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Israel agrees to Egyptian ceasefire proposal

Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, 3,360 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza.

The 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is holding as it enters its second day, with no rockets being fired at Israel. All IDF forces have moved out of the Gaza Strip.

August 5

MFA Spokesperson: "Israel has notified Egypt that it has agreed to their ceasefire proposal." The 72-hour ceasefire went into effect at 8:00 AM.

IDF Spokesperson: All ground troops will have pulled out of the Gaza Strip by the start of the ceasefire. The IDF will maintain defensive positions near the Gaza border. Israel completed the destruction of 32 cross-border tunnels.

In the last hour before the ceasefire, rocket barrages are fired at Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Rishon Lezion, Gush Etzion, Bethlehem and Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.
An M-75 rocket fired from Gaza in the minutes before the ceasefire took effect landed near a mosque, striking a home in Beit Sahour, located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

August 4

Israel authorized a humanitarian window to take place in the Gaza Strip from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The IDF will continue to neutralize the Hamas tunnel network and will respond to any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers.

August 3

IDF Spokesperson: On the evening of Monday, July 28, IDF forces operating in the area of the Karni Crossing engaged terrorists emerging from a terror tunnel inside Israeli territory. Five soldiers were killed. During the operational activity to neutralize the tunnel, IDF forces found a wide array of weaponry, including rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, explosives, launchers, and AK-47 assault rifles. In addition, three motorcycles were found, ready for use, facing the opening of the tunnel into Israeli territory, intended for use in a complex terror attack on Israeli residential communities in close proximity to the Gaza border.

At 11:30 pm, a special committee led by the IDF Chief Rabbi announced the death of Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, an infantry officer in the Givati Brigade who was killed in battle in the Gaza Strip on Friday.

Over the past 24 hours, the IDF struck 200 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including tunnels, weapon manufacturing and storage facilities, and command and control centers. Among the targets was a Hamas military wing facility that was used for research and development of weapon manufacturing located within the Islamic University. In addition, weapon caches and Hamas command and training facilities concealed within five Gazan mosques were targeted. IAF aircraft targeted the launcher used to fire at the Tel Aviv area earlier this morning.

August 1

Hamas fired at IDF forces in southern Gaza at 9:30 this morning in violation of the humanitarian ceasefire. IDF soldier suspected kidnapped. Extensive search underway.

Two IDF soldiers were killed in the suspected kidnapping of 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin in Rafah.

PM Netanyahu speaks with US Secretary Kerry

Once again, Hamas and the terror organizations in Gaza have violated the ceasefire to which they committed themselves to the UN Secretary-General and US Secretary of State Kerry.

UN special envoy Robert Serry issues statement: He was informed by Israel of "a serious incident this morning" during the truce involving "a tunnel behind IDF lines in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip." If confirmed, "this would constitute a serious violation of the humanitarian ceasefire in place since 8 am this morning by Gazan militant factions, which should be condemned in the strongest terms."

White House press calls the reported kidnapping of an IDF soldier by Hamas a "barbaric violation of ceasefire agreement" negotiated by the United States and United Nations.

US President Obama: "I have - unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two Israeli soldiers and abducting a third almost minutes after a ceasefire had been announced...
I have been very clear throughout this crisis that Israel has a right to defend itself. No country can tolerate missiles raining down on its cities and people having to rush to bomb shelters every twenty minutes or half hour. No country can or would tolerate tunnels being dug under their land that can be used to launch terrorist attacks...
It's going to be very hard to put a ceasefire back together again if Israelis and the international community can't feel confident that Hamas can follow through on a ceasefire commitment. And it's not particularly relevant whether a particular leader in Hamas ordered this abduction, the point is that when they sign onto a ceasefire, they're claiming to speak for all the Palestinian factions. If they don't have control of them and just moments after a ceasefire's signed you have Israeli soldiers being killed and captured, then it's hard for the Israelis to feel confident that a ceasefire can actually be honored. "

US Secretary Kerry: "The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s attack, which led to the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the apparent abduction of another. It was an outrageous violation of the cease-fire negotiated over the past several days, and of the assurances given to the United States and the United Nations. Hamas, which has security control over the Gaza Strip, must immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier... The international community must now redouble its efforts to end the tunnel and rocket attacks by Hamas terrorists on Israel and the suffering and loss of civilian life."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: "The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning. He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments... Such moves call into question the credibility of Hamas' assurances to the United Nations. The Secretary-General demands the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldier."

1:00am: Israel accepts humanitarian ceasefire

In accordance with the authority granted by the Security Cabinet to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense, Israel has accepted the UN/US proposal for a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning 8:00 am Friday, 1 August 2014.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Hamas responsible for civilian deaths in Gaza

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper accused Hamas for the deaths of civilians in Gaza. In a television interview conducted last night Harper said: "Obviously, no one likes to see the suffering and loss of human life., But we see the Hamas terrorist organization responsible for it." Harper added that "Hamas is initiated to continue the conflict, and will continue to strive for the destruction of Israel."

FM Liberman meets with German parliamentarians

What is important for the future is the creation of a control mechanism that will ensure that the funds and building materials that enter Gaza will be used solely for the building of civilian infrastructures - such as schools and health clinics - and not to produce rockets or to dig new tunnels.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman met at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem with a delegation of German parliamentarians who came to show solidarity and to express support for Israel. FM Liberman thanked them for their support and voiced his appreciation of the positions adopted by Germany in the European Union and other international forums with regard to Israel.

FM Liberman said that what is happening today in the Middle East is a colliding of civilizations between the free world and radical Islam, and what is happening in Gaza is only one manifestation of this - one of a long list of conflicts: in Libya, in Iraq, and elsewhere. This struggle is the greatest challenge facing the free world since World War II, and Europe must be committed to supporting Israel. Beyond the moral aspects of the issue, Israel is the vanguard on this front, because it represents Western values. This is why Islamic extremists are fighting Israel, said Liberman, and added that he is not sure that everyone in Europe understands this.

FM Liberman stressed that, with regard to Gaza, Israel has done what the international community and Europe advocated for years, dismantling all the Israeli communities there. In return, instead of peace and stability, we received radical Islam, which has been attacking Israel from Gaza with rockets and other terrorist activities, virtually since the day Israel disengaged from Gaza.

Hamas does not advocate the establishment of a Palestinian state or a two-state solution, but the establishment of a single, large Islamic state, said Liberman.

What is important for the future is the creation of a control mechanism that will ensure that the funds and building materials that enter Gaza will be used solely for the building of civilian infrastructures - such as schools and health clinics - and not to produce rockets or to dig new tunnels.

