Rioters cut the security fence east of Rafah (Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March Facebook page, October 11, 2019).
Rioters in the eastern part of the al-Bureij refugee camp burn a "coffin" with a picture of the Rehavam Ze'evi, the late Israeli minister of tourism, to mark the anniversary of his murder by Palestinian terrorists (Abu Wattan's Facebook page, October 18, 2019).
Palestinian rioters throw bottles of paint at an IDF jeep near the security fence in eastern part of the al-Bureij refugee camp (Facebook page of photographer Hazem Muzeid, October 18, 2019).
The Supreme National Authority presents certificates to the families of terrorists who participated in the abduction of Gilad Shalit (Facebook page of photographer Bader al-Najadi, October 18, 2019).
An aerial view of the park, which includes a playground, lawns, gardens, shaded sitting areas and fountains.
Hamas and PIJ figures at the inauguration of the park (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, October 10 and 13, 2019).
Mahmoud Abbas meets in his office in Ramallah with the chairman of the Palestinian central elections commission, Hana Nasser (Wafa, October 7, 2019).
Muhammad Shtayyeh meets in Cairo with the Egyptian prime minister, Mostafa Madbouly (Wafa, October 7, 2019).
Formal invitation to participate in the first Fatah "popular resistance" conference under the sponsorship of Mahmoud Abbas (Jamal Muheisen's Facebook page, October 12, 2019).
- The return marches in the Gaza Strip held on October 11 and 18, 2019, were characterized by varying levels of violence (relatively high on October 11 and relatively low on October 18). During both IEDs and Molotov cocktails were thrown at IDF forces and attempts were made to break into Israeli territory.
- A delegation of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figures headed by its leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah paid a visit to Egypt and met with senior officials in Egyptian General Intelligence. A number of issues were discussed, among them the Egyptian demand to preserve the lull and the PIJ’s request for the release of its operatives imprisoned in Egyptian jails. The delegation returned to the Gaza Strip with 26 operatives who had been released. In ITIC assessment it may have been a deal in which the operatives were released in return for a commitment to the lull.
- In Judea and Samaria there was an attempted vehicular attack of Israeli security forces operating in the al-Am’ari refugee camp (near Ramallah). A stabbing attack was prevented at the Te’enim Crossing (near Tulkarm). In the meantime, the routine throwing of stones, Molotov cocktails and IEDs at Israeli vehicles continues.
- The contradictory reactions of Hamas and the PIJ to the Turkish invasion of Syria illustrates their different orientations. Hamas, which has a Turkish orientation, supported the invasion, claiming Turkey had the right to defend itself. The PIJ, which is sponsored by Iran, condemned the invasion (although weakly) and called on Turkey to stop the fighting.
The return marches
The return march of October 11, 2019
- On Friday, October 11, 2019, the return march was held with the theme, “Our shaheed children.” About 5,000 Palestinians participated. Despite the decline in the number of participants, the level of violence was high, similar to previous weeks, including the throwing of IEDs and Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers. A number of rioters arrived at the security fence, sabotaged it, and some tried to cross it and break into Israeli territory. The ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported 49 wounded (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Facebook page, October 11, 2019).
Right: Operatives of Hamas’ security forces direct traffic at the entrance to a return camp in the Gaza Strip. Left: Operatives of Hamas’ security forces help evacuate the wounded (website of the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip, October 11, 2019).
The return march of October 18, 2019
- On Friday October 18, 2019, the return march was held with the theme, “No to normalization [of relations with Israel].” About 4,500 Palestinians participated. The level of violence was low relative to previous weeks. Rioters threw Molotov cocktails at IDF soldiers. Five Palestinians tried to break into Israeli territory. The ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported 69 wounded (Ashraf al-Qidra’s Twitter account, October 18, 2019).
Rioters in the eastern part of the al-Bureij refugee camp burn a “coffin” with a picture of the Rehavam Ze’evi, the late Israeli minister of tourism, to mark the anniversary of his murder by Palestinian terrorists (Abu Wattan’s Facebook page, October 18, 2019).
- The Supreme National Authority announced that on October 25, 2019, the 80th return march would be held with the theme, “Our prisoners…our al-Aqsa…We are coming.” The slogan was meant to stress the continuation of support for the Palestinians imprisoned in Israel and to send Israel the message that harming the Muslim holy places, especially al-Aqsa mosque, is a red line (Shehab, October 18, 2019).
