News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (November 20-26, 2019)

The demonstration in Hebron (Facebook page of the Fatah branch in Hebron, November 26, 2019).

The demonstration in Hebron (Facebook page of the Fatah branch in Hebron, November 26, 2019).

Marchers in Jenin hold pictures of security prisoner Sami Abu Diyak, who died in an Israeli prison after an illness on November 26, 2019 (official Fatah Facebook page, November 26, 2019).

Marchers in Jenin hold pictures of security prisoner Sami Abu Diyak, who died in an Israeli prison after an illness on November 26, 2019 (official Fatah Facebook page, November 26, 2019).

Saleh al-'Arouri interviewed by al-Aqsa TV (Sawa Mubasher Facebook page, November 19, 2019).

Saleh al-'Arouri interviewed by al-Aqsa TV (Sawa Mubasher Facebook page, November 19, 2019).

  • On November 22, 2019, the return march in the Gaza Strip was postponed. The return march of November 15, 2019, at the end of the recent round of escalation, was also postponed. The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported that deliberations were currently being held about the possibility of holding the marches once a month or on national dates. The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March denied the reports, claiming the, November 29, 2019 march would be held as scheduled this coming Friday. Apparently the reports reflected a feeling that the return marches had exhausted themselves and alternative modes of action were being sought. Note: On the night of November 26, 2019, two rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip at the southern Israeli city of Sderot. One was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.
  • On November 26, 2019, a “day of rage” was held in Judea and Samaria to protest the announcement of the American Secretary of State that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were not in violation of international law. The “day of rage” was announced by Fatah with the backup and support of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which shortened the school day to enable students to gather at the friction points. The PLO’s Executive Committee called on the Palestinian public to go to the friction points and clash with the IDF and with Israeli residents. Note: During November 26, 2019, thousands of Palestinians demonstrated at various focal points in Judea and Samaria. So far we have no further details.
  • In the meantime, the PA decided to take a series of international diplomatic, legal and propaganda measures. Appeals will be made to the UN, the UN’s Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. The PA is also interacting with a number of countries to have their national courts investigate Israel’s [so-called] “crimes,” and is weighing an appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
The return marches
  • The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March announced the November 22, 2019 return march would not be held. Nevertheless, on Friday several dozen Palestinians went to traditional return march demonstration sites. Rioters burned tires, threw IEDs and tried to approach the security fence.
  • A Supreme National Authority source reported that the organizations in the Gaza Strip had decided to postpone the return march activities for November 22, 2019, based on information indicating that Israel was [allegedly] planning to violate the conditions reached with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) regarding the marches. That would cause the PIJ to retaliate and enter into an additional confrontation with Israel. The source added that deliberations were now being held about holding the return marches once a month or on national dates (al-Akhbar, November 22, 2019).
  • The Supreme National Authority denied the reports, saying that if Israel did not lift the siege on the Gaza Strip the Palestinians would continue their protests, launch incendiary kites and balloons and also reinstate the activities of the Night Harassment Units. According to Talal Abu Zarifa, a Supreme National Authority member, there were a number of reasons to postpone the activities of the most recent return marches. He said the issue of the marches was in fact being deliberated, but it focused mainly on how to continue the marches as a “resistance activity” and struggle against Israel. He said for the present time the marches would continue to be held on a weekly basis (Sawa, November 22, 2019).
  • On November 25, 2019, the Supreme National Authority announced, after holding a meeting in the eastern part of Gaza City, that the return marches would continue “with the preservation of their popular character.” This coming Friday, November 29, 2019, a return march will be held with the theme, “A day of solidarity with the Palestinian people” (Sawa, November 22, 2019).
Supreme National Authority meeting in eastern Gaza City (Twitter account of Russia Today correspondent, November 26, 2019).     Supreme National Authority meeting in eastern Gaza City (Twitter account of Russia Today correspondent, November 26, 2019).
Supreme National Authority meeting in eastern Gaza City
(Twitter account of Russia Today correspondent, November 26, 2019).
Rocket fire into Israel
  • On the afternoon of November 25, 2019, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. It fell in an open area. No casualties or damage were reported (IDF spokesman, November 25, 2019). The identity of the terrorist organization that fired the rocket is not known.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018

Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since January 2018

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

UN envoy criticism of rocket fire at Israel
  • Nikolay Mladenov, the UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, held a briefing in which he related to the recent events in the Gaza Strip. He said that “such indiscriminate launching is unacceptable and must stop immediately.” Regarding the killing of three women and eight children, he said that “there is no justification for killing civilians anywhere.” He said the Gaza Strip required a political solution, adding that “militant [sic] activity cannot continue to undermine the chances for peace and development” (UN website, November 20, 2019)
Other events
  • On November 24 and 25, 2019, the Palestinian media reported the interception of Israeli quadcopters in the skies over the Gaza Strip after military operatives of the Palestinian organizations shot at them (Amad, Paldf, Filastin al-Yawm, November 24 and 25, 2019).
Other events on the ground
  • In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets (primarily vehicles). Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity, confiscating funds used to finance terrorist activities, and seizing military grade and improvised weapons. The more prominent events were the following:
    • November 26, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a bus and other vehicles on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road, near the al-Aroub refugee camp. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 26, 2019).
    • November 25, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a bus in the al-Fawar region southwest of Hebron. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 25, 2019).
    • November 23, 2019 – During searches for illegal weapons Israeli security forces found nine guns and ammunition. Sums of money worth tens of thousands of dollars were seized, which were apparently meant to fund terrorist activities (IDF spokesman, November 23, 2019).
    • November 22, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a bus and other vehicles on the road between Kiryat Arba and Beit A’innon. One man incurred minor injuries. One of the stone-throwers was apprehended (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, not 22, 2019).
    • November 21, 2019 – Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion Tunnel Road. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 21, 2019).
    • November 21, 2019 – Palestinians threw stones at an IDF post at the al-Fawar Junction southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 21, 2019).
    • November 21, 2019 – Palestinians threw stones and burned tires on the Beit-El-Givat Asaf road (north of Ramallah). No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 21, 2019).
    • November 21, 2019 – Stones were thrown at a bus on the Gush Etzion Hebron road near the al-Fawar refugee camp. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, November 21, 2019).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017[1]

Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017

“Day of rage” declared to protest the American decision regarding the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria
  • Fatah and other terrorist organizations declared Tuesday, November 26, 2019, a “day of rage” to protest the statement made by American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were not in violation of international law. For the “day of rage” the Palestinian public was called on to hold protest rallies in the centers of cities in Judea and Samaria and at the friction points with IDF soldiers and Israeli settlers. To increase the number of protestors the PA decided to end the school day at 11:30 in the morning, so that students could also participate (Sawa, November 25, 2019).
  • The events were encouraged by Fatah and the PA. According to Mahmoud al-‘Alul, Fatah’s deputy chairman, the Fatah movement and the national forces had formulated a program to struggle against Israel on the ground which would be implemented in the near future, and to strengthen its stance against Israel. He said the Palestinian leadership sought to stop implementing the agreements signed with Israel, given the “crimes” it commits. The PLO’s Executive Committee called on the Palestinian public to participate in the “popular resistance” [popular terrorism] activities that will be held in the areas of friction with IDF forces and Israeli residents (Dunia al-Watan, November 23, 2019).

"Day of rage" events in Ramallah, with the participation of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh and Fatah's deputy chairman, Mahmoud al-'Alul (official Fatah Facebook page, November 26, 2019).
“Day of rage” events in Ramallah, with the participation of PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh and Fatah’s deputy chairman, Mahmoud al-‘Alul (official Fatah Facebook page, November 26, 2019).

Humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip

The Qatari support

  • Khaled al-Hardan, deputy chairman of the Qatari committee for the reconstruction of Gaza, arrived in the Gaza Strip on November 24, 2019, entering through the Erez Crossing. He came to monitor projects being carried out with funding from Qatar (Amad, November 24, 2019). Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of the committee, announced that on November 27, 2019 payments of $100 would be paid to needy families through the branches of the post office bank (Dunia al-Watan, the website of the Qatari committee, November 25, 2019). It was also reported that a delegation of doctors from Qatar had arrived in the Gaza Strip to perform various operations (Sawa, November 25, 2019).

UNRWA reconstructs houses destroyed in the Gaza Strip

  • Mu’in Maqat, responsible for UNRWA’s “damage file,” met on November 24, 2019, with a delegation of families who had been harmed during Operation Protective Edge. He met with them during a demonstration held in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City to demand reparations. He said UNRWA had been paying reparations for years. However, two years ago they stopped because of the lack of funding and because preference was being given to the owners of houses which had been completely destroyed. He said that during the past three years they had paid the sum of $60 million to the owners of houses which had been designated as partially destroyed and were unfit for human habitation (about 5,600 houses). UNRWA had also paid reparations to 90% of the owners of 7,400 houses which had been totally destroyed. He said that so far UNRWA had paid about $330 million to rebuild houses in the Gaza Strip which had been damaged and/or destroyed (Ma’an, November 25, 2019).
  • Regarding funding for UNRWA, this past week it was reported that the UAE had donated $1.5 million to the agency, the second of four installments. The UAE will contribute a total of $50 million to UNRWA (Wafa, November 22, 2019).

