Tag Archives: UNRWA

UNRWA reported the exposure of a tunnel under two of its school in the Gaza Strip; Hamas quickly issued a denial.

Location of two UNRWA-run schools (indicated by the red star) in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where a tunnel was exposed. The school is located on the edge of the camp and is about 1.5 kilometers (less than a mile) from the Israeli border security fence (distance indicated by yellow arrow) (Wikimapia, June 12, 2017).

Location of two UNRWA-run schools (indicated by the red star) in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, where a tunnel was exposed. The school is located on the edge of the camp and is about 1.5 kilometers (less than a mile) from the Israeli border security fence (distance indicated by yellow arrow) (Wikimapia, June 12, 2017).

The al-Maghazi refugee camp (UNRWA website, 2016).

The al-Maghazi refugee camp (UNRWA website, 2016).

The al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip (Wikimapia, June 12, 2017).

The al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip (Wikimapia, June 12, 2017).

UNRWA condemnation (unrwa.org, July 17, 2014)

UNRWA condemnation (unrwa.org, July 17, 2014)


Overview
1.   On June 9, 2017, an UNRWA spokesman reported the exposure of a tunnel running under two of its schools in the al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. UNRWAstrongly condemned digging a tunnel under its schools, complaining it violated the neutral status of UN facilities. Israelappealed to the UN Security Council and filed an official protest against Hamas (Israeli prime minister's website, June 11, 2017; Fox News, June 12, 2017).

 

2.   Hamas and other terrorist organizations also used UNRWA facilities in the past, which was exposed during Operation Protective Edge. Using UNRWA facilities for military purposes is one aspect of the extensive use Hamas and the other terrorist organizations make of civilian facilities(including schools, hospitals, clinics, mosques). They used them to hide weapons, position operatives and command posts in schools, and fire rockets from locations close to civilian facilities in both Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations' basic assumption is that Israel will not attack civilian or UNRWA facilities, increasing their operatives' chances of surviving and their weapons' of remaining undamaged.

3.   In principle UNRWA openly opposes the military use Hamas and the other terrorist organizations make of the schools the agency runs in the Gaza Strip. However, its ability to stop them is limited because of the power Hamas enjoys in the Gaza Strip.[1] On the other hand, Hamas and the other terrorist organizations see many advantages in making military use of the facilities, therefore it can be assumed that Hamas will continue using UNRWA schools, despite its declarations of keeping its activities separate from those of UNRWA.

UNRWA Report about Exposing the Tunnel

4.   On June 9, 2017, UN spokesman Chris Gunness reported that UNRWA had exposed a section of tunnel under two of its schools in the al-Maghazi refugee camp. According to the UN report (ITIC emphasis throughout):

a.   "On 1 June UNRWA discovered part of a tunnel that passes under two adjacent Agency schools in Maghazi camp in the Gaza Strip, namely the Maghazi Elementary Boys A&B School and the Maghazi Preparatory Boys School.[2] The schools are located on the same premises. The discovery was made during the summer vacation, at a time when the schools are empty, and in the course of work related to the construction of an extension of one of the buildings."

b.   "Following a thorough inspection of the site, UNRWA can confirm that the tunnel has no entry or exit points on the premises nor is it connected to the schools or other buildings in any way." 

c.   "UNRWA condemns the existence of such tunnels in the strongest possible terms…The sanctity and neutrality of UN premises must be preserved at all times…UNRWA…[has informed Hamas] the Agency intends to seal the tunnel under its premises, as an immediate priority…"

d.   "The Agency again demands that all parties respect the neutrality and inviolability of United Nations premises at all times. Furthermore, we demand they desist from any activities or conduct that put beneficiaries and staff at risk…"[3].

5.   UNRWA operates 252 schools in the Gaza Strip, providing educational services to 240,400 children. The al-Maghazi refugee camp is one of the smaller refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip, lying to the east of Deir al-Balah, close to the Israeli border. The refugee camp itself is about two kilometers from the border security fence, while the schools where the tunnel was found are on the edge of the camp at a distance of about 1.5 kilometers (less than a mile) from the border.

Hamas Responses

6.   As usual, Hamas rushed to falsely deny the existence of the tunnel under the UNRWA schools, condemning UNRWA for publicizing the matter and blaming the agency for the media storm it had caused. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoumclaimed Israel exploited such "claims" to "make excuses for its crimes." He claimed all the "resistance" organizations [i.e., the terrorist organizations] had declared they had no activity in schools where the tunnel was exposed and that they were careful to separate UNRWA from all "resistance" activity (Hamas website, June 9, 2017).

7.   Other denials were issued as well, some of them from "popular" bodies in the Gaza Strip, which in ITIC assessment are operated by Hamas:

a.   On June 13, 2017, "the popular committee of refugees in the Gaza Strip" issued a formal statement denying the existence of the tunnel.

1)   According to the statement, an "initial examination" found no indication or proof of the existence of a "resistance" [i.e., terrorist] tunnel at the site. Since the al-Maghazi refugee camp was located on what was originally agricultural land, it had a number of wells and underground water pools. Apparently "natural factors had led to collapse" under the schools, or perhaps the earth had collapsed as a result of the construction work being done at the schools.

2)   In addition, according to the statement, the "resistance" [i.e., terrorist organizations] did not use UNRWA facilities for its activities and they all honored the agency's neutrality. The "committee" asked UNRWA to act with moderation and not rush to issue statementsbefore contacting local groups to deal with problems. The "committee" also blamed UNRWA for the "media storm" which Israel (i.e., "the Zionist occupation") exploited to disrupt UNRWA's work (Ma'an, June 13, 2017).

b.   Hamas' department of refugee affairs[4]posted statements from al-Maghazi refugee camp residents to its website, denying the UNRWA report. The site quoted Ali Qandil, chairman of the "popular committee for refugees in camps in the central Gaza Strip," who claimed the earth had collapsed as a result of the construction in the school. He claimed what UNRWA called a tunnel was actually an old well (website of the Hamas department of refugee affairs, June 12, 2017).

Previous Military Use Made by Hamas and the Other Terrorist Organizations in the Gaza Strip of UNRWA Facilities
8.    Hamas' claims that there was no tunnel and that the "resistance" organizations do not use UNRWA facilities, are false. The military use of UNRWA facilities by Hamas and other terrorist organizations is well known and was exposed during Operation Protective Edge. The military use of UNRWA facilities is just one aspect of the wider exploitationof Hamas and the other terrorist organizations of civilian facilities in general (educational institutions, hospitals and clinics, mosques).[5]

 

9.   The following two pictures are from an Israeli video documenting mortar shells fired by a three-man terrorist squad. The squad situated itself in close proximity to the central building in an UNRWA educational compound in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip. The video shows the operatives setting up their firing position and firing mortar shells close to the building. After they fire the mortar shells they take cover inside the building (Israeli Air Force video published by the IDF spokesman, October 31, 2007). The following are the pictures from the video:

The following two pictures are from an Israeli video documenting mortar shells fired by a three-man terrorist squad.

10.   During Operation Protective Edge (July-August 2014) UNRWA found weapons hidden in its schools several times:

A.      On July 16, 2014, UNRWA reported having found 20 rockets hidden in one of its school in the Gaza Strip(the name and location of the school were not reported). The children were on vacation but some of the UNRWA facilities were being used by civilians who had left their houses or whose houses had been destroyed. Immediately after finding the rockets UNRWA reported to the "relevant parties" (without specifying who they were), and reportedly instituted the necessary measures to protect the safety of the school. According to the UNRWA announcement, the agency "strongly condemned" both the act of hiding rockets in its school and the "group" (or "groups") responsible.

