The new response equation of the terrorist organizations. "An attack [in return] for an attack," "The joint [operations] room of the factions of the Palestinian resistance (Twitter account of Hamas' military wing, June 20, 2018).
A Palestinian prepares an incendiary balloon for launching into Israel territory (QudsN website, June 24, 2018).
Palestinians try to cross the security fence east of Gaza City (Facebook page of Palestine Live, June 23, 2018).
Children take part In the events in eastern Khan Yunis (Facebook page of the information unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Gaza Strip, June 22, 2018).
Demonstration in Ramallah (Facebook page of Lift the Sanctions, June 23, 2018).
Zaher Birawi poses for a picture in front of the boats (Facebook page of Zaher Birawi, June 21, 2018).
- The march of Friday, June 22, 2018, was attended by several thousand Gazans. Attendance was at its lowest since the “return marches” began. It seems that the Gazans are tired of them (especially since there are no commemorative days in the near future around which to carry out marches). However, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) stress that the marches will continue and be extended to new friction sites.
- The level of violence and terrorism accompanying the marches continues to escalate, and this past week Hamas fired about 45 rockets and mortar shells at Israel in retaliation for IDF attacks on Hamas targets, after incendiary kites and balloons were launched. Beginning as spontaneous events, arson terrorism is now a preferred, organized, Hamas-led modus operandi. The daily use of arson terrorism is a catalyst for the process of escalation on the ground.
- Note: On the night of June 26, 2018, an IDF force, using aircraft and tanks, attacked two Hamas observation posts and a vehicle in the Nuseirat refugee camp (central Gaza Strip). The vehicle belonged to one of Hamas’ military commanders, who is involved in launching incendiary and explosives balloons at Israel. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was destroyed. A short time later, 13 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at the western Negev. At least three of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System (IDF spokesman, June 27, 2018).
Another round of rocket fire targeting Israel
- Reacting to the increase of arson terrorism, the IDF intensified its responses. In addition to firing warning shots at Palestinians launching kites and balloons, the IDF attacked targets belonging to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Following the attacks Hamas, which is responsible for arson terrorism, announced “new rules of engagement” to prevent excessive Israeli responses and protect the Palestinians launching kites and balloons. As a result, on the night of June 19, 2018, there was another round in of escalation and Hamas operatives fired about 45 rockets and mortar shells at Israel. (Note: On the night of June 27, as noted above, there was another barrage of rockets fired at Israel.)
- Hamas’ new “response equation” has as its slogan “an attack [in return] for an attack and blood [in return] for blood.” It means if targets in the Gaza Strip are attacked in retaliation for incendiary kites and balloons, Israel will be attacked by rocket and mortar shell fire. The resulting situation is explosive and has the potential for more escalation, which is liable to lead to a broad military conflict even if neither side wants one.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018
* The minimal number of rockets and mortar shells fired. At this stage the ITIC cannot differentiate between rocket fire and mortar shell fire.
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
* Approximate number of rockets and mortar shells launched in the two rounds of escalation.
- This past week arson terrorism continued with incendiary kites and balloons launched from the Gaza Strip. They set several dozen fires in the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and caused extensive property damage. Israeli Air Force aircraft continued firing warning shots at groups of Palestinians who were trying to launch incendiary balloons. The IDF released a video of Hamas’ involvement in arson terrorism. It shows incendiary balloons launched from Hamas posts, additional proof that the arson terrorism is organized and implemented by Hamas.
Right: A Palestinian prepares an incendiary balloon for launching into Israel territory (QudsN website, June 24, 2018). Left: An incendiary balloon launched from the Gaza Strip lands near Kiryat Gat (45 kilometers, or about 28 miles, east of the Gaza Strip) (QudsN Facebook page, June 25, 2018).
- This past week Israeli Air Force aircraft carried out a series of attacks on squads of Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons. The “kite and balloon unit” “promised” that in the coming days there would be more fires in Israel in retaliation for the attacks.