Ambassador Eviatar Manor addresses the Human Rights Council

Hamas is committing war crimes when it fires rockets and missiles indiscriminately at Israeli towns and villages. In ten days, Hamas fired 2000 rockets - that's 2000 war crimes. And this Council sits in judgment of Israel?

Thank you, Mr. President.

The request to convene this Special Session, and at this particular juncture, is a return to the knee jerk reaction of this Council whenever Israel defends itself. Some members demanding this Special Session are themselves no paragons of human rights. Yet their Pavlovian instinct demands they react against Israel, in order to divert attention from their own human rights violations. So, we are back at our ritual of naming and shaming Israel.

With 2000 rockets raining on Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva from above and murderous terrorists squads tunneling into our villages from below, what can life-seeking Israelis do but go out and defend themselves?

Mr. President,

Hamas began firing rockets on our towns and villages immediately after it had abducted and killed three Israeli teenagers. In the weeks that followed, Israel restrained itself. But after 300 rockets a day were indiscriminately fired at Israeli civilians, Israel had no choice but to respond.

Israel’s Government would not be doing its duty to protect its citizens had it not done so. Every country has the duty to defend itself and this principle is enshrined in international law. Any other country in the world would have done the same.

Hamas is committing war crimes when it fires rockets and missiles indiscriminately at Israeli towns and villages. Hamas is protecting its launching sites with the civilian residents of Gaza. Another war crime; Hamas has built tunnels from Gaza into Israel, using them to try to attack villages like Kerem Shalom and Sufa. Another war crime; in ten days, Hamas fired 2000 rockets - that's 2000 war crimes. Hamas has cynically concealed munitions in UNRWA schools, as UNRWA itself admitted again yesterday. A war crime; Hamas used tons of concrete provided as humanitarian aid to build a web of tunnels under hospitals, mosques, schools, homes extending into Israel to be used to abduct and murder Israelis. This, instead of building shelters for the residents of Gaza.

And this Council sits in judgment of Israel? There can be no moral symmetry between a terrorist aggressor and a democracy defending itself. Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner, in the protection of the human rights of Israelis, this Council and you, Madam, have failed dismally.

Mr. President,

Israel’s restraint was met by Hamas aggression.

Israel agreed to an Egyptian brokered cease fire to begin July 15. Hamas rejected it outright. Israel agreed to a humanitarian cease fire July 17, but Hamas shot its way through it. It rejected Egyptian efforts on the 17th when Israel sent top negotiators to Cairo with a view yet again to conclude a cease fire. Hamas is determined to maximize murder and mayhem. In these conditions, Israel had no option but to start ground operations, confronting Hamas with a strong, unambiguous response.

Israel will destroy Hamas' military infrastructure. However, the Gaza residents are not our enemies. Israel is fully committed to international law. Israeli commanders and soldiers are guided by international law in their actions. In line with the requirements of international law, IDF actions in Gaza are targeted solely against military targets. The IDF makes great efforts to minimize any incidental harm that may be caused to civilians as a result of an attack on a military target. The IDF took all available precautionary measures and has warned residents to leave prospective combat areas but Hamas urged them to ignore Israeli warnings and remain in their homes, using civilians as human shields.

Hamas bears the responsibility for the injuries sustained by Gaza residents. Israel deeply regrets any civilian losses caused by its operation, and has already started investigating itself. We do not confront the Salvation Army but a brutal terrorist organization. And lest we forget; Hamas is part of the Palestinian unity government. Mr. Abbas should dissolve this government and choose peace.

Mr. President,

This Council has lost its bearings.

This Special Session is misguided, ill-conceived and counter-productive to efforts made as we speak to end hostilities.

The Resolution in front of you is totally unbalanced, asymmetric and destructive. It pours gasoline on the fire. It rewards the terrorist aggressors and punishes the side which acts in order to protect its citizens.

This Council should stop looking for the coin under the street lamp. It can regain its moral authority by unequivocally condemning Hamas. It cannot be supportive of an organization that is no different than al-Qa'ida, ISIS, Boko-Haram, Hezbollah, and other extreme radical Islamist organizations that negate the very essence of human rights as we know them and threaten democracy, the rule of law, security and stability of a country, an entire region, and the whole world.

What this Council can do is reject outright and vote no on this absolutely one-sided Resolution.
What this Council cannot do is stop Israel from exercising its right to self-defense.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Press Conference: PM Netanyahu with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Mr. Secretary, I appreciate the fact that you came here and that you took time to see what we’ve just shown you. I think it’s clear that Israel is doing what any country would do if terrorists rained down rockets on its cities and towns – hundreds of rockets, day after day, week after week. In addition, as I’ve shown you, Hamas has dug terrorist tunnels under hospitals, mosques, schools, homes, to penetrate our territory, to kidnap and kill Israelis.

Now, in the face of such wanton terrorism, no country could sit idly by. It would exercise its right, inherent and legitimate right of self-defense as we are doing, and act decisively to end the threat to its citizens. This is what Israel is doing. We did not seek this escalation, Mr. Secretary. We accepted the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. I don’t need to remind you it was a proposal that was supported by the UN, by the Arab League, by the United States, by Europe. Hamas rejected it. We accepted the humanitarian ceasefire proposal that the UN proposed afterward. Hamas rejected that. We accepted the ceasefire proposal of the Red Cross in Shejaia. Hamas rejected that, twice. I think the international community must take a clear stand; it must hold Hamas accountable for consistently rejecting the ceasefire proposals and for starting and prolonging this conflict. The international community must hold Hamas accountable for its increasing and indiscriminate attacks on Israeli civilians. And the international community must hold Hamas accountable for using Palestinian civilians as human shields deliberately putting them in harm’s way, deliberately keeping them in harm’s way.

Mr. Secretary, we have made every effort and will continue to make every effort to avoid civilian casualties. We are targeting Hamas terrorist targets. We’ve just shown you these targets, embedded in civilian areas, embedded in mosques, embedded in hospitals, embedded in agricultural schools. Hamas is embedded in there in order to sustain civilian casualties, because they know that we will have to protect our citizens; that we have to act against their targets. So they are committing a double war crime: both targeting our civilians and hiding behind their civilians. And they want, I repeat: They want more civilian casualties, whereas we want no civilian casualties at all, and we’re taking the utmost pain to minimize that. I think the people of Gaza, and that’s become absolutely clear to the world, are the victims of the brutal Hamas regime. They are holding them hostage and they are hiding behind them.
You know, Mr. Secretary, the international community has pressed us to give cement to Gaza to build schools, hospitals, homes. And now we see what has happened to those deliveries of cement. They have been used to dig tunnels next to a kindergarten, not to build a kindergarten but to build a tunnel that penetrates our territory so that Hamas can blow up our kindergartens and murder our children. They’ve used for a long time our willingness to try to keep civilians at a minimum. They’ve been using them to keep on firing at us. We have even opened up a field hospital, Mr. Secretary, to help Hamas civilians, and Hamas is preventing civilians of Gaza from going to our hospital. I believe that you understand this. I believe that you understand that it is the right of every state to defend itself. And Israel will continue to do what it needs to do to defend its people.
Mr. Secretary, this is not only our right; this is our duty.