B.      On July 22, 2014, UNRWA reported that during a routine check rockets had been found hidden in one of its schools in the Gaza Strip. When the rockets were discovered the building was evacuated, and it was impossible to say how many rockets there were. The school building was situated between two other UNRWA schools, and at the time the three buildings were being used to house more than 1,500 Gazans who had left their houses. UNRWA reported immediately to the "relevant parties" and invested all its efforts in removing the rockets (UNRWA website, July 22, 2014).[6]

C.      On July 30, 2014, an UNRWA spokesman reported that another cache of rockets had been found in an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip. The spokesman did not mention the organization to which the rockets belonged. He said that UNRWA condemned the organization (or organizations) endangering civilians by placing weapons in a school, violating UNRWA's neutrality (Jerusalem Post, July 30, 2014).

[1]Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, enjoys a position of power vis-à-vis UNRWA on the ground. That has led to a situation where Hamas wins disputes with UNRWA regarding matters of principle (such as curriculums and the UNRWA employment of Hamas activists).
[2]According to one media report, the tunnel was found at a depth of between two and three meters. The information did not appear in the report issued by Chris Gunness.
[3]https://www.unrwa.org/newsroom/press-releases/unrwa-condemns-neutrality-violation-gaza-strongest-possible-terms
[4]An institution established by Hamas in 2001 to deal with refugee affairs. It is headed by Dr. Issam Adwan.
[5]See the July 20, 2014 bulletin, "Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip use schools for military-terrorist purposes: The case of rockets found hidden in an UNRWA school during Operation Protective Edge."
[6]As it usually does, the Hamas ministry of the interior denied the UNRWA announcement. According to the ministry, the event was "fabricated" to justify harming Gazan civilians and provide a cover for Israel's so-called "crimes" in the Gaza Strip. According to Hamas, all UNRWA schools were guarded by the agency and there was no way weapons could be brought in without the school guards knowing about it. In addition, according Hamas, they had no need of schools to store weapons (al-Ra'i, July 20, 2014).

Resignation of Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, after exposure of his election to Hamas’ new Gazan political bureau


The beginning of the announcement made by the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip about the termination of Suhail al-Hindi's employment. According to the announcement, al-Hindi "preferred to move to another role to serve his people..." (Facebook page of the UNRWA staff union, April 23, 2017)
The beginning of the announcement made by the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip about the termination of Suhail al-Hindi's employment. According to the announcement, al-Hindi "preferred to move to another role to serve his people…" (Facebook page of the UNRWA staff union, April 23, 2017)

Suhail al-Hindi Resigns – What Next?
1.   On April 22, 2017, Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip and principal of an UNRWA boys' elementary school, announced he was taking early retirement. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness also announced that Suhail al-Hindi was no longer employed by the agency. Al-Hindi was forced to resign in the wake of the extensive media and political reactions to his election to Hamas' new political bureau in the Gaza Strip (in violation of UNRWA's oppositionto its employees' affiliation with Hamas or other organizations). So far it is unclear whether al-Hindi resigned only from his union chairmanship or whether he resigned from his position as school principal as well.

 

2.   In ITIC assessment, al-Hindi's resignation is the result of a compromisereached between Hamas(which strongly opposes the firing of UNRWA employees affiliated with the movement) and UNRWA. Thus his resignation was represented as his leaving UNRWA of his own accord, the term "fired" was not mentioned in the UNRWA announcement, and the benefits he received as an UNRWA employee remained intact. The compromise brought to an end a dispute between Hamas and UNRWA that had been ongoing for two months. However, it did not end the fundamental differences between the two, which arose again recently and have not yet been resolved.

a.   UNRWA employment of Hamas activists:

1)  In addition to Suhail al-Hindi, an engineer named Muhammad al-Jamassi, who heads UNRWA's engineering department in the refugee camps of the central Gaza Strip, was elected to Hamas new political bureau. UNRWA was forced to deal with the problem of al-Hindi, which received much more media and political attention than al-Jamassi, but so far it is not known if the agency tried to terminate his employment as well(in principle, there is no difference between the two, both hold senior positions in Hamas and UNRWA).

Another Hamas activist elected to the new political bureau in the Gaza Strip is Muhammad al-Jamassi, who heads UNRWA's engineering department in the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 20, 2010; Haber Press, January 21, 2017).
Another Hamas activist elected to the new political bureau in the Gaza Strip is Muhammad al-Jamassi, who heads UNRWA's engineering department in the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 20, 2010; Haber Press, January 21, 2017).

2)  In addition to al-Hindi and al-Jamassi, members of Hamas' political bureau, there are many Hamas activists and supporters working for UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, including teachers and school principals, who belong to the Hamas-controlled UNRWA staff union. In April 2009 John Ging, head of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip, threatened to fire UNRWA employees affiliated with Hamas after Hamas won the UNRWA staff union elections. However, Hamas opposed strongly the move and exerted pressure on UNRWA. The end result was that Hamas members were not fired and the movement has retained control of the union to this day.

b.   Difficulties experienced by UNRWA in its effort to make changes in the curriculum in its schools:

1)  Hamas recently attacked UNRWA over its intention to make changes in the curriculum of its elementary schools in the Gaza Strip.[1] Palestinian Authority (PA) textbooks are used in UNRWA elementary schools in Gaza. They inculcate school children with Hamas' ideology of hatred for Israel, the struggle against it, refusal to accept Israel's existence and insistence on the so-called "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees.

2)  UNRWA recently tried, and not for the first time, to change the content of the textbooks but met with strong opposition from Hamas. Apparently UNRWA's ability to substantially change the anti-Israel hatred taught in its school is seriously limited. There are various reasons, including Hamas' sovereignty in the Gaza Strip and its control over the educational system; the PA's opposition to changing its textbooks; the informal educational system in the Gaza Strip's schools, including those run by UNRWA, which for the most part are in the hands of teachers and school principals who support Hamas.

3.   For information about Suhail al-Hindi's resignation and the reasons behind it, see the following Appendix.

Appendix
Suhail al-Hindi's Resignation

1.   Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip,[2] told the Dunia al-Watan website that he was resigning from UNRWA(Dunia al-Watan, April 22, 2017). Interviewed by the Samaa news agency, he said he was taking early retirement(Samaa News, April 22, 2017). A Hamas-affiliated website reported that UNRWA had suggested two alternatives to al-Hindi: he could either quit, and thereby retain his benefits as an UNRWA employee, or he could be fired(Palinfo, April 22, 2017). According to Yusuf Hamduna, secretary of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, "al-Hindi preferred to more to another role [to serve] the interests of the refugees in the Gaza Strip, and therefore decided quit his job to be able to serve [the Palestinian] people elsewhere" (Dunia al-Watan, April 22, 2017).

2.   On April 22, 2017, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunnesssaid in an announcement that "Suhail al-Hindi is no longer employed by UNRWA." He refused to say whether al-Hindi had resigned or been fired, noting that UNRWA did not discuss the terms of departure of individual staff members (AP, April 22, 2017).