- On June 26, 2018, Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a vehicle in the northern Gaza Strip used by a squad of incendiary balloon launchers and an observation post from which balloons had been launched (IDF spokesman, June 26, 2018).
- On June 24, 2018, Israeli Air Force aircraft carried out four attacks. They included an attack on a vehicle used by terrorist operatives who launched incendiary balloons from the southern Gaza Strip. A squad of balloon launchers was also attacked east of Gaza City. Three Palestinians were reportedly wounded. later, a wagon used by balloon launchers was attacked in the southern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that during one of the attacks three operatives were wounded.
- On June 23, 2018, Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a group of Palestinians launching incendiary balloons from the northern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported.
- On June 22, 2018, the IDF fired shots at four Palestinians near the fence in the al-Bureij region in the central Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported; the four fled the scene (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 22, 2018).
- On June 21, 2018, Israeli Air Force aircraft fired warning shots at a squad launching incendiary balloons east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. No casualties were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 21, 2018).
Hamas cartoon shows Palestinians continuing to fly kites into Israel despite the IDF’s attacks and the destruction they cause. The Arabic reads, “Israeli attacks on Gaza…continue (Felesteen, June 22, 2018).
- This past week several attempts made by Palestinians to infiltrate into Israeli territory were discovered:
- On June 24, 2018, the Palestinians reported that IDF forces shot at a group of youngsters who crossed the security fence to set fire to an Israeli guard post. According to reports, no casualties were reported and the group returned to the Gaza Strip (Shehab, June 24, 2018).
- The Palestinian media reported that on June 25, 2018, Palestinians took control of IDF engineering equipment after having crossed the security fence east of Khirbat I’khza’a east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip (quds.net, June 25, 2018).
The engineering equipment taken by the Palestinians (QudsN Twitter account, June 25, 2018).
- On June 25, 2018, the Palestinians reported that four operatives crossed the security fence in the Kerem Shalom region, entered Israeli territory and stole a box of ammunition. The four successfully took the box to the Gaza Strip (quds.net, June 25, 2018). On June 25, 2018, the IDF spokesman confirmed that an IDF force had identified a suspicious Palestinian who approached the fence in the southern Gaza Strip. He crossed the fence, penetrated a few meters into Israeli territory, stole unused military equipment and returned to the Gaza Strip (Israel Channel Ten TV, June 26, 2018).
Ammunition box stolen from an IDF post in the Kerem Shalom region (al-Hadath, June 25, 2018).
The Friday June 22, 2018 “return march”
- On Friday, June 22, 2018, the Palestinians held demonstrations near the security fence. Attendance was the lowest since the beginning of the marches (March 30, 2018). During the day only a few thousand Gazans came to demonstrate at five locations along the border. The theme was “Friday of loyalty to the wounded of the return march” (al-Aqsa, June 22, 2018). Rioters threw hand grenades and Molotov cocktails at the IDF forces. There were also a number of attempts to cut through the security fence.
Right: Attempts to sabotage the security fence in the eastern Gaza Strip (Facebook page of Palestine Live, June 23, 2018). Left: Children take part In the events in eastern Khan Yunis (Facebook page of the information unit of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the Gaza Strip, June 22, 2018).
- A spokesman for the Hamas-controlled ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that one Palestinian had been killed during the demonstrations on Friday and 206 had been wounded. Eighty-six of them were treated in hospitals and the rest in the field. One of the wounded was Ali Jadallah, a photographer from the Turkish al-Andalou News, whose arm was wounded ((Ma’an, date, 2018) and al-Andalou News, June 22, 2018).
- Senior Hamas and PIJ figures visited the wounded on Friday (Shehab, June 22, 2018). Some senior Hamas figures stayed in the tent camp east of Gaza City, among them Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau in the Gaza Strip, senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan, senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batash (al-Aqsa, June 22, 2018). A delegation from the Palestinian Legislative Council also participated in the march east of the al-Bureij refugee camp (central Gaza Strip).
