An IED balloon found in the western Negev (western Negev security, February 3, 2020).
Preparing balloon clusters for launching (Facebook page of Ahfad al-Nasser in the central Gaza Strip, January 30, 2020).
Pictures from a video showing tear gas canisters for attaching to balloon clusters (Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari in eastern Khan Yunis, February 3, 2020).
Launching IED balloon clusters into Israel (Facebook page of Ahfad al-Nasser in the central Gaza Strip, January 31, 2020).
Trucks bring the sheep from Saudi Arabia to the Gaza Strip (website of the ministry of Muslim endowments in the Gaza Strip, February 2, 2020).
Trucks bring the sheep from Saudi Arabia to the Gaza Strip (website of the ministry of Muslim endowments in the Gaza Strip, February 2, 2020).
- After the formal publication of the Trump plan the violence from the Gaza Strip became more severe, with 11 rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel and an increase in the launching of IED balloons. In response the IDF attacked a large number of targets in the Gaza Strip, most of them belonging to Hamas. In addition, the import of cement into the Gaza Strip was banned and 500 Israeli entrance permits for Gazan businessmen were cancelled.
- At various locations in Judea and Samaria demonstrations were held to protest the Trump plan, but so far the participation of the Palestinian public has not been particularly enthusiastic. At some locations there was friction between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces, but no exceptional events were recorded. The Friday prayers on the Temple Mount were also without exceptional incident.
- The Palestinian Authority is preparing for extensive a diplomatic and media campaign in several arenas to combat the Trump plan. Mahmoud Abbas intends to address the UN Security Council on February 11, 2020. The PA is planning to appeal to the General Assembly, the unaligned nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Mahmoud Abbas said he would also consider appealing to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
- Following the Palestinian ban on calves from Israel, Israeli Defense Minister Naphtali Bennet placed a ban on agricultural products from Judea and Samaria. In response, on February 3, 2020, the Palestinian government said it would prevent the entrance of Israeli merchandise into the PA, including vegetables, fruit, soft drinks, fruit juices and [mineral] water manufactured in Israel.
- After the formal publication of the Trump plan the level violence from the Gaza Strip rose, mainly with an increase in the rocket and mortar fire. Since the plan was made public 11 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at Israel. There has also been an increase in the launching of IED balloons. A general strike was called in the Gaza Strip and Hamas-led protest marches were held in the city centers. Apparently public enthusiasm to go into the streets to demonstrate is not particularly high. In addition, senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figures called for an increase in terrorist attacks against Israel.
- In response to the rocket and mortar fire, the IED balloon launches and shooting at an IDF observation post, the IDF attacked a large number of targets in the Gaza Strip, most of them belonging to Hamas. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said in response that the [Israeli] “aggression” would increase the determination of the Palestinian people to continue their struggle against Israel (Hazem Qassem’s Facebook page, February 2, 2020).
- Kamil Abu Roqon, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), announced that until further notice cement would not be delivered to the Gaza Strip and 500 entrance permits into Israel for Gazan businessmen would be cancelled. However, this past week, as part of the lull arrangement, tires were delivered to the Gaza Strip, the first time since the return marches began in March 2018. However, cement was delivered privately, without UN supervision, for the first time since Operation Protective Edge (2014).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- After the publication of the “deal of the century,” there was an increase in the frequency of rocket and mortar shell fire at Israeli territory. The following were the events between January 29 (the day the plan was published) and February 3, 2020 (the time of this writing):
- February 1, 2020: A rocket was launched at the western Negev. It fell between two communities. No casualties were reported.
- January 31, 2020: A rocket and mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip at Sderot and the western Negev. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system. No casualties were reported. Buildings in Sderot incurred minor damages. Three mortar shells were fired into Israeli territory. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted one. Two fell in open areas.
- January 30, 2020: Three rockets were fired at Sderot. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted two of them. The third fell in an open area near Sderot. A three-week-old infant girl was injured, hitting her head when her mother fell while running to shelter. Her mother incurred minor injuries. A fire broke out at the nearby Sapir Academic College.