3.   On April 23, 2017, the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip issued an announcement headed "Announcement regarding commitment and loyalty. Dr. Suhail al-Hindi…27 years of giving and preserving his principles…" Its main points were the following:

a.   Criticism of UNRWA's Advisory Committee, which, according to the announcement, hurt the representatives of UNRWA employees and denied them their rights. However, the UNRWA staff union remained strong and unbroken, and acted without fear, claimed the announcement.

b.   Praise for Suhail al-Hindi's achievementsand his sacrifices for the employees' struggle. His achievements of the past year included "reducing the number of students from 50 per class, as demanded by UNRWA, to 39; hiring 400 new teachers at the beginning of the school year; opposition to including the Holocaust in textbooks;[3]opposition to removing "the map of Palestine" from textbooks;[4] his struggle against "erasing the national identity" from textbooks[5] and improving the employment conditions of the teachers.

c.   A possible hint at al-Hindi's future activity in the ranks of Hamas: According to the announcement, al-Hindi "preferred to move to another role to serve his people. Thus he will be able to make the truth heard and to stand on the stages of power[i.e., in the corridors of power] to strengthen his people's position" (perhaps a reference to his future activities in Hamas' political bureau).

4.   So far, it is not clear if al-Hindi resigned only from his position as chairman of the UNRWA staff union or if he also resigned from his position as principal of an UNRWA boys' elementary school. The announcement issued by the UNRWA spokesman stating that al-Hindi was no longer employed by UNRWA may mean he is no longer employed as a school principal, but that was not specifically stated. Yusuf Hamduna, secretary of the UNRWA staff union, said al-Hindi's replacement had been chosen (apparently his replacement as head of the UNRWA staff union). The post would be filled by Amir al-Mes'hal, who worked in UNRWA's service sector (Palinfo, April 22, 2017). However, so far, it is unknown whether anyone has been named to replace al-Hindi as principal of the UNRWA school.

5.   Amir Ibrahim Abd al-Rahman al-Mes'halwas born in Gaza in 1963 to a family of refugees from the village of al-Jura (near Ashqelon). He has two degrees in accounting from the Islamic University in Gaza. Joining UNRWA in 1994, he worked in the agency's accounting department in Gaza, and became a member of the UNRWA staff union in 2003. Between 2001 and 2011 he was head of UNRWA's public service sector(website of the UNRWA staff union). Apparently, he is a professional bureaucrat with no particular political identity, unlike Suhail al-Hindi. However, in all probability Hamas will work behind the scenes to preserve its control of the union and use it when necessary to promote its interests.

The Events Leading up to Suhail al-Hindi's Resignation

6.   Suhail al-Hindi was forced to resign after media exposure and political protests were held when it became known that he had been elected to Hamas' new political bureau. The chain of events was the following:

a.   Suhail al-Hindi served as chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, and was also principle of an UNRWA boys' elementary school. In the middle of February 2017 the Palestinian media reported he was one of the new members elected to Hamas' political bureau. Israeli publications pointed to the fact that he was also a senior UNRWA employee.

b.   The public exposure of al-Hindi's double role as both a senior Hamas figure and a senior UNRWA employee made difficulties for UNRWA. In the past UNRWA had rejected its employees' affiliation with Hamas or other organizations, but did not enforce its position. In an attempt to minimize the problem, al-Hindi strongly denied he had been elected to Hamas' political bureau,and even threatened to sue those who had reported his election.[6]

c.   UNRWA's initial reactionto revelation of al-Hindi's election (February 23, 2017) was that an internal investigation had not proved the allegations against him. However, later on UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness announced al-Hindi had been suspended. He said that following an independent internal investigation, during which "substantial information" had been presented from several sources, on February 26, 2017, UNRWA had decided to suspend al-Hindi until the investigation could be completed.

7.   In the two months between UNRWA's announcement and his resignation, al-Hindi participated in "popular" protests organized by Hamas against UNRWAbecause of the agency's intention to make changes in the curriculum in the lower grades of its schools in the Gaza Strip. Calls to reinstate Suhail al-Hindi were also heard at the protests.

8.   In ITIC assessment, during the two months of al-Hindi's suspension Hamas and UNRWA held talks behind the scenes. Hamas publicly rejected UNRWA's right to fire employees affiliated with the movement, claiming it was "the right of every Palestinian working for UNRWA to engage in political activity."[7] Apparently UNRWA, on the other hand, found it difficult to continue employing al-Hindi in view of the media coverage the affair had received, which apparently led to its being subjected to political pressure. In ITIC assessment, the solution agreed upon by UNRWA and Hamas was to have al-Hindi resign "of his own accord," keeping the benefits to which UNRWA employees are entitled (allowing him to leave with respect and keeping him from being fired).

[1]See the April 2, 2017 bulletin, "Hamas Strongly Attacks UNRWA for Its Intention to Introduce Changes in the Curriculum of Its Elementary Schools."
[2]The union's official Arabic name is "The union of Arab employees."
[3]On February 17, 2017, the committee for refugee affairs of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip said in a statement that it would not permit UNRWA to teach about the Holocaust in its schools in the Gaza Strip. According to the statement, UNRWA's program for teaching the Holocaust was "disgracefuland unacceptable, and UNRWA planned to use it to poising the minds of our children" (Safa, date, 2017).
[4]The maps in question are maps of Palestine with no mention of Israel, and in many instances, of Israel cities and towns. Hamas uses maps of "greater Palestine" to inculcate school children and the public at large with negating the existence of Israel. It can be assumed that Hamas would strongly oppose any attempt to remove them from textbooks.
[5]The struggle in question was recently waged by Hamas because it objected to UNRWA's intention to change the curriculum in its elementary schools in the Gaza Strip. Hamas represented the changes as an attempt to erase the Palestinian national identity. Hamas then initiated anti-UNRWA protests, which were attended by Suhail al-Hindi.
[6]See the February 23, 2017 bulletin, "Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, Chairman of the UNRWA Staff Union in the Gaza Strip and Boys' Elementary School Principal, Is Elected to Hamas' New Gaza Political Bureau."
[7]See the April 2, 2017 bulletin, "Hamas Strongly Attacks UNRWA for Its Intention to Introduce Changes in the Curriculum of Its Elementary Schools."

Muhammad al-Jamassi, senior engineer in UNRWA’s engineering department in the Gaza Strip, was also identified as a newly elected member of Hamas’ political bureau.

Another Hamas member elected to the new Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip: Muhammad al-Jamassi, an engineer who heads UNRWA's engineering department for the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip (Left: website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 20, 2010; Right: Khabar Press, January 21, 2017).

Another Hamas member elected to the new Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip: Muhammad al-Jamassi, an engineer who heads UNRWA's engineering department for the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip (Left: website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 20, 2010; Right: Khabar Press, January 21, 2017).

Invitation to the presentation of Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi's thesis in the auditorium of al-Aqsa University in Gaza City (the Academy for Administration and Policy in Gaza, May 30, 2016).

Invitation to the presentation of Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi's thesis in the auditorium of al-Aqsa University in Gaza City (the Academy for Administration and Policy in Gaza, May 30, 2016).

Dr. Alaa al-Din Jamassi, Muhammad al-Jamassi's brother (wwb.ps, March 2, 2017).

Dr. Alaa al-Din Jamassi, Muhammad al-Jamassi's brother (wwb.ps, March 2, 2017).

Muhammad al-Jamassi's nephew Muhammad Yassin al-Jamassi, who was an operative in Hamas military wing. He died while carrying out a suicide bombing attack near an Israeli patrol boat on January 17, 2003 (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, March 2, 2017).

Muhammad al-Jamassi's nephew Muhammad Yassin al-Jamassi, who was an operative in Hamas military wing. He died while carrying out a suicide bombing attack near an Israeli patrol boat on January 17, 2003 (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, March 2, 2017).