US Secretary General Ban:

Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Shalom, ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you again for your warm welcome. It’s always a pleasure to visit, for me, Israel. But this time I am standing with a very heavy, heavy heart. As we speak, rockets from Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to be fired on Israel. I have just seen myself, with the Prime Minister, all kinds of rockets fired by Hamas onto the heads of these people and neighborhoods of where many people are living. This is quite shocking. And I have seen all these photos and videos and evidences myself. The United Nations’ position is clear: we condemn strongly the rocket attacks.
These must stop immediately. We condemn the use of civilian sites, schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities for military purposes. Your country won’t accept rockets raining down on its territory. And all countries and parties have an international obligation to protect civilians. I extend my deep condolences to the Prime Minister and to the people of Israel on the fatalities from the recent escalation. We’ll not forget the killing and abduction of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftaly Frankel. I was deeply moved by the words of Rachel Frankel as she buried her own son. I quote: “We will learn to sing without you,” she said. “We will always hear your voice in our hearts.” And she went on to reach out to the family of Muhammad abu Khdeir, the 16-year-old boy burned alive simply because of who he was. Mrs. Frankel said, I quote: “No mother or father should ever have to go through what we are going through, and we share the pain of Muhammad’s parents.” End quote. It is that spirit of shared anguish, humanity and hope that calls me here. Too many Palestinian and Israeli mothers are burying their children. We owe it to their sacrifice and to Israeli and Palestinian aspirations for peace, to intensify efforts to find a solution.

Over the last three days I have met with the leadership in Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt. I met President Abbas in Qatar and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Cairo yesterday. This is all part of a concerted international effort for urgent action. My message to Israelis and Palestinians is the same: Stop fighting! Start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict so we are not back to the same situation in another six months or a year. We must address these underline issues, including mutual recognition, occupation, despair and denial of dignity, so people do not feel they have to resort to violence as a means of expressing their grievances. Military actions will not increase Israel’s stability and security in the longer time. I fully share and appreciate the legitimacy, the security concerns and right to defend your country and citizens. Israel is a democratic strong country, and I urge you to demonstrate fortitude by exercising maximum restraint. Recovery and reconstruction work is more needed than ever. Governance issues must be addressed by one legitimate Palestinian government adhering to the PLO commitment – non-violence, recognition of Israel and respect for previous agreements. The United nations will continue to support these efforts.
Prime Minister Netanyahu, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am always energized to find my visit to Israel and the region. Even in the darkest hours, the people of this country have such a tremendous capacity for generosity and good. I understand that some may feel threatened by negative regional developments and disenchanted with the peace process, but there is no viable alternative to a two-state solution. No closure, no barrier can separate Israelis and Palestinians from a fundamental truth: you share a common future. You have my strongest possible commitment that I will to do all I can for lasting peace and security, freedom and justice for all Israelis and Palestinians.
Thank you, Toda.

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

Mr. Secretary, I’m going to say a few words in Hebrew to the people of Israel, but I do want to say that you spoke about the regional developments. What we’re seeing here with Hamas is another instance of Islamist extremism, violent extremism that has no resolvable grievance. Hamas is like ISIS; Hamas is like al-Qaeda; Hamas is like Hezbollah; Hamas is like Boko Haram. And there are so many other of these Islamist groups that defy modernity, that reject pluralism, that reject respect of human rights. That use their own people as human shields, that attack indiscriminately civilians. This is part of a larger pattern. What grievance can we solve for Hamas. Their grievance is that we exist. They don’t even want a two-state solution. They don’t want any state solution. Some of them say they should open a great movement and dissolve all the regimes around us. And therefore in the face of such extremism, in the face of such violence, in the face of such terror, Israel has no option but to defend itself. This is what we’re doing, as is our right. We have sought to end this from the start with ceasefires, and as I told you, they refused and they continue. So we will do what we need to do to defend ourselves.
[The following is translated from Hebrew]
Citizens of Israel, I have explained to the United Nations Secretary General, who came here in friendship, that we must defend ourselves. It is our right. The IDF will continue to hit Hamas terror targets hard, until we achieve the goal of the operation – restoring a long-term quiet for the citizens of Israel, while dealing the terror infrastructure a harsh blow.

I must tell you that your forbearance has allowed us to run this operation rationally, wisely and in the correct way. Your resilience is a strategic asset to the State of Israel; and Hamas, who thought it could break our home front easily, was taken by surprise.
On behalf of all Israel’s citizens, on your behalf, I send condolences to the families of the fallen, I wish a speedy recovery to those injured and I pray for our soldiers.
We are defending our home, we will protect our home.

Fallen Soldiers of Operation Protective Edge, May their memory be blessed

Throughout Israel’s history, IDF soldiers have fallen in defense of their country and families. This reality continues as the IDF operates in Gaza to defend Israel from Hamas rocket fire and the threat of terrorist infiltration by tunnels.

The following brave soldiers fell in the fight to protect Israeli civilians. May their memory be blessed.

August 1

Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, from Kfar Saba, killed by Hamas terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip.

Major Benaya Sarel, 26, from Kiryat Arba, commander of the Givati Reconnaissance Company, killed by Hamas terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Liel Gidoni, 20, from Jerusalem, killed by Hamas terrorists in the southern Gaza Strip.

July 31

Captain (res.) Liran Adir (Edry), 31, from Ezuz, killed operating along the border with the Gaza Strip when a mortar was fired at the forces.

Staff Sergeant Noam Rosenthal, 20, from Meitar, killed operating along the border with the Gaza Strip when a mortar was fired at the forces.

Sergeant First Class (Res.) Daniel Marash, 22, from Rishon LeZion, killed operating along the border with the Gaza Strip when a mortar was fired at the forces.

Captain Omri Tal, 22, from Rishon LeZion, killed operating along the border with the Gaza Strip when a mortar was fired at the forces.

Staff Sergeant Shay Kushnir, 20, from Kiryat Motzkin, killed operating along the border with the Gaza Strip when a mortar was fired at the forces.

