Palestinian security forces deployed during the lockdown in the Hebron district (Wafa, February 27, 2021).
Palestinian security forces man a roadblock at the entrance to the Ramallah district (Wafa, March 1, 2021).
Mass funeral in the village of Salem for two young men killed in a car accident. Few masks and no social distancing (Facebook page of the village of Salem, March 1, 2021).
Palestinians throw stones at IDF forces in the Kafr Qadoum (Wafa, February 26, 2021).
Riots in Hebron during a rally marking the 27th anniversary of the massacre int the Cave of the Patriarchs (Palinfo Twitter account, February 27, 2021).
Isma'il Haniyeh meets with the Russian, Turkish, Iranian and South African ambassadors in Doha, Qatar (Palsawa website, February 28, 2021).
- Covid-19: In the Gaza Strip the number of Covid-19 cases continues to decline, resulting in the cancellation of some restrictions. In Judea and Samaria, however, the number continues to rise, with a drastic increase over the past week. Medical sources in the Palestinian Authority (PA) have expressed concern, noting that the current wave of infection is more serious that those that preceded it, with the parameters of the number of verified cases, the severity of the symptoms and patient age. There is also concern over the situation in the hospitals, some of which are so crowded they can no longer admit patients. Given the situation, additional restrictions were implemented and the possibility of a general lockdown was discussed. In the meantime, attempts continue to acquire vaccines, with claims made by senior PA figures that Israel is responsible for providing them.
- Palestinian terrorism: This past week the Gaza Strip was relatively quiet. The Israeli security forces detained a Bedouin resident of Israel who was recruited by Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. On February 24, 2021, there was an attempted stabbing attack in Judea and Samaria. The attacker fled and was apprehended a number of days later. In the meantime, Palestinians continue throwing rocks, stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles on the roads in Judea and Samaria.
- Palestinian elections: Preparations continue for holding elections in Judea and Samaria. Mahmoud Abbas issued an order establishing a court for election-related issues. In the meantime, within Hamas and between Hamas and Fatah disagreements continue about the management of the election.
The Gaza Strip
So far no coronavirus variants in the Gaza Strip
- Majdi Dheir, head of the department of preventive medicine in Gaza, said that so far no coronavirus variants had been detected (Shehab, February 27, 2021).
Continued loosening of restrictions
- Given the ongoing decline in the spread of coronavirus infection, some restrictions have been loosened in the Gaza Strip, including the reopening of sports auditoriums, gyms and reception venues (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, February 27, 2021).
Right: The second half of the school year begins (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, February 27, 2021). Left: The gyms reopen (Palinfo Twitter account, February 27, 2021).
Judea and Samaria
Rise in infection
- Medical sources in the PA have expressed concern, noting that the current wave of infection is more serious than those that preceded it and that there has been a record number of hospitalizations. In a series of interviews, Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, referred to it as the third wave of the virus. She said hospital occupancy was between 80% and 100%. The rate of positive test results, she said, has risen from 10% to between 20% and 30%. She related to the British and South African variants as well as reopening the schools as causes of the rise in infection. She said that the rise in hospital occupancy was also a source of concern, as was the rise in the number of patients on ventilators, which had led to the use of 48% of the available ones (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah and Wafa, February 24 and 25, 2021).
Right: Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, points to the rise in infection (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, February 25, 2021). Left: Following the crowding in hospitals, medical teams visit coronavirus patients at home in the Hebron district(Wafa, February 27, 2021).
Rise in coronavirus infection in Judea and Samaria
(according to the ministry of health in Ramallah)
Coronavirus-related deaths in Judea and Samaria
(according to the ministry of health in Ramallah)
The difficulties faced by Palestinian medical personnel in dealing with the rise in the number of coronavirus cases (al-Quds, March 2, 2021).
New restrictions to combat Covid-19
- In the wake of the rise in coronavirus-infection and the growing occupancy of the hospitals, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced new restrictions, including the following (February 27, 2021):
- All the universities, school and kindergartens will close, with the exception of high schools, for 12 days.
- All movement between the districts, including Jerusalem, is strictly forbidden.
- There will be a nightly curfew, commercial establishments will be closed in the evening with the exception of bakeries and pharmacies, and there will be a general lockdown on the weekends.
