The Hamas and PIJ delegations that attended Qassem Soleimani's funeral in Tehran (Paltoday, January 8, 2020).
Representatives of the Palestinian terrorist organizations meet with Esmail Ghaani (Quds Press, January 10, 2020).
Khaled al-Batash gives a speech at the event (Palestine Online, January 11, 2020).
The two in a picture posted to the Jerusalem Brigades website (Jerusalem Brigades website, January 12, 2020).
Qassem Soleimani and Bahaa Abu al-Atta on a street sign in Gaza City (QudsN Facebook page, January 12, 2020).
The Hamas delegation upon its arrival in Oman.
- This past week as well no return march was held in the Gaza Strip. Several dozen Palestinian demonstrators gathered near the border fence in two locations. No exceptional events were reported.
- This past week the Sons of al-Zawari unit (which launches incendiary and IED balloons into Israeli territory) announced on its Facebook page that it was renewing its activities. It reported that the first batch of incendiary and IED balloons had been launched.
- The Palestinian terrorist organizations, among them Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), issued a joint announcement about their visits to Tehran and participation in Qassem Soleimani’s funeral. According to the announcement, while in Iran they consulted with the Iranians about the option of “resistance” to Israel [i.e., terrorism], which they claimed was the only way “for the Palestinians to achieve all their rights.” In the Gaza Strip the terrorist leadership continued eulogizing Soleimani and referring to the great contribution he and Iran had made to the construction of the Palestinians’ military capabilities. In a meeting behind closed doors in Gaza City Yahya al-Sinwar praised Iran and Soleimani, and said Iran was the only state supporting the “resistance” with money and weapons.
The return marches
- On January 10, 2020, no official return march was held. However, several dozen Palestinian demonstrators gathered at two locations near the Gaza Strip-Israel border. No exceptional events were reported.
The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March prepares to present incriminating findings to the ICC
- Salah Abd al-‘Ati, chairman of the legal committee of the Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March, reported that the committee had received its first response from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. According to the ICC the claims presented by the Supreme National Authority about “violations” and “crimes” [allegedly] committed by Israel during the return marches had been received and were undergoing initial examination. He said the Supreme National Authority was making preparations to present all the findings and [alleged] evidence incriminating Israel as having carried out what he referred to as “war crimes.” He called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to accompany the Supreme National Authority in presenting files and opening investigations into Israel’s conduct against the “demonstrators” (Shams News, January 12, 2020).
The issue of the lull
- Senior PIJ figure Ahmed al-Mudallal claimed to Al-Monitor that Israel continued to ignore the “understandings.” He said the PIJ was committed to the understandings to the same degree Israel was committed to them. He said the recent concessions in Gaza Strip were part of the understandings that had been agreed on, while Israel continues to ignore the implementation of the remaining provisions of the understandings — the most important of which is to allow the establishment of major [economic] projects in Gaza such as the industrial zone in the east, and to facilitate civilian movement through the Erez Crossing and the entry of goods through the Kerem Shalom Crossing (Al-Monitor, January 12, 2020). In another interview he said that no political agreement existed, not for a lull and not for a ceasefire, claiming the “resistance” would never end (Dunia al-Watan, January 11, 2020)
Possible renewal of incendiary and IED balloon launching
- According to a post on the Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari unit, the first batch of incendiary and IED balloons had been launched into Israeli territory. In response, one Facebook user asked if it was an official measure. The Sons of al-Zawari unit in Khan Yunis responded that it was [the result of] an official decision, in effect as of January 8, 2020 (Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari in Khan Yunis, January 8, 2020). On January 8, 2020, Muhammad Abu Maraheil, who administers a private Facebook group called “Revolutionary youth in the Gaza Strip,” posted about the official decision to return the incendiary and IED balloon units to action (Facebook page Muhammad Abu Maraheil, January 8, 2020).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Hamas’ rocket fire policy
- Senior Hamas figure Yahya Musa, asked if Hamas could prevent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, answered that rockets could be fired individually [or] any given faction and they usually came in response to an Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. He added that Hamas is not a “police force” working to protect Israel from such rockets. Israel must not target the Palestinian people if it wants to avoid the rockets (Al-Monitor, January 12, 2020).
Palestinians break into Israeli territory
- This past week Palestinians from the Gaza Strip broke into Israeli territory on two occasions:
- On January 12, 2020, IDF soldiers detained three suspects who crossed the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip and entered Israeli territory in possession of a knife. They were taken for interrogation (IDF spokesman, January 12, 2020).
- On January 9, 2020, IDF soldiers detained three unarmed suspects who crossed the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. They were taken for interrogation (IDF spokesman, January 9, 2020).
ther events on the ground
- 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:
- January 14, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 14, 2020).
- January 13, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near a junction north of Ramallah. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 13, 2020).
