Some Aspects About ”The Great Return March” Campaign

April 30, 2018

When we are brave, we are getting closer toward martyrdom, martyrdom, martyrdom…we say to Nikki Haley, to Netanyahu, to the criminal Lieberman we are afraid neither of death nor of martyrdom.” (Senior Hamas leader Ismail Radwan on 27th Apr. 2018)

“The Great Return March” Campaign has now been implemented a month and probably it will will climax on May 15 (Nakba Day) 2018 with aim of a massive procession of 100,000 Gazans storming the Israel security fence around Gaza. The main goal of this action is not immediately to kill Israelis but to get attention by getting Gazans killed themselves as when Israel must use lethal force to protect Israelis and Israeli border this will bring the Palestinian case back to the agenda and the media headlines will come back.

Behind the hypcrate statements from international organizations and behind the body count of main stream media I would like to highlight some other aspects of this ongoing play.

 

The Great Return March campaign exhausted?

It is no secret that the campaign of protests at the border has been a disappointment for Hamas, as it failed to meet the group’s initial expectations. The number of participants (average Gazans, no-Hams members) has diminished from week to week, and Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and his associates, including many high-ranking officials in the group’s military wing, feel that the campaign has exhausted itself. They say that if Hamas continues to conduct the campaign as it is currently being handled, it will erase any achievement it has managed to reach.

The popular turnout is diminishing week by week. Some 3,000 protesters turned out on 20th April, significantly smaller than the 10,000-15,000 at previous Friday’s demonstration. In the three weeks before, there were an estimated 20,000 and 30,000 protesters, respectively.

However some 10,000-14,000 Palestinians participated March on Border for fifth week [27.-28.4.2018] but only four (3 on Friday and 1 wounded died on Saturday) was killed and over 600 injured (174 wounded due use of live ammunition) – lower figures anyway than during first week.

According Hamas the weekly Gaza border riots will not end on May 15th, the day the Arabs mark as ‘Nakba’ or “Catastrophe” in Arabic (Israel’s rebirth as a state), but will continue through Ramadan, Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh said on 26th Apr 2018 according JewishPress. The events at the Gaza border “brought the Palestinian issue back to center stage, and revived the memory of the right of return,” Haniyeh said. He claimed the demonstrations would also have the effect of spoiling the Israeli celebrations marking the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem on May 14, as well as the Jerusalem Day celebrations on the day prior (May 13), marking Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Haniyeh added that the demonstrations would no longer be limited to the Gaza border, but are to be expanded and spread throughout Judea and Samaria. At a press conference held by the “supreme national authority of the great return march,” it was stated that on May 15, 2018, all the demonstrators would move towards the security fence to cut through the barbed wire, calling on the international community to protect them (al-Aqsa, April 17, 2018).

A protest in Khan Younis on March 30. The photographer, Yasser Murtaja, was killed in a protest in the same location the following week. Aerial image by Yasser Murtaja, Ain Media

Behind body count

According The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center the Hamas-controlled ministry of health in the Gaza Strip reported that 40 [now 44] Palestinians have been killed during the “great return march” events since March 30, 2018, when the rioting began along the Gaza Strip-Israel border (updated to April 25, 2018); 32 of the 40 Palestinians killed (80%) were terrorist operatives.

One significant aspect with ongoing fence-storming campaign is that not a single rocket has been fired into Israel from Gaza in over two months, yet since March 30 during fence-storming more Palestinians in Gaza have been killed than it did in the previous 16 months, during which time militants launched over 60 rockets and mortars. Another aspect more: Compared the death ratio of civilians vs militants, it is now 1:5 as during previous Gaza conflicts/wars it was about 2:1 so this ”peaceful” demonstration seems to be much better for civilian population as terrorists can not use them so much as human shields than during previous conflicts.

