News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (May 6-12, 2020)

IDF activity in the village of Ya'bed (Ya'bed Facebook page, May 12, 2020).

IDF activity in the village of Ya'bed (Ya'bed Facebook page, May 12, 2020).

Jerusalem Brigades operatives during routine training operations (al-Andalou News, May 6, 2020).

Jerusalem Brigades operatives during routine training operations (al-Andalou News, May 6, 2020).

The ruins of the house of Qassem Shibli Barghouti with Palestinian flags hung on the roof and a picture of the terrorist with the caption,

The ruins of the house of Qassem Shibli Barghouti with Palestinian flags hung on the roof and a picture of the terrorist with the caption, "The resistance [brings] ongoing benefits" (Wafa, May 11, 2020).

The ruins of the house of Qassem Shibli Barghouti with Palestinian flags hung on the roof and a picture of the terrorist with the caption,

The ruins of the house of Qassem Shibli Barghouti with Palestinian flags hung on the roof and a picture of the terrorist with the caption, "The resistance [brings] ongoing benefits" (Wafa, May 11, 2020).

Jerusalem Brigades operatives during routine training operations (al-Andalou News, May 6, 2020).

Jerusalem Brigades operatives during routine training operations (al-Andalou News, May 6, 2020).

Picture (left) of Qassem Soleimani during exercises held to mark Global Jerusalem Day (Twitter account of Yunis al-Zatari, May 9, 2020).

Picture (left) of Qassem Soleimani during exercises held to mark Global Jerusalem Day (Twitter account of Yunis al-Zatari, May 9, 2020).

Senior Hamas figure Isma'il Radwan gives a speech at a rally (Palestine Online, May 8, 2020).

Senior Hamas figure Isma'il Radwan gives a speech at a rally (Palestine Online, May 8, 2020).

Jumaa al-Thaya gives a speech at the rally (Facebook page of the al-Amir studio in Kafr Ni'ma, May 8, 2020).

Jumaa al-Thaya gives a speech at the rally (Facebook page of the al-Amir studio in Kafr Ni'ma, May 8, 2020).

