The weekly Palestinian riot in the village of Kafr Qadoum (east of Qalqilya) (Fatah Facebook page, April 2, 2021).
The weekly Palestinian riot in the village of Kafr Qadoum (east of Qalqilya) (Fatah Facebook page, April 2, 2021).
Released prisoners and the families of prisoners in Israeli jails wait in line at a post office bank branch in Ramallah (QudsN Facebook page, April 6, 2021).
Armed Fatah operatives in Jenin (Palinfo Twitter account, March 30, 2021).
Notice read by armed Fatah operatives in Nablus calling for closing Fatah's ranks (QudsN Facebook page, April 5, 2021)
Hamas and Hamas military-terrorist wing flags were carried at the funeral held for Omar al-Barghouti (Sama News and the QudsN website, March 26, 2021).
Hamas and Hamas military-terrorist wing flags were carried at the funeral held for Omar al-Barghouti (Sama News and the QudsN website, March 26, 2021).
- Coronavirus: In the Gaza Strip the number of active cases spiked significantly this past week, and a lockdown is being considered. In Judea and Samaria there was a significant decrease in coronavirus infection, although hospital occupancy is still high. Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip continue to receive the vaccines. A senior figure in the ministry of health in Ramallah blamed Israel for the entrance of the coronavirus variants into the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories. Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki accused Israel of exploiting the hardships of countries around the world and of extorting them in return for the promise of coronavirus vaccines. He also claimed that the hardships of the Palestinian people were exacerbated during the coronavirus epidemic because Israel shirked its duty as an “occupying power” to take care of them and because of its refusal to provide them with vaccines.
- Terrorist attacks: On March 23, 2021 (election day in Israel) a medium-range rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at Beersheba, the largest city in Israel’s south. The rocket landed in an open area. No casualties were reported. It was the attack after two months without rocket fire. In response Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked a number of Hamas terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip. In Judea and Samaria two vehicular ramming attacks targeting IDF soldiers were attempted. No Israeli casualties were reported. Land Day was marked on March 30 and passed relatively quietly, mainly because of the ban on gatherings caused by the coronavirus.
- The PA: Election preparations continue. The slates of the contending factions for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) have been closed. Three Fatah factions are running for office. According to several Fatah spokesmen, Marwan Barghouti has announced he will run for “president” against Mahmoud Abbas. Barghouti is currently serving time in an Israeli jail. The Palestinians are trying to exert pressure on Israel to allow the elections to be held in east Jerusalem and claim that if the elections are not held in east Jerusalem they will not be held at all. That may also be used as an excuse to cancel the elections.
- PA budget, 2021: The PA announced it will continue paying prisoners and released prisoners, transferring the funds through post office bank branches in Judea and Samaria and through the department of prisoners and released prisoners’ affairs in the Gaza Strip. The PA has therefore found an alternative conduit for paying the prisoners, since on January 1, 2021, the order of the Israeli commander of the Central Command went into effect, banning the banks in Judea and Samaria from providing banking services to prisoners, released prisoners and the families of shaheeds who receive payments from the PA.
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh welcomed the American decision to renew financial support to the Palestinians and called it an important step towards the renewal of United States-Palestinian relations. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian delegate to the UN, said he hoped that following that American support of UNRWA would also be restored.
The Gaza Strip
- In light of the spike in the number of active cases, Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, announced a series of additional restrictions which went into effect on April 2, 2021. They include closing reception halls and markets, stricter night curfews and their enforcement, and a ban on driving from one district to another during the weekend (Filastin al-Yawm, April 1, 2021).
Curfew in Gaza City (Palinfo Twitter account, April 6, 2021).
Foreign aid for the Gaza Strip
- The Japanese International Cooperation Agency gave the Gaza Strip an emergency donation of drugs and medical equipment for its hospitals (Sawa, March 25, 2021).
