Written by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism information Center
This past week five mortar shell hits and one rocket hit were identified in Israeli territory. The IDF responded by attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. Senior Hamas figures said they wanted the lull to continue and blamed Israel for the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that Hamas' internal security forces had been instructed to deal assertively with rocket launchers.
Photo:An operative with an RPG launcher guards the press conference held by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, on the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead (Photo by Muhammad Salem, courtesy of Reuters, December 27, 2010).
The Palestinian Authority continued its diplomatic attack to achieve international recognition for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas said that September 2011, the date given by American President Obama for completing the negotiations, was the target date for establishing the Palestinian institutions which would "pave the way to the Palestinian state."
Important Terrorism Events
Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
On December 24 a rocket hit was identified in an open area in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
This past week five mortar shell hits were identified in Israel territory. Most of the mortar shells fell in open areas. There were no casualties and no damage was done. The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the mortar shell fire on December 22 (DFLP website, December 22, 2010).
On December 26 an IDF force operating near the Gaza Strip security fence identified a terrorist squad laying IEDs. The force, supported by Israeli Air Force attack helicopters, opened fire. The Palestinian media reported that the operatives belonged to the Jerusalem Battalions, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and that two of the terrorists had been killed (Ynet, Hamas' Paltoday website and the Jerusalem Battalions website, December 26, 2010).
On December 24, in response to the rocket and mortar shell fire, the Israeli Air Force attacked a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, among them two tunnels and a Hamas military post. The Palestinian media reported five wounded Palestinians, three of them members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's military wing and two bystanders (Hamas' Palestine-info website and Safa News Agency, December 24, 2010).
Senior Hamas figures said they wanted the lull to continue and held Israel responsible for the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip. They accused Israel of plotting new "aggression" and threatening a strong Hamas response should such "aggression" occur. Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration, sent a letter to the UN Secretary General complaining of so-called "Israeli aggression" against the Gaza Strip (Hamas' Palestine-info website, December 24, 2010).
The Palestinian media reported that Hamas was trying to enforce its policy of restraint on the rogue networks. It was reported that Hamas' internal security forces had deployed along Salah al-Din Street, the Gaza Strip's main thoroughfare, and were searching cars for weapons and guns. The Palestinian media claimed that the security forces had received orders to deal harshly with rocket launchers (Hamas' Palestine-info website, December 27; Imad, December 26, 2010).
Hamas figures had the following to say:
Mahmoud al-Zahar, senior Hamas figures in the Gaza Strip, called on Israel to stop its so-called "invasion," "assassinations" and "siege," and if it did, Hamas would be committed to restraint. At the same time, he called on the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria to join the "resistance" (i.e., terrorism) and denounced the Palestinian Authority for cooperating with Israel. He said that Hamas would continue the "resistance" until it destroyed "the dictatorial state with [its] Palestinian collaborators" (Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV, December 24, 2010).
Taher al-Nunu, Hamas spokesman, claimed it was impossible to state with certainty that the rockets fired at Israel came from the Gaza Strip [sic]. He accused Israel "and not only the Palestinian factions" of escalation. He added that Hamas intended to bring the issue before the UN General Assembly, the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and other venues (Al-Jazeera TV and Al-Nashra, December 22, 2010).
Ayman Taha, Hamas spokesman, claimed that here was "a national consensus for a lull on the ground," and that Hamas would not allow anyone to violate it (Radio Sawt, December 23, 2010).
Yusef Rizka, political advisor to Ismail Haniya, denounced the reports in the Israeli media stating that Hamas had brought anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles into the Gaza Strip. He claimed that Israel was preparing for "comprehensive aggression" against the Palestinians (Al-Qassam website, December 23, 2010).
Abu Obeida, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman, made reference to the so-called "latest Zionist aggression," calling it "playing with fire," and threatened that if Israel put the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades to the test their response would be "harsh" (Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV, December 25, 2010).
For the anniversary of Operation Cast Lead (December 27), Al-Jazeera TV broadcast a program documenting joint training exercises held by Hamas and various other terrorist organizations in preparation for what it called a new Israeli "aggression" against the Gaza Strip. The exercises included firing light and heavy arms and detonating bombs. They also included simulated abductions of IDF soldiers (Al-Jazeera TV, December 27, 2010).
Left: A camouflaged operative fires an anti-aircraft gun. Right: A terrorist operative carries a man
pretending to be wounded Israeli soldier who is being abducted (Al-Jazeera TV, December 27, 2010).
