News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (January 27 – February 2, 2021)

The scene of the stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction (Palinfo Twitter account, January 31, 2021).

The scene of the stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction (Palinfo Twitter account, January 31, 2021).

Window of a vehicle broken in Tekoa (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 31, 2021).

Window of a vehicle broken in Tekoa (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 31, 2021).

Damage caused by stones thrown at Israeli vehicles (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 28, 2021).

Damage caused by stones thrown at Israeli vehicles (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 28, 2021).

Damage caused by stones thrown at Israeli vehicles (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 28, 2021).

Damage caused by stones thrown at Israeli vehicles (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 28, 2021).

Gazans move through the crossing once it opens (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, February 1, 2021).

Gazans move through the crossing once it opens (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, February 1, 2021).

Mohammed al-Emadi meets with the Hamas leadership, headed by Yahya al-Sinwar (website of Qatar's National Committee, February 1, 2021).

Mohammed al-Emadi meets with the Hamas leadership, headed by Yahya al-Sinwar (website of Qatar's National Committee, February 1, 2021).

  • In the Gaza Strip this past week the number of active Covid-19 cases continued to decrease; in response Egypt opened the Rafah Crossing. In Judea and Samaria mainly because of concern over the spread of the British variant led the Palestinian Authority (PA) government to extend the state of emergency. In the meantime the acquisition of coronavirus vaccines continues. Israel delivered 2,000 of 5,000 doses for vaccinating PA medical personnel.
  • A Palestinian attempted to stab an IDF soldier at the Gush Etzion Junction. The terrorist was killed. No Israeli casualties were reported. The Gaza Strip remained relatively quiet. On two separate occasions, IDF UAVs fell inside the Gaza Strip during security operations.
  • Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, arrived in the Gaza Strip bringing Qatar’s monthly donation of $3 million.
  • PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reported that formal contacts had been renewed between the PA and the American administration after the complete break in relations under Trump. In the meantime, preparations continue for the PA elections, and all the Palestinian organizations are expected to meet in Cairo in the near future for deliberations.
The Gaza Strip

The decrease in the extent of Covid-19 infection continues. This past week 1,622 new active cases were detected. Between February 1 and 2, 1,970 tests were administered with a positive result rate of 7.2%. The number of active cases in the Gaza Strip is currently 4,248, down from 4,722 a week ago. There are 88 patients in ICUs, 50 of them on ventilators. There have been 523 coronavirus-related deaths, up from 513 a week ago (Ma’an, February 2, 2021).

Judea and Samaria

This past week the number of active cases rose slightly, with 1,941 new active cases detected. Over a period of 24 hours 2,865 tests were administered with a positive result rate of 12.91%. The number of active cases is 3,736, up from 3,591 a weeks ago. There are 54 patients in ICUs, 15 of them on ventilators. There have been 1,326 coronavirus-related deaths, up from 1,318 a week ago (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, February 2, 2021).

State of emergency extended
  • At the beginning of the weekly government meeting PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reported a decrease in the extent of coronavirus infection, the result, he said, of the preventive measures taken by the PA government. He also said the occupancy of Covid-19 beds in hospitals had lessened, as had the number of patients in ICUs (Muhammad Shtayyeh’ Facebook page, February 1, 2021). Despite the decline in infection and because of the spread of the British variant, on February 1, 2021 Mahmoud Abbas issued an order extending the state of emergency for 30 days (Wafa, February 1, 2021).
Covid-19 vaccines arrive in the Palestinian Authority (PA)
  • On February 1, 2021, Israel delivered 2,000 Covid-19 vaccines to the PA, the first installment of 5,000 vaccines manufactured by Moderna. The vaccines, which were delivered through the Bitunia Crossing, are intended for PA medical personnel (Israeli media, February 1, 2021). They are the first vaccines delivered to the Palestinians, although during the past weeks the PA were in contact with a number of companies manufacturing the vaccine. While the delivery of the vaccines from Israel was documented and reported in the media, including the Palestinian media, Dr. Kamal al-Shakhra, spokesman for the ministry of health in Ramallah, continued denying the reports, calling them “fake news” (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, February 1, 2021).
Covid-19 vaccines delivered to the Palestinians from Israel (Shehab Facebook page, February 1, 2021).     Covid-19 vaccines delivered to the Palestinians from Israel (Shehab Facebook page, February 1, 2021).
Covid-19 vaccines delivered to the Palestinians from Israel
(Shehab Facebook page, February 1, 2021).
  • The arrival of vaccines in the PA was reported as follows:
    • PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh told the weekly government meeting they expected to receive the first delivery of 50,000 doses of the vaccines from various sources, and they would begin vaccinating Palestinians in the middle of February 2021. The second delivery is expected to arrive, according to Shtayyeh, at the end of February 2021.
    • Usama al-Najjar, a member of the ministry of health’s emergency committee to combat Covid-19, said during an interview that in the coming days they would receive a large number of vaccines from Pfizer, Sputnik (a Russian company) and AstraZeneca. He said people would begin receiving the vaccine as soon as it arrived, and the first to be inoculated would be medical staff, people taking care of Covid-19 patients, high-risk groups and the aged (Sawt al-Quds, January 30, 2021).
    • On January 29, 2021, Abd al-Hafiz Nofal, the PA representative in Russia, announced that the first consignment of 5,000 doses of the Russian vaccine, donated by the Russian government, would arrive in the coming days. In the meantime, the PA was negotiating the acquisition of 100,000 additional doses from Russia, which were expected to arrive during February 2021 (al-Quds, January 29, 2021).
    • Ali Abd al-Rabbo, director of preventive medicine in the ministry of health in Ramallah, said the ministry was in contact with Sinopharm, a Chinese corporation, for the acquisition of vaccines. He said the ministry would purchase a specific quantity of the Chinese vaccine and groups in China would donate more doses (Sawa, January 27, 2021).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
  • This past week no rocket or mortar shell hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire

Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

Other events
  • During an IDF operational activity on February 2, 2021 a UAV fell near Khan Yunis (southern Gaza Strip). According to IDF sources, the loss of the UAV will not lead to information being leaked (IDF spokesman, February 2, 2021). On January 31, 2021, as well, a UAV fell during an IDF operation activity in the northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian media reported that an Israeli UAV had fallen in the northern Gaza Strip near Beit Hanoun and that “security forces” had taken it (Shehab, January 31, 2021).
Attempted stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction
  • On January 31, 2021, a Palestinian attempted to stab an IDF soldier at the Gush Etzion Junction. The terrorist was shot and died later. He arrived at the Gush Etzion Junction armed with a wooden rod to which three knives had been attached and ran towards the soldier, who was standing at the bus stop. One of the IDF fighters securing the location shot and mortally wounded the terrorist, who later died. No Israeli casualties were reported (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2021). A similar stabbing attack was attempted last week in Samaria.
Three knives attached to a wooden rod (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2021)  The scene of the stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction (Palinfo Twitter account, January 31, 2021).
Right: The scene of the stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion Junction (Palinfo Twitter account, January 31, 2021). Left: Three knives attached to a wooden rod (IDF spokesman, January 31, 2021)
  • The Palestinian media reported that the terrorist was Muhammad Hussein Amro, 35, from Halhul (north of Hebron). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said his death at the hands of Israel showed the IDF was continuing its “aggressive behavior” and that the “settlers” continued attacking the Palestinian people. He said that in view of the activities, and to repel [alleged Israel] aggression, all forms of the “resistance” [i.e., terrorism] had to be escalated (Filastin al-Yawm, January 31, 2021).
Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown, and other events
  • In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at vehicles driving on the roads. The more prominent events were the following:[1]
    • February 1, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle south of Nablus. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged.
    • February 1, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle southwest of Nablus. No casualties were reported.
    • February 1, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle east of Ramallah. No casualties were reported.
    • February 1, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle north of Modi’in Illit. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
    • February 1, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle west of Nablus. No casualties were reported.
    •  January 31, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle in Tekoa, south of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
    • January 31, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle north of Modi’in Illit. No casualties were reported.
    • January 30, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle south of Nablus . No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
    • January 28, 2021: Molotov cocktails were thrown at a police patrol car west of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported.
    • January 28, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle southwest of Nablus. A man’s arm was injured and the vehicle was damaged.
    • January 27, 2021: Molotov cocktails were thrown at a bus and stones were thrown at a vehicle south of Nablus. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
    • January 27, 2021: Stones were thrown from a passing Palestinian vehicle at an Israeli vehicle north of Modi’in Illit. No casualties were reported.
    • January 27, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle northwest of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
    • January 26, 2021: Stones were thrown at a bus north of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
    • January 26, 2021: Stones were thrown at a bus northeast of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported.
    • January 26, 2021: Molotov cocktails were thrown at a vehicle west of Jenin. No casualties were reported.
    • January 26, 2021: Stones were thrown at a vehicle southwest of Nablus. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019[2]

Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019

Rafah Crossing opens
  • In the wake of the decline of coronavirus infection in the Gaza Strip, Egypt opened the Rafah Crossing for four days in both directions between February 1 and 4, 2021. The Crossing opened after it had been closed for 65 days (Ma’an, January 30, 2021). On January 31, 2021, the ministry of health in Gaza began administering Covid-19 tests to local residents who planned on leaving the Gaza Strip. Reportedly, on February 1, 2021, the first day the Crossing was open, 1.004 Gazans left and 229 entered (Ma’an, February 2, 2021).
Gazans move through the crossing once it opens (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, February 1, 2021).    Hundreds of Gazans wait for the Rafah Crossing to open (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, February 1, 2021)
Right: Hundreds of Gazans wait for the Rafah Crossing to open (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, February 1, 2021) Left: Gazans move through the crossing once it opens (Facebook page of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, February 1, 2021).
Covid-19 test before leaving the Gaza Strip (Palinfo Twitter account, January 31, 2021).
Covid-19 test before leaving the Gaza Strip
(Palinfo Twitter account, January 31, 2021).
Aid arrives in Gaza from Qatar
  • On January 31, 2021, Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, accompanied by his deputy, arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing. They brought Qatar’s monthly $30 million donation with them (qudspress.com, January 31, 2021). Upon their arrival Mohammed al-Emadi met with senior Hamas figures, among them Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, and Khalil al-Haya and Rawhi Mushtaha, both members of Hamas’ political bureau (website of Qatar’s National Committee, February 1, 2021). While in Gaza al-Emadi participated in laying the cornerstone for a new hospital in Rafah, which will be constructed at the cost of $25 million (al-Ayam, February 1, 2021).
  •  The distribution of Qatari aid to needy families in the Gaza Strip, $100 per family, will begin on February 4, 2021, through branches of the post office bank (website of Qatar’s National Committee, February 1, 2021).
  • Note: Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar, promised that during 2021 Qatar would donate $360 million to the Gaza Strip (up from $150 mi8llion in 2020), that is, $30 million per month (Shehab and Filastin al-Yawm, January 31, 2021). The money will be used to pay the salaries of public employees, provide for needy families, buy fuel for the power plant and continue funding projects (aljazeera.net, January 31, 2021; website of Qatar’s National Committee, February 1, 2021). Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, praised the emir of Qatar for increasing the amount of aid given to the Gaza Strip (Hamas website, January 31, 2021).
Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) delegation visits Russia
  • Ziyad al-Nakhalah, PIJ leader, arrived in Moscow at the head of a PIJ delegation at the invitation of the Russian foreign ministry. According to Palestinian sources, the objective of the visit is to discuss developments in the Palestinian arena with senior foreign ministry officials, especially the upcoming elections. A Hamas delegation headed by Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, is also apparently expected to arrive in Moscow in the coming days (Dunia al-Watan, al-Mayadeen, February 1, 2021).
Internal Hamas elections
  • Hamas is trying to hold its internal elections before the date set for the general elections. Khalil al-Haya, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said Hamas would hold elections for the movement’s leadership on a specific date and they were expected to end about two months before the general elections were held. According to an article in al-Quds, senior Hamas sources said the process would being in the next two weeks. Other senior Hamas sources reported that the internal Hamas elections could begin as early as February 10, 2021, in accordance with accepted election procedures (al-Quds, January 30, 2018).
PA-United States relations
  • PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh reported that formal contacts had been renewed between the PA leadership and the American administration after a long break in relations caused by the previous administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He said contacts with the Biden administration were being held with Hady Amr, the deputy assistant secretary for Israel-Palestinian Affairs. He said so far they had discussed ways to rehabilitate relations, including the reopening of the PA legation in the United States, which was closed under Trump, the renewal of American financial aid to the PA and UNRWA, and ways to promote the political process (al-Jazeera, February 1, 2021).
  • On January 26, 2021, an online discussion regarding the Palestinian issue was held in the UN Security Council. Senior PA figures expressed satisfaction with the spirit of remarks made, including remarks by the American ambassador to the UN (Facebook page of the Palestinian foreign ministry, January 26, 2021).
What will new American foreign policy mean for the Palestinians? The clubs are captioned "Under Trump...[under] Biden..." (Facebook page of Alaa' al-Laqta, February 1, 2021).   The caption reads "The Biden administration..." (Facebook page of Alaa' al-Laqta, January 28, 2021).
Criticism of relations with the United States. Right: The caption reads “The Biden administration…” (Facebook page of Alaa’ al-Laqta, January 28, 2021). Left: What will new American foreign policy mean for the Palestinians? The clubs are captioned “Under Trump…[under] Biden…” (Facebook page of Alaa’ al-Laqta, February 1, 2021).
Preparations for elections in the PA
  • Preparations continue in the PA for the upcoming elections, including an attempt to have the various groups meet:
