This past week there was an increase in the number of rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip (eight identified hits, including one near Beersheba). The IDF responded by attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. There were two additional serious incidents originating in the Gaza Strip: anti-tank fire and an IED used to attack an IDF force near the security fence (IDF Spokesman, February 19, 2012). In addition, a bag containing powerful explosives was thrown at IDF and Israel Police forces conducting anti-smuggling activities along the Israel-Egypt border (IDF Spokesman, February 21, 2012).
The issue of hunger-striking Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist operative Khader Adnan was supposed to be reviewed by the Israeli Supreme Court on February 21. A short time before the Supreme Court discussions, the office of the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced that a request had been submitted by the State’s Attorney and Khader Adnan’s lawyer to dismiss the petition and cancel the discussions. The State of Israel announced that it had no intention of extending his administrative detention, and following the announcement, Adnan said he would halt his hunger strike, effective immediately.
Important Terrorism Events Israel’s South
Rockets Fired from Gaza into Israel
This past week there was an increase in the amount of rocket fire into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Eight rocket hits were identified, some of them long-range rockets (IDF Spokesman):
- February 15: Three rockets fell in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
- February 17: In the early evening two rockets fell in open areas in the western Negev, There were no casualties and no damage was done.
- February 18: A long-range Grad rocket fell in an open area near the southern city of Beersheba. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
- February 20: During the night two rockets fell in the western Negev. There were no casualties and no damage was done.
Anti-Tank Fire Targets an IDF Force
On the evening of February 18 an anti-tank RPG was fired from the Gaza Strip at an IDF force, damaging the security fence. When additional forces arrived at the site an IED was detonated from the Gaza Strip. There were no casualties (IDF Spokesman, February 19, 2012).
Terrorist Attack Along the Egyptian Border Prevented
On the night of February 21, as IDF forces and the Israel Police conducted a joint activity to prevent smuggling across the Israel-Egypt border, a man was seen throwing a suspicious object and then fleeing the scene. A search of the area revealed that the object was a bag containing a powerful IED which was apparently meant to be used against IDF soldiers or Israeli civilians. The IED was detonated in a controlled explosion (IDF Spokesman, February 21, 2012).
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 attacks, Israeli aircraft struck a number of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip:
On the night of February 15, Israeli aircraft struck two centers of terrorist activity in the northern and central Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, February 16, 2012). The Palestinian media reported that the attacks damaged a training post of Hamas’ military wing in the Al-Tufah neighborhood of Gaza City and a post of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s military wing in Al-Nuseirat (central Gaza Strip). Six wounded Palestinians were reported (Qudsnet website and Ma’an News Agency, February 16, 2012).
On February 19 Israeli aircraft struck a center of terrorist activity and a site for the manufacture of weapons in the northern Gaza Strip (IDF Spokesman, February 19, 2012). The Palestinian media reported that a workshop in the Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza City and a post belonging to Hamas’ military wing had been attacked, and that six Palestinians had been wounded (Qudsnet website, Safa News Agency and the Paltoday website, February 19, 2012).
In response to the Israeli Air Force attacks, senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan accused Israel of “creating chaos” in the Palestinian political and security arena to “influence the Palestinian reconciliation” (Sawt al-Aqsa Radio, February 19, 2012). Ihab al-Ghassin, spokesman for the interior ministry of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, said that the Hamas administration was examining ways to act should the attacks continue (Hamas interior ministry website, February 19, 2012).
The Electricity Crisis in the Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip has recently been facing a crisis in its supply of electricity, caused by a reduction in the amount of fuel imported from Egypt, necessary to operate the Gazan power station. Electricity is available only during certain hours, adversely affecting the lives of the Gazans. There is also a lack of gasoline, keeping many vehicle grounded. The situation enraged the civilians in the Gaza Strip, most of them blaming the de-facto Hamas administration. Some also blamed Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Egyptians and Israel (Qudsnet website and PALDF, February 17, 2012).
The electricity crisis (Filastin al-‘Aan, February 15, 2012).
Judea and Samaria
The Situation on the Ground
This past week the IDF carried out routine counterterrorist activities, detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities and confiscating weapons. Rioting continued, and stones were thrown at civilian Israeli vehicles and at Israeli security forces.
