While the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip remains quiet, terrorist attacks and acts of violence continue in Judea and Samaria. Stones thrown at Israeli civilian vehicles near Ariel led to a car’s rear-ending a truck and the injuring of the car’s driver and her three daughters. One of them, three years old, was critically injured. Eight Palestinian suspects were detained by the IDF. At the entrance to the village of Qadoumim an Israeli civilian was shot and seriously wounded by Palestinians who stopped their car to talk to him.
The Israel Security Agency revealed that since Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas has attempted to carry out terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. The Israeli security forces exposed a terrorist squad planning to abduct an IDF soldier to be used as a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners, to use IEDs and to fire improvised rockets. Interrogation of the squad’s operatives revealed that Fathi Hamad, the minister of the interior in the de-facto Hamas administration and responsible for the enforcing the lull along the Gaza Strip border, was behind some of the planned attacks.
Terrorist Attacks in Judea and Samaria
Israeli Civilian Shot by Palestinians at Bus Stop
On the morning of March 17, 2013, a gun was fired from a Palestinian car at a 70 year-old Israeli man standing at the bus stop at the entrance to the Israeli village of Qadoumim (near Nablus). He was seriously wounded and evacuated to a hospital. Investigation of the attack revealed that the car stopped, its passengers conducted a short conversation with the man and then shot him. The car then sped away in the direction of one of the neighboring Palestinian villages. IDF forces initiated a search (Ynet, March 18, 2013).
Stone-Throwing Causes Serious Injuries to Mother and Three Daughters
On the evening of March 14, 2013, a woman was driving with her three daughters on the Trans-Samaria highway. At the junction near the city of Ariel stones were thrown at the truck in front of her, causing its driver to brake suddenly. The woman could not brake in time and rammed into the truck. One of her daughters, a three year-old toddler, was critically injured. The woman and her two other daughters, aged four and five, incurred serious injuries. The truck driver sustained minor injuries. An Israeli civilian bus passing by at the time was also attacked with a volley of stones. The driver sustained minor injuries, as did three passengers (Ynet, March 14, 2013).
Emergency rescue workers evacuate the wounded. Right: One of the stones thrown at the Israeli vehicles (Judea and Samaria rescue services, March 14, 2013)
On the night of March 14, 2013, IDF special forces detained eight Palestinians suspected of involvement in the attack (IDF spokesman, March 15, 2013).
The scene of the attack (Google maps)
The Situation in the Gaza Strip
Quiet continued along the Gaza Strip border this week. Since Operation Pillar of Defense ended, one rocket hit was identified in Israeli territory, on February 26, 2013. Since then there have been no additional rocket or mortar shell hits.
Judea and Samaria
“Popular Resistance” Attacks in Judea and Samaria
- In addition to the two attacks above, a number of stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at Israeli civilian vehicles as part of the so-called “popular resistance,” including attacks along major traffic arteries:
- On the evening of March 15, 2013, stones were thrown in the Bir Nabalah region on the road linking Modi’in and Jerusalem (Route 443). There were no casualties and no damage was reported (Ynet, March 15, 2013).
- On the evening of March 14, 2013, two Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails at civilian Israeli vehicles near the Nitzanei Shalom crossing (near Tulkarm). Israeli security forces posted at the crossing shot at the Palestinians. One was seriously wounded and the other escaped (Ynet, March 14, 2013).
- On March 13, 2013, during a confrontation between stone- and Molotov cocktail-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Al-Fouar refugee camp (Hebron), Mahmoud Adel Fares al-Titi was killed. Hamasissued a death notice for him. His funeral was held in Hebron, attended by many Palestinians, during which there were confrontations between them and the Israeli security forces at a number of locations in Hebron (Safa News Agency, the Paltoday website, March 13, 2013). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), also issued a death notice, claiming that al-Titi was one their operatives, calling for a new intifada (PIJ website, March 13, 2013).
Hamas Attempts to Initiate Terrorist Attacks in Judea and Samaria
- The Israel Security Agency revealed that since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense Hamas has increased its efforts to carry out terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria. Among the attacks planned were suicide bombing attacks, the abduction of IDF soldiers and civilians, and mass-murder attacks. However, since Operation Pillar of Defense, Hamas had been careful not to attack Israel’s south.
