Written by Right Side News
This past week close to 600 security forces of the Palestinian Authority deployed in the Hebron district. It marked the continuation of the intensive security measures undertaken by the Palestinian security services in the district in recent weeks, an important test of the PA's capabilities.
Violations of the lull arrangement continued in the Gaza Strip. On October 21 a rocket was fired at the western Negev, in response to which Israel closed the Gaza Strip crossings for a day. Another violation, the first of its kind, was revealed this week: on September 21 the Israeli security forces detained a terrorist sent by Hamas to infiltrate into Israel through the Egyptian border, abduct IDF soldiers and transfer them to the Gaza Strip to use them as bargaining chips for the release of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.
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Fatal Stabbing in Jerusalem
On October 23 a Palestinian terrorist carried out a stabbing attack in Gilo, a southern section of Jerusalem , killing Avraham Ozeri, 86. The terrorist, Muhammad al-Madan, 21, from the village of Teqo'a south of Bethlehem , was stopped by two policemen. He pulled out a knife and stabbed one in the back. The wounded policeman drew his gun and fired, wounding the terrorist. Even though wounded, the terrorist managed to flee and then stabbed Avraham Ozeri, who was passing by. A civilian and a city warden overcame the terrorist, who was evacuated for medical treatment. A group calling itself "The Battalions of the Free Sons of Jerusalem" falsely claimed responsibility for the attack. The incident is another in a series of attacks recently carried out in Jerusalem , some of them stabbings. 1
The late Avraham Ozeri
After the attack an IDF force went to the village of Teqo'a to detain Palestinians suspected of involvement in the stabbing. The terrorist's father was detained, as were his sister and brother-in-law. Palestinians began streaming to the site and in the ensuing riot an IDF soldier was slightly wounded. According to media reports, the terrorist's family is affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but the attack was apparently not related to organized terrorist activity.
The terrorist organizations praised the attack and expressed opposition to the possibility that Israel would raze the terrorist's house. Daoud Shihab , senior PIJ figure in the Gaza Strip, said that the attack was "a natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation...". He praised the "resistance" (i.e., terrorism), which, he said, "had turned into the Palestinian people's culture" (Pal-today website, October 23).
On October 26 there was an attempted stabbing at Yad Avshalom in East Jerusalem . A Palestinian tried to stab an Nature Reserves inspector. The inspector overcame him and called for police support.
Judea and Samaria
Light Arms Fire and Molotov Cocktails
In Judea and Samaria light arms, Molotov cocktail and stone-throwing attacks continued:
The IDF Evacuates an Illegal Settlement in Hebron
Before dawn on October 26 IDF forces entered an illegal post in Hebron . Two families lived there, one of them that of extreme right-wing activist Noam Federman. During the evacuation dozens of Qiriyat Arba residents came to the site, confronted the security forces and attacked the soldiers both verbally and physically in an attempt to prevent them from destroying the house. At the same time other Qiriyat Arba residents went to Hebron and threw stones at Arab houses, causing property damage. The Israeli security forces detained four suspects, among them Noam Federman, who is suspected of breaking a policeman's arm.
The Gaza Strip
Rocket Fire From the Northern Gaza Strip
On October 21 a rocket was fired from the northern Gaza Strip. It landed in the region of Ashqelon . No one was harmed and there was no property damage. A fictitious organization calling itself the "Brigades of Hezbollah in Palestine " claimed responsibility for the attack (Qudsnet website, October 21). 2 It was the 22 nd rocket fired at Israel since the lull arrangement went into effect in June 2008. In addition, 18 mortar shells have been fired into Israel during the lull. In response to the attack the Defense Minister ordered the closing of the Gaza Strip crossings.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied the existence of the organization which carried out the attack, saying that every response to Israel had to be effected with the agreement of and in coordination with all the Palestinian [terrorist] organizations. He called upon all the factions to avoid impairing the lull arrangement (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, October 23).
