The scene of the attack in Hawwara and the Israeli vehicle (Right: ZAKA, March 19, 2023. Left: Shehab Twitter account, March 19, 2023).
PFLP call for the release of Leith Nasser (al-Hajj Mush Hik Twitter account, March 20, 2023).
Violent clashes in Nablus between armed Palestinians and IDF force securing Israeli worshippers as they entered the Tomb of Joseph (QudsN Twitter account, March 15 and 16, 2023).
The Hamas delegation meets with Bogdanov in Moscow (Hamas website, March 16, 2023).
Isma'il Haniyeh and the president of the Algerian Council of the nation (Hamas website, March 15, 2023).
Palestinians burn tires near the border security fence in the eastern Gaza Strip (QudsN Twitter account, March 19, 2023).
Palestinians protest the summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh. Right: A demonstration in Ramallah (masarnews website, March 19, 2023).
- This past week Palestinian terrorists carried out two attacks in Judea and Samaria: a shooting attack in Hawwara (south of Nablus) in which two Israelis were wounded, and an attempted stabbing attack near Baytin (northeast of Ramallah). The Israeli security forces continued counterterrorism activities, focusing on Jenin and detaining dozens of terrorist operatives. During the activities four Palestinians were killed.
- On March 18, 2023 a rocket was launched into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, falling in an open area near the border security fence. A Hamas delegation headed by Musa Abu Marzouq visited Moscow and met with the Russian deputy foreign minister. A Hamas delegation headed by Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, visited Algeria. Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah met in Lebanon with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
- In preparation for the Muslim religious month of Ramadan, Israel announced a series measures to ease conditions for the Palestinian population. On March 19, 2023, Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) representatives participated in the second summit meeting to prevent regional escalation during Ramadan. The Palestinians reported progress had been made on several issues, although others were still outstanding. Saleh al-‘Arouri called for terrorist attacks against Israel.
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh continued meetings with foreign diplomats, mainly to discuss the PA’s financial situation, for which he blamed Israel. The Palestinians harshly condemned the remarks of Israel’s minister of finance, who said there was no such thing as a Palestinian people, and the decision of the national security minister to close the offices of the Voice of Palestine radio station in east Jerusalem. A Palestinian public opinion pole indicated extensive support within the Palestinian public for the operatives of the armed networks in Judea and Samaria, and for the armed “struggle” against the Israeli “occupation.”
Shooting attack in Hawwara
- On the afternoon of March 19, 2023, a Palestinian shot at an Israeli husband and wife who were driving through Hawwara. The terrorist approached their vehicle in Einabus Square in the town center and shot through the front windshield at point-blank range. The driver, who was armed with a handgun, was shot in the head but managed to shoot back. An IDF fighter at a nearby post shot and wounded the terrorist, who nevertheless managed to escape. A short time later IDF forces apprehended him in a building in Hawwara. A Carlo improvised machinegun was found at the scene of the attack (Israeli media, March 19, 2023), which was carried out a short distance from the shooting attack which killed two Israeli brothers on February 26, 2023. Both attacks were on days when the summit meetings were held, the first in Aqaba and the second in Sharm el-Sheikh.
The scene of the attack in Hawwara and the Israeli vehicle
(Right: ZAKA, March 19, 2023. Left: Shehab Twitter account, March 19, 2023).
- After the attack celebrations were held in the center of Nablus, where candy and pastries were distributed (Shehab Twitter account, March 19, 2023). According to reports, the terrorist shooter is Leith Nadim Nasser, 28 years old, from the village of Madama, southwest of Nablus (QudsN Facebook and the madamanet2 Facebook pages, March 19, 2023). Madama residents marched to the terrorist’s house and lit fireworks to celebrate the attack (madamanet2 Facebook page, March 19, 2023).
Right: Leith Nadim Nasser (QudsN Facebook page, March 19, 2023) Left: Fireworks to celebrate the shooting attack (madamanet2 Facebook page, March 20, 2023).
- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued a notice calling for the release of the “comrade” [PFLP terrorist operative] prisoner Leith Nasser, who carried out the attack in Hawwara (al-Hajj Mush Hik Twitter account, March 20, 2023).
