Written by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
This past week two rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory. One fell near a kindergarten in the western Negev. In response Israeli aircraft struck two terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. Contacts for the Egyptian-brokered meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Mashaal continue, held to bridge over areas of disagreement.
Various internal Palestinian issues are on the agenda (appointing an interim prime minister agreeable to both sides, location of the government seat) as well as issues touching on the conflict with Israel (accepting the conditions of the International Quartet). Activists from both camps have claimed significant progress.
Aid convoys continue to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing in coordination with the Egyptian authorities. Anti-Israeli campaigns and events are planned for Jordan, Egypt and around the world on or about November 29, the day the UN General Assembly passed the Partition Plan, creating the State of Israel.
Rocket Fire into Israeli Territory
This past week sporadic rocket fire attacks on the western Negev continued. Two rocket hits were identified on November 15. One of the rockets hit a storage shed near a kindergarten in an Israeli village in the western Negev. The other fell in an open area. 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 Activity
In response to the continuing rocket attacks, on November 16 Israeli aircraft struck two terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, November 16, 2011):
A center for terrorist activity in the northern Gaza Strip.
A tunnel intended to be used to infiltrate Palestinian terrorists into Israeli territory to carry out terrorist attacks.
The Palestinian media reported that two Palestinians incurred minor injuries. One was wounded in the IAF strike in the northwestern part of Gaza City and the other following the strike on the Al-Tufah neighborhood in the eastern part of the city (Wafa News Agency, Ma'an News Agency and the Paltoday website, November 16, 2011).
Judea and Samaria
The Situation on the Ground
This past week the IDF carried out routine counterterrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and confiscating weapons. There were also a number of incidents in which stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli vehicles.
Terrorist Activities near Bethlehem Prevented
In a combined IDF-Israel Security Agency activity carried out a number of weeks ago, a terrorist squad was detained in the village of Shawara, near Bethlehem. The squad operatives, young Palestinian men between 18 and 22 years of age, carried out several terrorist attacks, among them shooting attacks (including shooting at an Israeli Border Police jeep in August 2011), placing IEDs and throwing Molotov cocktails. They had military training and equipped themselves improvised weapons. According to the Israel Security Agency, they instigated riots to draw the Israeli security forces to the area. When the IDF forces arrive they shot at them with improvised rifles. (IDF Spokesman, November 16, 2011).
An improvised assault rifle found in the possession of one of the terrorists
(Israel Security Agency, November 16, 2011).
Stones Thrown at an Israeli Vehicle
On November 20 Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near the village of Beit Ummar, shattering its windows. In the past few weeks the region around Beit Ummar has become a focal point for throwing stones at Israeli vehicles. About two weeks ago, Israeli civilian Asher Palmer and his infant son were killed nearby when stones were thrown at his vehicle (NRG, November 20, 2011).
Propaganda Event Held by Anti-Israeli, Palestinian and Foreign Activists
On November 15 six anti-Israeli Palestinian activists boarded a #148 Egged bus to Jerusalem, accompanied by media correspondents. Among them were Mazin Qumsiyeh and Huwaida Arraf, two leading anti-Israeli activists, participants in the campaign to delegitimize Israel (Huwaida Arraf is a prominent figure in the FGM, an international network which is a mainstay of the project which sends flotillas to the Gaza Strip). The Palestinian activists claimed they were going to Jerusalem to protest the limitations placed on the movement of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian passengers got off the bus at the Hizma roadblock, north of the city, and confronted the security forces stationed there. The event ended shortly thereafter.
The protest (Huwaida Arraf is carrying the "Resist Injustice" sign at the left
and sits facing the camera on the right) (ISM website, November 16, 2011).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
Delivering Building Material from Israel to the Gaza Strip
A spokesman for the Israeli government coordinator for the territories reported that as of November 15 building materials for the private sector of the Gaza Strip would be delivered from Israel. The program for their delivery was formulated by the office of the coordinator for the territories in conjunction with the IDF, UN representatives, the office of the International Quartet and the Palestinian Authority.
According to the program, the materials will be delivered for the construction of new homes and the renovation of ten private factories, and will enter the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing. The deliveries will be carried out under international supervision to ensure that the materials reach their destinations and do not fall into the hands of the terrorist organizations (Website of the Israeli government coordinator for the territories, November 16, 2011).
