Gaza City during the lockdown and curfew (ministry of the interior in Gaza Twitter account, December 11, 2020).
Khan Yunis (Twitter account of Muhammad Abd al-Aziz, December 11, 2020).
The EU delegation visits the European Hospital (Facebook page of the European Hospital, December 8, 2020).
The general lockdown in the city of Nablus (Wafa, December 11, 2020).
The general lockdown in the city of Nablus (Wafa, December 11, 2020).
Jibrin al-Bakri, governor of the Hebron district, delivers ventilators and other medical equipment to three government hospitals in the district (Facebook page of the Hebron district governor, December 13, 2020).
A wedding in the Kafr Ra'i, southwest of Jenin (Facebook page of Rotana Recording from Kafr Ra'i, December 11, 2020).
The streets in Ramallah during the lockdown imposed over the weekend (Wafa, December 12, 2020).
The streets in Ramallah during the lockdown imposed over the weekend (Wafa, December 12, 2020).
A wedding in al-Ram (Master Cassette Facebook page, December 12, 2020; Facebook page of the YouTube channel of singer Hamouda Hanoun, December 12, 2020).).
A wedding in al-E'izaria (Miran Studio Facebook page, December 12, 2020).
A demonstration in the center of the city of Hebron to protest the Palestinian government decision (Palinfo Twitter account, December 9, 2020).
- The situation in the Gaza Strip:
- The number of active Covid-19 cases in Gaza decreased this past week but is still high (8,717, down from 10,647 a week ago). There are 340 patients in ICUs, 188 in serious or critical condition.
- The central laboratory resumed operations after receiving the necessary testing materials. However, the number of daily tests is low because the laboratory is using the materials sparingly. Reportedly, the small number of tests was one of the reasons behind the decline in the number of cases publicly reported by the Hamas administration, but the actual number is greater.
- There is still a shortage of medical equipment, including beds for Covid-19 patients. Senior figures in the health system said beds were filled to 100% capacity. There is still a lack of mobile oxygen stations. In addition, the medical teams are exhausted.
- The Hamas administration still abstains from imposing a full and general lockdown, making do with weekend lockdowns and nightly curfews and in an effort to effectively enforce public health guidelines (with detentions and fines, by confiscating vehicles and holding trials). Nevertheless, according to reports the public continues ignoring the guidelines, especially by participating in mass gatherings such as weddings and in mourning tents.
- The situation in Judea and Samaria:
- The number of active Covid-19 cases continues rising. As of December 14, 2020, there were 14,328 active cases, up from 14,210 a week ago. The rate of positive test results (December 14) was 25.7%, up from 20% a week ago. The Nablus district still has the largest number of active cases in Judea and Samaria.
- The number of active cases the east Jerusalem neighborhoods also rose. (according to the Palestinian Authority, 1,390, up from 1,079 a week ago). The neighborhoods with the largest numbers positive test results are Kafr ‘Aqab (22.8%) and Issawiya (17.5%).
- Palestinians continue violating public health guidelines, even in districts with high rates of Covid-19 infection, mainly by holding mass events. In ITIC assessment, Israeli Arabs continue holding weddings in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories with a high rate of infection (such as the villages around Jerusalem).
- Both the district and city of Hebron are centers of unrest and protest against the PA, led by the heads of the clans (especially the al-Ja’abari clan) and local businessmen. They call for the PA to revoke the lockdown and curfew, which are causing economic damage. According to the Israeli media, dissatisfaction led to violent clashes between the al-Ja’abari clan and operatives of the Palestinian security forces, who entered Hebron after coordinating with Israel.
The Gaza Strip
Extent of the Covid-19 infection
Positive daily test results
Note: On December 8, 2020, no tests were performed in the Gaza Strip and the ITIC does not have complete information for the day.
The change in active cases in the Gaza Strip over the past month
The discrepancy between reported and real numbers of active Covid-19 cases
- The central laboratory in the Gaza Strip renewed its activity on December 8, 2020. Since then the number of active cases has reportedly been trending downward, but it is fairly certain that the actual number of daily cases detected is greater than what the Hamas administration has been reporting. The main reason is the small number of tests that have been administered by the ministry of health in Gaza. That is because the ministry has been using the testing materials sparingly, since there are enough for only 19,500 tests. Thus instead of the initial 2,000 to 3,000 daily tests, the number has declined to an average of 1,500 per day since testing was resumed.
