Mapping the house of the Palestinian terrorist suspected of the stabbing attack in Petah Tikva (IDF spokesman's website, August 27, 2020).
Mapping the house of the Palestinian terrorist suspected of the stabbing attack in Petah Tikva (IDF spokesman's website, August 27, 2020).
Mahmoud Abbas meets with Dominic Raab, the British foreign minister.
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh meets with Dominic Raab (Wafa, August 25, 2020).
Jibril Rajoub meets with the Turkish consul-general to Jerusalem (Jibril Rajoub's Facebook page, August 27, 2020).
Muhammad Shtayyeh speaks at the sixth session of the al-Quds Fund and Endowment's general assembly (al-Quds University website, August 21, 2020).
Muhammad Ziyara, minister of public works, visits the road-paving project (Facebook page of the Kafr 'Aqab municipality, August 26, 2020).
- The Hamas-initiated tension along the Gaza Strip border, which has continued for nearly a month, apparently came to an end this past week. On the night of August 31, 2020, after several rounds of mediation conducted by the Qatari representative, Hamas announced both sides had agreed to end the escalation and return to the status quo ante.
- According to the Lebanese and Palestinian media, the understandings reached included the following: the renewal of the fuel deliveries, the delivery of medical equipment necessary to deal with Covid-19, an increase in the amount of electricity, the full restoration of the fishing zone, and beginning the international “strategic projects” in the industrial zone. A Hamas spokesman said details about the projects will be made public in the coming days. The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar quoted “Hamas sources” as saying the organizations had set a schedule of one month for the implementation of the understandings.
- The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announcement that in an effort to reach a lull understanding, the activity of the Kerem Shalom Crossing would be restored, including the transfer of fuel. In addition, the fishing zone would be reopened. Israeli sources reported that deliberations regarding Hamas’ demands for civilian projects would continue (Ynet, August 31, 2020).
- Has the current deterioration of the security situation initiated by Gaza, which focuses on balloon terrorism, in fact come to an end? It apparently has, although that occasional balloons may be launched in the coming days. In ITIC assessment, at the core of the understandings is Hamas’ urgent need for humanitarian and economic aid, given the fact that its main efforts are turned towards dealing with the worsening Covid-19 crisis in the Gaza Strip.
- The number of Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip continues mounting sharply within the civilian population. On August 31, 2020, the number of active cases reached 319, up from 36 on August 24, 2020. The Hamas administration announced a full lockdown and harsh preventive measures. However, the virus can be expected to spread throughout the Gaza Strip and with it Hamas will find it increasingly difficult to cope with the subsequent crisis.
- An Israeli civilian was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist from Nablus in an attack in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva. The terrorist had a work permit for Israel. In addition, another stabbing, in the central Israeli city of Rosh HaAyn about two weeks ago, in which an Israeli civilian was seriously wounded. The stabber was a Palestinian from Jenin, who was staying in Israeli illegally.
The Gaza Strip
- Following the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases, the ministry of health in Gaza divided the Gaza Strip by color into three zones according to the level of infection. Based on that, the decision was made to extend the lockdown of the Gaza City and northern Gaza Strip districts, considered “red areas,” and to take harsh preventive measures. The lockdown will also be extended in the central, Rafah and Khan Yunis districts, (most of which are considered “yellow areas”) by 48 hours (al-Aqsa, August 31, 2020).
Infographic issued by the ministry of health in Gaza divides the Gaza Strip by color according to the seriousness of the spread of COVID-19. Red areas are under full lockdown, in yellow areas there is limited movement with preventive measures and a curfew between 20:00 and 08:00, in green areas movement is permitted with preventive measures and a curfew between 20:00 and 08:00 (Dunia al-Watan, September 1, 2018).
Judea and Samaria
- This past week there was an increase in the number of cases in the PA territories, but nevertheless the curve seems to be flattening. The number of active cases stood at 7,471 on September 1, 2020. Most of them (3,400) are in the Hebron district. Of the hospitalized cases 28 are in ICUs, six on ventilators. So far there have been 172 deaths. The numbers in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods continue trending upward.
Understandings for a lull
- The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen reported the understandings reached as follows: the operation of “electric line 161” and an increase in the amount of electricity it carries; the renewal of the supply of fuel to run the power plant, which will be paid for with the money donated by Qatar; the delivery of all the medical equipment necessary to deal with the spread of Covid-19; and beginning the implementation of “large strategic project” in the industrial zones in the Gaza Strip, which will help reduce unemployment. Implementing the agreement has been guaranteed by Qatar, and it includes a set schedule (al-Mayadeen, August 31, 2020). According to Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, in the near future details on the projects for the Gazans’ welfare will be announced, which are part of the understandings (Sawa, August 31, 2020).