Construction of a hospital in Rafah

  • In Rafah the first stage of the construction of a new hospital was begun. The ceremony for laying the cornerstone, organized by the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, was attended by Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau. He said Hamas was continuing its strategy ofconstruction alongside liberation.” He promised the construction of the hospital would be completed in the near future. He said they had received promises from Arab states for the equipment the hospital needed, which would cost $20 million. He also said that a delegation of Hamas leaders had recently met with Turkish President Erdogan and discussed the medical situation in the Gaza Strip (al-Aqsa, November 23, 2019).
Laying the cornerstone of the new hospital in Rafah with the participation of the Isma'il Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau (Hamas website, November 23, 2019).    Laying the cornerstone of the new hospital in Rafah with the participation of the Isma'il Haniyeh, head of Hamas' political bureau (Hamas website, November 23, 2019).
Laying the cornerstone of the new hospital in Rafah with the participation of the Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau (Hamas website, November 23, 2019).

Humanitarian aid from Jordan

  • In the meantime, it was reported that a number of trucks from Jordan carrying water, medicines and food had entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing. The equipment was being brought to the Jordanian hospital in the Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan, November 25, 2019).

Saleh al-‘Arouri interviewed by al-Aqsa TV

  • Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, was interviewed by Muhammad Hamad on al-Aqsa TV.[2] He related to a number of issues (al-Aqsa TV, November 19, 2019):
    • The most recent round of escalation in the Gaza Strip: According to Saleh al-‘Arouri, in the past hundreds [sic] of senior figures from the front rows of the organizations had been killed in targeted attacks. He added there more than one way to respond to the killing of leaders. He mentioned Yahya Ayash [“the engineer”] and Ahmed Yassin [founder of Hamas] as examples of cases in which the response came a long time after the killing. He said it was wrong to remain passive in the face of Israel’s actions, and that the Palestinians had to keep responding to such actions to punish and deter Israel.
    • The methods of response from the Gaza Strip: The “resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations], al-‘Arouri said, has means of responding beyond firing rockets, for example, sniper fire, launching anti-tank missiles, etc. He claimed the methods were the decision of the operatives on the ground. He said the response could be imposed on a specific organization and that not all the organizations would necessarily respond to every event, for example, in the most recent event the PIJ operated alone.
    • Hamas-PIJ relations: According to al-‘Arouri, contacts between the two organizations continue all the time at all levels, the internal and external political level, and the internal military level with the external leadership. He said it was possible that because of circumstances there had been a “certain disconnect.” However, a date has been set for a meeting to improve everything that could serve the “resistance,” the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people.
    • The joint operations room of all the organizations: al-‘Arouri said that Hamas, as a large organization with the best capabilities of all the organizations in the joint operations room, directly supported the other organizations with their military buildups and training, with technical matters and in the fields of their equipment and capabilities. He said Hamas was developing a force whose goal is fighting against Israel as part of a strategy to develop the infrastructures of the “resistance.” However, he admitted that there was a lack of coordination among the organizations regarding responses, where there was a “gap.”
Another Palestinian dies of wounds incurred in the recent round of escalation
  • On November 22, 2019, the spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported the death of Muhammad Salem Awda al-Sawarka, one of the members of the family killed by mistake in an IDF attack in Deir al-Balah. Muhammad al-Sawarka, 40, died of his wounds (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, November 22, 2019), bringing the number of Palestinians killed in the recent round of escalation in the Gaza Strip to 35, and the number of the family members in Deir al-Balah to nine. Muhammad al-Sawaka’s body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag for burial.
The funeral held for Muhammad al-Sawarka, his body draped in a Palestinian flag (QudsN Facebook page, November 22, 2019).   Muhammad Salem al-Sawarka, one of the fatalities in Deir al-Balah, holding a rifle (Mestr Farj Facebook page, November 22, 2019).
Right: Muhammad Salem al-Sawarka, one of the fatalities in Deir al-Balah, holding a rifle (Mestr Farj Facebook page, November 22, 2019). Left: The funeral held for Muhammad al-Sawarka, his body draped in a Palestinian flag (QudsN Facebook page, November 22, 2019).
Additional reactions to the American declaration regarding the legality of the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria
  • On November 18, 2019, American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press briefing that the United States recognized the settlements in Judea and Samaria as not inconsistent with international law. The Palestinians severely criticized the statement, claiming it violated international law and was a continuation of American administration decisions against the Palestinians. On November 26, 2019, a “day of rage” was declared in the PA, in which the public was asked to join protest activities (See below). At the request of the PA, the Arab League’s foreign ministers held an emergency meeting on November 25, 2019. In their summary statement they condemned the American administration’s decision on the grounds that it was in violation of international law (Wafa, November 25, 2019).
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki speaking at the meeting (PA foreign ministry Facebook page, November 25, 2019).   Emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo (Iraqi foreign ministry website, November 25, 2019).
Right: Emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo (Iraqi foreign ministry website, November 25, 2019). Left: Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki speaking at the meeting (PA foreign ministry Facebook page, November 25, 2019).
  • The Palestinian government held an emergency meeting chaired by Muhammad Shtayyeh, calling on the EU countries and Russia to revoke the citizenship of all Israeli settlers who held dual citizenship (Wafa, November 20, 2019).
  • Other diplomatic and legal measures the PA is planning to take are the following:
    • A demand that the UN implement UN Security Council Resolution 2334 regarding the settlements (Saeb Erekat interviewed by Palestinian TV, November 19, 2019).[3]
    • An appeal to the UN’s Human Rights Council for an opinion on the influence of the settlements on human rights [in Judea and Samaria]. The high commissioner of the Council will be asked to publish a list of the companies operating in the settlements (Saeb Erekat interviewed by Palestinian TV, November 19, 2019).
    • An appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague: Riyad al-Maliki, the PA’s foreign minister, reported that in the near future the PA will present a case to the ICC against Mike Pompeo personally (Wafa, November 20, 2019). PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh called on the ICC to initiate in investigation, without delay, of the PA’s file about the settlements (Wafa, November 20, 2019). The PA is also considering an appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
    • The PA is also requesting Spain, Belgium, France, South Africa and other countries to investigate Israel’s [so-called] “war crimes” in their national court system.
Palestinians protest the closing of PA ministries in Jerusalem
  • On November 20, 2019, Gilad Erdan, the Israeli minister of internal security, signed an order closing a branch of the PA’s ministry of education that operated in a school in east Jerusalem. He also ordered the closing of the offices of a company in Jerusalem that provided services for Palestinian establishment TV and an Arab medical center that operated in Jerusalem (Israeli media, November 20, 2019)
  • Many Palestinian sources condemned the closings. According to reports, dozens of Palestinians participated in rallies in Judea and Samaria to protest the closing of the Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem (Wafa, November 21, 2019). Notable reactions were the following:
  • The PA foreign ministry condemned Israel for closing Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, such as the ministry of education, for preventing Palestinian TV broadcasts from Jerusalem and detaining the director of the Arab medical center (Wafa, November 20, 2019).
  • Minister Ahmed Assaf, the general supervisor of official media information in the PA, spoke at a rally held in front of the offices of the General Authority of Palestinian Radio and Television in Ramallah. He said that the Authority would not recognize the Israeli decision and would continue operating in Jerusalem.
Demonstration in front of the offices of the General Authority of Palestinian Radio and Television in Ramallah (Wafa, November 21, 2019).   Demonstration in front of the offices of the General Authority of Palestinian Radio and Television in Ramallah (Wafa, November 21, 2019).
Demonstration in front of the offices of the General Authority of Palestinian Radio and Television in Ramallah (Wafa, November 21, 2019).
  • The “authority for the struggle against the fence and construction in the settlements” condemned the Israeli decision to close the offices of the department of education and the Arab medical center in Jerusalem, and to forbid the operations of Palestinian TV. According to the authority’s announcement, it was a violation of international law (Dunia al-Watan TV, November 21, 2019).

[1] 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.
[2] Muhammad Hamad, who used to present programs on al-Aqsa TV, currently lives in Istanbul and presents programs on an Egypt channel that broadcasts from there (according to his Facebook page). The interview was apparently taped in Istanbul.

[3] On December 23, 2016, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2334, which stats that the Israeli settlements in the territories occupied in 1967 on the West Bank and east Jerusalem are illegal.