Teams from the Hebron municipality disinfect public places in the city (Facebook page of the Hebron municipality, July 5, 2020).
Teams from the Hebron municipality disinfect public places in the city (Facebook page of the Hebron municipality, July 5, 2020).
Palestinian flags waved at a "day of rage" event in Gaza (Facebook page of the Fatah branch in eastern Gaza City, July 1, 2020).
Yahya al-Sinwar (mask) holds the raised hand of senior Fatah figure Ahmed Hilles (right) in a show of unity (Shehab Twitter account, July 1, 2020).
Ahmed Abd al-Hadi, Hamas representative in Lebanon, meets with Hassan Haballah, who holds the Palestine portfolio in Hezbollah (Hamas website, July 6, 2020).
Joint Jibril Rajoub-Saleh al-'Arouri virtual press conference (Jibril Rajoub's Facebook page, July 2, 2020)
Jibril Rajoub sits between brothers Amjad (right, red shirt) and Wasfi Qabha (Jibril Rajoub's Facebook page, July 6, 2020).
- There was an increase in tension on Israel’s southern border this past week when three rockets were launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip. In response Israeli aircraft attacked an underground Hamas facility. The rockets were probably launched by so-called “rogue” operatives, since Hamas is currently not interested in a military confrontation. Terrorist military wing operatives launched about 20 test rockets into the sea, a message to Israel that they continue to develop their military capabilities. No significant terrorist attack was carried out in Judea and Samaria, but Palestinians continue throwing stones and Molotov cocktail at Israeli vehicles.
- Protests against Israel’s intention to annex parts of Judea and Samaria continued, culminating in a “day of rage” in Gaza and demonstrations (not attended as well as expected) in Judea and Samaria. Apparently the fact that Israel had not formally announced the imposition of Israeli law on Palestinian territories coupled with the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s investing most of its efforts in halting the spike in COVID-19 infection, has made anti-Israeli activity less urgent (despite public announcements that “the danger of annexation still exists”).
- Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s Executive Committee, and Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, held an exceptional (virtual) joint press conference. They presented a display of joint resistance to the “deal of the century” and Israel’s annexation plans. However, in ITIC assessment, rhetoric aside, Hamas and Fatah are far from agreeing on a joint strategy against Israel. The discrepancy between rhetoric and reality was illustrated by an attack in Jenin by the Palestinian security apparatuses on the convoy of a Hamas operative who had been released from an Israel jail.
- In the meantime, most of the PA’s attention and efforts are focused on dealing with the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in Judea and Samaria (4,121 as of July 7, 2020). The PA’s failure to cope with the second wave of coronavirus is particularly noticeable when contrasted with Hamas’ successful halting of the spread of the virus in the Gaza Strip (only 11 active cases).
Judea and Samaria
- In view of the continuing spike in the number of COVID-19 infections, the PA decided to intensify its preventive measures, including imposing a five-day general lockdown. Mahmoud Abbas issued an edict extending the state of emergency for an additional month. The district governors have implemented their own preventive measures although the public does not always obey them, and in some instances civilians have clashed with Palestinian security apparatuses (mainly in the Jenin district). The governor of the Hebron district (which is a COVID-19 hotspot) extended the lockdown and isolation from the other districts (Facebook page of the governor of the Hebron district, July 6, 2020).
Teams from the Hebron municipality disinfect public places in the city
(Facebook page of the Hebron municipality, July 5, 2020).
- At a recent government meeting, PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said 82% of the active cases had been infected through contact with relatives during weddings. Eighteen percent were workers who went back and forth between the PA territories and Israel. He urged Palestinians to stop holding weddings and appealed to the chiefs of the clans and tribes to guarantee obedience to the order. He added that the Palestinian security apparatuses would enforce the order regarding weddings and other celebrations (Palestinian TV, July 6, 2020).
- According to Shtayyeh Israel was also responsible for the outbreak. He said the lack of territorial contiguity between the PA districts made it difficult for the PA to take action; and its security apparatus could not operate in Area C, at the crossings and in other locations controlled by Israel. He called on Israel to close all the crossings, adding that the Palestinian government would ask the UN to supervise them (Palestinian TV, July 6, 2020).
