Aid from Jordan (Facebook page of the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization, April 19, 2018).
Aid donated by the UAE (al-Ayn, April 21, 2020).
Aid from Jordan (Facebook page of the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization, April 19, 2018).
Aid donated by the UAE (al-Ayn, April 21, 2020).
Food packages distributed by IHH in the Gaza Strip (al-Andalou News, April 26, 2020).
The fence along the border (QudsN Twitter account, April 26, 2020).
The PA's minister of health at the delivery of aid from TIKA (Facebook page of the PA's ministry of health, April 23, 2020).
- This past week events focused on the combined vehicular-stabbing attack at a roadblock southeast of Jerusalem and on the continuing threats (so far not carried out) from the Gaza Strip to renew the launching of IED and incendiary balloons. In the meantime the PA and Hamas continue to fight the spread of the coronavirus in their territories.
- Apparently the spread of coronavirus in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is still under control. The number of reported cases in the PA has risen to 342 and in Gaza to 17. According to statistics from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, so far in east Jerusalem 143 COVID-19 active cases have been diagnosed, most of them (19) in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood.
- In March 2020 the Israeli security forces exposed a Hamas network whose operatives were planning terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and the Ramallah region. One of their targets was the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and they had already gathered intelligence for the attack.
Judea and Samaria
- According to data from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, so far 143 active cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in east Jerusalem, and 113 have been hospitalized. Their condition is neither serious nor critical and they are not on ventilators. According to data from the PA, so far 154 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in east Jerusalem.
- The following is the distribution of cases diagnosed in east Jerusalem, according to the Israeli Jerusalem municipality: Ras al-Amoud, 19; a-Tor, 16; Bayt Safafa, 13; Issawiya, 13; Bayt Hanina, 12; Abu Tor; 10; the Old City, 9; Silwan, 9; Sur Baher, 7; the Shuafat refugee camp, 7; Sheikh Jarrah, 5; the neighborhood of Shuafat, 5; Jabal Mukaber, 4.
- On April 24, 2020, the Israeli security forces detained a Palestinian who was examined and found to be ill with COVID-19. He was taken to quarantine (Israel Prison Service spokesman’s unit, April 24, 2020). The diagnosis caused the PA and Hamas to again raise the issue of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and concern for their health. Ibrahim Melhem, PA government spokesman, again accused Israel of deliberately neglecting the health of east Jerusalem residents (Wafa April 26, 2020).
Geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases
- Most COVID-19 cases are still centered in the towns and villages surrounding Jerusalem (138 reported cases) and in the districts of Ramallah (68), Bethlehem (58), and Hebron (41). They are followed by the districts of Nablus (7), Tulkarm (6), Jenin (4), Jericho (1) and Salfit (1) (Corona Map Portal, April 27, 2020).
Geographic distribution of COVID-19 cases
(Corona Map Portal, April 27, 2020)
Preventing the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca from the PA territories
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced that in addition to closing the mosques he had cancelled preparations for the hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca because the Saudi Arabians had called off pilgrimages until further notice (Palestinian TV, April 21, 2020).
- According to the ministry of health in the Gaza Strip, the number of COVID-19 cases rose last week from 13 to 17. Two Palestinians tested positive at the Rafah Crossing and were quarantined. Ten patients recovered and seven are still in quarantine. So far, Hamas apparently has the disease under control.
- In preparation for the Muslim religious month of Ramadan Hamas closed the mosques, banned large fast-breaking meals (iftars) and instituted measures to secure shopping centers. Despite instructions, Gazans gathered in stores and on the beach. Recently senior Hamas figures have sensed Gazans are no longer strictly abiding by preventive measures (staying home, wearing masks and avoiding crowds). To remedy the situation Hamas has threatened to institute stricter measures. On the other hand, despite their concerns, and despite close supervision during Ramadan, it was decided to open restaurants and coffee houses (April 26, 2020).
Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
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
Combined vehicular-stabbing attack
- On April 22, 2020 there was a combined vehicular-stabbing attack at a roadblock southeast of Jerusalem near Ma’aleh Adumim. The roadblock was manned by Border Police fighters and one was wounded (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, April 22 2020).
