A fragment of the Iron Dome aerial defense system that landed in the city of Bat Yam, close to Tel Aviv (United Hatzalah, November 15, 2020).
Armed al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades operatives offer condolences to Kamal Abu Wa'er's father (al-Quds, November 11, 2020).
The Jerusalem Brigades' military display in Gaza (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 12, 2020).
The Jerusalem Brigades' military display in Gaza (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 12, 2020).
The "Bahaa 1" rocket (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 14, 2020).
The "Bahaa 1" rocket (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 14, 2020).
Facebook page, November 10, 2020).
- In the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise. On November 17, 2020, the number of active cases in the Gaza Strip stood at 3,545, and in Judea and Samaria at 4,976. Both Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA) face many instances of lack of compliance with public health guidelines. Occasionally they enforce local preventive measures more strictly, but so far they are reluctant to impose full lockdowns. However, they do not reject the possibility of full lockdowns if the local public health systems collapse.
- On November 15, 2020, two rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip. Sirens were sounded in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod and along the coastal plain. In response IDF aircraft and tanks attacked a Hamas underground facility and military posts. Palestinian sources claimed the rocket fire had not been deliberate, but rather rain water had penetrated a launching pit and shorted the electrical system, causing the rockets to fire. A political commentator affiliated with Hamas claimed the organization wants to preserve the current lull.
- In Judea and Samaria no significant terrorist attacks were carried out this past week. However, Palestinians continue throwing stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles (including buses). In some instances vehicles were damaged but no casualties were reported.
- In Gaza a ceremony was held to mark the anniversaries of the deaths of Bahaa Abu al-Atta and Iyad Sawalha, both senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist operatives. Hundreds of PIJ operatives held a military display in Gaza, driving through the neighborhood of Sajaiya to Abu al-Atta’s house. The Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ’s military wing, issued a video to commemorate Abu al-Atta. It showed operatives preparing to fire a rocket with “Bahaa 1” written on it. A military commentator affiliated with the PIJ claimed it was a new rocket with a high degree of precision and a large warhead (Paltoday, November 14, 2020).
- Following the victory of Joe Biden in the American presidential election, and given the PA’s financial crisis, reports have recently been issued about an upcoming solution for the problem of the tax revenues. According to several reports, the PA is about to agree to accept the tax revenues in the near future, through the EU. Note: In the meantime, on November 17, 2020, Hussein al-Sheikh, close to Mahmoud Abbas, announced that following Israeli clarifications regarding its commitment to agreements with the Palestinians, relations with Israel will return to the status quo ante (i.e., security and civilian coordination with Israel will be renewed).
The Gaza Strip
- The sharp rise in Covid-19 infection and active cases in the Gaza Strip continues. Over a 24 hour period between November 16 and 17, 486 new cases were detected. As of November 17, 2020, the number of active cases in the Gaza Strip stood at 3,545. During the same period two people died, bringing the number of coronavirus-related deaths to 50 (al-Ra’i news agency, November 17, 2020).
- Dr. Abd al-Nasser Sabah, head of the emergency W.H.O. team in the Gaza Strip, denied the W.H.O. was involved in the announcement claiming that officials in Gaza were manipulating the number of infections. He called the announcement a lie, adding that the W.H.O. works closely with the ministry of health in Gaza and is continuously updated about all data (al-Ra’i news agency, November 17, 2020).
Judea and Samaria
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- Palestinian sources claimed that the rocket fire had not been deliberate but had accidentally been caused by the stormy weather:
- A senior source in the “Palestinian resistance” in Gaza claimed the rockets had fired because rainwater had penetrated one of the rockets’ launching pits, shorting the electrical system and causing the rockets to fire. He claimed the “resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations] had been on alert for several days because of what he called “indirect threats from Israel against the resistance.” He added that they currently have no interest in an escalation with Israel, but do not fear a confrontation “if Israel does something stupid” (al-Quds, November 15, 2020).
- Ibrahim al-Madhoun, a commentator with ties to Hamas, wrote that the rockets that “deafened Ashdod and cast terror into the hearts of Tel Aviv residents were not fired deliberately, but by the weather.” He wrote that the “resistance” was taking steps to ensure the event would not repeat itself, claiming that all malfunctions had been located and repaired. The “resistance,” he claimed, is prepared for various possibilities, including a confrontation with Israel. He added that the lull is a demand of the “resistance” (Ibrahim al-Madhoun’s Twitter account, November 15, 2020).
Cartoon by Hamas-affiliated Bahaa Yasin, published after the rocket fire
(Shehab Facebook page, November 15, 2020).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones, rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles. The more prominent events were the following:
- November 17, 2020: Stones were thrown at civilian Israeli vehicles northeast of Ramallah. No casualties or damage were reported.
- November 17, 2020: Molotov cocktails were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle southeast of Beit El. No casualties were reported.
- November 16, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle north of Hebron. The vehicle was damaged.