PFLP call for the release of Leith Nasser (al-Hajj Mush Hik Twitter account, March 20, 2023).
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem praised the attack, calling it “a natural reaction to the occupation’s crimes against the Palestinians.” Regarding the summit meeting held the same day in Sharm el-Sheikh, he said that despite everything, the “resistance” [anti-Israeli terrorist activities] was becoming stronger and meetings to discuss security would not stop the uprising in Judea and Samaria (Hazem Qassem’s Telegram channel, March 19, 2023). The PIJ praised the attack, also calling it “a natural reaction the enemy’s crimes,” among them the killing of a member of the organization’s leadership in Damascus and of its operatives in Jenin (Paltoday, March 19, 2023).
The attack in Hawwara during the summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh
(Alaa’ al-Laqta’s Facebook page, March 19, 2023).
- Kamal Awda, Fatah secretary in Hawwara, reported soldiers had forced store owners in Hawwara to close their businesses because of the deployment of IDF forces along the main street. He also claimed the IDF had sent reinforcements and turned some locations into military posts, and as a result there were traffic jams at the Hawwara roadblock (Wafa, March 20, 2023).
Stores closed in Hawwara. (Right: Twitter account of Abu al-Izz al-Sawafiri, March 20, 2023; Left:, Shehab Twitter account, March 20, 2023).
Stabbing attack prevented near the Baytin Junction
- On March 17, 2023, an IDF force identified a suspicious Palestinian near the Baytin Junction (northeast of Ramallah). Asked to show identification, he took out a knife and approached the soldiers. They shot and killed him (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, March 17, 2023).
- The ministry of health in Ramallah reported the death of Yazen Omar Khasib, 23 years old, who was shot at the western entrance to the village of Baytin. He came from the village of Fuqin north of Tulkarm and his family lived in Ramallah (Wafa, March 17, 2023). He was a student at Birzeit University (Birzeit University Facebook page, March 17, 2023). A military funeral was held for him and he was buried in Fuqin (Facebook page of Laila Ghannam, Ramallah-al-Bireh district governor, March 18, 2023).
Right: Yazen Khasib (his Facebook page, December 24, 2021). Left: The knife he planned to use (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, March 17, 2023).
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh demanded the application of the international resolutions to boycott Israel and called on the ICC to issue warrants and prosecute the “felons” for the “crimes” they had committed, and for publicly calling to eradicate and burn villages and towns and to wipe them off the map (Ibrahim Melhem’s Facebook page, March 17, 2023). Hamas claimed the “escalation of the occupation’s crimes” would not weaken the Palestinians or the young people in the villages, or prevent them from the path of “resistance” until “liberation and return” [the establishment of a Palestinian state replacing Israel] (Hamas website, March 17, 2023). The PIJ claimed the continuation of bloodshed in all the arenas would increase the Palestinians’ adherence to the “resistance,” which was proving every day it had the capability to stand firm and repel “aggression” (PIJ website, March 17, 2023).
The terrorist attack at the Megiddo Junction
- On March 15, 2023, a formal announcement was issued regarding the terrorist attack at the Megiddo Junction on March 13, 2023. A number of hours after IDF special forces, the Israeli Security Agency and the police began searching for the terrorist who had placed the IED, a suspicious vehicle was identified near an Israeli moshav at the Lebanese border. The forces halted the vehicle. The driver got out with his hands raised while the terrorist sat inside wearing an explosive belt ready for detonation. Since he presented a danger to the lives of the forces he was shot and killed. Additional weapons were found inside the vehicle. According to the initial investigation, the terrorist apparently arrived in Israel from Lebanon. After the attack he caught a ride and asked the driver to take him to the north (IDF spokesman, March 15, 2023). Later, IDF sources reported it was likely he had crossed the border fence using a ladder; parts of a ladder were found in his duffle bag. The sources said that crossing the border necessitated the continuous collection of precise information about the region, and are of the opinion that Hezbollah was involved in the planning the attack (Israeli media, March 21, 2023).
