Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets The more prominent events were the following:
- February 10, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 10, 2020).
- February 10, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus north of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 10, 2020).
- February 10, 2020 – In Hebron IDF forces detained the Palestinian who threw a Molotov cocktail which caused burns to a Border Police officer during a riot on February 2, 2020 (IDF spokesman, February 10, 2020).
- February 5, 2020 – Two masked Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle southeast of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 5, 2020).
- February 5, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. One man incurred minor injuries from flying glass (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 5, 2020).
- February 5, 2020 – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at one of the entrances to the community of Beit El. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 5, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Egyptian security delegation visits the Gaza Strip
- Given the escalation in the Gaza Strip, on February 10, 2020, the senior Egyptian intelligence delegation entered the Gaza Strip from Israel through the Erez Crossing. The delegation left the Gaza Strip after a visit of a number of hours, during which it inspected the region of the Gaza Strip-Egypt border and met with the Hamas leadership and with representatives of other organizations (Filastin al-A’an, February 10, 2020; al-Ayn, February 11, 2020).
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem reported that the meeting had dealt with tightening relations between the two sides, the role of Egypt in easing the [so-called] Israeli “siege” of the Gaza Strip and the continuation of Egypt’s role in strengthening the internal Palestinian front to cope with the Trump plan (Filastin al-A’an, February 10, 2020).
Fatah delegation visits the Gaza Strip
- A delegation of senior members of Fatah’s Central Committee, headed by Rawhi Fatouh and Isma’il Jabr, entered the Gaza Strip on February 7, 2020. The delegation intends to meet with senior Hamas figures and representatives from the Palestinians organizations in the Gaza Strip. The visit of the Fatah delegation is meant to pave the way for a visit of a PLO delegation to the Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, February 7, 2020).
- However, no date has yet been set for the visit of a PLO delegation. Sources in Fatah revealed that the Hamas leadership had not yet expressed their position regarding the reception of the delegation and meeting with it (al-Akhbar, February 5, 2020). According to Ahmed Majdalani, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, the delegation is ready to leave for the Gaza Strip at any time and is waiting for Hamas’ decision.
Ziyad al-Nakhalah meets with the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon
- Mohammad Jalal Firouznia, the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, went to meet with PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah, heading a delegation of embassy officials. The ambassador expressed Iran’s support for the Palestinian position rejecting the “deal of the century.” Ziyad al-Nakhalah congratulated Iran on the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution and thanked Iran for its support of the Palestinians (PIJ website, February 10, 2020).
Palestinian activity against the “deal of the century” continues
- Mahmoud Abbas and senior PA figures continued their intensive diplomatic activities to enlist Arab, Islamic and international support to oppose the Trump plan:
- On February 8, 2020, a meeting was held in Amman, Jordan, of the Inter-Parliamentary Arab Union, attended by twenty representatives of the Arab states. The PA was represented by Salim Zanoun, chairman of the Palestinian National Council. He called for increased support for the Palestinian cause from the Arab states in every political, economic and parliamentary forum. He also stressed that the Palestinian people expected the Arab states to send a clear message to the American administration that the Arab nation opposed the “deal of the century.” The meeting called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with the 1967 borders and Jerusalem as its capital (Palestinian TV, February 7, 2020).
- Mahmoud Abbas went to UN headquarters to give a speech at a meeting of the Security Council on February 11, 2020. In preparation the PLO formulated a draft proposal for a resolution distributed to the Security Council members stressing the [alleged] illegality of [Israel’s] annexation of occupied Palestinian territories (Reuters, February 5, 2020). In the meantime, according to reports, a number of Security Council members decided to vote against the resolution and some would abstain. The result would be that the proposed resolution would not get the majority it needed to pass, and thus the Palestinians changed their minds withdrew the proposed resolution (al-Quds, Shehab, February 10, 2020).
- An African Union summit meeting was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh represented Mahmoud Abbas *Wafa, February 8, 2020). He gave a speech criticizing the Trump plan and asking for support from the African nations in international forums (al-Jazeera, February 9, 2020). The meeting attendees condemned the Trump plan (Agence France-Presse, February 9, 2020).
The African Union summit meeting
(Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, February 9, 2020).
Continuing Palestinian measures to prevent Israeli merchandise from entering the PA territories
- The PA ministry of the economy announced the government’s decision to prevent Israeli merchandise from being sold in Palestinian markets, as of February 6, 2020. Abd al-Fatah Musa, spokesman for the ministry of the economy in the Gaza Strip, said his ministry supported Palestinian national products and was working to prevent Israeli merchandise from entering the Gaza Strip – if there was a Palestinian substitute for them. He said that for all the products whose entrance into the Gaza Strip had been banned there was a [Palestinian] substitute (Dunia al-Watan, February 5, 2020)
- The director of the department of consumer protection in the ministry of the economy said a joint supervisory operations room had been established to monitor the implementation of the governmental decision to keep Israeli merchandise out of Palestinian markets. He said importers had announced their commitment to the decision but were concerned about smugglers (Dunia al-Watan, February 5, 2020). Riyad al-Atari, minister of agriculture, said the ministry of agriculture was working to replace Israeli agricultural produce with Jordanian produce (Wafa, February 6, 2020).
 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. ↑