Rock (yellow circle) thrown at an IDF officer during riots in the village of Mughayir on December 11, 2020 (QudsN Facebook page, December 11, 2020).
Isma'il Haniyeh gives a speech for the 33rd anniversary of the founding of Hamas (Hamas website, December 13, 2020).
Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas' political bureau, interviewed by al-Aqsa TV for the 33rd anniversary of the founding of Hamas (Shehab Facebook page, December 12, 2020).
Mahmoud Abbas meets in Doha with the emir of Qatar (Mahmoud Abbas' Facebook page, December 14, 2020).
Hussein al-Sheikh, chairman of the PA civil authority, meets with the Qatari foreign minister (Hussein al-Sheikh's Facebook page, December 14, 2020).
- In the Gaza Strip the number of active Covid-19 cases reported by the ministry of health is 8,723. However, the real number is apparently higher (for reasons including the low number of tests administered). In Judea and Samaria the rise in the number of active cases continues and currently stands at 14,696. While in the Gaza Strip the Hamas administration has successfully kept the local residents calm, in Judea and Samaria criticism of the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been voiced, primarily in Hebron, where last week there were violent clashes between the security forces who entered the city (in coordination with Israel) and members of the al-Ja’abari clan.
- This past week Palestinians rioted against the Israeli security forces in the village of al-Mughayir, located northeast of Ramallah. The social networks uploaded a video of four youths throwing rocks and stones at an IDF officer. (Note: Last week a young Palestinian was killed during riots in the village). Moreover, Palestinians continued throwing rocks, stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles on the roads in Judea and Samaria.
- Mahmoud Abbas continues his visits to Arab states. After visiting Jordan and Egypt, this past week he went to Qatar. In ITIC assessment, the agenda of the talks includes the PA’s bilateral relations with the aforementioned countries, the significance of the normalization of Israel’s relations with Arab states and coordinating positions before the entrance of a new American administration.
- The Hamas movement cancelled its main rally in Gaza City for the 33rd anniversary of its founding. Senior Hamas figures gave speeches for the event whose main motifs were rejecting any political solution or compromise with Israel, calling for the continuation of the “resistance” (i.e., terrorism), especially in Judea and Samaria, and Hamas’ commitment to effecting the release of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
- Hamas is making preparations for its general internal elections, which will be held during the first half of 2021. In December 2020 elections were held for the prisoners in Israeli jails, including their supreme leadership committee. Salameh al-Qatawi, from Birzeit (north of Ramallah) was chosen as committee chairman, the senior prisoner position. He is a Hamas operative serving a prison term of 15 years for his involvement in three suicide bombing attacks against Israel during the second intifada.
The Gaza Strip
The number of active cases in the Gaza Strip is currently 8,723, down from 10,647 a week ago. The percentage of positive test results is 37.1%. The number of coronavirus-related deaths rose by eight and is now 210. There are 356 patients in ICUs, 226 of them in serious condition (al-Ra’i news agency, December 15, 2020). However, the real number of active cases is apparently higher than the number reported publicly, because, among other reasons, of the small number of tests administered.
- In the wake of the shortage of ICU beds for Covid-19 patients and the increase in the number of seriously and critically ill patients, the ministry of health in Gaza said that Covid-19 patients were being hospitalized in the general wards of the various hospitals. That was done after all the ICU beds initially prepared in the European Hospital and the Turkish Hospital were occupied (Dunia al-Watan, December 15, 2020).
Judea and Samaria
The rise in the extent of Covid-19 infection and Covid-19-related deaths continues. The number of active cases is currently 14,696; the percentage of positive test results is between 20% and 30%. Nevertheless, the PA still abstains from imposing a full and general lockdown on Judea and Samaria. Instead, it continues implementing new preventive measures, including imposing a full lockdown on the four districts with the highest rates of infection (the Nablus, Hebron, Bethlehem and Tulkarm districts). The full lockdown was publicly criticized, especially in Hebron, where protest demonstrations were held by businessmen and members of local clans. There were violent clashes between operatives of the PA security forces who entered the city of Hebron (in coordination with Israel) and members of the al-Ja’abari clan.