- The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported that according to “Hamas sources,” the organizations had determined that one month only would be allowed for the implementation of all the understandings. , According to the report, Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations wanted to gradually increase the escalation based on the equation of “a bombardment in return for a bombardment.” However, the worsening economic/health situation caused by the spread of Covid-19 and the serious lack of means to deal with the epidemic influenced their decision (al-Akhbar, Lebanon, September 1, 2020).
- The understandings were reached after almost of month of Hamas-initiated tension in the south (which began on August 6, 2020). The focus of the violent activity was on daily launching of IED and incendiary balloons, and sometimes occasional rocket fire in response to IDF counterattacks. Hamas initiated the tension to put pressure Israel to supply humanitarian aid and to wrest economic concessions from it, and to extend and if possible increase the donations from Qatar. However, throughout, it was obvious that the pressure exerted by Hamas was monitored and not meant to deteriorate into another round of escalation.
- Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem thanked Qatar for its efforts, and thanked the various mediators (without specifically mentioning Egypt by name). He said the Palestinians would continue struggling to lift the “siege” of the Gaza Strip, adding hat they would continue making progress and that sooner or later Israel would surrender to the Palestinian decision to “break the siege” (al-Aqsa TV, August 31, 2020).
- So far Israel has not made a formal announcement regarding the understandings. Israeli sources confirmed that an understanding had been reached through Qatari mediation and that the Qataris would deliver the final monthly donations to the Gaza Strip, as well as a Covid-19 donation. The sources added that deliberations regarding Hamas’ other demands for civilian projects would continue. In addition Hamas’ formal announcement about the understandings was in response to Israel’s demands. The COGAT announced that in an effort to reach a lull and at the end of consultations led by the Israeli defense minister, the normal activity of the Kerem Shalom Crossing would be renewed, including the transfer of fuel, and the fishing zone would be reopened (Ynet, August 31, 2020).
Diesel tankers enter the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing
(Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, September 1, 2020).
Rocket fire into Israel (before the understandings were reached)
- On August 28, 2020, six rockets were fired into Israeli territory. They all fell in open areas. No casualties or damage were reported. In response IDF aircraft attacked Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, among them a site for the manufacture of weapons (IDF spokesman, August 28, 2020). Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum claimed Israel was responsible for the escalation in the Gaza Strip. He condemned the continuation of the “siege” and preventing the entrance of goods and fuel into Gaza, which he alleged were “crimes against humanity” (Sawa, August 28, 2020).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
- Balloon terrorism continued until the understandings were reached, causing dozens of fires in Israel every day, mostly in the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip border. Several balloons landed near train tracks. Police demolitions experts who had been summoned found a large number of IED balloons. A balloon with a grenade attached to it was found near a greenhouse in the western Negev. An IED balloon was found in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. In response to the balloon terrorism IDF aircraft attacked Hamas targets and IDF tanks shelled Hamas military posts in the southern Gaza Strip. After the announcement that understandings had been reached there was a significant drop in the number of balloons launched.
- With Hamas’ formal announcement about the understandings, a senior figure in the Gaza Strip claimed that in coordination with all the Palestinian organizations orders had been given to stop launching IED and incendiary balloons (France 24, August 31, 2020). Jawad Hussein, who represents himself as an operative in the Sons of al-Zawari unit in Rafah, posted to his Facebook page on the night of August 31, 2020, that incendiary balloon launching had been officially stopped (Jawad Hussein’s Facebook page, August 31, 2020).
- However, the Jihad Units of the Sword (of Islam), a small network called the Battalions of the Sword of Islam, announced they would not abandon the battlefield unless they saw and knew that Israel (“the enemy”) had surrendered to their conditions and implemented them on the ground. The network later reported that its operatives continued launching IED balloons (Battalions of the Sword of Islam’s Telegram channel, August 31, 2020).
Stabbing attack in Petah Tikva
Right: The scene of the stabbing attack at the Segula Junction in Petah Tikva (Shehab Facebook page, August 26, 2020). Left: The knife found at the scene of the attack (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, August 26, 2020).
- According to reports the terrorist was a Palestinian from the Nablus region who did not have a record of security violations and who had a work permit for Israel (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, Sharon district, August 26, 2020). The Palestinian media reported that he was Khalil Abd al-Khaleq Dweikat, 46, from the village of Rujeib, southeast of Nablus, married and father to seven daughters (Facebook page of the village of Rujeib, August 31, 2020).
(Facebook page of the village of Rujeib, August 31, 2020).
- IDF forces arrived at the family’s house in Rujeib, confiscated documents and interrogated the family. The soldiers also mapped the house in preparation for its possible destruction (IDF spokesman, August 27, 2020).
Solving the case of the stabbing attack in Rosh HaAyn
- On August 15, 2020, an Israeli living in Ashqelon went to his new house, which was under construction in Rosh HaAyn in central Israel. While on one of the lower floors he was stabbed several times and critically wounded. The attacker fled. The investigation of the event indicated he had probably been the victim of a stabbing attack. The Israeli security forces immediately began intelligence and operational activity to locate the stabber.
- On August 20, 2020, the Palestinian who carried out the stabbing attack was detained in Jenin, along with three Palestinians suspected of helping him. The Palestinian was staying in Israel illegally. Interrogation revealed his motivation was nationalist. He reconstructed the event with the interrogators (Israeli Security Agency spokesman’s unit, August 31, 2020)..
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and the Israeli security forces. The more prominent events were the following (all reports and information from Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria unless otherwise noted):
- August 31, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle on the trans-Judea road north of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- August 30, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle on the trans-Judea road. No casualties were reported.
- August 29, 2020: Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at the fence of the community of Psagot, close to Ramallah. No casualties were reported.
- August 28, 2020: In the Samarian village of Asira al-Qibliya Hebrew graffiti reading “Jewish blood is not worthless” was spray-painted on the walls of a house, and a vehicle parked nearby was set on fire. On the same day “Jerusalem is ours” was spray-painted on a vehicle on French Hill in Jerusalem (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit in Jerusalem, August 28, 2020).
- August 28, 2020: An IDF soldier was wounded in the face by a stone thrown at security forces in Hebron.
- August 28, 2020: During a Border Police special forces activity in Issawiya in east Jerusalem stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the fighters. A marble slab was thrown from one of the buildings. No casualties were reported; a police car was damaged (Ynet, August 28, 2020).
- August 28, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus northeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported; the front windshield of the bus was damaged.
- August 28, 2020: Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Israeli community of Beit El. No casualties were reported.
- August 27, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle east of Ariel. No casualties or damage were reported.
- August 27, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion road. No casualties were reported. Stones were also thrown in another attack, damaging the vehicle.
- August 27, 2020: Stones were thrown at an Israeli community in Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- August 26, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported.
- August 26, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus north of Hebron. No casualties were reported. Stones were also thrown at several civilian Israeli vehicles.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Reactions to the Israel-UAE agreement
- In the PA the media campaign against the Israel-UAE agreement continues. The Israeli-American delegation’s visit to the UAE on August 31, 2020, increased Palestinian criticism. A meeting of the PLO’s Executive Committee warned the Arab states not to normalize relations with Israel, as had the “traitor” the UAE. The Executive Committee stressed that the Arab states had to reinforce the Palestinian position, and that any other position strengthened Israel and harmed the Arab peace initiative (Wafa, August 27, 2020).
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, held a press conference where he attacked the “deal of the century” and the American president, saying that the United States needed a statesman and not a [so-called] real estate agent. He called on the pre-trial panel of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to publish its decision about its judicial authority over the Palestinian territories. He said that in the current situation any normalization with Israel was Israeli aggression, perpetuated the “siege” and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He also called on the UAE and the Arab states to honor the Arab peace initiative (Palestinian TV, August 27, 2020).
Israeli-American delegation visits the UAE
- The following were some of the reactions to the visit of the Israeli-American delegation to the UAE:
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said peace was not a tool to normalize Israel’s [alleged] “war crimes” and that the expression “peace in return for peace” had the potential to expand the settlement project and deny the Palestinian people’s rights (Saeb Erekat’s Twitter account, August 31, 2020).
- Hamas said in a statement that the official reception held for the Israeli delegation in the UAE emphasized the UAE’s continuing activity against regional Arab national security. Hamas called on the UAE to change its mind, and on the people of the Arab world to do everything that had to be done to again defend Palestine (Hamas website, August 31, 2020).
- Senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figure Khader Habib called the visit “a black day in the history of the Arab nation,” and said the normalization agreement would have a great influence on the Middle East in general and the Palestinian people in particular. He said the visit legitimizes an Israeli presence in the region and gives it the justification to tighten the “siege” on the Gaza Strip and to escalate its [alleged] “aggression” against the Palestinian people (Shabakat Quds, August 31, 2020).
- Dominic Raab, the British foreign minister, visited the PA and met with Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh. During the meeting with Shtayyeh they discussed the £2.7 million British aid package for the PA. They also discussed British aid for the PA’s fight against Covid-19 (Dominic Raab’s Twitter account, August 25, 2020).
Right: Mahmoud Abbas meets with Dominic Raab, the British foreign minister. Left: PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh meets with Dominic Raab (Wafa, August 25, 2020).
- Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee, met with Ahmet Demirer, the Turkish consul-general to Jerusalem. Rajoub briefed the consul about recent developments, including the results of the Palestinian leadership’s meeting in Ramallah with all the Palestinian organizations to discuss Israel’s intention to impose its law on territories in Judea and Samaria. Rajoub thanked the consul for Turkey’s support of the Palestinians.
Jibril Rajoub meets with the Turkish consul-general to Jerusalem
(Jibril Rajoub’s Facebook page, August 27, 2020).
- Hussein al-Sheikh, chairman of the PA’s civilian authority, paid a visit to Qatar. According to an anonymous Palestinian source, Mahmoud Abbas sent al-Sheikh to talk to the Qataris about the normalization of Israeli-UAE relations and to hear Qatar’s position. His mission was also to ask the Qataris to increase the financial aid it gave the PA (al-Araby al-Jadeed, August 27, 2020).
Attempt to resolve the tax revenue problem
- A senior Palestinian figure revealed that to the Middle East, was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve the tax revenue problem. Reportedly Mladenov proposed a number of ideas for alternative mechanisms that would enable the PA to renew acceptance of the funds. One idea was that a UN representative would examine the tax accountability between the two sides. Reportedly, Mladenov has the support of the EU, in view of the PA’s unprecedentedly difficult economic situation (Sawa, August 29, 2020).
PA activity to increase its influence in east Jerusalem
- The PA continues trying to increase its influence in east Jerusalem, mainly by investing money and supporting city institutions, despite its economic crisis. Recent examples are the following:
- The al-Quds Fund and Endowment, headed by Palestinian businessman Muneib al-Masri, held its sixth general assembly and board of directors’ meeting – via Zoom – on the al-Quds University campus on August 19, 2020. Participants included the Saudi Arabian prince Turqi bin Faisal, chairman of the al-Quds Fund’s board of trustees; Dr. Bandar bin Muhammad bin Hamza Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB); PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh; Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, the PA’s deputy governor for Jerusalem; a number of consuls and others. The Fund’s secretary general Taher al-Disi, announced the establishment of a fund of $100 million to support Jerusalem registered with the ISDB (Facebook page of the al-Quds Fund and Endowment, August 22, 2020). The ISDB president praised Saudi Arabia for its many initiatives for Palestine in general and Jerusalem in particular, including the establishment of the al-Aqsa and al-Quds funds, which have financial resources of a billion dollars and which are managed by the ISDB (ISDB website, August 20, 2020).
- On August 25, 2020, Muhammad Ziyara, PA minister of public works and housing, visited the construction of the road between Qalandia and Jerusalem. He was accompanied by the deputy minister of Jerusalem affairs, the head of the Kafr ‘Aqab municipality (within the area of Jerusalem’s jurisdiction), the head of the al-Ram municipality and representatives from civilian and social institutions. He announced the completion of the construction of the road from the Qalandia roadblock to al-Bireh, adding that construction in the other direction would begin the following week. He said the project was his ministry’s top priority because it connected the north to the south, and was one of the gates to Jerusalem. Its length, when finished, would be three kilometers (a little less than two miles), and its cost would be ₪4,350,000 (about $1.3 million) (Facebook page of the PA ministry of public works and housing, August 26, 2020).
- The committee appointed by PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh found a way to resolve the financial crisis threatening to close the Makassed Hospital in east Jerusalem. The solution is based on a loan the hospital will receive from the banks. In the meantime the PA government will increase referrals to the hospital and provide a doctor who will be permanently assigned to the hospital to make it easier to examine bills and speed up payment (Wafa, August 27, 2020). According to Dr. Hitham al-Hassan, advisor to the secretary general of the Makassed Hospital Association, the PA’s financial support of the hospital dropped and there was a 30% decline in referrals. That led to a decline in the hospital’s income. Then referrals from the Gaza Strip stopped. He said the hospital was currently working at only 50% capacity (website of Radio Nisaa’ FM, August 30, 2020).
 For further information, see, the August 31, 2020 bulletin, "The Spread of Covid-19 in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip." ↑
 For further information, updated to August 24, 2020, see the August 24, 2020 bulletin "Continuing deterioration of the security situation along the Gaza Strip border (updated to August 24, 2020)" ↑
 Line 161 is the new above-ground power line to the Gaza Strip. It will send 100 megawatts of electricity to the Gaza Strip, which will in effect almost double the amount of electricity Israel supplies to the Gaza Strip, which is currently 125 megawatts (Alex Fishman in Yedioth Ahronot, June 23, 2019). ↑
 A significant attack is defined by the ITIC as involving shooting, a vehicular attack, the use of IEDs, or a combination of the above. Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown by Palestinians are not included. ↑