A picture of Mohamed Morsi and a black Popular Resistance Committees flag on the security fence (Facebook page of photojournalist Hazem Muzir, June 21, 2019).
The Descendants of al-Nasser Units (apparently part of the Popular Resistance Committees' military-terrorist wing) threaten Israel: "We will turn your nights into day." The picture shows explosives and Molotov cocktails with fuses attached (PAL Hadath Twitter account, June 23, 2019).
Fire in a forest in the northwestern Negev, six kilometers from the southern Israeli city of Netivot (Jewish National Fund (JNF) forester Moshe Baruchi, June 24, 2019).
Fire in the Be'eri nature reserve (JNF forester Moshe Baruchi, June 23, 2019).
The distribution of funds from Qatar, secured by Hamas security forces (journalist Hassan Aslih's Facebook page, June 20, 2019).
IHH meets with foreign correspondents (Twitter account of the media department of Isma'il Haniyeh's office, June 20, 2019).
Burning effigies of the king of Bahrain and the American president during a protest in Halhul (Facebook page of Fatah's north Hebron branch, June 24, 2019).
Burning pictures of Trump in Gaza (Twitter account of photojournalist Dawoud Abo Alkas, June 24, 2019).
Palestinian finance minister Shukri Bishara (Palestinian TV Facebook page, June 23, 2019).
- On Friday, June 21, 2019, the weekly return march was held along the Israel-Gaza Strip border. About 6,000 Palestinians participated, slightly more than in recent weeks. During the rioters used familiar forms of extreme violence near the border fence: they threw Molotov cocktails and IEDs, sabotaged the fence and tried to penetrate into Israeli territory. The theme of the Friday, June 28 march will be “May the Bahrain workshop fail.”
- Even after the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip coast was increased and funds from Qatar entered the Gaza Strip, arson terrorism continues and its scope has increased. The rise in the number of incendiary and IED balloons launched led to a rise in the number of fires near the communities close to the Gaza Strip (on June 24, 2019, 13 fires were identified as having been set by balloons). The balloons are accompanied by psychological warfare from the launchers, who threaten to send the communities near the Gaza Strip up in flames. In response Israel halted the delivery of fuel to the Gaza Strip power plant.
- Demonstrations were held in several cities in Judea and Samaria to protest the economic workshop in Bahrain. Thousands of Palestinians participated in the demonstrations, the most important of which was held in Ramallah. No exceptional events were reported. A general strike was called in the Gaza Strip and a march was held in the center of Gaza City. An event is planned for the area near the Karni Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip.
The return march of June 21, 2019
- On Friday, June 21, 2019, a return march was held near the Gaza Strip border. Its theme was, “Our land is not for sale.” About 6,000 Palestinians participated, slightly more than in previous weeks. During the events there was more violence near the security fence. Rioters threw Molotov cocktails, cut through the fence and crossed the fence into Israeli territory. In the region of al-Bureij a number of IEDs were thrown at IDF forces. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, reported that 79 Palestinians were wounded. One of them was severely wounded in the chest (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, June 21, 2019).
Pictures documenting the violence near the fence Palestinian rioters pull at the barbed wire fence near the security fence in the eastern part of the al-Bureij refugee camp (Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March Facebook page, June 21, 2019).
Palestinian rioters attack an IDF jeep with a locally-made hand grenade, east of al-Bureij (central Gaza Strip) (QudsN Facebook page, June 21, 2019; Twitter account of Mu’ataz Abu Rida, June 21, 2019).
- The Supreme National Authority called on Palestinians to participate in the return march this coming Friday, June 28, 2019. Its theme will be “May the workshop in Bahrain fail” (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, June 21, 2019). Before the return march events demonstrations and marches will be held throughout the Gaza Strip to protest the Bahrain workshop. In addition, a general strike has been called for June 25, 2019.
- During an interview Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) spokesman Da’ud Shehab claimed the return marches have enforced a new reality [on Israel]. He said that the theme of the most recent march, “Our land is not for sale,” was a clear message to all [Arabs] interested in normalization [with Israel] (Paltoday, June 21, 2019).
Senior PIJ figure Ahmed al-Mudallal holds a sign reading “Down with the deal of the century” at the return camp in eastern Rafah (Palestine Plus Facebook page, June 21, 2019).
The number of incendiary and IED balloons launched into Israeli territory has risen, causing a rise in the number of fires near the Gaza Strip border. On June 3, 2019, the units launching balloons from the Gaza Strip announced they were increasing their activities. The PIJ’s “Barak” unit called on the IDF forces and Israelis living near the Gaza Strip to leave because they were going to “send the area near the Gaza Strip up in flames” (Filastin al-Yawm, June 24, 2019). On June 24, 2019, 13 fires were set by incendiary and IED balloons. In addition the Night Harassment Unit announced it would renew its activities on June 26, 2019, to protest the economic workshop in Bahrain.
