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.
On Saturday July 14th, Israeli Security Forces (ISF) launched its most severe airstrike campaign against the Gaza Strip since the war of 2014 (i.e. Operation Protective Edge) after militants allegedly fired over 200 rockets and other projectiles towards Israeli controlled areas. Sirens reportedly went off in southern parts of Israel, including Sha’ar HaNegev, Sdot Negev, Hof Ashkelon and Eshkol Regional Councils. As such, due to a high state of tensions, Israeli authorities closed public beaches and restricted gatherings of large groups in those areas.
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.
On April 17th 2017, about 1500 Palestinian prisoners started an open-ended hunger strike, while the Israeli Prison Service conscated the belongings of all prisoners on hunger strike including clothes, electronic devices, and salt which is essential to prisoners on hunger strike as it raises the blood pressure, prevents their stomachs from rotting and helps keep them balanced.
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.
One of the most debated scenarios relating to potential security complications in the Palestinian and Israeli controlled areas is the rise of the so-called “Salaﬁ Jihadists”. This phenomenon has become especially signiﬁcant given the vacuum in leadership within the Palestinian political arena. A salaﬁsts movement is an approach to Political Islam, it was ﬁrst developed by Imam Hanbal, and involves a new interpretation and understanding of Islamic teachings based on the principles articulated by the Prophet Mohammed and his companions.