- November 16, 2020: A pipe bomb was thrown at the fence of the community of Psagot (east of Ramallah). No casualties were reported.
- November 16, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus north of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- November 15, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle south of Nablus. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- November 13, 2020: Stones were thrown at a police patrol car northwest of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The patrol car was damaged.
- November 12, 2020: Molotov cocktails were thrown from a passing car at the rear gate of the community of Ofra (east of Beit El). No casualties were reported.
- November 12, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus southeast of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported.
- November 12, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus north of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- November 11, 2020: Stones were thrown at civilian Israeli vehicles west of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- November 11, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus north of Kiryat Arba. No casualties were reported.
- November 11, 2020: Stones were thrown at a Israeli vehicle southwest of Nablus. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged.
- November 11, 2020: Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at the fence of the community of Psagot (east of Ramallah) No casualties were reported.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Palestinian terrorist dies in Israel of a terminal illness
- On November 10, 2020, Palestinian terrorist prisoner Kamal Abu Wa’er died of cancer in an Israeli jail (Wafa, November 10, 2020). A spokesman for the Israel Prison Service said Abu Wa’er belonged to Fatah and had been hospitalized in a Prison Service medical center for several months. Abu Wa’er, who came from Qabatiya, had been sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment plus 50 additional years for premeditated murder and attempted murder (Ynet, November 10, 2020).
- The entire Palestinian political spectrum issued mourning notices for him, claiming (as usual in such cases) that Israel was responsible for his death because of its alleged policy of medical negligence towards security prisoners. PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh spoke with Abu Wa’er’s father by phone and offered his condolences for the death of “an activist in the struggle and a loyal son of Palestine who sacrificed his freedom for the sake of the freedom of his people and homeland” (Wafa, November 10, 2020). Announcements from Hamas and the PIJ stressed that they would spare no effort for the release of the prisoners (Hamas website, November 10, 2020; PIJ website, November 10, 2020).
Right: Kamal Abu Wa’er (official Fatah Facebook page, November 10, 2020). Left: Mourning tent erected in Qabatiya (aeinnews Twitter account, November 10, 2020).
Anniversary of the targeted killing of Bahaa Abu al-Atta
- On November 10, 2020, the PIJ held a memorial ceremony for the families of two senior figures, Bahaa Abu al-Atta, killed in Gaza, and Iyad Sawalha, killed in Jenin. Ziyad al-Nakhalah, PIJ leader, said in a recorded speech that the path of the shaheeds was the path to victory and the liberation of “Palestine.” He added that weapons and the willingness to fight and die as shaheeds would continue to be integral to the future of “Palestine” and the entire region (PIJ website, November 10, 2020).
The ceremony in the Gaza Strip. Right: Senior figures. Left: Ziyad al-Nakhalah’s recorded speech played at the ceremony (Paltoday, November 16, 2020).
- On November 12, 2020, hundreds of operatives of the Jerusalem Brigades, the PIJ’s military wing, armed with light and medium-weight weapons, held a military display. They drove through the streets of the Sajaiya neighborhood in Gaza City to Bahaa Abu al-Atta’s house (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 12, 2020).
- The Jerusalem Brigades issued a video called “The pledge of al-Atta,” which featured terrorist operatives with various weapons (mortars, rockets, RPG launchers, sniper rifles). The video also had pictures of Bahaa Abu al-Atta and of Israel during the rocket attacks and shootings carried out by Jerusalem Brigades operatives (Jerusalem Brigades website, November 14, 2020). The video showed preparations for firing a rocket with “Bahaa 1” written on it. Rami Abu Zbeida, a commentator and an expert in military matters, claimed the Bahaa 1 was a new rocket with a high degree of precision and a large warhead (Paltoday, November 14, 2020).
The “Bahaa 1” rocket
(Jerusalem Brigades website, November 14, 2020).
UNRWA’s financial difficulties
- Interviewed by the French News Agency, Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s general representative, said the agency was facing the most serious financial crisis in its history. He said the crisis could lead to a catastrophe in the Gaza Strip and could increase instability in Lebanon. He added that no one wanted to suspend schooling or stop medical services in Gaza. He added that suspending UNRWA’s aid program in Lebanon could be another destabilizing force (the French News Agency in Arabic, November 16, 2020).
Demonstration in front of UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City protesting the intention not to pay the salaries of UNRWA employees (al-Alam TV website, November 12, 2020).
The rebuilding of houses destroyed during Operation Protective Edge
- Naji Sirhan, deputy minister for public works and housing in Gaza, said that 90% of the houses destroyed by Israel during Operation Protective Edge had been rebuilt. He said he was referring to 11,000 dwelling units destroyed during the operation and 1,000 before and after it, for a total of 12,000 units, of which 10,800 had been rebuilt. He added that 1,200 units remained whose rebuilding had not been completed. He noted that the cost of reconstruction was about $300 million, of which $200 million had already been paid. He claimed they had agreed with UNRWA a few days ago that the agency would find the money to complete reconstruction (Dunia al-Watan, November 15, 2020).