Statement issued to the media by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum reporting that

Statement issued to the media by Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum reporting that "a group of armed men abducted Muhammad al-Jamassi, an engineer and prominent member of the Hamas movement, near his home in the Sabra neighborhood [of Gaza City]" (Paldf, January 4, 2007).

Muhammad al-Jamassi (third from left) at a visit to the home of Hassan al-Sifi, deputy minister of religious endowments in the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, on the occasion of his being awarded a PhD degree. The delegation presented him with a plaque from Hamas (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, February 21, 2010).

Muhammad al-Jamassi (third from left) at a visit to the home of Hassan al-Sifi, deputy minister of religious endowments in the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, on the occasion of his being awarded a PhD degree. The delegation presented him with a plaque from Hamas (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, February 21, 2010).

Muhammad al-Jamassi (third from right) with a delegation of Palestinian Legislative Council members at the Kishko clan (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 17, 2010).

Muhammad al-Jamassi (third from right) with a delegation of Palestinian Legislative Council members at the Kishko clan (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 17, 2010).

Muhammad al-Jamassi (second from right) with a delegation of Palestinian Legislative Council members at the Siam clan in Gaza (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 20, 2010).

Muhammad al-Jamassi (second from right) with a delegation of Palestinian Legislative Council members at the Siam clan in Gaza (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 20, 2010).


Overview

1.   In the recent elections for Hamas' political bureau, the movement's highest institution in the Gaza Strip, 15 members were chosen. Yahya al-Sinwar, affiliated with Hamas' military wing, was chosen as chairman. The new political bureau has many members affiliated with Hamas' military wing and is dominated by members who hold extremist positions.[1]

2.   Two of the new members are employed by UNRWA in senior positions. One, Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi, is chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip and the principal of a boys' elementary school (a number of days after the results of the elections were published, UNRWA announced his suspension[2]). Another UNRWA employee elected to Hamas' political bureau was Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi (Abu Obeida), an engineer, who is head of UNRWA's engineering department for the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip.

3.   The election of Suhail al-Hindi and Muhammad al-Jamassi to the new Hamas political bureau indicates their seniority in Hamas and the importance Hamas gives to activists who hold senior positions in UNRWA. Hamas exploits its extensive support among UNRWA employees to strengthen its control of the Gazan population and promote its military wing. In ITIC assessment, since Muhammad al-Jamassi is responsible for renovation and construction in refugee camps, Hamas may use his access to contributions and materials to promote its own interests (as it uses Dr. Suhail al-Hindi and other teachers and principals who are Hamas activists to indoctrinate school children with its radical Islamist ideology and to maintain a paramilitary presence in the schools).

 

Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi
4.   Muhammad Daoud Ismail al-Jamassi (Abu Obeida)is an engineer from a respected Gaza clan whose members have held key positions in the Gaza Strip. He lives in the Sabra neighborhood in the southern part of Gaza City (where Sheikh Ahmed Yassin also lived). During the past decade he held a series of positions in Hamas (see below) and at the same time held an important post in UNRWA.

 

5.   Muhammad al-Jamassi is chairman of the board of directors in the UNRWA engineering department for the refugee camps in the central Gaza Strip. His position makes himresponsible for infrastructure projects in the refugee camps. He recently attended a meeting of UNRWA engineers and specialists, representatives of the local popular council for refugee affairs, and representatives of local in habitants, in the al-Bureij refugee camp. The meeting, held on February 21, 2017, dealt with an American project for renovating and rebuilding the houses of Gazans destroyed in Operation Protective Edge(Khabar Press and Dunia al-Watan, February 21, 2017).

6.   In June 2016 he received an MA degree from the Academy for Administration and Policy in Gaza. The title of his thesis was "American-Israeli relations and their influence on Israel's national security, 2009-2013." The Academy for Administration and Policy, which is affiliated with al-Aqsa University (a Hamas stronghold), held an event at which the thesis was presented.

Other Members of the al-Jamassi Clan
7.   Muhammad al-Jamassi comes from a prominent clan. Several of its members have held high positions in the educational, legal and military systems in the Gaza StripOne of his nephews was an operative in Hamas' military-terrorist wing, killed while carrying out a suicide bombing attack against an Israeli navy patrol boat.

 

8.   Some of the members of the al-Jamassi family:

a.   Dr. Alaa al-Din Jamassi, Muhammad al-Jamassi's brother, teaches in the engineering department of the Islamic University in Gaza City (website of the Islamic University in Gaza, March 2, 2017).

b.   Sheikh Yassin al-Jamassi, also Muhammad al-Jamassi's brother, was a senior Sharia judge in the Gaza Strip. He died in 2011 (website of the high Sharia court in the Gaza Strip, May 26, 2011).

c.   Mahmoud Yassin Daoud al-Jamassi, Muhammad al-Jamassi's nephew, was an operative in Hamas' military-terrorist wing. According to the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, he was killed on January 17, 2003, while using a fishing boat to approach an Israeli patrol boat for a suicide bombing attack[3] (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, March 2, 2017).

d.   Ismail Daoud al-Jamassi (Abu Daoud), another of Muhammad al-Jamassi's brothers, who died in 2013, headed the education administration of the de facto Hamas administration in the northern Gaza Strip.

Muhammad al-Jamassi's Activities in Hamas
9.   Before his election to Hamas' new political bureau, Muhammad al-Jamassi held various positions in Hamas, and in charitable societies affiliated with Hamas, and was in close contact with senior members of the movement. In 2007 a Hamas spokesman called him "a senior activist." His election to the new political bureau indicates the strengthening of his position in Hamas alongside his senior position in UNRWA. As opposed to Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, so far he has not denied his election to Hamas' new political bureau.

 

10.   In January 2007 Muhammad al-Jamassi was abducted by armed men near his home in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum issued a statement reporting the abduction of prominent Hamas activist, the engineer Muhammad al-Jamassi. He claimed the identity of the abductors was known and that they belonged to a well-know Gazan clan. He also said that the previous week the same armed men had fired shots at the house of Mahmoud al-Zahar, foreign minister in the de facto Hamas administration at the time (Paldf, January 4, 2007). Hamas blamed Fatah for al-Jamassi's abduction (alresala.net, January 4, 2007). In 2010 al-Jamassi was again abducted from his home by armed men (Arab48, October 31, 2010). In all probability, the abductions were the result of violent conflicts between clans in the Gaza Strip because of political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah.

11.   Insofar as is known to the ITIC, in 2010 al-Jamassi worked for Hamas' public relations bureau (his exact role was unclear). In February 2010, as part of his job, he joined a delegation of members of Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council who visited the deputy minister of religious endowments to congratulate him on receiving a PhD degree. Al-Jamassi gave a speech in which he praised the progress of knowledge among senior Hamas figures, saying that his doctoral thesis was the first written on the subject (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, February 21, 2010).

12.   In May 2010 Muhammad al-Jamassi joined members of the Palestinian Legislative Council in the southern Gaza Strip who paid visits to a number of clans. At one visit al-Jamassi praised the Hamas administration and compared its achievements to the situation in the West Bank (website of the Hamas faction in the Palestinian Legislative Council, May 17, 2010).

Muhammad al-Jamassi, Chairman of the Ghaith Association

13.   Muhammad al-Jamassi served as chairman of the Hamas-affiliated Ghaith Association for Relief and Development[Note: ITIC information about his role is updated to June 2016]. The association operates in the Gaza Strip. It was established in 2013 with the avowed intention of helping the needy. Its offices are situated in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City. It is funded by donations from Qatar and by the al-Mubadara al-Ammaniya charitable society in Jordan (Facebook page of the Ghaith Associationfor Relief and Development in Gaza).