Detention of a Terrorist From Rafah Who Infiltrated into Israel through Egypt
On September 21, 2008 , the Israel Security Agency and IDF forces detained Jamal Atallah Sabah Abu Duabe , 21, a resident of Rafah, after he tried to infiltrate into Israel through the Egyptian border. His objective was to abduct Israeli soldiers . He belonged to a terrorist group funded and trained by high-ranking elements in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military-terrorist wing
The group's objective was to abduct Israeli soldiers and smuggled them into the Gaza Strip through Egypt to use as bargaining chips in negotiations for the release of Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel . Abu Duabe was supposed to carry out the abductions with the aid of another member of the group who would be waiting for him on the Egyptian side of the border. 3
The attempted attack was planned and carried out during the lull, a time when Hamas is committed to refrain from all terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip. It was a severe violation, the first of its kind, of the lull arrangement.
During the past week the security forces continued intensive counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria , seizing large quantities of weapons:
The Lull Arrangement - Update
The Gaza Strip Crossings
On October 22 the Gaza Strip crossings were closed following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel . On other days they were reopened. Because of the Jewish holidays, during the past three weeks there was a decrease in the amount of merchandise delivered into the Gaza Strip through the crossings. However, no lack was felt because of the extensive commercial activity of the smuggling tunnels under the Gazan-Egyptian border.
Opening the Rafah crossing
This past week Egypt opened and closed the Rafah crossing intermittently a number of times to allow ill Gazans and Palestinian pilgrims into the Gaza Strip.
Gilad Shalit, the Abducted Israeli Soldier
To make progress in the prisoner exchange deal, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak appealed to the government's legal counselor to examine preventing family visits to prisoners jailed in Israel whose release Hamas demands in return for Gilad Shalit. Publication of the appeal prompted a wave of criticism from all the Palestinian elements, which viewed it as an Israeli violation of human rights (while they ignore the fact that Gilad Shalit has not even been visited by representatives of the Red Cross, and information about his health is not regularly provided).
The main Palestinian responses were the following:
The Future of the Lull Arrangement
The Palestinian terrorist organizations continue making statements about extending the lull arrangement, which is set to expire on December 19. Hamas spokesmen criticized linking the arrangement to the internal Palestinian national dialogue, preferring Hamas control of the arrangement:
Another Protest Ready to Set Sail for the Gaza Strip
Jamal al-Hudeiri , a Hamas activist who heads its public committee to fight the "siege," said that a second protest ship was ready to set sail from Cyprus for the Gaza Strip. Apparently it would leave Cyprus on October 28 and arrive at the Gaza Strip one day later. The ship he said, would carry 26 passengers and crew, among them human rights activists, doctors and members of parliament. Its cargo would be medicine and medical equipment (PalMedia website, October 22; Freegaza website, October 26).
At the same time, al-Hudeiri said that efforts were being made to rent a plane to "break through the siege" in the air as well (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, October 27).
The Internal Palestinian Arena
The National Fatah-Hamas Dialogue
On October 26 Mahmoud Abbas went to Egypt for a two-day visit and spoke with President Mubarak. The two discussed ways to continue the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as well as the latest developments in the internal Palestinian arena and the Egyptian efforts for Palestinian reconciliation (Middle East News Agency, October 27). From Egypt he is expected to go to Saudi Arabia where he will meet with King Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz.
The efforts being made for internal Palestinian reconciliation face considerable difficulties, especially Hamas's reservations in principle regarding the Egyptian draft of the reconciliation agreement (See below), and regarding the intensive activities of the Palestinian security services in Hebron, an important stronghold of Hamas in Judea and Samaria.
As part of the national Palestinian dialogue, eight Palestinian organizations are expected to meet in Cairo on November 9, among them Fatah and Hamas, to discuss an Egyptian draft. Hamas criticism of the draft, as leaked to the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan (October 26), expose Hamas's interest in basing national reconciliation on its own basic positions and in controlling the entire future Palestinian government. Hamas stated that the "resistance" (i.e., terrorism) was the "legitimate right" of the Palestinian people, that the PLO could not conduct peace talks and that "a national consensus government" had to express the relative forces in the Palestinian Legislative Council as shown by the results of the January 2006 elections.