- Holding weddings, parties and erecting mourning tents is banned.
- Israel Arabs are banned from entering PA territory.
- Meanwhile, the Palestinians continue their efforts to acquire vaccines. Muhammad Shtayyeh announced the PA had purchased $10 million worth of vaccines and the first delivery was expected to arrive in March (Wafa, February 27, 2021). Shadi Uthman, EU spokesman in the PA, said the EU would be prepared to provide €20 million to supply vaccines (Wafa, February 24, 2021).
- Mai al-Kayla said the government had reached an agreement with AstraZeneca for the purchase of two million doses of the vaccine, which would arrive in the PA at the end of February-beginning of March 2021 (Wafa, February 25, 2021). Interviewed by Palestinian TV, she said that in the near future 50,000 doses would arrive, donated by China, and a similar quantity from India (Palestinian TV Facebook page, February 25, 2021). She also said that the ministry of health was capable of vaccinating 60,000 people per day in the West Bank and 40,000 per day in the Gaza Strip, for which they had prepared 45 vaccination centers (Wafa, February 25, 2021).
Palestinian claim Israel has to supply the PA with vaccines
- In the meantime, senior PA figures continue claiming Israel is responsible for providing the PA with vaccines, and have appealed to the international community to intervene:
- Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, reported that Israel had promised to supply the Palestinians with 5,000 doses of the vaccine and had provided only 2,000. He said Israel was responsible for providing the Palestinian people with vaccines in accordance with international law, noting the Palestinians had sent communiqués to the heads of a number of states regarding the issue (Palestinian TV, February 24, 2021).
- At a meeting of Fatah’s Central Committee chaired by Mahmoud Abbas, a call was sent to the international community for vaccines for the Palestinians, stressing that Israel, as a so-called “occupying power,” had to take responsibility for providing vaccines (Wafa, February 25, 2021).
- Mai al-Kayla, asked in an interview if Israel had to supply the PA with medical aid, said that according to the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel did in fact have to, but since the PA defined itself as an independent state, they wanted to rely only on themselves (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, February 24, 2021).
- On February 28, 2021, the Israeli government complied with the PA government’s request and authorized the allotment of 100,000 doses of Moderna vaccine to inoculate 50,000 Palestinians working legally in Israel and in the communities in Judea and Samaria. Medical teams will vaccinate the workers at inoculation stations at the crossings and in the industrial zones of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) will be responsible for vaccinating the Palestinian workers and for setting up inoculation centers (Globes, Israel, February 28, 2021).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Israeli resident detained on suspicion of passing information to Hamas
- On February 3, 2021, the Israeli security forces detained Muhammad Abu Adra, 43, son of a Bedouin father and Gazan mother, and married to a woman living in the Gaza Strip. He lived alternately in the central Israeli city of Rehovot and in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. A year and a half ago, while in the Gaza Strip, he was recruited by operatives of Hamas’ military-terrorist wing and agreed to operate for them. They were particularly interested in his ability to move freely and frequently through the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. During interrogation he revealed that among other things, he had informed them where the Iron Dome aerial defense systems were installed. He had also tried to transfer funds for terrorist activities from his bank account to that of a man whose identity was unknown (Israeli Security Agency media unit, February 26, 2021).
Response to Israeli attack
- “Sources in the resistance” [i.e., the Palestinian terrorist organizations] related to the IDF attack on a naval target off the coast of Khan Yunis, carried out on February 22, 2021. They noted that the target attacked by Israel was a trial held by naval commando units, related to special measures on the open sea. The sources added it was no secret that the “resistance” was developing its own weapons that would enable it carry out offensive and defensive activities during confrontations with Israel. They also added that the “resistance” had a number of plans for developing weapons, including naval weapons, which, according to the sources, had led to significant achievements during Operation Protective Edge (al-Akhbar, February 26, 2021).
Attempted stabbing attack
- On February 24, 2021, a Palestinian arrived at the Yitzhar Junction, southwest of Nablus, took out a knife and tried to stab an Israeli civilian standing at the bus stop. The two struggled and the Palestinian fled. The civilian was unharmed. IDF forces searched for the Palestinian and after a few days apprehended a suspect near the village of Salem (IDF spokesman, February 24 and 28, 2021).