- The Israeli security forces recently exposed a cell of Hamas operatives from southern Samaria. They planned to use IEDs, abduct a soldier or Israeli resident of Judea or Samaria and fire improvised rockets at Israeli targets. They used the Internet and telephones to maintain contact with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and received instructions about making weapons. They were specifically instructed to abduct an IDF soldier and take his weapon and cell phone for negotiations, and after that to kill him and bury his body where it could not be found. At the time of their detention, the operatives were in final stages of preparations for an attack and had already reported to the Gaza Strip that they would be ready to act in a number of days.
- During interrogation the cell operatives revealed that some of the planned attacks had been orchestrated by Fathi Hamad, the minister of the interior of the de-facto Hamas administration and responsible for enforcing the lull in the Gaza Strip. Some of the operatives were in contact with Fathi Hamad’s close aides. Fathi Hamad has said on several occasions that it was necessary to continue attacks against Israel. In recent years he has been involved in planning terrorist attacks (which were prevented) and smuggling IEDs. The interrogation also revealed that to carry out the planned attacks, Fathi Hamad involved his close Hamas operational aides, including the faction called the “Al-Aqsa Defenders,” which he founded and sponsors.
Fathi Hamad, minister of the interior in the Hamas administration
(IDF spokesman, March 13, 2013).
- Hamas rushed to deny the information about Fathi Hamad’s involvement in the planning terrorist attacks:
- Hamas official Musheir al-Masri said that the information issued was part of a campaign being waged by Israel against the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. He said that an attack on senior Hamas figures by Israel was a “declaration of war” and the beginning of “new aggression” which Hamas would oppose with advanced equipment and weapons (Paltoday website, March 13, 2013).
- Islam Shahwan, spokesman for the ministry of the interior of the Hamas administration, said that the information was false and that it was not the first time such claims had been made (Nahar al-Jadeed, March 14, 2013).
- Ibrahim Salah, head of public relations and the media in the ministry of the interior of the Hamas administration said that the claims made by Israel against Fathi Hamad were groundless and part of Israel’s propaganda war against Hamas (Palestine Online website, March 13, 2013).
Solidarity Campaign for the Palestinian Prisoners Continues
- Despite the calls heard for demonstrations to be held as part of the “Day of Rage” planned for March 16, 2013, events in support of the prisoners have lessened somewhat. Issa Qaraqa, Palestinian Authority (PA) minister for prisoner affairs, said that the PA was planning to present the issue of the prisoners at the next meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 18, 2013. He said the PA would do so because it had an account to settle with Israel regarding what he called its “crimes against the prisoners.” According to Dr. Jamal Nizal, in charge of Fatah information abroad, the Council would devote an entire day to the issue of the Palestinian prisoners. In addition, he said the Council would be given a report prepared by an international committee about the Israeli settlements (Palestine Online website, March 14, 2013).
Hunger-Striking Palestinian Terrorist Prisoner Released from Israeli Jail
- Ayman Sharawneh, a hunger-striking terrorist operative in an Israeli jail, accepted Israel’s offer to spend the next ten years in the Gaza Strip in return for his release. On March 17, 2013, after having been on a hunger strike for 261 days, he was released and entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing, where Hamas held a reception for him. Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, and Atallah Abu Sabah, Hamas minister for prisoner affairs, visited him in hospital and expressed their support for the Palestinian prisoners (Ma’an and Safa news agencies, March 17, 2013).
- Ayman Ismail Salameh Sharawneh, a Hamas operative from Dura, was detained in 2002 for his involvement in the IED bombing in Beersheba in 2002 which injured 18 Israelis, an attempt abduct an IDF soldiers and his involvement in shooting at IDF soldiers. He was sentenced to 38 years in prison but released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal in October 2011. He immediately violated the terms of his release and returned to terrorist activity, and was redetained. A request was submitted to revoke his eased sentence and return him to prison to serve the remainder of his term. A request was recently submitted on his behalf, asking that he be permitted to stay in the Gaza Strip for ten years instead of serving the remainder of his sentence.The request was approved by the Israeli security authorities and the State Attorney’s Office.