14.   One of the Ghaith Association's activities was to participate in rebuilding the al-Salam mosque in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City (the same neighborhood Muhammad al-Jamassi lives in); the mosque was destroyed in Operation Protective Edge. The mosque's website, which has clear indications of its affiliation with Hamas, posted pictures of Hamas military-terrorist operatives who worshipped at the mosque and were killed in Operation Cast Lead. It also posted pictures of Dr. Walid Awieda, a Hamas operative who preaches in the mosque. Dr. Aweida is the director-general of Hamas' ministry of religious endowments in the Gaza Strip and chairman of the Hamas-affiliated al-Mujama' al-Islami charitable society (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza).

15.   There is an extensive network of Hamas-affiliated charitable societies in the Gaza Strip, used by the movement to support the local population and increase its own influence. Beyond the humanitarian aid the societies provide, they disseminate Hamas' radical Islamist ideology throughindoctrination in mosques affiliated with the movement. (The mosques are also used to recruit operatives to Hamas' military wing and to glorify shaheeds). In all probability, Muhammad al-Jamassi's position as chairman of the Ghaith Association made him more important and helped him get elected to Hamas' new political bureau.

 

Picture posted to the Ghaith Association Facebook page for its participation in building the al-Salam mosque. A donor from Qatar also contributed to the mosque's construction (Facebook page of the Ghaith Association in Gaza, January 29, 2016).
Picture posted to the Ghaith Association Facebook page for its participation in building the al-Salam mosque. A donor from Qatar also contributed to the mosque's construction (Facebook page of the Ghaith Association in Gaza, January 29, 2016).

Death notices for two Hamas terrorist operatives killed in the Gaza Strip in Operation Cast Lead, who used to pray at the al-Salam mosque (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, January 3, 2017).
Death notices for two Hamas terrorist operatives killed in the Gaza Strip in Operation Cast Lead, who used to pray at the al-Salam mosque (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, January 3, 2017).

Left: A shaheed from Hamas' military-terrorist wing, killed in February 2008. The picture was posted by the Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque on the anniversary of his death (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, February 28, 2017). Right: A Hamas operative reads a memorial notice for a Hamas operative killed in the Gaza Strip in Operation Cast Lead, who used to pray at the al-Salam mosque (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, January 15, 2017).
Left: A shaheed from Hamas' military-terrorist wing, killed in February 2008. The picture was posted by the Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque on the anniversary of his death (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, February 28, 2017). Right: A Hamas operative reads a memorial notice for a Hamas operative killed in the Gaza Strip in Operation Cast Lead, who used to pray at the al-Salam mosque (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, January 15, 2017).

Left: Children in a religious instruction class in the al-Salam mosque in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, December 8, 2016). Right: Hanging a Hamas flag on the al-Salam mosque as an activity for the 29th anniversary of the founding of Hamas. The Arabic on the Facebook page reads, "[Worshippers who come to pray] at the al-Salam mosque decorate the area around the mosque to mark the 29th anniversary of the founding of Hamas" (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, November 27, 2016). In other pictures, young men from the mosque are seen standing in the main streets of Gaza City holding Hamas flags (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, December 8 and 10, 2016).
Left: Children in a religious instruction class in the al-Salam mosque in the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, December 8, 2016). Right: Hanging a Hamas flag on the al-Salam mosque as an activity for the 29th anniversary of the founding of Hamas. The Arabic on the Facebook page reads, "[Worshippers who come to pray] at the al-Salam mosque decorate the area around the mosque to mark the 29th anniversary of the founding of Hamas" (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, November 27, 2016). In other pictures, young men from the mosque are seen standing in the main streets of Gaza City holding Hamas flags (Facebook page of the al-Salam mosque in Gaza, December 8 and 10, 2016).

[1]For further information, see the February 22, 2017 bulletin, "Elections to the Hamas Political Bureau in the Gaza Strip: Overview and Significance."
[2]For further information, see the February 27, 2017 bulletin, "UNRWA announced the suspension of Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, after his election to Hamas' political bureau. In 2011 he was also suspended by UNRWA for his affiliation with Hamas, but remained in his position."
[3]On January 17, 2003, Mahmoud al-Jamassi swam towards an Israeli navy patrol boat dragging a barrel of explosives and blew himself up near the boat. There were no Israeli casualties. During the year before the attack he practiced swimming and diving without underwater equipment in the area of the Shati refugee camp. 

Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, Chairman of the UNRWA Staff Union in the Gaza Strip and Boys’ Elementary School Principal, Is Elected to Hamas’ New Gaza Political Bureau

Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, leads a demonstration of Gazan UNRWA workers to protest the agency's intention to reduce its budget for the Gaza Strip (Arab Today, August 2, 2015).

Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, leads a demonstration of Gazan UNRWA workers to protest the agency's intention to reduce its budget for the Gaza Strip (Arab Today, August 2, 2015).

Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union, holds a press conference near UNRWA headquarters during a protest (al-Risalah, December 20, 2016).

Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, chairman of the UNRWA staff union, holds a press conference near UNRWA headquarters during a protest (al-Risalah, December 20, 2016).

Report of a telephone conversation between Dr. Suhail al-Hindi and the Sawa news agency in the Gaza Strip, in which he strongly denied he was elected to Hamas' political bureau (PalSawa news agency, February 13, 2017).

Report of a telephone conversation between Dr. Suhail al-Hindi and the Sawa news agency in the Gaza Strip, in which he strongly denied he was elected to Hamas' political bureau (PalSawa news agency, February 13, 2017).


1.   Elections were recently held for Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip, the movement's supreme institution in Gaza. Fifteen members were elected, headed by Yahya Sinwar. It has a large number of members affiliated with Hamas' military wing and is dominated by members who hold extremist views.

2.   One of the newly-elected members is Dr. Suhail Ahmed Hassan al-Hindi, who holds a PhD from Cairo University (his thesis dealt with improving the conditions of Palestinians teachers under the Israeli "occupation"). Since 2012 he has been the chairman of the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas.[1] In 2015 and 2016 he led demonstrations protesting UNRWA's intention to reduce its activities in Gazabecause of budget cutbacks. The protests, which included sanctions and strikes in UNRWA institutions in the Strip, were widely covered by the media. In December 2016 the union reached a fundamental understanding  with UNRWA and ended its protests and sanctions (gazaonline.net, December 20, 2016)

3.   In addition to his role as union chairman, he is also the principal of the Palestine Boys' Elementary School, an UNRWA school for refugee children. On February 10, 2017, the school held a ceremony honoring students who excelled in their studies. The ceremony was attended by Bo Schack, director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, who sat on stage and was photographed with Dr. al-Hindi (Facebook page of Yasser Abu Zakariya, February 10, 2017).

Left: Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, principal of an UNRWA school, speaking at a ceremony honoring students who excelled in their studies. Right: Dr. Suhail al-Hindi (center), Bo Schack to the right (Facebook page of Yasser Abu Zakariya, February 10, 2017).
Left: Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, principal of an UNRWA school, speaking at a ceremony honoring students who excelled in their studies. Right: Dr. Suhail al-Hindi (center), Bo Schack to the right (Facebook page of Yasser Abu Zakariya, February 10, 2017).

Dr. Suhail al-Hindi's Election to Hamas Leadership in the Gaza Strip, and His Repeated Denial

4.   Dr. Suhail al-Hindi's name appeared on the list of the members of Hamas' newly-elected political bureau published in the Palestinian media. In ITIC assessment, the list is reliable (a "senior Hamas source" confirmed the authenticity of the names to the Quds Press news agency).

