2010 Palestinian militancy campaign

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The 2010 Palestinian militancy campaign was a coordinated effort by 13 Palestinian militant groups, led by Islamist group Hamas, to derail peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The campaign consists of attacks against Israel in which, according to a Hamas declaration in early September, "all options are open".[1][2][3][4] The participating groups also include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and an unnamed splinter group of Fatah.[5] Some Israeli and Palestinian officials and analysts familiar with Hamas believe that the true target of the campaign is the Palestinian Authority, which is led by Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.[6]

Hamas statements and responses[edit]

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar was reported by CBS News as saying that Muslims have a moral and religious duty to liberate the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and that armed resistance is the way to achieve this.[7] Al-Zahar has urged Mahmoud Abbas to immediately pull out of peace talks with Israel, asserting that "armed struggle was the only way to deal with the Jewish state."[8]

Hamas leader Hamas military leader Abu Ubaida told the Washington Post in September that the Hamas military wing is operating "in harmony with the attitude of the political wing," based in Damascus, Syria.[9] Abu Ubaida, who is a spokesman for the military wing of Hamas, further said that resistance will be stepped up and that all options were open. “We declare that the actions of resistance have gone into a new and advanced stage of co-operation in the field at the highest levels in preparation for more effective attacks against the enemy.”[1] According to the Palestinian Authority and Israeli security officials, Hamas has the capacity to carry out more attacks in the West Bank, particularly drive-by shootings since these require little planning or manpower, but probably lacks the ability to carry out attacks on Israel inside the Green Line due to surveillance activities and the effectiveness of the Israeli West Bank barrier.[9]

Khaled Mashaal has said the "resistance" will continue if Israel doesn't withdraw to the 1967 borders and that Hamas will resume to "kill illegal settlers on our land."[10]

According to Jonathan Fighel, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, the campaign constitutes a decision by Hamas to begin a new wave of terrorism aimed at Israeli settlers. "It's a strategic, political decision from the Hamas leadership in Damascus to express their dismay and rejection of the peace talks taking place in Washington... They are showing they have operational capabilities and a willingness to act in Judea and Samaria," he said.[7] According to the Israeli news site Debka.com, in late September Hamas was preparing to expand its "terror campaign."[11]

The Palestinian news agency paltimes.net praised the attacks and linked them to the negotiations:

"There, in Washington, Abbas is rewarding the occupation by improving its image through futile negotiations, while in Hebron the Al-Qassam Brigades, despite Abbas's whining and attacks on the resistance, agreed to nothing but vengeance for the blood of the shahids. Today, heads and body parts are scattered in all directions. Today, the Al-Qassam Brigades negotiate with their enemies by means of rifles and blood...[12]

The attacks caused embarrassment to the Palestinian Authority, and the attacks in Hebron and Ramallah were condemned by Mahmoud Abbas.[13] The Palestinian Authority minister Mahmoud Habbash accused Iran of responsibility for the Hamas attacks in attempts to derail the peace talks, and insinuated that Hamas leader Haled Mash'al was guilty of heresy.[14]

In an interview on October 2010, the Palestinian reformist Zainab Rashid criticized Syria and Iran, which she says deliberately attempted to derail the peace process in order to divert attention from their own domestic problems and suppress initiatives of democratization. She said, "The most convincing proof is the attempts of these regimes to make deceitful and callous use of the Palestinian cause and to manipulating Palestinian elements in order to spark disputes. They miss no opportunity to sabotage peace efforts, as we saw at the outset of the latest round of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, when Hamas received a directive from the Syrian and Iranian regimes which control it to carry out two attacks in the West Bank, shortly before the first session of peace talks, with the intent of undermining the negotiations. This is what all the dictatorships have done throughout the history of this struggle in order to prevent its resolution.[15]

Shooting attacks[edit]

June 14[edit]

June 2010 West Bank shooting
Location Route 60, West Bank (near Beit Hagai)
Date June 14, 2010
7:15 – 7:18 am (approximate)
Target Israeli police officers
Attack type
Highway shooting ambush
Deaths 1
Non-fatal injuries
1 moderate, 2 light
Perpetrators Palestinian Fatah claimed responsibility

In a drive-by shooting attack near Hebron West bank on 14 June, Israeli police officer Yehoshua Sofer was killed and three others were wounded.[16][17][18][6][19]

Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it was a response to the recent Gaza flotilla raid.[16]

August 31[edit]

August 2010 West Bank shooting
Location Route 60, West Bank
near Kiryat Arba
Date August 31, 2010
Target Israeli motorists
Attack type
drive-by shooting
Deaths 4
Non-fatal injuries
0
Perpetrators Hamas

The first notable attack in the Hamas campaign, in which 4 Israelis were shot to death. Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida said, "this attack is a chain in a series of attacks, some have been executed, and others will follow".[20] Ma'an News Agency reported that an Israeli security official said that this was one of a series of “terrorist attacks” designed to foil the 2010 peace talks.[21] Khaled al-Batsh, a leader of Islamic Jihad, endorsed the Hamas killings, asserting that "“negotiations can only be stopped by a barrage of bullets."[22]