Terrorist operative Ayman Sharawneh (Filastin Al-‘Aan, March 18, 2013).
Developments in the Gaza Strip
Egypt Continues Destroying Tunnels
- Egypt continues destroying smuggling tunnels in the Rafah region. Major General Ahmed Ibrahim, commander of the Egyptian Border Guards, said that his forces had reached the difficult stage of locating tunnels inside houses in Egyptian Rafah. He said they were investing significant resources in stopping weapons and diesel fuel smuggling from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. In response to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, who said that Hamas would continue smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip, he said that Egypt would not be dragged into provocative declarations butwould prevent the smuggling. He added that the Egyptian army had told the Egyptian president that it intended to continue the operation and would not allow the Sinai Peninsula to be turned into military bases by either Palestinian or Egyptian terrorists (Filastin al-Yawm, March 12, 2013).
- According to an Egyptian military source, during the destruction of the tunnels the Egyptian forces had been shot at from the Gaza Strip several times. So far, said the source, the Egyptians had not responded, but reinforcements had been sent and it was being made clear to Hamas that Egypt would respond to such attacks “with an iron fist” (Al-Watan, March 13, 2013).
- In recent weeks, according to news items in the Egyptian media, Hamas has been interfering in internal Egyptian affairs. Hamas has been accused of sending hundreds of its military-terrorist operatives into Egypt, providing support for the Muslim Brotherhood, threatening to attack Egyptian military forces and involvement in the terrorist attack in the Sinai Peninsula which cost the lives of 16 Egyptian policemen and soldiers (August 5, 2012).
- A short summary of the information in the Egyptian media:
- Seven Palestinian operatives were detained at the Cairo airport while apparently returning from Iran. In their possession were pictures and sketches of vital Egyptian sites, such as the ministry of defense, the ministry of the interior, the radio and television building, the general intelligence headquarters, and more. The seven Palestinian operatives, who had apparently been trained by Hamas’ military-terrorist wing and by Iran, had entered Egypt through the tunnels a number of times (Al-Watan, March 14, 2013).
- Operatives of Hamas military-terrorist wing were involved in the attack in Rafah on August 5, 2012, in which 16 Egyptian soldiers and policemen were killed. The Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, which published the item, verified it with “Egyptian security sources” (Al-Ahram, March 15, 2013).
- Senior Hamas officials totally rejected all the accusations. They claimed the accusations belonged to internal Egyptian struggles and their objective was to blacken Hamas in the eyes of the Egyptian public and sabotage its relations with the Egyptian leadership. A delegation of senior Hamas officials headed by Khaled Mashaal, then met with MohammedBadie, general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and with his deputy, Khairat al-Shater. The Hamas delegation said they would cooperate with Egyptian security to expose the true culprits (Al-Youm Al-Sabea, March 16, 2013).
- Interviewed by the Qatari newspaper Al-Watan, Ahmed Yousef, a member of the Hamas Shura Council, spoke about various issues, among them Hamas’ relations with Iran. He said that after Hamas had made its rejection of the Assad regime in Syria known, the Iranians had tried to stop the transfer of funds to the Hamas movement as a way of exerting pressure on it. However, he claimed, after a number of months the Iranians changed their minds, having realized that Hamas would not change its negative position toward the Syrian regime (Al-Watan, March 16, 2013).
PFLP Ends Military Training Course in Khan Yunis
- On March 14, 2013, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the PFLP’s military-terrorist wing, ended a series of military training exercises held in the region of Khan Yunis. According to media reports, they exercises were held on the ruins of Gush Katif, the former block of Israeli settlements in the southern Gaza Strip (Filastin Al-‘Aan, March 14, 2013).
Military training exercises of the PFLP’s Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades
(Filastin Al-‘Aan website, March 14, 2013).
Hamas Declarations Stressing the Right to Continue Military-Terrorist Activities
- While Mahmoud Abbas claimed that Hamas was committed to the lull in the fighting (see below), senior Hamas figures stressed the “right” to continue the armed campaign and smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip:
- Ismail Haniya, head of the de-facto Hamas administration, told members of the Islamic faction of university students in the Gaza Strip that Hamas was committed to “not abandoning the rifle.” He boasted of Hamas’ rocket development capabilities, claiming to have bombed Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (Al-Jazeera, March 17, 2013).