From the CCTV video documenting the attempted stabbing attack at the Yitzhar Junction (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 24, 2021).
Riots in Issawiya
- On March 1, 2021, during a Border Police activity in Issawiya in east Jerusalem, the fighters identified a number of Palestinians throwing rocks and stones. The fighters chased and caught them. Local Palestinians then began rioting, shooting fireworks, Molotov cocktails, rocks and stones at the fighters. Five Border Police fighters were injured (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, March 2, 2021).
Riots in Judea and Samaria
- As they do every Friday, on February 26, 2021, Palestinians rioted against IDF forces in Kafr Qadoum (east of Qalqilya). The rioters burned tires and threw rocks at the IDF forces. Palestinians held a rally and riot in Hebron to mark the 27th anniversary of the massacre in the Cave of the Patriarchs.
Palestinians throw stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails, and other events
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing rocks, stones and Molotov cocktails at vehicles driving on the roads and other Israeli targets. The more prominent events were the following:
- March 1, 2021: Stones were thrown at a bus northwest of Nablus. Earlier, stones were thrown at a bus north of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- February 28, 2021: Molotov cocktails were thrown at the community of Beit El (north of Ramallah). No casualties were reported.
- February 28, 2021: Rocks were thrown at a bus northeast of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus was damaged.
- February 27, 2021: Molotov cocktails were thrown at the community of Beit El. No casualties were reported.
- February 27, 2021: Rocks and stones were thrown at vehicles northeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. Several vehicles were damaged.
- February 27, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle northeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported.
- February 27, 2021: Rocks were thrown at a vehicle southwest of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
- February 25, 2021: Stones were thrown at a bus northeast of Ramallah. No casualties or damage were reported.
- February 25, 2021: Rocks were thrown at a vehicle south of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
- February 25, 2021: Rocks were thrown at a bus southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged. A short time later IDF forces detained two Palestinians who had thrown the rocks.
- February 25, 2021: Two pipe bombs were found at the entrance to Beit El. No casualties were reported.
- February 24, 2021: Molotov cocktails were thrown at Beit El. No casualties were reported.
- February 24, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle southwest of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported.
- February 23, 2021: Stones were thrown at a bus southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Israeli Defense Minister Ganz designates the Samidoun network a terrorist organization
- On the recommendation of Israel’s National Bureau for Counter-Terrorism Financing (NBCTF) and the Israeli Security Agency, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Ganz signed an order designating the Samidoun network, which is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as a terrorist organization. The network was established in 2012 and its representatives operate in many European countries and in North America. It is headed by Khaled Barakat, a senior PFLP operative abroad, who in the past was involved in terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria and abroad.
- The network’s stated objective is to provide help for Palestinian prisoners struggling to be released from jail, but in reality it is a cover organization for PFLP activities abroad (Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2021).
- Following the Israeli defense minister’s declaration, the Samidoun network issued a statement on its website noting that it would nevertheless continue its activities and even increase them, and would not shirk its responsibilities towards the Palestinian prisoners (Samidoun website, February 28, 2021).
The Samidoun logo (Samidoun website, February 28, 2021).
Isma’il Haniyeh’s meeting in Doha, Qatar, with ambassadors from Russia, Turkey Iran and South Africa
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, led a Hamas delegation to Doha where he met with the ambassadors of Russia, Turkey, Iran and South Africa. He briefed them on developments in the Palestinian arena, including the Palestinian general elections and the Hamas internal elections, currently being held (Hamas website, February 28, 2021).
Mahmoud Nizal relates from Istanbul to Hamas’ post-election stance
- Mahmoud Nizal, deputy Hamas chairman who resides in Istanbul, was interviewed by the Arab21 channel. He spoke about the stance Hamas would take after the Palestinian general elections. Asked what Hamas’ response was to claims that various pressures were being exerted on the organization to accept the International Quartet’s conditions for receiving Hamas in the international arena after the elections, Nizal said no pressure was currently being exerted on Hamas to accept conditions at the expense of the Palestinian cause and the rights of the Palestinian people. Asked about the fate of the weapons of the “resistance” and the military infrastructure Hamas constructed in the Gaza Strip, in government committed to the Oslo Accords. For Hamas, he said, the weapons of the “resistance” were a red line, and the issue had not been raised for discussion at any forum (Arab21, February 22, 2021).