- In addition, large groups within the general population are not tested because of the new protocol in the Gaza Strip, which tests only specific groups. They include people who came into contact with active cases and suspect they were infected, have symptoms and are over 50; employees of the ministries of health and the interior who have symptoms and the nature of whose employment requires them to continue working; people discovered through contact tracing and people who suspect they were infected and suffer from chronic diseases (Bawabat al-Hadaf, November 30, 2020; Dunia al-Watan, December 7, 2020).
Difficulties facing the Gaza Strip’s health system
- According to reports from the ministry of health in Gaza, 500 beds have been allotted to Covid-19 patients, 200 of which are ICU beds (al-Ra’i news agency, December 14, 2020). According to Majdi Dheir, head of the preventive medicine department in the ministry of health, the objective the government in the Gaza Strip is to limit the spread of the virus and decrease the number of patients to keep hospital beds from been occupied to total capacity. He said 75% of beds are occupied, and that if the numbers of active cases continue to rise, all beds will be occupied within ten days (Safa, December 9, 2020).
- Dr. Fathi Abu Warda, advisor to the Palestinian minister of health in Ramallah, said 100% of hospital beds in the Gaza Strip were be occupied. He said more than 20% of patients were in serious condition, the majority suffering from serious cases of pneumonia (Wafa, December 10, 2020). Dr. Yusuf al-Akkad, director of the European Hospital, said all the beds in his hospital are filled. However, he stressed that the situation in the hospital is under control (Sabaq24, December 12, 2020).
- Dr. al-Akkad also said that the hospital had received three mobile oxygen stations, bringing the number to five. In addition, they have 300 oxygen containers as well as liquid oxygen. However the five stations are old and were repeatedly repaired, lowering their ability to function. He said the hospital needed two more stations (Dunia al-Watan, December 8, 2020). Another difficulty is that there is a small number of medical teams, causing them to work to the point of exhaustion (Safa, December 9, 2020).
Hamas administration preventive measures
- The Hamas administration imposed a general lockdown and curfew on the Gaza Strip over the weekend, beginning on the evening of December 10 and ending on the morning of December 13.
- On December 11, 2020, the police in the Khan Yunis district reported the detention of 116 Gazans who had violated the curfew. They were taken to the quarantine center in Beit Hanoun (Dunia al-Watan, December 11, 2020; Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, December 11, 2020). A spokesman for the police reported the detention of 464 Gazans who violated the curfew on December 11 (Dunia al-Watan, December 11, 2020).
The detainees in Khan Yunis brought to Beit Hanoun
(Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, December 11,2020).
- However, various Hamas administration spokesmen claimed the curfew and lockdown had been successful. Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza, claimed the lockdown had been fully implemented by most Gazans, adding that the results of the lockdown would become apparent in the coming days (Dunia al-Watan, December 12, 2020). Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, claimed obedience to the lockdown order had been almost total, with the exception of very minor violations. He added that the ministry of the interior had deployed 9,000 policemen and security force operatives to enforce the curfew. Several Gazans who had violated it were taken to quarantine centers. All detainees were released on December 13 after signing pledges not to repeat the violation. Al-Buzum said the lockdown and curfew on Fridays and Saturdays would continue until the end of December 2020 (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, December 12, 2020).
Gazans ignore public health guidelines
- Reports continue about Gazans’ disobedience of public health guidelines:
- According to an investigative report in al-Araby al-Jadeed, family events, especially weddings, funerals and covert condolence calls, held at home in violation of the guidelines, led to an increase of 50% in the number of Covid-19 cases detected since the beginning of November, and then to an increase of 150%, from between 150 and 200 new cases per day to 800 new cases. According to the findings of an epidemiological investigating team of the department of preventive medicine in the ministry of health in Gaza, and the increase continues.
- Salama Maarouf, head of the Hamas administration media office, said 100 family events had been held in secret and in violation of health guidelines, causing the virus to spread to locations where it had previously not existed. He said a wedding held in Gaza City at the end of October had resulted in 25 guests contracting the disease. Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, said it had been proved that mourning tents and weddings were the main causes of the spread of the virus.
- Muhammad al-Sharif, an engineer in Rafah who is a member of the central emergency committee for combatting Covid-19, said that weddings and mourning tents held in private houses in western and eastern Rafah had caused an unprecedented spread of Covid-19. Entire families, he said, were infected, among them four families infected over a period of five days..