July 30

Staff Sergeant Guy Algranati, 20, from Tel Aviv, a soldier from an elite IDF unit, was killed during operational activity in the southern Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Omer Hay, 21, from Savion, a soldier from an elite IDF unit, was killed during operational activity in the southern Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Matan Gotlib, 21, from Rishon LeZion, a soldier from an elite IDF unit, was killed during operational activity in the southern Gaza Strip.

July 28

Sergeant Nadav Raimond, 19, from Shadmot Dvora, killed in combat when terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and attempted to execute an attack.

Sergeant Daniel Kedmi, 18, from Tzofim, killed in combat when terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and attempted to execute an attack.

Sergeant Barkey Ishai Shor, 21, from Jerusalem, killed in combat when terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and attempted to execute an attack.

Sergeant Sagi Erez,19, from Kiryat Ata, killed in combat when terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and attempted to execute an attack.

Sergeant Dor Dery, 18, from Jerusalem, killed in combat when terrorists infiltrated Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and attempted to execute an attack.

Staff Sergeant Eliav Eliyahu Haim Kahlon, 22, from Safed, was killed by mortar fire along the Gaza border.

Corporal Meidan Maymon Biton, 20, from Netivot, was killed by mortar fire along the Gaza border.

Corporal Niran Cohen, 20 from Tiberias, was killed by mortar fire along the Gaza border.

Staff Sergeant Adi Briga, 23, from Beit Shikma, was killed by mortar fire along the Gaza border.

Staff Sergeant Moshe Davino , 20, from Jerusalem , was killed in combat in the southern Gaza Strip.

Sergeant First Class (res.) Barak Refael Degorker, was killed by mortar fire from the Gaza Strip.

Chief Warrant Officer Rami Chalon, 39, from Hadera, an Infantry non-commissioned officer, died from his wounds after being injured on the Gaza border on Tuesday, July 22.

Captain Liad Lavi, an Infantry Corps officer, 20, from Talmei Yosef , died from his wounds after being injured in combat in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 24.

Staff Sergeant Avraham Grintzvaig, 21, from Petah Tikva, an infantry soldier, killed in combat in the northern Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Gal Bason, 21, Holon., a Combat Engineering Corps soldier, was killed in combat in the northern Gaza Strip.

Second Lieutenant Roy Peles, 21, from Tel Aviv, an infantry officer, was killed in combat in the Gaza strip.

July 25

Staff Sergeant Amit Yeori, 20, from Jerusalem, fell in combat in Gaza.

Staff Sergeant Guy Boyland, 21, from Ginosar, a combat engineer from the 7th Armored Brigade, killed in combat in the Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Guy Levy, 21, from Kfar Vradim, killed by an anti-tank missile fired at the force from a structure.

Master Sergeant (Res.) Yair Ashkenazy, 36, from Rehovot, killed during operational activity in the northern Gaza Strip.

July 22

Lieutenant Paz Elyahu, 22, from Evron, an IDF paratrooper, killed in combat in the Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Li Mat, 19, from Eilat, an IDF paratrooper, killed in combat in the Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Shahar Dauber, 20, from Ginegar, an IDF paratrooper, killed in combat in the Gaza Strip.

Captain Dmitri Levitas, 26, from Jerusalem and Geshur, killed in combat by sniper fire in the Gaza Strip.

First Lieutenant Natan Cohen, 23, Modi'in, killed in combat in the Gaza Strip.

Staff Sergeant Avitar Moshe Torjamin, 20, from Beit She'an, killed in a fire exchange in the southern Gaza Strip.

July 21

Master Sergeant Ohad Shemesh, killed while fighting Hamas terrorists.

Sergeant First Class Oded Ben Sira, 22, from Nir Etzion, killed by sniper fire.

Lieutenant Colonel Dolev Keidar, Commander of the Geffen Battalion, 38, from Modi'in, killed by an anti-tank missile fired at the force responding to a terrorist infiltration incident.

Sergeant Major Bayhesain Kshaun, 39, from Netivot, killed by an anti-tank missile fired at the force responding to a terrorist infiltration incident.

Second Lieutenant Yuval Haiman, 21, from Efrat, killed by an anti-tank missile fired at the force responding to a terrorist infiltration incident.

Sergeant Nadav Goldmacher, 23, from Be'er Sheba, killed by an anti-tank missile fired at the force responding to a terrorist infiltration incident.

Staff Sergeant Tal Ifrach, 21, from Rishon LeZion, killed in battle in Gaza.

Staff Sergeant Yuval Dagan, 22, from Kfar Saba, killed in battle.

July 20

Sergeant Shon Mondshine, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Staff Sergeant Max Steinberg, 24, from Be'er Sheva, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Staff Sergeant Shachar Tase, 20, from Pardesiya, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Staff Sergeant Daniel Pomerantz, 20, from Kfar Azar, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Sergeant Ben Itzhak Oanounou, 19, from Ashdod, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Staff Sergeant Oren Simcha Noach, 22, from Hoshaya, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Staff Sergeant Jordan Bensemhoun, 22, from Ashkelon, killed by direct fire.

Staff Sergeant Moshe Malko, 20, from Jerusalem, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, from Ra’anana, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Sgt. Oz Mendelovich, 21, from Atzmon, killed protecting the citizens of Israel .

Sgt. Gilad Rozenthal Yacoby, 21, from Kiryat Ono, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Cpt. Tsvi Kaplan, 28, from Meirav, killed protecting the citizens of Israel.

Maj. Tzafrir Baror, 32, from Holon, killed protecting the citizens of Israel .

July 19

Staff Sgt. Bnaya Rubel, 20, from Holon, an infantry soldier, was killed in battle with terrorists,.

2nd Lt. Bar Rahav, a combat engineer, 21, from Ramat Yishai, was killed when terrorists fired an anti-tank missile at the vehicle he was operating.

Sgt. Adar Barsano, 20, from Nahariya, was killed by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel in an attempt to carry out an attack on Israeli civilians.

Maj. (res.) Amotz Greenberg, 45, from Hod Hasharon, was killed by Hamas terrorists who infiltrated Israel in an attempt to carry out an attack on Israeli civilians.