- January 12, 2020 – Two pipe bombs and stones were thrown at the fence of the community of Psagot (north of Jerusalem). No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 12, 2020).
- January 12, 2020 – Israeli security forces operating in the village of Samoa south of Mt. Hebron found an M16 assault rifle. Ten days previously, on January 2, during a Border Police activity to find weapons in the same village the fighters were shot at. No casualties were reported. Two Palestinian suspects were detained (Judea and Samaria district police spokesman’s unit, January 12, 2020).
- January 9, 2020 – A stone was thrown from a passing truck at an Israeli vehicle near the Sha’ar Benyamin industrial zone (near Givat Ze’ev). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 9, 2020).
- January 8, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle in the Hamza region (near Pisgat Ze’ev). A passenger was wounded in the head (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 8, 2020).
Israeli vehicles damaged by stones thrown near Azoun
(east of Qalqilya) (Palinfo Twitter account, January 13, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
- According to reports, after the Hamas delegation headed by Isma’il Haniyeh went to Iran, Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East, briefed the PA about Egypt’s intention to change its Gaza Strip policy, especially the number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip from Egyptian territory. Egypt also intends to adopt a stricter policy regarding human traffic through the Rafah Crossing and to take strong measures against Hamas operatives who want to use the crossing (alnahdanews.com, January 9, 2020). According to a senior Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) figure, the Egyptian delegation that planned to arrive in the Gaza Strip cancelled its visit “for various reasons” (Sawa, January 12, 2020). Salah al-Bardawil, a member of the Hamas’ political bureau, said the visit had been postponed for “technical reasons” but that Hamas and Egyptian General Intelligence were in daily contact (Palestine Online, January 13, 2020).
The death of Qassem Soleimani
- In the wake of the death of Qassem Soleimani, the Palestinian terrorist organizations, including Hamas, the PIJ, the PFLP, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and others, issued a joint announcement saying that the leaders of the “Palestinian resistance organizations” had participated in the funeral held in Tehran and they offered their condolences to Iran. The announcement also reported that the representatives of the organizations had held consultations while in Iran, during which Isma’il Haniyeh reported on the situation in the Gaza Strip, political developments and the dangers threatening the Palestinian cause. The announcement stressed that the option of the “resistance” [i.e., terrorism] was their strategic choice for dealing with Israel because it was the only way to achieve all the Palestinians’ rights. The announcement called for continuing the consultations and meetings so as to close ranks and escalate the struggle to achieve the Palestinians’ objectives (Paltoday, January 8, 2020; PFLP website, January 8, 2020).
The Hamas and PIJ delegations that attended Qassem Soleimani’s funeral in Tehran
(Paltoday, January 8, 2020).
- While in Iran the senior delegation members met with Esmail Ghaani, the new commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force (almayadeen.net, January 7, 2020; al-Akhbar, January 8, 2020). No details about the meeting were issued.
- In the Gaza Strip the terrorist organizations continue eulogizing Qassem Soleimani and referring to his and Iran’s “great contribution” to Palestinian military force:
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, said Soleimani had carried out a series of strategic activities as part of his support for the “Palestinian resistance,” but said it was still too early to reveal details (al-Mayadeen, January 7, 2020).
- Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas political bureau, said Qassem Soleimani supported the “resistance” from the 1990s, and provided the armed Palestinian resistance with everything it needed. He added that Soleimani’s death would not influence the power of the “resistance” (alresala.net, January 9, 2020). On another occasion he said that the killing of Soleimani had led to a reinforcement of Hamas’ relations with Iran, which had fluctuated over the years (al-Mayadeen, January 10, 2020)/
- Ahmed Abu al-Hindi, Hamas representative in Lebanon, said that thanks to Qassem Soleimani, the capabilities of the “Palestinian resistance” had developed to a great extent (al-Mayadeen, January 5, 2020). On another occasion he said that Imad Mughniyeh, a former Hezbollah commander, and Qassem Soleimani had conceived the idea for the tunnels in the Gaza Strip. He said Soleimani had visited the Gaza Strip more than once and participated significantly in Gaza Strip defense programs (Dunia al-Watan, January 9, 2020).
Ahmed Abu al-Hindi, Hamas representative in Lebanon, gives a speech praising Soleimani (Bilal_abd_alsater Twitter account, January 8, 2020).
- At a memorial ceremony for Soleimani at the Commodore Hotel in Gaza City, senior figures from the various terrorist organizations eulogized him. One of the speakers was Hussein Sheikh al-Islam, advisor to the Iranian foreign minister, whose speech was broadcast on a screen via video conference. He stressed the role of Soleimani in supporting the “resistance” on every front (Paltoday, January 11, 2020; Palestine Online, January 11, 2020; Dunia al-Watan, January 11, 2020). Senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batash stressed it was important to strengthen the “resistance” culture. He said the “resistance” would continue Soleimani’s path and that his killing would bring an end to American presence in the Middle East. Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan said that Soleimani’s killing was a great loss for Palestine and the “resistance,” although it would not influence its path (Filastin al-Yawm, January 11, 2020).