Judea and Samaria
- Dr. Kamal al-Shakhra, spokesman for the ministry of health in Ramallah, said all the known coronavirus variants, including the British, Brazilian, South African and the new variant which so far is unnamed, are all present in the PA and that most of the active cases have been caused by the variants. He falsely alleged that all the variants came into the PA territories from Israel because Israel does not vaccinate Israeli Arabs, who then enter the PA territories, bringing the variants with them (Dunia al-Watan, April 1, 2021).
The coronavirus variant family tree (al-Araby al-Jadeed, March 26, 2021).
The increase in coronavirus infection in Judea and Samaria
(According to the ministry of health in Ramallah)
Number of coronavirus-related death
(According to the ministry of health in Ramallah)
Extending the lockdown
- Mahmoud Abbas extended the state of emergency in the PA for an additional month (Filastin al-Yawm, April 3, 2021). PA government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem announced a nightly curfew between 19:00 and 06:00 the following morning, and a full lockdown over the weekend. Every district, city, village or refugee camp where the number of active cases rose will also be locked down. Weddings, parties, morning tents, rallies and all other gatherings are banned. Stores, restaurants, cafés, barber shops and beauty parlors will work at 50% capacity (Wafa, April 3, 2021).
Conditions in the hospitals
- According to reports, most of the hospitals are at 100% capacity. Nevertheless, Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, said in a telephone interview that there had been a slight decline in mortality and in hospital occupancy. She called on the public to continue following public health guidelines (ministry of health in Ramallah Facebook page, March 31, 2021).
- Meanwhile, the doctors’ union announced a general strike in the hospitals and first aid centers following a conflict with the PA government (Filastin al-Yawm, March 27, 2021). Pressure was exerted on the doctors and they returned to parttime work (Dunia al-Watan, March 28, 2021). The strike resulted in a significant drop in the number of coronavirus tests administered.
- On April 6, 2021, a new coronavirus ward was opened in the hospital in Ramallah with help from the Ramallah municipality. It has 48 beds, 12 of them ICUs (ministry of health in Ramallah Facebook page, April 6, 2021).
The new coronavirus ward in the hospital in Ramallah (Wafa, April 5, 2021).
- The ministry of health in Ramallah received 100,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines donated by China and delivered in the presence of the Chinese ambassador to the PA. Mai al-Kayla said they would greatly aid the PA vaccination campaign (Wafa, March 29, 2021). In addition, the PA received a delivery of 25,000 doses of the two million doses of the vaccine ordered from AstraZeneca,
- In the meantime, vaccination continues. Mai al-Kayla said that between April 5 and 8, 2021, medical personnel will be vaccinated, as will first through sixth grade children in government, private and UNRWA schools (ministry of health in Ramallah Facebook page, April 5, 2021). According to PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh, on April 11, 2021, kindergarten teachers and staff will be vaccinated, and then the staffs of colleges and universities (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, April 5, 2021). Mai al-Kayla also reported that on April 1 the ministry of health began vaccinating the families of PA prisoners in Israeli jails. So far, only two family members of first degree relationships have been vaccinated (ministry of health in Ramallah Facebook page, April 1, 2021).
Right: Palestinian medical personnel receive the vaccine (ministry of health in Ramallah Facebook page, April 5, 2021). Left: Storing China-donated Sinopharm vaccines in the logistic warehouses east of Nablus (Wafa, March 29, 2021).
Foreign aid for the PA
- The American administration announced the transfer of $15 million of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, part of United States support for the PA’s fight against the coronavirus. Reportedly, the funds will not be transferred directly to the PA but to the USAID offices in the PA territories. The donation will help the Catholic Relief Services program it its support of medical centers and providing emergency food (United States State Department website, March 25, 2021).
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh welcomed the aid, calling it an important step on the way to renewing relations with the United States (Wafa, March 25, 2021). Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian delegate to the UN, also welcomed the aid, saying he trusted it was a step towards the renewal of the United States’ financial support for UNRWA (Voice of Palestine radio, March 27, 2021).
