The Latest Round of Escalation in the Gaza Strip: What Next? (Initial Assessment)

The most recent round of escalation is the eighth significant round since the return marches began on March 30, 2018 (see the Appendix). An analysis of the previous rounds of escalation revealed that the most recent one was different in three main aspects

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (October 30 – November 5, 2019)

This past week events focused on two rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip targeting the southern Israeli town of Sderot and the western Negev According to Israeli security sources quoted by the media, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was responsible for the rocket attacks. Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, gave a belligerent speech in which he described at length the military capabilities of Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Authority employs a policy of rebuilding the houses of terrorists demolished by Israel: the case of Islam Abu Hamid

On the night of October 24, 2019, the Israeli security forces demolished a building under construction in the al-Am'ari refugee camp near Ramallah. The house belonged to the family of Palestinian terrorist Islam Abu Hamid, who killed an IDF soldier in May 2018. Following the destruction Palestinians rioted and clashed with the Israeli security forces.

Glorification of a shahid who recently perpetrated a stabbing attack, at an annual ceremony of appreciation for high school and university graduates in the village of Al-Eizariya, east of Jerusalem

On September 7, 2019, the youth club of the village of Al-Eizariya (situated east of Jerusalem) held the annual ceremony of appreciation for high school and university graduates who are residents of the village. The ceremony was held at Al-Eizariya Girls High School. Prominent figures attending the ceremony were the head of the Jerusalem Office in the PLO; chief of the PA General Intelligence in the Jerusalem District; the Fatah secretary in Al-Eizariya and his deputy; the mayor of Al-Eizariya, school principals, the students and their families.

Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip continue attempting to penetrate into Israeli territory. Such attempts are not part of official Hamas policy but are publicly praised and encouraged after the fact.

On August 17, 2019, IDF observation posts identified five suspects approaching the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. At least one of them was armed. IDF forces were rushed to the site. An IDF tank and helicopter shot at the suspects before they could cross the security fence (IDF spokesman, August 17, 2019). The attempted penetration came two days after four rockets were launched at Israel in two separate incidents (August 16 and 17, 2019).

The Escalation in the Gaza Strip (An overview updated to 15:00, November 13, 2019)

Massive rocket fire at Israel from the Gaza Strip continues. Since the beginning of the events, between 300 and 350 rockets have been fired (as of noon, November 13, 2019). Most of the rockets were fired at the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and at Israel's south. According to the IDF spokesman, 90% of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. About 60% fell in open areas.

Escalation in the Gaza Strip: Massive rocket fire at Israel after the targeted killing of a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad military commander (Updated to 14:00, November 12, 2019)

Before dawn on November 12, 2019, Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a building in the Sajaiya neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip. Bahaa Abu al-Atta, the commander of the northern brigade of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and his wife were killed in the attack.( For a portrait of Bahaa Abu al-Atta, see Appendix A).

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 31 – August 6, 2019)

On Friday, August 2, 2019, the return march in the Gaza Strip was held with about 6,000 participants (the average for the past weeks). Hamas security operatives were photographed removing young Palestinians from the region of the fence. On August 1, 2019, the day before the return march, a Palestinian crossed the security fence east of Khan Yunis. A committee met in the Palestinian Authority (PA) to implement Mahmoud Abbas's decision to stop acting in accordance with agreements signed with Israel.

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (September 19 – 26, 2017)

This past week there was a shooting attack near Har Adar, an Israeli community west of Jerusalem. The terrorist killed three Israelis and seriously wounded another. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have not condemned the attack so far. A delegation of senior Hamas figures headed by Musa Abu Marzouq visited Moscow and met with Russian officials.

The Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian Authority is a semi-autonomous entity which controls most of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 by virtue of agreements signed as part of the Oslo process between Israel and the PLO. Formally, the Palestinian Authority also controls the Gaza Strip, but in reality it lost control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007 when Hamas violently took control. Since Yasser Arafat’s death, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has headed the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority’s status under Yasser Arafat was severely damaged by the Palestinian terrorist campaign (the Al-Aqsa, or Second Intifada, 2000 until 2005). Israel asserted that it failed to function since it did not fight against terrorism and even played an active role in organizing and funding terrorist attacks against Israelis. Israel ended cooperation with it and most Palestinian Authority activities came to a standstill.

After the end of the Second Intifada, Arafat’s death and his succession by Abu Mazen, Israel changed its policy towards the Palestinian Authority and the relations between them improved. Today, the Palestinian Authority controls area A in Judea and Samaria and enjoys partial cooperation with Israel, mainly in terms of security and administration. In the territories under its control, the Palestinian Authority operates through its security services, in coordination with Israel, to maintain internal order and prevent terrorist attacks. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority supports “popular resistance” (popular terrorism), providing political and even practical backing to acts of violence taking place as part of this kind of terrorism.

Many countries around the world give the Palestinian Authority some sort of recognition as a political entity, although most of them do not recognize it as a sovereign state. Some of them formalized their diplomatic relations with the Palestinian Authority and promoted their representatives to the status of ambassadors. On November 29, 2012, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 67/19 by a large majority. The resolution granted the Palestinian Authority a status of an observer state, which is not a full member.