  • The spread of COVID-19 in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is moderate and under control. In Judea and Samaria the spread is trending downward (the number of active cases has dropped to 66). In the Gaza Strip no new infections have been found (the number remains steady at 20, 14 of whom have recovered). However, senior figures in the Hamas administration remain concerned about an uncontrolled outbreak of the virus because of the general public’s lack of following guidelines and practicing preventive measures.
  • In northwestern Samaria an IDF soldier was killed when a rock was thrown from the roof of a house during detentions of Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity. In Judea and Samaria the routine throwing of stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles continues. In the Gaza Strip a rocket was launched into Israeli territory after a more than a month of quiet. In response IDF tanks attacked Hamas military posts.
  • Following an Israeli order banning banking services for the families of shaheeds and Palestinian terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails, a number of Palestinian and Arab banks closed or froze the families’ accounts. The Palestinian Authority (PA) responded by saying that any bank that followed Israel’s orders would be considered as breaking the law. There were also a number of violent incidents targeting bank branches. The PA appointed a committee to examine measures to protect both the salaries paid to the prisoners and the banks from Israeli reprisals, and ensure that the transfer of funds would continue.
  • With the news reports about the intention of the new Israeli government to annex Palestinian territories, the PA has begun diplomatic and media activity. Mahmoud Abbas warned that if Israel announced the annexation of Palestinian lands, all the agreements with Israel and the United States would be considered null and void. The PA reportedly intends to appeal to the EU’s foreign ministers, the Security Council and the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Judea and Samaria
  • According to the PA ministry of health, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Judea and Samaria stands at 355, with 66 active cases (Wafa, May 11, 2020). The Palestinian minister of health reported that May 12 was the fourth consecutive day with no new cases. The number of “corona-free” districts has risen to six, after Salfit joined Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Jenin, Jericho and Tubas. There are 14,876 Palestinians still under quarantine at home (Facebook page of the PA ministry of health, May 9, 2020).
  • The number of active cases by district is 33 in the Hebron district, 17 in the towns and villages around Jerusalem, 13 in the Ramallah district, two in the Nablus district, and one in the Tulkarm district. The number of active cases in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods is 104.
  • Given the encouraging statistics, many of the PA’s preventive measures have been relaxed. On May 5, 2020, movement within “corona-free” districts was authorized and certain businesses were opened. Educational institutions remain closed, as does the Temple Mount.[1]
The Gaza Strip
  • A spokesman for the Hamas ministry of health reported that no new COVID-19 cases have been detected (al-Aqsa, May 11, 2020). The total number of reported cases stands at 20, with 14 patients who have recovered. So far 7,111 people in Gaza have been tested. There are nine quarantine centers, housing 461 Gazans.
Opening the Rafah Crossing
  • On May 12, 2020, the Hamas ministry of the interior announced the Rafah Crossing would be open for two days to allow between 1,000 and 1,500 Palestinians to return to Gaza from Egypt. All those returning would be isolated for 21 days (al-Aqsa, May 9, 2020). A spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza said women and students would be quarantined in designated hotels. Quarantine facilities at the Erez and Rafah Crossings would be for returning young people. Four days after arrival all would be tested at the quarantine centers. They will be tested again on the 20th day after arrival (al-Quds, May 11, 2020).
  • Senior figures in the Hamas administration involved in the fight against the coronavirus continue to express concerns about an uncontrolled outbreak inside Gaza. To prevent its spread they are enlisting people with influence such as mukhtars and village elders to try to change the behavior of the population at large. Behind their concern is the public’s disregard for guidelines and preventive measures. Gazans hold large Ramadan fast-breaking meals, large family meetings, mass prayers outside the mosques and well-attended funerals, and shoppers crowd into the markets.[2]
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
  • On May 6, 2020 a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory. It fell in an open area close to one of the Israeli communities near the border. No casualties or damage were reported. The launching came after more than a month without rocket fire from Gaza.
  • In response IDF tanks attacked Hamas military posts in the northern Gaza Strip (IDF spokesman, May 6, 2020). The Palestinian media reported artillery attacks on a number of Hamas observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip and on posts of the “restraint force” (Shehab, Filastin al-Yawm, May 6, 2020.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire

Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits

IDF soldier killed during detention of suspects
  • On the night of May 11, 2020 Israeli security forces detained Palestinians suspected of terrorist activities in the village of Ya’bed in northwest Samaria. As the soldiers were leaving the village a rock was thrown from a house where the forces had operated. It hit one of the soldiers in the head, mortally wounding him. IDF forces instituted searches to find the Palestinian who had thrown the rock (IDF spokesman, May 12, 2020).

IDF activity in the village of Ya'bed (Ya'bed Facebook page, May 12, 2020).
IDF activity in the village of Ya’bed
(Ya’bed Facebook page, May 12, 2020).

