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News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (February 19 –25, 2020)

This past week terrorist events focused on another round of escalation from the Gaza Strip,
initiated by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) (February 23-24, 2020). More than 110 rockets were fired at the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip and the southern Israeli cities of Sderot and Ashqelon. In response the IDF attacked PIJ military wing targets in the Gaza Strip and near Damascus. In this round of escalation, as in the previous one (November 2019), Hamas abstained from firing rockets and the IDF avoided attacking Hamas targets.

The rocket fire began two days after Israel announced unprecedented measures to ease daily life in the Gaza Strip, part of the understandings for an arrangement (Israel increased the fishing zone off the Gaza coast to 15 nautical miles and issued 7,000 permits to Gazan businessmen for entrance into Israel). In addition, Qatar announced it would increase the funds it distributes in the Gaza Strip every month to $12 million and would continue the payments until the end of 2020. Following the escalation Israel announced it was closing the crossings from Israel into the Gaza Strip and shutting down the fishing zone.

The round of escalation was preceded by two PIJ attempts to attack IDF soldiers near the
security fence in the Khan Yunis region (southern Gaza Strip). On February 19, 2020, a squad of snipers attacked an IDF force. On February 23, 2020, two PIJ operatives placed an IED near the fence. The operatives were shot and one was killed, and the IDF used the blade of a bulldozer to remove his body (lest it be booby-trapped). That was the alleged reason for the rocket fire into Israel.

The events of this past week again illustrate that the PIJ has its own agenda and policies,
which in ITIC assessment are inspired by Iran, without consideration for the interests of
Hamas, which is motivated by the advantages it reaps from the arrangement with Israel.

However, because of various internal and external factors, Hamas does not enforce its policy of restraint on the PIJ, and as a result it is difficult for Hamas (and Israel) to promote
a stabile, sustainable arrangement, even though the advantages are clear to both sides.

In Judea and Samaria popular terrorism continues, focusing on stabbing attacks in
Jerusalem. This past week a young Palestinian woman from east Jerusalem attempted to
stab an Israeli civilian on the Armon Hanatziv promenade. She was detained. Another
Palestinian, who tried to carry out a stabbing attack near the Lions Gate in the Old City of
Jerusalem, was shot and killed.

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