Critical Terrorist Attacks in Judea and Samaria since March 2021
- This past week the Israeli security forces continued intensive counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorism and confiscating large quantities of weapons. Their activities were again focused on Jenin.
- On the afternoon of March 16, 2023, Israeli security forces operated in Jenin to detain two wanted Palestinians. They identified the two, who were armed, and shot and killed them. Another suspected terrorist was shot and killed after he tried to attack the fighters with an iron object. During the activity there were exchanges of fire between the forces and armed Palestinians. A riot broke out which prevented the forces from leaving the area, and they barricaded themselves in a building until additional fighters arrived and extracted them (Israeli media and the IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, March 16, 2023).
- The ministry of health in Ramallah reported four Palestinians killed and 23 wounded (Wafa, March 16, 2023). Two of the fatalities were PIJ terrorist operative Nidal Amin Zidan Khazem, and Hamas terrorist operative Saleh Barakat Shreem.
- Nidal Amin Zidan Khazem, 28 years old, from the Jenin refugee camp, was wanted for involvement in shooting attacks. The PIJ’s military-terrorist wing issued a mourning notice for him, claiming he was a field commander in the Jerusalem Brigades’ Jenin Battalion. He was a nephew of Fathi Khazem, the father of Raad Khazem, who carried out the shooting attack on Dizengoff Street on April 7, 2022, killing three Israeli civilians, and of Abd al-Rahman Khazem, killed in an Israeli security force activity in the Jenin refugee camp on September 28, 2022 (Safa, March 16, 2023). In the past Nidal Khazem spent 11 months in an Israeli jail for PIJ activity, and was released on September 2, 2018 (Paltoday, September 3, 2018).
- In several pictures he appears with a patch on his sleeve reading “al-Bahaa force,” which refers to a special PIJ unit in Jenin named for Bahaa Abu al-Atta, a high-ranking PIJ operative who died in a targeted killing in the Gaza Strip in November 2019. The unit’s existence was made public when it claimed responsibility for a shooting attack targeting the settlement of Hermesh on December 4, 2022 (Jerusalem Brigades’ Jenin Battalion Telegram channel, December 4 and 5, 2022). According to several reports, Nidal Khazem headed the force (Paltoday and the Jenin al-Qassam Telegram channel, March 16, 2023). The al-Bahaa force was not mentioned in either the Jerusalem Brigades or the Jenin Battalion mourning notice.
Jerusalem Brigades mourning notice for Nidal Khazem
(Daffa_media Telegram channel, March 17, 2023).
- Saleh Barakat Shreem, 29 years old, was the second target for detention. According to other reports his name was Yusuf Saleh Barakat Shreem. The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, issued a mourning notice for him claiming he was a commander in its ranks. According to his father, he was imprisoned in Israel for six months and had been wanted for almost a year. Two of his brothers are currently imprisoned in Israel: Muhammad Shreem, accused of helping the prisoners who escaped from the Gilboa Prison, is serving a sentence of eight years; and Barakat Shreem, detained in 2022, is serving a term of a year and eight months (Shehab, March 16, 2023).
Right: Yusuf Shreem (the Green Jenin Telegram channel, March 16, 2023). Left: Mourning notice issued by the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades for Yusuf Shreem (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades Telegram channel, March 16, 2023).
- The other terrorists killed were:
- La’i Khalim al-Zagheir, 37 years old, from Jenin (Quds Press, March 16, 2023). Pictures from his funeral show he was an al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (AAMB) operative.
Right: La’i al-Zagheir (Jenin al-Qassam Telegram channel, March 17, 2023). Left: His body wrapped for burial in an AAMB flag (Fatah’s media information and cultural commission Twitter account, March 17, 2023).
- Omar Muhammad Awadin, also referred to as Omar al-Turkman and Omar Awadin al-Turkman, 16 years old, from the Jenin refugee camp (Quds Press, March 16, 2023). At the top of his Facebook page he wrote, “Anyone who loves to meet Allah, Allah wants to meet him.” Next to the motto are the pictures of five Jerusalem Brigades terrorist operatives from the Jenin refugee camp who were killed by Israeli security forces, headed by Jamil al-Amouri, a PIJ operative and founder of the Jenin Battalion, who was killed on June 10, 2021. His picture was used as Awadin’s Facebook page profile picture (Omar Awadin al-Turkman’s Facebook page, October 1, 2021).