Internal and External Palestinian Activities
The Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation
In preparation for the proposed Mahmoud Abbas-Khaled Mashaal meeting in Cairo, high-ranking Fatah figures said that there had been significant progress in agreements with Hamas. According to Palestinian sources, understandings were reached in principle regarding the need for a joint political program and the establishment of an interim government (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, November 16, 2011).
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, and Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Palestinian delegation, arrived in Cairo and met with high-ranking members of Egyptian intelligence to make preparations for the meeting, which is supposed to take place on November 25. Mahmoud Abbas is expected in Cairo before the meeting for a round of talks with Egyptian defense officials (Al-Hayat, November 18, 2011). Khaled Mashaal will also meet with the Egyptians (Hamas' Felesteen, November 17, 2011).
Mahmoud Abbas, in an interview commemorating the death of Yasser Arafat, said that the Palestinian Authority would make every effort to ensure the success of the internal Palestinian dialogue. The PA, he said, would look for a way resolve its differences with Hamas, the most important of which was the issue of general elections and the establishment of a government of independent figures who would oversee them (Palestinian TV, November 16, 2011). Ismail al-Ashqar, a high-ranking figure in Hamas, praised Mahmoud Abbas' remarks, saying that they included positive points regarding partnership with Hamas (Al-Aqsa TV, November 18, 2011).
The issues on the agenda:
Appointing a candidate agreeable to both sides for the position of interim prime minister: Names of candidates have not yet been made public, but Hamas and Fatah sources reported that Salam Fayyad is not one of them (Aljazeera.net website, November 18, 2011). However, it was reported that Hamas may relent and agree to appoint Salam Fayyad as finance minister (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, November 21, 2011). Izzat al-Rishq, member of the Hamas political bureau, said that the prime minister would be a candidate "everyone agreed on" (i.e., not Salam Fayyad). However, he has refused to give specific names (Hamas' Felesteen, November 17, 2011).
The seat of the unity government: Ahmed Yussuf, political adviser to Ismail Haniya, said that the prime minister of the Palestinian unity government had to be located in the Gaza Strip in view of the fact that Gaza enjoyed independence and the prime minister could go anywhere via Egypt without having to obtain permission from Israel. He said it had been agreed that the prime minister would live in Gaza while the presidency of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council would remain in the West Bank (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, November 19, 2011).
The conflict with Israel: While important figures in both camps stress common themes and reconciliation, Mahmoud al-Zahar, a high-ranking Hamas figure, gave prominence to their differences concerning policy on the conflict with Israel. He told the Voice of Palestine radio station that the next government would not have relations with Israel and would not recognize the conditions set forth by the International Quartet. That was because according to the Quartet's conditions the Jewish state would cover 78% of Palestinian territory and nullify the "right of return" (Voice of Palestine Radio, November 21, 2011). Note: In the past Mahmoud al-Zahar has often expressed reservations regarding the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, November 12, 2011).
It was also reported that the Palestinian Authority's security forces were continuing to take action against Hamas- and Palestinian Islamic Jihad-affiliated activists in Judea and Samaria, including terrorist operatives who were imprisoned in Israeli jails and released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal (The PIJ's Paltoday website, November 19, 2011).
Khaled Mashaal's Proposed Visit to Jordan
Ali Barake, Hamas representative in Lebanon, reported that final preparations for Khaled Mashaal's visit to Jordan were being made and that Mashaal would go to Jordan after meeting with Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo. He added that Hamas wanted to turn over a new leaf and improve its relations with Jordan (Al-Ghad, November 15, 2011).
The Political Front
The Palestinian Authority's Application for UN Membership
High-ranking figures in the Palestinian Authority remain determined to have the PA accepted as a member of the UN:
Mahmoud Abbas, in a speech commemorating the death of Yasser Arafat, said that "if we do not succeed today we will succeed tomorrow or the day after. We will not give up, it is our right to press our claim again and again" (Palestinian TV, November 16, 2011).
Riyadh Mansour, Palestinian Authority representative in the UN, said that the PA's membership was "a question of time" and that the PA was more determined than ever and examining all its possibilities (Voice of Palestine Radio, date, 2011).
Saeb Erekat, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee, said that the Palestinian Authority was determined to ask the Security Council to vote on its application to join the UN as a full member state. He said the Palestinian Authority was still focusing all its efforts on garnering enough support in the Security Council for a vote, but at the same time, all its options were open and it might appeal directly to the General Assembly (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, November 16, 2011).
Abdallah King of Jordan Visits the Palestinian Authority
On November 21, King Abdallah of Jordan arrived in the Palestinian Authority for a short visit, called "historic" by Mahmoud Abbas. The king's helicopter landed at the presidential residence in Ramallah and Mahmoud Abbas gave him a festive reception. Afterwards the two met for a private conversation which was followed by a meeting with members of the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian government.
