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New of the Terrorism and Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (May 9-15, 2012)

Summary:
One rocket hit was identified in the western Negev.  In Judea and Samaria there has been a rise in the number of violent demonstrations in which Palestinians rioted against IDF forces.  

Israel and the Palestinian terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prison facilities reached understandings which ended the hunger strike: the prisoners pledged not to engage in supporting terrorist activities, while Israel agreed to a series of improvements in prison conditions.

Mahmoud_Abbas_meets_with_Yitzhak_Molcho_the_Israeli_prime_ministers_envoyOn and around May 15 the Palestinians marked Nakba Day. In Judea and Samaria young Palestinian men, some of them masked, confronted IDF forces. In various locations in Judea, Samaria, the Gaza Strip, the Arab countries and around the world local demonstrations and rallies were held.

  • This past week one rocket hit was identified in Israeli territory. The rocket fell in an empty area in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done.

Rockets Fired into Israeli Territory[1]

Rockets_Fired_into_Israeli_Territory

Notes: The figures for March include 50 rockets intercepted and destroyed by the Iron Dome aerial defense system during the most recent round of escalation. In April three rockets were fired at Israel's southernmost city of Eilat.

The Situation on the Ground
  • Recently there has been an increase in terrorist activity and riots in Judea and Samaria, reflected by the growing numbers Palestinians detained by IDF forces and of IEDs seized. There has also been an increase in the number of violent  demonstrations in which rioters confronted IDF forces. The village of Betunia(south of Ramallah) has recently become a focal point of violent demonstrations(IDF Spokesman, May 15, 2012).

IDF_soldiers_conduct_anti-terrorism_activities_near_the_security_fence_in_Judea_and_SamariaIDF soldiers conduct anti-terrorism activities near the security fence in Judea and Samaria (IDFSpokesman, May 15, 2012)

 

  • On May 14, an understanding was reached between Israel the leaders of the Palestinian terrorists incarcerated in Israeli prison facilities. It was reached through the involvement of the Egyptian security services and the Palestinian Authority. According to it, the prisoners would stop all their activities inside Israeli jails in support of terrorist activity, and end their hunger strike. In return Israel agreed to a series of improvements in prisoner conditions. They included that prisoners held separately would return to the general wings and that first-degree families from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip would be permitted to visit (Israel Security Agency website, May 15, 2012).
  • The understanding was achieved in the spirit of the one signed in 2000 and honored by both sides for a long period of time. It commits all the security prisoners in all prison facilities in Israel, including those who will be imprisoned in the future. The following are some of its provisions are the following (Israel Security Agency website, May 15, 2012).
  • Security prisoners will refrain from support of terrorist activity, including recruitment, guidance, financing, coordination between recruited terrorist operatives and providing support for recruited terrorist operatives.
  • In return, Israel agrees to improve prisoner conditions, as noted above.  All activity against Israel security carried out within prison walls or a renewal of the strike will result in the cancellation of the improvements Israel committed itself to.
  • The Israel Prison Service said in an announcement that a number of steps would be taken to improve the prisoners' conditions, following the recommendation of a team appointed to examine prisoner requests before the strike broke out. It was also announced that after the hunger strike ended the prisoners would be monitored by a medical staff to prevent possible complications arising from the strike.
  • Throughout all the deliberations, Israel made it clear that measures used in connection with security prisoners were a matter of necessity, dictated by the prisoners' involvement in terrorist activities against Israel. The measures used by Israel have consistently been compatible with the demands of international law and conventions.
Responses
Gazans_express_their_joy_over_the_end_of_the_Palestinian_terrorists_hunger_strike

Gazans express their joy over the end of the Palestinian terrorists' hunger strike (Pictures from Hamas websites, May 14, 2012)