- Shukri Bishara, PA minister of finance, signed an agreement for $52 million to support the towns dealing with the consequences of the coronavirus. The funds were donated by France, Germany and the World Bank. The aid, for 158 local municipalities, will allow for the employment of 10,000 workers (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, April 1, 2021).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- On March 23, 2021, election day in Israel, a medium-range rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip at Beersheba, landing in an open area. No organization claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. It was fired a short time after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left the Beersheba area. About eight hours later Israeli Air Force aircraft responded by attacking terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip, including a site for the manufacture of rockets and a Hamas military-terrorist post (IDF spokesman, March 24, 2021).
- The Palestinian media reported attacks on “resistance” [i.e., terrorist organization] targets west of Gaza City, including a military-terrorist post and an observation post east of Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip (Dunia al-Watan Twitter account, March 24, 2021).
- The day after the rocket fire al-Aqsa TV broadcast a clip of Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, speaking in front of a video of the production of S-40 rockets and of a naval commando diver. Haniyeh said Israel had failed to achieve its objectives, especially the confiscation of the weapons of the “resistance” and imposing a blockade on them. Despite Israel’s “siege” of the Gaza Strip, the normalization with Arab states and adding Hamas to the list of terrorist organizations, the “resistance” and its capabilities were growing stronger, he claimed. He said Hamas was not looking for a war in the Gaza Strip but it was not afraid of one. If Israel attacked the Gaza Strip again, he said, the campaign would be completely different [from those in the past] (al-Aqsa TV, March 24, 2021).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Attempted vehicular ramming attacks
- During the past two weeks two vehicular ramming attacks were prevented in Judea and Samaria.
- On the night of April 5, 2021, during an IDF operational activity in Bayt Nabala (near Ramallah), a roadblock was erected. A vehicle stopped at the barrier and then suddenly sped towards a group of fighters operating at a distance. The fighters at the roadblock shot at the vehicle (IDF spokesman, April 6, 2021). The Palestinian driving the vehicle was killed and his wife was wounded. The Palestinian media reported he was Usama Sidki Mansour, 42, from the village of Bidu, northwest of Jerusalem (Wafa, April 6, 2021). The PA foreign ministry strongly condemned the [so-called] “execution” of Usama Mansour, claiming it had occurred at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was trying to prove the morality of IDF soldiers to the International Criminal
Court in The Hague (foreign ministry in Ramallah Facebook page, April 6, 2021).
Right: Usama Mansour, ki8lled in the attack. Left: The Palestinian vehicle at the scene of the attack (QudsN Facebook page, April 6, 2021).
- On March 28, 2021, a Palestinian driver sped towards a group of IDF fighters near the Nahal Prat nature reserve. He rammed into several Israeli vehicles, was detained and taken for interrogation. No casualties were reported. The initial investigation of the incident determined the Palestinian had attempted to carry out a vehicular ramming attack (IDF spokesman, March 28, 2021).
Land Day events
- Throughout Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip Palestinians marked Land Day, although similar to last year, participation in the events was limited because of the coronavirus. A march in support of Hamas was held in the northern Gaza Strip, attended by senior Hamas figures (Shehab, April 2, 2021). On the eve of Land Day Fatah, Hamas and the PIJ issued statements to the media. Fatah declared that the Palestinian people would continue its firm stance, and Hamas and the PIJ condemned Israel’s alleged “crimes,” calling for popular “resistance” in Judea and Samaria (Dunia al-Watan, March 29, 2021).
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at vehicles driving on the roads. The more prominent events were the following:
- April 5, 2021: Paint bottles were thrown at an Israeli bus southeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged.
- April 4, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli bus south of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged.
- April 4, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli bus near Hebron. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged.
- April 4, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli bus northwest of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged.
- April 3, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli bus south of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged.
- April 3, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli bus east of Hebron. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus as damaged.
- March 30, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle south of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged.