Hamas assets confiscated in Sudan
- According to the Israeli media, the Sudanese authorities confiscated Hamas assets and investments in Sudan. That was because they were “a threat to Sudanese national security” and because their existence violated Sudanese commitments to international conventions. According to the Sudanese, support for Hamas is problematical for them today because Hamas has been designated as a terrorist organization by a large number of countries, including the United States. Among the assets confiscated were the Paradise Hotel in Khartoum, a maintenance company, and a concrete factory (Roi Kais, Kan 11, Israel, February 27, 2021). So far no response from Hamas has been located.
Condemning the arrival of the UAE ambassador in Israel
- On March 1, 2021, the first UAE ambassador arrived to present his credentials to Israel’s president. His arrival was criticized by spokesman for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the presentation of credentials manifested the UAE’s determination to make a national mistake by “taking the path of normalization with the occupation” (Hamas website, March 1, 2021). Senior PIJ figure Da’ud Shehab said the UAE had stabbed the Palestinian people in the back (Paltoday, March 1, 2021).
- As another step in the direction of the elections, and according to agreements with Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas issued an order for the establishment of a court for election-related affairs, to be headed by Iman Nasser al-Din, the chief justice of the Palestinian supreme court. The elections court will have nine judges, four from Judea and Samaria, four from the Gaza Strip and one from east Jerusalem (Wafa, March 1, 2021). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem welcomed the order, saying it was proof of what the organizations had agreed on during their most recent meeting in Cairo (Sawa, March 1, 2021).
- The Central Elections Committee announced that 1,090 centers had been opened where people could see the voter registration rolls, examine details, respond and make changes (Sawa, March 1, 2021).
Right: Mahmoud Abbas’ order establishing a court for election-related affairs (Facebook page of the PA’s Central Elections Committee, March 1, 2021). Left: Palestinian women check for their names on the updated voter registration rolls at a school in Deir al-Balah (Twitter account of photojournalist Ashraf Abu Amra, March 1, 2021).
Forming faction slates
- Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, said five organizations had reached an agreement to unite and run on the Fatah slate in the upcoming elections. He said the organizations were in contact with one another to reach a final agreement (Dunia al-Watan, February 28, 2021). Among the organizations mentioned by Azzam al-Ahmed was FIDA (the Palestinian Democratic Union). In response, Saham al-Barghouti, a member of the organization, said they were surprised to hear about their union with Fatah because such a possibility was no longer realistic (Shabakat Quds al-Akhbariya, February 289, 2021).
- According to “knowledgeable sources,” Salam Fayed, former Palestinian prime minister, is working to put together an independent election slate for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) which would include activists from Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (al-Sharq al-Awsat, February 26, 2021).
- Fathi Hamad, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said they were still holding deliberations regarding how Hamas would participate in the elections, whether it would join a slate with other organizations or if it would run independently. He said Hamas wanted to run with other organizations whose position on the “resistance” [i.e., anti-Israel terrorism] was the same as its own (al-Aqsa, February 25, 2021).
- A PIJ source said that while they had announced they would not participate in the elections, senior organization figures were still examining the possibility although not by running on an organizational slate. According to the source, the proposal is being discussed and a decision will be made in the near future.
Israel and the Palestinian elections
- Hana Nasser, Central Elections Committee chairman, briefed Tor Wennesland, UN envoy to the peace process in the Middle East, about recent developments in the Palestinian elections. He noted the obstacles Israel might pose to the elections, especially in east Jerusalem, and called on the UN to prevent Israel from interfering. Wennesland said the UN supported the Palestinian elections (Wafa, February 24, 2021).
- Hamas said in a statement that the movement was prepared to stand firm against Israel’s attempts to interfere in the elections, whether by detaining senior Hamas figures or by exerting pressure on others. The Hamas leadership called on the PA and all the Palestinian national forces to condemn Israel’s actions and to operate on all levels to keep Israel from interfering. The statement also said that elections in east Jerusalem were one way to fight against the Judaization of the city, and called on the residents of Jerusalem to be active, vote and participate in the elections (Hamas website, February 25, 2021).
