Islam Times – The Palestinian Hamas resistance movement warned the ‘Israeli’ occupation authorities against restrictions on the entry of Palestinians to holy al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the holy month of Ramadan and their forcible removal from the sacred site.
“We warn the occupying regime about the repercussions of attacks on pilgrims and worshipers at al-Aqsa Mosque,” senior Hamas official Ismail Ridwan said in a statement.
He added, “The resistance front is closely following up the situation of [Muslim] worshipers at the Al-Aqsa compound – Islam’s third-holiest site. We will defend them and our holy sites.”
On Saturday night, a large number of ‘Israeli’ police forces stormed the al-Qibli prayer building at al-Aqsa Mosque and forcibly expelled Muslim worshipers from it.
Video from the scene showed Muslim men and women praying, chanting “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is the greatest,” and shouting at police officers as the officers removed worshipers from the building and the complex.
Moreover, Hamas spokesman in occupied al-Quds, Mohammad Hamadeh, condemned the Zionist settlers’ provocative moves against Palestinian worshipers, and their continual incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied Old City of al-Quds under the protection of the regime’s forces.
Hamadeh denounced the agreement between Jewish extremists and ‘Israeli’ police to extend the hours of storming al-Aqsa Mosque, stating that “Such vexatious plans developed by the occupying regime are meant to Judaize al-Aqsa Mosque and assert control over it. These attempts can never undermine its historical uniqueness or change its Islamic identity.”
He called upon Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank and the 1948 ‘Israeli’-occupied territories to stay put at the mosque and recite prayers so as to revive Muslim principles and values and stand up against Zionists’ attempts to distort history.
Hardline ‘Israeli’ MKs and settlers regularly storm the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied city, a provocative move that infuriates Palestinians. Such mass settler break-ins almost always take place at the behest of Tel Aviv-backed temple groups and under the auspices of the ‘Israeli’ police in al-Quds.
The Jewish visitation of al-Aqsa is permitted, yet non-Muslim worship at the compound is prohibited according to an agreement signed between the Tel Aviv regime and the Jordanian government in the wake of the ‘Israeli’ occupation of East al-Quds in 1967.
RAMALLAH, West Bank—On March 19, representatives from Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority (PA), United States, and Egypt met in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh in an attempt to address rising violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The meeting came ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish holiday of Passover, which overlap this year. The month has traditionally seen an uptick in tensions in the region: during Ramadan in May 2021, Israeli restrictions on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound set off a chain reaction that led to an 11-day Israeli offensive on Gaza; 261 Palestinians were killed, per a United Nations count.
The Sharm el-Sheikh summit, like a similar summit in Jordan’s Red Sea town of Aqaba in February, quickly proved futile; another shooting in Huwara on the same day left an Israeli settler seriously injured.
Then, this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to delay a contentious judicial reform plan that had provoked mass protests among Israelis to the summer session of parliament. In exchange for buy-in from his coalition partner, Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir, Netanyahu agreed to form a new security force that will operate under the direct orders of Ben-Gvir, who has previously been convicted of inciting racism. Some Palestinians fear this step will add fuel to the fire already raging in the West Bank.
For the better part of the year, the PA has proved unable to stem escalating tensions in the occupied territory, and to stop attacks as dictated by its security coordination understanding with Israel. It has also proved unable to eliminate new armed resistance groups that have popped up across the occupied territory in response to liberalized Israeli settlement policies and near-daily killings of Palestinians by the Israeli military. These new armed groups have shed traditional Palestinian factionalism to collaborate in fighting Israel’s occupation—and a PA they view as complicit.
The high death toll has galvanized a new generation of Palestinian fighters organizing to resist Israeli military raids in their communities. They are hyper-localized—operating in the trenches of refugee camps and old cities—and act in defiance of the PA, which engages in security cooperation with Israel and frequently targets these same groups. The mostly young men hail from across the West Bank, from the sleepy desert city of Jericho to the sprawling northern city of Nablus and the decrepit refugee camp of Jenin. They are often seen toting M16 rifles and wearing balaclavas to avoid being identified.