Senior PIJ figures led by Khaled al-Batash launch balloons with picture of Palestinians killed in the return march (Facebook page of sawaed al-intifada, June 24, 2018)
- Some of the statements were the following:
- Ahmed Bahar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said the return marches had plagued and confused Israel both militarily and with regard to security. He added that they would continue until the “siege” had been lifted and the “right of return” had been realized. He praised the wounded and said their return to the demonstrations proved the will of the Palestinian people and their intention to realize their rights. He also said that the “resistance” [i.e., the terrorist organizations] stood behind the marches and followed Israel’s reactions, and would protect the marches (Dunia al-Watan, June 22, 2018).
- Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan gave a Friday sermon in which he called on the Palestinian masses to participate in the marches. He said Israel had to understand that a change in the rules of the confrontation was unacceptable to Hamas. He repeated the slogan “an attack will be answered with an attack, blood will be answered with blood and destruction will be answered with destruction.” He also claimed Hamas does nor want a new military campaign against Israel in the near future, but if forced, Hamas would participate, and Israel would be responsible for the escalation. He stressed the coordination between Hamas and the other “resistance” organizations in the use of force in the Gaza Strip (al-Aqsa, June 22, 2018).
Attacks and attempted attacks
- On June 24, 2018, shots were fired from a Palestinian car at the rear entrance of the community of Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion. No casualties were reported. The car drove off towards Beit Fajjar. IDF forces searched the area to locate the shooter.
- On the evening of June 23, 2018, a car ran into four IDF soldiers (three of whom were women) on foot patrol in the village of Husan near the Israeli community of Beitar Illit, south of Jerusalem. The driver abandoned the car and fled into the village. The wounded soldiers did not have time to return fire. They were evacuated to a hospital (IDF spokesman, June 23, 2018). During a broad Israeli security force search in Husan to locate the driver, a Palestinian suspected of the attack surrendered to the Israeli security forces at a post near Bethlehem. During interrogation he claimed it was “an accident,” not a vehicular attack (Ynet, June 24, 2018).
- The Palestinian media reported that the Palestinian suspected of carrying out the vehicular attack was Muhammad Shehadeh, in his 30s, from the Dheishe refugee camp in Bethlehem (Shehab Facebook page, June 24, 2018). According to his Facebook page he is unmarried, a student at the Al-Quds Open University, and an activist in Hamas’ student union (the Islamic Bloc) (Facebook page of Muhammad Shehadeh).
Notice posted by Muhammad Shehadeh to his Facebook page. It reads, “People think the shaheed is a terrible loss for us, but they don’t know that every drop of blood of our shaheeds brings us closer to victory over the Jews” (Facebook page of Muhammad Shehadeh, March 30, 2018).
- Palestinians made other attempts to carry out terrorist attacks, which were prevented by the Israeli security forces. Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and seizing weapons. The more prominent events were the following:
- June 25, 2018 – As Jewish worshippers were entering the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus, the Israeli security forces noticed a suspicious vehicle speeding towards them. In response the soldiers shot at the vehicle and detained the driver (IDF spokesman, June 26, 2018).
- June 25, 2018 – A surveillance force near Kiryat Arba identified an attempt to infiltrate the community. Security forces arriving at the scene found an Israeli youth who had crossed the fence. One of the community’s guards was seriously wounded in a traffic accident after having been called to the scene of the incident (IDF spokesman, June 27, 2018).
- June 25, 2018 – During an Israeli security force search in Hebron and the village of Silwad weapons were seized, including two hand guns and two shock grenades (IDF spokesman, June 25, 2018).
- June 23, 2018 – Border Policemen fired shots at a suspicious Palestinian near the Abu Dis roadblock east of Jerusalem. The initial investigation revealed that the suspect had taken a Palestinian taxi to a location near the roadblock and begun walking towards the soldiers. He did not heed their calls to halt and continued walking even after they fired shots into the air. They then shot at the lower part of his body and detained him (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 23, 2018).
- June 22, 2018 – Border Policemen located two IEDs ready for detonation near the checkpoint of the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. They were dismantled by demolitions experts. No casualties were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 22, 2018).