- According to the police investigation, the Palestinian drove his van to the roadblock without rousing suspicion. When he was a few yards from the Border Police fighter he veered out of his lane and rammed into him. Despite his injuries the Border Police fighter got up and fought with the Palestinian, who stabbed him with a pair of scissors. Other fighters at the roadblock shot and killed the attacker (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, April 24, 2020).
The scene of the combined vehicular-stabbing attack
(Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, April 22, 2020).
- The Palestinian media reported that the Palestinian who carried out the attack was Ibrahim Muhammad Ali Halse, from the village of al-Sawahra (southeast of Jerusalem). Apparently his motives were personal. The Palestinian Wafa news agency (subordinate to Mahmoud Abbas’ office) reported he was killed near a roadblock by “occupation forces” gunfire. Eyewitnesses were quoted, saying Halse was shot because of Israel’s claim that he had carried out a combined vehicular-stabbing attack (Wafa, April 22, 2020). PA spokesman Ibrahim Milhem expressed sorrow at the death of Ibrahim Halse and condemned Israel for keeping his body (Wafa, April 22, 2020).
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets, although there has been a substantial decrease in the number of incidents since the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis.
- The more prominent events were the following:
- April 27, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli civilian vehicle east of Alfei Menashe. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 27, 2020).
- April 26, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli civilian vehicle south of Beit El. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 26, 2020).
- April 26, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli civilian bus southwest of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 26, 2020).
- April 26, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an IDF force securing the road southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 26, 2020).
- April 23, 2019 – Border Police fighters in east Jerusalem detained three masked men who were throwing Molotov cocktails at houses in the Ras al-Amoud neighborhood (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, April 23, 2020).
- April 22, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli civilian vehicle east of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 23, 2020).
- April 22, 2019 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli civilian vehicle south of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, April 22, 2020).
The damage done to an Israel vehicle by stones thrown by Palestinians
(Tekoa Security, April 22, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Exposure of a Hamas terrorist cell planning terrorist attacks in Jerusalem
- A Hamas terrorist cell was exposed during detentions carried out by the Israeli security forces in March 2020. Its operatives planned terrorist attacks in Jerusalem and against Israeli security forces operating in the Ramallah area. Three Palestinians were detained, one who had an Israeli ID card. The three originally met while studying at Birzeit University, where they were members of a Hamas student cell.
- The following information was revealed during the interrogation of the three terrorists (Israel Security Agency, April 22, 2020):
- They were planning to place an IED at a soccer game in Teddy Stadium in the Malkha neighborhood of Jerusalem. They also planned to detonate IEDs by remote control to attack IDF vehicles and posts at a number of locations near Ramallah. In March 2020 they tried to detonate an IED to attack Israeli security forces operating in Ramallah.
- The operatives gathered information about their intended targets. One operative, who had an Israeli ID card, attended a soccer game at the Teddy Stadium on December 4, 2019, where he examined the possibility of carrying out an attack.
- The three terrorist operatives tried to manufacture an IED from to instructions they found on the Internet. They bought chemicals, nails and various tools. They were detained before they could assemble the device. They received funding for their activities from a resident of Ramallah who was a senior operative in a Hamas student cell in Birzeit University, and who liaised between them and Hamas operatives.
Medical aid continues flowing into the Gaza Strip
- Institutions and countries continue sending the Gaza Strip aid to fight COVID-19:
- Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza, reported the delivery of $1.25 million worth of drugs, disposable medical equipment and laboratory equipment from the ministry of health in Ramallah (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Gaza, April 21, 2020). Reportedly, it was the first delivery of equipment from Ramallah since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, April 20, 2018).
- The International Red Cross donated ICU equipment, include a ventilator, monitors, defibrillators, suction devices and pumps. In the meantime the International Red Cross is working to improve the conditions in the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Yunis, which has been designated at the control hospital for COVID-19 patients. The organization also donated masks and protective goggles to the Palestinian Red Crescent (website of the International Red Cross, April 23, 2020).
