Written by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
'This past week sporadic rocket fire attacks continued targeting the western Negev; in response, the Israeli Air Force attacked a number of attack tunnels in the northern Gaza Strip. An IDF tank was attacked with an IED.
This past week another propaganda display, part of the campaign to delegitimize Israel, was prevented. Several hundred activists, most of them French, planned to fly to Ben-Gurion International Airport, hold a "protest" and from there leave for anti-Israeli activities in the territories and within Israel. Most of them were not permitted to board flights in their home countries. Some of them (c. 120) were questioned on arrival at Ben-Gurion Airport and detained; contacts are currently under way with the airlines to return them to their ports of departure.
Most of the activists participating in the flotilla have returned home because of the problems involved in sailing from Greece. The flotilla organizers claim they intend to send a smaller, symbolic flotilla, although it is not clear whether there is anything behind their public statements.
The Propaganda Display at Ben-Gurion International Airport
On July 8 a propaganda display was planned, part of the campaign to delegitimize the State of Israel. Hundreds of activists and ordinary passengers, arriving on commercial flights, were supposed to converge on Ben-Gurion International Airport to hold a "defiant protest display" and then leave for protests within Israel and at friction points in the territories. The activists and the organizations behind them, most of them French, planned to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinians, protest Israel's security fence and the settlements, defame Israel and protest Israel's refusal to allow foreigners to enter the territories freely.
The Israeli Police Department deployed hundreds of policemen in the airport in advance. Israel also appealed to various European countries and airlines, providing them with lists of suspicious passengers. Along with the lists was a warning that the individuals would not be permitted to enter Israel and a notice that the airlines would be responsible for their airfare back to their countries of origin. Approximately 350 activists were denied permission to board flights to Israel from airports in France, Britain, Belgium, Greece, Switzerland, Holland and Germany. Dozens of activists demonstrated and protested at the airports.
Activists forbidden to depart for Israel demonstrate at the Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris
(Picture from the bienvenuepalestine.com website, July 8, 2011).
The first activists landed at Ben-Gurion on July 6. However, as planned, the greatest number arrived on Friday, July 8. Approximately 400 passengers were interrogated on arrival by officials from Israel's population and immigration authority. Six were deported immediately. One hundred and twenty-four passengers and activists were taken to holding facilities; four were released a short time later. As to the remaining 120, contacts are being held with the airlines and demands are being made to return them to their countries of departure. On July 10, 36 activists were deported. Approximately 80% of those refused entry to Israel were French, 8% Belgian, 6% German and the remainder American, Dutch, Spanish and Bulgarian.
According to statements from the port authority, the activists arrived in organized groups. They said they had planned their trips thoroughly and had been briefed on how to deal with detentions at the airport. Some of them responded with extreme verbal abuse. Several dozen extreme leftist Israelis who had come to demonstrate solidarity with the activists began rioting in the arrivals hall. Three of them were detained and taken to the airport police station for questioning.
However, according to claims from Palestinian sources, several dozen activists managed to reach Judea and Samaria. Apparently, on entry they claimed to be ordinary tourists and did not reveal their genuine objective (i.e., demonstrations in Judea and Samaria). Some of them participated in the violent demonstrations organized near the Qalandia checkpoint on July 9 and at other friction points (See below) (Ma’an News Agency and Hamas’ Paltoday website, July 9, 2011).
Anti-Israeli activists at the Ben-Gurion International Airport
(Pictures from the occupiedpalestine.wordpress website, July 8, 2011).
From the Facebook Pages of Two Activists
Who Apparently Participated in the Propaganda Display
Left: Burning the Israeli flag, from the Facebook page of Umm Nawal.
Right: From the Facebook page of Claire Boulette: An individual wrapped in the Hezbollah flag.
Important Terrorism Events in Israel's South
This past week on July 9 two rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. The rockets fell in open areas in the western Negev. There were no casualties.
Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired into Israeli Territory 1
Rocket Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Mortar Shell Fire -- Monthly Distribution
Israeli Air Force Attacks
In response to the rocket attacks, on July 6 and 10 Israeli aircraft struck a number of attack tunnels in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no casualties reported (IDF Spokesman's website, July 6 and 10 2011).
IED Targets IDF Tank
On July 7 an IDF tank was attacked with an IED on the Gaza Strip border near the village of Ein Hashelosha. An IDF soldier sustained minor injuries (Haaretz, July 7, 2011).
Judea and Samaria
The Situation on the Ground
This past week the Israeli security forces continued their counterterrorism activities throughout Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and confiscating weapons.
On July 9 violent demonstrations were held in the village of Nebi Saleh, at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem and at a number of other locations throughout Judea and Samaria. The demonstrators, among them Palestinians, Israeli civilians and foreigners, confronted the Israeli security forces, who responded with riot control measures. According to reports in the Israeli media, some of the foreign demonstrators were activists who had arrived with the "fly-in" (Ynet, July 9, 2011). According to the organizers, the demonstrations marked the seven-year anniversary of the decision handed down by the International Court in The Hague calling the security fence illegal.
Developments in the Gaza Strip
This past week between 249 and 263 trucks carrying merchandise entered the Gaza Strip every day (Website of the Israeli government coordinator for the territories, July 11, 2011).
According to reports in the Egyptian media, Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, sent a communiquÃ© to the Egyptian authorities demanding an easing of the passage of Palestinians through the Rafah crossing. The Egyptian authorities acceded to his demand, at least for the summer months, when a large number of Palestinians are expected to use the crossing. On July 10 a Hamas delegation arrived in Egypt to discuss easing additional restrictions (Al-Ahram, July 4; Al-Youm Al-Sabaa, July 11, 2011).
An official UNRWA announcement regarding cutbacks in its budget and aid programs was received with a series of Palestinian protests:
The department of refugee affairs in the de facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip denounced the budget cutbacks and called on the UN to provide UNRWA with the necessary funds.
Bassem Naim, health minister in the de facto Hamas administration, said that the decision hurt the poor, the sick and students, and that it was a retraction of the international community's responsibility for the Palestinian refugees (Safa News Agency, July 10, 2011).
A hand grenade was thrown at UNRWA headquarters in Al-Bas refugee camp in Tyre, Lebanon, apparently to protest the recent budget cuts (Al-Joumhouria, July 11, 2011).
Israel and the Palestinian Authority
The Palestinian Authority's Diplomatic Activity for the UN Vote on a Palestinian State
The Palestinian Authority continues its diplomatic activity for the proposed September vote on the establishment of a Palestinian state. On the agenda is a meeting of the Arab Monitoring Committee, set for July 16. The committee is expected announce its position on the Palestinian appeal to the UN and Arab support for the appeal. A meeting of "all the Palestinian ambassadors in the world" is expected to be held in Turkey between July 22 and 25, headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas with Turkish president Abdullah GÃ¼l in attendance (Qudsnews website, July 9; Wafa News Agency, July 10, 2011).
Yasser Abd Rabbo, secretary of the PLO's executive committee, said that even if negotiations with Israel were reinstated, the Palestinian Authority would still appeal to the UN Security Council and General Assembly for international support for the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders whose capital was East Jerusalem. He said that the Palestinian Authority had not yet decided which to appeal to first, the Security Council or the General Assembly, and that consultations would be held with the Arab states, the Arab Monitoring Committee and the EU (Wafa News Agency, July 8, 2011). He also said that the Palestinians would not lodge their appeal with the UN by the end of July, that claim, he said, was the result of a misunderstanding (Voice of Palestine Radio, July 10, 2011).
