After only two weeks in office, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah unexpectedly offered his resignation because of a "dispute over his powers" with other unnamed officials. President Abbas accepted his resignation but asked him to stay on as a caretaker prime minister until a replacement could be appointed.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, right, takes the oath of office in front of President Mahmoud Abbas, left, and other officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Photo: AP)
In early June, President Mahmoud Abbas swore in Hamdallah as part of a new government, along with 24 incumbent and newly-appointed cabinet officials. Hamdallah, who replaced the western-backed Salam Fayyad, only agreed to fill the position until Fatah and Hamas forge a unity government. Hamdallah would have mainly handled the bureaucratic affairs of the state, such as ensuring the PLO pays salaries on time, according to an unnamed Western diplomat quoted in The Washington Post.
Abbas' appointment of a new Fatah prime minister outraged Hamas. The Islamist group called the move illegal, stating that they should have been involved in the decision. Last month the two Palestinian political parties agreed to implement a 2011 accord to form a government of national unity.
In early June, two senior Fatah officials, Nabil Shaath and Othman Abu Gharbieh, arrived in Gaza for reconciliation talks with Hamas officials.
Living Situation in Gaza
Nearly 120,000 children plan to attend Hamas-run "summer camps" in Gaza this year. Children between the ages of 12 and 17 attend the camps: some learn how to fire guns, kidnap Israeli soldiers and plant mines. According to Ynet News, Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees seek to "instill children with values, strengthen their moral core and spread the spirit of Jihad." Nevertheless, an annual UN report on children affected by conflict and the use of child soldiers neglected to mention the training program, instead it condemned Israelis for attacks on children.
The United States government has warned its citizens against traveling to Gaza and to the West Bank, with the exception of Bethlehem and Jericho. The State Department has also urged U.S. citizens to leave the Hamas-run area and to avoid all travel to Gaza.
Gazans experienced long queues for gasoline due to fuel shortages as Egypt security forces cracked down on tunnels used for smuggling.
The Israeli government plans to provide $560,000 in compensation to two families in Gaza who lost sons in a 2005 Hamas rocket attack. The men were working in a greenhouse in Israel when they were hit with a Hamas-fired Qassam rocket. A special Defense Ministry committee decided to pay the two victims families even though they do not qualify for traditional government compensation.
Palestinian boys listen to an instructor demonstrating how to use an assault rifle at a Hamas summer camp. (Photo: EPA)
A spokesman said that the Ministry of Health in Gaza will start projects this year worth $46 million, but the ministry failed to name any specific initiatives. The ministry recently started a center specializing in open heart surgery with the World Health Organization.
Five Christian schools in Gaza will be forced to shut down if the Hamas-led government carries out a plan to forbid co-educational institutions.
Israel allowed over 100 Palestinians to see their detained family members in Nafha prison, representing the single largest group of relatives since visits restarted in July 2012,.
Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan met with top Hamas official Khalid Mashaal and Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Ankara. The officials discussed reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and the details of Erdogan upcoming trip to Gaza.
Gaza is on the path to becoming self-sustaining in growing grapes, with more than 1,500 acres of vineyards in operation.
Security Situation in Gaza
Palestinian terrorists launched rocket attacks toward Ashkelon on June 19. Iron Dome intercepted two missiles toward Israel, with two others falling short and landing in Palestinian areas. In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force launched airstrikes against targets in Gaza. The Israeli army also closed two crossings into Gaza after the rocket attacks, although the checkpoints were reopened two days later.
It is likely that Islamic Jihad launched the rockets after Hamas police supposedly shot and killed an Islamic Jihad militant, Raed Qassim Jundeyeih. Israeli officials have made it clear that they will hold Hamas responsible for any rocket fire from the enclave.
Hamas denies being responsible for Jundeyeih's death, but Islamic Jihad suspended ties with Hamas for a few days. Tension between the two groups remains, as Iran has increased funding for and strengthening ties with Islamic Jihad.
Hamas has deployed a 600 militiamen to prevent rocket attacks on Israel. This special force operates along the border with Israel and was formed to safeguard public order.
A group of Jordanian Islamists who entered Gaza through tunnels to Egypt, met with Hamas leaders. According to Egyptian officials, the delegation included members of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated party and spent two days in the enclave.
Hamas executed two Palestinians who were recently convicted of providing information to Israel's military. The Interior Ministry declined to release the names of the informants, aged 43 and 49.
The European Union Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned the death sentences issued to the two Palestinians in Gaza. The EU Missions stated that, "The de facto authorities in Gaza should refrain from carrying out any executions of prisoners and comply with the de facto moratorium on executions put in place by the Palestinian Authority."
Hamas authorities have ruled the death of a military judge an accident. Judge Ayman Imad Addin was believed to be cleaning his handgun when it inadvertently discharged, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Health.
David's Sling, Israel's latest development in the missile defense program, was unveiled in Paris on June 20. Also known as Magic Wand, it can protect Israel from medium-range missiles outside the reach of Iron Dome. David's Sling is slated for operational deployment in 2014.