Traditionally, Palestinian militant groups functioned as the armed wings of political parties, such as Hamas and the PA’s Fatah. A militia’s operations supported its party’s political objectives. But during the second intifada, lone-wolf attacks became more widespread. In the uprising’s aftermath—and under pressure from Israeli intelligence—many traditional groups saw their ranks dwindle and organizational structures collapse. This gave way to a decentralized model of resistance, with small cells and breakaway factions dominating the militant landscape.
Since 2022, fighters from different traditional factions have begun to cooperate under new umbrella groups. Many young men decided to take matters into their own hands after growing up seeing the entrenchment of Israel’s occupation, routine bombing of the Gaza Strip, and growth of Israeli settlements. They are also disillusioned with the PA, whose political strategy has not yielded tangible results during their lifetime.
Nablus’ Lions’ Den and the Jenin Brigade are the largest new groups. But smaller cohorts have also cropped up, like the Balata Brigade in the eponymous refugee camp and the Osh al-Dababir (Hornets’ Nest) Battalion, also in the Jenin camp. Israel—and the PA—are struggling to get a handle on them all.
“The Lions’ Den in Nablus and the Jenin Brigade represent a security threat to Israel[i] forces and settlers living in the West Bank and Jerusalem,” said Khaldoun Barghouti, a Palestinian analyst specializing in Israeli affairs. “Israel fears … the emergence of new copycat groups in other Palestinian cities or refugee camps. This situation could lead to escalation in the West Bank.
West Bank coordination is vital to Mahmoud Abbas’s and the Palestinian Authority’s survival. It’s also hugely unpopular among ordinary Palestinians.
The Lions’ Den has regularly engaged in armed clashes with and shootings of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank. Last October, the group shot and killed an Israeli soldier in the occupied territory. In February, the Nablus Battalion, Lions’ Den, and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (the armed wing of Fatah) in Nablus said that their members had shot at Israeli forces raiding the city.
The rise of these groups doesn’t come as a surprise to observers, given the iron fist with which Israel rules the West Bank and the inability of the PA to crack down on these collectives without stirring public ire.
“The Lions’ Den and other formations in West Bank cities are a natural byproduct of 30 years of willful international failure to end the occupation and contentment with a PA that does what it is told,” said Nour Odeh, a former PA government spokeswoman. “They are also a natural response to the rise of racist fascist parties in Israel whose agenda threatens the existence of the Palestinian people.”
The PA is unable and unwilling to do anything to respond to the new Israeli government’s constant deluge of anti-Palestinian actions and rhetoric. It broke off security coordination with Israel after the deadly Nablus raid in February, only to reinstate it shortly thereafter. Palestine and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, now 88, is widely seen as unfit for office but has a coterie of Israel- and United States-approved aides who keep the status quo running.
Following the second intifada, the PA integrated senior al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade members into its formal security apparatus as part of a disarmament and demobilization program, allowing the group to maintain some control on the street level. However, the PA’s security forces seem unable to control violence on the ground any longer—and are finding themselves bystanders to a new conflict raging before their eyes.
There have been spikes in violence across the West Bank since the second intifada. The difference today is that the new armed groups have blurred the lines of Palestinian politics’ traditional factionalism by working across longtime divides. Newer militias such as the Lions’ Den, for example, comprise men who are affiliated with Hamas, Fatah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The militias linked to these factions used to act independently to claim credit for military operations and gain credibility with the Palestinian public.
The shooter who killed two Israeli settlers on Huwara’s main road in February was a Hamas member from Nablus. But he chose to hide out in the Jenin refugee camp, where he was sheltered by fighters from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
This fluidity has proved frustrating for Israel, as it makes it more difficult for its military to strike preemptively. “When armed groups are proliferating and when it comes to the fact that they … do not have a clear political platform, that’s a problem for Israel because [Israel] always want[s] to have an address,” said Mairav Zonszein, a senior analyst on Israel and Palestine with the International Crisis Group. “[Israel] want[s] to know who to blame, who is responsible.”
Many Palestinians now see traditional political factions as a burden, either because they view them as ineffective or because they are active participants in—and beneficiaries of—political divisions upheld by Israeli and U.S. political interests.
According to a recent opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a growing percentage of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza—58 percent—support a return to armed confrontations and intifada against Israel. With Israel’s lurch to the right, increasing deadly Israeli raids on Palestinian population centers, and the absence of a political solution to the occupation, Palestinians are looking for alternatives to the “wait and see” status quo upheld by the PA.