  • The visit of a central elections committee delegation to the Gaza Strip has been delayed. According to Hisham Kahil, director general of the committee, Israel is responsible for the delay because it has not issued the necessary permits for the members of the delegation (al-Risalah, January 30, 2021). It was later reported that the delegation hoped to arrive in the Gaza Strip on February 10 (Sawa, January 31, 2021).
  • Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee, said the round of talks in Cairo would begin on February 8, 2021. He said the meeting would be attended by 14 representatives of the various [Palestinian] organizations, including Hamas and the PIJ (Sawa, February 1, 2021). Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu said Saleh al-‘Arouri would head the Hamas delegation (Shehab, February 1, 2021). However, Musa Abu Marzouq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said the meeting in Cairo would not be held before February 15, 2021 (Araby21, February 1, 2021).
  • Abd al-Ala al-Atira, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, said a delegation from Fatah’s Central Committee would meet with Marwan Barghouti, a member of the Central Committee, and Karim Yunis,[3] both imprisoned in Israeli jails, to discuss the elections. Al-Atira said all the reports that Marwan Barghouti would run against Mahmoud Abbas in the “presidential” elections were false[4] (Twitter account of Shabakat Quds al-Akhbariya, January 28, 2021).
The diplomatic arena
  • Farid Taamallah, spokesman for the central elections committee, said Hana Nasser, chairman of the central elections committee, had met the EU’s delegation for relations with Palestine to promote the issue of international supervision of the PA elections (Sawa, January 26, 2021). Hana Nasser also appealed to the consuls of France and Turkey to participate in supervising the elections (Wafa, February 1, 2021).
 Left: Hana Nasser meets with the French consul (right) in Jerusalem. Right: Hana Nasser meets with the Turkish consul (right) in Jerusalem (Facebook page of the PA's central election committee, February 1, 2021).
Left: Hana Nasser meets with the French consul (right) in Jerusalem. Right: Hana Nasser meets with the Turkish consul (right) in Jerusalem (Facebook page of the PA’s central election committee, February 1, 2021).
Putting together slates for the elections
  • Sources “close” to the PIJ said it was possible the organization would participate only in the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) as part of the Hamas slate (al-Quds, January 31, 2021). Senior PIJ figure Khader Habib said his organization had postponed publicizing its position on election participation until after the rounds of talks in Cairo, after which the organization would formulate its positions (al-Aqsa, January 29, 2021).
  • It was decided that members of Fatah’s Central Committee and Revolutionary Council, the district secretaries, former members of the PLC, current and former ministers, governors and activists with the rank of general decided would not participate on the elections to the PLC (alresala.net, January 30, 2021).
  • Taysir Nasrallah, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, said Fatah’s condition for joining the organizations and running on a joint slate was a Fatah representation of a least 51% in the PLC (al-Quds Twitter account, January 28, 2021).
  • Running for election on the joint Hamas-Fatah slate: Sources in Fatah said that during the talks in Egypt Fatah was planning to suggest to Hamas that they form a joint slate with the other organizations. Fatah will offer Hamas less than one third of the slate, Fatah will receive 40% and the remaining seats will be given to organizations loyal to Fatah. According to the sources, there is no agreement within Fatah regarding a joint slate with Hamas. Senior Fatah figures are of the opinion that a joint slate with Hamas will bring another financial crisis to the PA and complicate a return to negotiations with Israel (al-Akhbar, January 27, 2021). In response, Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said all options were open but Hamas had not yet made a decision and was waiting to hear what the positions of the other organizations were (al-Masry al-Youm, January 28, 2021).
The PA continues glorifying Palestinian terrorists
  •  Mahmoud al-‘Alul, deputy Fatah chairman, went to the village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, southwest of Nablus, to pay a condolence call on the family of Abdallah Riyan (who carried out a stabbing attack near Ariel on January 26, 2021). Al-Alul gave the family condolences from Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leadership and Fatah. The family asked him to thank Mahmoud Abbas (Mahmoud al-‘Alul’s Facebook page, January 28, 2018).
Mahmoud al-'Alul pays a condolence call at the mourning tent erected for Abdallah Riyan (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-'Alul, January 28, 2021).
Mahmoud al-‘Alul pays a condolence call at the mourning tent erected for Abdallah Riyan (Facebook page of Mahmoud al-‘Alul, January 28, 2021).

[1] All information and reports are from Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria unless otherwise noted.
[2] 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.

[3] Both Marwan Barghouti and Karim Yunis are Palestinian terrorists and leaders of the security prisoners. Both were involved in terrorist attacks in which Israeli civilians were killed. Marwan Barghouti is serving five consecutive life terms plus an additional 40 years; Karim Yunis is serving a term of life imprisonment.

[4] A number of "sources" revealed that Marwan Barghouti was planning to run for the position of PA chairman. According to the sources, Barghouti will be a significant threat for all other candidates because public opinion polls indicate that he is popular with the Palestinian public (al-Araby al-Jadeed, January 27, 2021).