Political Update Monday 9 September 2019

General Highlights

Egyptian security delegation in Gaza: Tensions in and around Gaza mounted over the weekend following the IDF fatally shooting of two teenagers during the weekly Friday protests and the subsequent rocket, and drone attacks from Gaza. More on this item, under Gaza related reports

President Abbas received the Norwegian envoy to the Middle East: President Abbas received the Norwegian peace envoy.  Details on this item, under political dynamics below.

Rajoub attacks intelligence services including the PA’s: Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub publicly attacked certain individuals whom he said were seeking to take over the position of Palestinian President. Details on this item, under political dynamics below.

Hamas chief on US Deal of the century/ other issues: Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismael Haniyeh said that the Palestinian people uphold their right of return to their homeland and villages from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948.  More on those public comments, under Gaza related reports.

Forensic doctors resigned/ suspected connection to honor killing case investigation: The PA minister of justice dismissed reports that the resignation of three forensic doctors is related to the investigation into the suspected honor killing case of Israa Ghrayeb. More details on this item, under Other developments

Palestinian prisoner, Al-Sayeh died in Israeli custody/ reactions and protests: Bassam al Sayeh, a Hamas affiliated prisoner who has been a terminal cancer case, died yesterday afternoon. Details on this item, under public statements/ reports.

Political dynamics

President Abbas received the Norwegian envoy to the Middle East: President Abbas received the Norwegian peace envoy.  According to an official statement, President Abbas briefed his guest on the latest developments in the Palestinian territories and the Israeli and American measures aimed at undermining peace based on the principle of the two-state solution. He affirmed the Palestinian commitment to achieving a just and lasting peace in accordance with international resolutions and international law while rejecting any projects or plans that do not adhere to the foundations of the peace process, namely to end the Israeli occupation and achieve peace based on the principle of the two-state solution to establish the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the 1967 borders. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Norway for its political positions in support of international law and legality and its efforts to mobilize international financial support through its leadership of the international Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donor countries. Comment: PA officials said that the meeting also addressed the arrangements of President Abbas’s upcoming visit to Norway between 18-20 September.  In addition, the meeting also discussed the Norwegian preparations to hold a meeting of the AHLC in New York on 26 September. The AHLC meeting is usually attended by the PA Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance in addition to other officials.

Rajoub attacks intelligence services including the PA’s: Senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub publicly attacked certain individuals whom he said were seeking to take over the position of Palestinian President. He said those individuals think that by working for and with Intelligence Services they could become President of Palestine. Rajoub said that this will not come about. He cursed all intelligence services including the one here (reference to the PA’s). Comment: The video showing Jibril Rajoub’s harsh comments went viral especially in Fatah circles and was largely viewed as a sign of the growing tensions between Fatah leadership and the PA general intelligence service.

Public statements/ reports

Palestinian prisoner, Al-Sayeh died in Israeli custody/ reactions and protests: Bassam al Sayeh, a Hamas affiliated prisoner who has been a terminal cancer case, died yesterday afternoon. The PA Prisoners Club and other groups have been demanding his release for proper treatment but their petitions were dismissed by the Israeli prison authorities and courts. Al-Sayeh was sentenced for life for having been part of a cell that killed Israeli settler in 2015 near Itamar settlement in Nablus area. Al Sayeh died yesterday afternoon at Assaf Harofeh hospital in Israel after his health condition seriously deteriorated a few days ago. Prisoners support groups staged small gatherings yesterday in Ramallah and Nablus in the evening. Bir Zeit university student council announced halting classes today and called on students to gather in Ramallah and march towards the Bet El checkpoint today to clash with IDF soldiers in protest against al Sayeh’s death. In addition, Prisoners support group called for a protest to be held today at 1100 am in front of the ICRC offices in el Bireh/ Ramallah. A press conference will be held during the protest. Protests will be organized in Bethlehem at 11 in front of the ICRC office I the city. Prisoners support groups accuse the Israeli prisons authorities of deliberately failing to provide adequate medical attention to Basem al-Sayeh.  PA sources said that all prisoners in Israeli jail decided to go on three day mounting and one day hunger strike protesting al Sayeh death. PM Shtayyeh issued a statement on Facebook saying al Sayeh death is a premeditated crime since he was denied adequate medical attention.