Abdallah expressed his support for the Palestinian people and its efforts for "liberation and the establishment of an independent state on national ground with East Jerusalem as its capital." Mahmoud Abbas stressed the importance of the internal Palestinian reconciliation (Wafa News Agency, Jordanian News Agency, November 21, 2011).
King Abdallah of Jordan visits the Palestinian Authority
(Ma'an News Agency, November 21, 2011).
Convoys to the Gaza Strip and Demonstrations Expected
Convoys to the Gaza Strip
International Convoy Enters the Gaza Strip
An international convoy calling itself "Freedom Spring" reached the Rafah crossing on November 21 on its way to the Gaza Strip. It was composed of about 200 activists from various countries. Among them were Arafat Madi, chairman of the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), which specializes in sending flotillas to the Gaza Strip, and Clare Short, a British activist and Labour MP from Birmingham.
The convoy was received by Hamas activist Ahmed Bahar, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, who stressed the importance of the convoy's arrival as part of the activity to lift the so-called Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip (Al-Aqsa TV, November 21, 2011). According to the convoy's organizers, a convoy from South Africa is supposed to join them in the near future. The convoy participants will meet with high-ranking Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, apparently including Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration (Hamas website, November 22, 2011).
Reception for the convoy (Hamas' Palestine-info November 22, date, 2011).
The British Viva Palestina organization, headed by George Galloway, is leading an international aid convoy which will enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Convoy activists include representatives from all over the globe, including a delegation from New Zealand. The stated objective of the convoy is to keep the Rafah crossing permanently open to break the so-called Israeli "siege" of the Gaza Strip. The organizers intended to reach Egypt at the end of December 2011, but said that the exact date for its arrival depends on the elections in Egypt and a clarification of the situation there (Kia Ora website, Gaza, November 15, 2011).
The logo of the New Zealand delegation (Convoy website, November 18, 2011).
Organizing a Propaganda Display in Jordan
The organizers of the propaganda display at the Jordanian border announced that preparations had been completed for a mass march ("the million man march") which is supposed to leave from various locations in Jordan and advance to a certain site on the Israeli-Jordanian border. The event is scheduled for Friday, November 25. More than 1000 buses are supposed to carry the participants from the various regions to a gathering site about one kilometer from the Israeli border (Al-Sabil, November 20, 2011).
The organizers emphasized that the march would not be violent and that the marchers would not try to breach the Israeli-Jordanian border (Al-Arab Al-Yawm, November 21, 2011). One of the organizers said that the event would take place as part of a global campaign expressing solidarity with Jerusalem in view of the fact that on November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the UN passed the resolution for the Partition Plan (Jordanzad.com website, November 21, 2011).
The display will be Islamic and its organizers include activists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, who plan to stress the Islamic nature of Jerusalem. Participants are supposed to gather in Jordan in the Sueima region north of the Dead Sea. According to the Muslim Brotherhood's newspaper, it is the closest place in Jordan from which to look out over Jerusalem (Al-Sabil, November 1, 2011). A sermon will be given, the Friday prayers will be held, and there will be speeches.2
Preparations continue for a mass demonstration (called the "million man demonstration") in Cairo to protest the "Judaizing of Jerusalem." Sources in Hamas report that the supreme council of the Egyptian armed forces agreed to allow the demonstration under the auspices of Ahmed al-Tayyib, aka Sheikh al-Azhar. It was also reported that al-Tayyib appointed a small committee, which he supervises, to examine ways of increasing awareness and activity for Jerusalem (Hamas' Palestine-info website, November 16, 2011).
A network calling itself the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI), which has ties to the YMCA and is active in Beit Sahour in East Jerusalem, has called on organizations, groups, networks and others around the world to mark November 29 with various activities. Their objective, according to the organization's website, is to mark the day and express solidarity with the Palestinians. This year the organization calls for candles to be lit in various countries near Palestinian delegations, Israeli embassies and/or UN offices.
1 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of date November 22, 2011.
2 For further information see the November 13 bulletin "Anti-Israeli networks and activists from the Middle East and beyond intend to initiate propaganda events in the near future to challenge Israel. They are planning, among other events, an Islamic gathering near the Israeli-Jordanian border, dispatching more boats to the Gaza Strip, and a protest "fly-in" to Ben-Gurion International Airport" at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e241.pdf