Israeli army leaflets dropped over Gaza to warn Palestinian demonstrators not to approach the border fence

All violent deaths are not made by IDF. Arab media outlets reported that the explosion occurred in the town of Beit Lahiya killing 55-year-old Mohammed Nimr Maqadmah – a member of the Hamas terror group’s military wing, it is unclear if Maqadmah was killed in a targeted killing, or in an accidental explosion while building a bomb. Local media outlets initially claimed the explosion was the result of an Israeli drone attack, but subsequent reports by Arab news sources suggested the explosion may have been an accident. Three other people were injured in the explosion, one of which is reportedly Maqadmah’s son. On Sunday night, a Hamas terrorist from the Al-Qassam Brigades was killed during a tunnel collapse in the central Gaza Strip. The terrorist was identified as 33-year-old Tha’er Nayef az-Zare’ey. Source: Arutz Sheva  , more in report by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

In addition there was a funeral of Fadi al-Batsh in the Jabalya refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on 27th April where thousands attended. Al-Batsh, a Palestinian engineer working for Hamas on weapons projects was killed in Malaysia and whose death was attributed by foreign media outlets to the Mossad.

Identities of Palestinians killed during the “great return march” who were terrorist operatives or affiliated with terrorist organizations

A quarrel inside Hamas

Sources in Egypt and within Hamas confirm that a quarrel over an Egyptian initiative to end Gaza border marches has split Hamas into two opposing camps, Israel Hayom recently learned from senior Hamas sources. Tensions within Hamas’ leadership have caused a rift between the two strongest and influential people in the movement today – Ismail Haniyeh, the political bureau chief, and Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Sinwar is displeased with the fact that Haniyeh has chosen to remain in Gaza. This decision breaks with years of tradition, as his predecessor, former political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, managed the movement’s affairs from Syria before moving operations to Qatar. Sinwar has complained to his associates that Haniyeh was intervening in internal affairs.

The rift exacerbated an already strained relationship between the two “exploded” after Haniyeh snubbed Egyptian efforts to discuss a possible prisoner swap deal with Israel and an easing of the blockade on Gaza in exchange for a cessation of the border demonstrations. A delegation of Egyptian intelligence and security officials visiting Gaza submitted a proposal to Haniyeh. According to a senior Hamas official, Hamas then received an ostensibly improved offer from Egypt to halt the campaign of border demonstrations in exchange for the possibility of significantly advancing a potential prisoner exchange deal with Israel, in addition to its offer of opening the Rafah terminal and easing the blockade on Gaza.

Haniyeh reportedly rejected the Egyptian proposal without consulting the heads of the movement or even divulging its details to the organization’s leadership. “Not only did Haniyeh reject the improved proposal,” a senior Egyptian intelligence official told Israel Hayom, “he even rejected the invitation we gave him to come to Cairo with a delegation of Hamas officials to discuss details of the deal to stop the marches on the border and the possibility of a prisoner exchange.”

High-ranking Hamas officials, including Sinwar, were furious with Haniyeh and had accused him of coordinating Hamas policy with Tehran rather than the group’s own leadership. According the Egyptian official “Sinwar exploded with rage and screamed at Haniyeh,” the official said “when he learned that [Haniyeh] wasn’t planning to accept the Egyptian delegation’s proposal.”

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official in Gaza told Israel Hayom there are voices in Hamas that argue that the border marches have run their course in their current format and that the diminishing number of demonstrators from week to week is actually undermining the potential for the grand finale demonstration. The official said that Sinwar and other high-ranking Hamas figures share this view. Furthermore, an associate close to Sinwar told Israel Hayom that the Sinwar camp believes that if the border marches continue in their current format it could undo any progress that has been made thus far and that it could undermine the general Palestinian interests as well. According to Sinwar, Haniyeh made a terrible mistake by rejecting the first Egyptian proposal and an even bigger mistake in rejecting the revised proposals.

sinai option by Ari RusilaSinwar’s associates say that while he has worked tirelessly, in conjunction with other Hamas figures, to rehabilitate the group’s relations with Egypt, Haniyeh undermined Sinwar’s efforts by offending the Egyptians’ honor when he refused an invitation to come to Cairo to discuss an Egyptian proposal for Hamas.

The relations between Egypt and Hamas have been one core question in (partial) Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Besides planned Hamas-Israel ceasefire deal Egypt has a decisive role if sc ‘Sinai option’ (more in Sinai Option again) will go further as partial solution to conflict. Also even without these kind progress Egypt’s actions with Rafah crossing have great importance for welfare of Gaza population.

