The IDF today [only a small part of its activity]

Today, we were advised that the IDF has in recent months broken up a major Islamic Jihad operation in the northern West Bank. Haaretz reported here that:

    “In a joint operation between the IDF and the Shin Bet, 10 Islamic Jihad militants were arrested near Jenin in recent months. According to the investigation, the military headquarters of the cell was communicating with the Islamic Jihad in Syria, who transferred the cell large sums of money to purchase weapons and to fund other operations”.


So, we read a bit further down in this Haaretz article, and we learn that:

    “According to the Shin Bet, the terror cell was planning attacks on IDF soldiers, shooting attacks in the settlements, and abducting Israelis. During the investigation, Israeli security forces seized a kilogram of potassium which could be used to make bombs, a Kalashnikov gun and a magazine, some 150 bullets, and NIS 2,050 [about $540 at the current rate of exchange] that the Shin Bet said was intended for terror operations

Many of the comments on the Haaretz website were scathing…

Also today, it was announced in the evening that the IDF had again arrested Aziz Dweik.

Today [19 January], Dweik was arrested by the IDF at the Jaba’a Checkpoint.

    UPDATE: On Sunday [22 January] the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, based in Gaza, has reported that:
    “According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 20:30 on Thursday, 19 January 2012, as Dr. Aziz Salem Murtada Dwaik, 63, Speaker of the PLC, was on his way from his work in Ramallah back to his house in Hebron. Israeli soldiers stationed at Jaba’ checkpoint, northeast of occupied Jerusalem, stopped the car in which he was traveling together with his driver, the director of his office.  Israeli soldiers forced the three to step down from the car and seized their ID cards.  Approximately 10 minutes later, Israeli soldiers informed Dr. Dwaik that he was being detained, and ordered his driver and the director of his office to leave the area.  Israeli soldiers were seen handcuffing and blindfolding Dr. Dwaik and forcing him to get into a military jeep that traveled away from the area.  This morning, it was revealed that Dr. Dwaik was taken to Ofar detention facility, southwest of Ramallah.

We have written previously about the Jaba’a Checkpoint. One of the best sources on this checkpoint, who has often informed our reporting, is Tamar Fleishman, a veteran volunteer from the Israeli womens’ human rights organization, Machsom Watch [checkpoint watch].

In one of Tamar Fleishman’s latest reports, published here, she reports:

    “Jaba checkpoint is a great example of the deep connection between the infliction of the checkpoint regime in the West Bank on the Palestinian population, and the effort to satisfy the settlers’ needs and caprices. Jaba checkpoint lies on the road leading from Qalandiya to Ramallah, it merges with road number 60 which is the main road running along the length of the West Bank. Unlike the tens of checkpoints that are scattered around the Bank, never has the existence of this checkpoint been ascribed an ideological reasoning. While the other checkpoints detain vehicles heading towards towns populated with Jewish communities, Jaba checkpoint is the opposite: the checkpoint faces settlements in the depth of Palestine, ignoring those driving from Qalandiya/Ramallah, and the inspections preformed are to identify the nationality of the passengers, so as [supposedly] to protect Jews by preventing them from heading on – the original reason was that some settlers which had arrived at the entrance of Qalandiya refugee camp were stoned. In order to give this prohibition validity, a special decree (Zav Aluf) signed by the commander in charge of the Central Command, Yaeir Nave, had been issued in 2006. The procedure was called “regulatory selection” and as the commander of the checkpoint explained: ‘during the regulatory selection we stop the car, check whether it’s a Jew or and Arab, if it’s a Jew – check to see if he is disoriented and warn him from heading on to Ramallah’. When I mentioned the bad historic connotation of the expression, he laconically replied: ‘the army has enough to deal with. It can’t be bothered with every single word…’ And so, in attempt to protect wondering settlers, the checkpoint is manned by six soldiers during all hours of the day and year”

UPDATE: Dweik is still under detention several days later [as of this writing, on Saturday 21 September]… Maan News Agency reported from Gaza that:

    “Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday called on the PLO to suspend talks with Israel until PLC speaker Aziz Dweik is released. ‘A Palestinian should not shake the hand of his enemy, the enemy who arrests the symbols of Palestinian legitimacy’. Haniyeh said after Friday prayers in Gaza City. ‘This is the minimal response to the detention of Dweik and all lawmakers until they’re freed’ … Haniyeh called for a parliamentary session to be held in February to respond to the detentions. He said ‘futile and unsuccessful’ negotiations with Israel must stop. PLO officials have held three meetings with Israeli envoys in Amman in January [n.b. between 3-14 January] for ‘exploratory talks’ to try and restart full negotiations. [n.b. – a fourth meeting is scheduled in Amman on 25 January, a day ahead of the Quartet deadline for both sides to present their plans for a two-state solution, but the U.S. State Dept said recently that this date was not rigidly firm…] PLC deputy speaker Ahmad Bahar echoed the call, telling reporters on Friday that President Mahmoud Abbas must declare ‘an immediate stop to the negotiations in Amman in respect of our people and in respect of the parliament and its head’. Bahar said Israel detained Dweik to try and thwart reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and to prevent Palestinian elections”. This is posted here.

The same Maan report added that:

    “On Friday, Israeli soldiers detained MP Khaled Ibrahim Tafesh, 50, [n.b. also affiliated with Hamas] from his home in Bethlehem and confiscated his computer and mobile phone”. The detentions raise the number of Palestinian parliamentarians in Israeli jails to 25, according to figures from prisoner rights group Addameer”.