In the same survey, more than 70 percent of West Bank Palestinians said they supported the first Huwara shooting attack that left two Israeli settlers dead, while two-thirds supported forming new armed groups that do not take orders from the PA, such as the Jenin Battalion or the Lions’ Den. Support for these new, independent groups is seen as an outgrowth of the Palestinian public’s growing mistrust of the PA and hopelessness about the prospect of a political solution to the occupation.
“Public support for armed resistance is further confirmed by overwhelming opposition to the Palestinian participation in the Aqaba meeting,” the poll’s authors wrote. “A large majority, standing at 70 [percent], think Israeli counter measures, which are meant to punish those who commit armed attacks or their families, such as home demolitions, expulsion, or the imposition of the death penalty, will only lead to an increase in the intensity of such attacks.”
Israel’s attempts to clamp down on the new armed groups seem to have bolstered the groups’ popularity among Palestinians even further. Despite their relatively modest means, the militias have already secured the trust of the Palestinian street. In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have responded to militias’ calls for protests in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip—and even in the Palestinian refugee camps of Lebanon. When the groups independently called for full-scale commercial closures in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Ramallah, people complied—undermining the PA by positioning it as corrupt and weak.
The violence in the West Bank seems unlikely to abate, as Israeli raids on Palestinian cities continue and Palestinian casualty numbers rise. Israeli settlers continue to commit violent rampages against Palestinians with impunity, emboldened by their new political leadership. The fact that the PA is unable to protect its own citizens but collaborates with Israel on security has effectively evaporated what little respect and trust it still enjoyed.
“Israel is aware of the crisis in the PA, and it would obviously prefer not to have to do all those raids, but it’s an endless cycle in which it does so and the PA loses even more legitimacy,” Zonszein said. “None of these armed groups are listening to the PA anyway.”
The crisis was the lead story on the evening news broadcast at Lebanon’s al-Manar, which also published an article on it’s website with a caption reading that “complete paralysis” had afflicted the “enemy” due to yesterday’s general strike. The station is operated by Hezbollah. Crowing last month that the Israeli strikes would disintegrate into civil war, leader of the Iran-backed terror group, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, proclaimed, “God willing, it will not reach its 80th birthday.”
Israeli Independence Day will be celebrated this year on 26 April according to the Hebrew calendar.
“As an Arab citizen I think that this is the beginning of the end of Israel, God willing,” said Jordanian national Qusai al-Qaisi, whose country signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. “I’m really happy that this is happening there,” he added.
In Syria, Mohammad Abdullatif, 39, said, “What’s happening is definitely, for any Arab, good news.”
“We hope it doesn’t settle any time soon, and we hope it escalates and gets worse,” commented political analyst Talal Okal in the Islamist Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Another Gazan, Nael Meqdad, 43, said, “The division is of their own making and now it is hunting them down.”
In Egypt, the first of Arab countries to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, pensioner Hakem Sherif blasted the Jewish State as illegitimate and echoed criticism of Israeli policies toward Palestinians. He nevertheless went on to express respect for Israeli democracy, saying, “Citizens have a space to express their opinions, they don’t randomly arrest or carry out violent dispersal of protests.”
Story by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi. TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi. When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults. The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said. “In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said. This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday. Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director. “A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault. Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added. Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage. “It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi. The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added. “You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said. Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents. Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.” “I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said. Training concluded Thursday.
The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, condemned Sunday, March 26 2023 the Israeli occupation forces’ attack on the Palestinian worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Abdellatif Al-Qanoo’, a Hamas spokesman, said, “Israeli occupation forces’ storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and expelling the worshipers are a dangerous escalation, and the Israeli occupation bears the consequences. ”
He called on the Palestinian people to increase their existence in the courtyards of the Al-Aqsa mosque.
Today’s midnight, Israeli occupation forces stormed the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and expelled the Palestinian worshipers from its prayer halls.
Ramadan will officially begin on March 23, 2023 and end on April 21, 2023. Given the current tension in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem and the events of past years, Palestinian sources, especially in the Hamas leadership, reiterate that the situation is unstable and likely to deteriorate sharply. They threaten escalation and worse if Israel continues its “activities against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque,” for them the red line which could ignite the region. Marwan Issa, the deputy head of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, gave a rare interview where he claimed that any change in the status quo of al-Aqsa would cause “a regional earthquake.” The security prisoners in Israeli jails also claimed they would go on hunger strikes throughout the month.