Right: Omar Turkman’s profile picture. Left: Holding an assault rifle (Omar Awadin al-Turkman’s Facebook page, August 9, 2018).
Omar Awadin kisses the PIJ flag (Daffa_media Telegram channel, March 17, 2023).
- The Palestinians condemned the IDF activity in Jenin and threatened revenge.”
- Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, claimed the objective of the “new slaughter in Jenin” had been to “blow up” the situation on the ground and draw the region into tension and violence. He added that Israel’s “ongoing acts of aggression” “proved” Israel did not want calm, as opposed to all the international efforts to prevent escalation during Ramadan. He said condemnations were not enough, practical measures had to be taken by the American administration to stop Israel’s unilateral actions and to provide international protection for the Palestinians (Wafa, March 16, 2023).
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh condemned the “slaughter” in Jenin, and claimed the killing and terrorizing carried out by the “forces of the occupation” would stop if they did not feel they were immune (Wafa, March 16, 2023). He used his Facebook page to mourn the deaths in Jenin and send condolences to the families (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, March 16, 2023).
- Hamas claimed the “cowardly killing” of two “resistance” commanders would not go unpunished because “resistance” operatives were familiar with the paths leading to “occupation” targets (Hamas website, March 16, 2023).
- The PIJ said Israel was deluding itself if it thought that by killing [terrorist operatives] it would extinguish the “flame of the resistance” lit by the Jenin Battalion, and which was spreading throughout the “arenas.” “The blood spilled on the altar of freedom will raise the price of revenge against Israel and its government” (PIJ website, March 16, 2023).
Clashes at the entrance to the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus
- On the night of March 15, 2023, IDF forces secured Israeli worshippers as they entered the Tomb of Joseph in Nablus. Armed Palestinians shot at the forces, burned tires and threw IEDs (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account, March 16, 2023). Medical sources in Nablus reported three Palestinians wounded by IDF fire and about 50 injured by inhaling teargas (Quds Press, March 16, 2023).
Violent clashes in Nablus between armed Palestinians and IDF force securing Israeli worshippers as they entered the Tomb of Joseph (QudsN Twitter account, March 15 and 16, 2023).
Saleh al-‘Arouri calls for shooting attacks
- Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau and director of the organization’s activities in Judea and Samaria, called on all Palestinians who had guns to use them when confronting Israel, the settlers and the security forces. He said guns have to “participate” in the battle (Hamas website, March 20, 2023). He made the statement at a ceremony launching a book about Amad Aqal, a previous Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades commander who died in a targeted killing in November 1993 after being pursued for two years, during which he carried out a series of shooting attacks, killing IDF soldiers.
Measures to help the Palestinians during Ramadan
- The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced a series of measures to ease the lives of the Palestinians during Ramadan including the following: the entrance of male Palestinian worshippers over the age of 55 to attend Friday prayers on the Temple Mount without the need for a permit, and over the age of 45 for those with existing permits. Women of all ages and of children younger than 12 years old will not need a permit. Residents of the Gaza Strip will be allotted a limited number of visits to Jerusalem. Palestinians from Judea and Samaria will be able to leave the country through the Ramon airport. The civilian policies will be implemented in accordance with an assessment of the security and stability of the situation on the ground (Israeli media, March 20, 2023).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- On the evening of March 18, 2023, a rocket was fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip and sirens were sounded in Kibbutz Nahal Oz near the border. The rocket fell in an open area (IDF spokesman’s Twitter account and the Israeli media, March 18, 2023).
- A network calling itself the Gaza Strip Lion’s Den claimed responsibility for firing a 107mm rocket in response to the “crimes of the occupation against the civilians of Jabal Mukaber [the detention of an east Jerusalem resident] and against the military [sic] operatives in Jenin and Nablus” (Gaza Strip Lion’s Den Telegram channel, March 18, 2023).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire since March 2021
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Attempt to infiltrate Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip
- On March 15, 2023, four Palestinians crossed the border fence in the central Gaza Strip to enter Israeli territory. IDF fighters detained them near the fence. They were unarmed and were taken for interrogation (IDF Twitter account, March 15, 2023).
