On March 30th 2019, tens of thousands of Palestinian protesters engaged in a mass protest and gathered along the Israel-Gaza border to mark the one-year anniversary of the weekly weekend demonstrations. The Great March of Return protests started on March 30th last year calling for the Palestinians’ right of return to their lands, from which their families were violently expelled in 1948, and for the end of the 12-year Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Last Sunday, Nov 11, 2018, an undercover Israeli unit involved in a covert operation was intercepted by Hamas members in Gaza. This incident triggered deadly clashes that left seven Palestinians and one ISF agent dead. This later evolved into a firefight in which Hamas fired more than 400 rockets and mortars towards Israel in 48 hours and the Israeli military fired around 160 airstrikes targeting several areas within the Gaza Strip.
Mohamed Hamdan, also known as Abu Hamza, was targeted on Sun. 14th of January in a car bomb in the city of Sidon, southern Lebanon. According to reports, M. Hamdan survived the blast but was wounded in the attack, which required the amputation of his leg. Security sources and news channels claim that an explosive device weighing between 400g and 500g was placed under the seat of his car and was detonated as M. Hamdan was entering his vehicle.
Gaza’s sole power plant was shut-down on April 17th, as the fuel reserves were consumed. Debates are still ongoing between PA and Hamas on fuel tax exemption and revenue collection from electricity consumers. According to the ICRC, Gaza is on the verge of a “systemic collapse”.
The Palestinian Authority has been paying the Israeli Authorities to supply Gaza with electricity until April in which the PA declared payments will stop, while in May, the Israeli Authorities reduced the electricity provided to Gaza.
Tension and security situation that started in late 2015 continued throughout 2016. The Palestinian uprising that started in October 2015 was mainly characterized by lone-wolf attacks carried out by individuals non-aligned with Palestinian factions. Over 60% of attacks reported were conducted by individual Palestinians not backed by political parties, 23% belonged to a specific party but conducted individually without an order or coordination from the party’s leadership, and less than 17% of the attacks were carried out by individuals who were backed by a specific party.
Tension that started in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in mid-September 2015, intensified in October and was portrayed by pervasive clashes with ISF, along with almost daily attacks on Israelis. As the graph indicates, in comparison with October 2016, Palestinian death toll was significantly higher in October 2015. 64 Palestinians were killed, while in 2016, 9 Palestinians were killed. The Israeli death toll in 2015 was also higher as 10 Israelis were killed as opposed to 3 in 2016.
Assessment of Recent Security Developments in Palestine
After the latest wave of violence witnessed in Nablus, on August 18th, between PA security forces and unknown gunmen resulted in the death of two PA security members and two Palestinian gunmen, it has become essential to evaluate the issue of lawlessness and its effects on the Palestinian community, and the overall security situation.