American House of Representatives Urges Palestinians to Negotiate;
Canada Opposes Appeal to UN
On July 8, in a 435 to 407 vote, the American House of Representatives passed Resolution 268, supporting a negotiated solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which would lead to the two-state solution. The bill "[o]pposes any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians." It also "[u]rges Palestinian leaders to cease efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including through a unilateral declaration of statehood or by seeking recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations or the United Nations (U.N.). (ITIC emphasis). In addition it calls on the future Palestinian national unity government to must forswear terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist, and reaffirm previous agreements made with Israel. It also says that "Palestinian efforts to circumvent direct negotiations will harm U.S.-Palestinian relations and will have implications for U.S. assistance programs for the Palestinians and the Palestinians Authority."2
In response, PA foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said that American pressure has been expected and that the Palestinians would appeal to the UN and ignore the "threats" of the American House of Representatives (Wafa News Agency, July 10, 2011). The Palestinian media reported that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would visit Saudi Arabia to discuss the PA's financial situation following the House resolution, and ask for Saudi Arabia to hasten the provision of its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority (Qudsnet website, July 9, 2011).
Chris Day, spokesman for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, told the Toronto Star that the "…government's long-standing position has not changed. The only solution to this conflict is one negotiated between and agreed to by the two parties. Linda Sobeh Ali, head of the Palestinian delegation, told The Canadian Press that the Palestinians "would like to see the Canadian government taking a neutral stand...supporting the recognition of Palestine as a full member state in the UN in September." She also said her delegation was pushing Canada to recognize Israel's pre-1967 borders."3
Flotillas and Convoys to the Gaza Strip – Update
The Flotilla to Gaza Strip
Most of the flotilla participants have already returned home after three weeks in Greece. The flotilla organizers still publicly state that they intend to dispatch one ship despite the continuing difficulties they face, primarily with the authorities in Greece, where most of the vessels are anchored. Rami Abdo, a senior ECESG (European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza) figure and one of the flotilla organizers, said that in the coming weeks additional attempts would be made to set sail and that efforts were currently being made to find alternative ports from which to depart (Alresala.net website, July 11, 2011).
The ships' status is as follows:
France: The French yacht Dignite has made repeated attempts to set sail for the Gaza Strip but has been stopped by the Greek Coast Guard. On July 10 it sailed from Crete with 10 activists on board. Although the Greek authorities allowed it to sail to Rhodes, the activists have stated that their final destination is the Gaza Strip. As of this writing the ship is still in Greek territorial waters (Al-Jazeera TV, July 10, 2011).
Greece-Sweden-Austria: The Juliano, which was sabotaged and repaired, attempted to set sail on July 5 but was halted and taken to a Greek port. As of July 9 it has anchored in the northern Crete port of Heraklion. The Greek Coast Guard presented the passengers with a document stating that Sierra Leone had cancelled its registration of the ship.
The United States: The American network US Boat to Gaza said in an official announcement on July 6 that its participation in the flotilla had ended and that its activists had begun returning home (Usboattogaza website, July 6, 2011).
Canada: The delegation returned to Canada after having announced it was canceling its participation in the flotilla. The organization's website posted an announcement stating that while the delegation had not succeeded sailing to the Gaza Strip, they would continue their activity and remained committed to the struggle to ending the so-called "siege" (Organization website, July 10, 2011).
Italy: Most of the activists of the delegation have returned to Italy. A small number remain on the island of Corfu to sail the boat back to Italy. Togo threatened to cancel its registration of the ship (Twitter from a member of the Malaysian parliament who had joined the ship, July 5, 2011).
Spain: Several activists from the Spanish delegation held a hunger strike in front of the Spanish embassy in Greece, hoping to receive a permit which would enable the ship to sail (Website of the Spanish network, July 9, 2011).
The South African Convoy
The convoy sent by the South African organization SARA left Durban for the Gaza Strip on July 2, 2011. It consists of 20 activists and ten vehicles, one of them an ambulance. On July 3 the convoy crossed the border into Botswana. On July 5 it reached the Zimbabwe-Zambia border and continued into Zambia. It is currently crossing through Tanzania. The convoy activists are mainly hosted by Muslim communities along the way. A number of technical difficulties with the vehicles were encountered (SARA website, July 10, 2011).
The South African aid convoy on its way to the Gaza Strip
(Picture from the SARA website, July 10, 2011).