Exposure of Gaza Strip terrorist network that directed attacks inside Israel
- On March 21, 2023, the Israeli Security Agency reported the exposure of a network of terrorist operatives from the Gaza Strip who in recent weeks had planned and carried out terrorist attacks inside Israeli territory. The network was headed by two Popular Resistance Committees terrorist operatives from Rafah. They recruited terrorists in Judea and Samaria and gave them instructions for attacking Israeli targets. They also smuggled weapons to them. Two Palestinians from Judea and Samaria were recently detained on suspicion of belonging to the network. During interrogation they revealed that they had received instructions for placing IEDs in Israel and carrying out a shooting attack in Jerusalem, and surrendered the gun they had been given for the attack (Israeli Security Agency, March 21, 2023).
Right: The Gazans who directed the network, Sabri Muhammad Sabri Aram (left) and Ayman Yusuf Khalil Zaqout (right). Left: The gun to be used in a shooting attack in Jerusalem (Israeli Security Agency spokesman’s unit, March 21, 2023).
Hamas delegation visits Moscow
- On March 16, 2023, Musa Abu Marzouq, head of Hamas bureau of international relations and Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau met in Moscow with Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian deputy foreign minister and Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East and Africa. Hamas stressed the Palestinians’ rights, including their right to “resist” the “Israeli occupation” in every possible way. They claimed the current Israeli government, with its extremist policies, led the systematic killing of Palestinians. Bogdanov expressed the Russian position supporting Palestinian rights and briefed the delegation on the efforts Russia was making with the relevant parties (Hamas website, March 16, 2023).
The Hamas delegation meets with Bogdanov in Moscow (Hamas website, March 16, 2023).
Isma’il Haniyeh visits Algeria
- On March 15, 2023, Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, arrived in Algeria leading a delegation of the Hamas leadership which included political bureau members Khalil al-Haya, Husam Badran and Muhammad Nizal, and leaders Usama Hamdan and Sami Abu Zuhri. They met with the chairman of the Algerian Council of the Nation (the Parliament’s upper house) and with Ibrahim Boughali, the president of the People’s National Assembly (the lower house). Haniyeh said the visit was inspired by a series of regional and international changes, especially the increase in the dangers facing al-Aqsa mosque and the attempts to divide it, and the “crimes of the Zionist government,” which was trying to continue normalization [of relations with the Arab countries] (Hamas website, March 15, 2023). Haniyeh gave a speech in which he claimed that despite the “siege” of the Gaza Strip, its military-terrorist wing’s engineers had created missiles that could attack deep into Israeli territory. He claimed Israel was collaborating with the PA and trying to destroy the “Palestinian resistance.” He also said that Israel was in the midst of an unprecedented internal crisis (al-Risalah, March 16, 2023).
Isma’il Haniyeh and the president of the Algerian Council of the nation
(Hamas website, March 15, 2023).
Hassan Nasrallah meets with members of the Hamas and PIJ leaderships
- On March 19, 2023, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met with a delegation of the Hamas leadership headed by Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau. They discussed developments in the Palestinian arena, the “brave resistance” in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and internal Israeli events. They also stressed the responsibility of the “resistance” movements and the entire “resistance” axis at “this historic time” (Radio Nur website, March 19, 2023). On March 18, 2023, Nasrallah met with a PIJ delegation headed by PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah. They discussed their continuing coordination to strengthen the “resistance.” Both sides expressed their admiration for the brave actions of the Palestinians clashing with the Israeli security forces in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (PIJ website, March 18, 2023).
Leading PIJ terrorist operative killed in Damascus
- On March 19, 2023, the PIJ’s military-terrorist wing announced that Ali Ramzi al-Assoud (Abu Abd al-Rahman), one of the organization’s commanders in Syria, had been shot to death in Damascus in the morning, and that “Israel’s fingerprints were on the attack” (Jerusalem Brigades Telegram channel, March 19, 2023).