Pictures of Qassem Soleimani and Bahaa Abu al-Atta on signs in Gaza City
- In the streets of Gaza City, the Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ’s military wing, hung pictures of Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the IRGC’s Qods Force, and Bahaa Abu al-Atta, senior PIJ Jerusalem Brigades commander killed in a targeted attack on November 12, 2019. The caption above the pictures read, “Shaheeds on the path to Jerusalem” (QudsN Facebook page, January 12, 2020; Filastin al-A’an, January 12, 2020).
Yahya al-Sinwar meets with members of the media behind closed doors
- On January 9, 2020, Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, held a meeting behind closed doors with journalists and other figures close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It was al-Sinwar’s first public appearance in recent months. He praised the role of Iran and Soleimani in constructing the military force of the “resistance” beginning in the 1990s, saying that a large part of the [military] force of the organizations [had been made possible] thanks to support from Iran. He called the connection between Iran and Hamas “strategic,” claiming the support Iran gives is “ideological and fundamental,” the result of Iran’s “great love” for Palestine and its residents. Al-Sinwar said Iran is the only country that supports the “resistance” with money and weapons, and even boasts of it. He also said that Iranian support had not stopped even during the most difficult periods in the relations between the two sides. For example, in 2015 Iran transferred tens of millions of dollars to the Gaza Strip for “military production.”
- Al-Sinwar warned Israel not to make “mistakes” in the Gaza Strip, and threatened that Israel would be surprised by the “resistance’s” response. He claimed that all the Iron Dome aerial defense systems together would not be able to protect Tel Aviv (al-Akhbar, Lebanon, January 10, 2020). He said Muhammad Deif, the commander of the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, had ordered “999 rockets to be launched in the first volley” (Amad, January 10, 2020; Twitter account of Sayif al-Din Abu al-Muatassem, January 9, 2020).
Yahya al-Sinwar (left) in a selfie with Gazan journalist Hassan Aslih
(Twitter account of Hassan Aslih, January 9, 2020).
- Jordanian sources reported that the Jordanian government had informed Hamas of its refusal to allow Isma’il Haniyeh to make an unofficial visit to Jordan. According to the sources Hamas tried to coordinate meetings for January with senior Jordanian and Muslim Brotherhood officials in Jordan, but Jordan made it clear that “international and political circumstances” made it impossible for such a visit to be held at the present time (AC24, January 7, 2020).
The military wing of the PFLP threatens Israel with rocket fire
- The Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions (the military wing of the PFLP) issued a video showing a group of operatives preparing rockets for launching into Israeli territory. The video ends with, “Our prisoners are a red line…do not try our patience,” and above it is the picture of Palestinian terrorist prisoner Ahmed Zaharan. It was also reported that the Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions are prepared to support Zaharan with military means (Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions website, January 8, 2020).
Pictures from the video issued by the Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions
(Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions website, January 8, 2020).
- Ahmed Zaharan, 42, is a PFLP terrorist operative from Deir Abu Mishal in the Ramallah district. In the past he served a term of 15 years in an Israeli jail. In March 2019 he was placed in administrative detention. He went on a hunger strike that lasted 36 days when the administrative detention order was renewed in June 2019. He renewed his hunger strike when he found that the administrative detention order had been renewed for a third time. After having continued his hunger strike for 114 days the PFLP announced on January 13, 2020, that he had decided to end his hunger strike after having reached an agreement with the Israeli Prison Service that his administrative detention would not be renewed (PFLP website, January 14, 2020).
Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade/-Nidal al-‘Amoudi Battalion issues a threatening video
- The website of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades/Nidal al-‘Amoudi Battalion network, affiliated with the camp of Muhammad Dahlan, issued a video documenting a speech by Abu Ahmed, the network’s commander, at a rally held in Gaza City to mark the 55th anniversary of Fatah’s founding. He called on the network’s operatives in the West Bank to clash with Israel everywhere. The video also shows two masked operatives represented as network operatives in the West Bank (Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades/Nidal al-‘Amoudi Battalion website, January 8, 2020, day, January 8, 2020).
Right: Network operatives in Judea and Samaria. Left: Abu Ahmed gives a speech in Gaza (Twitter account of Abu Ahmed, spokesman for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades/Nidal al-‘Amoudi Battalion, January 8, 2020)
- The PA continues dealing with the issue of general elections. Fatah’s Central Committee held a meeting headed by Mahmoud Abbas to discuss issue. It was noted that the Fatah’s official position is that elections will be held for the Palestinian Legislative Council and the presidency in the near future in such a way as to include all the Palestinian Authority territories, including east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. According to reports, despite the elections’ great importance, it will not be possible to hold them without including Jerusalem. The committee noted that Mahmoud Abbas had appealed to all countries around the globe to exert pressure on Israel to agree to hold Palestinian elections in Jerusalem (Wafa, January 8, 2020).
- Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners’ club, said that Palestinians, including Palestinians in Fatah, had asked Marwan Barghouti, who is imprisoned in Israel, to run for Palestinian president, and expressed their support for him (alresala.net, January 12, 2020).
Responses to the declaration of the Israeli defense minister
- Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett paid a visit to the Jordan Valley during which he called for the demolishing of illegally-built buildings in the PA’s Area C. At its weekly meeting the PA government condemned the visit as “provocative” and said they would bring Israel to trial in the International Criminal Court (Wafa, January 6, 2020).
- Other responses were the following:
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said a report of the Israeli defense minister’s activity would be presented to the ICC as part of the “settlements file.”
- At the weekly PA government meeting PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh condemned the demolishing of buildings in the Jordan Valley and Area C which was intended, he said, to allow for more construction in the settlements. He said he held in high esteem the role played by the authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements in rebuilding the structures that had been demolished (Safa, January 13, 2020).
- On January 13, 2020, Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett announced the confiscation of the initial amount of 66,000 shekels (about $19,000) from the family of Palestinian terrorist Maher Abd Younes, who was convicted of murdering IDF soldier Avraham Bromberg, money the family had received from the PA. He said it was the first time Israel had confiscated funds from families of terrorists (Facebook page of Naftali Bennett, January 13, 2020). The PA’s authority for prisoners and released prisoners affairs criticized the announcement, saying that Israel continued “stealing the money of the families of prisoners, systematically and as part of its policy of collective punishment of the Palestinians.” The announcement further claimed that the silence of the international community to Israel’s [alleged] crimes had led to the increase of violations [of the rights of] the Palestinians, to the point of the “confiscation of welfare allotments the PA pays families that lost their breadwinners through detention or death” (Facebook page of the authority for prisoners and released prisoners, January 13, 2020).
Activity dealing with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague
- Majed al-Fityani, secretary of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, reported that the National Committee for Monitoring the ICC had decided to open branches in every Palestinian district to make it easier for Palestinians to make contact with the relevant bodies to present claims against Israel and prepare files for the ICC. He also said it was necessary to work with the media to raise public awareness to ways of struggling against the [so-called Israeli] “occupation” (Dunia al-Watan, January 12, 2020).
Condolence calls in Muscat
- Mahmoud Abbas went to Muscat, the capital of Oman, headed a delegation of senior officials to express condolences on the death of Qaboos bin Said, the sultan of Oman. During the visit Mahmoud Abbas met with the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq (Wafa, January 12, 2020). A Hamas delegation headed by Isma’il Haniyeh also arrived in Muscat and met with the new sultan (Dunia al-Watan, January 12, 2020).
Right: The Hamas delegation upon its arrival in Oman. Left: Isma’il Haniyeh with the new sultan of Oman (Hamas website, January 12, 2020).
Palestinian Shaheed Day events
- On January 8, 2020, events were held to mark Palestinian Shaheed Day (marked every year on January 7). The event was organized by the National Association of the Families of Palestinian Martyrs and held with the sponsorship of Mahmoud Abbas and the participation of senior Fatah and public figures. They included Mahmoud al-‘Alul, a member of Fatah’ Central Committee and deputy Fatah chairman; Intissar al-Wazir, chairperson of the Foundation for the Care of the Families of Martyrs and Wounded and Layla Ghanem, governor of the Ramallah district, and the families of the shaheeds (Wafa, January 8, 2020). Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh did not attend despite the fact that the event was held in the Muqata’a in Ramallah. Fatah issued a declaration for Palestinian Shaheed Day stating that the movement confirmed its readiness to give and sacrifice without limit, like the shaheeds “who had written the homeland’s history”. It was also reported that Mahmoud Abbas was committed to the rights of the families of the shaheeds and to his promise to provide for them in full, despite the “theft of their rights by the occupation.”
Right: The main stage with a sign noting Mahmoud Abbas’ sponsorship of the event marking Shaheed Day (MusawaChannel YouTube channel, January 8, 2020). Left: Intissar al-Wazir, chairperson of the Foundation for the Care of the Families of Martyrs and Wounded, gives a speech at the event (Wafa, January 8, 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. ↑
 The ceremony was held as part of the opening of the "Ammar ibn Yasir Days of Resistance Cinema" film festival (Ammar ibn Yasir was a comrade of Imam Ali in the 7th century AD). It was organized by the "Cultural Front of the Islamic Revolution" (which, according to various sources, is an Iranian body). ↑