- June 21, 2018 – A pipe bomb was thrown at Border Policemen stationed near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. No casualties were reported (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 23, 2018).
- The night of June 21, 2018 – Border Policemen detained six Palestinians from Bethlehem, one of them an Israeli citizen, who were suspected of vandalizing the security fence in the region of Har Homah in Jerusalem. They often went to the fence, masked and with cutting tools, causing extensive damage to the fence. Some of them were suspected of other terrorist activities. A search carried out in the home of one detainee revealed materials for making pipe bombs, binoculars, knives and other weapons (Facebook page of Red Alert, June 21, 2018).
Significant terrorist attacks during the past year 
The Rafah crossing
- On June 19, 2018, the directorate of the Rafah crossing announced it would remain open until further notice (Filistin al-Youm, June 19, 2018). Egypt allowed ten trucks carrying fuel to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing (Emad, June 20, 2018).
The supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip
- The electric company in the Gaza Strip reported that the current schedule for the supply of electricity was a cycle of four hours of electricity with a 16-hour hiatus (Emad, June 24, 2018). Zafer Mulhem, chairman of the authority for energy and natural resources in the PA, said that contacts were being held with the Egyptian ministry of energy about laying new cables for electricity to the Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, June 24, 2018).
UNRWA’s financial situation
- In view of its financial crisis, UNRWA is planning to partially suspend its activities in the Gaza Strip and to delay paying the salaries of some of its employees (Raya, June 20 2018). On June 25, 2018, a conference of the UNRWA donor nations was held in the UN building in New York. Twenty-seven states participated. The PA, the EU and the Arab League were present as observers. The objective of the conference was to collect the money necessary for UNRWA to continue its activities (Safa, June 24, 2018).
Demonstration in front of UN headquarters in the Gaza Strip to protest the cuts to the agency’s budget (Shehab Facebook page, June 24, 2018).
- Before the conference, Palestinian and international figures said the following:
- Nikolai Miladinov, the UN emissary to the peace process, said UNRWA would receive $250 million in aid. He said the main reason for the agency’s deficit was the American decision to cut $300 million from its budget over a year (Palestinian TV, June 23, 2018).
- Adnan Abu Hasna, UNRWA spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said UNRWA currently had a deficit of $256 million, adding that the bleak picture of UNRWA’s future would be brighter after the conference (Raya, June 20, 2018).
- Amir al-Musehal, chairman of the UNRWA union of Arab workers in the Gaza Strip, claimed that the UNRWA’s financial crisis and its deficit threatened its activity in general and the beginning of the next school year in particular (Ma’an, June 25, 2018).
Hamas delegation visits Russia
- Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, headed a Hamas delegation to Russia. The delegation met with Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, who is also Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East, as well as with senior figures in the Russian foreign ministry (Hamas website, June 25, 2018). Musa Abu Marzouq said in an interview that during the meetings, senior Russian figures expressed their rejection of the American peace initiative (“the [so-called] deal of the century”). From Russia the delegation is planning to visit a number of other countries, including Iran (al-Mayadeen, June 25, 2018).
Musa Abu Marzouq (right) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov (Hamas movement website, June 25, 2018).
Palestinian reactions to the American peace initiative
- With the arrival of Jared Kushner, advisor to the American president for international negotiations, and Jason Greenblatt, the special envoy to the Middle East, to formulate an American-led peace plan, senior Palestinian figures were extremely critical of the deal being put forward and even refused to meet with the members of the delegation.
- Some of the statements from the senior Palestinian figures were the following:
- Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, said the visit and continuing the discourse about formulating a deal were “aggression” towards the Palestinian leadership and would lead to a dead end. He said the American delegation had to stop selling illusions and distorting history. According to Nabil Abu Rudeina, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership are the address for peace and cannot be circumvented. He stressed that peace can only exist based on a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as its capital, established through an international mechanism.
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said the objective of the delegation was to topple the Palestinian leadership in Judea and Samaria and wipe out the Palestinian cause (Wafa, June 23, 2018).