- Ali al-Assoud, a chemical engineer by profession, was 31 years old, married and father of three, whose family had emigrated from Haifa to the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. He joined the PIJ military-terrorist wing in the al-Yarmouk refugee camp in 2005 at the age of 14. He progressed in the organization, taking several courses, including one for command and staff, and made a significant contribution to developing the wing’s technical capabilities. He was known in PIJ circles as an important military commander in the Syrian arena (al-Akhbar, March 19 and 20, 2023).
- Syrian opposition sources reported he had been shot near the entrance of his house in the Qudsaya quarter of Damascus. It was also reported that his neighbors had not known he was a PIJ operative and therefore did not initially suspect an “assassination.” According to al-Akhbar, at 8 o’clock in the morning he left his house and walked to his car. As he opened the door, two unidentified men fired more than 30 bullets into him. He was killed on the spot and his body was taken to a hospital in Damascus for autopsy. According to the forensic report his body was hit by a number of bullets. He was also stabbed after he lost consciousness (al-Akhbar, March 19, 2023).
- “Palestinian sources” reported that the investigation of his death was being carried out by more than one law enforcement agency. The “sources” added that the decision to “respond” to the killing was based on the results of the investigation. They claimed they method of execution was similar to previous killings in the Syrian and Lebanese arenas, regarding both the kinds of weapons and methods (al-Mayadeen, March 19, 2023).
- Hamas claimed the killing was “a new Zionist crime,” adding that such crimes would not deter the Palestinian people from continuing the path of “resistance” (Hamas Telegram channel, March 19, 2023). Hezbollah claimed the killing bore signs of Israel and was carried out at a time when Israel was undergoing an unprecedented internal fracture. Hezbollah also claimed that killing the leaders and high-ranking operatives of the “resistance” movement would not achieve Israel’s objectives, and that “resistance” was the only way to stop Israel’s crimes and terrorism (Radio al-Nur, March 19, 2023).
Right: Ali Al-Assoud (Daffa_media Telegram channel, March 20, 2023). Left: One of the bullets removed from his body (al-Akhbar, March 20, 2023).
The Sharm el-Sheikh summit meeting
- On March 19, 2023, the second regional summit meeting was held in Sharm el-Sheikh and attended by representatives from Israel, the PA, Egypt, Jordan and the United States. Its objective was to continue promoting calm between Israel and the Palestinians, and prevent regional escalation during Ramadan. The Palestinians were represented by Hussein al-Sheikh, PA minister of civilian affairs and responsible for contact with Israel, and Majed Faraj, head of Palestinian general intelligence (Israeli media, March 19, 2023).
- The meeting extensively criticized by the Palestinian public and organizations. Hamas and the PIJ were harshly critical of the Palestinian leadership, accusing it of “betraying the Palestinian cause.” They claimed Israel was using the meetings for additional “aggression” against the Palestinians (QudsN website, March 19, 2023). Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria held protest activities and demonstrations.
Palestinians protest the summit meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh. Right: A demonstration in Ramallah (masarnews website, March 19, 2023). Left: Palestinians burn tires near the border security fence in the eastern Gaza Strip (QudsN Twitter account, March 19, 2023).
- According to the summary announcement issued after the meeting, comprehensive deliberations had been held regarding ways and means to reduce the tension on the ground and to pave the way for a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. They agreed to renew their commitment to strengthening security, stability and peace, and to aspire to find ways to build trust, open new political horizons and deal with unresolved issues through direct dialogue. Both sides stressed their willingness and commitment to act immediately to stop unilateral action for a period of between three and six months. They stressed their commitment to uphold all previous agreements, especially the PA’s legal right for the responsibility of security in Area A. Both sides agreed to develop a mechanism to reduce and deal with violence and incitement, and again stressed their commitment not to harm the historic status of the holy places in Jerusalem, and the Hashemite guardianship and the special role of the Kingdom of Jordan (Egyptian foreign ministry Facebook page, March 19, 2023).