- March 29, 2021: Border Police fighters detained a 17 year-old Palestinian from the Jenin refugee camp who tried to bring a pipe bomb into the military court in Samaria. He aroused the suspicions of the fighters at the checkpoint. During the security check an object was seen protruding from beneath his shirt. Detention procedures were followed and the Palestinian placed the pipe bomb on the floor (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, March 29, 2021).
- March 25, 2021: Border Police fighters engaged in an operational activity near Ramallah shot a wanted Palestinian in the leg as he tried to escape. The wounded Palestinian was taken to a hospital for medical care (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, March 25, 2021).
- March 24, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle north of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged.
- March 23, 2021: Rocks were thrown at an Israeli vehicle northwest of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Kuwaiti financing for projects in the Gaza Strip
- Majdi al-Saleh, PA minister of local government, launched a number of development projects including $12 million worth of future projects. They will be funded by Kuwait through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and loans for local organizations (Wafa, March 25, 2021).
Statements from senior Hamas figures Isma’il Haniyeh and Khalil al-Haya
- Isma’il Haniyeh, speaking at an Islamic faction international student conference, said Hamas would not give up the “right of return” and was committed to the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Khalil al-Haya, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, praised the return marches that began three years ago, and the people in the West Bank who “resisted” Israel. He called on young Palestinians to hound Israel and to “resist” it in every possible way, including by holding rallies in front of Israeli embassies around the world (al-Aqsa, March 30 2021).
- In a clip broadcast on al-Aqsa TV, Isma’il Haniyeh claimed that all the countries supporting Hamas, including Iran, gave unconditional support. He claimed Hamas would not agree to meet any condition in return for support. He claimed Hamas supported the “Palestinian resistance” [i.e., anti-Israeli terrorism and violence] to be able to defend the Palestinian people and would confront any attempt to eradicate the Palestinian cause (al-Aqsa, March 28 2021).
Hamas Telegram channel
- Al-Aqsa TV reported that Hamas had launched its own channel on the Telegram app to improve its communications with the Palestinian people. According to reports, during its first hours thousands of followers subscribed. According to al-Aqsa TV, the channel will broadcast Hamas’ official positions, statements from senior figures and reports on Hamas activities in the West Bank (al-Aqsa TV, March 30, 2021).
PA budget for 2021
- At the government meeting held on March 29, 2021, the government discussed the PA budget for 2021, whose deficit is expected to be one billion dollars. Muhammad Shtayyeh said the budget was voted on and passed during the meeting, after two years without a budget. It would now be transferred to Mahmoud Abbas for final confirmation. Muhammad Shtayyeh said they were trying to spend more efficiently on important issues, and to regulate financial matters with Israel in accordance with the Paris protocol. Muhammad Shtayyeh elaborated on various sections of the budget, including that 62% would be allocated for health, education and security, 12% to combat coronavirus, 13% for welfare. Sixty million dollars will be allocated for health, education and electricity in east Jerusalem, plus $26 million for development (Wafa, March 29, 2021). Note: The payments to prisoners, released prisoners and the families of shaheeds were not specified as budget items by Shtayyeh during the government meeting.
Paying prisoners and released prisoners
- Meanwhile, the commission for prisoners and released prisoners’ affairs announced that as of April 6, 2021, payments would be made through post office bank branches throughout the West Bank and through the PA offices for prisoners’ affairs in the Gaza Strip (Wafa, April 5, 2021). Using the post office bank branches was a decision made jointly by the PA’s ministries of the treasury and communications, and the PA monetary authority. It provided a way for the PA to circumvent the order issued by the IDF’s commander of the Central Front banning the banks in Judea and Samaria from providing banking services as of January 1, 2021, to prisoners, released prisoners and the families of shaheeds receiving payments from the PA.
Transferring funds to develop a communications infrastructure
- The World Bank announced it would donate $20 million to the Palestinian government for to develop communications and the Internet in the PA territories, and for the development of a fiber optic network (Wafa, March 27, 2021).