Other developments/ security incidents

Forensic doctors resigned/ suspected connection to honor killing case investigation: The PA minister of justice dismissed reports that the resignation of three forensic doctors is related to the investigation into the suspected honor killing case of Israa Ghrayeb. Three forensic doctors resigned Sunday without providing reasons. The ministry of justice indicated in a statement that the three doctors had resigned as a result of being suspended and subjected to disciplinary action. The statement named Dr. Ahsraf al Qadi from Bethlehem as the doctor in charge of Israa Ghrayeb case. The case of Israa Ghrayeb suspected honor killing by her family members has attracted Palestinian and Arab public opinion.  There is a general suspicion that due to political and tribal connections of the family, the case would be covered and the suspected killers of Ghrayeb won’t be brought to justice. 

Israeli authorities issued yesterday a military order to seize about 100 dunums of Palestinian-owned lands in Qaryut and Jaloud, two villages located south of Nablus in the West Bank.  PA sources said that the Israeli authorities decided to seize 100 dunums of land in Qaryut and Jaloud villages in order to expand the nearby Israeli settlement of Shilo.  He added that similar orders were handed to residents of Turmus Ayya village, north of Ramallah.

Extremist Jewish settlers’ violence: PA officials reported that Israeli Jewish settlers partially destroyed three Palestinian vehicles after raiding the village of Asira al-Qiblia, south of Nablus.  The PA officials said that settlers entered into the village at around 5:00 am and destroyed the three vehicles, which belong to local Palestinian villagers. The PA official suspect the settlers came from the settlement of Yitzhar which is known for its hardcore Jewish settler community.

IDF raids several villages west and east of Ramallah to make arrests: PA sources said that at least 19 Palestinians were arrested by the IDF during raids into Silwad east of Ramallah. In addition, the PA sources said that the UDF entered into Bet Rima and arrested two individuals. PA sources said that skirmishes erupted between youth and IDF soldiers who used rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the protesters.

Gaza related reports

Egyptian security delegation in Gaza: Tensions in and around Gaza mounted over the weekend following the IDF fatally shooting of two teenagers during the weekly Friday protests and the subsequent rocket, and drone attacks from Gaza. PA and Gaza sources said that a senior level Egyptian security delegation arrived in the Gaza strip and met with Hamas leaders including Ismael Haniyeh.  The PA and Gaza sources said that the Egyptian delegation arrived to urge Hamas and other factions including PIJ to contain the tensions in order to avoid slipping into a harsh military confrontation with Israel.  Hamas officials told the media that the meeting also tackled bilateral Hamas-Egyptian issues including the Rafah crossing operations and procedures.

A shell landed inside the Gaza strip yesterday evening: as sirens went off in the Gaza envelope areas of southern Israeli yesterday evening, Israeli military said in a statement that a shell fired from Gaza landed inside the Gaza strip near the eastern borders of Gaza.  This morning Gaza sources reported that four Israeli biliary vehicles crossed the fence areas east of Jabalia into the Gaza strip. The sources said that the vehicles including a bulldoze are leveling lands near the fence.

A small drone from Gaza dropped explosive device at an IDF vehicle: In what was described as unprecedented and qualitative escalation, a small drone from Gaza dropped an explosive device at an Israeli military vehicle on Saturday. The vehicle was partly damaged. In retaliation, the Israeli artillery opened fire at a post in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip shortly after the attack. Gaza sources reported that an Israeli jetfighter fired a missile and army artillery deployed inside the Israeli border in the south of the Gaza Strip, fired two shells at a post in the area destroying it completely and setting it on fire. No one was reportedly hurt. Israeli military reports said the attack came after a drone was flown from Gaza over the border fence Saturday dropped explosives on a military vehicle causing damage but no injuries.  Later in the day, Israeli warplanes attacked several targets across the Gaza Strip Friday night causing damage but no injuries. Gaza sources said the warplanes attacked locations south of Gaza City and in Nusseirat refugee camp, Bureij refugee camp and the town of Beit Lahiya, causing financial damages to most of the sites bombed as well as fear among the local population but no casualties.

Hamas chief on US Deal of the century/ other issues: Head of Hamas Political Bureau Ismael Haniyeh said that the Palestinian people uphold their right of return to their homeland and villages from which they were forcibly displaced in 1948.  Speaking at the Popular Conference to Face off the Deal of the Century and Maintain the Right to Return, Haniyeh said that there are many desperate attempts to push the Palestinian people to immigrate; there is pressure pilled on the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon; our people in Jerusalem undergo the same pressure. He said “all of this is done under an American vision to liquidate the cause of Palestinian refugees”. Addressing the international community, Haniyeh demanded to stop attempts to dismantle UNRWA and continue supporting the Palestinian people as a ‘guarantee’ to their right of return and compensation for their 70-year displacement. The Hamas chief concluded by saying “we stress that 70 years of Israeli occupation to our homeland would not abolish the Palestinians’ right to return, for there are steadfastly uphold their right to go back to their hometown and villages.”

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