Israel and Palestinian representatives from Hamas and Fatah agreed to a new open-ended ceasefire on August 26th with the aid of Egyptian mediators. The ceasefire, which includes neither the demilitarization of Hamas nor the loosening of Israeli restrictions on Gaza, was virtually the same proposal that Hamas had rejected weeks earlier. According to the IDF’s Facebook page, Iron Dome intercepted 723 of the 4,480 rockets fired at Israel during Operation Protective Edge. The Israeli military also killed 750 terrorists and destroyed 32 tunnels.
Before the final ceasefire, the IDF killed three senior Hamas commanders, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Raed Attar, and Mohammed Barhoum, responsible for tunnel raids into Israel. Muhammad Deif, the group’s military leader and one of Israel’s most wanted terrorists, may have also been killed in an airstrike on his house.
Intelligence gained from the interrogation of Hamas prisoners in Israel confirms Jerusalem’s accusations that Hamas fired weapons and rockets from mosques and other civilian infrastructure.
A Hamas spokesman said on August 31st that the Palestinian Authority based in Ramallah agreed to pay the remaining salaries of Hamas civil servants in Gaza. The purported compromise settles a highly contentious issue that arose following the formation of the Palestinian unity government in May. Meanwhile, Fatah officials slammed Hamas for stealing humanitarian aid, targeting Fatah members in Gaza for political reasons, and needlessly extending the war with Israel.
Workers remove debris from a building where Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif’s wife and son were killed. (Photo: AFP)
Israeli security forces arrested 12 leaders from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the West Bank on August 26th.
Israeli security forces searched for suspects in connection to two separate bomb attacks on August 31st. During the first attack, a homemade bomb exploded at a bus station at the Rechelim Junction near Nablus. Two other pipe bombs containing screws were thrown at cars in Kdumim.
PA security forces questioned two employees of the Future for Palestine Fund, a charity run by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. According to a Times of Israel report, President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the Preventive Security Service, rather than the regular PA police, to interrogate the two Palestinians about a coup plot to overthrow the government in Ramallah.
One Israeli man was hospitalized on August 30th after a terrorist threw a molotov cocktail toward the historical “Beit Meyuhas” home in Jerusalem’s old city.
Fighting between Islamist rebels and the Syrian Army continues to spill into the Israeli Golan Heights. On August 24th, five rockets landed in the Golan, causing no injuries. Three days later, seven mortars along with stray gunfire hit Israel, wounding one IDF officer and a civilian. Israeli Army warned residents and farmers to stay away from the border.
Islamist fighters from the Al-Nusra Front captured a Syrian government border crossing with Israel on August 27th near Quneitra. The Syrian government bombed rebel-held facilities near the crossing point. The rebels are also holding hostage 45 UN peacekeepers from Fiji, demanding that they be removed from the UN terrorism list as part of a deal to release the Fijian soldiers. Eighty-one other members of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), mostly Filipinos, had been surrounded by the Islamist militants, but were able to escape to Israel. Approximately 1,200 UN soldiers from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines monitor the Golan. Prior to the incident, the Filipino government announced it would withdraw its 332 soldiers from the UNDOF mission over the next 2-3 months due to the recent deterioration of security. Czech troops might replace the leaving peacekeepers.
On August 31st, the IDF shot down a drone over the Golan with a Patriot Missile. A subsequent investigation suggest that the UAV appeared to be an Iranian “Yasir,” with a range of about 200 miles. The drone could have accidentally flown into Israeli airspace as fighting raged across the border in Syria.
At least two rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel over the last two weeks according to the IDF. One rocket hit an empty house in Upper Galilee. Israel lodged a complaint with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon after the first attack and returned fire following the second rocket strike. A subsequent Lebanese Army patrol uncovered a rocket launcher. At least nine rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon during Operation Protective Edge.
A Palestinian terrorist from the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, gestures inside an underground tunnel in Gaza on August 18, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (ABM), a terrorist organization operating in Sinai, claimed responsibility for beheading four alleged “Israeli informants” in the coastal province of Sheikh Zuweid. According to the masked extremists in the video, the captives provided intelligence on rocket launches from Sinai into Israel during Operation Protective Edge last month. An attack by an IDF UAV reportedly killed three ABM militants in Egyptian territory on July 23rd.
On August 23rd the Egyptian government announced that they had killed one terrorist in Sinai and arrested 16 others during a gunfight. Two days later, 14 other militants were killed in various shootouts in Northern Sinai.
Terrorists attacked a military convoy on September 2nd, killing 11 troops in Sheikh Zuwayed. Two Egyptians died from a roadside bomb, while the others were shot as they attempted to flee.
Reuters reports that tunnel activity between Egypt and Gaza increased during the recent war in Gaza. While most tunnel owners no longer publicly advertise their services, terrorist still use corridors to smuggle weapons and people across the border. The Egyptian government destroyed most of the larger tunnels over the past year but smaller ones, with diameters of 1-2 meters, are harder to detect. Other sources say Hamas and Islamic Jihad are using the tunnel infrastructure to one day launch rocket attacks at Israel from Sinai.
According to a separate report in Al-Monitor, the Egyptian military is evicting some residents of Rafah to create a buffer zone with Gaza. The move has stoked grievances from locals who do not feel properly compensated for the loss of their homes.