- “Hamas sources” told the al-Araby al-Jadeed website that they were examining a number of ways to deal with possible Israel intervention in PLC elections. One way would be to increase the number of candidates from the Gaza Strip on the movement slate at the expense of the West Bank, which would make it difficult for Israel to detain or pursue movement candidates. Another way would be to run on the joint national slate with other organizations. A third would be to put Christians from the West Bank on the Hamas slate which, in Hamas’ opinion, would make it difficult for Israel to monitor and detain candidates (al-Araby al-Jadeed, February 27, 2021).
Donations to UNRWA
- The Japanese government and UNRWA signed two agreements for donations of an estimated sum of $40 million. According to reports, $30 million will enable UNRWA to continue providing services to the Palestinian refugees in all the territories where the agency operates. The remaining $10 million will be used to enable UNRWA to enroll more students in its schools by enlarging them (UNRWA website, February 25, 2021).
Internal arguments around the natural gas field off the Gazan shore
- Egypt and the PA signed a memorandum of understandings regarding the developing of the natural gas field off the Gaza Strip shore. According to an official Palestinian source, the PA and Egypt received positive messages from Israel about developing the natural gas field, which is situated 36 kilometers (a little more than 22 miles) west of the Gaza coastline (Filastin al-Yawm, February 24, 2021).
- Senior Hamas figures criticized the understandings. Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, claimed the Gaza Strip had to be involved in all agreements regarding the gas field within its territory and to know about their details (Musa Abu Marzouq’s Twitter account, February 23, 2021). Hussein al-Sheikh, chairman of the PA civilian authority, said in response that the agreement had been signed by two countries and not by organizations (Hussein al-Sheikh’s Twitter account, February 23, 2021).
Condemnation of punishment given Khalda Jarar
- On March 1, 2021, as part of a plea bargain, an Israeli military court sentenced Khalda Jarar, a member of the PLC in the PA, to two years in prison for PFLP terrorist activities. Jarar was detained with several dozen other PFLP terrorist operatives in October 2019 after the attack northwest of Ramallah in which Rina Shnerb, 17, was killed (Haaretz, March 1, 2021). A statement issued by the Dameer organization condemned the sentence, stressing the “illegality of an Israeli military court” which “violated the right to a fair trial” (al-Dameer website, March 1, 2021). Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the sentence which, he claimed continued Israel’s policies of suppressing and terrorizing the Palestinian people and its leaders with the intention of interfering in the election process (Hamas website, March 1, 2021).
Houses razed in Jerusalem and built in the settlements
- This past week the Palestinian media, among them Palestinian TV, widely covered Israeli actions against illegal construction in east Jerusalem. The programs covered the demolition of the houses and the protests of the families against the Israeli security forces (Facebook page of Palestinian TV, March 1, 2021).
Right: Razing the house of the Abu Riyala family in Issawiya (Palestinian TV Facebook page, March 1, 2021). Left: Ruins of the house of the Alian family in Issawiya (Palinfo Twitter account, February 26, 2021).
- A morning Palestinian TV program was aired on March 1, 2021 which dealt with the recent increase in Israeli construction near the Qalqilya district. Another report dealt with Umm Dar, a Palestinian village west of Jenin near the Israeli community of Reihan. Muhammad Abu al-Sheikh, who holds the settlement portfolio in the Qalqilya district, said during the program that he advised the Palestinian residents to appeal to Israeli courts and sue for their lands, and to document Israel’s activities against their lands to gather proof of Israel’s violations of international law (Palestinian TV, March 1, 2021).
- Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian delegate to the UN, sent communiqués to the UN Secretary General, the president of the UN Security Council and the president of the UN General Assembly regarding the situation in the PA territories, including east Jerusalem, in light of what he called Israel’s serious violations against the Palestinian people. According to the communiqué, Israel transferred “hundreds of thousands of settlers” to the PA territories in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and implements its illegal policies of razing houses and forcible expulsions while constructing in the settlements (Wafa, February 26, 2021).
 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. ↑
 FIDA was established in 1990 and represents itself as a Palestinian organization in favor of the "two states for two peoples" solution with the 1967 borders. The organization is headed by Saleh Raath (Mapping Palestinian politics, Wikipedia). ↑