  • The Palestinians welcomed and praised the attack. The social media posted notices glorifying it, using the hashtag #Rock[of]Ya’bed. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the Palestinians in the West Bank kept proving they could struggle against Israel. He said the “resistance” of the young Palestinians was proof that they were firm in their intention to remove the [so-called Israeli] “occupation” in response to the [Israeli] decision to annex [Palestinian] lands. He said the Palestinians were the ones who would determine the fate of the conflict, despite the United States’ support for Israel (Felesteen, May 12, 2020).
A notice reading, "Ya'bed resists and confronts the occupation" (Paldf Twitter account, May 12, 2020).    A notice with the hashtag #Rock[of]Ya'bed (Twitter account of Muhammad al-Daya from Gaza, May 12, 2020).
A notice with the hashtag #Rock[of]Ya’bed (Twitter account of Muhammad al-Daya from Gaza, May 12, 2020). Left: A notice reading, “Ya’bed resists and confronts the occupation” (Paldf Twitter account, May 12, 2020).
Other events
  • In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli civilian vehicles. Most of the attacks were in the regions of Ramallah and Hebron. The Israeli security forces continued detaining Palestinians suspected of terrorist activity The more prominent events were the following:
    • May 11, 2020 – Two Palestinians were detained in an Israeli security force activity in the village of Qafin (Tulkarm region). They were suspected of terrorist activity and membership on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). One, who tried to escape, was shot and wounded (Border Police spokesperson’s unit, May 11, 2020).
    • May 11, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northeast of Hebron. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 11, 2020).
    • May 10, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus and vehicle southwest of Hebron. IDF soldiers shot at the two Palestinians throwing the stones, wounding them slightly. The two were taken to a hospital (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 10, 2020).
    • May 9, 2020 – Two tires were set on fire on the road leading to Ofra, and the road was closed to traffic (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 9, 2020).
    • May 8, 2020 – Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northwest of Ramallah. No casualties were reported; the front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 8, 2020).
    • May 8, 2020 – Stones were thrown at civilian Israeli vehicles northwest of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. Several of the vehicles were damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 8, 2020).
    • May 8, 2020 – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Border Police jeep patrolling east of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported. The Molotov cocktail exploded and the jeep was burned to the ground (Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Services spokesman’s unit, May 8, 2020).
    • May 7, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle north of Kiryat Arba. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 7s, 2020)
    • May 7, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus stuck in a traffic jam on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road near Bayt Umar. No casualties or damage were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 7, 2020).
    • May 7, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle north of Ramallah. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 7, 2020).
    • May 6, 2020 – Three Molotov cocktails were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 6, 2020).
    • May 6, 2020 – Stones were thrown at an IDF vehicle on the trans-Judea road. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 6, 2020).
    • May 6, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus on the road between Gush Etzion and Hebron near the al-Aroub refugee camp. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, May 6, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019[3]

Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019

House of Palestinian terrorist demolished