5.   After his election had been publicly announced, Dr. al-Hindi issued a series of vigorous denials, claiming he had not been elected to the bureau. He even claimedhe planned to sue those responsible for the reports. So far, Hamas has not formally related to the issue of his election.

The Facebook page of Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, where he posted a denial of the report of his election to Hamas' political bureau (Reposted to the Facebook pages of the Jabalia refugee camp, Palestine Tajmaa'na and the northern Gaza Strip, and Paltoday, February 13, 2017).
The Facebook page of Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, where he posted a denial of the report of his election to Hamas' political bureau (Reposted to the Facebook pages of the Jabalia refugee camp, Palestine Tajmaa'na and the northern Gaza Strip, and Paltoday, February 13, 2017).

6.   In ITIC assessment, Dr. al-Hindi's denial should be viewed with suspicion. His vigorous denials may be the result of the fact that publicizing his election will make difficulties for him (and Hamas) in dealing with UNRWA. In the past UNRWA objected to its staff belonging to Hamas or other organizations, although the agency never took decisive action to enforce its objections.

7.   The problematic nature of electing Hamas activists to UNRWA positions was illustrated in 2009. On March 25, 2009, elections were held for the UNRWA employees union in the Gaza Strip. Despite the explicit UNRWA regulation against running for election under the name of an organization, Hamas won great support among UNRWA's employees. According to Palestinian sources at the time, Hamas won 17 of the union's 27 seats (al-Bayan Media Center, March 25, 2009). Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoumsaid Hamas' victory [in the UNRWA elections] showed "that the entire Palestinian people followed the resistance and its path of success, and that indicated Hamas' popularity" (al-Bayan Media Center, March 25, 2009). At the time Hamas' victory caused tension between the movement and UNRWA. John Ging, who was then the director of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, threatened to fire UNRWA employees who belonged to Hamas or other organizations, but in the end the threat was not carried out.[2] In September 2012 UNRWA employees in the Gaza Strip held elections and the Hamas list, headed by Dr. al-Hindi, received an overwhelming majority of the votes.

8.   The election of Dr. Suhail al-Hindi to Hamas' political bureau in the Gaza Strip is another illustration of Hamas' deep penetration into the Gaza Strip's educational system and of the great power of its activists in UNRWA institutions in the Strip. That allows Hamas to systematically indoctrinate Gazan school children with its extremist Islamist ideology. In addition, Hamas' great influence on the educational system in the Gaza Strip enables it to hold paramilitary activities within schools, training young children to join Hamas and the ranks of its military wing. Since Hamas is the power ruling the Gaza Strip, its ideological and military activities in the educational system are not curbed either by UNRWA(which operates many educational and social institutions in the Gaza Strip) or by the Palestinian Authority(which is formally responsible for the educational system in the Gaza Strip, but as in many other governmental areas, its actual influence is limited).

 

[1]In September 2012 elections were held for the UNRWA staff union in the Gaza Strip, in which 11,500 employees voted. The Hamas list, headed by Dr. Suhail al-Hindi, received an overwhelming majority of votes. The Palestinian media reported that Hamas had had complete control over the union since its establishment (al-Risalah, September 12 and 17, 2012).
[2]Hamas called for John Ging to be removed from his position, but he continued until 2012. In 2012 he was replaced by Robert Turner. For further information, see the April 28, 2009 bulletin, "Hamas lashes out against the UNRWA chief in the Gaza Strip," at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/18281

Geography and Politics: During the visit of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip, a wall map of “Palestine” which ignored the existence of the State of Israel was temporarily hidden.


Left: The map before it was covered for the secretary general's visit to an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip. The State of Israel does not appear on it. Right: The covered map of "Palestine" from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (Arabi21, June 28, date).
Left: The map before it was covered for the secretary general's visit to an UNRWA school in the Gaza Strip. The State of Israel does not appear on it. Right: The covered map of "Palestine" from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (Arabi21, June 28, date).

Overview

1.   On June 28, 2016, the UN secretary general went to the Gaza Strip for a visit lasting several hours. While there he was taken to a number of places, including UNRWA's al-Zeitun school in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City.

2.   During his visit a giant wall map of "Palestine," which completely ignored the existence of the State of Israel was, was covered. That was apparently done to keep from embarrassing him and UNRWA. However, there was nothing unusual about the map itself, because many such maps can be found throughout the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samariain administration buildings, schools, textbooks and in the media.[1] The maps ignore the existence of the State of Israel, and many major Israeli cities do not appear.[2]

3.   The maps of "Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea" used in educating the Palestinian younger generation reinforce the narrative of denying the existence of the State of Israel. They also reinforce the narrative of the so-called "right of return" of the Palestinian refugees to the territory of the State of Israel. For example, at the head of the map covered for the visit of the UN secretary general the word "Return" appears, under which is written, "The return is a sacred right – it cannot be waived and [replaced by] settling [the refugees in the countries hosting them]." To the left of the map are pictures of a woman and child in traditional Palestinian clothing. The woman is giving the child a key, the symbol of the so-called "right of return."

 

"Educating" the younger generation with maps: A counsellor in a Hamas summer camp in the Gaza Strip points to a map of "Palestine" issued by Hamas which ignores the existence of the State of Israel (Filastin al-A'an, June 8, 2016). Important Israeli cities do not appear on the map. Jaffa, considered a "Palestinian city," replaces Tel Aviv, and Um-Khaled, an Arab village which no longer exists, replaces Netanya.
"Educating" the younger generation with maps: A counsellor in a Hamas summer camp in the Gaza Strip points to a map of "Palestine" issued by Hamas which ignores the existence of the State of Israel (Filastin al-A'an, June 8, 2016). Important Israeli cities do not appear on the map. Jaffa, considered a "Palestinian city," replaces Tel Aviv, and Um-Khaled, an Arab village which no longer exists, replaces Netanya.

4.    For reactions to the covering of the map, see the Appendix.

[1]A study about the Palestinian educational system was carried out by IMPACT-se (Institute for Monitoring [global] Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education) in May 2016. On the one hand Israel is represented as an evil entity that should be destroyed. On the other, as a state, it does not appear on maps of "Palestine," where Palestine as an Arab state covers the entire geographical territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea (IMPACT-se.org website, May 2016).
[2]A collection of map that ignore the existence of the State of Israel can be viewed at the display of captured Palestinian materials at the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at Glilot. 

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (September 17 – 23, 2014)

Masked children participate in the weekly riot in Bil'in (PALDF, September 19, 2014).

Masked children participate in the weekly riot in Bil'in (PALDF, September 19, 2014).

The pickaxe found in the possession of the Palestinian man detained near Beit Jala (Spokesman for the Israel Police Force, September 18, 2014)

The pickaxe found in the possession of the Palestinian man detained near Beit Jala (Spokesman for the Israel Police Force, September 18, 2014)

The Molotov cocktail thrown on the trans-Samaria highway (Photo by Ehud Amitun forTazpit.org.il, date, 2014).

The Molotov cocktail thrown on the trans-Samaria highway (Photo by Ehud Amitun forTazpit.org.il, date, 2014).

The weekly riot in Kafr Qadoum on September 19, 2014 (Wafa.ps, September 19, 2014). Some of the stone-throwers are clearly children.

The weekly riot in Kafr Qadoum on September 19, 2014 (Wafa.ps, September 19, 2014). Some of the stone-throwers are clearly children.