Long truce?

Jerusalem Post   reports  that European groups recently passed on to Hamas a wide-reaching proposition to solve the humanitarian crises in Gaza. The proposed deal is that Hamas would relinquish armed struggle against Israel for at least five years and in exchange, an EU-created institution would pay the salaries of the Gaza strip civic administration and run all humanitarian affairs there.

This offer is unique in including an assumption of comprehensive authorities by a European body that would operate in the Gaza strip. For Hamas, it may be tempting that the financial aid for health, education and developing public administration would come directly from a European body and not via the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, currently controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, as is currently the practice. Hamas refused the demands made by Abbas that the security, legal and tax collecting powers in the Gaza strip be handed over to the PA as a condition for national reconciliation.

The Hamas negotiation team is reportedly still studying the European offer before responding to it. Officially Hamas denies any offer from EU and there is no confirmation about neither from EU.

2015 “no-paper”

The concept of connecting wide-scale humanitarian and financial aid to Gaza with Hamas rejecting terrorism and violence is not new and it might be possible that also this time the question is about unofficial talks with or without ”white papers”. For example few years ago according Israel Hayom [18th Aug. 2015] as well the Times of Israel reported that Hamas and Israel essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. A “comprehensive” agreement between Hamas and Israel included e.g. lifting of an blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire. The gist of the deal is that Israel will end the blockade and allow thousands of Palestinian day laborers to enter Israel. Gaza will import items through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed) and cease all rocket fire and tunneling for eight years. A prisoner swap may be in the works too. I predicted then that this kind of Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’ and this  new EU proposal could do the same job if true and agreed.  [More in Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal  and  Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander ]

PA

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas does not have a mandate from his people to reach any agreement with Israel: his term in office expired in January 2009. For Abbas last Hamas-Fatah deal is a boost to his sagging popularity and same time a likely blow to any challenge from Mohammed Dahlan and other potential rivals if elections go ahead.

Earslier Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) reportedly told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the plan or resign. It is likely that MbS did this to hasten the sidelining of the Palestinian issue so that he could facilitate normalisation with Israel.

The Kingdom of Jordan began the process of revoking the Jordanian citizenship of about 30 Palestinian Authority and Fatah officials and their families, London-based Arabic language newspaper Raialyoum reported according Jpost and Alaraby. The officials who are slated to lose their citizenship include Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian Authority negotiator Ahmed Qurei (“Abu Ala”). They also stated that there would be major changes in the visa arrangements for entry into Jordan of the senior officials, granting them only temporary visitor’s rights. Jordan granted citizenship to Palestinians in the West Bank after extending sovereignty to the territory following its capture in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. King Hussein officially severed Jordan’s legal and administrative ties to the West Bank in 1988, relinquishing claims to sovereignty and withdrawing Jordanian nationality from Palestinian residents.

Epiloque

Today it seems clear that the Great Return March” is not a peaceful demonstration. Gazans are trying to infiltrate into Israel, damage its infrastructure and kill Israelis; it is a massive attempt by dozens of rioters to breach a border fence less than a kilometer from Israeli civilians.From my viewpoint the IDF operates to protect Israeli civilians and will not allow harm to be done to the security infrastructure that protects them. According IDF the snipers only fire under direct order from a battalion commander or officer of higher rank to neutralize situations in which the fence could be breached.What would be the alternative as a breach would require the IDF to open deadly fire at hundreds or thousands of Gazans trying to break into Israel.

Interesting detail with ongoing ”Return March” is that Hamas used that exact same tactic to breach the Egyptian border 10 years ago. On January 22, 2008, a group of unarmed Hamas demonstrators–mostly women–rushed the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and managed to break through. That night, Hamas operatives planted explosives along the border wall in several places, creating huge gaps in it. The next day, anywhere from 200,000 to 750,000 Gazans (estimates vary) poured through those breaches into Egypt.