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- Relative quiet continues in Gaza. This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Palestinians riot again in the village of Mughayir
- On December 11 a video was uploaded to the social media of four young Palestinians throwing rocks and stones at an IDF officer during a riot in the village of Mughayir, northeast of Ramallah. Note: On December 4, during a riot in the village where Palestinians also threw rocks and stones, a young Palestinian boy was killed after having been shot in the stomach (the event is under investigation by the IDF’s Criminal Investigation Division).
Rock (yellow circle) thrown at an IDF officer during riots in the village of Mughayir on December 11, 2020 (QudsN Facebook page, December 11, 2020).
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. The more prominent events were the following:
- December 14, 2020: Stones were thrown at an bus southeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported; the bus was damaged.
- December 12, 2020: Stones were thrown at a bus south of Nablus. No casualties or damage were reported.
- December 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a vehicle southwest of Ramallah. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- December 10, 2020: Stones were thrown east of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported.
- December 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a vehicle southeast of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- December 9, 2020: Stones were thrown at a bus southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported
- December 9, 2020: Stones were thrown at a bus east of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported; the bus was damaged. Three suspects were detained.
- December 9, 2020: Stones were thrown at a bus in Hawwara (south of Nablus). No casualties were reported; the bus was damaged.
- December 8, 2020: Stones were thrown at a bus north of Jericho. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus was damaged.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Senior Hamas figures’ statements on the 33rd anniversary of the movement’s founding
- Given the Covid-19 epidemic, Hamas decided to cancel its traditional rally in Gaza City to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of its founding. Senior Hamas figures gave speeches and were interviewed for the event, the main motifs of which were the following:
- “The resistance in all its forms” (i.e., terrorist attacks) will continue until the realization of the Palestinian people’s “rights.” The West Bank is the most important battlefield for waging the conflict with Israel. Anyone who thinks the West Bank is calm or has been deterred [from attacks] is seriously mistaken (Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, Hamas website, December 13, 2020).
Isma’il Haniyeh gives a speech for the 33rd anniversary of the founding of Hamas
(Hamas website, December 13, 2020).
- Hamas rejects any territorial compromise regarding the land of Palestine, which is Islamic land. Hamas is examining all the ways to reach the Israeli heartland, whether with rockets, tunnels or any other way. Hamas will fight Israel with all its forces, whether with knives or suicide bombing attacks (Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, al-Aqsa TV, December 12, 2020).
Fathi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, interviewed by al-Aqsa TV for the 33rd anniversary of the founding of Hamas (Shehab Facebook page, December 12, 2020).
- Hamas made a meaningful contribution to the release of Palestinian prisoners, Hamas and the “resistance” operatives work quietly and forcefully for the sake of releasing additional prisoners (Isma’il Haniyeh, Hamas website, December 13, 2020).
- Normalization, security coordination and talks with Israel are an illusion that will disappear before the eyes of their creators and supporters, because only through the use of force can liberation be achieved (senior Hamas figure Nasim Yassin, Palinfo, December 13, 2020).
Hamas makes preparations for its general elections
- On December 5 the central election committee of the Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails announced the results of the elections to the supreme leadership committee of prisoners for 2021-2022. According to the announcement the elections were held in four stages: election to the General Shura Council, composed of 51 members from all the jails; the election of 11 members to the supreme leadership committee from among the members of the General Shura Council. To the supreme leadership committee are added the leaders of the Hamas prisoners in the large jails (Ktziot, Ofer, Rimon and Megiddo), so that the leadership committee has 15 members, who choose the chairman and the deputy chairman of the supreme leadership committee.
- Prisoner Salameh al-Qatawi from Birzeit was chosen to chair the supreme leadership committee; prisoner Abd al-Nasser Issa was chosen as his deputy. Salameh Muhammad Abd al-Rahman al-Qatawi, 38, was detained in August 2009. He is serving a term of 15 years (AsraMedia website, December 6, 2020). He is a Hamas operative from Birzeit who was involved in three suicide bombing attacks against Israel during the second intifada in 2002: the suicide bombing attack in Café Moment in Jerusalem; the suicide bombing attack in the student cafeteria at the Mt. Scopus campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the suicide bombing attack in the Sheffield Club in Rishon LeTzion.
Members of the supreme leadership committee of Hamas prisoners who were elected in the elections held in prisons (Safa, December 6, 2020).
- Palestinian commentators on websites claimed that Musa Abu Marzouq wants to again fill a senior position in the Hamas leadership and plans to run in the internal Hamas elections, expected to be held during the first half of 2021. The commentators are divided on the question of whether he will run for the position of Hamas leader or if he aspires to the role of deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau. Commentator Hussein Alian claimed that Musa Abu Marzouq will not be able to run against Isma’il Haniyeh or Khaled Mashaal for the position of Hamas leader. However, he will try to return to the position of deputy chairman of the political bureau with a wider field of authority (al-Mushraq News, December 8, 2020). Commentator Ahmed Abd al-Rauf said the problem of Musa Abu Marzouq, as compared with Isma’il Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, is that he lacks their charisma and popularity, while both of them have thousands of supporters (Dunia al-Watan, December 7, 2018).
Egyptian security delegation visits Gaza
- An Egyptian security delegation, headed by General Ahmed Abd al-Khalq, who holds the Palestinian portfolio in Egyptian General Intelligence, visited the Gaza Strip for a few hours on December 9. Hamas reported that its own delegation, headed by Khalil al-Haya, met with the Egyptians and discussed a variety of issues with them.
- Among the issues discussed were the internal Palestinian reconciliation, ways to force Israel to lift the “siege,” filling the needs of the distressed residents of Gaza and ways to deal with the coronavirus epidemic. They also discussed opening the Rafah Crossing to meet the needs of travelers (Hamas’ Telegram channel, December 9, 2020). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the Egyptian delegation discussed the issues of the [internal Palestinian] reconciliation and the lull. Sources close to the Egyptian delegation reported that the talks also dealt with the Israelis held in the Gaza Strip (Ma’an, December 9, 2020).
Iranian aid distributed in Gaza
- On October 22, 2020, according to reports the al-Ansar Charity Association, which operates in the Gaza Strip, in cooperation with the Iranian Shaheed Foundation, distributed a donation from Iran to the families of Palestinian shaheeds killed in Operation Protective Edge. Nasser al-Sheikh Ali, responsible for media bulletins from the al-Ansar Charity Association, said that the donation of $700,000 was distributed to 1,700 families of Operation Protective Edge shaheeds. He thanked Iran for its support of the Palestinian cause despite the “siege” imposed on [Iran], as opposed to the PA and the PLO which had abandoned their responsibility for the families of Operation Protective Edge shaheeds and did not pay them allotments. Representatives of the families also thanked Iran (Paltoday, October 22, 2020; al-Hadath, October 22, 2020).
- The al-Ansar Charity Association Facebook page no longer exists, apparently having been closed by Facebook. The al-Ansar website was hacked and is inactive, while its Twitter account has two death notices from the end of November 2020 about the deaths of the former chairman of the Iranian Shaheed Foundation and of the chairman of the Palestine Shaheed Institution (other notices on the site are from March 2019).
The homepage of the hacked website
Mahmoud Abbas visits Qatar
- On December 13 Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Qatar for a two-day visit. He was accompanied by Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister; Hussein al-Sheikh, chairman of the PA’s civil authority; and Majed Faraj, head of Palestinian general intelligence. On December 14 Mahmoud Abbas met with the emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamas al-Thani. They discussed instituting closer relations between Qatar and the Palestinians and the Palestinian cause. Mahmoud Abbas thanked al-Thani for his support of the Palestinians (Mahmoud Abbas’ Facebook page, December 14, 2020). The visit followed Mahmoud Abbas’ visits last week to Jordan and Egypt, which in ITIC assessment dealt with bilateral relations and coordinating positions in relation to the new American administration.
Palestinian reactions to normalization of Israeli-Moroccan relations
On December 10 Donald Trump tweeted that Morocco had agreed to normalize relations with Israel. The PA ignored the tweet. Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, did not report an announcement regarding the normalization or publish a response. On December 11 the King Mohammed VI of Morocco called Mahmoud Abbas to emphasize that Morocco had not changed its position regarding the Palestinian cause and the need for the two-state solution, but Wafa did not report the conversation. The lack of a formal Palestinian reaction is, in ITIC assessment, a lesson learned from the PA’s overreacting to the normalization of relations with the UAE and Bahrain, after which the PA had to back down.
- However, senior figures in the PA and PLO condemned Morocco’s move, although they remained relatively restrained. Hamas, however, assailed Morocco and called the normalization of relations “treason.” The main statements were the following:
- Nabil Sha’ath, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said in response to the announcement that it was forbidden to allow normalization of relations with Israel unless it withdrew from the lands it occupied in 1967, which would make it possible to establish an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, and allow the Palestinian refugees to realize their “right of return” (al-Andalou News, December 11, 2020).
- Bassam al-Salhi, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said that any normalization which contradicted the Arab peace plan was unacceptable. He added that normalization has a very negative influence on the Palestinian cause because of the continuation of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and its refusal to implement UN resolutions or implement the Arab peace plan (al-Andalou News, December 11, 2020).
- Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee, in an interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese al-Mayadeen TV station, said that Morocco’s agreement came at the expense of Palestine and Jerusalem. He said he wondered what the connection was between Palestine and the Western Sahara. He stressed that Netanyahu is the enemy of the entire [Arab] nation and called on the Arab peoples to take a stand in the face of the collapse of the official Arab position (al-Mayadeen TV website, December 11, 2020).
- Hamas said in a statement that the announcement of the normalization of relations between Morocco and Israel was a Moroccan betrayal of the Palestinians and contrary to the historical position that opposed Israel and the existence of relations with it. Hamas called on the people of Morocco to express their rejection of the agreement and continue the boycott of Israel, because Israel (“the Zionist enemy”) is a “malignant cancer” (Hamas’ Telegram channel, December 10, 2020). The Palestinian Islamic Jihad said in a statement that the step taken by the Moroccan regime was a betrayal of the basic principles of Islam and Arabism, and an abandonment of Jerusalem and Palestine (PIJ website, December 10, 2018).
Right: Cartoon by Hamas-affiliated Omaya Joha. The Arabic reads, “A new stab to the waist of the Palestinian cause” (Palinfo Twitter account, December 15, 2020). Left: Arabic diplomacy kidnapped by Netanyahu and Trump (al-Quds, December 12, 2020).
Clashes continue in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus
- Palestinian security sources reported that on December 14 four security force operatives were injured by a Molotov cocktail during an activity in the Balata refugee camp. Three were slightly injured but the injuries of the fourth were serious. The Palestinians who threw the Molotov cocktail fled into the refugee camp. The sources said that since the beginning of the events in the refugee camp, 40 security force operatives had been injured in clashes with armed residents (Ma’an, December 14, 2020).
Right: An operative of the Palestinian security forces injured in clashes with armed Palestinians in the Balata refugee camp in Jenin (Ma’an, December 14, 2020). Left: Dispersing rioters with tear gas during clashes in the Balata refugee camp refugee camp (Facebook page of the Balata refugee camp, December 13, 2020).
 For further information, see the December 14, 2020 bulletin, "The Spread of Covid-19 in Judea and Samaria (Updated to December 14, 2020)." ↑
 All information and reports are from Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria unless otherwise noted. ↑
 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. ↑
 At the end of January 2020 the al-Ansar Charity Association distributed Iranian funds to the families of shaheeds killed since the beginning of the second intifada until Operation Protective Edge. For further information, see the February 9, 2020 bulletin, "Iranian support for Palestinian terrorism: Distribution of Iranian funds to shaheeds’ families in the Gaza Strip by PIJ-affiliated Al-Ansar Charity Association." ↑