Left: A terrorist operative armed with a machine gun. Right: A terrorist operative
carrying an anti-tank rocket launcher (Al-Jazeera TV, December 27, 2010).
This past week the Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and seizing weapons (IDF Spokesman's website, December 26, 2010).
There were a number of stone- and Molotov cocktail-throwing attacks targeting Israeli vehicles in Judea and Samaria. An IDF soldier and an Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries:
December 24 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle east of Qalqiliya. There were no casualties but the vehicle was damaged (IDF Spokesman's website, December 24, 2010).
December 23 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle west of Bethlehem. An Israeli civilian sustained minor injuries. The vehicle was damaged. A Molotov cocktail was thrown at an Israeli vehicle east of Qalqiliya. There were no casualties and no damage was done (IDF Spokesman's website, December 23, 2010).
December 21 – An IDF soldier sustained minor injuries when a stone was thrown at him northeast of Jenin (IDF Spokesman's website, December 21, 2010).
This past week the usual demonstrations and riots were held:
On December 26 dozens of Palestinians gathered at the Qalandia checkpoint, southeast of Ramallah, and tried to force their way through. They threw stones at the security forces (IDF Spokesman's website, December 26, 2010).
On December 25 a demonstration was held in Hebron. A crowd of Palestinians, Israeli civilians and foreigners threw stones at Israeli security forces (IDF Spokesman's website, December 25, 2010).
On December 24 demonstrations were held at the "traditional" friction points of the village of Bila'in, near Ramallah, and in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Palestinians, Israeli civilians and foreign activists threw stones at Israeli security forces (Safa News Agency, December 24, 2010).
Adnan al-Dumairi, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security services, reported that a number of months ago Hamas cells planning to operate against the Palestinian Authority were exposed. He said that a cell had been exposed in Ramallah whose members had four RPG launchers and 17 rockets. He also said that an automatic weapon, hand guns and a large sum of euros had been found in the possession of operatives from a cell in Nablus. Their exposure led to other cells operating in Hebron and Tulkarm. He also said that Iran was involved in the cells' activities (Palestinian TV and (Ma'an News Agency, December 22, 2010).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
This past week between 177 and 289 trucks carrying merchandise entered the Gaza Strip. More than 16 tons of strawberries and 15,000 intended for export entered Israel from the Gaza Strip (Website of the Israeli government coordinator for the territories, December 26, 2010).
The Peace Process
The PA Continues Its Diplomatic Attack for International Recognition of a Palestinian State within the 1967 Borders and Its Defamation of Israel in the United Nations
The Palestinian Authority continues its diplomatic attack to achieve international recognition for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders:
Riyadh al-Maliki, the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister, claimed that both Sweden and Cyprus were planning to raise the Palestinian diplomatic representation to the status of embassies (Al-Ayam, December 22, 2010).
On another occasion al-Maliki said that the PA was trying to convince Spain to recognize a Palestinian state by next September, which would bring in its train recognition from the other members of the European Union.
Ecuador joined the countries already recognizing the Palestinian state and said that it recognized a "free and independent" state within the 1967 borders. Bolivia made a similar declaration (Agence France-Presse, December 25, 2010).
The Palestinian Authority has apparently set September 2011 as the target date for establishing the institutions of the Palestinian state. Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, said that next September (2011) was the date set by President Obama for completing negotiations with Israel, and that by then the Palestinians would already have established all the institutions "which will pave the way to a Palestinian state." He said he hoped that by next year "Palestine" would be a full member of the United Nations. On another occasion he said he believed in "peaceful methods" because "[the Palestinians] have no other means." He called on Israel to reach "peace and a joint, secure and stable life" (Wafa News Agency, December 24 and 25, 2010).
Saeb Erekat, head of the PLO's negotiating department, said that now, after many countries had recognized the "Palestinian state," "the negotiations are over," because the Palestinian people no longer needed them, but rather had need of "decision makers." He said that the Palestinian Authority intended to bring a resolution before the UN Security Council to condemn the Israeli settlements and call for a freeze on construction. He said the resolution was ready but would only be submitted at the beginning of 2011, once the presidency of the Council was no longer held by America (QudsNews, December 24, 2010).