July 18

First Sgt. Eitan Barak, was killed overnight fighting Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Fatah-Hamas reconciliation

ITIC, Following the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, Hamas may maneuver between adherence to its fundamental positions and its desire to benefit from the agreement which may serve its internal political and media purposes

1. The reconciliation agreement signed with Fatah on April 23, 2014, poses for Hamas the basic problem familiar from the past regarding its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:
A. On the one hand, at least at this juncture, Hamas has an interest in promoting the implementation of the agreement and not appearing as trying to undermine it. It also does not want to provide Israel – which blames the Palestinian Authority for the failure of the negotiations – with ammunition for the media. In addition, Hamas wants to exploit the agreement to improve its international image, the economic conditions in the Gaza Strip and its relations with Egypt, as well as to repel claims of its terrorist nature.
B. On the other, Hamas has no intention of changing its basic rigid ideological positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the center of which is its refusal to recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist and regarding terrorism (the so-called "resistance") as the leading strategy for advancing Palestinian interests.
2. The Hamas leadership had to deal with problems similar to those of the two previous internal Palestinian reconciliation agreements, one in Cairo (May 4, 2011) and the other in Doha (February 6, 2014). Hamas previously overcame the dilemma by presenting a "flexible" attitude to the West and the PA and at the same time making it clear to the Palestinian street that even after the internal Palestinian reconciliation Hamas would not change any aspect of its positions (For an analysis of statements made by senior Hamas figures after the Cairo agreement was signed and which may be relevant to the current situation, see the Appendix.). However, past experience has shown that as time passes and the agreements may dissolve, Hamas' rhetoric becomes more strident, it clings more firmly to its basic rigid positions.
3. So far Hamas spokesmen stress their common denominator with PA, sometimes manipulatively for their own benefit:
A. Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas figure, praised the speech given by Mahmoud Abbas at the PLO's Central Council on April 26, 2014. He said that Mahmoud Abbas's recognition of the failure of the negotiations with Israel (which he claimed was reflected by the speech) was a good beginning for "strengthening national unity." He also praised Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, his opposition to construction in the settlements and his adherence to the "right of return." However, he added that "Hamas does not and will not recognize Israel" (Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen TV, Lebanon, April 26, 2014).
B. Fawzi Barhoum and Bassem Naim, both Hamas spokesmen, also praised what they represented as Mahmoud Abbas' admission that the negotiations had failed, his adherence to Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (Facebook page of Fawzi Barhoum, April 26, 2014; remark by Bassem Naim, foreign affairs advisor to Ismail Haniya, Agence France-Presse April 26,2014).
C. Taher al-Nunu, Ismail Haniya's media advisor, strongly denied a remark attributed to him by the Washington Post, according to which Hamas intended to recognize Israel (, April 27, 2014). He said Hamas would never recognize Israel. Hamas' international spokesman Hossam Badran also rejected the idea that Hamas had any intention of "recognizing so-called Israel." He said that recognizing "the legitimacy of the Zionists" was something that was to be rejected and not even discussed (Facebook page of Hossam Badran, April 27, 2014).
4. At this point, as far as is known to the ITIC, Hamas spokesmen have not yet mentioned the armed struggle (the so-called "resistance") because they are aware of the publicly stated differences of opinion between the PA and Hamas. However, it is a key issue and in the future can be expected to arise, both in internal Palestinian forums where Hamas may be expected to explain itself (for example, in response to accusations that Hamas has abandoned its path) and in support of terrorist attacks which may be carried out from the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.

Remarks made by senior Hamas figures after the signing of the internal Palestinian reconciliation in Cairo, May 4, 2011, a case study for presenting a moderate countenance while stressing a rigid basic positions


1. On April 23, 2014, in the Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas delegations signed an internal Palestinian reconciliation agreement. It was based on the commitment of both sides to implement the articles agreed on in Cairo on May 4, 2011 and Doha on February 6, 2012. They include the formation of a government of national agreement (called by Mahmoud Abbas, "a government of technocrats") within five weeks; elections held simultaneously for the presidency, the Palestinian Legislative Council and the Palestinian National Council no later than six months from the formation of the government; renewal of the activities of the "social reconciliation committee" and the "freedom committee" which deals, among other things, with the mutual release of prisoners and permission for Fatah political activity in the Gaza Strip and Hamas political activity in Judea and Samaria; and appointing a committee that will deal with the reorganization of the PLO.
2. Following the May 4, 2011 signing of the internal Palestinian reconciliation agreement, senior Hamas figures made statements meant to present a pragmatic image to the West and an attitude of reconciliation toward the Palestinian Authority. However, in the same breath, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mashaal and other senior figures said that even after the reconciliation agreement, Hamas had not abandoned its rigid fundamental positions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