[n.b. – The Palestinian Center This is fewer Hamas MPs in Israeli jails now than in 2009, but Hamas has complained that over 80 of its members or supporters were arrested by the Palestinian Authority in 2011…]

UPDATE TWO: Now, the PFLP has endorsed the Hamas demands concerning Dweik’s detention. A second Maan News Agency story from Gaza on Saturday 21 January reported that:

    “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said Saturday that the best response to Israel’s arrest of the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council is to hold a council session. Israeli forces on Thursday detained Hamas-affiliated parliament speaker Aziz Dweik at a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, and hours later seized another MP in Bethlehem. ‘In addition to denouncing the detention of Dweik, the Palestinian Authority along with all national and popular organizations must exert efforts at all levels to free Dr. Dweik, and to hold a PLC session’, senior PFLP leader Jamil Majdalawi said”. This report is posted here.

FURTHER UPDATE: Ma’an reported from Ramallah on Sunday 22 January, here, that Dweik “will appear before an Israeli military court Sunday, his lawyer Fadi Qawasmi told reporters. Qawasmi said he demanded Dweik’s immediate release. He was told Dweik was being interrogated by Israeli intelligence but a hearing would be held to discuss the request”.


CORRECTION + UPDATE – with apologies: I note that in an earlier version of this post, I inadvertently confused Aziz Dweik, who was elected to the Palestine Legislative Council [PLC] on a Hamas-affiliated ticket in 2006, with Mohammad Abu Tir, a resident of East Jerusalem who was also elected to the PLC on a Hamas-affiliated ticket in 2006…

[Abu Tir was jailed by Israel for four years, after the January 2006 elections. A few weeks after his release from Israeli jail at the end of his sentence, Dweik was rearrested, and ordered to leave his home in East Jerusalem — on the grounds that he had been elected to the legislature of a “foreign entity”. As a resident of East Jerusalem, with the status of permanent resident of Israel, Dweik had the right to appeal to an Israeli court. As his appeal was being processed, Dweik was taken to Qalandia Checkpoint in 2011 and “expelled/deported” to the West Bank — though it is not a separate country. More than that, parts of what Israel unilaterally proclaimed in 1967 as its expanded “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” lies on the other [= Ramallah/West Bank] side of the infamous Qalandia Checkpoint. Abu Tir rented temporary accomodation in one of those areas — Qufr Aqab, still technically, and administratively part of Israel’s “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”, though it is on the Ramallah side of the checkpoint. He was arrested by the IDF in Qufr Aqab several months ago [for what is unclear, and it is not clear when he was released…].

Like Abu Tir, Dweik was also imprisoned after the 2006 elections. Reuters reported later, in a post by Julian Rake on its correspondents’ AxisMundi blog, that “Aziz Dweik was the speaker of the Hamas-led Palestinian parliament until his arrest and imprisonment by Israel 3 years ago. He was one of dozens of Hamas lawmakers rounded up across the occupied West Bank in the summer of 2006 after gunmen from Hamas and other militants from Gaza abducted an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in a cross-border raid [n.b. – that took place at the end of June 2006, in response to which Israel knocked out the Gaza’s Strip only electrical power plant]. Dweik [whose home town is Hebron] was released earlier this week after serving nearly the full term of his prison sentence”. This is reported in late June 2009 here.

Wikipedia notes that Dweik “was imprisoned in Israel on 6 August 2006 on charges of being a member of Hamas, but he was released on 22 June 2009. Some Palestinians consider Duwaik, as speaker of the PLC, to be the acting President of the Palestinian National Authority, since [some people believe that] the elected term of Mahmoud Abbas officially expired on 9 January 2009”. This is posted here.

Upon his release from Israeli jail in late June 2009, Reuters published an interview with Dweik — and identifying him as a “U.S.-educated university professor” — that is posted here.

A separate story on the Reuters newswire reported that Dweik was released a couple of months early [in late June 2009] after serving nearly his full sentence of three years in Israeli jail,

    “…after the Israeli prosecutors failed to persuade a military court last week to extend his prison term, which was set to end in August. Israel detained Dweik, 60, and dozens of other Hamas politicians in the occupied West Bank in 2006 shortly after gunmen from the Palestinian Islamist group and other militants abducted an Israeli soldier on the Gaza Strip border. The dragnet paralysed the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), which had been dominated by Hamas since it beat President Mahmoud Abbas’s Western-backed, secular Fatah faction in a parliamentary election earlier that year… Hamas said 34 of its lawmakers were still in Israeli custody … Abbas’s forces, keen to prove their law-and-order mettle to international peace mediators, have since cracked down on Hamas in the West Bank. Fatah activists in Gaza have been the target of Hamas round-ups. ‘I call for the release of all (political) prisoners in Gaza and the West Bank,” Dweik said’… During his imprisonment, Dweik was taken several times to a hospital in Israel, suffering from blood pressure and diabetes. “ This report was posted here.

LATER UPDATE: Some 4.5 years on, the release of all [political] prisoners in Gaza and the West Bank is still being negotiated as part of the reconciliation talks between the Palestinian authorities in Ramallah and Hamas. This was promised [by Munib Masri] for the end of December, and more recently, by a Hamas official, for 15 January — but both deadlines have come and gone… Ma’an News Agency reported on Sunday 22 January that Egypt “intends to intervene in the implementation of a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, the country’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority said Sunday. Yasser Othman told Ma’an that Egypt ‘intends to take its intervention to the top leaders level because that will be the best way to overcome obstacles and problems facing the reconciliation sub-committees’. He added that the sub-committees’ performance has not met expectations, as no major achievements have been made. Thus, all parties will be invited to convene in Cairo in February to try and overcome those obstacles, the ambassador said”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *