Israel carried out an air-strike on the Gaza Strip Oct. 5 in response to a rocket attack from the territory—said to have been claimed by the "Sheikh Omar Hadid Brigade," a Salafist organization apparently affiliated with ISIS. Two rockets fired at Israel the previous night; one exploded in an open area in Eshkol, causing no injuries or damage, while the second failed to reach Israeli territory. The Omar Brigade—named after a figure who helped Abu Musab al-Zarqawi set up al-Qaeda in Iraq a decade ago—has also claimed responsibility for rocket fire on the Israeli cities of Sderot and Beersheba last month. More air-strikes on Gaza were launched following a rocket launched Oct. 10, which was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system. The new air-strikes reportedly hit Hamas targets. (Haaretz, Oct. 11; Ma'an, Oct. 10; JP, AFP, Oct. 5) The ISIS franchise in Gaza had been previously named as the "Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem."
Hundreds of Israeli settlers rioted across the occupied West Bank late Oct. 1, with multiple attacks reported on Palestinian homes and vehicles in the aftermath of an earlier shooting that killed two settlers near Nablus. In the Palestinian village of Beitillu, assailants torched a car and spray-painted "Revenge Henkin" on a nearby wall, the army said, noting that nobody was hurt. Eitam and Naama Henkin, both in their 30s, were gunned down while driving on that night between the illegal settlements of Itamar and Elon More, in the north of the Palestinian territory. Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car. Shortly after the shooting, locals said over 200 settlers attempted to raid the town of Huwwara south of Nablus under the protection of Israeli soldiers, while Palestinians used speakers from a mosque to mobilize villagers to resist the incursion. A large number of Israeli forces raided Beit Furik village and searched the surrounding countryside, while settlers raided Burin and smashed Palestinian vehicles near the Huwwara checkpoint and on a nearby main road.
Israeli forces entered the al-Aqsa Mosque compound's southern mosque on Sept. 15 during the third straight day of violent clashes at the third holiest site in Islam. Israeli forces were reported to have fired stun grenades, tear-gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshipers inside the mosque. Officials from the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Endowment office in Jerusalem told Ma'an News Agency that Israeli forces entered the compound at 6:30 AM, deploying across the compound before advancing on the southern mosque. They began to close the mosque's doors with chains and steels, but during the ensuing clashes with Palestinian worshipers they entered the site, witnesses said.
Thousands of Palestinians took part in the funeral of Riham Dawabsha, 27, who died overnight Sept. 6 after succumbing to wounds she sustained more than a month ago in an arson attack that killed her husband and 18-month-old son. The funeral march set off from the entrance of Duma village in southern Nablus and proceeded to the village cemetery. Dawabsha was given a military funeral as members of the Palestinian Authority security forces headed the march. The mother of two was buried next to her husband and son who were laid to rest last month. Dawabsha died hours after her birthday, while her husband died on Aug. 8, the couple's wedding anniversary. Mourners held Palestinian flags and the flags of Palestinian political factions in addition to signs demanding national unity, while others called for revenge and demanded the Israeli government find and hold the attackers accountable.
Palestinian Christians clashed with Israeli forces following Sunday mass on Aug. 30 when demonstrators, including priests, marched to protest renewed work on Israel's controversial separation wall in the Christian-majority town of Beit Jala in the occupied West Bank. The march, the latest in a string of protests, moved through neighborhoods in the Bethlehem-district town where Israeli forces are extending the separation wall, which is considered illegal under international law. Israeli forces shot tear-gas at protesters and physical altercations broke out when troops attempted to suppress the protest. Two protesters were arrested for allegedly throwing stones at soldiers guarding the construction zone, police said.
The ongoing dilemmas over Palestinian statehood took a new turn this week as the Vatican objected to a Palestinian Authority request for the two observer states to the United Nations to be allowed to raise their flags at its headquarters. The Palestinian leadership called on the UN to adopt a resolution approving the raising of the Palestinian and Vatican flags alongside those of the member states. In an Aug. 28 statement, the Holy See said it would abide by any resolution, but noted that since the its founding in 1945, it has been a tradition that "only flags of member States are displayed at the UN headquarters and offices." The statement seems to be aimed at placating Israel, which harshly criticized the Vatican in June after it formally recognized a Palestinian state, signing its first bilateral accord with the Palestinian Authority, concerning the activities of the Church in the Palestinian territories. A vote on the flag resolution, sponsored by 21 countries, is to take place Sept. 15. Among the co-sponsors are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Jordan. An Israeli Foreign Ministry official dismissed the resolution as a "cheap and unnecessary gimmick."
Violence was reported across the West Bank and Jerusalem July 31, as Palestinians protested the "price tag" killing of an 18-month-old infant in Duma, near Nablus. The 18-month-old was killed an arson attack when suspected Israeli settlers smashed the windows of two homes in Duma, throwing flammable liquids and Molotov cocktails inside and catching the homes ablaze. The infant, Ali Saad Dawabsha, was trapped inside the family's home as the fire spread. The child was burned alive. His parents and four-year-old brother were left with severe burns. Graffiti near the scene of the attack said "Price tag," "Revenge" and "Long live Messiah the king" in Hebrew. Israeli authorities, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, condemned the attack as "terrorism."
Bulldozers backed by Israeli forces destroyed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev Desert on July 2 for the 86th time in the last four years. "Israeli bulldozers forced their way into the village under the protection of dozens of Israeli forces," Attia al-Asam, who heads the regional council of "unrecognized" Bedouin communities in the Negev, told Turkey's Anadolu Agency. Israeli forces surrounded the village and displaced the population before demolishing the homes, the local leader added. Saleem al-Wakili, a 57-year-old Bedouin resident, added: "It is the 86th time they destroyed my house and I will rebuild it tomorrow. The Israelis are trying to exile us from our land by demolishing our homes, but they will not succeed."