- January 29, 2020: Three rockets were fired at Israel, two of them falling in the Gaza Strip. The third fell in an open area in the western Negev. No casualties were reported.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
IED balloon launches
- Since the publication of the Trump plan the launching of IED balloons has continued and increased. The wind carried some of the balloon clusters a considerable distance from the Gaza Strip. The following were prominent events (Israeli media):
- February 3, 2020: Three IED balloons were located in the western Negev. One of them exploded in the air and two were neutralized by police demolitions experts. No casualties or damage were reported. One IED balloon was found in a field in the Negev. Balloons were found near the southern Israeli cities of Sderot and Kiryat Gat (Israeli media, February 3, 2020).
Right: An IED balloon that landed in the Merhavim region in the western Negev (Merhavim regional council spokesman’s unit, February 3, 2019). Left: An IED balloon found in the western Negev (western Negev security, February 3, 2020).
- February 2, 2020: A balloon cluster found in the committee of Netiv Ha’asara, north of the Gaza Strip (Ashqelon regional council spokesperson’s unit, February 2, 2018).
- The units in charge of launching IED balloons from the Gaza Strip announced they would continue their activities and upgrade their methods:
- The Sons of al-Zawari unit in Khan Yunis threatened that in the near future they would attack the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip using balloons with tear gas canisters attached to them (Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari in eastern Khan Yunis, February 3, 2020).
Pictures from a video showing tear gas canisters for attaching to balloon clusters
(Facebook page of the Sons of al-Zawari in eastern Khan Yunis, February 3, 2020).
- The Facebook page of the Ahfad al-Nasser unit (which belongs to the Popular Resistance Committees in the Gaza Strip) posted a threat to the western Negev inhabitants, claiming they would turn the region near the Gaza Strip border into a minefield which would not be fit for human habitation or agriculture. They also claimed that incendiary and IED balloons and UAVs carrying explosives were only the beginning and that they had “other surprises” in waiting (Facebook page of Ahfad al-Nasser in the central Gaza Strip, January 28, 2020).
Preventing weapons from being smuggled into the Gaza Strip
- It can now be reported that three months ago the IDF naval forces cooperating with the Israel Security Agency prevented weapons from the northern Sinai Peninsula. The Israeli navy located a vessel sailing from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip which was suspected of carrying contraband materials. Naval fighters were dispatched to halt the vessel. Aboard were two Palestinians who were taken for interrogation. The weapons found on board were intended for use by Hamas’ naval commando operatives (IDF spokesman, February 4, 2020).
Events in Judea and Samaria
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces and civilian targets The more prominent events were the following:
- February 4, 2020 – Stones were thrown at Israeli vehicles southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported. Three vehicles were damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 4, 2020).
- February 3, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus east of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 3, 2020).
- February 3, 2020 – Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at an IDF guard post in northern Samaria. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 3, 2020).
- February 2, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli vehicle in Gush Etzion. One of the stones shattered the front windshield and a child was injured by flying glass (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, February 2, 2020).
- February 2, 2020 – IDF soldiers in Gush Etzion detained a young Palestinian who aroused their suspicions. He was found to be in possession of a knife and was taken for interrogation (IDF Twitter account, February 2, 2020). According to a report the Palestinian was Ra’ed Imad Masalma (Wafa, February 3, 2020).
- January 31, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israel vehicle east of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 31, 2020).
- January 30, 2020 – Palestinians threw stones at the Qalandia crossing (north of Jerusalem). An IDF force fired into the air and they fled. No casualties were reported (United Hatzalah, January 30, 2020).
- January 30, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israeli bus east of Qalqilya. No casualties were reported. The bus was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 30, 2020).
- January 30, 2020 – During a Border Police fighters’ activity to control a riot northeast of Jerusalem, eight Palestinians were seen throwing stones at Israeli vehicles on nearby roads. They were detained (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, January 30, 2020).
