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Israeli Palestinian Confrontation Update July 9, 2008

July 9, 2008
News of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation July 1-8, 2008
(IICC) - Overview  
This past week the Palestinian terrorist organizations violated the lull arrangement four times by firing rockets, mortar shells and light weapons. In response, Israel reclosed the Gaza Strip crossings. Hamas continues showing interest in maintaining the arrangement while Fatah networks and thePalestinian Islamic Jihad are responsible for violating it. Hamas detained a number of those firing rockets and mortar shells but avoids directly confronting them.

Hamas exploits the lull arrangement to continue its military buildup, including a significant increase in training operatives and smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip (with the Egyptians taking no exceptional actions taken to stop them). The negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit and the opening of the Rafah crossing are still on the back burner.  

Important Events 

The Gaza Strip
This week the Palestinian terrorist organizations violated the lull arrangement four times . In three instances (July 3, 7 and 8) rockets and mortar shells were fired, and in one instance (July 6) a sniper shot at farmers working in the fields of Kibbutz Nahal Oz. No terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attacks, but in our assessment some of them were carried out by Fatah networks . In response to the attacks Israel reclosed the Gaza Strip crossings.

Mass-casualty attack in Jerusalem and Palestinian responses

At around noon on July 2 a terrorist from East Jerusalem used a front loader to carry out a mass-casualty attack in a crowded area of Jerusalem . He began his rampage from a construction site on Sarei Israel Boulevard , racing along the street and ramming everyone and everything in his path. He turned left at the corner of Jaffa Road and continued his attack. After a short time a policeman, security guard and off-duty soldier climbed onto the loader and killed him. Three civilians were killed and more than 40 wounded, most of them not seriously. 1

On July 4 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to initiate processes for the razing of the houses of the terrorist who carried out the aforementioned terrorist attack and one at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March. That was done after the government's legal counsel declared that in principle there were no grounds to prevent the action (announced by the Defense Ministry, July 4).

Hamas praised the attack, expressing its satisfaction with such an attack's being carried out in the West Bank (where the lull arrangement is not in force):

•  Muhammad Nizal, of Hamas's political bureau , praised the attack against civilians, calling it “heroic.” He added that it proved there were other choices of attack besides rockets (Syrian TV, July 3).

•  According to an announcement on the Hamas website , the movement praised the heroic action and called upon the factions of the resistance (i.e., the terrorist organizations) “to aim more blows at the soldiers of the occupation and the flocks of settlers” (Palestine-info website, July 3).

•  Mustafa al-Sawaf, editor of Hamas's newspaper Felesteen said that the attack was a reaction to Israeli activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem . He added that he was pleased that the lull arrangement was in force only in the Gaza Strip, because “the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations] will move from the Strip…to the West Bank ” (Felesteen, July 3).

Spokesmen affiliated with the Palestinian Authority refrained from denouncing the attack:

•  Nimr Hamad , advisor to Abu Mazen, said that Israel would have to take responsibility for the attack because it “was stubbornly determined to be responsible for security in Jerusalem ” (Al-Alam TV, July 3).

•  Hatim Abd al-Qadr , advisor to Salam Fayyad for matters concerning Jerusalem, said that “the Palestinian Authority would not stand by idly in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe [a reference to Israel's intention to destroy the terrorists' houses],” adding that the PA would appeal the razing orders in the Israeli Supreme Court (Wafa News Agency, July 5).

Counterterrorist Activities 

The Gaza Strip

Since the lull arrangement went into effect, IDF forces have not undertaken counterterrorism activities in the Gaza Strip, focusing instead of defensive activity around the security fence.

Judea and Samaria

Security force activities taken against Hamas institutions in Jerusalem

This week the Israeli security forces continued activities against Hamas's civilian network (the da'wah ). On July 7 IDF forces acted against institutions belonging to Islamic “charitable societies” in Nablus after similar activities were carried out in recent months in Hebron , Ramallah, Qalqilya and Jenin. The Palestinian media reported that the IDF closed the “charitable societies” in Nablus for three years. Hamas severely criticized the IDF's actions in Nablus . 

Foundations operating within the “ Union of Good” outlawed

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently signed an order outlawing 36 funds and foundations operating throughout the world as part of the “Union of Good” and making it illegal for them to operate in Israel . That was done because they are part of a money-raising world-wide system which supports Hamas . It was the most important and comprehensive order ever issued in Israel against a global system for raising money for Hamas.

The “Union of Good” is composed of dozens of Islamic funds and foundations which operate around the globe, some of them specific for Hamas which are illegal in Israel (such as the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund, the British Interpal, the Palestinian Aid and Solidarity Committee, the French CBSP, branches of the Al-Aqsa Fund in Europe, etc.). The money raised by the Union is transferred to Hamas-affiliated institutions in the PA-administered territories. Some of it is used to finance Hamas's terrorism support system by providing cash and material aid to the families of terrorists who were killed, wounded or imprisoned in the terrorist campaign against Israel . 2

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