The Palestinian Campaign for Hunger-Striking Prisoner Khader Adnan
- The Palestinian campaign to move the issue of Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Khader Adnan2 into the public eye has accelerated. Adnan was on a hunger strike for more than 60 days. His detention was supposed to be deliberated by the Israeli Supreme Court on February 21. A short time before the Supreme Court discussions, the office of the Israeli Ministry of Justice announced that a request had been submitted by the State’s Attorney and Khader Adnan’s lawyer to dismiss the petition and cancel the discussions. The State of Israel announced that it had no intention of extending his administrative detention, and following the announcement, Adnan said he would halt his hunger strike, effective immediately.
- In preparation for the discussions in the Israeli Supreme Court, the Palestinians held demonstrations, support rallies and strikes throughout Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. According to reports, thousands of Palestinians participated. The message sent by the demonstrations was that Khader Adnan represented all the Palestinians and that the problem was a national one demanding unity and collaboration (including the abduction of Israeli soldiers, according to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad) (The PIJ’s Paltoday website and the Wafa News Agency, February 17, 2012).
- Before the discussions, Adnan’s family tried to convince him to end his hunger strike. He said he would end the strike only if Islamic sages led by Yusuf al-Qaradawi issued a fatwa to that effect (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, February 19, 2012). In accordance with a request from the family, Al-Azhar Institute issued a fatwa forbidding unlimited hunger strikes. The fatwa led to serious arguments among Palestinians, because there were those who claimed that a hunger strike is the only weapon possessed by prisoners who want to protest their conditions (Felesteen, February 18, 2012).
Hamas’ Political Activity
Summary Ismail Haniya’s Visits to Arab-Muslim Countries (Supplement)
On February 16 Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration in the Gaza Strip, returned from his visits to Arab-Muslim states. Summing up the visits, Yousuf Rizqa, Haniya’s political advisor, said that the visits to the Gulf States, especially Qatar, produced favorable results. He said the Emir of Qatar had allotted $250 million to rebuild the Gaza Strip. A delegation from the Gaza Strip, he said, was supposed to leave for Qatar in the near future to discuss ways to implement the rebuilding (Al-Sharq, February 19, 2012).
Preparations for Propaganda Events Continue
Preparations continue for the so-called “World March to Jerusalem” and other propaganda events scheduled to take place simultaneously on March 30 (the Israeli Arab Land Day will be marked).3 The march’s Facebook page posted a video by Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative Party and one of the march organizers, calling for march participants to “recreate the solidarity expressed for the people of South Africa.”
In the meantime, additional groups are being organized to participate in the events
Ahmed Abu Haliba, chairman of the Jerusalem committee in the PLC in the Gaza Strip, announced the establishment of a “national committee” in Gaza for the World March to Jerusalem, which he would head. He claimed that the committee membership represented all the Palestinian organizations, civil trade unions and student organizations. The committee, he said, would initiate activities throughout the month of March 2012, culminating in the march to Jerusalem. Apparently the organizers are also making plans to march to the border of the Gaza Strip. Majid al-Zayda, committee spokesman, claimed that a march from the Gaza Strip would be part of the World March to Jerusalem (Ma’an News Agency, February 19, 2012).
According to the march website, a 25-man delegation from Indonesia would also participate. Among its members would be at least eight members of the Indonesian parliament. There was no mention of the country they were planning to go to, but it has been reported that the Asian convoy was expected to go to Jordan. It was reported that on March 30, the same day as the march, demonstrations would be held in the large cities throughout Indonesia. The organizers expect the events to be well-attended (WM2J website, February 20 2012).
The organizers of the World March to Jerusalem intend to recruit the largest number of Israeli Arab activists possible, because of their easy access to Jerusalem and to make the greatest media impact they can (International Solidarity Movement website, February 14, 2012).
Yussef Mustafa, the son of Abu Yussef, an activist with the Al-Aqsa Foundation in Britain, paid a visit to South Africa. While there he recruited young South Africans for a Miles of Smiles convoy to the Gaza Strip. The convoy’s organizers want to recruit 150 young people from various countries and bring them to Rafah on March 31 (VOC radio from South Africa, February 17, 2012).
1 The statistics do not include rockets and mortar shells fired which fell inside the Gaza Strip. As of February 21, 2012.
2 For article analyzing Khader Adnan’s record as a PIJ operative, see (in Hebrew) Yonatan Dahoah Halevy, “Khader Adnan, Political Activist or Dangerous Terrorist?” at http://www.jcpa.org.il
3 A bulletin about the events planned for March 30, 2012 and their implications is available in Hebrew on the ITIC website and is will soon appear in English.