- Iyad al-Buzum, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Gaza, said Gazans’ stubborn determination to secretly hold weddings in small houses had caused the ministry of the interior to make difficult decisions: detaining the grooms in a police station on their wedding night and confiscating vehicles of the bands that had participated in the wedding convoys through the streets. By December 6 the police had broken up gatherings of Gazans at one thousand weddings and mourning tents. The police also increased measures taken against quarantined houses from which some Gazans tried to escape (al-Araby al-Jadeed, December 11, 2020).
Foreign aid for Gaza
- On December 8 a delegation of 18 representatives of EU countries to the PA entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing. They visited the European Hospital, where they met with Dr. Yusuf Abu al-Rish, the deputy ministry of health in Gaza, and other figures in the health system. Dr. Abu al-Rish warned that there would soon be a dire lack of drugs, PPE, laboratory materials and medical equipment. He called for the urgent needs of the health system in Gaza to be met. He said his ministry desperately needed mobile oxygen stations and ICU facilities such as ventilators, beds, drugs and other medical equipment (al-Ra’i news agency, December 8 and 9, 2020; Facebook page of the W.H.O. representative in the territories, December 9, 2020).
Right: The EU delegation visits the European Hospital (Facebook page of the European Hospital, December 8, 2020). Left: The delegation visits the hospital’s mobile oxygen stations (Facebook page of the W.H.O. representative in the territories, December 9, 2020).
- Mohammed al-Emadi, chairman of Qatar’s National Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, reported that on December 9 the Committee had begun supplying thousands of food packages during the lockdown and to needy families in the Gaza Strip. He said that within a few days the Committee would finish bringing 3,000 packages to the ministry for social development in Gaza. The packages will be distributed in accordance with the ministry’s criteria (website of Qatar’s National Committee, December 9, 2020.)
Judea and Samaria
Extent of Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria
Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria (according to the PA)
The spread of Covid-19 infection (according to the PA)
The distribution of deaths according to district
Geographic distribution of COVID-19 epicenters
The distribution of active cases in the various districts
Number of active cases in the Nablus district
Number of active cases in the Hebron district
- On December 11 Jibrin al-Bakri, governor of the Hebron district, decided to ease the instructions of the general lockdown and allowed grocery stores, butcher shops and vegetable stores to open every day from 06:00 in the morning until 19:00 in the evening. Drugstores and bakeries are open every day (Ma’an, December 11, 2020).
The seven-day general lockdown in the Hebron district (Wafa, December 11, 2020).
- On December 13 Akram al-Rajoub, the governor of the Jenin district, decided to impose a lockdown on a number of downs in the district, from December 14 until the evening of December 17. All institutions, schools, banks and other public institutions will be closed, while stores will be open for four hours a day (Facebook page of the Jenin district governor, December 13, 2020). Some schools were closed because of the incidence of Covid-19 infection (Wafa, December 13, 2020).
- On December 11 the Palestinian police in the Jenin district dispersed two wedding parties, closed 170 stores and issued 368 citations to people who had not implemented the preventive measures determined by the ministry of health in Ramallah (website of the Palestinian police, December 12, 2020). On December 10 the police dispersed five events, among them a reception held for a released prisoner and closed four wedding halls (website of the Palestinian police, December 10, 2020). On December 9 the police closed 25 stores and on December 8, 40 stores, and issued 359 citations to people who did not implement the preventive measures determined by the ministry of health (Facebook page of the Palestinian police, December 9 and 10, 2020).
Mass reception held in the Jenin refugee camp for Fares Muhammad Muslih Amarna, released from an Israeli jail after serving a term of 15 yeas (Facebook page of Aljabaly Recordings, December 10, 2020).
The Qalqilya district
- On December 12 the Palestinian police dispersed a wedding and closed 35 stores in the Qalqilya district. On December 11 the police closed 92 stores for violations of the lockdown (website of the Palestinian police, December 12, 2020). On December 10 the police dispersed three wedding parties and four mourning tents in Qalqilya (website of the Palestinian police, December 10, 2020. In addition, several schools were closed after active cases of Covid-19 were discovered.
Weddings in Qalqilya (Facebook page of the Sham Studio in Qalqilya, December 11, 2020; Facebook page of the Muhammad Aram Studio in Qalqilya, December 9 2020).