3. In official statements made after the Cairo agreement, senior Hamas figures made it clear that they regarded themselves as integrated into the decision-making process regarding political issues during the term of the interim government set up within the framework of the reconciliation agreement. They also emphasized that Hamas would adhere to the path of "resistance" [i.e., terrorism], although they were prepared to reach an agreement with Fatah/the PA regarding how the "resistance" should be conducted. They repeatedly emphasized that Hamas rejected recognizing Israel (even if a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders were established), and that it would not accept decisions made by the International Quartet, which, they claimed, was no longer relevant now that the internal Palestinian reconciliation agreement had been signed.
4. However, in order not to be regarded as sabotaging the reconciliation agreement, they also said that they would not oppose the Palestinian Authority's political move (at the time) in the United Nations leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. That would be on the condition that it was not accompanied by recognition of Israel or the waiving of the Palestinian refugees (so-called) "right of return." Therefore, they would enable the Palestinian Authority to carry out its UN move in September 2011, even if they did not believe in it ("empty rhetoric," "a political circus"). They also said they would be willing to reach an agreement about how the "resistance" should be conducted, including maintaining a lull in the fighting in the Gaza Strip, although they had no intention to abandon the path of "resistance" [i.e., terrorism and violence].
5. The following are statements made by Khaled Mashaal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, and other senior Hamas figures regarding various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Authority to make decisions regarding the conflict with Israel
6. Interviewed by Egypt's Nile TV on May 9, 2011 Khaled Mashaal said that during the term of the interim government, which would last a year, not only Mahmoud Abbas and his aides would be responsible for political decisions, but also a "temporary leadership body" as well [i.e., Hamas regards itself as integrated into the temporary leadership within the decision-making process].
7. Khaled Mashaal added that he was aware that during the interim period many obstacles would have to be overcome by both sides. He said he hoped the atmosphere of reconciliation would make it possible to make decisions through national unity without external interference and "intrigues."
Adherence to the path of terrorism ("resistance") but readiness to discuss how to conduct it
8. During the May 9, 2011 interview with Nile TV, Khaled Mashaal said that Hamas' ideology was based on "resistance," from which it took its name (Hamas is the acronym in Arabic of "Islamic resistance movement"). He said Hamas believed that "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] was a "legitimate right" and claimed that there was no disagreement about "the principle of resistance" within the Palestinian arena. However, he added that implementing the principle, determining its forms [i.e., the types of terrorist attacks] and timing, and the question of whether to choose a lull in the fighting or escalation, were all decisions which would be made by "national Palestinian decision." In any event, in the past Hamas had applied the "principle of resistance" and would continue to do so in the future, until the "occupation" [i.e., Israel] came to an end (Nile TV, May 9, 2011).
9. Interviewedby Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV, Khaled Mashaal repeated the claim that the Palestinian people did not disagree about the "resistance." He said that there might be differences of opinion between Fatah and Hamas about how to conduct the "resistance" [i.e., about methods of carrying out terrorist attacks], but it had to be remembered that both movements had been born of weapons ["born from a rifle"] and those kinds of disagreements were only "natural" for an occupied people. He added that Fatah was currently asking how they could make the resistance strike roots in the future. Asked if he agreed [with Fatah] to formulate a policy of "non-violence" toward Israel, he said that Hamas had emphasized the importance of all forms of "resistance" to both Fatah and the media. However, he added, for the sake of reconciliation and national unity, Fatah and Hamas had agreed to discuss ways of conducting the "resistance" (Hamas’ Al- Aqsa TV, May 9, 2011).
10. Interviewedby The Wall Street Journal, Khaled Mashaal repeated Hamas' strict adherence to the "resistance." However, he said, Fatah and Hamas now had to agree on how to conduct it: ""How to manage the resistance, what's the best way to achieve our goals, when to escalate and when to cease fire, now we have to agree on all those decisions as Palestinians" (Wall Street Journal Online, May 7, 2011) (ITIC emphasis). In addition, Mahmoud al-Zahar, senior Hamas figure in the Gaza Strip, said that the current lull in the fighting did not contradict the principle of "resistance." He said that the lull in the fighting with Israel was part of a "resistance program" and was not a deviation from it. Having a lull, he said, did not mean "choosing peace" (Ma'an News Agency website, May 11, 2011).
Hamas is ready to give the Palestinian Authority an opportunity to promote its September 2011 UN move
11. Mahmoudal-Zahar, speaking of the Palestinian Authority move in the UN in September 2011 plan to declare a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, said that based on past experience, Hamas was not pinning its hopes on the outcome. He said it was all "empty rhetoric" and "a political circus." He said he wondered what the state would be founded on, what is territory would be, and if it would include residents of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He also said he wondered what the fate of the five million Palestinian refugees who lived abroad would be and if "we will lose the right of return" (Ma'an News Agency website, May 11, 2011).
12. Khaled Mashaal was asked if Hamas would give the new arrangement a chance [i.e., the Palestinian Authority UN move]. He said that the 20 years since the Madrid Middle East peace conference had proved that "Israel does not deserve another chance to prove itself…" As far as Hamas was concerned, the movement did not have "to try Israel again," but if the Palestinians or Arab countries wanted to give Israel another chance, Hamas was ready to make it possible, for a limited time, for the sake of Palestinian interests and the success of the Palestinian reconciliation (Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV, May 9, 2011).
13. At a meeting with delegations of the "youth of the Egyptian revolution" Khaled Mashaal said that for the sake of the Egyptian revolution and the internal Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas was prepared to give an extension of one year to examine Israel's intentions. The objective the Palestinian UN move had to achieve during that time was the establishment of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital (Russian news agency RIA Novosti, May 10, 2011).
14. Interviewed by the London-based Al-Sharq al-Awsat on May 9, 2011 Khaled Mashaal again stated that the Palestinians would give Israel "a last chance." He called on the Palestinians and the Arab world to formulate a new strategy which was not a declaration of war on Israel, but rather the addition of "bargaining chips" (available to the Palestinian Authority). They would include, he said, the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism], "popular action," such as the steps taken against the so-called "separation fence," and persecuting Israel everywhere and using boycotts to attack it. He said the Palestinians had "a golden opportunity to persecute Israel, which is hostile to peace" (a thinly veiled reference to encouraging the campaign to delegitimize Israel, one of whose main aspects is boycotts).
Rejecting the conditions of the International Quartet
15. Hamas spokesman rejected the conditions of the International Quartet, according to which Hamas must recognize Israel and abandon terrorism. They claimed that the conditions were no longer relevant after the Palestinian reconciliation and said that only pressure, not negotiations, would cause Israel to withdraw from the territories, and that the focal point of the pressure was the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism]. The Hamas spokesmen emphasized (with regard to the Quartet's conditions) that they would not abandon the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism] nor would they recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist.

16. SeniorHamas figure Osama Hamdan said that on no condition would Hamas recognize "the Zionist entity" nor would it compromise on the "resistance" [i.e., violence and terrorism]. He claimed that the armed "resistance" needed to be complemented by political and public efforts and the formulation of "a regional resistance culture" which would complement that of the Palestinians. He added that the International Quartet was no longer united and he rejected a return to negotiations with Israel, which, he said, had turned into a joke (Hamas’ Palestine-info website, May 5, 2011). Khalil al-Hayeh, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said Hamas was "a fighting resistance movement" whose objective was "to liberate Palestine [sic]" (Al-Quds TV, May 4, 2011).
17. SeniorHamas figure Salah al-Bardawil said that the International Quartet's conditions were irrelevant now that the reconciliation agreement had been signed. He claimed that the conditions were "rulings" which had been imposed in the Palestinian people in an attempt to wipe out the "resistance" [i.e., terrorism], which he called the Palestinians' "natural right" (Al-Aqsa TV, May 4, 2011).
18. Interviewed by Reuters in Cairo on May 8, Khaled Mashaal said that recognition of Israel could only be examined after the establishment of an independent sate in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. He added the international community, especially the Europeans and Americans, had to respect the Palestinian decision, which was an internal issue, and could not impose conditions on them. He said that the international community had to exert pressure on Israel and not the other way around. Israel, he said, needed pressure. It was, he claimed, an occupier, that would not get out by being convinced or through dialogue. He said it would withdraw [from the PA territories] only under pressure and constraints.
19. In the same Reuters interview, Khaled Mashaal was asked if Hamas were willing to recognize Israel as part of a viable agreement [one of the International Quartet's conditions]. He answered, "First allow the Palestinian people to live on their lands freely ... to establish their independent state ... then ask the Palestinian people, its government and leaders about their position towards Israel" (Reuters, May 8, 2011).
20. While the reconciliation agreement was being initialed, Musa Abu Marzouq, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said that the International Quartet's conditions were not included in the agreement because the Quartet had "disappeared along with its decisions, and were no longer taken into consideration" by the Palestinians (Al-Jazeera TV, April 27, 2011). On another occasion he said that "Hamas does not recognize Israel" and called on the international community to reexamine Israel's right to exist (Al-Hayat, May 1, 2011).
21. Ismail Haniya, head of the de facto Hamas administration in the GazaStrip, lauded the reconciliation agreement, claiming it reflected the "political desires" of the Palestinian leadership, especially those of the Hamas administration and movement. He called on the PLO "to completely withdraw its recognition of Israel" because "the existence of Israel is fundamentally illegitimate." He added that "Israel's positions arouse disgust" and caused much suffering for the Palestinian people (Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV, April 29, 2011).