- January 30, 2020 – A Border Police fighter was wounded by a rock thrown in a riot held at the entrance to a Ramallah. He was evacuated to a hospital for medical care; with minor injuries (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, January 30, 2020).
- January 30, 2020 – Molotov cocktails were thrown on the Jerusalem-Gush Etzion road. No casualties were reported (United Hatzalah, January 30, 2020).
- January 29, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an Israel vehicle southeast of Ariel. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, January 29, 2020)
- January 29, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged.
Border Police fighter wounded by a Molotov cocktail thrown by Palestinians during riots in Hebron (QudsN Facebook page, February 3, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Tires delivered from Israel to the Gaza Strip
- The Palestinian media reported that Israel permitted the delivery of tires to the Gaza Strip. Seven trucks entered through the Kerem Shalom Crossing carrying 5,000 tires (al-Ra’i news agency, January 29, 2020; Amad, January 29, 2020). Assem Salem, the PA minister of transportation, reported on his ministry had successfully renewed the delivery of tires to the Gaza Strip. He added Israel banned the import in April 2018 in response to the burning of tires during the return marches (Facebook page of the PA ministry of transportation, January 29, 2020).
Tires delivered to the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing
(Twitter account of Gazan journalist Hassan Aslih, January 29, 2020).
Aid delivered to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing
- The ministry of Muslim endowments in the Gaza Strip announced that 30 thousand heads of sheep, passing though Saudi Arabia, had been delivered to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing. Abd al-Hadi al-Agha, deputy secretary of Muslim endowments, said that after all the procedures had been completed, the meat would be delivered by his ministry to about 50,000 needy families through charitable associations affiliated with the ministry (website of the ministry of Muslim endowments in the Gaza Strip, February 2, 2020).
Payments for the families of shaheeds
- The ministry of social development in the Gaza Strip announced that the payment of the salaries of the shaheeds and wounded of the return marches would begin on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, at all the branches of the post office in the Gaza Strip. The ministry also published the address of a link which could be used to check who could receive the aid, which would be paid in cash (Sawa, February 2, 2020).
Distribution of Iranian aid to the families of Palestinians killed in the second intifada
- On January 27, 2020, the Facebook page of the al-Ansar charitable association in the Gaza Strip posted a report about an additional distribution of Iranian support for the families of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip killed during the second intifada. Payment was made to the families between January 19 and January 27, 2020. According to the report, which was broadcast by the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen Lebanese TV channel, the Iranian funds were distributed to 4,800 beneficiaries in the Gaza Strip.
- The Iranian aid was disbursed in cash through the National Islamic Bank (which belongs to Hamas). Hung in the hall of the al-Ansar association where checks were distributed, a large picture of Qassem Soleimani could be seen. The picture also had the logo of the Iranian Shaheed Foundation and the symbol in the center of the Iranian flag. Nasser al-Sheikh Ali, deputy chairman of al-Ansar in the Gaza Strip, said funds from Iran were being distributed despite Iran’s financial hardships, caused by the sanctions imposed the United States (Facebook page of the al-Ansar charitable association, January 27, 2020).
Right: A picture of Qassem Soleimani with the Iranian Shaheed Foundation logo and the symbol of the Iranian flag, hung in the offices of the al-Ansar charitable association where checks were distributed to the families of shaheeds. Left: Payment made at a branch of the National Islamic Bank (Facebook page of the al-Ansar charitable association, January 27, 2020).
Isma’il Haniyeh meets with Erdogan
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, met (for the second time in recent weeks) with Turkish President Erdogan behind closed doors presence (al-Andalou News, February 1, 2020). They discussed rejection of the Trump plan. Both sides stressed the need for a unified Palestinian, Arab and Islamic position on the plan (Hamas website, February 1, 2020).
Erdogan and Haniyeh
(website of the Turkish presidential office, February 1, 2020).
Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades terrorist operative killed in a “work accident”
- The Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing, announced the death of one of its operatives, Ibrahim Khalil Ibrahim al-Shantaf, 21, from the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City. He was killed on January 30, 2020, while working in one of the tunnels (Safa, January 30, 2020).
Ibrahim Khalil Ibrahim al-Shantaf wearing an Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades uniform
(Palsawa, January 30, 2020).
Palestinian campaign against the “deal of the century” continues in the inter-Arab arena
- Following the emergency meeting of the Arab League’s foreign ministers, a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on February 2, 2020, to discuss the Trump plan. The meeting was attended by the foreign ministers of 57 states. The PA was represented by Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister (Safa, February 2, 2020). The summary announcement of the meeting called on all countries to oppose the Trump plan and not to cooperate with the American administration. That is because the plan was based on the Israeli position and intended to lead to the annexation of more “of the lands of Palestine” (al-Araby al-Jadeed, February 3, 2020). Another Arab forum, the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, is supposed to hold an emergency meeting on February 8, 2020 to discuss the “deal of the century” (Dunia al-Watan, February 2, 2020).
The international arena
- The UN Security Council is supposed to meet to discuss the Trump plan. Mahmoud Abbas will reportedly address the Security Council on February 11, 2020. According to Mahmoud Abbas, the position of the Palestinians in the Security Council will not differ from what it has been so far. They will reject the “deal of the century” and demand negotiations during which they will raise their demands (Palestinian TV, February 3, 2020).
- The PA intends to appeal to the UN General Assembly and the bloc of unaligned nations regarding. Mahmoud Abbas also said appeals to the International Criminal Court in The Hague (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) were being considered.
The internal Palestinian arena
- The PA, Fatah and Hamas are trying to create a unified image to oppose the Trump plan. Reportedly, a joint meeting will be held in the Gaza Strip to discuss coordinated ways to oppose the plan. Salah al-Bardawil, a member of the Hamas’ political bureau, called for the establishment of a united national authority to fight the plan (al-Aqsa, February 2, 2020).
- According to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese daily al-Akhbar, a PLO delegation of about 20 senior figures from Judea and Samaria will arrive in the Gaza Strip. According to the newspaper, so far no date has been set for the arrival of the delegation and it depends on the security situation in the Gaza Strip (al-Akhbar, February 3, 2020).
Activity regarding Israel
- Senior PA figures continue threatening to cancel all agreements with Israel, including security coordination. PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said that the PA had passed the message to the Israeli government, but implementation depended on Mahmoud Abbas’ decision, which would be made according to his political considerations (BBC, January 31, 2020). At the weekly government meeting in Ramallah Mahmoud Abbas threatened that if Israel continued to promote the “deal of the century” the Palestinians would stop security its coordination (Palestinian TV, February 3, 2020).
- Calls continue for the Palestinian public to participate in the protest activities organized at various locations in Judea and Samaria. Jamal Hussein, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, reported that the secretaries of the Fatah districts in Judea and Samaria would meet to formulate a plan to escalate activities against Israel in coordination with national and Islamic forces (Wafa, February 2, 2020). He emphasized protests would continue in the coming days. However, so far the response of the Palestinian public to the calls does not seem to be particularly enthusiastic and the protest events are attended by only a limited number of people.
Mahmoud Abbas’ speech at the weekly government meeting
- Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech at the government meeting in Ramallah where he against stressed Palestinian rejection of the Trump plan, saying it was unacceptable because it invalidated the sovereignty of the Palestinian people (whose number, he claimed, is 13 million). The following are the main topics he spoke about (Palestinian TV, February 3, 2020):
- Relations with the United States: The United States does not support the side of the Palestinians and therefore it cannot be the sole mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. The countries of the International Quartet as well as Arab and other European states should participate in the negotiations. Mahmoud Abbas said that after the United States relocated its embassy to Jerusalem the Palestinians cut off all relations with it except for one channel of communication.