The heads of the Palestinian terrorist organizations, led by Khaled Mashal,
meeting to discuss the Egyptian proposition (Al-Aqsa TV, October 22).
The Palestinian Security Services Deploy in Hebron
Following coordination with Israel , on the morning of October 25 Palestinian security services reinforcements began deploying in Hebron . According to Hebron police chief Ramadan Awad , the force would be composed of 585 operatives from all the security services : the presidential guard, the Special Second Battalion of National Security, military intelligence, the police, and the executive forces of both preventive security and general intelligence (AP, and the Palestinian media, October 25). Part of the force would train for four more months in Jordan under the supervision Jordan and American security personnel (Ma'an News Agency, October 25). Commander of the reinforcements Sayid al-Najar said that the PA force would have 145 vehicles at its disposal, acquired with American aid.
The deployment of the force is the continuation of the intensive security activity undertaken in recent weeks by the Palestinian security services in the Hebron district as one part of a broad three-stage security operation. They would initially be deployed around the rural area south of Mt. Hebron , and later within the city of Hebron itself. The official objective of the operations, as represented by high-ranking Palestinians, is to ensure public order and fight crime. The security forces are also expected to continue activities designed to weaken Hamas's civilian and military infrastructure in the Hebron district. In recent weeks the Palestinian security services moved against dozens of institutions belonging to Hamas's civilian and military infrastructure (the da'wah ). They also moved against Hamas's military-terrorist networks, seizing large quantities of weapons (including explosive belts) and detaining terrorist operatives, two of whom had been involved in the suicide bombing attack in Dimona at the beginning of the year.
Before dawn on October 27 the Palestinian security services began a security operation planned for the rural area south of Mt. Hebron . The activity focused on the villages of Samoa and Yata, and is supposed to last a number of days. The security services detained dozens of criminals, among them arms and drug dealers (Wafa News Agency, October 27). Hamas sources claimed that the security services broke into the houses of Hamas supporters and detained more than 25 activists for interrogation (PalMedia website, Palestine-info website, October 27).
Hamas in Judea and Samaria issued a statement saying that the deployment [of the Palestinian security services] "firmly establishes treason and national argument" (Palestine-info website, October 26). Sami Khater , of Hamas's political bureau, said that the deployment was part of a comprehensive security campaign to attack the "resistance" and that it would influence the atmosphere of the internal Palestinian dialogue expected to take place in Cairo (Palestine-info website, October 26).
The Palestinian security services deploying in Hebron (Nayef Hashalmon for Reuters, October 25).
Tawfiq al-Tirawi, General Intelligence Chief, Fired
On October 20 PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas signed an order removing two senior members of the Palestinian security services from office, general intelligence chief Tawfiq al-Tirawi , whose dismissal was effective immediately, and head of national security, Diyab al-Ali , whose dismissal would be effective at the end of the year (Ali Waked, Ynet, October 20). After his dismissal al-Tirawi said he would agree to serve as head of the security academy (Wafa News Agency, October 23).
Sources in Fatah criticized the decision to fire al-Tirawi at this time, calling it fawning to Hamas (Jerusalem Post, October 23). However, Palestinian sources denied that his dismissal was part of a Hamas demand to remove four senior members of the Palestinian security services who, according to Hamas, were responsible for the policy of detaining Hamas operatives (Al-Quds Al Arabi, Ma'an News Agency, October 21). Hamas issued an announcement disparaging the changes in the Palestinian security services, saying that the problem was not with its personnel but rather that the services "plotted directly with the occupation and served as its sub-contractor" (Palestine-info website, October 22).
Tawfiq Al-Tirawi (Palestinian TV, October 10, 2007)
The PIJ intends to launch a new satellite TV station which it will call " Al-Maqdisiya ." PIJ sources added that its contents would reflect the organization's positions but it would be open to other opinions which "supported the path of resistance" (i.e., terrorism). The station will broadcast primarily in Lebanon , the site of its main offices, and will have branches in the Gaza Strip (UPI, October 19).