  • On the night of May 10, 2020 the Israeli security forces demolished the house of Palestinian terrorist Qassem Shibli Barghouti in the village of Kobar (northwest of Ramallah). Barghouti was one of a squad of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorists who carried out the attack at the Danny Spring near the Israeli community of Dolev in Samaria on August 23, 2019. The attack killed a young Israeli woman and wounded her father and brother. The house was demolished after appeals of the terrorist’s family to the Israeli supreme court were rejected. During the demolition dozens of Palestinians rioted, burning tires and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails (IDF spokesman, May 11, 2020). The Palestinian media reported that one of the rioters was wounded (Palinfo, May 11, 2020).
  • The demolition of the house was widely condemned. At the weekly government meeting PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh condemned the demolition of the house of prisoner Qassem Barghouti (Palestinian TV, May 11, 2020). The PFLP said the Israeli action would not extinguish the fire of the “resistance” but fan its flames and make it more violent (al-Majid, May 11, 2020). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem called it another [alleged Israeli] “war crime” against the Palestinian public. He said Israel’s continuing destruction of houses was proof of Israel’s (the “occupation”) failure to overcome the popular uprising (Hamas website, May 11, 2020). Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) spokesman Musab al-Brim called it an “ongoing crime” against the Palestinian people and the continuation of Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian prisoners (Filastin al-Yawm, May 11, 2020).
End-of-Ramadan events
  • In the coming days the Palestinians are expected to mark Global Jerusalem Day, which is held every year on the last Friday of Ramadan,[4] Nakba Day and the anniversary of the relocation of the American embassy to Jerusalem. The Supreme National Authority for the Return Marches and the Struggle Against the Deal of the Century announced that all three events would be marked on May 22, 2020 (the last Friday of Ramadan), while preserving the guidelines to protect public health (Amad, May 11, 2020).
The terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip continue military and training activities
  • Despite the COVID-19 crisis and the Muslim religious month of Ramadan, the operatives of the military wings of the various terrorist organizations announced they were continuing their routine training exercises and preparing themselves for a possible confrontation with Israel. For example, an article in the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen reported that the PIJ’s “resistance” operatives would continue their routine reconnaissance activities throughout Ramadan. Digging tunnels would continue and the rocket unit was on alert (al-Mayadeen, May 10, 2020).
  • Al-Araby al-Jadeed published an article about the PIJ’s UAV activities.[5] According to the article, Hamas and other organizations continue developing their military capabilities in preparation for the next confrontation with Israel. It also reported that the nukhba, Hamas’ elite unit, had recently carried out training exercises at its posts (al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 6, 2020).
  • Al-Andalou News published an article about the ongoing security activities of a PIJ Jerusalem Brigades force during Ramadan. It showed Jerusalem Brigades operatives, armed and with reconnaissance equipment, east of Khan Yunis at a distance of less than one kilometer from the border fence (al-Andalou News, May 6, 2020).
  • The Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions, the PFLP’s military wing, held a military drill at a post in the southern Gaza Strip for Jerusalem Day. According to Abu Jamal, the military wing spokesman, Jerusalem Day represents a day of international struggle led by the “resistance axis” against world Zionism and imperialism. He praised Qassem Soleimani, Iran, Hezbollah and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (Abu Ali Mustafa Battalions website, May 9, 2020; PFLP website, May 10, 2020).
Picture (left) of Qassem Soleimani during exercises held to mark Global Jerusalem Day (Twitter account of Yunis al-Zatari, May 9, 2020).    Military exercise (PFLP military wing website, May 9, 2020).
Right: Military exercise (PFLP military wing website, May 9, 2020). Left: Picture (left) of Qassem Soleimani during exercises held to mark Global Jerusalem Day (Twitter account of Yunis al-Zatari, May 9, 2020).
  • Meanwhile, a tunnel collapse was reported in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas’ military wing reported the death of Ma’man Ahmed Abu Hajar, 25, from Zeitoun, who was an operative in the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, May 6, 2020).