Security in Sinai
More than 400 American troops will be deployed to Sinai for nine months as part of an international observer and peacekeeping mission. Soldiers from 13 nations will man posts and checkpoints, where they will report any violations of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
Bedouin tribes in Sinai rejected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's request to surrender their weapons before the June 30 protests. Rather, clan chiefs in Sinai have vowed to protect Sinai infrastructure during protests anti-government protests.
Egypt's Interior Minister planned to close the tunnels and ferry crossings between Sinai and the rest of Egypt to prevent Jihadists from infiltrating the protests. Amid calls for renewed protest across the country, security forces will also intensify efforts to find and destroy tunnels used for smuggling from Gaza.
According to a Hamas official in Gaza, Egyptian authorities will increase the number of Palestinians allowed to cross through the Rafah crossing from 800 a day to 1,100.
A truck transporting natural gas was attacked in the Northern Sinai city of Sheikh Zuwaid. The attackers chased the truck, threw Molotov cocktails and fired into the air before fleeing.
Security officials reported militants shot and killed counterterrorism officer Maj. Mohammed Abdelaziz in Sinai. Preliminary police reports suggest jihadists targeted Abdelaziz because of his role in the release of the seven abducted Egyptian soldiers last month.
Gunmen attacked the Al-Reesa checkpoint in North Sinai for the 39th time since the 2011 revolution. The town of Al-Reesa houses military officers and police near the Rafah crossing with Gaza.
Egyptian authorities seized one ton of explosives destined for Gaza at the Ahmad Hamadi tunnel, which connects the Sinai with the rest of Egypt.
Egyptian border forces uncovered a truck smuggling over seven tons of marijuana from Sinai into the rest of Egypt. Security forces arrested a 50-year-old male, as well as his 22-year-old son in connection to the seizure.
Gaza police arrested two men attempting to smuggle prescription drugs over the Gaza-Egypt border. Anti-narcotics police chief Ahmad Abu al-Qidra said that the two were found with 9,700 Tramadol prescription pain pills.
Aid and Trade
A large Islamic charity in Gaza, Abdel Qader al-Attar, reports foreign support has decreased by more than 30 percent. Al-Attar has reduced financial aid to thousands of students by 40 percent, cut back on food distributions to 14,000 families, and lowered payments for needy patients. The reduction in monthly cash transfers, coupled with the over 1,500 refugees from the Syrian war, has put new strains on charities in Gaza.
The Iranian government cut around $22 million a month in funding to Hamas for backing Syrian rebels. Hamas used much of the money to pay for the salaries of civil servants in Gaza.
A number of United Nations aid agencies expressed concerned over the growing number of Palestinian households dependent on international organizations for food assistance. The reports cite high unemployment rates, stagnant economic growth, and the financially-challenged Palestinian Authority as major factors in food insecurity. Over 34% of Palestinian households were food insecure in 2012.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton visiting the Palestinian Territories. (Photo: Ma'an News Agency)
During a visit to the Palestinian territories, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton pledged continued political and economic support by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Ashton toured a UNRWA run school in Gaza after talks with President Mahmoud Abbas.
The United States announced it would donate an additional $123 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), raising America's contribution to to $244.5 million in 2013.
The Israel Electric Company (IEC) plans to sanction the Palestinian Authority if it does not pay its 820 million sheqel ($225 million dollar) debt. The IEC provides 75% of the electricity consumed in Gaza and could implement blackouts if the debt is not settled.
Egypt and Qatar will supply medical aid to Gaza in an effort to improve hospitals, with local doctors also traveling to Qatar for additional training. The Palestinian Health Minister, Mufid al-Muhallelati, stated $6 million in aid will be used to purchase generators and to establish an emergency service department in Gaza.
A delegation of Saudi Arabian activists with the group Miles of Smiles arrived in Gaza to show solidarity with the Palestinian people and Saudi good will.
The EU recently contributed â‚¬19.2 million ($25 million) to the May salaries and pensions of nearly 75,000 Palestinian civil servants in the West Bank and Gaza. An EU representative claimed the funds supported essential services to the Palestinian people.
Sweden is considering cutting $31 million of aid to the Palestinian Authority because of delays in achieving a peace agreement with Israel.
In an attempt to boost agricultural output in Gaza and support professional cooperation, Israel invited 50 Palestinian farmers from Gaza to an agricultural conference.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to triple funding for U.S.-Israeli missile defense systems from $96 million to $284 million for 2014. Iron Dome funding will also increase to $220.3 million. Additionally, Jerusalem requested that Washington guarantee $5 billion in low-interest short-term loans for Pentagon weaponry.
The Israeli Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) released May figures for border crossings with Gaza. Almost 5,800 Palestinians traveled through the Erez Crossing and more than 5,400 truckloads of goods entered the enclave. Food and construction materials accounted for 22% and 26% of Gaza's imports respectively.
2013 Rocket Count
June: 3 rocket launchings
2012 Rocket Count
A total of 2,335 rockets and 226 mortar shells were launched at Israel last year; 1,435 of those rockets hit Israel.
JPC researchers Skyler Schmanski and Beth Kanopsic compiled this report.
Related Topics: Gaza, Hamas, Iran, Israel, Missile Defense, Palestinian Rockets, Palestinians, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign Policy, U.S. Government, United Nations | Michael Johnson
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