Pilgrims bound for Mecca leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing (Website of the Palestinian ministry of the interior, September 18, 2014)

Pilgrims bound for Mecca leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing (Website of the Palestinian ministry of the interior, September 18, 2014)

Mahmoud Abbas and Yitzhak Herzog in Ramallah (Wafa.ps, September 17, 2014).

Mahmoud Abbas and Yitzhak Herzog in Ramallah (Wafa.ps, September 17, 2014).

Mahmoud Abbas and François Hollande in Paris (Wafa.ps, September 19, 2014).

Mahmoud Abbas and François Hollande in Paris (Wafa.ps, September 19, 2014).

Children at the Hamas rally in Rafah (Paltimes.net, September 19, 2014).

Children at the Hamas rally in Rafah (Paltimes.net, September 19, 2014).

  • On the afternoon of September 16, 2014, after three weeks of quiet, a mortar shell hit was identified in the western Negev. According to the Arab media, Hamas' security forces detained two jihadist operatives who had acted on their own initiative.
  • Egypt announced that on September 24, 2014, the round of Israeli-Palestinian talks agreed on as part of the ceasefire would begin. Before the talks Egypt will host a meeting of Fatah and Hamas representatives in an effort to find a solution to their disagreements, which are causing difficulties for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip.
  • Violent events in Jerusalem continue. A large number of children were among the suspects detained by the Israeli security forces for throwing Molotov cocktails and stones.
Negotiations Renewed for a Ceasefire Agreement
  • A month after the ceasefire went into effect the Egyptian ministry of foreign affairs announced that Egypt would host a round of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians. According to the announcement, the talks were part of the effort to stabilize the ceasefire, prevent new confrontations, and keep innocent civilians from being harmed and vital facilities from being destroyed. On September 22, 2014, before the talks begin, Egypt will sponsor a meeting to facilitate the internal Palestinian reconciliation. On September 23, 2014, exploratory meetings will be held and on September 24, 2014, indirect negotiations will begin (Facebook page of the Egyptian foreign ministry, September 21, 2014).
  • The reports concerning the composition of the Palestinian delegation are contradictory. Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figure Yussuf al-Hassayna said that the delegation to the negotiations would limited to three men: senior Fatah figure Azzam al-Ahmad, Hamas political bureau member Musa Abu Marzouq, and senior PIJ figure Khaled al-Batash (Maannews.net, September 21, 2014). However, a senior Hamas figure said that other Hamas figures would also be delegates, such as Izzat al-Rishq, Muhammad Nasr, Khalil al-Haya and Ziyad al-Zaza (Alresala.net, September 21, 2014).
  • Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, said that the objective of the talks was to make it possible for the Palestinian government to take control of the Gaza Strip so that it could perform all the functions and tasks in Gaza it performed in Judea and Samaria. He again claimed that an illegal "shadow government" controlled the Gaza Strip (AFP.com, September 21, 2014).
  • Sources in Hamas said the following about the indirect negotiations:
  • At a meeting of Muslim sages in Doha, Qatar, Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas' political bureau, said that it was very important to complete the ceasefire talks, claiming they would focus on establishing an airport and a seaport. He claimed that the issue of the "weapon of the resistance" [i.e., disarming Hamas] was in no way a subject that would be under discussion (Al-Aqsa TV, September 21, 2014).
  • Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, claimed that Hamas did not want another war with Israel, but that there might be another round of fighting if no arrangement were reached that would lift the siege of the Gaza Strip. He claimed that after the fighting Hamas' popularity had increased and that if elections were held today Hamas would beat Fatah (AP.org, September 18, 2014).
Israel Agrees the Establishment of a Framework to Oversee the Rebuilding of the Gaza Strip
  • Israel agreed to a UN proposal for the establishment of a UN mechanism to supervise and monitor the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. Such a mechanism would make it possible to advance the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip while safeguarding Israel's security interests. The coordination between the three parties will be handled by Robert Serry, the UN envoy to the Middle East, Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) prime minister, and General Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories. The framework was authorized by the political leadership (IDF Spokesman, September 16, 2014).
  • Dr. Ahmed Mustafa, deputy prime minister in the Palestinian national consensus government, said that the proposed UN plan was based primarily on easing restrictions on the entrance of building materials into the Gaza Strip. He said that the Israelis had agreed that the materials would be delivered from Israel under Israeli supervision. He added that the Palestinians had agreed to the plan because it would accelerate the rebuilding process and provide guarantees for the contributing countries. He also said that the UN and private companies would deliver the materials, and the UN would supervise their use. He noted that the Palestinian crossings authority was in contact with the Israeli crossings authority to enlarge the Kerem Shalom crossing in order to improve its delivery capabilities. According to the proposed plan, the target number of trucks passing through the crossing on a daily basis is 850 (Alhayat.com, department 18, 2014).
  • On the afternoon of September 16, 2014, after three weeks of quiet, a mortar shell hit was identified in the western Negev. It landed in an open area near the security fence. There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
  • Palestinian sources reported that Hamas' security forces detained two operatives belonging to a Salafist-jihadi network who had fired the mortar shell. Interrogation, according to the reports, revealed that the two had acted on their own initiative. Hamas informed the Salafist leaders of the detention, stressing that Hamas would not permit anyone to violate the ceasefire agreement and would curb the activities of anyone who tried to fire rockets into Israeli territory (Aawsat.net, September 18, 2014).
  • Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, claimed that in fact there had been mortar shell fire into Israel but denied the reports of the detention of the launchers. He claimed it was not Hamas policy to detain operatives who launched rockets but rather to reach an agreement with their organization to preserve the lull (Alqudsnews.net, September 17, 2014).