In 2005, the Palestinians of Gaza had a choice. They could have used their newly acquired freedom to build a strong economy in that coastal and fertile land, or they could have used that freedom to fight Israel. The fact that they chose the latter is not Israel’s responsibility, and it is not too late for Gaza’s Palestinians to choose a different path.

Israel could independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations, to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila

 

Some of my previous related articles:

Western Donors Still Funding Terrorists

Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander

Gaza Update: Hamas Downfalling – IDF Prepared

Gaza Blockade – It’s Egypt not Israel!

Hamas’ Relations With Egypt Worsened

 

 

 


Appendix 1: Israel, EU and Palestine

 

 


Appendix 2: Media persons as terrorists

On April 25, 2018, the death of media person Ahmed Abu Hussein was reported. He was seriously wounded during the “great return march” events on Friday, April 13, 2018, while covering a demonstration near the border fence in the Jabalia area. Due to the complicated nature of his wound he was transferred to a hospital in Ramallah, and from there to the Intensive Care unit in the Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel (Ma’an, April 26, 2018). He died from his wounds in the hospital.

An examination of Ahmed Abu Hussein’s identity revealed that in addition to being a media person, he was also a PFLP member. That was manifested in several ways: the PFLP’s military wing issued formal death notices for him; at his funeral red PFLP flags were carried; and the Ahmed Abu Hussein’s Facebook page posted notices glorifying the PFLP, its leaders and terrorist attacks (such as the assassination of Israeli minister Rehavam Ze’evi).

Ahmed Abu Hussein was the second media person killed during Palestinians riots near the border fence. Before him, press photographer Yasser Murtaja was killed on April 6, 2018, while covering the march. Like Ahmed Abu Hussein, Murtaja had a double identity: in addition to being a media person, he was also an operative in Hamas’ security forces. The double identities of media personnel who are also operatives in terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip were widely exposed and documented by the ITIC during Operation Protective Edge. Source: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

Remark:  Also this PFLP terrorist  ( Ahmed Abu Hussein)  got treatment in the Intensive Care unit in the Tel Hashomer hospital in Israel


Appendix 3:  Compensation

Terrorists and their leaders get good compensation for their activities:

 

 

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Western Donors Still Funding Terrorists

April 12, 2018

International aid money for Palestine is supposed to be rebuilding and developing the Palestinian territories. Some Western countries learned few years ago the shocking revelation that thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including men who have masterminded suicide bombings and murdered children, are given cash handouts from aid money. The European Union, US and other Western donors have been duped by assertions that the Palestinian Authority no longer funds terrorists – PA claims to have ended such links two years ago.

Indeed since 2014, the amount allocated to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has been removed from the PA budget (in an attempt to disguise the fact that it is the PA that finances the payments to imprisoned and released terrorists). In August 2014, the PA closed the PA Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs and announced the ‎establishment of a new PLO Commission of Prisoners’ Affairs, which they claimed ‎would pay the salaries. ‎ Investigations discovered that the PA passes millions on to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) – which in turn gives it to convicted terrorists locked up in Israeli prisons and their families. Now, the amount earmarked for the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has once again been openly included in the PA budget.

Payments in the 2018 budget dealing with prisoners, released terrorists, and families of shahids (martyrs).

On March 4, 2018, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas approved the PA’s 2018 budget, in the sum of around NIS 18 billion (around USD 5 billion). The budget specifies the allocation of funds to government ministries and various bodies. The budget includes two items dealing with the allocation of funds to two institutions subordinate to the PLO that assist terrorists and their families.

The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs is an institution headed by PA Minister Issa Karake. On May 29, 2014, this institution was made subordinate to the PLO, in order to mislead the donor countries (mainly the United States) and to create the impression that their aid funds are not being used for funding terrorism.

The Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured is a PLO institution that takes care of the families of shahids (i.e., terrorists who were killed) and the wounded. This institution receives its budget from the PA. It pays them monthly pensions and provides them with welfare, health, education and rehabilitation services. The fund cares for tens of thousands of families (in 2012 it cared for more than 30,000 families of shahids and injured Palestinians). It operates two central offices, one in Ramallah and the other in Gaza, along with 15 sub-branches throughout Judea and Samaria.