The Ramallah district
The villages around Jerusalem
As of December 14 the number of active Covid-19 cases in the villages around Jerusalem was 595, up from 498 a week ago. Weddings and other mass events continue to be held, some of them, in ITIC assessment, by residents of east Jerusalem.
- Weddings and other mass events continue to be held in the villages around Jerusalem as residents completely ignore the public health guidelines issued by the Palestinian government to combat the rise in Covid-19 infection. The Palestinian police, supported by the security services, closed six wedding halls and 35 stores in the town of al-Ram for violation of PA government decisions (website of the Palestinian police, December 13, 2020).
Unrest and protests in Hebron
- Hebron continues as a focal point of unrest and protest demonstrations against the PA’s lockdown decision. On December 8, 2020, the heads of the Hebron clans and local businessmen held a protest demonstration in front of the trade office in Hebron. The heads of the clans said that if the decision enforced they would “take to the streets.” Therefore they called on the PA to renege on its decision to impose a general lockdown on the Hebron district, which would be a hard blow to the district’s economy (Dunia al-Watan, December 8, 2020). In addition, they criticized the PA government for not including the Ramallah district in the general lockdown despite the fact that it also has a high rate of Covid-19 infection. Taysir Abu Sneina, mayor of Hebron, also condemned the PA government’s decision (Ma’an, December 8, 2020).
Right: A protest demonstration held by the heads of the clans and businessmen in the city of Hebron against the Palestinian government decision to impose a week-long general lockdown on the district (Dunia al-Watan, December 8, 2020), Left: A demonstration in the center of the city of Hebron to protest the Palestinian government decision (Palinfo Twitter account, December 9, 2020).
Violent clashes in Hebron
- This past week members of the al-Ja’abari clan in Hebron clashed violently with Palestinian security forces. According to Palestinian security sources, the forces had tried to disperse a meeting of the clan held in the clan’s reception room (diwan) in violation of Palestinian government guidelines. Members of the clan threw stones at the security forces, and in response the forces fired live ammunition, wounding several clansmen (Ma’an, December 12, 2020).
- The Israeli media reported that over the weekend there were violent clashes in region H2 of Hebron (which is under Israeli security control and Palestinian civilian control). The clashes occurred when Palestinian security forces entered the city after coordinating with Israel. The security forces clashed with members of the al-Ja’abari clan, who are in opposition to the PA government (report by Gal Berger for the Israeli Kan 11 Corporation, December 13, 2020).
- On the other hand, Jibrin al-Bakri, governor of the Hebron district, called on local residents to obey the guidelines issued by the Palestinian government. In the meantime, according to a report, the Palestinian security forces in the Hebron district were reinforced and operatives were deployed near the governor’s building to secure the location and help enforce the lockdown (Ma’an, December 10, 2020). Ghassan Nimr, spokesman for the ministry of the interior in Ramallah, interviewed by a local radio station, said that anyone who violates the lockdown will be fined 1,000 Jordanian dinars (about $1,400) or be sentenced to a year in prison. He said the decision to impose a lockdown on a number of districts was made because the percentage of their Covid-19 infection had reached 30%. He added that Palestinian security forces would enforce the lockdown in accordance with their instructions (Ma’an, December 10, 2020).
- Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, said 150,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine would arrive in the PA. On another occasion, interviewed by the Voice of Palestine radio station she said the vaccine would arrive at the beginning of 2021. She added that initially three groups would receive the vaccine: medical teams, oncology and chronically ill patients, and people 60 years old and older (in a previous interview she also said priority would be given to operatives in the security forces and media personnel). She said they were in contact with the four companies that had developed vaccines authorized by the W.H.O. (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, December 13, 2020; Dunia al-Watan, December 12, 2020).
- The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced that because of the spread of coronavirus, starting on December 10 sample testing will begin at the crossings for workers holding entry permits for Israel. The tests will be administered by the Home Front headquarters in collaboration with the Civil Administration. Workers’ entrance into Israel will be conditioned on their agreement to be tested. Workers who refuse to be tested will not be permitted to enter (COGAT Facebook page, December 9, 2020).
Covid-19 testing for Palestinian workers at the crossings before they enter Israeli territory (COGAT Facebook page, December 9, 2020).
The East Jerusalem Neighborhoods
The number of active Covid-19 cases in east Jerusalem, according to the PA
The extent of Covid-19 infection in east Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem municipality, December 13, 2020