- At a meeting of the Islamic block of Al-Aqsa University in Khan Yunis, senior Hamas figure Salah al-Bardawil said that Hamas would continue brining weapons into the Gaza Strip and “no one in the world could prevent it” (Ma’an News Agency, March 14, 2013).
Operatives from the Gaza Strip Join the Ranks of the Global Jihad in Syria
- A Palestinian news site in Ramallah, basing its report on the German News Agency, reported that several dozen Palestinian operatives had recently joined the fighting in Syria on the side of Jabhat al-Nusra (The Support Front), which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad. They belong to a Salafist-jihadi network in the Gaza Strip, some of them former Hamas operatives. According to a source in one of the Salafist-jihadi networks in the Gaza Strip, since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense (November 2012) and the lull agreement between Hamas and Israel, operatives from the Gaza Strip have been joining the ranks of Jabhat al-Nusra. They make their way from the Gaza Strip to Turkey and from there join the networks fighting the Syrian regime. In addition, according to the source, two former Hamas operatives have recently been killed in the fighting in Syria (Watan news website, March 18, 2013).
The Palestinian Authority
Anti-American Demonstration for Obama’s Visit
- Dozens of Palestinians took part in a demonstration near the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where Barack Obama is supposed to visit, to protest American policy, which, they claimed, is biased in favor of Israel. The demonstrators threw shoes at pictures of President Obama, tore up pictures of him and drew swastikas on them, walked on them and finally burned them (Ma’an News Agency and Filastin Al-‘Aan, March 18, 2013).
Left: Palestinian demonstrators in Bethlehem walk on a picture of President Obama defaced with a swastika. Right: Burning American flags and pictures of President Obama (Filastin Al-‘Aan, March 18, 2013).
- The Facebook page of Hamas in Judea and Samaria posted a protest against Obama’s visit to the Middle East. It said, “We do not trust the USA. Obama is not welcome. He is an ally of Israel and an enemy of Palestine” (Ajnad Facebook page, March 11, 2013).
The Facebook page of Hamas in Judea and Samaria
(Ajnad Facebook page, March 11, 2013).
Mahmoud Abbas Goes to Russia
- Mahmoud Abbas is on a visit to Russia, heading a delegation of senior Palestinian Authority officials. He has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Mahmoud Abbas visits Russia. Left: With Prime Minister Medvedev. Right: With President Putin (Wafa News Agency, March 14, 2013).
- Interviewed by the Russians, he related to a number of issues, among them the following (Russia Today, March 15, 2013):
- The possibility of a third intifada– Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians did not need to return to an armed campaign because the balance of power was not in the Palestinians’ favor and thus it would not be beneficial. He said the Palestinian people had other weapons, i.e., the “peaceful” popular demonstrations and appeals to international forums.
- Palestine’s status as a UN non-member state – The main achievement for Palestine in being granted the new status was officially having it recognized as “a country under occupation.” The Palestinians, he said, would exploit the status to appeal to UN agencies and the International Court.
- The European Union’s decision to add Hamas to its list of designated terrorist organizations– After Hamas’ had committed itself to a ceasefire (hudna, according to Mahmoud Abbas) and following its announcement that it had adopted the “popular resistance,” there was no difference between the policies of the PA and those of Hamas, and therefore there was no reason to add it to the list of terrorist organizations.
Legal Action against Israel on the Issue of the Dignity
- On March 13, 2013, there was a hearing in a French court regarding legal action against Israel demanding the return of the Dignity. According to the Freedom Flotilla Italia website, French lawyers tried to prove that Israel had acted against norms and in violation of international maritime law. A lawyer for Israel argued that Israel had the right to seize the ship as an act of self-defense and that the owners of the ship had never demanded its return. The French judge did not allow the French lawyers to respond and announced he was postponing his decision to May 15, 2013 (Freedom Flotilla Italia website, March 17, 2013).