- An aid convoy funded by the UAE arrived at the quarantine centers in Gaza. A spokesman for the National Islamic Committee for Social Solidarity said that the committee had begun to distribute the aid, which was worth $100 thousand (al-Ayn, April 21, 2020; al-Ra’i, April 20, 2020).
- The Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization sent two trucks to the Gaza Strip carrying tens of tons of gluten-free flour and five incubators. The aid was delivered to the Jordanian army field hospital in Gaza which will distribute it to those who are entitled to receive it (al-Ghad, April 19, 2020). The truck entered the Gaza Strip through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) Crossing on April 21, 2020 (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, April 21, 2020).
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, called Turkey’s President Erdogan with good wishes for Ramadan. Erdogan told Haniyeh that medical aid from Turkey would arrive in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria this week (Hamas website, April 24, 2020).
Distribution of Ramadan aid to the Gaza Strip
- The branch of the Turkish IHH in Gaza distributed aid to needy families for Ramadan. Mahmoud al-Sharifa, in charge of public relations, said its cost was estimated at €126,000. The organization distributed 1,200 packages of food and coupons worth €34 to two thousand people. Fast-breaking (iftar) meals will be distributed to 12,000 people during Ramadan (al-Andalou News, April 26, 2020). The al-Bureij charitable society also distributed iftar meals to needy families in cooperation with IHH (Twitter account of the al-Bureij charitable society, April 25, 2020).
Right: Food packages distributed by IHH in the Gaza Strip (al-Andalou News, April 26, 2020). Left: Meals distributed by the al-Bureij charitable society (al-Bureij website, April 25, 2020).
- The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) distributed food packages to 3.800 families in the Gaza Strip for the beginning of Ramadan. Senior PIJ figure Muhammad al-Harazin said the distribution of food was the first project of a larger plan to aid families during Ramadan (Paltoday, April 25, 2020).
Food packages distributed by the PIJ to needy Gazan families
(Paltoday, April 25, 2020).
Houses reconstructed and renovated with help from the Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza
- Naji Sirhan, deputy minister of public works and housing in Gaza, announced that his ministry had begun implementing a housing plan which would be funded by a million dollar donation from Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza. He said the donation would be used for three ministry-decided criteria: renovating existing structures, rebuilding old and building new houses. He said 117 families would profit from the plan. He added that the first installment had already been paid to eligible recipients through post office bank branches (Palsawa, April 26, 2020).
Renewal of threats to launch IED and incendiary balloons
- Sources in the balloon-launching units in the Gaza Strip threatened to renew launching IED and incendiary balloons into Israeli territory. The Ahfad al-Nasser units (affiliated with the Resistance Committees) announced the launching of a cluster of incendiary balloons from the eastern region of Sajaiya into the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. It was also reported that unit operatives in the central Gaza district were preparing incendiary balloons and waiting for authorization to launch them (Telegram channel of the joint operations room of the Sons of al-Zawari, April 22, 2020). In addition, the Sons of al-Zawari unit in eastern Khan Yunis (affiliated with Hamas) threatened to renew intensive activity in the near future and turn the region near the Gaza Strip into “a living hell” (Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari in eastern Khan Yunis, April 23, 2020). So far the threats have not been carried out.
Electronic fence erected on Egyptian border
- Sources in the Bedouin tribes in the Sinai Peninsula reported that the Egyptian army engineering corps has begun erecting an electronic fence along the Sinai Peninsula-Gaza Strip border. The fence is located a number of meters from the cement wall the Egyptian army began building at the end of January 2020. According to the sources, the fence is equipped with electronic sensors and thermal cameras (al-Araby al-Jadeed, April 25, 2020).
Right: Working on the electronic fence (al-Araby al-Jadeed, April 25, 2020). Left: The fence along the border (QudsN Twitter account, April 26, 2020).
Aid for the PA’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
- The PA continues enlisting donations from Arab-Muslim countries and Palestinian businessmen for its fight against COVID-19:
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh spoke with Sabah al-Sabah, the prime minister of Kuwait. Shtayyeh thanked Kuwait for the giving the WHO $10 million to fight COVID-19 (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, April 24, 2020). Mai al-Kayla, the PA minister of health, was present at the delivery of aid from TIKA, a Turkish government organization, and thanked the government of Turkey (Facebook page of the PA’s ministry of health, April 23, 2020).