International and Arab efforts are being made behind the scenes to prevent escalation and increased tension during Ramadan. Two security summit meetings were held, one in February 2023 in Aqaba and the other in March in Sharm el-Sheikh, where representatives from Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), the United States, Egypt and Jordan tried to reach understandings and reduce tensions. In the meantime, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced measures to ease the Palestinians’ lives during the month. The police in Jerusalem will increase their forces, especially in the eastern part of the city and the holy sites.
In recent years Ramadan has become a time for rising tension and an increase in violent clashes between the Palestinians and the Israeli security forces. The violence spread to the Gaza Strip and, after Operation Breaking Dawn in May 2021, caused Hamas, which regards itself as the “defender of the holy sites,” to predicate a “new equation:” any activity they choose to interpret as an attempt to “attack” east Jerusalem and al-Aqsa will be met with escalation in the south and rocket fire into Israel.
Statements from Hamas spokesmen and especially from Marwan Issa are essentially strategic messages from the Hamas military-terrorist hierarchy and may indicate Hamas’ intentions for the coming month. They are also a message meant to inform Israel that any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount or an increase in the presence of Jews or Jewish prayers will be met with a “response.” However, most of the spokesmen, including Marwan Issa, note that the ball is in Israel’s court, and if Israel does not cross what they have defined as their red lines, Hamas will not be “forced” to respond and for the time being will leave the battle to the terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
The Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem decorated for Ramadan (Shehab Twitter account, March 14, 2023; Wafa, March 21, 2023)
On March 23, 2023, Ramadan will officially begin and will end on April 21, 2023. Given the current tension in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, Palestinian sources have reiterated that the situation is unstable and likely to deteriorate sharply. They threaten escalation and worse if Israel continues its activities against the Palestinians and al-Aqsa mosque, for them the red line which could ignite the region.
In the meantime, the media office of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails announced that the leaders of the Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) prisoners would begin a hunger strike on the first day of Ramadan. The office also called on the Palestinian public to participate in protest marches in the various cities. According to reports, six prisoners representing the Palestinian organizations have already begun the hunger strike and are supposed to be joined by 2,000 more (prisoners’ media office Telegram channel, March 21, 2023). The announcement was disseminated by the Palestinian organizations’ media.
Statements from Hamas leaders
For some time the Hamas leadership has been warning that given the current situation on the ground they expect an “explosion” during Ramadan and that their patience is running out. The threats come in the wake the recent terrorist attacks, which they supported, praised, and celebrated, and Israeli threats of counterterrorism activities in Judea and Samaria. However, Hamas spokesmen claim escalation will only occur if Israel changes the status quo (“crosses the red lines”) in Jerusalem, and for the time being they leave confrontations to the terrorists in Judea and Samaria.
A particularly important statement was made by Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, who does not often appear in public. Interviewed by Hamas’ al-Aqsa TV, he said that the political program in Judea and Samaria had come to an end because Israel had destroyed the Oslo Accords, and promised that “the coming days will be full of events.” He warned that any change in the status quo of al-Aqsa would lead to a “regional earthquake.”However, he claimed, they would give an opportunity to the “resistance” [anti-Israeli terrorist activities] in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, since at this point in time those were the locations for action with strategic influence. He claimed giving the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria an opportunity did not mean Hamas was abandoning them or that the Gaza Strip would be silent. He claimed they would defend the Palestinians with all their forces should the need for intervention arise. He added that the Palestinians’ “spirit of martyrdom [for the sake of Allah]” in Judea and Samaria was unprecedented, and that the Palestinians and their “struggle” in Judea and Samaria were in excellent condition. They had a high level of awareness for the “resistance project” and national unity for dealing with Israel. He also claimed “resistance activity” in all “Palestine” was necessary and had to be supported materially, and its morale and media also needed support to keep the Palestinians from having to “struggle” alone. He added that in the meantime the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades [Hamas’ military-terrorist wing] would increase its strength and construct a “resistance strategy” (Safa, March 15, 2023).