The Gaza Strip
- As opposed to the spike in COVID-19 numbers in Judea and Samaria, and despite the potential for a mass outbreak, the Hamas administration continues to successfully prevent an uncontrolled outbreak of the virus inside the Gaza Strip. There are currently only 11 active cases, all of them in the quarantine hospital in Khan Yunis (Twitter account of the ministry of health in Gaza, July 2, 2020). So far, there has been one death. There are still 287 Gazans in five quarantine centers (Shehab, July 3, 2020). Plans are being made in Gaza for the entrance of about 2,000 Palestinians stranded abroad.
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- On the evening of July 5, 2020 three rockets were launched at the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip:
- At around 1900 two rockets were launched. They landed in open areas; no casualties or damage were reported.
- About an hour later a third rocket was launched. It was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.
- In response to the rocket fire Israeli Air Force aircraft attacked terrorist targets in the northern Gaza Strip. One of the targets was an underground Hamas facility (IDF spokesman, July 5, 2020). The Palestinian media reported that Israeli helicopters had attacked two observation posts of Hamas’ restraint force in the eastern part of the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City. Damage to houses was reported (Shehab Twitter account, Dunia al-Watan, July 5, 2020). Sources in Gaza told the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar that in their opinion rocket fire into Israel would continue in the near future in view of what they referred to as Israel’s “violations” (al-Akhbar, July 7, 2020).
The aftermath of the attack in Gaza
(Safa Twitter account, July 6, 2020).
- In an exceptional event, on the night of June 30, 2020 the military wings of the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip launched about 20 test rockets into the sea. The Palestinian media reported that some of the rockets had a range of more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) (Amad, al-Quds, July 1, 2020). According to a post on the Hamas-affiliated alresala.net, the experimental rockets launched by Hamas’ military wing from time to time are a warning to Israel that Hamas is developing its military capabilities, especially in view of Israel’s plans to annex parts of Judea and Samaria. In addition, the rockets’ range make it clear that in a future military confrontation rockets will hit targets deep in Israeli territory (Ahmed Abu Qamar on alresala.net, July 5, 2020).
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles
- On July 2, 2020 Israeli security forces at the Qalandia Crossing identified a suspicious Palestinian youth. He threw a knife he was carrying on the ground. He was taken for questioning (Israel Police Force Jerusalem unit, July 2, 2020).
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and at the Israeli security forces. The more notable events were the following:
- July 6, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the bus was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 6, 2020).
- July 6, 2020 – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 6, 2020).
- July 6, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle south of Hebron. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 6, 2020).
- July 5, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an IDF post northeast of Ramallah. No casualties or damage were reported. IDF forces detained three Palestinians who threw stones at a civilian Israeli vehicle near Ofra (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 5, 2020).
- July 5, 2020 – Molotov cocktails were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle southwest of Nablus. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 5, 2020).
- July 5, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle southwest of Nablus. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 5, 2020).
- July 5, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road. no casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 5, 2020).
- July 3, 2020 – Two IDF soldiers were slightly injured when stones were thrown at them during a clash with Palestinians in Kafr Qadoum. They were evacuated to a hospital for medical attention (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 3, 2020).
- July 2, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle north of Qiryat Arba. Stones were also thrown near the Jewish community in Hebron. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 2, 2020).
- July 1, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle southeast of Bethlehem. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 1, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
UNRWA food distribution
- UNRWA announced that on July 4, 2020, distribution of food would begin to 140,000 needy families in the Gaza Strip (Safa, July 2, 2020).
Demonstrations protesting economic hardships
- Dozens of young Palestinians demonstrated in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City to protest the continued closing of the weekly markets. They chanted, “We want to eat, we want to live.” Mahmoud al-Zahar, acting PLC chairman, and Yahya al-Abadsha, chairman of the oversight and human rights committee, met with a delegation of the demonstration’s organizers. Mahmoud al-Zahar told them that the PLC was in contact with the relevant authorities to reopen the civilian markets, subject to the necessary safety measures (Bawabat al-Hadaf, July 5, 2020; website of the PLC in Gaza, July 5, 2020).