IED balloons launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip by the Sons of al-Zawari, eastern Khan Yunis unit, on June 23, 2019 (Sons of al-Zawari, eastern Khan Yunis’ Facebook page, June 23, 2019).
The Sons of al-Zawari, eastern Khan Yunis unit, launch incendiary balloons into Israel on June 24, 2019 (Sons of al-Zawari, eastern Khan Yunis’ Facebook page, June 24, 2019).
- The main events were the following:
- On June 24, 2019, 13 fires were located in the area near the Gaza Strip. The fires were set by incendiary and IED balloons. In the afternoon an incendiary balloon landed near a kindergarten (empty at the time) in one of the communities near the Gaza Strip border. It did not ignite. One of the fires spread to the area near the water reservoir of one of the communities. A fire also broke out in an avocado grove (Ynet, June 25, 2019).
- On June 23, 2019, six fires broke out in the western Negev. According to an investigator from the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, they were set by incendiary balloons (Fire and Rescue spokesman’s unit, southern district, June 23, 2019).
- During the return march on June 21, 2019, several incendiary balloons were launched. Three, launched from the region of Beit Hanoun (northern Gaza Strip) set two fires in Israeli territory near the Gaza Strip border.
- In view of the incendiary balloon launchings, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced it had been decided to stop the delivery of fuel through the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Gaza Strip power plant. Delivery ceased on the morning of June 25, 2019, and will not be renewed until further notice (COGAT’s Twitter account, June 25, 2019). In consequence there be extended power outages in the Gaza Strip. Note: On June 23, 2019, despite the fires set by the incendiary balloons, the COGAT authorized the delivery of liquid helium to the Gaza Strip for use in hospitals (Walla!, June 23, 2019).
Notice issued by the Sons of al-Zawari, Rafah unit, about their willingness to supply enormous quantities of helium to the other balloon-launching units (Sons of al-Zawari, Rafah unit, Facebook page, June 24, 2019). The Sons of al-Zawari accompany their balloon launches with boasts and psychological warfare.
- The electric company in the Gaza Strip announced that if the power plant stops working, the amount of electricity provided in the Gaza Strip (which basically does not fully supply the needs of the residents in any case) will be cut by 70 megawatts. That will reduce the number of hours of electricity and worsen the Gazan’s daily lives (Dunia al-Watan, June 25, 2019).
- The Sons of al-Zawari units issued an announcement headed “We will not be silent much longer in view of the [lack of implementation of the] understandings.” According to the announcement, Israel’s [“the occupation’s”] lack of commitment to the recent understandings, the Sons of al-Zawari have returned to the battlefield, will force Israel [“the enemy”] to be committed to the understandings according to the path [of the Sons of al-Zawari]. They also announced they would turn the area around the Gaza Strip into a [living] hell (Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari in al-Maghazi, June 25, 2019).
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, claimed that the understandings reached for a lull between Hamas and Israel were in danger. That, he claimed, is because Israel “behaves erratically,” delays in implementing the understandings and does not agree to meet Hamas’ demands. He said Israel still does not allow freedom of movement through the crossings to residents of the Gaza Strip, has violated the agreements regarding the fishing zone and delayed the implementation of projects for increasing the supply of electricity in the Gaza Strip. He also criticized Israel’s conduct in dealing with the return marches, claiming Israel uses excessive force against the demonstrators. He claimed the residents of the Gaza Strip do not enjoy the fruits of the lull, and that Hamas was committed to promoting contacts to improve the conditions of the civilians in the Gaza Strip (Hamas website, June 20, 2019).
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
- According to reports, on June 24, 2019, Hamas’ military wing launched an experimental rocket from the Gaza Strip towards the sea (Amad, June 24, 2019)
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Events on the ground
- Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets. Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity, and seizing military grade and improvised weapons.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip
The distribution of support funds from Qatar
- On June 20, 2019, after a delay of several days, the distribution of the funds donated by Qatar began at the branches of the post office bank in the Gaza Strip. According to the terms of the donation, 60,000 needs families received $100 each (Sawa, June 20, 2019).
Funding projects in the Gaza Strip
- Naji Sirhan, deputy minister of housing and public works, announced that €1,700,000 had been paid to contractors participating in the rebuilding of 75 dwelling units destroyed during the most recent round of escalation in the Gaza Strip. The construction companies are rebuilding the infrastructure in the al-Nida neighborhood in northern Beit Hanoun. The projects are being funded by Italy (Sawa, June 20, 2019).
- The ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, in the presence of the Japanese ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, launched a solar energy project costing half a million dollars. It will supply electricity to the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis. The project will reduce the hospital’s electricity bill by a third. In addition, a Japanese-funded water purification project was launched in Rafah (al-Aqsa TV, June 18, 2019).
UNRWA’s financial situation
- UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, speaking at a press conference at UN headquarters in New York, gave information about the agency’s financial situation. He said UNRWA needs $1.2 billion to cover its 2019 budget (Paltoday, June 22, 2019).
Isma’il Haniyeh’s statements about Hamas’ order of priorities
- During a press conference held by Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, with foreign correspondents, he relayed Hamas’ priorities, based on the claim that Hamas is a “national liberation movement which came to power democratically” (Hamas website, June 20, 2019).
- Hamas’ top priority is the restoration of Palestinian unity. Haniyeh called for the unification of the institutions of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, for general elections to its institutions to be held, for the establishment of a national unity government and for the PLO to be reorganized to include representation from all the organizations.
- Hamas’ second priority is rehabilitating the “national Palestinian project,” which has been endangered by the United States and Israel. Hamas, he said, is looking for a common denominator that will enable it to preserve the aspiration of establishing a Palestinian state.
- Hamas’ third priority is breaking the [so-called] “siege” of the Gaza Strip. He thanked Egypt, Qatar and the UN for reaching understandings with Israel regarding the issue.
- Hamas’ fourth priority is undermining Israel’s attempts to annex the West Bank. He said the “resistance” would struggle against every Israeli attempt to annex the West Bank.
- Hamas’ fifth priority is stopping the suffering of the [Palestinian terrorist] prisoners in Israeli jails. He said Hamas supported all the prisoners’ demands.
- Hamas’ sixth priority is ensuring the Palestinian dispersal by defending the [so-called] “right of return,” refusing all programs for an alterative homeland, and holding a dialogue with the countries hosting the refugees to secure their lives in the refugee camps.
IHH meets with foreign correspondents (Twitter account of the media department of Isma’il Haniyeh’s office, June 20, 2019).
Two topics were [deliberately] left off Isma’il Haniyeh’s list: one is Hamas’ military buildup in the Gaza Strip. It is at the very top of Hamas’ order of priorities, as has been declared in the past by senior Hamas figures, but Haniyeh had no interest in publicizing it. The second issue is improving the daily lives of the civilian population and promoting infrastructure projects in the Gaza Strip, which Hamas would like to advance but not at the expense of other issues which have higher priority.
The economic workshop in Bahrain
- On June 25, 2019, the American-initiated economic workshop opened in Bahrain. Its objective is to create a framework for economic development for the region in general and the Palestinians in particular. Representatives from Israel will not attend. The PA categorically refused to send a delegation because of its overall strong rejection of the “deal of the century” and the workshop Rejection will also be expressed through protest demonstrations which will also be held in the Gaza Strip, where a general strike was called.
- On June 22, 2019, shortly before the workshop, Jared Kushner, senior advisor to the American president, revealed the economic aspects of the “deal of the century.” He said the United States is planning to establish a fund of $50 billion for the development of 179 projects as well as business and infrastructure initiatives in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. The goal of the program is to lower unemployment in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip by creating a million jobs. According to Kushner, the program will last for ten years and is expected to double the Palestinian GNP. He also said that the economic program cannot be advanced without first settling the political issue, but, he claimed, the United States prefers to deal with the economic issue first because it raises fewer disagreements (Reuters, June 22, 2019).
- According to Reuters, of the 179 planned projects, 147 will be in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. They will focus mainly on water, energy, communications, tourism and medicine. Among the projects mentioned is a “travel corridor” that would pass through Israeli territory to link Judea and Samaria to the Gaza Strip. According to reports, the finances will be handled by a “multilateral development bank” which will determine how the funds would be distributed among the projects (Reuters, June 22, 2019).
Initial Palestinian responses to the economic workshop in Bahrain
- The Palestinians decided to hold protests in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip during the days the workshop was being held in Bahrain. Protests will be held in the large cities and at friction points with the Israeli security forces. A general strike was declared in the Gaza Strip and the public was called on to participate in a series of protest events. Similar events are planned for the Arab states, the United States and Europe. The PA and Hamas convened various forums to protest the workshop. In the Gaza Strip the Palestinian organizations met and reiterated their rejection of the workshop in Bahrain. They called on the public to participate in the planned protest activities (Paltoday, June 19, 2019).
- The protests began on June 24, 2019, thousands of Palestinians held demonstrations in Judea and Samaria. The main demonstration was held in the al-Manar Square in Ramallah, and was attended by senior Fatah figures (Shehab, June 24, 2019). Dozens of university students burned tires at the northern entrance to al-Bireh (Amama, June 24, 2019). Marches were held in Qalqilya, Jenin and Tulkarm (al-Quds, Amama, Safa, June 24, 2019). Only a few hundred Palestinians participated in each march. During the days of the workshop, more events are expected, including protest rallies throughout Judea and Samaria, a general strike in the Gaza Strip, a march in Gaza City and a gathering near the Karni Crossing on the northern Israel-Gaza Strip border.
Pictures of the protests Right: The largest protest, held in in the al-Manar Square in Ramallah (Facebook page of Munir al-Jaghob, head of the media bureau of Fatah’s bureau of mobilization and organization, June 24, 2019). Left: Burning effigies of the king of Bahrain and the American president during a protest in Halhul (Facebook page of Fatah’s north Hebron branch, June 24, 2019).
General strike in Jabalia and Rafah (right) (Palinfo Twitter account, June 25, 2019).
Burning pictures of Trump in Gaza
(Twitter account of photojournalist Dawoud Abo Alkas, June 24, 2019).
Notice issued by Fatah’s Shabiba student movement with a call for manifestations of anger against the “deal of the century” and the economic workshop in Bahrain along all the “lines of contact with the enemy [i.e., Israel].” June 24-26 have been designated as “days of rage” (official Fatah Facebook page, June 21, 2019).
Statements critical of the workshop
- Senior PA and Hamas figures continue making public statements severely critical of the economic workshop. The publication of the economic part of the “deal of the century” led to another wave of criticism, with claims that it was an attempt to eradicate the Palestinian cause with money. A number of Palestinian statements were the following:
- At a meeting of the PLO’s Central Committee, Mahmoud Abbas again stressed the Palestinians’ refusal to participate in the workshop. He claimed it was because the workshop focused on the economic situation and the PA refused to deal with the economic situation before a solution was found for the political situation (Dunia al-Watan, June 22, 2019).
- An ad hoc meeting of the PLO’s Executive Committee stressed its strong rejection of the workshop and called on all those who had been invited to respect the Palestinian position and not participate. The committee called on the Palestinian public to join the protest activities (Wafa, June 23, 2019).
- The PA’s foreign ministry said the workshop in Bahrain was an attempt to strengthen the [Israeli] occupation and the settlements, and exposed America’s bias towards Israel (Sawa, June 23, 2019).
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, held a press conference where he said that the economic workshop in Bahrain was represented as economic, but in reality was mainly political. Its objective, he said, was to reduce the Palestinian problem from a national issue to an economic and humanitarian issue (Hamas website, June 20, 2019).
- Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan said the homeland was not for sale. Palestine he said, was sacred and belonged to the Palestinian people and the Arab-Muslim nation. He also stressed that the land could be bargained over, regardless of the cost (Dunia al-Watan, June 22, 2019).
An invitation to the Palestinian community in Holland to demonstrate in front of the American embassy in The Hague on June 25, 2019, to protest the workshop in Bahrain (Palinfo Twitter account, June 22, 2019).
Right: Cartoon criticizing the “deal of the century.” The hand coming out of the earth belongs to Yasser Arafat (official Facebook page, June 24, 2019). Left: Cartoon by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha (Palinfo Twitter account, June 25, 2019).
The PA’s financial situation
- At a meeting of Fatah’s Central Committee, Mahmoud Abbas related to the PA’s refusals to accept tax revenues from Israel because of the deduction of money earmarked for the families of shaheeds and prisoners. He said the PA would be willing to discuss with Israel the issue of the salaries paid to the families of shaheeds and other economic matters only after the tax revenues had been turned over in full (Dunia al-Watan, June 22, 2019).
- Given the PA’s difficult economic situation, Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri said fifty Palestinian businessmen from the PA and abroad would lend the PA $150 million. He said the transfer of the funds would begin in July 2019 and be spread over four months (Dunia al-Watan, June 18, 2019). Khaled al-Asili, Palestinian national finance minister, thanked the businessmen who had proposed the loan. He said the matter was under examination with the currency authority and the Palestinian ministry of the treasury. He said the tax revenues received from Israel made up 64% of the PA’s budget (Palestinian TV, June 21, 2019).
- The Arab states’ treasury ministers held an emergency meeting at the Arab League’s headquarters in Cairo, where Ahmed Abu al-Ghait, secretary general of the Arab League, declared the establishment of an “Arab economic safety net” of $100 million that would be transferred to the PA every month (Dunia al-Watan, June 23, 2019). It is doubtful whether the Arab states will genuinely be willing to finance the safety net.
 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. ↑