Blurred picture of Marwan Issa attached to statements made to al-Aqsa TV (Hamas website, March 15, 2023)
Other statements were the following:
Khaled Mashaal, chairman of the Hamas leadership abroad, said the Palestinians were going to “escalate” during Ramadan and the days in the shadow of Israel’s aggression would be intense. He claimed the Palestinians understood they could not restore their homeland by any means except “resistance.” He called on the Palestinians to unite as the “resistance” had already united in Nablus, Jenin and Gaza (Shehab, March 4, 2023).
Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, who directs Hamas activities in Judea and Samaria, said in an interview that the “resistance” in Judea and Samaria would continue because they had no other option, and Israel had to know that the future “would be more difficult.” He said Hamas closely monitored Israel’s activities in Jerusalem, and its attempts to exploit Ramadan to enforce its polices and allow the settlers to hold religious ceremonies would be met with a Palestinian response (Hamas website, March 14, 2023). On a later occasion, during a ceremony in Gaza City to launch a book about Amad Aqal, a former Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades commander, al-‘Arouri gave a speech in which he called on every armed Palestinian to use his gun in clashes with Israel, the settlers and Israel’s security forces (Hamas website, March 20, 2023). He made no specific mention of Ramadan.
Saleh al-‘Arouri (Hamas website, March 20, 2023)
Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, claimed they were in an ongoing confrontation with “the occupation” and might begin a new battle during Ramadan. He said the “resistance” was improving its organized activity against the “occupation” in various locations, among them Nablus, Jenin and Jericho. He added that while the PA was “unpatriotic,” Hamas would not condemn its security services because they were part of the Palestinian people’s “resistance” (al-Aqsa TV Telegram channel, March 19, 2023).
Muhammad Hamada, Hamas spokesman for Jerusalem affairs, interviewed by al-Aqsa TV, said Israel was worried about everything related to Ramadan, and that the area in front of the Western Wall was one of the most sensitive and dangerous sites for Israel. He said the Palestinian people would now allow the “occupation” to attack al-Aqsa, and aggression against it would be a ticking time-bomb. He claimed Israel was pushing for a religious war against al-Aqsa and Jerusalem, and was delusional if it thought aggression against al-Aqsa would not have a price [sic] (al-Aqsa TV Telegram channel, March 18, 2023).
Muhammad Hamada interview on al-Aqsa TV (al-Aqsa TV Facebook page, March 18, 2023)
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem claimed an increase in Israel’s aggressive activities against al-Aqsa, particularly during Ramadan, was liable to open the door to a dangerous escalation. He added that al-Aqsa was a place of great sanctity, and any attack on its worshippers or its holy nature would ignite the entire region. He also said Marwan Issa’s statement that any attempt to divide al-Aqsa [i.e., the times of prayers] would be met with an “unprecedented reaction” from the “resistance” (sabaq24, March 16, 2023). Hamas also organized a march in Khan Yunis in support of al-Aqsa, Judea and Samaria and the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. During the march he warned Israel not to engage in dangerous escalation in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem during Ramadan. He said Israel was playing with a burning fuse, noting the “equation” [attack in response to “attack”] determined by Hamas during Operation Guardian of the Walls was still in place (Hamas website, March 17, 2023).
Hazem Qassem speaking during a march in Khan Yunis (Hamas website, March 17, 2023)
Political commentary on Marwan Issa’s statements
Palestinian political commentators discussed Marwan Issa’s interview, most of them regarding it as a call for escalation or even confrontation in the Gaza Strip during Ramadan. The more prominent were the following:
Husam al-Dajani, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said Marwan Issa’s statements had reflected the regional political situation, and that the situation was “explosive.” He said they were a message for the mediators, because if they did not restrain Ben-Gvir and Netanyahu there would be an upheaval, especially in the Gaza Strip. However, in his opinion the existing tense atmosphere in the Gaza Strip would not allow for a confrontation during Ramadan (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
Iyad al-Qara, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said the statements made by Saleh al-‘Arouri and Marwan Issa were a warning to Israel regarding Judea and Samaria and the situation in the Gaza Strip in general and al-Aqsa in particular (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
Taysir Muheisen, a political columnist and commentator from Gaza, said Marwan Issa’s statements had come at a very important time because they had been made close to Ramadan, and might lead the Palestinians to a confrontation with Israel (Dunia al-Watan, March 15, 2023).