Hamas Holiday Terror Attack Planned For Jerusalem Thwarted by IDF

Israel Security Agency has reported that a Hamas cell from Ramallah planned a terror attack that was to take place in Jerusalem over the Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur holidays in September. The attack was thwarted by a Givati Brigade soldiers. The Hamas cell had also been producing rockets.

A joint effort between the Israel Police, Border Police, IDF and the ISA resulted in the arrest last month of several members of Hamas’ military infrastructure. The terrorists were from the Jerusalem and Ramallah branches of Hamas’ military wing. They were apprehended during advanced stages of planning a bomb attack in Jerusalem, which they intended to carry out during the Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur Holidays.

The leader of the group was Hamdi Hasneen Hamdi Romana, born in 1991, whose father, Hasneen Romana, was one of the leaders of Hamas’ military wing in Ramallah.

During the investigation, the ISA uncovered a weapons laboratory at the home of Romana, with chemicals used to make explosives, and educational materials with instructions on explosives production. The ISA said that during their search they were in contact with a laboratory worker and two residents of Ramallah who provided him with chemicals in order to produce explosives. The three were detained for questioning and pleaded guilty to the charges.
The investigation also found that the terrorist cell had been planning other attacks, including: An attempt to harm IDF soldiers in Ramallah through a booby-trapped house; intention to produce rockets and launch them at Israeli communities near Ramallah; and an attempt to procure guns to fire at IDF soldiers at the Himza checkpoint in North-East Jerusalem.

The ISA emphasized that the newly-exposed terrorist cell demonstrates the high motivation of terrorists in the West Bank, lead by Hamas, to carry out attacks in Israel.

Increase in terrorism
Members of the terrorist cell were arrested by soldiers of the Givati ​​Brigade. “The infrastructure was very extensive and it took about two weeks to catch all of the members”, said the Tzabar battalion commander, Lt. Col. Liran Hajbi. “We carried out the raid of the house of the head of the cell in the heart of Ramallah and arrested two members, and through them we found the other members. The material we found there was advanced.”

During the raid, residents of the neighborhood rioted in order to prevent the arrest. “We faced resistance even within the house,” said Lt. Col. Hajbi. “But the soldiers came prepared, and ready. We arrived with a reserve force and an extraction force, and we entered under maximum security. We isolated the operating space, and prevented public disturbances. The extraction had to be done swiftly.”

The Tzabar Battalion began operating in the Ramallah area in recent months. According to Lt. Col. Hajbi, last month saw a significant increase in terrorism in the area. “Arrests and raids were carried out every night to reduce the chance of terrorist attacks,” he added. “About a week and a half ago we carried out a similar raid. The battalion’s spirits are high and we will continue to work hard during the upcoming nights.”

Hamas Teaches Gaza Kids To Be Terrorists – All Year Round

Hamas, in collaboration with other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, use summer vacation as a way to promote radical Islam, Jihad, the "liberation of Palestine" and "Death in honor of Allah."

Israel News, For years, Hamas has brainwashed and manipulated the Gazan people to hate Israeli civilians. Hamas starts early: from the time a Gazan child starts her first day of school, she learns to despise Israel

During the school year
Hamas’ education system teaches students that Jews do not have a connection to the land of Israel and that they come from Europe. Their textbooks make no mention of Jews from Arab countries. There is no recognition of the Jewish people as a nation. Jews are described as criminals and thieves.

Hamas spreads this propaganda in schools, booklets and on Hamas’ TV stations.

For more than a year, Hamas has been teaching children Hebrew, which they call "the language of the enemy." According to the head of Gaza’s Ministry of Education, Mahmoud Matar, Israel is the enemy and teaching the language of the enemy is crucial in understanding (and defeating) him.

Summer vacation
To keep Gazan youth indoctrinated over the summer vacation, Hamas organizes its own camps.

Hamas, in collaboration with other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, use summer vacation as a way to promote radical Islam, Jihad, the "liberation of Palestine" and "Death in honor of Allah."

"It is in this way that we make the attacks against Zionists more complex, using women, children, the elderly, and the mujahideen (religious martyrs) as human shields. We’re making a statement to the Zionist enemy: 'We desire death as much as you desire life," explained Hamas lawmaker Fathi Hamad, who is now Minister of the Interior Government of the terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip, in April 2008.

The next stage: Terror academy
A few years ago, the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Al-Nasser Sahal al-Din Brigades, opened its own terrorist academy. Almost a year ago, the first "students" graduated. The curriculum includes physical training, defense courses, military strategy and the use of anti-tank missiles. All parts of the school stress their extreme religious values ​​"so that they can confront the Zionist enemy relying on complete faith in the triumph of God."


This year’s summer camps in the Gaza Strip were once again used by Hamas and its military wing to combine social activity with Islamic and political indoctrination and paramilitary training


UNRWA summer camps, which offer activities of a different nature, were again criticized by Hamas and some of them were harassed