Women demonstrate against the “siege” of the Gaza Strip
- On October 22, 2019, the Supreme National Authority organized a women’s rally to protest the “siege” of the Gaza Strip. The rally was held on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip. A speech was given by Iktimal Hamad, a member of the Supreme National Authority’s steering committee. She said Palestinian women were continuing the path of female Palestinian activists who had been killed during their activities. She said the Palestinian woman played her part alongside the Palestinian fighters and waved her weapon, and now the women would continue with every form of struggle, including the popular struggle (Palestine Online, October 23, 2019).
The women’s rally (Right: Supreme National Authority Facebook page, October 22, 2019; left: Palestine Online, October 23, 2019).
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 since January 2018
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
- On October 17, 2019, an IDF force identified a drone near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip. It was intercepted by IDF forces (IDF spokesman, October 17, 2019).
- On October 18, 2019, there was a fire near one of the communities close to the Gaza Strip. A fire department investigator determined it had been set by an incendiary balloon (0404 News, October 19, 2018).
Attempted stabbing attack at the Te’enim Crossing
- On October 18, 2019, guards of the Crossings Authority at the Te’enim Crossing (near Tulkarm) prevented a stabbing attack. A Palestinian holding a knife ran towards the crossing, suspected of intending to attack the guards. The procedure for halting a suspect was employed, and when the Palestinian did not halt he was shot and killed. No Israeli casualties were reported (Israeli ministry of defense Twitter account, October 18, 2019). The Palestinian was Ra’ed Majid Muhammad al-Bahri, 25, from the village of Zibad in the southern Tulkarm district (Wafa, October 18, 2019).
Right: The scene of the attack at the Te’enim Crossing (Israeli ministry of defense Twitter account, October 18, 2019). Left: Ra’ed al-Bahri (Facebook page of Ra’ed al-Bahri, June 19, 2019).
Attempted vehicular attack in the al-Am’ari refugee camp
- On the night of October 16, 2019, the Israeli security forces carried out a security activity in the al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah. They detained two Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorism. As the activity ended a vehicle drove towards the soldiers, suspected of planning to run into soldiers sitting in an armored vehicle. A passenger in the vehicle was identified as holding a suspicious object which turned out to be a knife. The soldiers shot and wounded him. The Palestinian, who lived in east Jerusalem, was taken to a hospital. No Israeli casualties were reported. After the event a riot developed at the site and stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Israeli security forces (Israel Police Force Twitter account, October 17, 2018). The Palestinian prisoners’ club reported that the Palestinian was Firas al-Halak, 25, from Beit Hanina (Facebook page of the Palestinian prisoners’ club, October 17, 2019).
Other events on the ground
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets (mainly vehicles). Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity and seizing military grade and improvised weapons. The more prominent events were the following:
- October 20, 2019 – During a Border Police activity at the entrance to Bani Na’im (east of Hebron) two suspects from Hebron and one from Bayt Jala were detained when parts of a dissembled weapon were found in their car (Israel Police Force’s spokesman’s unit, October 20, 2018)
- October 19, 2019 – Molotov cocktails were thrown at an IDF post on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near the al-Aroub refugee camp. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, October 19, 2019).
- October 18, 2019 – A pipe bomb was thrown at an IDF post on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near Bayt Umar. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, October 18, 2019).
- October 18, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near the Tunnel Roadblock on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion road. No casualties were reported. The vehicle’s front windshield was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, October 18, 2019).
- October 17, 2019 – Israeli security forces guarding the entrance of worshippers to the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus found an IED. It was neutralized by the IDF forces (IDF spokesman, October 17, 2019).
- October 17, 2019 – During an Israeli security forces’ activity in Bayt Awa (west of Hebron) an improvised Carlo machinegun was found (IDF spokesman, October 17, 2019).
- October 16, 2019 – A pipe bomb was thrown at a parking lot near the Tomb of Rachel (Bethlehem). Three vehicles were damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, October 16, 2019).
- October 16, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle on the road between Kiryat Arba and Bayt Einun. Two women passengers were slightly injured; the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, October 16, 2019).
- October 12, 2019 – Shots were fired from a moving car at an IDF post near Tulkarm. No casualties were reported (IDF spokesman, October 12, 2019).
- October 10, 2019 – Two Molotov cocktails were thrown on the trans Judea highway near the Halhul Bridge (between Hebron and western Tarqumiya). A Molotov cocktail was thrown from a passing car near Tekoa (southeast of Bethlehem). No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, October 10, 2019).