Mortar Shell Fire into Israel

Detentions in the Wake of the Riots in Jerusalem
  • Following the overall rise in the extent of attacks and riots in Jerusalem, the Israeli security forces carried out a series of detentions of Palestinians suspected of involvement in violence. Prominent among the detainees was the number of children who had thrown Molotov cocktails. For example, on September 16, 2014, the Israeli security force detained 22 Palestinians suspected of disturbing the peace in the Jerusalem area, of whom 13 were minors. Among them were three who were suspected of throwing stones at public transportation, four suspected of throwing Molotov cocktails at the Israeli security forces in Silwan, and three twelve year-olds suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Tor (Spokesman for the Israel Police Force, September 16, 2014).
  • Before dawn on September 18, 2014, members of the Border Police force detained a 29 year-old Palestinian man near Beit Jala who was behaving suspiciously. They searched him and found a pickaxe hidden under his clothing. The Palestinian, who lived in Bethlehem, said he planned to go to Jerusalem and attack an Israeli soldier (Ynetnews.co.il, September 18, 2014).
Other Violent Events in Judea and Samaria
  • This past week the usual violent incidents continued in Judea and Samaria, part of the so-called "popular resistance." Stones were thrown at Israeli civilians and Israeli security forces and Molotov cocktails were thrown at vehicles on main roads. The Friday riots held at the traditional friction points (Bil'in, Ni'lin, Nebi Saleh, Qadoum, Beit Umar, etc.). On the evening of September 20, 2014, a squad of three Palestinians threw a Molotov cocktail at an Israeli vehicle on the trans-Samaria highway. There were no casualties and no damage was reported.
The Rafah Crossing
  • The Rafah crossing does yet not operate regularly. On September 18, 2014, the first group of pilgrims bound for Mecca left the Gaza Strip via the crossing. During the coming days 2,500 pilgrims are expected to leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing on their way to Mecca.
The Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip
  • According to an UNRWA report issued on September 18, 2014, the agency's schools are still used as shelters by 58,141 Gazans who left their homes during Operation Protective Edge (UN website, September 18, 2014).
Rebuilding the Gaza Strip
  • Red tape continues to delay the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. After a high inter-ministry committee for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip prepared a plan, the national consensus government authorized a national plan for the recovery and rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, estimating that it would cost at least $4 billion (Wafa.ps, September 20, 2014).
  • The national consensus government is trying to accelerate the process, especially through the delivery of the necessary materials to the Gaza Strip. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said that the condition for rebuilding the Gaza Strip was that the national consensus government finance and direct the process. He said the PA had reached an agreement with Israel for the delivery of building materials from Israel to the Gaza Strip under UN aegis and supervision. He said it was also agreed that the Palestinians would determine the materials and amounts of materials necessary, and that the private sector would import them from Israel with UN inspection. In addition, he said that for six months the national consensus government would pay the rent of civilians whose houses had been destroyed (Maannews.net, September 18, 2014).
  • Senior Hamas figure Ahmed Yussuf said that Hamas was not involved in rebuilding the Gaza Strip. However, he added that because of the governmental vacuum in the Gaza Strip, the UN was in contact with Hamas as well as with the national consensus government. He also claimed that authorizations and the inspection of materials delivered would be the responsibility of Israel, the UN and the national consensus government (Maannews.net, September 16, 2014).
  • UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that UNRWA was formulating a two-year plan for rebuilding the Gaza Strip whose objective was to support the refugees, who made up 70% of the entire Gazan population. He claimed the program could be implemented only if the blockade of the Gaza Strip were lifted and the international community became involved (IPSnews.net, September 17, 2014).
  • Rami Hamdallah went to New York to participate in a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC).[3] According to the media, the main topic of discussion will be the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip. Other topics will include the situation in Jerusalem, damage done to holy sites, the so-called "Judaization" of the city and the division of the Temple Mount (Alhayat-j.com, September 21, 2014).

International Support for Rebuilding the Gaza Strip

  • Muhammad Mustafa, deputy prime minister and finance minister of the national consensus government, reported that the government was preparing for the Gaza rebuilding conference, expected to be held in Cairo on October 12, 2014, with the support of Mahmoud Abbas. In the meantime, various international agencies have been sending support to the Gaza Strip:
  • The government of Sri Lanka said it would donate $1 million to the Gaza Strip (Website of the Sri Lankan government, September 20, 2014).
  • Rami Hamdallah claimed that Saudi Arabia had promised to donate $500 million to rebuild the Gaza Strip and was also willing to provide water desalination facilities (Maannews.net, September 18, 2014).
  • A delegation from an Italian group entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. It brought medicine, foodstuffs and two first aid vehicles (Samanews.com, September 17, 2014).
  • An Argentinean delegation brought medical aid (Samanews.com, September 17, 2014).
  • Donations were also made by Hungary and the Turkish IHH.

Left: Donations from Hungary sent to Judea and Samaria and from there delivered to the Gaza Strip. Right: Donations for the Gaza Strip from the Turkish IHH (Palestine-info.info, September 16, 2014).
Left: Donations from Hungary sent to Judea and Samaria and from there delivered to the Gaza Strip. Right: Donations for the Gaza Strip from the Turkish IHH (Palestine-info.info, September 16, 2014).

Three Palestinians Killed by an Exploding Mortar Shell
  • A spokesman for the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that two 23 year-old Palestinians were killed and three Palestinians were wounded when an unexploded mortar shell detonated in the Shejaiya area. The shell was left from Operation Protective Edge. Later one of the wounded Palestinians, aged 24, died (Maannews.net, September 19, 2014).
Mahmoud Abbas' Political Activity
  • PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas went to Paris, where he met with French President François Holland and other high-ranking individuals. After the meeting they held a joint press conference, where Mahmoud Abbas expressed admiration for the French position on the Palestinian cause. He noted the need to realize Palestinian rights through political activity and broad international consultation to bring about a clearly designated, scheduled end to the Israeli occupation. He claimed the Palestinians demanded that the borders between the two countries be defined according to the 1967 borders. To that end, he claimed, they had gotten the support of most of the Arab states and they would continue their efforts with other countries to be able to appeal to the UN Security Council to have a resolution passed ending the occupation.
  • Meeting with Yitzhak Herzog, head of the Israeli Labor Party, Mahmoud Abbas claimed he was prepared to appeal to the UN to achieve peace based on the solution of two states for two peoples. He claimed he wanted to make it clear that the objective of Palestinian appeal to the UN was to end the conflict and bring peace and stability to the area, with two states living in security, stability and peace (Al-ayyam.com, September 18, 2014).
Prisoner Protests
  • According to Issa Qaraqa, who heads the Palestinian authority for prisoners affairs, at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Agency in Geneva aninternational campaign will be launched to demand the release of 73 Palestinian prisoners who were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal and later redetained by Israel. He also claimed that Palestinian and international human rights organizations would participate in the campaign. He claimed the detentions were "political revenge on the Palestinian people" and violations of justice and international law (Wafa.ps, September 18, 2014).
  • The 73 prisoners who were redetained by Israel sent a letter to the authority for prisoner affairs demanding to be released and threatening to start protests such as an unlimited hunger strike. They demanded the intervention of the Egyptian government and Mahmoud Abbas. They claimed that being redetained violated the agreement signed with them (Paltoday.ps, September 17, 2014). They also said they would stage a one-day warning strike on September 23, 2014, demanding to be released as soon as possible (Wafa.ps, September 21, 2014).
Rally in Rafah
  • On September 19 a rally was held in Rafah to honor Hamas operatives killed in southern Rafah. It was attended by Ahmed Bahar, head of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Pictures of the rally clearly showed that adult Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives were not represented, but rather only young children wearing military uniforms and holding guns (Paltimes.net, September 19, 2014).
Rally Marking the "Hamas Victory" Held at Bir Zeit University
  • On September 17, 2014, the Islamic Bloc in Bir Zeit University held a rally to mark "Hamas' victory" in Operation Protective Edge. Islamic Bloc university students, masked and wearing Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades shirts, organized a march. They carried Hamas-affiliated flags and signs. After the march there was a rally in the university where guns used in the operation were put on display, among them a new sniper rifle and an R-160 rocket (Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University, September 17, 2014)

Left: The rally where a sniper rifle and an R-160 rocket (of the type launched during Operation Protective Edge) were displayed. Right: Members of the Islamic Bloc hold Hamas-affiliated flags and an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades insignia (Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University, September 17, 2014).
Left: The rally where a sniper rifle and an R-160 rocket (of the type launched during Operation Protective Edge) were displayed. Right: Members of the Islamic Bloc hold Hamas-affiliated flags and an Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades insignia (Facebook page of the Islamic Bloc at Bir Zeit University, September 17, 2014).

[1] As of September 23, 2014. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire or rockets which misfired and fell inside the Gaza Strip.
[2] The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
[3] The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee is a 15-member committee that serves as the principal policy-level coordination mechanism for development assistance to the Palestinian people. The AHLC is chaired by Norway and co-sponsored by the EU and US. In addition, the United Nations participates together with the World Bank (Secretariat) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The AHLC seeks to promote dialogue between donors, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Government of Israel (http://www.lacs.ps/article.aspx?id=6). This year it is supposed to meet on September 25, 2014, and the meeting will be attended by UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon and American Secretary of State John Kerry (Norway-UN.org).