1. In June-August 2011, as they do every year, the Hamas administration and military wing ran summer camps in the Gaza Strip. Registration for the summer camps was held mostly in mosques. The slogans for the Hamas summer camps this time were “Victory through youth” and “Camps of return” (Felesteen al-Yoom, June 12, 2011; Chinese News Agency, June 19, 2011). Tens of thousands of children and adolescents from elementary school age to high school age took part in the summer activities. As in previous years, in addition to social activities the camps also offered Quran lessons, indoctrination with Hamas’ political ideology, and paramilitary training.
2. Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip regard the summer camps as a means for inculcating their ideological values and nurturing the next generation of operatives and supporters. The core values are radical Islam, “the liberation of Palestine”, jihad and death for the sake of Allah, and other messages drawn from Hamas’ ideology and strategy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (e.g., support for the “right of return”, demand to free all Palestinian (terrorist) prisoners, the “liberation” of Palestine from Israel, and indoctrination of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people). The summer camps are often visited by top Hamas officials who help spread the political messages among the youngsters.
3. This year as well UNRWA operated an alternative summer camp system that hosted 250,000 Gaza Strip children (far more than the Hamas summer camps). The UNRWA summer camps emphasize social activity and promotion of such universal values as peace and coexistence, without the political-religious indoctrination and paramilitary training prevalent in Hamas’ camps. Consequently, these summer camps were once again harassed by radical Islamic elements that consider them competitors for the hearts and minds of the younger generation; also, UNRWA’s summer camps are accused of “corrupting” Palestinian children and adolescents.
The Hamas summer camps—overview
4. Estimates suggest that nearly 50,000 youngsters took part in Hamas’ summer activities this year (far more than last year, but less than the number of participants in the summer activities organized by UNRWA). The slogan of the summer camps was “Victory through youth” (Felesteen al-Yoom, June 12, 2011). Another slogan was “Camps of return” (referring to the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel, a recurring theme summer camp participants are indoctrinated with). Mussa al-Samak, senior Hamas official and member of the Central Committee for Summer Camps in the Gaza Strip, called on parents to send their children to the summer camps to spend their school holiday there and absorb “Islamic and national” values.
5. In public statements about the goals of their summer activities, Hamas spokesmen stressed that the purpose of the camps was to educate the younger generation to religion, morals, and culture. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the summer camps, senior Hamas official Isma’il Radwan said that their purpose was to bring up a generation of children who would act “in the interests of their homeland”, and give them education emphasizing the Islamic culture and its values. “If the enemy wants to bet on the slogan ‘the adults will die and the children will forget’, we will tell him that we shall gain liberty and victory, Allah willing” (Hamas summer camps website, June 15, 2011).
6. In practice, however, as in previous years, in addition to the diverse social activities (soccer, swimming, entertainment), the summer camps also included three major themes reflecting Hamas’ agenda: paramilitary training, dissemination of Hamas’ political messages, and religious indoctrination in the spirit of radical Islam.
Paramilitary training
7. Every year the children and adolescents taking part in the summer camps undergo paramilitary training. In some cases they carry wooden rifles, but some of the older children also use real rifles. The training includes various exercises, hand-to-hand combat, rope climbing, jumping, and crawling, as well as practice in the use of weapons (mostly small arms). Photographs from the summer camps show that such activities were held once again this year.

Military training for adolescents at summer camps organized by the Hamas military wing; military training in Rafah
8. This year the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, organized a week-long summer camp for about one hundred teenagers aged 13 to 18, called “Flag Camp 2”. The campers—new activists of the organization—underwent paramilitary training.
9. The graduation ceremony of the summer camp was held in Al-Zeitoun neighborhood on July 29, 2011. At the ceremony the teenagers wore military uniform and demonstrated military and physical exercises, such as sliding down ropes from buildings and disassembling and reassembling automatic weapons. They also reenacted the abduction of Gilad Shalit and blew up a cardboard model of an Israeli tank. In a speech given at the ceremony, senior Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said that the camp was important for young people “from the next generation of victory, the generation of the liberation of Palestine” (AFP, July 30, 2011).
10. In July a summer camp where adolescents underwent military training was held in Rafah. At the graduation ceremony the campers demonstrated military exercises using wooden weapons (Hamas forum, Safa, July 20, 2011).

Inculcation of Hamas’ political messages
11. As part of the political education in the summer camps, the campers often took part in demonstrations and events for the purpose of advancing Hamas’ political and propaganda objectives. Such events included:
a. A demonstration in front of the Red Cross office in Gaza City where protesters demanded to improve the detainment conditions of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails (Al-Quds, July 4, 2011).
b. A procession showing support for the flotilla (Freedom Fleet 2) that was supposed to arrive in the Gaza Strip. During the demonstrations children carried posters with propaganda slogans saying “Stop the siege” and “Save us” (summer camps’ Facebook page, July 11, 2011).
c. A demonstration for the Al-Aqsa mosque, at which children carried a poster saying “O, children, the truth is calling you, and a flame is in my heart. My nation is suffering and the Al-Aqsa mosque has been taken away” .
d. A demonstration for the release of Ra’ed Salah, the head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, detained in London. Many pictures of Ra’ed Salah were carried by the demonstrators, as well as photographs of Hamas “shaheeds” (upper right) with captions that read “Death for Allah is our highest aspiration” .

Religious Islamic indoctrination
12. Quran studies are an important theme in the summer camp activities. For example, in addition to Hamas’ summer camps, a society called Dar al-Quran al-Kareem & al-Sunnah al-Nabawiya, headed by Hamas activist Abd al-Rahman al-Jamal, opened its own summer camps at Gaza Strip mosques. The summer camps focused on Quran memorization and hosted about 20 thousand students.
Harassment of UNRWA summer camps continues
13. In addition to Hamas’ summer camps, there is also an extensive alternative system of summer camps operated by UNRWA for the past several years. This year the six-week summer camps hosted about 250,000 children and adolescents, far more than those attending Hamas’ summer camps. The summer camps include sports and leisure activities and emphasize such universal messages as peace and coexistence, without the political-religious indoctrination and paramilitary training prevalent in Hamas’ camps.
14. Hamas and UNRWA intensely compete for summer campers, a competition that once again ended with a “victory” for UNRWA. Hamas, which makes efforts to exercise greater control over the Palestinian public, considers UNRWA a competitor that has direct interaction with the Palestinian society and the ability to influence Gazans socially, culturally, and educationally. Hamas and other radical Islamic elements say that UNRWA oversteps UN mandate by operating summer camps, since it has turned them into a hub of political rather than social activity.
15. In addition, according to Hamas and radical Islamic elements, the summer camps “corrupt” the morals of Palestinian youth (in previous years UNRWA was accused of conducting coeducational activities, distributing drugs, and promoting reconciliation between the Palestinians and the Israelis). UNRWA rejects these claims. Gaza Strip human rights activist Mustafa Ibrahim noted that, in Hamas’ view, UNRWA “hijacked” almost an entire generation (of Palestinian youth) and beat Hamas on the summer camp front (Aljazeera Net, July 26, 2011).
16. With that in mind, this year saw an even more intense media battle between Hamas and UNRWA, with each side trying to persuade parents to send their children to its summer camps. Hamas mobilized the websites, local radio stations, and TV channels it controls for the campaign. Hamas’ key message was that its summer camps teach Islamic values rather than focusing solely on leisure and entertainment, as UNRWA does in its camps.
17. As in previous years, the media campaign between Hamas and UNRWA was marked by several incidents of violence against UNRWA’s summer camps:
a. On July 28, a UNRWA summer camp in the northern Gaza Strip was set on fire. UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that the main stage was damaged and UN flags were torched. The arson took place one day before the campers were planning to try and break a world record in kite flying (Maan News Agency, July 28, 2011).
b. On June 18, “angry Palestinians” forced UNRWA’s summer camps in Khan Younes and Rafah to close in protest of the organization’s failure to fulfill its promise to rebuild destroyed houses. One of the protesters said this was just the first step, and that other UNRWA summer camps would be closed soon .
18. Hamas often condemns the harassment of UNRWA’s summer camps; however, so far it has taken no effective, decisive action to put an end to this yearly recurring phenomenon.

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