Right: Demonstration in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City (Facebook page of the Amad website in Gaza, July 5, 2020). Left: A sign from the demonstration. The Arabic reads, “Four months of unkept promises!!! (Facebook page of Muhammad Abu Hajar, July 5, 2020).
- On June 5, 2020, Hamas’ security forces attacked demonstrators near the al-Najma Square in Rafah, who were demanding lives of self-respect; several were detained (Amad, July 5, 2020; Facebook page of Khaled Abu Samad, July 5, 2020).
[Alleged] exposure of squad handled by Israel
- The ministry of the interior and national security in Gaza announced that the security forces had [allegedly] exposed a squad handled by Israel. It claimed the squad was planning to sabotage the activities of the military wings of the organizations in Gaza. According to the announcement, the security forces recently noticed the suspicious movement of several people. After a few days of investigation the people were detained. The ministry claimed that during the detention technical equipment was confiscated, as well as money given to the squad by Israel. The ministry of the interior claimed that interrogation of the squad operatives revealed that they were planning to sabotage the activities of “resistance” operatives in the near future, [allegedly] directly supervised by Israel (Safa, July 3, 2020).
Activity to prevent Israel’s annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria
- A number of activities were held in Gaza to protest both the imposition of Israeli law of parts of Judea and Samaria, and the “deal of the century.” In Gaza City a protest rally was held as part of a “popular day of rage” announced by the terrorist organizations. Several thousand people participated in the rally and it was attended by senior Hamas figures, including Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, as well as by representatives of the various organizations. Participants waved Palestinian flags and changed slogans against Israel and in favor of Palestinian unity.
Right: Palestinian flags waved at a “day of rage” event in Gaza (Facebook page of the Fatah branch in eastern Gaza City, July 1, 2020). Left: Yahya al-Sinwar (mask) holds the raised hand of senior Fatah figure Ahmed Hilles (right) in a show of unity (Shehab Twitter account, July 1, 2020).
- On July 3, 2020, Hamas held a protest march in the Rafah region, attended by about two thousand Gazans. Khaled al-Batash, senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) figure, called for a meeting of Mahmoud Abbas with the heads of the [terrorist] organizations to achieve Palestinian national unity. Artists painted murals on a 30-meter wall to protest Israel’s plan to annex Palestinian leadership territory (Safa, July 1, 2020).
Right: Pictures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump and the Israeli and American flags, trampled and later burned (al-Mayadeen TV Twitter account, July 4, 2020). Left: Mural in Rafah. From left to right, al-Aqsa mosque with a sign reading “No annexation,” mask-wearing Palestinians plant a Palestinian flag on an Israeli flag, a fist smashes houses representing the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria and “No annexation” (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, July 1, 2020).
- This past week senior Hamas and PIJ figures were openly in contact with senior Iranian officials as part of the campaign to prevent Israel from annexing Palestinian territory:
- Iranian leader Ali Khamenei sent a communiqué to Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, declaring that Iran would never compromise regarding the efforts it invests in supporting the Palestinian people. He said he hoped that by preserving the unity of the Palestinian people they would prevent Israel from carrying out its “appalling plans” (ISNA, July 6, 2020). Senior Hamas figures Isma’il Radwan praised Iran’s leader for the communiqué. He said Iran’s support for the “Palestinian resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations] was very important for the “resistance’s” campaign and deterrent capabilities against Israel (al-Mayadeen, July 6, 2020).
- Isma’il Haniyeh spoke on the phone with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, speaker of the Iranian parliament, who stressed Iran’s objection to the “deal of the century” and Israel’s annexation plan. Haniyeh said the Palestinians were united in their resistance to the annexation plan. He added that they thanked Iran for its support of the Palestinians (Hamas website, July 1, 2020).