- Fatah spokesman Usama al-Qawasmeh said the plan was destined to fail and that that kind of visit showed [the Americans’] intention to eliminate the Palestinian cause. He added that the Americans intend to use the plan to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, and warned of Hamas control of Gaza.
Hamas cartoons criticize the plan. Right: The peace plan equals ceding the Temple Mount. The Arabic reads, “the deal of the century…” (Shehab Facebook page, June 24, 2018). Left: The land of Palestine is not for sale… (Facebook page of Isma’il al-Bazam, June 23, 2018).
Criticism of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for her treatment of the Palestinian cause
- Riyadh Mansour, PA delegate to the UN, held a press conference where he was critical of Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He claimed the had repeatedly delayed dealing with the Palestinian case. He said that for three years the court had not carried out an investigation of the situation of the Palestinian lands beyond the initial investigation. He added that a committee established by the International Human Rights Council would soon begin investigating Israel’s actions against the Palestinians during the “return marches” (Dunia al-Watan, June 23, 2018).
Demonstrations in Judea and Samaria to protest Mahmoud Abbas’ Gaza Strip policy
- During the past week protest demonstrations continued in Judea and Samaria against Mahmoud Abbas’ policy towards the Gaza Strip and the sanctions imposed on the Gaza Strip. On June 23, 2018 a limited demonstration was held by several hundred Gazans in al-Manara Square in Ramallah (Twitter account of Shabakat al-Quds, June 23, 2018). The protest was organized by leftist and Hamas activists. This time the PA security forces decided not to respond with violence and permitted the demonstration to be held (Agence-France Presse, June 23, 2018).
- On June 20, 2018, a demonstration of dozens of Palestinians was held in Bethlehem. They demanded an end to the security coordination with Israel and shouted slogans in favor of Muhammad Deif and the “armed resistance” [i.e., terrorism] and against “the peaceful resistance.” Reportedly, the police withdrew and only traffic police remained to direct cars (Ma’an, June 20, 2018).
The flotilla to the Gaza Strip – update
- On June 22, 2018, the al-Awda and the Huriya set sail from the port of Cascais, Portugal, about 30 kilometers (about 18.6 miles) west of Lisbon (Facebook page of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, June 22, 2018). On June 23, 2018, the boats arrived in Cádiz, in northwestern Spain, where they are expected to remain until June 26, 2018 (Freedom Flotilla Coalition website, June 18, 2018).
Right: The al-Awda and the Huriya in the port of Cascais. Left: Zaher Birawi poses for a picture in front of the boats (Facebook page of Zaher Birawi, June 21, 2018).
- Regarding the Mairead and the Falestine, after the Paris police did not allow them to anchor, they sailed the village of Gennevilliers, a suburb northwest of Paris (Facebook page of Patrice Leclerc, the mayor of Gennevilliers, June 17, 2018). From there they are planning to sail to Greece (Facebook page of SOS Gaza, Collectif Rochelais pour la Palestine, June 23, 2018).
- According to Youssef Sammour, a New Zealand naval engineer of Palestinian origin on board the Huriya, the next stops are Cagliari in the Sardinian islands (July 5-8); Naples (July 12-14) and Palermo (July 16-19). From Palermo the ships will sail to Lyons (Facebook page of Bon Voyage – Sailing from Amsterdam to Sicily, a Facebook page opened by Youssef Sammour).
Right: Activists on the deck of the al-Awda. Left to right: former Gaza Ark project coordinator Awny Farhat; Canadian-Palestinian MD Majed Kraishi; Spanish playwright Lola Blasco; the Israeli Zohar Chamberlain Regev, coordinator for the Freedom Fleet (Facebook page of Dmitri Lascaris, June 22, 2018). Left: The Falestine and the Mairead in Gennevilliers (Facebook page of Patrice Leclerc, June 17, 2018).
 For further information, see the June 20, 2018 bulletin "Rocket and mortar shell fire attack Israel as part of the new "rules of engagement" Hamas is trying to dictate to protect arson terrorism." ↑
 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. ↑