- Following the meeting Hussein al-Sheikh wrote that the negotiations at Sharm el-Sheikh were difficult because of the PA delegation’s adherence to its position not to hold security or economic discussions before a political agreement had been reached in which Israel promised to halt its unilateral measures (Hussein al-Sheikh’s Twitter account, March 20, 2023). According to a report in al-Araby al-Jadeed, during the meeting Israel agreed to a partial renewal of transferring the tax funds its collects for the PA to strengthen its economy, but no full agreement in the matter was reached (al-Araby al-Jadeed, March 20, 2023).
Meetings with foreign diplomats
- This past week Muhammad Shtayyeh continued meeting with foreign diplomats, raising alerts about the PA’s financial difficulties and blaming them on Israel:
- On March 15, 2023, Shtayyeh met with Alexander Tieman, International Monetary Fund representative in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. He told Tieman that the PA government had to cope with a complex financial situation because of the decline in international aid and the increase in the deductions Israel made in transferring the tax funds it collected for the PA. They discussed preparations for the meeting of the countries which contribute money to the PA (the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee), which is supposed to be held in May 2023, and the need to urge the donor countries to transfer their aid to the PA (Wafa, March 15, 2023).
- Before meeting with Tieman, Shtayyeh met with Hady Amr, deputy assistant secretary for Israeli and Palestinian affairs in the American State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, and demanded he exert pressure on Israel to stop its unilateral actions and honor signed agreements. Regarding money, Shtayyeh claimed Israel had increased the deductions it made in transferring the tax funds. He also mentioned the sharp drop in international funding for the PA (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, March 15, 2023).
- On March 14, 2023, Muhammad Shtayyeh met with a delegation of Harvard University students. He attacked the Israel government, which he claimed enforced its control over every phase of Palestinian life, controlling the crossings, borders, water and electricity, and “preventing the Palestinians from realizing their right to a free existence.” He claimed Israel caused more than $5 billion worth of damages annually (Wafa, March 14, 2023).
Financial aid from the UAE president to Hawwara
- Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE president, instructed the transfer of $3 million to reconstruct Hawwara and support its residents. The money was given to repair the damage done by the Israeli settlers (UAE news agency, March 16, 2023).
Meeting to realize the UAE president’s initiative, attended by the mayor of Hawwara
(UAE news agency, March 16, 2023).
Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) public opinion poll
- On March 14, 2023, the PCPSR published the results of its first-quarter public opinion poll held Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip between March 8 and 11, 2023. The main findings for Judea and Samaria were the following:
- If new legislative elections were held today, 33% of respondents said they would vote for Hamas and 35% for Fatah. Three months ago, the vote for Hamas stood at 34% and Fatah at 34%. In Judea and Samaria, the vote for Hamas stands at 23% (compared to 26% three months ago) and Fatah at 38% (compared to 38% three months ago).
- Regarding the “armed groups,” 66% of respondents in Judea and Samaria said they were in favor of forming armed groups which did not take orders from the PA and are not part of the PA security services, such as the Lions’ Den.
- A majority of 69% in Judea and Samaria expect security conditions in the West Bank to continue to deteriorate, leading to the outbreak of a third armed intifada.
- When asked about the most effective means of ending the Israeli occupation and building an independent state, 54% of the respondents in Judea and Samaria chose armed struggle.
- In Judea and Samaria, 73% of the respondents believe Israel’s measures to punish Palestinian attackers and their families, such as demolishing their homes, expelling them or imposing the death penalty, will lead to greater armed attacks.
- Answering a question about the main problem confronting Palestinian society today 35% of the respondents in Judea and Samaria said it was corruption.
Reactions to Ben-Gvir’s decision regarding the Voice of Palestine radio station
- On March 20, 2023, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli minister of internal security, signed an order preventing a company in east Jerusalem from providing communications services to the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station, which operates from Ramallah. The reason given was the content of the station’s programs, which incited anti-Israeli violence. As a result, the station no longer broadcasts in Israeli territory. The station was closed by the force of law to implement the Oslo Accords ban preventing the PA from operating in Jerusalem. Following the order, police from the Jerusalem district went to its offices in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of east Jerusalem. The Palestinian journalists working for the station were summoned for interrogation and released three hours later (Haaretz, March 20, 2023).