- Ziyad al-Nakhalah, PIJ leader, also spoke on the phone with Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf. Al-Nakhalah thanked him for Iran’s support, stressing the importance of the support of the Arab-Muslim world for the Palestinian people and the “resistance” forces (Filastin al-Yawm, July 1, 2020).
- A delegation headed by Ahmed Abd al-Hadi, Hamas representative in Lebanon, met with the Iranian ambassador to Lebanon. The ambassador said Iran stood side by side with the Palestinian people and its “resistance” (Safa, July 2, 2020). The delegation also met with Hassan Haballah, who holds the “Palestine portfolio” in Hezbollah, and gave him a communiqué from Isma’il Haniyeh for Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. The communiqué dealt with Israel’s annexation plans and the “deal of the century” (Hamas website, July 6, 2020).
The PA campaign against Israel’s intention to annex parts of Judea and Samaria
- The PA is continuing its diplomatic activity against Israel’s plan to annex parts of Judea and Samaria. Mahmoud al-‘Alul, deputy Fatah Central Committee chairman, said the fact that the prime minister of Israel had not yet formally announced the annexation did not mean he would not do so in the future. He said that the absence of an Israeli announcement did not mean a victory for the Palestinians, because the danger of annexation still existed. He stressed the importance of the “popular resistance” [i.e., popular terrorism] and the strengthening of internal Palestinian unity. He praised the international position, calling it a “pleasant surprise,” and criticized the Arab world, claiming the position of the European countries was better and more forward-thinking than the position of “our sisters” [i.e., the Arab countries] (Wafa, Palestinian TV, July 1, 2020).
Diplomatic activity in the international arena
- As part of their ongoing diplomatic activity, PA representatives held a number of contacts with international figures, especially Western figures. Saeb Erekat said he was working to have the UN General Assembly meet to discuss a “coalition against annexation,” which would threaten Israel with sanctions if it carried out its annexation plan (Sawa, June 30, 2020).
- Some of the contacts held this past week were the following:
- Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Angela Merkel. He praised Germany’s position on the annexation of Palestinian territory, stressing that the Palestinians were willing to hold negotiations on the basis of international legitimacy and under the supervision of the International Quartet (Wafa, July 5, 2020).
- Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, sent a communiqué to the foreign minister of France. The French foreign minister replied that the annexation of territory was a gross violation of international law, threatened the two-state solution and would have consequence for Israel’s relations with the EU (Wafa, July 5, 2020)
- Ahmed Nofal, PA representative in Russia, met with Mikhail Bogdanov, deputy Russian foreign minister and Putin’s special envoy to the Middle East. They discussed the situation in the Middle East, focusing on hope of achieving an arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians (website of the Russian foreign ministry, July 2, 2020).
- Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, attended a conference for Arab-Chinese cooperation, chaired by the Jordanian and Chinese foreign ministers. Al-Maliki gave a speech where he claimed that Israel was exploiting the global COVID-19 crisis to declare the annexation of Palestinian territory, and called on the international community to boycott and punish Israel (Wafa, July 6, 2020).
Right: “No to corona, no to annexation” (al-Hayat al-Jadeeda, July 4, 2020). Left: Israel’s annexation plan as feeding the fire that will cause the Palestinian pressure cooker to explode (al-Quds, July 2, 2020)
- Nabil Shaath, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, denied reports that if Israel annexed territories the PA would fall apart. He also denied reports that Mahmoud Abbas said Israel would have to “clean the streets in Judea and Samaria” and that the security apparatuses would have to disarm and give their weapons to Israel. He stressed that the PA would not surrender to pressure and that the Palestinians had the right to “resist” Israel in any way they chose, including “military” resistance. However, he said, so far the leadership did not intend to take that path, the “popular resistance” was sufficient (RT, June 30, 2020).
Display of Fatah-Hamas unity at a press conference
- During the press conference Jibril Rajoub noted three areas for joint Hamas-Fatah activity: one, a popular response, as has recently been seen in Jericho and the Gaza Strip; two, regional activity to enlist the Arab countries to oppose Israel’s planned move; and three, enlisting the international community for the objective of establishing a Palestinian state. Saleh al-‘Arouri promised that Fatah and Hamas would freeze their disagreements on other issues to focus on the struggle against the imposition of Israeli law on parts of the West Bank. He expressed support for the measures taken by the PA so far, saying the main “battlefield” was now the territories of the West Bank (Watan TV, July 2, 2020).
- PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh praised the joint press conference, saying it was the result of meetings held between Fatah and Hamas on instructions from Mahmoud Abbas (Wafa, July 2, 2020). Nabil Sha’ath, advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, said Mahmoud Abbas was monitoring the efforts to achieve internal Palestinian unity. He said he himself had discussed the issue with the Hamas leadership several times before the joint press conference. He said Mahmoud Abbas completely encouraged efforts for unity (Dunia al-Watan, July 4, 2020).
- Husam Badran, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said the press conference had been made possible by recognition of the fact that the Palestinians were currently in danger and a desire existed to stress the unity of the Palestinian people’s opposition to the annexation (Dunia al-Watan, July 1, 2020). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the joint press conference signaled the beginning of a new path for Fatah and Hamas. He said they had an ongoing discourse with the Fatah leadership for planning practical activity (Sawa, July 5, 2020).
Paying the salaries of Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails
- Qudri Abu Baker, chairman of the prisoners and released prisoners authority, said dozens of calls had been received from the families of prisoners who complained that some of the banks had not deposited the salaries of their imprisoned relatives into their accounts. He claimed the Palestinian ministry of the treasury had transferred all the salaries to their bank accounts on time, but that some of the banks had not implemented the decision to continue paying the prisoners’ salaries. He said prisoners’ authority was in contact with the prime minister’s office and the Palestinian Monetary Authority to solve the problem as quickly as possible. He demanded that all the banks fulfill their commitment to deposit the salaries (Facebook page of the prisoners and released prisoners authority, July 5, 2020).
PA security apparatuses attack Hamas operative released from Israeli jail
- On July 2, 2020, Amjad Izzat Qabha was released from an Israeli jail. He is a Hamas operative and brother of Wasfi Qabha, senior Hamas figure in Jenin and former minister of prisoners affairs. He served a sentence of 18 years (Facebook page of Wasfi Qabha, July 2, 2020). When the people who came to receive him reached Jenin the PA security apparatuses detained a number of them, including senior Hamas figure Abd al-Jabar Jarar. They [allegedly] beat a number of young Palestinians and confiscated Hamas flags. All the detainees were later released (al-Araby al-Jadeed, July 3, 2020). The security apparatuses also invaded the yard next to the house prepared for people who came to congratulate him on his release. They took down Hamas flags and posters, detained a number of people and [allegedly] beat family members (Facebook page of Wasfi Qabha, July 3, 2020; Palestine Online, July 5, 2020).
Right: Amjad Qabha, upon his release (Facebook page of Wasfi Qabha, July 2, 2020). Left: PA security force operatives stop the convoy (QudsN Twitter account, July 2, 2020).
- However, a delegation paid a visit to the home of Amjad Qabha to congratulate him on his release. It was headed by Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s Executive Committee and included Akram al-Rajoub, the governor of the Jenin district; and Qudri Abu Baker, chairman of the prisoners and released prisoners authority; and a delegation of the Fatah branch members in Jenin (Akram al-Rajoub’s Facebook page, July 6, 2020).
Jibril Rajoub sits between brothers Amjad (right, red shirt) and Wasfi Qabha (Jibril Rajoub’s Facebook page, July 6, 2020).
 For further information, see the July 6, 2020 bulletin, "The spread of COVID-19 continues to spiral in Judea and Samaria compared to the low number of patients in the Gaza Strip (Updated to July 6, 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. ↑
 According to Abu Baker, there were four banks which did not deposit the salaries of more than 150 prisoners (Wafa, July 5, 2020). ↑
 According to the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, Amjad Qudri Abu Baker, head of the PA authority for prisoners’ affairs is a Hamas military wing operative. He was detained on July 4, 2002 and sentenced to prison for being an operative in the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades and supporting suicide bombers. ↑