Hamas terrorist operative killed in a tunnel collapse (Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, May 6, 2020).
Hamas terrorist operative killed in a tunnel collapse
(Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades website, May 6, 2020).

Protests in the Gaza Strip against the normalization of relations with Israel
  • The Saudi Arabian TV channel MBC, which broadcasts from Dubai, has been airing two new series during Ramadan, both related to Israel and the Jewish people. One is called “The Mother of Aharon,” and deals with Muslim-Jewish relations in Kuwait in the 1940s before the establishment of the State of Israel. The other is called “Exit Number 7,” which has positive themes about Israel and calls for a détente with Israel (mako, April 27, 2020).
  • The broadcasts were protested in the Arab world and criticized for promoting normalization with Israel. The “popular committee to resist normalization” in the Gaza Strip called for Palestinians to go onto their roofs on May 8, 2020, with Palestinian flags “to warn the Arab nation of the danger of the Israeli cancer and to remind Arabs of Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.” Hani al-Thawabtah, a member of the PFLP Central Committee, spoke as representing the Palestinian organizations, and condemned artistic and media normalization. He said it was impossible to remain silent in the face of the crimes of normalization, security coordination and connections with Israeli society (al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 6, 2020).
  • On May 8, 2020, many Gazans responded to the call and placed flags on their roofs and balconies. The Islamic bloc, Hamas’ student organization, held rallies in Gaza with the theme, “Students against normalization.” Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan, speaking at the rally in western Gaza City, stressed Hamas’ objection to all forms of normalization, and expressed his objection to the drama series calling for normalization (Palestine Online, May 8, 2020). Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, sent a message to the virtual Arab forum to protest normalization, writing that “normalization with the Zionist enemy is a great crime, an unforgiveable sin and a treacherous stab in the chest of our people and our [Arab] nation” (Quds Press, May 8, 2020).
A cluster of balloons bearing a condemnation of normalizing relations with Israel. It was launched from the northern Gaza Strip (Filastin al-A'an Twitter account, May 8, 2020).   Senior Hamas figure Isma'il Radwan gives a speech at a rally (Palestine Online, May 8, 2020).
Right: Senior Hamas figure Isma’il Radwan gives a speech at a rally (Palestine Online, May 8, 2020). Left: A cluster of balloons bearing a condemnation of normalizing relations with Israel. It was launched from the northern Gaza Strip (Filastin al-A’an Twitter account, May 8, 2020).
Member of Hamas political bureau dies
  • Ahmed al-Kader (Aba Usama), a member of Hamas’ political bureau, died of cardiac arrest. He was 70 years old. For years he was considered head of the Hamas da’wah (religious indoctrination) in Gaza and had also held the positions of minister of welfare in Isma’il Haniyeh’s de facto administration, head of the Deir al-Balah municipality and head of the Hamas-affiliated al-Salah charitable society (Hamas website, May 10, 2020).
  •  Despite the threat of the spread of COVID-19 and the preventive measures imposed on Gaza, Hamas called on the public at large to attend the funeral, which was held in Deir al-Balah and included a military ceremony. Many people attended, among them senior Hamas figures including Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip. As can be seen from the picture below, there was no social distancing and very few people wore protective masks.
PA support for COVID-19 victims
  • PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh told the weekly government meeting that so far he had raised about 57 million shekels (about $16 million) in donations from the private sector. He said the money would be distributed in the PA, the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Lebanon and Syria. He added that 90 thousand families would either directly receive funds or basic commodities (Palestinian TV, May 11, 2020). Before his report, the PA ministry of welfare announced the beginning of the distribution of 500 shekels (about $1400) to families who had been harmed by the coronavirus (Amad, May 10, 2020)
  • Nasri Abu Jish, PA minister of labor, said the government would begin transferring funds on May 17, 2020, to support employees who had been harmed by the coronavirus. The funds will be distributed over a period of five days.to more than 40,000 families. Each family will receive 700 shekels (about $200) (Filastin al-Yawm, May 11, 2020).
Loan of funds from Israel
  • The Israeli media reported that Israel is planning to sign an agreement with the PA to lend them 800 million shekels (about $230 million). Political sources said it was an advance on the tax revenues Israel collects for the PA because the COVID-19 crisis has led to a sharp decline in the PA’s income, including revenues Israel collects for them. According to the agreement the payment will be divided into in four monthly payments (Haaretz, May 9, 2020).
Israeli order closes bank accounts of families of shaheeds and terrorist prisoners
  • In February 2020 Nadav Padan, commander of the IDF’s Central Command, issued an amendment to an order stating that a bank providing services to Palestinian prisoners or released prisoners would be committing a crime and could be exposed to punishment and fines (Israeli media, May 9, 2020).
  • The date set for enforcing the order was May 9, 2020. A number of days beforehand the legal department of the Israeli thinktank Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) sent letters alerting PA bank managers and officials. The letters stated that according to the amendment, if bank managers and officials continued holding accounts for prisoners in Israeli jails and released prisoners, they would become accessories to the crime and could be tried in court.
  • A number of Palestinian and Arab banks operating in the PA responded by closing the accounts of prisoners, while some only froze and made them inactive. PA sources reported that all the banks announced that from the beginning of next month they would not allow money the PA transferred to prisoners’ accounts to be deposited. According to the PA, that refers to the 12,000 security prisoners and released prisoners who receive a monthly salary from the PA (article by Gal Berger, Kan News, May 8, 2020).