  • Hamas and the Palestinian Authority regard the understanding as reflecting the success of the prisoners' strike and a victory over Israel. However, sources within the Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed that the agreement lacked certain elements, was not sufficiently clear and did not include two PIJ administrative detainees (Khaled al-Batash interviewed by the Paltoday website, May 14, 2012).
  • Senior members of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas made the following statements:
  • Mahmoud Abbascongratulated the prisoners and their families on what he called their "victory" and thanked all those who had supported the prisoners (Wafa News Agency, May 14, 2012).
  • Issa al-Qaraqa, minister of prisoners affairs in the Palestinian Authority, also congratulated all those who had been involved in reaching the agreement, especially the prisoners who had participated in the battle against the "oppressive occupier" [i.e., Israel] (The PIJ's Paltoday website, May 14, 2012).
  • Khaled Mashaal,head of Hamas' political bureau, praised the Palestinian prisoners who had fought and forced Israel to surrender to their demands (Al-Quds TV, May 15, 2012).
  • ·  Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, praised the prisoners for their "firm, historic stand" and for having had their demands acceded to. He also thanked Egypt for the active part it played in reaching the agreement (Hamas' palestine-info website, May 14, 2012).
  • Salah al-Bardawil, senior Hamas figure, praised what he called the "victory" achieved under Egyptian aegis, stressing that the victory came on the heels of another, the release of more than 1000 male and female prisoners [i.e., the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal] (Al-Aqsa TV, May 14, 2012)
Concern in the Gaza Strip over Israel's Intention to Stop Delivering Electricity
  • Sources in the Gaza Strip reacted strongly to the suggestion made by Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Gilad Erdan to stop providing the Gaza Strip with electricity because of the strain on the Israeli electrical grid during the summer months:
  • Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that the measure was planned to tighten the closure of the Gaza Strip and worsen the suffering of the Gazan population, and gave witness to "Israel's [moral] bankruptcy, the result of the firm stance of the residents of the Gaza Strip" (Hamas' palestine-info website, May 13, 2012).
  • The Hamas energy authority warned of the consequences of cutting off electricity to the Gaza Strip because, it claimed, doing so would paralyze life in the Gaza Strip (Ma'an News Agency, May 13, 2012).
Hamas-Iran Relations
  • Taher al-Nunu, spokesman for the de-facto Hamas administration, said that there was Hamas-Iran cooperation and that an agreement to that effect had been agreed on during Ismail Haniya's visit to Iran. He called the relations between the two "excellent." Hamas, he said, appreciated the Iranian position regarding the Palestinian cause and the various ways it showed its support for the Palestinians. He added that Hamas and Iran have firm strategic relations (Al-Alam, May 12, 2012).
  • In an interview two days earlier, Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, said that if Israel attacked Iran, Hamas would not go to war against Israel. He said that "Hamas is a Palestinian movement that acts within the Palestinian arena and it carries out its political and field actions in a way that suits the interests of the Palestinian people...Iran did not ask anything from us and we think that Iran is not in need of us." (Reuters, Gaza, May 10, 2012). 
  • Later on Taher al-Nunu said that Haniya's remarks about Iran had not been exact and that Hamas operated "exclusively according to the highest interests of the Palestinian people" (Safa News Agency, May 12, 2012).
Israel's Answer to Mahmoud Abbas
  • On May 12, Yitzhak Molcho, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal envoy, met in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and gave him a letter from Netanyahu, written in response to Mahmoud Abbas' letter presented to Netanyahu by Palestinian Authority representatives on April 17. During the meeting Mahmoud Abbas repeated that the renewal of negotiations demanded the cessation of construction in the settlements, including Jerusalem, and acceptance of the two-state solution (Wafa News Agency, May 12, 2012).
  • At the conclusion of the meeting the sides issued the following joint statement:
  • "Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal."[2]

  • On May 13 the PLO's Executive Committee held a meeting chaired by Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the contents of Israel's answer. The Executive Committee said in an announcement that the Israeli letter did not contain clear answers regarding the main issues delaying the resumption of the peace process, particularly the issue of construction in the settlements, which "continues deviously," especially in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. It also said that there had been no mention of the 1967 borders or a commitment to release the Palestinian prisoners (Palestinian TV, May 13, 2012).

[1] The statistics do not include rockets fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of May 15, 2012.

http://www.pmo.gov.il/PMOEng/Communication/Spokesman/2012/05/spokeabbas120512.h

 

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