- Relations with Israel: Today the Palestinians have nothing to do with Israel with the exception of “a few” products they buy from Israel and security coordination. Mahmoud Abbas threatened that if Israel continued promoting the “deal of the century” the PA would stop the security coordination with Israel.
- The Oslo Accords: The Oslo Accords are the most important agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, according to which 92% of the area was promised to the Palestinians and the remainder would be open to negotiations. Mahmoud Abbas also said that if Israel abandons the responsibility it took upon itself regarding the Palestinians as part of the Oslo Accords the Palestinians would take all the rights owed them by international law and UN resolutions. He added that they would agree to cooperate with Israel if it abandoned the deal [of the century] and accepted international negotiations under Quartet or other international aegis.
Mahmoud Abbas at the Palestinian government meeting in Ramallah
(Wafa, February 3, 2020).
Responses to the order of the Israeli defense minister to ban the import of agricultural products from the PA
- Following the Palestinian ban on calves from Israel, Naphtali Bennett, the Israeli defense minister, ordered the cessation of the import of agricultural products from Judea and Samaria. The Israeli ban went into effect immediately on February 2, 2020, and was condemned by the PA. Hussein al-Sheikh, minister of civil affairs, accused Bennet of initiating a campaign to starve the Palestinian people. He said the consequences of the Israeli ban were unclear but the Palestinians would respond soon (Dunia al-Watan, February 1, 2020). Taysir Khaled, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, called on all the PA’s institutions and ministries to impose a comprehensive boycott of Israeli products (Dunia al-Watan, February 1, 2020). PA spokesman Ibrahim Milhem said the Palestinian government would respond properly to the announcement of the Israeli defense minister (Wafa, January 31, 2020).
- At the Palestinian government meeting held on February 3, 2020, a decision was made to prevent the entrance of merchandise from Israel into the PA territories. According to Riyad Atari, PA minister of agriculture, they had decided to prevent the delivery of vegetables, fruit, soft drinks, fruit juice and [mineral] water produced in Israel (Wafa, February 3, 2020). Khaled al-Asili, Palestinian minister of the national economy, said all importers and distributors of merchandise and products from Israel had been informed that they could not be sold in Palestinian markets, and the decision would go into force within 48 hours (Wafa, February 3, 2020).
The governor of the Salfit district in Samaria takes down commercial signs in Hebrew
- Abdallah Kamil, the governor of the Salfit district, issued an order obligating owners of commercial establishments and all the institutions in his district to take down signs written in Hebrew and replace them with signs in Arabic. They have one week to comply. He stressed that legal measures would be instituted against anyone who did not comply with the order. He said the step was a response to Israeli policy and the Trump plan, which gave Israel the right to annex the settlements on Palestinian lands (Wafa, February 3, 2020). He visited commercial properties to examine the implementation of the order (Facebook page of the Salfit district, February 4, 2020).
The governor of the Salfit district oversees the implementation of his order in the village of Badia (Facebook page of the Salfit district, February 4, 2020)
Palestinian activity in the International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Rawan Abu Yusuf, the PLO’s representative in Holland, announced the ICC had agreed to examine the request of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda regarding the opening of an investigation in the Palestinian territories. He said all the sides involved, including the Palestinians, could present their comments no later than March 16, 2020. The ICC is expected to respond to the comments before March 30, 2020 (Dunia al-Watan, January 29, 2020).
 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. ↑
 For further information, see the August 5, 2018 bulletin Iranian support for Palestinian terrorism: Continuation of Iranian fund transfers to shaheeds’ families in the Gaza Strip by PIJ-affiliated Al-Ansar charity association." ↑
 The number is exaggerated (in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip there are about five million people). He was apparently including an exaggerated figure of Palestinian refugees. ↑
 The Diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East was an international body established in 2002, composed of the United States, the EU, the UN and Russia. Its role was to oversee a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the Road Map. ↑