  • Senior PA figures were enraged by the order. The PA announced that any bank that complied with Israel’s “threats” would be considered as in violation of Palestinian law and of the conditions of registration given to the banks by the monetary authority (Wafa, May 7, 2020). Qudri Abu Bakr, head of the PA authority for prisoners and released prisoners, said the salaries and allotments paid to prisoners and their families, and to released prisoners, would be paid every month regardless of the Israeli position or the actions of the banks (Facebook page of the authority for prisoners and released prisoners, May 8, 2020).
  •  The Israeli decision also enraged the Palestinian public, whose reaction included violence directed at bank branches. The branch of the Cairo Amman Bank in Jenin was shot at, as was the branch of the Bank of Jordan in Qabatiya (Shehab Twitter account, May 10, 2020). Dozens of released prisoners organized protest rallies (Safa, May 11, 2020). The social media launched a campaign with the hashtag #BankCrimes and #BanksWithoutNation demanding bank owners not to surrender to Israeli pressure.
Notices hung on the windows of the Cairo Amman Bank in Ramallah calling the freezing of the prisoners' accounts "a mark of disgrace" (QudsN Twitter account, May 7, 2020).    The window of the Cairo Amman Bank in Jenin shattered by gunfire (QudsN Twitter account, May 8, 2020).
Right: The window of the Cairo Amman Bank in Jenin shattered by gunfire (QudsN Twitter account, May 8, 2020). Left: Notices hung on the windows of the Cairo Amman Bank in Ramallah calling the freezing of the prisoners’ accounts “a mark of disgrace” (QudsN Twitter account, May 7, 2020).
  • The PA is currently trying to find a way to resolve the crisis. PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh announced that after discussing the issue with the bank directorates and with the monetary authority, they reached an agreement to freeze measures related to the bank accounts of prisoners. He said that based on the agreement the prisoners’ families could renew the activity of their accounts (Wafa, May 8, 2020). He said the PA was currently working with the banks to find ways to protect the prisoners’ salaries and shield the banks from Israel’s actions. To that end a committee was appointed to deal with the matter and give recommendations (Palestinian TV, May 11, 2020).
  • The Palestinian monetary authority stressed that the rights of the families of prisoners and released prisoners were guarded by the banks, and the authority would coordinate with the government to ensure they continued receiving the funds they were entitled to. The authority added that the committee appointed by the government had begun analyzing the dangers related to the funds received by the prisoners’ families and the ramifications of the order to the banks. All would be done with cooperation between the authority for prisoners and released prisoners, the banking association, the ministry of the treasury and the monetary authority (website of the Palestinian monetary authority, May 8, 2020).
Political and media activity related to Israel’s alleged intentions to annex parts of PA territories
  • In view of media articles stating that the new future Israeli government would act to annex Palestinian territories, senior PA figures warned that a declaration of annexation would mean that all agreements between Israel and the PA would be considered null and void. Mahmoud Abbas, speaking at a meeting of the PLO’s Executive Committee in Ramallah, said he had sent the clear, serious message to the international community that if the Israeli government declared the annexation of part of the PA territory, all agreements between the two sides would be cancelled, that is, all agreements and understandings between the PLO, the Israeli government and the American administration would be invalid. The PLO’s Executive Committee declared that if Israel announced an annexation it would immediately put into effect the decisions of the Palestinian National Council and the Central Council to annul all security, economic and political agreements with Israel (Wafa, May 8, 2020).
  • The main Palestinian activities:
    • Internally: The PA appointed an ad hoc committee to respond to the Israeli annexation decision. Among its members are Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee; Wassel Abu Yusuf, Ahmed al-Mudallal and Bassem al-Salhi, all members of the PLO’s Executive Committee, and Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s Executive Committee (al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 10, 2020).
    • Internationally: According to Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, the EU’s foreign ministers are supposed to discuss the issue on May 15, and the UN Security Council is supposed to meet to discuss the issue on May 20, 2020 (Dunia al-Watan, May 11, 2020). Wassel Abu Yusuf said the Palestinian leadership was conducting intensive talks at the Arab, regional and international level, and was also working to hasten a discussion of the issue in the International Criminal Court (ICC) (al-Araby al-Jadeed, May 10, 2020). At the beginning of the weekly government meeting, Muhammad Shtayyeh appealed to the international community, saying that a response to Israel’s actions had to include ostracizing Israel, recognizing a Palestinian state with the 1967 borders and east Jerusalem as its capital, and recognition of the [so-called] “right of return” of the Palestinian refugees (Palestinian TV, May 11, 2020).
Nakba Day events
  • On May 15, 2020, the Palestinians will mark Nakba Day, which this year will be marked in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. The social networks launched a campaign for Nakba Day with the hashtag, #ReturnToPalestine72. Fatah issued notices with its logo and the call to “Stay home!” Ahmed al-Houli, chairman of the national Nakba Day committee, said this year, because of concerns over the coronavirus and to protect the health of the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Abbas had authorized online activities to avoid mass gatherings. On Friday Palestinian and black flags will be flown from the roofs and a mourning siren will sound. Mahmoud Abbas will also give a speech. Ahmed al-Houli said he would send a letter to the UN secretary general to remind him of the Nakba and the suffering of the Palestinian people, which has lasted for 72 years (Sawa, May 10, 2020).