- October 8, 2019 – During an Israeli security forces’ activity to locate weapons in the village of Azoun (east of Qalqilya) and Hebron improvised weapons, a hand gun and ammunition were seized (IDF spokesman, October 8, 2019).
- October 7, 2019 – During an Israeli security forces’ activity in Kafr Qaddum (southwest of Nablus), a Palestinian was detained when an M-16 assault rifle and ammunition were found in his vehicle (IDF spokesman, October 7, 2019).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since June 2017
PIJ delegation visits Egypt
- A delegation of senior PIJ figures left the Gaza Strip for a visit to Egypt. They joined another delegation of senior figures already in Egypt, headed by organization leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah. The delegation discussed the release of PIJ operatives imprisoned in Egypt jails, Egyptian security along the Gaza Strip border and the lull with Israel (Shehab, October 17, 2019). Before the meeting Samir Ghattas, a member of the Egyptian parliament, said senior Egyptian officials would discuss only one issue with the PIJ, the continuation of the lull with Israel. He said Hamas demonstrated more restraint than the PIJ which, because of its good relations with Iran, ignites the situation on the ground and leads to escalations (Dunia al-Watan, October 14, 2019).
- Nafez Azzam, a member of the PIJ’s political bureau, said the delegation’s meeting with senior Egyptian General Intelligence officials lasted for five hours. They discussed the Rafah Crossing, procedures for flying to the Gaza Strip from the Cairo airport, efforts to end the “siege” of the Gaza Strip and the internal Palestinian reconciliation. He said the return marches had also been discussed with Egypt (Paltoday, October 15, 2019). A source in the PIJ’s military wing reported that during the visit to Cairo the delegation reached an agreement with Egyptian General Intelligence for the release of Palestinians imprisoned in Egyptian jails (al-Hadath, October 17, 2018)
- On October 17, 2019, after a four-day visit to Egypt, the delegation returned to the Gaza Strip with 26 PIJ operatives who had been released (Safa, October 15, 2019). According to a Palestinian source in Egypt and another source on the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing, the Egyptian authorities released prisoners who belonged to the PIJ who had been detained en route to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon and other countries (al-Quds, October 11,2019). In ITIC assessment a deal may have been reached according to which Egypt released PIJ prisoners in return for the organization’s commitment to the lull.
Right: PIJ operatives Khaled al-Batash and Bahaa Abu al-Ita at the Rafah Crossing (Twitter account of Russia Today in Gaza, October 17, 2019). Left: Nafez Azzam, Khaled al-Batash and Bahaa Abu al-Ita at a reception for PIJ operatives released from prison in Egypt (Twitter account of Russia Today in Gaza, October 17, 2019).
Events marking the 32nd anniversary of the PIJ’s founding
- The PIJ marked the 32nd anniversary of its founding. The organization’s military-terrorist wing held a military parade in which dozens of operatives participated. It began at the house of Ramadan Shalah, the organization’s former secretary general (Filastin al-Yawm, October 9, 2019). On the eve of the event a delegation of the Hamas leadership headed by Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, met with the PIJ leadership. Haniyeh said Hamas and the PIJ had a “strategic alliance” and that relations between them had improved. He said Hamas and the PIJ had established common positions promoting the “resistance” [i.e., terrorism] and Islam (Filastin al-Yawm, October 8, 2019).
Isma’il Haniyeh heads a delegation of the Hamas leadership to the PIJ leadership
(Filastin al-A’an Twitter account, October 8, 2019).
“Park of the return” inaugurated in eastern Gaza City
- The Supreme National Authority of the Great Return March announced the completion of the “park of the return” on the territory of the return camp in the eastern part of Gaza City (about a quarter of a mile from the border). The park was constructed to increase popular participation in the return marches. It was also constructed to establish a site in the area where many activities could be held to inculcate the concept of the so-called “right of return” into Palestinian consciousness. The park was built on a site where buildings had been destroyed during Israeli activities (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, October 10, 2019).
- On October 13, 2019, the park, which covers an area of about 2 acres, was inaugurated with a festive ceremony attended by senior Hamas and PIJ figures. Khaled al-Batash, chairman of the Supreme National Authority, announced the Authority would hold is weekly meetings in an office in the park to stress its commitment to the continuation of the marches (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, October 13, 2019; al-Ayn, October 13, 2019).