Accusing Israel of damaging the Palestinian economy
- An online OCED conference was held to discuss drawing a roadmap for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa, with the participation of Muhammad Shtayyeh. He outlined the activities taken by the PA, which included the establishment of a fund for economic recovery, launching a program for the temporary employment of the unemployed and training 6,000 university graduate to work in computer programming. He also accused Israel of responsibility for the slowdown and failure of Palestinian economic growth because it controlled the borders and [allegedly] prevented the Palestinians from using their natural resources. He said they would overcome the [so-called Israeli] “occupation” by virtue of their firm stance and with the support of the international community and international law (Muhammad Shtayyeh’s Facebook page, April 1, 2021).
Faction slates for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)
- On March 31, 2021, registration closed for political factions desiring to participate in the PLC elections, which will be held on May 22, 2021. The names of the candidates will be published on April 6, 2021. Slates can cancel participation until April 29, 2021 (Wafa, April 1, 2021). An examination of the slates revealed the following:
- Thirty-six factions registered for the elections. So far the commission has accepted 13 of them and will confirm others in the coming days (Filastin al-Yawm, March 31, 2021).
- The Fatah movement is running on three separate tickets: one represents the PA leadership and is headed by Mahmoud al-‘Alul, deputy Fatah chairman, and includes Jibril Rajoub and other senior figures; the second, “Freedom,” is headed by Marwan Barghouti, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee imprisoned in Israel, and Nasser al-Qidwa, Yasser Arafat’s nephew; and the third, “The future,” is Muhammad Dahlan’s party, headed by Samir Masharawi.
- Hamas is running on its own ticket (“Jerusalem is our meeting place”) headed by Khalil al-Haya, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, and Muhammad Abu Tir from Jerusalem. The ticket includes a number of senior Hamas figures, three prisoners and three former prisoners (Dunia al-Watan and Shehab, March 29, 2021).
- Former PA prime minister Salam Fayyad is running on his own ticket, taking the 12th spot to allow young Palestinians to enter politics (Dunia al-Watan, March 30, 2021).
- The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is running on is own ticket, headed by Ahmed Saadat, organization chairman. He was behind the murder of Rehavam Ze’evi, at the time Israeli minister of transportation (October 17, 2001). Saadat is currently service a term of 30 years in an Israeli jail.
- Given Fatah’s concern that splitting the ticket will cause the movement to lose the election, senior Fatah figures are trying to bring Marwan Barghouti and Nasser al-Qidwa back into the fold. Hussein al-Sheikh, chairman of the commission for civilian affairs, said they were in contact with Marwan Barghouti, trying to convince him to drop out of the election and support the united Fatah ticket. He said that despite their differences Barghouti was still a member of Fatah’s Central Committee (al-Quds, April 4, 2021). Abbas Zaki, a member of the Central Committee, said he hoped Barghouti and al-Qidwa would change their minds, noting that Fatah’s door was always open to al-Qidwa (Dunia al-Watan, April 4, 2021).
- Apparently, the split in Fatah has also led to popular unrest and anxiety. Armed Fatah military-terrorist operatives in Nablus read an announcement expressing loyalty to and support for Mahmoud Abbas, Mahmoud al-‘Alul and the heads of the security forces headed by Majed Faraj, and at the same time calling for the closing of ranks (QudsN Facebook page, April 5, 2021). On March 30, 2021, armed Fatah operatives in Jenin fired massively into the air to protest the choice of Fatah candidates in Jenin (Palinfo Twitter account, March 30, 2021).
- Meanwhile, Marwan Barghouti, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee currently imprisoned in Israel, is considering running against Mahmoud Abbas. Hatem Abd al-Qidra, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council and close to Marwan Barghouti, confirmed they has spoken with Barghouti, who is determined to run for the office of PA “president” (Dunia al-Watan, April 4, 2021).
- Nasser al-Qidwa, a former member of Fatah’s Central Committee who is running on a separate ticket for the PLC, said that if Marwan Barghouti decided to run for president they would be willing to present him as a candidate and support him. Al-Qidwa also said they had “a positive atmosphere” with Hamas, although it had no significance because they had no differences of opinion with Hamas. As to the “weapons of the resistance,” he said the issue was taboo and could only be discussed after the institution of national sovereignty. He also said he opposed the American view that Iran was the main regional danger, claiming that Israel has always been the main danger (al-Mayadeen, April 4, 2021).