The Annapolis Process
In response to the upcoming early elections in Israel , senior PA figures said that while the issue is Israeli-internal, they were concerned about postponing negotiations, which would result in the loss of valuable time. Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina warned that the coming months would be wasted because of the elections in Israel and the United States . Saeb Erikat expressed hope that the Israeli public would chose to continue the negotiations. Faris Qadoura , senior Fatah figure in Judea and Samaria , called upon Ehud Olmert to reach a peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas as soon as possible in view of the developments on the internal Israeli political scene (Fatah website, October 27).
On the other hand, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri viewed the early elections as proof of the failure of the negotiations and of the validity of Hamas's anti-negotiation position. Hamas administration prime minister Ismail Haniya said that it showed the depth of the crisis within the Israeli leadership, adding that he had no great expectations from the political changes in Israel, since they would not bring about changes in Israel's attitude toward the Palestinians.
The Syria-Lebanon Arena
The United States Attacks Al-Qaeda Operatives in Syrian Territory near the Iraqi Border
On October 26 the United States carried out an aerial attack in the village of Sukkiraya in Syrian territory, using four helicopters. The village is located in the Deir al-Zour district in the Abu Kamal region on the Iraqi border. The attack was airborne but fighting took place on the ground as well.
The American administration did not issue an official report about the attack. However, according to the media, American officials said that the force's activity was aimed at terrorist operatives linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq . It was also reported that the force killed the deputy of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda in Iraq 's leader, who died in a targeted killing in June 2006. In recent years the deputy dealt with smuggling arms, money and rebels from Syria into Iraq .
Traditionally, Syria has not admitted to the presence of Al-Qaeda operatives on its soil. The Syrian government news agency issued a statement on October 26 claiming that four American helicopters came from the direction of Iraq and attacked a "civilian structure," killing eight civilians and wounding another. The statement condemned "American aggression" and demanded the Iraqi government investigate the incident immediately and that the Americans not use Iraqi territory to attack Syria . In addition, the Syrian deputy foreign minister called for a meeting with the acting American ambassador in Damascus and placed responsibility for the attack squarely on the shoulders of the American administration (Syrian News Agency, October 26).
Profits from Drug Smuggling from Colombia Earmarked for Hezbollah
On October 21 Colombian authorities announced that they had arrested a large network of drug smugglers and money launderers. Among those arrested were three men suspected of having sold drugs to send part of the profits to Hezbollah (Reuters, October 21).
Hezbollah, as usual, denied all involvement in the affair. Following the announcement Nawaf al-Musawi , responsible for Hezbollah's public relations, met with the Colombian Ambassador to Lebanon . He gave her a memorandum deploring the "false information" spread by the Colombian media, linking Hezbollah with illegal activities. The memorandum also noted that such claims were " part of a Zionist-imperialist attack" whose objective was to damage Hezbollah's image as a Lebanese political party which enjoyed broad public support (Al-Manar TV, October 23).
The event was not exceptional , since alongside its political, military and social activities, Hezbollah engages in many different criminal activities , including involvement in drug dealing and counterfeiting. The center of those activities is located in the Biqa'a Valley, and Hezbollah is in contact with criminal gangs in Lebanon and beyond, including South America . Hezbollah's criminal activity is intended to create an independent channel to raise funds in addition to those from Iran and donations. Hezbollah also exploits drug smugglers and professional criminal elements to improve its operational capabilities in Israel and throughout the world.
1 For further information see our October 6, 2008 Bulletin entitled "Jerusalem as a focus for terrorist attacks: increase in terrorist activity in Jerusalem and in the involvement of East Jerusalem residents" .
2Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied the organization's existence and accused Israel of a "media fabrication," inventing the organization to tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip (Filastin al-Yawm, October 22).
3 For further information see our October 26, 2008 Bulletin entitled "The Israeli security forces detained a terrorist from Rafah who infiltrated into Israel through Egypt".