Mustafa al-Sawaf, a Hamas-affiliated political commentator, said Marwan Issa’s statements indicated they were on the brink of an extensive, comprehensive confrontation. He claimed the statements were meant to inform Israel that any damage done to al-Aqsa was a red line that would ignite the region and turn it into an earthquake [sic] (Shehab, March 15, 2023).
 Amad Aqal was the commander of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. He died in a targeted killing in November 1993 after he had been pursued by the Israeli security forces for two years, during which he carried out a series of shooting attacks against IDF soldiers. ↑
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket toward southern Israel Saturday evening.
The rocket fell and exploded in an open area, triggering warning sirens in the Nahal Oz community to the east of Gaza City.
There were no reports of casualties or damage. The Israeli military usually responds to such rocket fire with airstrikes in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, raising the possibility of further violence just ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The rocket attack comes a day before Israeli and Palestinian officials are set to meet in Egypt in a U.S.-backed effort to defuse violence that has soared especially in the West Bank and east Jerusalem for nearly a year.
The meeting in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh is a follow-up to last month’s meeting in Jordan for the same purpose. However, deadly Israeli raids in the West Bank and Palestinian attacks continued since the Feb. 26 meeting in Aqaba. Twenty-three Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in the ongoing bloodshed since then.
Since the start of this year, 85 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed 14 people in the same period.
According to an Associated Press tally, about half of the Palestinians killed this year were affiliated with militant groups. Israel says most of the dead were militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions, some in their early teens, and others not involved in confrontations, including three men over 60, have also been killed.
Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those areas since 2004, according to the leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem. Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that same time killed 30 people.
Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for their future independent state.
Amir Abu Khadijeh, 25, was shot in the head in the city of Tulkarem, says the Palestinian health ministry.
Published On 23 Mar 202323 Mar 2023
Israeli forces have killed a Palestinian man during a raid in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials and the Israeli police said, as Israeli incursions into the territory show no signs of letting up during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The Palestinian health ministry said 25-year-old Amir Abu Khadijeh was shot in the head in the city of Tulkarem on Thursday. Large crowds took to the streets to protest Abu Khadijeh’s killing when his body reached hospital, Palestinian media outlets reported.
A statement from the Israeli border police said its undercover unit was involved in a raid in the early hours of Thursday to arrest a Palestinian man it suspected of involvement in several shooting attacks. The forces surrounded the house he was in and fired at the man after he aimed a weapon at them, the border police claimed.
The Tulkarem Brigade, one of several new armed groups to emerge in the West Bank over the past year, said Abu Khadijeh was one of its founders and described the killing as an “assassination”.
An activist from the Palestinian Fatah movement, Murad Droubi, told local media that Israeli forces stormed Shufa, an area in Tulkarem, and closed off its main entrance to vehicles and residents, before surrounding the house where Abu Khadija was hiding.
Israeli forces also arrested the owner of the flat where Abu Khadijeh was killed, according to Palestinian media.
Thursday marked the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Palestinian territories.
In previous years, Ramadan has seen Israeli police attack Palestinians gathered around Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site. Ramadan coincides this year with Judaism’s Passover and Christian Easter.
Raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli security forces during Ramadan heightened tensions further and, four days later, an 11-day Israeli assault on Gaza began, ostensibly in response to rockets fired by Hamas towards Israel.
Over the past year, Israeli forces have killed more than 250 Palestinians in the West Bank, including fighters and civilians. More than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have died in Palestinian attacks in the same period.
An Israeli man shot by a Palestinian militant in a Tel Aviv attack earlier this month has died of his wounds, the hospital treating him said Monday.
He is the latest victim in worsening Israeli-Palestinian violence which has now claimed 101 lives this year.
Ichilov hospital announced “the death of Or Eshkar, who was critically wounded in the attack on Dizengoff Street,” a statement from the hospital said.
Eshkar, 32, was one of three Israelis shot by Mutaz Khawaja, 23, a member of the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas, who opened fire outside a restaurant in the centre of Tel Aviv on March 9.
Security forces shot Khawaja dead at the scene.
One of the other Israeli men wounded in the attack remains hospitalised at Ichilov in serious condition, while the other has been released to his home, an Ichilov spokesman told AFP.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 86 Palestinian adults and children this year, including militants and civilians.