Position of Hamas
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, claimed that if Hamas won the election it would be committed to form a national unity government. He said the Hamas ticket for the PLC (“Jerusalem is our meeting place”) contained messages and hints regarding Jerusalem, the shaheeds and the prisoners (al-Andalou News, April 1, 2021).
Position of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
- Ziyad al-Nakhalah, PIJ leader, speaking at the al-Quds Forum in Syria for members of professional unions, said the PIJ had made it clear it preferred “resistance to the occupation to elections under the occupation,” and that the Palestinian people had to “unite in their resistance to the occupation.” He said that by not participating in the election the PIJ proved it did not recognize “the enemy and his occupation,” since elections under the occupation sent the message that coexistence and acceptance of the occupation’s enforcement were possible. He appealed to the Palestinian leadership not to call the elections a “national achievement” so as not to fool the Arab-Muslim world, saying the alternative was “a firm stance and the continuation of resistance and jihad” (Filastin al-Yawm, April 3, 2021).
Palestinian reactions to Israel’s position on voting in east Jerusalem
- community and the UN to 18 erect polling stations in Jerusalem instead of six as they had in the 2006 elections. The PA has reportedly not yet received a response (Shabakat Quds, March 29, 2021). Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki spoke with the German foreign minister and called for Germany to participate in having a presence at the elections, noting that Israel had not yet responded to the PA’s request for elections in Jerusalem. He said that without Jerusalem’s participation there would be no elections (Wafa, March 29, 2021). Hashem Kahil, director general of the central Palestinian elections committee, said the committee intended to hold the elections in every district and that if Israel did not agree to their being held in Jerusalem, the Palestinian organizations would implement a different plan for holding them (Filastin al-Yawm, March 28, 2021).
- Riyad al-Maliki said they were worried because there were indications that Israel’s position regarding the entire election process would be negative due to the fact that it had not yet confirmed the EU’s request to permit international observer teams. He said Israel had also not authorized elections in east Jerusalem. He appealed to the international community, saying it had to exert pressure on Israel to make it allow the elections to be held without interference (Voice of Palestine radio, March 31, 2021). He added that he had sent communiqués to a number of international recipients, including the members of the International Quartet, the UN Secretary General, the Russian foreign minister, the American secretary of state and the EU’s commission for foreign relations and security, stressing that they had to intervene to make it possible for the residents of east Jerusalem to participate in the elections (Wafa, April 5, 2021).
- Hana Nasser, chairman of the elections committee, met with a delegation headed by Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff, the EU representative in the PA. Nasser elaborated on the difficulties Israel was posing to holding the elections, especially in east Jerusalem, and called on the EU to exert pressure on Israel to comply with agreements and enable the Arabs in east Jerusalem to participate in the elections (Wafa, March 30, 2021).
- Abd al-Munam Hamedan, deputy head of the Fatah bureau of mobilization and organization, related to [what he claimed was] the pressure currently exerted on the PA to cancel the elections, mentioning American and British intelligence, the Mossad and other organizations (QudsN Facebook page, April 5, 2021).
Right: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sabotages the Palestinian elections (al-Quds, April 3, 2021). Left: “No elections without Jerusalem” (Fatah Facebook page, March 31, 2021).
- Isma’il Haniyeh spoke to the president of Turkey and asked him to exert pressure on Israel so it would enable the residents of east Jerusalem to vote. He also called on Turkey to participate in observing the elections (Hamas website, April 1, 2021).
The International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Antony Blinken, the American secretary of state, announced that President Biden would rescind the Trump executive order imposing sanctions on Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor of the ICC and on the head of its judicial department. He said all sanctions limiting the entrance of ICC staff into the United States had been lifted, adding that after the situation had been examined, the president decided the measures imposed were neither proportional nor effective. However, Blinken stressed, the United States would maintain its strong opposition to the Court’s activities regarding Afghanistan and the Palestinian issue (American state department website, April 3, 2021).
- Riyad al-Maliki, in a conversation with the German foreign minister, said the Palestinians would continue coordinating with the Court despite the sanctions Israel had imposed and the pressure it exerts on senior PA figures (Wafa, March 29, 2021). On another occasion he said that the Palestinian legation in The Hague played an important role in contacts with the chief prosecutor’s office regarding beginning the field investigation. He said he hoped for important developments in the coming days (Voice of Palestine radio, March 31, 2021).
Israel’s efforts and difficulties in countering chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, April 3, 2021).
United States-PA relations
- Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the American ambassador to the UN, told the UN Security Council that the United States would reopen its diplomatic communications channels with the Palestinians, closed during the previous administration. A Congress member later reported that USAID and the United States department of state had sent Congress notification of its intention to provide the Palestinians with $125 million worth of aid, of which $75 million would be allotted to supporting economic growth and programs for Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and $40 million from the 2016 and 2017 budgets for programs of security cooperation (The Hill, April 2, 2021).
Palestinian satisfaction with UN Human Rights Council condemnation of Israel
- On March 23, 2021, a meeting was held by the UN Human Rights Council which voted to condemn Israel for the human rights situation in the “occupied Palestinian lands.” A majority of 32 countries voted in favor of the condemnation (UN Human Rights Council website, March 23, 2021). The PA applauded and welcomed the decision (Filastin al-Yawm, March 25, 2021). Mahmoud Abbas and Riyad al-Malik then instructed Amal Jardo, the PA deputy foreign minister, to summon the Bulgarian, British and Czech ambassadors for a meeting. That was reportedly because of the “change for the worse” in the way their countries voted in the UN Human Rights Council on issues dealing with the Palestinian cause. Jardo noted that the Palestinian leadership was “confounded” by the change, which, she claimed, grossly infringed on the rights of the Palestinian people (Wafa, March 29, 2021).
Senior Hamas figure dies in the village of Kobar in the West Bank
- Senior Hamas operative Omar Barghouti (Abu ‘Aasef), from the village of Kobar (north of Ramallah), died of a coronavirus-related condition. He belonged to a clan which has been fertile soil for many terrorist operatives. He spent 27 years in jail in Israel. His son Saleh was killed by Israel two years ago and his son Asam is in prison is Israel for participation in two terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria in 2018. Omar’s brother Nael is considered the most senior Palestinian prisoners in an Israeli jail, having been imprisoned for 41 years. The cortège of Omar Barghouti’s funeral marched from Ramallah to Kobar. Many Hamas flags were carried and the cortège turned into a Hamas demonstration of force in the West Bank on the eve of their elections.
- Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, paid a condolence call at a mourning tent erected in the Gaza Strip. He called Barghouti one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, adding that he had inspired “hundreds of thousands” of West Bank residents, which, he said, needed a fuse for an explosion (al-Aqsa, March 25, 2021). A video clip aired in Barghouti’s memory on al-Aqsa TV showed a reenactment of a drive-by shooting attack targeting IDF soldiers which according to the clip had been orchestrated by Barghouti (al-Aqsa TV, March 25, 2021).
Accusing Israel of exploiting the countries around the globe
- Riyad al-Maliki accused Israel of exploiting the hardships of countries around the globe, extorting them in return for coronavirus vaccines. He said in that way Israel won their trust and gained their support, manifested by the countries’ opening their legations in Jerusalem. He added that the hardships of the Palestinians were exacerbated during the coronavirus epidemic because Israel ignored its responsibility as an “occupying power” to take care of the Palestinian population and refused to provide the Palestinians with vaccines (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, April 2, 2021).
 Land Day falls on March 30 and is marked with demonstrations and a general strike of Israeli Arabs. It was first marked in 1976 to protest Israel's seizure of lands. ↑
 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. ↑