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Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation Update May 7, 2008

Written by IICC

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News of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation
April 29-May 6, 2008
The Annapolis process… …and anti-Israeli incitement continueshamasincitement.jpg
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(left)Ehud Olmert and Abu Mazen in Jerusalem (Moshe Milner for the Government Press Office, May 5). (right) Hamas’s anti-Israeli, anti-Jewish campaign targets Israel’s Independence Day: “Israeli soldiers” and “rabbis” abusing a Palestinian in a Hamas display.


Overview

The main event of this past week was the agreement reached in principle between Egypt and Hamas on April 25 about a progressively implemented lull (“ Gaza first”) in the military confrontation between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip. Statements regarding the lull were issued in the Palestinian and Arab media; however, so far, more than a week after the agreement was reached, no written version has appeared. In any event, the Egyptians announced that an agreement had been reached with the 12 Palestinian organizations which had sent representatives to Cairo (although in effect some of them had reservations) and stated that the ball was now in the Israeli court.

Hamas has accompanied the deliberations about the lull with threats to Israel and a media campaign of anti-Israeli incitement in preparation for the 60 th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel (called the nakba , “catastrophe,” by the Palestinians). At the same time, for the third consecutive week there has been a relatively high level of rocket fire targeting western Negev towns and villages.

Important Events

A high level of rocket fire continues
This past week saw a rise in the amount of rocket fire , inspired by Hamas's representing itself as prepared for a lull in the fighting with Israel . There were 65 identified rocket hits in Israeli territory this week, 34 last week (this is the third consecutive week with a relatively high number of rockets fired). Fifty-five mortar shells were fired at IDF forces and Israeli towns and villages near the security fence.

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A rocket hit on the roof of a supermarket in Sderot 4
(Hamutal Ben-Sheetrit , May 4)., www.sderotmedia.co.il

Hamas did not openly participate in the rocket fire, preferring to enable the other terrorist organizations carry out the attacks. Most of the rockets were fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.






Daily Distribution of Identified Rocket Hits in Israel
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Rocket Hits during the Past Week Compared with Previous Weeks
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Counterterrorist Activities

The Gaza Strip

Israeli security forces' counterterrorist activities continue in the Gaza Strip. The most important activity was an Israeli Air Force strike on a building in Rafah belonging to the PIJ, carried out on April 30. The strike killed a senior Jerusalem Battalions operative. The PIJ statement following his death threatened revenge. Four Palestinians were wounded in the strike (Palestinian media, April 30).

Hamas operative involved Gilad Shalit's abduction killed

A combined IDF-Israeli security forces activity in the southern Gaza strip on May 1 resulted in the death of Nafez Mansour , a Hamas terrorist operative from Rafah who was involved in the June 2006 attack on the IDF post at Kerem Shalom in which Gilad Shalit was abducted. Mansour belonged to the terrorist network which carried out the car bomb attack during Passover in which eight IDF soldiers were wounded, three of them seriously. 1 In addition, he had been involved in rocket fire targeting IDF posts and Israeli towns and villages in the western Negev and in planning other attacks.

Investigation of the incident in which five family members were killed in Beit Hanoun

On May 2, the results of the IDF-appointed team's investigation into the incident of April 28 were made public. The team determined that the mother and her four children had not been killed by IDF fire . It was not the first time the Palestinians were quick to use false information in their anti-Israeli propaganda campaign and to make accusations against the IDF were later proved to be baseless.

On April 28-29 IDF forces carried out actions against terrorist networks in the Beit Hanoun region. During one of the actions four armed terrorists who had shot at the soldiers were observed. One of the terrorists was killed by a direct hit from an IDF aircraft. The hit caused a secondary explosion far larger than that caused by the strike . The aircraft carried out another strike against one a second terrorist who was also carrying weapons. In that case as well a direct hit was observed. The two attacks took place in the street near the family's house.

The conclusion reached by the investigators ruled out the possibility of the family's being hit by IDF fire, since the two air strikes were the only shots fired in the area in question. The family was killed by the secondary explosion. The evaluation was that it occurred because of the concussion caused by the explosion of the rockets and other weapons carried by the terrorists, or by an object flung by the explosion (IDF Spokesman's Website, May 2).


