After cease-fire in Gaza, IDF says it arrests senior Hamas + Islamic Jihad people in the West Bank

After last night’s cease-fire in Gaza, the IDF says it has now arrested — “in cooperation with the ISA [Israel Security Agency], Israel Police and the Israel Border Police” — some 55 people said to be affiliated Hamas + Islamic Jihad, from the north to the south of the West Bank.

According to the IDF announcement, they include “a number of senior level operatives” — but the IDF published no names.

The official IDF explanation is: it will “to restore calm”.  In the past eight days, there has been unrest and protest demonstrations around the West Bank against the IDF Operation Pillar of Clouds against Gaza, and at least 62 protesters against Operation Pillar of Clouds were detained by the IDF during the operation in Gaza.

However, almost none of these protests are organized by Hamas or Islamic Jihad, who take a quite low-key profile in the West Bank. Nor is it Hamas or Islamic Jihad who send young men out to throw stones whenever they see jeeps of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank.

Hamas officials have regularly been arrested ever since their electoral victory in 2006 Legislative Council elections. Islamic Jihad activities were “prohibited” in the occupied Palestinian territory by a decree of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on 6 October 2010.

Until last night, most of the West Bank unrest has been due to protests led by a combination of the popular committees and the younger anti-Oslo Accords, anti-PA, anti-Abbas protesters who came together last year in support of Egypt’s Tahrir Square revolution. One of their main platforms is the call for a revival of, and world-wide Palestinian elections to, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Palestine National Council [PNC]. .

Hamas is not yet a member of the PLO, despite an agreement in Cairo in 2005 that this would happen.

What prevented Hamas’ joining the PLO was a tough position by Fateh “unity” negotiators against Hamas getting an allocated percentage of seats in the PNC proportional to the more-than-60% seats it won in the local Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006 elections. The Fateh negotiators were firm that Hamas did not deserve more than 20-25% of the seats in the PNC, which the Fateh negotiators insisted was the true strength of Hamas.

Those who were arrested this week, until last night, were the younger more secular crowd.

Addameer, a prisoners support group based in Ramallah, Tweeted this: @Addameer_ps – There has been a spike in arrests across the West Bank since the Occupation attacked #Gaza last week.

Continue reading After cease-fire in Gaza, IDF says it arrests senior Hamas + Islamic Jihad people in the West Bank

Meanwhile, Gaza's agony sharpens and deepens – UPDATED

What is the worth, the value, of assigning blame here? It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t stop anything.

This weekend, Hamas went crazy, and Israel too.

There. Now, what?

It’s simply no longer possible to say who went crazy first, or who went crazy more. This discussion is sickening.

Israel attacked and killed people in Gaza on Friday. It announced on Sunday that one of the dead included a senior Hamas commander.

This is perhaps the explanation for why Hamas went crazy on Saturday morning — suddenly firing about 50 mortars into the Israeli perphery in about 15 minutes (is this possible?) — and taking responsibility for the act.

Then, it continued. There was more.

On Tuesday, the IDF announced that 7 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza into Israel that day — making a total of 60 projectiles fired from Gaza since the weekend, it said.

IDF attacks on Gaza — retaliation, prevention, whatever — killed some 10 Palestinians, including a number of what the IDF admitted were “uninvolved civilians”, mostly kids, and injured some 40 more. The IDF offered medical care to the wounded — a clear sign that something had gone badly wrong, and that Israel was recognizing some responsibility. And the IDF announced it was starting an investigation. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed regret, “but”…

Continue reading Meanwhile, Gaza's agony sharpens and deepens – UPDATED

What quiet? Israel kills four Islamic Jihad men in West Bank, Qassam fire resumes against Sderot

Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Hamas’ former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh have now called for an Israeli cease-fire both in Gaza and in the West Bank.

It was a rare convergence of views.

Each leader made his call separately. But it may come too late.

In the village of Seida this morning, near the West Bank city of Tulkarem, several Israeli military vehicles and a bulldozer surrounded the home of one Mahmoud Hamad. Apparently, according to an account published by the Ma’an News Agency, the IDF were after Salih Karkur, who was visiting Hamad.

Karkur made his last stand on the roof, firing on the assembled Israeli vehicles as the bulldozer demolished the house.

Salih Karkur killed in Seida by IDF 12 March 2008

Ma’an reported this: “Eyewitnesses told Ma’an’s reporter that they saw Karkur on the roof of the house shooting at the Israeli troops before the Israeli bulldozer began to demolish the building. Ma’an’s reporter watched the demolition from a nearby building. He said Karkur’s body fell to the ground when the roof of the house collapsed. Israeli soldiers then shot again at Karkur’s limp body, apparently to make certain he was dead … According to the wife of the house’s owner, Umm Abdullah, Karkur had come to visit them in the morning. Shortly following Karkur’s arrival, Israeli forces besieged the house and ordered the residents into the street before they chained Umm Abdullah’s husband and abducted him. She added that the Red Cross and the Palestinian Authority offered to negotiate with Karkur for his surrender in order to avoid the destruction of the house, but the Israeli troops rejected the offer … Sources in the Al-Quds Brigades said the deceased was an escort of a prominent leader of the group, Khalid Abu Sari, who was killed in Jenin months ago. The source said he also participated in the battle at Al-Ein refugee camp in Nablus in September in which an Israeli soldier was killed. The group threatened to retaliate soon for the assassination of Karkur, who they said was one of their leaders. Karkur was from the nearby town of Attil. He served seven years in Israeli jails”. This Ma’an News Agency report is posted here .

Tonight, IDF and Israeli Border Police Special Forces mounted a joint raid into Bethlehem, where they killed four men sitting in a small red car parked in front of a bakery near the Deheishe refugee camp in Bethlehem. One of those killed, Mohammad Shahada, 45 years old, was reportedly the head of Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem. All of those killed were senior members (or “wanted terrorists”, as the IDF statement put it) in Islamic Jihad.

It was Mohammad Shahada’s house that was demolished in Bethlehem last Thursday night by IDF and Israeli bulldozers within hours of the yeshiva killing.

The IDF spokesperson’s information listed five operations that were carried out between 2000 and 2002 that are blamed on Shahada. It is not clear why Israeli Forces waited until 2008 to try to locate Shahada.

The IDF announcement also claimed that “Mohammad Shahada and the Islamic Jihad in Bethlehem were in direct contact with the Islamic Jihad leadership in Syria from which they received operational orders”.

Ma’an News Agency reported that: “Veteran activists in the armed Palestinian resistance movement, Shahada and his comrades had evaded the forces of the Israeli occupation for years. On Wednesday the four activists were in Bethlehem meeting with other Fatah activists in preparation for Fatah’s sixth movement conference. The activists visited the offices of Ma’an News Agency earlier on Wednesday, saying: ‘The Israeli occupation doesn’t want to arrest us. Really, they want to assassinate us’ … Ma’an’s chief editor, Nasser Lahham, spoke with Shahada at Bethlehem’s Christmas Eve celebrations on Manger Square last December. Shahada was smiling on Christmas Eve, radiating confidence: ‘The Palestinian people are capable of raising the flag of liberty and completing their mission. Israel has to realize that military occupation of Palestine does not solve its problems, either now or in the future’.” The full report can be read here .

Earlier in the day, the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) fired two rockets from Gaza towards the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon.

Around midnight, somebody in Gaza fired at least half a dozen “projectiles” at the Israeli town of Sderot.