Marking the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death
- Fatah and the PA recently marked the 16th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. Commemorative events were held in the Palestinian cities with the participation of senior Fatah figures and operatives. On November 15, 2020, a mass rally was held in the village of al-Ram, attended by many armed, masked Fatah terrorist operatives.
- The official Fatah Facebook page posted pictures of Yasser Arafat and glorification of his path, including quotes from his speeches, stressing that the Palestinians would continue his path until they achieved freedom and independence (Wafa, November 15, 2020; official Fatah Facebook page, November 15, 2020; Mahmoud Abbas’ Facebook page, November 10, 2020). Ceremonies were also held in the Gaza Strip, with the participation of Fatah operatives and representatives from the Palestinian organizations.
Right: Mahmoud Abbas gives a speech for the 16th anniversary of Arafat’s death (Mahmoud Abbas’ Facebook page, November 10, 2020). Left: Armed, masked Fatah operatives at the rally in al-Ram. No social distancing (Fatah Facebook page, November 15, 2020).
Reports in the Palestinian and Arab media about an upcoming solution for the tax revenue issue
- According to some reports, the EU is investing efforts to renew the transfer of tax revenues to the PA:
- Shadi Uthman, EU spokesman in the PA, said the EU is looking for a solution. He added that the Europeans want to resolve the tax revenue, but so far have not had results. They hope the issue will be resolved quickly because it is in the interest of both sides. He denied that the EU was acting as a middleman to receive the funds from Israel, calling a middleman unnecessary. If Israel decides to transfer the funds to the PA, it will transfer them directly (al-Hadath, November 12, 2020).
- On another occasion, the PA-affiliated newspaper al-Ayam reported that Shadi Uthman, the EU spokesman in the PA, said the EU had consistently called for the immediate transfer to the PA of the Palestinian tax revenues collected by Israel. He said the EU was dealing with both sides and hoped the problem would be solved in the near future. He said they also hoped the contacts would have positive results very soon, because in the absence of the tax revenues the PA’s financial situation would become very difficult and influence the PA’s functioning. The EU, he said, has been working for a long time with both sides to solve the vitally important issue (al-Ayam, November 14, 2020).
Palestinian and international condemnation of Israel’s intention to construct dwelling units in southern Jerusalem
- The Israeli media reported that on November 15, 2020, the Israeli Land Authority issued a tender for the first ten building sites for the construction of 1,257 dwelling units in the Airplane Hill neighborhood in southern Jerusalem (which is on the Palestinian side of the Green Line), after the tender had been repeatedly delayed for years (the Israeli business newspaper, Calcalist, November 15, 2020).
- At the weekly government meeting PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said an Israeli plan apparently exists to impose new conditions on the ground during the ten weeks before Trump leaves the White House. He added that the PA is worried about the new projects of “colonial settlement,” whose objective is to encircle and strangle the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem and to keep them from being connected to the rest of the West Bank territories. He said that the construction of the Airplane Hill neighborhood would lead to a blockade of the village of Bayt Safafa. He added that his government would take all possible steps to position itself against the decisions and projects the Israeli government was working on, and called on the world to do its duty to prevent “Israeli aggression” (Wafa, November 16, 2020).
 Ibrahim al-Madhoun has resided in Turkey since 2018. He recently became the director of the Association for Palestine Communicators and Media (also called FIMED, the acronym of its Turkish name, Filistin İletişimciler ve Medya Derneği). The association's objective is to transmit the Palestinian narrative to the Turks. FIMED is headed by senior Hamas figure Sami Abu Zuhri, and its office is located in Istanbul. ↑
 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. ↑
 Kamal Abu Wa'er was detained in January 2003. He was a senior operative in Fatah/Tanzim, and confessed to participation in terrorist attacks in which Israelis were killed or wounded, and to planning showcase attacks of various types against Israeli targets. He also confessed to having received from Marwan Barghouti, who headed the Tanzim in Judea and Samaria, 80,000 shekels (about $29,000) for his activities. He participated in the mass shooting attack at the Tomb of Joseph on October 2, 2000, killing Midhat Yusuf, a Border Police fighter. He also confessed to participating in the shooting attack on October 10, 2000, which targeted a group of visitors to Mt. Ebal, killing Rabbi Binyamin Herling and wounding four other Israeli civilians. On May 8, 2001 he murdered Arnaldo Agranionic, who was a guard at a local community. Abu Wa'er was also involved in the shooting attack targeting a vehicle near the Tapuah Junction, wounding two Israeli civilians. He was involved in the murder of Aliza Malka on August 9, 2001, when Fatah terrorists carried out a drive-by shooting in the Jalaboun region (east of Jenin) in northern Israel, wounding three teenage passengers (Ynet, April 28, 2003). ↑
 Iyad Sawalha was the commander of the PIJ's military wing in Jenin during the second intifada until he died in a targeted killing on November 9, 2002. ↑