- The PA government condemned the decision at its weekly meeting, claiming closing the station was illegal and part of a policy to methodically deprive Palestinians of their rights and put a gag on reporting the “crimes” carried out by the “occupation.” The government called on the International Federation of Journalists and on all international human rights organizations to condemn Israel and exert pressure on it to rescind the order (Wafa, March 20, 2023). The PA’s General Radio and TV Commission condemned the decision, stating that Ben-Gvir would not prevent them from covering events in “occupied Jerusalem” for public reports about “their suffering and the firm stance of the residents (Wafa, March 20, 2023).
Reactions to the statement made by the Israeli minister of finance that there was no such thing as a Palestinian people
- Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli minister of finance, gave a speech in Paris in which he said “the Palestinian people is an invention less that one hundred years old.” From the podium he showed a map of “greater Israel,” which included Jordan (Ynet, March 20, 2023).
- His remark led to a wave of Palestinian (and international) condemnations. Mahmoud Abbas’ office said in a statement that his remarks revealed the Israeli government’s racism, which was trying to deny the existence of the Palestinians, who had been on the land “forever” [sic]. The Israeli attempts, according to the statement, to invent a false narrative denying the existence of the Palestinians were refuted by history, which confirmed the Palestinians as the “owners of the land, whose roots go deep into history” [sic] (Wafa, March 20, 2023). At the weekly government meeting Muhammad Shtayyeh claimed the remark was undeniable proof of the extremist Zionist racist ideology ruling the current Israeli government (Wafa, March 20, 2023).
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, said the remark made by Bezalel Smotrich regarding “sister Jordan” exposed the State of Israel’s ideology and proved that the danger to Jordan was the same danger facing “Palestine,” which made it necessary to hold a strategic dialogue with Jordan to deal with Israel’s dangerous trends (Hamas website, March 20, 2023).
Fatah victory at the Palestine Technical University in Hebron
- On March 14, 2023, student council elections were held at the Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron. Fatah’s Shabiba faction won 21 seats, while Hamas’ Islamic Bloc won 19. The leftist faction won one seat (QudsN Twitter account, March 14, 2023). Hamas issued a statement boasting about the rise in the number of its votes [in 2019 Hamas delegates boycotted the election] and claiming that winning 19 seats showed significant progress, despite the persecution, oppression and threats of the Palestinian security apparatuses against Hamas “activists” (Hamas website, March 14, 2023).
Rocks, Molotov cocktails and other attacks
- In Judea, Samaria and east Jerusalem Palestinians continued throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles driving on the roads. The more prominent events were the following:
- March 21, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle north of Ofra (northeast of Ramallah). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- March 20, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near Bayt Ummar (north of Hebron). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
Rear windshield shattered by rock near Bayt Ummar (Carmei Tzur security, March 20, 2023).
- March 19, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle between the Postal Junction and Na’aleh (northwest of Ramallah). A passenger was injured by flying glass and the vehicle was damaged.
- March 19, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near Bayt Ur al-Tahta (west of Ramallah). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- March 19, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle between Adam and Hizma (northeast of Jerusalem). A passenger was injured.
- March 16, 2023: Molotov cocktails were thrown at an Israeli vehicle north of Ofra (northeast of Ramallah). No casualties were reported; the Molotov cocktails caught fire on the road.
- March 16, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle between Tapuah and Ariel (northeast of Salfit). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- March 16, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle bus and other vehicles north of Ofra (northeast of Ramallah). No casualties were reported; vehicles were damaged.
- March 15, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of the Efrat Junction (southwest of Bethlehem). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- March 14, 2023: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle near Ma’aleh Lavona (northeast of Ramallah). No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
Israeli car damaged by rocks thrown near Ma’aleh Lavona
(Ma’aleh Lavona security, March 14, 2023).
 A critical attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, stabbing, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑
 In some reports his last name was given as Saghir or al-Saghir. ↑
 Information and pictures from Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria unless otherwise noted. ↑