Right: An aerial view of the park, which includes a playground, lawns, gardens, shaded sitting areas and fountains. Left: Hamas and PIJ figures at the inauguration of the park (Supreme National Authority Facebook page, October 10 and 13, 2019).
- On the social networks there was criticism from Hamas opponents regarding the opening of the park. For example, “Abu Musab” wrote that “More than 300 shaheeds in the return marches in return for a handful of dollars and the construction of the return park” (Twitter account of “Abu Musab,” October 11, 2019). Najla Fathi wrote that “Hamas and the Authority of the Non-Return March cancelled the concept of the return to our lands, to Jaffa, to Haifa and to our parks in those cities, and built the return park [east of Gaza City] to compensate the people. May a curse be on the heads of those who laugh at the ignorant people whose blood is shed in vain, and against the senior figures who profit and build parks” (Twitter account of Najla Fathi, October 11, 2019). Wassim al-Wahidi wondered if the park “built with the blood of the shaheeds and the broken bones of the wounded” would be free or if there would be an entrance fee (Twitter account of Wassim al-Wahidi, October 13, 2019). “Anwer” wrote that “The ticket into the return park, which was built with the blood of our children to amuse our children, is 1.5 shekels [about 40 cents]” (Twitter account of “Anwer,” October 13, 2019).
Preparations for Palestinian presidential elections
- On October 7, 2019, Mahmoud Abbas met in his office in Ramallah with Hana Nasser, the chairman of Palestinian central elections commission, and instructed him to renew contacts with the Palestinian organizations before the Palestinian Legislative Council elections. A number of months later elections will be held for the PA chair. According to Mahmoud Abbas, he instructed the Palestinian government and the Palestinian security forces to provide everything necessary to hold the elections (Wafa, October 7, 2018).
Continuing Palestinian activity to separate the PA’s economy from Israel
- The PA continues its activity for an economic separation from Israel. To that end a PA delegation headed by Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh visited Egypt and discussed a series of measures, including transferring to the Rafah Crossing some of the imported merchandise entering the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing. That will enable the Egyptian ministry of the treasury to collect the taxes on the merchandise without Israeli intervention (al-Akhbar, October 10, 2019). Khaled al-Asili, the PA national economic minister, said that in Palestinian markets it would soon be possible to find products and merchandise made in Egypt instead of in Israel, and that Palestinian products would be available in Egypt (al-Sharq al-Awsat, October 9, 2019). In addition, interviewed by Egyptian TV, Muhammad Shtayyeh said that Egyptian hospitals would replace Israeli hospitals (DMC channel, October 12, 2019).
- On October 14, 2019, Muhammad Shtayyeh said that as part of the measures to separate the Palestinian economy from Israel, the PA intends to increase the amount of electricity it receives from the Arab states as a replacement for the electricity from Israel. Thus the PA will increase the amount of electricity it gets from Jordan. He said the PA was working to join the Arab League energy production agreement and to renew the supply of electricity from the Gaza Strip to what it had been in the past (al-Quds, October 14, 2019).
The issue of the tax revenues
- According to statements made by Muhammad Shtayyeh at the weekly Palestinian government meeting, the issue of the tax revenues has not yet been resolved and Israel does not have a government that can made a decision. He said that the PA would be committed to paying the salaries of the families of the shaheeds and the prisoners (Wafa, October 7, 2019). At the meeting held on October 14,2019, he said that the tax revenue crisis had not yet been resolved and that the government was hard at work to get all the funds from Israel (Sawa, October 14, 2019).
The PA blocks websites
- The magistrate’s court in Ramallah ordered the blocking of 59 Palestinian websites based on orders from the attorney general. The websites, according to the claim, disrespect the PA and post contents which threaten national security. Most of the sites are affiliated with Hamas, the PIJ and Muhammad Dahlan, a deposed senior Fatah figure and rival of Mahmoud Abbas. Among the sites blocked are the Amad news site, the Shehab News Agency website, the Paldf news site, Shabakat Quds and alresala.net (Dunia al-Watan, October 21, 2019).
- The decision to block the sites led to a wave of angry responses from Palestinians and humanitarian rights organizations which protested in the name of freedom of thought in the PA. In the PA as well there was criticism of the decision and calls for the court to reverse it. A protest rally was held in the Gaza Strip (Palinfo, October 22, 2019). In Ramallah a call was heard to organize a protest rally (alresala.net Twitter account, October 22, 2019).