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh held a video chat with Dr. Bandar Ibn Muhammad, chairman of the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia. Muhammad Shtayyeh updated him on the PA’s measures against the spread of the coronavirus, and asked for emergency aid for small and medium-size business. The chairman of the bank promised to do everything in his power to help the PA (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, April 19, 2020).
PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh holds a video chat with the chairman of the Islamic Development Bank in Saudi Arabia (Facebook page of Muhammad Shtayyeh, April 19, 2020).
- Sabih and Bashar al-Masri, two Palestinian tycoons, donated a million dollars to the Waqfat Izz fund (“stance of honor”), recently established through an initiative of Muhammad Shtayyeh. The fund’s objective is to enlist donations from Palestinian businessmen in the PA and abroad to help needy families (Ma’an, April 23, 2020). According to its Facebook page, so far the fund has raised 8.8 million Jordanian dinars (about $12.3 million) and its goal is to reach 20 million dinars (about $28 million) (Facebook page of the Waqfat Izz fund, April 26, 2020).
PA diplomatic and media activity concerning Israel’s annexation intentions
- The PA and Hamas continue their diplomatic and media activity concerning the formation of the new Israeli government and its intentions to annex parts of Judea and Samaria. According to Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, that means the annexation decision will make Israel directly responsible for cancelling all the agreements signed between the PA and Israel. He said that when Israel announced its annexation intentions the PA foreign ministry, on instructions from Mahmoud Abbas, rushed into action to contact international agencies. He said Mahmoud Abbas himself had contacted many international figures, and that the Palestinians have sent communiqués to various world leaders and to senior UN officials. The PA is also planning, he said, to appeal to international institutions, among them the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) Palestinian TV, April 22, 2020).
Muhammad Shtayyeh holds a video chat with a representative of the EU. He called on the EU to exert pressure on Israel to stop its annexation plans (Wafa, April 22, 2020).
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said in an interview that the possible annexation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli government would end all hope for peace, stability and security in the Middle East. He called Israel’s annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria a gross violation of international law and of signed peace agreements. He appealed to the international community to grant the Palestinians’ request to hold an international conference about peace in the Middle East (Chinese news agency Xinhua, April 24, 2020). On his Twitter account Saeb Erekat thanked the EU for its opposition to Israel’s annexation plans, saying the EU’s position was a “Palestinian victory” (Twitter account of Saeb Erekat, April 25, 2020).
PA reactions to the Israeli court’s decision to hold back Palestinian funds
- The Jerusalem district court issued an order to temporarily hold back 450 million shekels (about $128 million) of PA funds currently held by Israel. The order was issued because of a law suit against the PA won by victims of [Palestinian] terrorism. The order was based on the court decision from July 2019 stating that the PA was responsible for the terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinian terrorist organizations (Israeli media, April 26, 2020).
- The court’s decision led to condemnations from the PA:
- Ibrahim Melhem, PA government spokesman, said Israel’s measures were illegal, and the Palestinians intended to fight them with legal means (QudsN Facebook page, April 26, 2020).
- Ahmed al-Majdalani, Palestinian minister of welfare and a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said it was another “Israeli theft” of Palestinian money. He said the Palestinians had no intention of cooperating with the court’s decision, and would fight it in international channels. He also called for a reexamination of cancelling agreements with Israel, including the Paris and all other agreements (Ma’an, April 26, 2020).
 The source of the difference in the data from the Israeli Jerusalem municipality and the PA may be that the PA also includes patients who have recovered and not just active cases. ↑
 For further information, see the April 26, 2020 bulletin, "The Fight against COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip (updated to April 26, 2020)." ↑
 For further information, see the April 23, 2020 ITIC bulletin, "In the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis: the first significant terrorist attack in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a threat to renew IED balloon launchings from the Gaza Strip." ↑
 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. ↑