Statistical Data

Monthly Distribution of Rocket Hits
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Monthly Distribution of Mortar Shells Fired
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Monthly Distribution of Attacks 2 monthly.gif

Monthly Distribution of Israeli Casualties
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The Annapolis Process

Ehud Olmert and Abu Mazen meet

On May 5 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen met to discuss various political and security issues. Earlier the same day the American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, met with Israel Foreign Minister Tsippi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

After the Olmert-Mazen meeting Mark Regev, the prime minister's international media advisor, said that “the discussions were the most serious the two sides have held.” A “highly-placed source” said that there had been “a great deal of progress made regarding both the final borders of the PA and the State of Israel and security arrangements” (Ynet, May 5).

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said that Abu Mazen had asked Olmert “to begin arrangements for the lull in the fighting” in order to ensure that it would be comprehensive, mutual and simultaneous and begin in the Gaza Strip. He noted that the Egyptians had acted “at Abu Mazen's request” to secure the lull, 3 and also described the meeting as “very serious” (Palestinian TV, May 5).

The Internal Palestinian Arena

Palestinian security forces operatives deployed in the Jenin district

On May 5 500 security force operatives were deployed in the city of Jenin and northern Samaria . The deployment was implemented after a series of coordinating meetings between the IDF and the civilian authority with their Palestinian counterparts. On May 3 the IDF spokesman reported that responsibility for the security of Jenin had not been transferred the Palestinian police , who would be in charge of keeping order in the city; security would continue to rest with the IDF.

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Palestinian security forces enter the Jenin district (Al-Jazeera TV, May 3).

Palestinian responses to the deployment were the following:

• Dhiab al-Ali, head of national security in the West Bank , said that the forces would carry out Abu Mazen's orders “to put an end to the loss of control over security…and to enforce law and order and the one legitimate weapon” [i.e., weapons exclusively in the hands of the PA's security forces] (Wafa News Agency, May 3).

• Hamas noted its reservations regarding the activities of the security forces in the West Bank . The movement issued a statement to the effect that “it is forbidden for the deployment of those forces to attack the weapon of the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations] and its legitimate right to protect its people…” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum added that “the entire deployment of the security forces has been carried out…under the supervision of high-level Americans…is a kind of preservation of the Israel occupation at the expense of national agreements and the security of the Palestinian citizen” (Palestine-info Website, May 3).

• The PIJ announced it would agree to the deployment as long as its objective was “to defend the internal front,” but added that “it is important that the forces not stand in the way of the Palestinian resistance” (Al-Jazeera TV, May 3). PIJ spokesman Ahmed al- Awri said that his organization's weapons served only the resistance to Israel and did not create anarchy (BBC, May 3). Suleiman Umran , commander of national security for the Jenin district, said that the forces were dealing with stolen cars and the detention of wanted individuals (apparently for criminal activities) (Wafa News Agency, May 5).

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Suleiman Umran (Al-Jazeera TV, May 3).











The Hamas incitement campaign in preparation for Israel 's Independence Day

On May 1 Hamas marked Nakba Day, 4 the 60 th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, with a “return rally” held in Gaza City and attended by members of the Hamas administration. During the rally there was a display in which Palestinians dressed as Israeli soldiers and rabbis abused and struck Palestinians (Al-Aqsa TV, May 1).

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Hamas rally in Gaza City marking Nakba Day (Al-Aqsa TV, May 1).


The Al-Aqsa TV broadcast was part of the anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-West campaign current being waged by Hamas's television station in preparation for the 60 th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. Programs have been broadcast glorifying terrorists and containing belligerent statements against Israel and the West. For example, a program called “The Young Preacher” was broadcast on May 4, featuring a child named Amjad Abu Ni'mawho delivered an inflammatory sermon which included invective against Israel, the Jews, the west and various Arab regimes.

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The sermon delivered by the Palestinian child
(Al-Aqsa TV, May 4).
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SOURCE: IICC

1 For further information see our April 22, 2008 Bulletin entitled “On Passover Eve IDF forces prevented a combined mass-casualty attack at the Kerem Shalom Crossing”

2 Not including rocket and mortar shell fire.

3 For further information see our May 6 Bulletin entitled “The Egyptian initiative for a lull in the fighting (updated to May 5, 2008 ).”

4 Nakba is the Arabic term for “catastrophe.” Nakba Day is the Arab name for Israel 's Independence Day, and refers to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

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