- The main reactions were the following:
- Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said the government had asked the attorney general and other agencies connected to the issue to reexamine the decision. He said the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate planned to appeal (Ramallah News Facebook page, October 22, 2019).
- Husam Badran, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, called on the PA to stop its war on Palestinian journalism. He said the decision made it seem as though the PA and Israel were working together against Palestinian opinion (Hamas website, October 21, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said he was surprised that the decision to block websites came exactly at a time when Israel was waging a war on the Palestinian narrative. He said the decision exposed the “dangerous role” of the PA, which complements the role of Israel in its war on the truth [sic] (Hamas website, October 22, 2019).
Hamas notice with the hashtag “#blocking crime”
(Palinfo Twitter account, October 22, 2019).
Call to intensify the “popular resistance” (i.e., popular terrorism)
- On October 12, 2019, the first Fatah conference for [supporting] the “popular resistance” was held in Ramallah, sponsored by Mahmoud Abbas. It was organized by Fatah and the Palestinian “authority for the struggle against the fence and the settlements.” The conference was attended by members of Fatah’s Central Committee and Revolutionary Council, Fatah representatives from various regions, representatives from the Popular Resistance Committees, etc. Speeches were given about the right of “popular resistance” [i.e., popular terrorism] and calls for it to be intensified.
- The main points made in the speeches were the following:
- Mahmoud al-‘Alul, deputy Fatah chairman, said the various types of “resistance” were the legitimate right of “occupied peoples.” He added that the “popular resistance” had a role in achieving global support for the sake of the Palestinian people. He said Fatah activists had always been in the front lines of the “resistance” and that it had to continue as a shield against the “occupation” and bring about its end (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, October 12, 2019).
- Jamal Muheisen, responsible for Fatah’s bureau of organization and mobilization in Judea and Samaria, said it was the duty of everyone to be part of the “popular resistance” because it had become a strategy. He called on the PA public to use more forceful “popular resistance” measures, such as pouring oil on the roads and blocking roads with tires and nails. He said every measure had to be used at the time appropriate for it (al-Quds, October 21, 2019).
Right: Mahmoud al-‘Alul, Fatah deputy chairman, speaking at the first Fatah “popular resistance” conference in Ramallah. Left: Jamal Muhsein gives a speech at the conference (Jamal Muheisen’s Facebook page, October 12, 2019).
- The conference ended with a number of decisions (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, October 14, 2019).
- Reviving the “popular resistance” and employing Fatah leadership measures of the leadership of the bureau of organization and mobilization
- Establishing a framework for “popular activity” which would include all the PLO organizations
- Operating [local] guard committees
- Adopting the boycott [of Israel] and support for the boycott movement [i.e., the BDS]
Palestinian responses to the Turkish invasion of Syria
On October 9, 2019, the Turkish army began a broad operation in northeastern Syria (“Peace Spring”) to establish a “safe zone” in Syrian territory which the Turks said they plan to use to return Syrian refugees to their own country. The Palestinian reactions were contradictory: Hamas, which is aided by Turkey and shares the same Muslim Brotherhood ideology, supported the Turkish invasion. It even held rallies in favor of the invasion in the Gaza Strip (Shabakat Quds Twitter account, October 14, 2019). The PIJ, on the other hand, which is sponsored by Iran, condemned (although weakly) the Turkish invasion and called for the fighting to stop.
- The main reactions were the following:
- Hamas issued a formal statement to the effect that it was Turkey’s right to defend itself and its borders, and to lift threats to its national security. Hamas also called on the United States to withdraw completely from the region (Hamas website, October 14, 2019).
- Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri expressed hope that Turkey’s political efforts would help it achieve its security objectives. He emphasized that the Palestinian people were with Turkey and its right to defend its security and borders (al-Andalou News, October 21, 2019).
- The PIJ issued a condemnation of the clashes in northern Syria. It called on Turkey to respect agreements it made with the Syrian regime, to stop the fighting and to discuss the issues with the other side instead of fighting (Filastin al-Yawm, October 13, 2019).
 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. ↑
 According to Nafez Azzam, the Egyptians would release 81 prisoners, 26 of them, PIJ operatives, who would accompany the delegation when it returned to the Gaza Strip, and 55 who would enter the Gaza Strip before them (Dunia al-Watan, October 17, 2019). ↑