The logo for the 72nd Nakba Day (Facebook page of the "supreme" national Nakba Day committee, May 10, 2020).
The logo for the 72nd Nakba Day
(Facebook page of the “supreme” national Nakba Day committee, May 10, 2020).

Reception held for senior PIJ operative
  • On April 23, 2020, Jumaa Abdallah Khalil al-Thaya, 50, a senior PIJ operative from the village of Kafr Ni’ma (west of Ramallah) was released from prison, having finished serving his term. He was detained on October 24, 2001, and sentenced to 18.5 years in prison for belonging to the PIJ and its military wing, and for shooting at IDF soldiers. While in prison he was a member of the PIJ prisoners’ leadership (PIJ website, April 23, 2020). On May 7, 2020, after a period of quarantine, a festive reception was held for him in Kafr Ni’ma, attended by PIJ operatives from Ramallah (Jerusalem Brigades website, May 8, 2020).
Jumaa al-Thaya gives a speech at the rally (Facebook page of the al-Amir studio in Kafr Ni'ma, May 8, 2020).   Senior PIJ figure Jumaa al-Thaya en route to the reception accompanied by two of his sons and two masked PIJ operatives wearing Jerusalem Brigades headbands.
Right: Senior PIJ figure Jumaa al-Thaya en route to the reception accompanied by two of his sons and two masked PIJ operatives wearing Jerusalem Brigades headbands. Left: Jumaa al-Thaya gives a speech at the rally (Facebook page of the al-Amir studio in Kafr Ni’ma, May 8, 2020).

Aerial photograph of the rally held in Kafr Ni'ma (Facebook page of the al-Amir studio in Kafr Ni'ma, May 9, 2020).
Aerial photograph of the rally held in Kafr Ni’ma
(Facebook page of the al-Amir studio in Kafr Ni’ma, May 9, 2020).

[1] For further information see the May 11, 2020 bulletin, "The Fight Against COVID-19 in Judea and Samaria (updated to May 10, 2020)."
[2] For further information see the May 10, 2020 bulletin, "The Fight Against COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip (updated to May 10, 2020)."

[3] 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.

[4] Global Jerusalem Day has been held on the last Friday of Ramadan since 1979, as decided by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The event is meant to express the support of Iran and the entire Muslim world for the Palestinian cause and the so-called "liberation of Jerusalem," to defame Israel, to call for the destruction of "the great Satan" [the United States], "the little Satan" [Israel], the Western world in general and their Arab allies in the Middle East. Jerusalem Day is marked around the globe with demonstrations, rallies, and events in "support" of Jerusalem. This year Iran cancelled Jerusalem Day because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

[5] “Palestinian sources" revealed that Israel asked Egyptian General Intelligence to send the message to Hamas that the Palestinians had to stop their provocations along the border and stop launching UAVs at the Israeli communities near the border. The sources noted that according to Israel the UAVs are launched by Palestinians from the observation posts along the border, primarily by PIJ operatives. according to Egyptian sources, the message passed on to Hamas included the threat that Israel would intercept the UAVs (al-Quds, May 9, 2020).