Fourteen Israeli adults and children, including members of the security forces and civilians, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides
Israel, too, is seriously preparing for a scenario exceeding in scope the military conflict with Gaza in May 2021.
(March 19, 2023 / JNS) Sometime on March 11 or 12, a terrorist infiltrated in Israel from Lebanon, and planted a sophisticated bomb near the Megiddo Junction, some 37 miles south of the Israel-Lebanon border. The bomb detonated on March 13, seriously wounding Israeli Arab Shareef ad-Din, 21, as he drove along Highway 65.
The incident marks major intelligence and operational failures on the part of the Israel Defense Forces. The political echelon should have ordered a military response; its failure to do so further erodes Israel’s deterrence.
It is believed that the terrorist was a Palestinian member of Hamas in southern Lebanon who was trained by Hezbollah to operate the shaped charge. Hamas recruits in the Tyre and Sidon refugee camps.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah knew about and approved the joint operation with Hamas, which left no fingerprints and for which neither organizations has taken responsibility.
According to intelligence data from various sources, Israeli security officials believe that in the runup to Ramadan there will be an unprecedented conflict with the Palestinian terrorist factions on several fronts, that may deteriorate into a military conflict more acute than the conflict in the Gaza Strip in May 2021.
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Saleh al-Arouri, the vice chairman of the Hamas movement and head of its military wing in the West Bank, the man who coordinates in Beirut the activity with Hezbollah, said in an interview by the official Hamas website on March 14, 2023, that the events to come will be very difficult for the “occupation and its settlers.” The “resistance” in the West Bank is in a state of escalation, and it is diversifying its weapons.
Marwan Issa, the shadowy deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip, hinted at the possibility of massive rocket fire from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. He told the Al-Aqsa channel on March 15, 2023, that the “political project in the West Bank has ended; the enemy brought the Oslo Accords to an end; and the coming days will be eventful.”
Issa continued: A political solution in the West Bank “is a thing of the past…. Any escalation in the Al-Aqsa Mosque area will result in a reaction in the Gaza Strip; Hamas in Gaza will not [just] be an observer to events in Jerusalem.”
“The desire to commit suicide among the [Muslim] residents of the West Bank is unprecedented, and the state of resistance in the West Bank is excellent. So is the state of national unity in the face of the occupation,” the Hamas official claimed.
A spokesman for the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad threatened Israel with a new intifada and an unprecedented conflict.
The terrorist cells are showing an increased use of explosive devices in Judea and Samaria, and are attempting to activate them within Israel proper as well. The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) has recently foiled several attempted bombings by Palestinians from Judea and Samaria who were recruited by Hamas from the Gaza Strip through social networks.
According to Hamas officials, the attack on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv on March 9, 2023 marks the organization’s decision to resume attacks within the Green Line.
According to security sources, Hezbollah Secretary-General Nasrallah increased his coordination meetings in Beirut’s al-Dahiya neighborhood with PIJ secretary general Ziad al-Nakhala and Hamas military chief Saleh al-Arouri, toward the beginning of Ramadan. An agreement was reportedly reached between Hezbollah, Hamas, PIJ00 and the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to step up terrorist activities in the coming days.
Nasrallah said last week that Israel would collapse even before it marks the 80th year of its founding. The internal dispute in Israel and the wave of protests over the government’s judicial reform have increased the feeling among the terrorist organizations that Israel is on the verge of disintegration and that this is the time to increase the pressure.
Despite the hoopla at the time, the agreement regarding the division of Lebanon’s economic territorial waters designed by the United States, signed on October 27, 2022, did not reduce Hezbollah’s motivation for terrorism against Israel. Moreover, it allows Hamas to strengthen its military infrastructure in southern Lebanon and in the refugee camps in Tyre and Sidon.
According to security officials in Israel, behind all this malevolent activity is Iran, which in the past year has smuggled arms and funds through Jordan to the northern West Bank into the hands of the terrorist organizations.
The axis of resistance led by Iran is preparing for a major escalation in the month of Ramadan. Israel is also seriously preparing for a scenario that may be bigger than the military conflict that took place in May 2021.
Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israeli radio and television, is a senior Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.