Convoys and Flotillas to the Gaza Strip – Update
On December 26 the pro-Hamas Turkish organization IHH held a reception in the port of Istanbul for the Mavi Marmara, which had returned from renovations. The boat, which was decorated with Palestinian flags and pictures of the nine operatives who died during the confrontation with the IDF, was welcomed by a crowd of thousands who shouted "Death to Israel." Present at the ceremony were the families of those who had died and representatives from various countries. Among them was Muhammad Sawalha, a Hamas activist from Britain, who has participated in organizing flotillas. No senior members of the Turkish government were present (Al-Jazeera TV, December 26; Yenisafak, December 27, 2010).
IHH leader BÃ¼lent Yildirim gave a speech to inflate the myth of the "heroism" of the Mavi Marmara. He praised the fighting against the IDF soldiers, claiming that Israel attacked the ship "with dozens of boats, warships, helicopters and even submarines," and that the Israeli soldiers used "ever weapon possible except nuclear bombs." He admitted that the passengers struggled against the IDF soldiers, and asked if anyone expected them not to resist the soldiers' takeover of the boat.
BÃ¼lent Yildirim said in his speech that [his organization] would fight the "filth that is Israel" and called for "release from the burden that Israel puts on the back of the Middle East." He also criticized the leaders of the Islamic countries who, "if they wanted to, could wipe Zionism off the face of the earth." He said that in a short time representatives from "at least 100 countries" would said to the Gaza Strip, until the so-called "siege" was totally lifted (Yenisafak, December 26, 2010).
Left: The Mavi Marmara with pictures of the nine Turkish operatives who were killed.
Right: Thousands of demonstrators wave Palestinian flags (Yenisafak, December 26, 2010).
The Asian Convoy Waits at Latakia for Permission to Enter Egypt 2
As of December 28, the members of the Asian convoy, which left India on December 5, are still in the Syrian port of Latakia. The convoy now has 160 activists, of whom 15 are Lebanese and 35 Jordanian. It is carrying 200 tons of humanitarian assistance and food, including ten generators and a number of ambulances (Al-Arab Al-Yawm, December 25; Iran's PressTV, December 24; Masrawi, December 23, 2010).
According to reports, the organizers of the convoy managed to find a ship and all that remained now was authorization from Egypt. Apparently the Egyptian government does not want to issued entrance visas to some of the convoy's participants. To settle the issue, on December 27 a delegation of convoy activists met with the Egyptian ambassador to Syria, who promised to help them. The director of the port of El Arish said that the port was prepared for the ship's arrival (Al-Ahram, December 25 and 27; Jerusalem Post, December 26, 2010).
A delegation representing the convoy was received by Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus. Speaking before them he said that there was no place for a Palestinian state which waited for recognition from the rest of the world but that the Palestinian people were looking forward to a country "on all the Palestinian lands whose capital is Jerusalem." He said it was his belief that "the resistance [i.e., terrorism] and jihad" were the only way to liberate Palestine (Hamas' Palestine-info website, December 22, 2010). Later on the delegation visited Hezbollah's "Jihad Museum" at Melita (south of Beirut), where they were received by Abu Ahmed Ghazi, a member of the headquarters of Hezbollah's southern district. The members of the delegation expressed their esteem for the "jihad fighters" who had resisted the "Israeli enemy" for so many years (Al-Manar TV, December 24, 2010).
With respect to the possibility of a confrontation with Israel, the members of the delegation claimed that they were "not violent" and that they had no weapons but were preparing themselves "for the worst." They also claimed that if Israel "attacked" them they would deal with the attack as "soldiers of Mahatma Gandhi," that is, without violence (Iran's PressTV, December 24, 2010). The Iranians in the convoy claimed that as far as they were concerned, they were willing to stand up to Israel "to the last drop of blood" (Iran's PressTV, December 21, 2010).
Left: Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau, and Firuz Mithiborwala, senior convoy organizer, at a reception for the convoy held in Lebanon (Al-Manar TV, December 24, 2010). Right: Convoy activists at a ceremony in the Palestinian refugee camp in Yarmouk, Syria. In the background is a poster with a broken Magen David (a familiar symbol for the annihilation of Israel) (Twitter, December 24, 2010).
Firuz Mithiborwala presents a plaque to Ramadan Shalah, the leader of the
Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization (Photo courtesy of MEMRI, December 21, 2010).
1 The statistics do not include the mortar shells fired at IDF soldiers patrolling the border fence which fell inside the Gaza Strip.
2 For further information about the convoy see the December 12, 2010 bulletin, “A convoy from India and other Asian countries left New Delhi to reach the Gaza Strip at the end of December. Among the participants are extreme leftist and Islamic activists who were joined by human rights activists. The convoy has links to FGM, which plays a central role in organizing flotillas” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e146.pdf