- The French ship Dignity/Al-Karama was seized by Israel on July 19, 2011, after it tried to reach the Gaza Strip. The ship left the Greek island of Kastelorizo on July 16, 2011, officially heading for Alexandria, but its real intention was to sail to the Gaza Strip. The ship flew the French flag and was the only ship of the upgraded Freedom Flotilla 2 which actually sailed). It carried ten activists as passengers, most of them French, three journalists and three crewmembers. On July 19, 2013, the Israeli Navy took over the ship and brought it, with crew and passengers intact, to the southern Israeli port of Ashdod. That was done after direct and indirect appeals made to the ship not to approach the Gaza coast were ignored (IDF spokesman, July 19, 2011).
The French ship Dignity/Al-Karama (Freedom Flotilla Italia website, March 17, 2013).
Turning Terrorists into Role Models: the Glorification of Terrorist Dalal al-Magribi
- On March 11, 2013, the Palestinians marked the anniversary of the death of Ms. Dalal al-Magribi, one of the Fatah terrorist operatives who carried out the Coastal Road Massacre on March 11, 1978. In preparation for the event pictures and announcements were posted on the Fatah websites, glorifying the attack and commemorating the terrorist. For example, theFatah al-Yawm site, used by Fatah’s department of organization and recruitment, posted an announcement entitled “The bride of Palestine, the female shaheed Dalal al-Magribi” (Fatah al-Yawm website, March 18 2013). The website of the Fatah office in Denmark posted an announcement showing Dalal al-Magribi in uniform (Fatah Danish website, March 18, 2013). produced a documentary movie of her life.
Left: Dalal al-Magribi in uniform (Fatah Danish website, March 18, 2013). Right: Picture of Dalal al-Magribi, “The bride of Palestine and female shaheed” (Fatah al-Yawm website, March 18, 2013)
- Dalal al-Magribibecame a kind of national heroine for the Palestinian public during the era of Yasser Arafat. Her status remains unchanged under Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian Authority has immortalized her in various ways, such as naming town squares, streets, schools and summer camps after her. Immortalizing her is part of a broad policy of Hamas, Fatah and the PA of turning terrorist operatives into role models.
SOURCE: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) opened in 2002. It is part of the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), a national site dedicated to the memory of fallen of the Israeli intelligence community. The ITIC is located near Gelilot, north of Tel Aviv, and is directed by (Col. Ret.) Dr. Reuven Erlich. The objective of the ITIC is to collect, study and disseminate information about terrorism.
[*] Next week, Passover, the weekly update will not appear. We wish all our readers a happy holiday.
 As of March 19, 2013. The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
 The statistics do not include mortar shell fire.
 Information from the website of the Israel Security Agency, March 2013
 On August 5, 2012, terrorist operatives broke into an Egyptian police station in the northern Sinai Peninsula. They killed 16 Egyptian soldiers and policemen, stole an APC and a truck, which they booby-trapped and used to break through the Israeli border near the Kerem Shalom crossing.
 Jabhat al-Nusra (The Support Front) is a prominent organization affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the global jihad participating in the fighting on the side of the Syrian rebels.
 The Coastal Road Massacre took place on March 11, 1978, carried out by a Fatah terrorist squad. In the morning an 11-man squad in inflatable rubber dinghies landed on the beach at Maagan Michael, about 30 kilometers, or 18 miles, south of Haifa. They happened upon Gail Rubin, an American nature photographer who was taking pictures at the time, and murdered her. They then continued eastward toward the Coastal Road, where two of them stopped a taxi and rode in the direction of Tel Aviv. The other terrorists took over a bus carrying Israeli tourists to Haifa, forced their way into the bus and ordered the drive to turn the bus around and drive to Tel Aviv. During the trip they shot at passing cars, killing four people. Near the Israeli coastal city of Hadera, about 20 kilometers, or 12 miles, to the south, they were joined by the terrorists in the taxi, who forced all the taxi passengers onto the bus, which continued driving south. On the way they stopped another bus and also forced its passengers onto the same bus with them. Police forces did not succeed in stopping the bus, but just north of the entrance to Tel Aviv they shot out the bus’ tires and it stopped. A firefight developed with the terrorists, which ended when the terrorists blew up the bus, killing most of the passengers, 13 of them children. Thirty-seven people were killed and 71 were wounded. In response Israel initiated Operation Litani against terrorist infrastructures in south Lebanon.