The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center has now made an analysis about the 2018 budget of the Palestinain Authority. According this analysis,

the PA allocated around NIS 1.28 billion (around USD 360 million), approximately 7% of the budget, to two institutions that assist terrorists imprisoned in Israel, released terrorists, and families of shahids (martyrs). The institutions are the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured, both of which are subordinate to the PLO. Since 2014, the amount allocated to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has been removed from the PA budget (in an attempt to disguise the fact that it is the PA that finances the payments to imprisoned and released terrorists). Now, the amount earmarked for the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs has once again been openly included in the PA budget.

 

Some developments (to stop funding of terrorism)

The PA’s 2018 budget: The total budget is NIS 18.089 billion (arrow left). 1st arrow right is an estimate of the amount of external aid and donations to the general budget (NIS 2.160 billion). 2nd arrow right is an estimate of the external grants for development purposes (NIS 630 million). In total, the PA expects to receive NIS 2.790 billion (around USD 790 million) in aid from donor countries in 2018. Hence the allocations for assistance to prisoners, released terrorists, and shahids represent nearly 46% of the foreign aid funds that the PA expects to receive.

The US Congress has already March 2018 passed the Taylor Force Act, which is designed to deny hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid that the Palestinian Authority (PA) uses to incite terrorism and to compensate murderous terrorists and their families. The Taylor Force Act would require the US Secretary of State to verify that the PA has ended its policy of paying off terrorists and their surviving family members. The bill also calls on the PA to publicly condemn terror attacks and to take steps to bring the perpetrators to justice. The legislation easily passed both chambers of Congress with strong bipartisan support, 256-167 in the House, and 65-32 in the Senate. The legislation was named after American war veteran Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death in a Palestinian terror attack that left 10 others wounded in Jaffa in March 2016. (Source: United with Israel )

Other developments earlier:

  • Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded.” (US President Trump, 2016)
  • The British government’s Department for International Development in October froze 2016 part of its aid to the PA over concerns it was being used to fund salaries for convicted Palestinian terrorists.
  • In September 2016, the German government for the first time admitted that the Palestinian Authority likely grants financial support to terrorists and their families, and vowed to further investigate the matter. It is not clear if Germany has since cut back on funding.

 

The Great Return March Campaign to change focus

After sc Arab Spring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has stepped aside for other Mideast conflicts, such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Iranian-Saudi and Shiite-Sunni proxy wars. To bring the Palestinian case back to the agenda and media headlines the new innovations are needed, the ongoing ”knifeintifada” in Judea and Samaria and ocassional quassam-fire fro Gaza are interesting issues only in Israel, the Western mainstream media has more newsworthy material elsewhere.

The latest innovation is the idea of a massive procession of 100,000 Gazans with the objective of storming the Israel security fence around Gaza to demonstrate the return of Gaza’s refugees to their original homes. Naturally these fence-stormers will not be the original refugees, there is on some tens of thousands of them worldwide and they are at least 69 years old.

The aim of this action is not immediately to kill Israelis but to get attention by getting killed themselves. According to the plan currently being formulated, there will be a series of ongoing events which will take place over the course of six weeks, between March 30 (Land Day) and May 15 (Nakba Day).

The organizers’ objective is to extend the scope of the events beyond the Gaza Strip and to promote marches not only in Gaza Strip but in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. According to the organizers, they are currently coordinating with Palestinians abroad and with Israeli Arabs. The campaign has good financing as Hamas spent $15 million behind the scenes to fund and organize the march to Gaza’s border with Israel. In addition Hamas has applied the same practice than PA to pay compensations to Gazans wounded or killed during demonstrations – payments are $500 about serious wound and $3000 about death during clashes with IDF.

Sources and more background about PA salaries to terrorists and their familes in Palestinian Media Watch , about PA 2018 budget in The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center  and about Return March campaign in my article “The Great Return March” Campaign Starts 30th March 2018


Appendix: Preparing for martyrdom

Rewarding terrorism and brainwashing starts already in kindergartens via hate education:

 

 


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