Journalist Daoud Kuttab described the August 31 attack as "clearly timed to disrupt the talks and weaken the position of the Palestinian delegation."[23] United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated the day after the incident that "this attack must be recognized for what it is: a cynical and blatant attempt to undermine the direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations starting tomorrow."[24]

On October 8th, Israeli special forces killed a senior West Bank Hamas operative responsible for the attack. IDF soldiers entered several buildings in Hebron where Palestinian militants were holed up inside, killing two of the suspects and arresting six others.[25]

September 1[edit]

1 September 2010 West Bank shooting
Location Route 60, West Bank
between Rimonim Junction and Kochav Hashachar
Date September 1, 2010
Target Israeli motorists
Attack type
drive-by shooting
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
2
Perpetrators Hamas

Rabbi Moshe and Shira Morano, an Israeli couple in their 30s from Ma'ale Efraim in the Jordan Rift Valley, were shot in their car by Palestinian gunmen while driving on Highway 60 between the Rimonim Junction and the Jewish community of Kochav Hashachar. The man was moderately hurt from shrapnel wounds to his legs and a bullet in the shoulder, and the woman was lightly hurt from blows as result of the vehicle overturning.[26][7][27]

The victims jumped out of their car into a ditch after one of the assailants' automatic rifles jammed, where they used a cellphone to call for help. The vehicle veered off the road and plunged down an embankment. Magen David Adom paramedics treated them at the scene before evacuating them to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.[26][7][27]

Rabbi Morano said a car tailgated them for about five minutes, blinding them with its headlights. "I signaled to the driver that he was bothering me and that he should pass me, but he took a long time to respond. Then, as we came around a bend, he came past me and the shooting started... One of the guns seemed to jam and that gave us the chance to roll away and take cover. I knew if they reached us, they would spray us with bullets at point blank range. I unlocked the door and pulled my wife out, and we rolled into the ditch."[7]

Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesman Abu Ubaida stated that "The attack was a message to those who pledged to the Zionist enemy there would be no more attacks."[7]

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas did not condemn the attack, but said: "We are not interested in spilling Israeli blood. We want the two peoples to live regular lives in real peace." A PA official blamed Hamas for "trying to return the West Bank into a state of anarchy, in order to thwart the political process." The following week, PA security officials announced that they had arrested two Hamas operatives in connection with the attack.[7][26][27]

September 26[edit]

26 September 2010 West Bank shooting
Location Route 60, West Bank
near Teneh Omarim
Date September 26, 2010
Target Israeli motorists
Attack type
Drive-by shooting
Deaths 0
Non-fatal injuries
2
Perpetrators Claimed responsibility: Fatah, Islamic Jihad; suspected: Fatah al-Intifada

The 26 September 2010 West Bank shooting took place near Teneh Omarim, on Route 60 in the West Bank. Nine-month pregnant Israeli woman Neta Schoker and her husband Sharon, both 35, were in their vehicle when gunmen in a passing Palestinian car opened fire on them.[28] Both the husband and wife sustained gunshots to their legs, and managed to drive themselves to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba. The woman gave birth by Cesarean section to a healthy baby boy, and received treatment for her wounds.[27][16] A second car was also fired at in the same attack, but none of its passengers were injured.[29][30][27][31][32][33]

The attack took place close to where the August 2010 West Bank shooting occurred.[30] According to Israeli police, the assailants' vehicle fled the scene southwards. Israeli soldiers set up roadblocks at the entrance to the adjacent Palestinian village of Dahariya and searched homes.[34]

The military wings of Fatah (the party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack. The groups declared in a statement that "the attack was carried out to mark the 15th anniversary of the killing of the Islamic Jihad's founder Fathi Shaqaqi." However, some members of both organizations denied having any knowledge of the statement.[35]

In October, the Israel Security Agency arrested three members of Fatah al-Intifada, a Fatah splinter group, on suspicion of carrying out the attack. The suspects told investigators that they were given $25,000 with which to buy weapons and that they planned on carrying out more attacks. The suspects were charged in a military court on 29 November.[36]

Rocket attacks[edit]

Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel increased in September. On September 14, senior Hamas operative Ahmed Jaabari threatened to increase attacks against Israel to derail the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. "With the power of faith, weapons and missiles, tunnels and commandos we will achieve victory for Palestine and we'll end the occupation in Gaza too," he said.[37] The next day, two mortar shells containing white phosphorus were fired into Israel from Gaza.[38][39][40] Ten rockets landed in the Eshkol region during the day.[38] A 122-mm. Katyusha rocket landed north of Ashkelon.[38] The IDF understood the rocket attacks to be part of a Hamas attempt to torpedo the peace talks.[38]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Islamist groups attempt to derail Middle East talks," Mark Weiss, September 4, 2010, Irish Times.
  2. ^ "Hamas targets Israeli-Palestinian talks by killing four Israelis; Hamas took responsibility for the fatal shooting of four Israeli settlers outside Hebron today, on the eve of Israeli-Palestinian talks in Washington," Joshua Mitnick, August 31, 2010, Christian Science Monitor.
  3. ^ "Hamas to launch 'more effective attacks' on Israel," September 3, 2010, Jerusalem Post.
  4. ^ "The Shadow of Hamas," Staff Editorial, September 8, 2010, Washington Post.
  5. ^ Gaza militants vow wave of attacks against Israel, Reuters 02-09-2010
  6. ^ a b "Hamas Threats Suggest Palestinian Divisions," Charles Levinson, September 3, 2010, Wall Street Journal.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "Hamas Ratchets Up Attacks Amid Peace Talks," Tzippe Barrow, September 2, 2010, Christian Broadcasting Network.
  8. ^ " Arafat ordered Hamas attacks against Israel in 2000," Khaled Abu Toameh, September 29, 2010, Jerusalem Post.
  9. ^ a b "Hamas attacks show group is still strong in West Bank," Janine Zacharia, September 3, 2010, Washington Post.
  10. ^ Mashaal: We'll continue 'to kill illegal settlers'
  11. ^ "More terror looms as direct talks collapse - one up for Hamas, Hizballah," September 26, 2010, Debka.com.
  12. ^ paltimes, September 1, 2010. As translated by MEMRI, The Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations – A Current Overview.
  13. ^ maan news, September 2, 2010, as cited in MEMRI, The Palestinian-Israeli Negotiations – A Current Overview.
  14. ^ MEMRI Special Dispatch No.3221, PA Minister of Religious Endowments Mahmoud Habbash Accuses Iran of Responsibility for Hamas Terror Attacks, and Insinuates that Hamas Leader Mash'al is Guilty of Heresy
  15. ^ Palestinian Reformist: The Islamization of the Palestinian Cause is an Obstacle to Its Resolution. October 26, 2010. Translation by MEMRI.
  16. ^ a b c Al-Aqsa Brigade claims attack, Jerusalem Post 14-06-2010
  17. ^ Three Israeli policemen shot in West Bank, one dead, CNN 14-06-2010
  18. ^ “Four Israeli Civilians Shot Dead in Terror Attack Near Hebron,” 31 August 2010, IDF News.
  19. ^ "Palestinian Gunmen Kill Israeli Policeman," June 14, 2010, Emunah.
  20. ^ PA detains dozens of Hamas men after deadly shooting attack, Ynet News 01-09-2010
  21. ^ “Shin Bet says Hamas to resume attacks,” September 13, 2010, Ma’an.
  22. ^ "Pessimism Permeates Mideast Media on Talks," Ethan Bronner, September 3, 2010, New York Times.
  23. ^ "Even if peace talks fail, Palestine's independence is inevitable," Daoud Kuttab, September 7, 2010, Washington Post.
  24. ^ Ban condemns West Bank shooting of four Israelis
  25. ^ http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?ID=190664 IDF kills two in Hebron involved in Beit Hagai killings
  26. ^ a b c "Palestinian Authority arrests 2 in connection with West Bank shooting attack; Two West Bank Hamas operatives arrested for September 1st attack in which two Israelis were wounded at Rimonim Junction," Avi Issacharoff, September 8, 2010, Haaretz.
  27. ^ a b c d e Another West Bank shooting: 2 Israelis hurt, Ynet news 02-09-2010
  28. ^ "Israeli woman hit by gunfire gives birth," September 26, 2010, JTA.
  29. ^ Israeli couple injured in drive-by shooting, Ma'an News 26-09-2010
  30. ^ a b West Bank shooting attack injures Israeli woman, Associated Press 26-09-2010
  31. ^ "Arab Terror Groups Claim Responsibility for Shooting Attack," Gil Ronen and Elad Benari, September 27, 2010, Israel National News.
  32. ^ ."Una israelí da a luz horas después de ser tiroteada en Cisjordania," September 26, 2010, Europa press.
  33. ^ "Colona ferita da Miliziano Si Salva e Partorisce," September 27, 2010, La Republica.
  34. ^ West Bank shooting victim gives birth to son, Ynet News 26-09-2010
  35. ^ Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claim responsibility for shooting attack, Ynet News 27-09-2010
  36. ^ Shin Bet arrests 3 suspected in September Hebron attack, Jerusalem Post 30-11-2010
  37. ^ Rockets, mortars fired at southern Israel, United Press international 15-09-2010
  38. ^ a b c d " Police: Terrorists fired phosphorus shells into Israel," Yaakov Lappin, Yaakov Katz, September, 15, 2010, Jerusalem Post
  39. ^ "Two phosphorous mortars hit Israel as tensions rise," Anshel Pfeffer and Yanir Yagna, September 16, 2010, Haaretz.
  40. ^ "Israel: Phosphorus bombshells launched from Gaza Dan Murphy, September 15, 2010, Christian Science Monitor