The Spread of Covid-19 in Judea and Samaria (Updated to January 4, 2021)

Crowds in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City (Gaza.city2 Facebook page, December 31, 2020).

Crowds in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City (Gaza.city2 Facebook page, December 31, 2020).

Shoppers in the Arab Mall in Rafah, which opened on December 30, 2020 (Twitter account of Abdallah al-Attar, December 31, 2020).

Shoppers in the Arab Mall in Rafah, which opened on December 30, 2020 (Twitter account of Abdallah al-Attar, December 31, 2020).

Worshippers in Qalqilya affiliated with the Liberation Party hold the Friday prayer and are later dispersed by the Palestinian police, who use tear gas canisters (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021).

Worshippers in Qalqilya affiliated with the Liberation Party hold the Friday prayer and are later dispersed by the Palestinian police, who use tear gas canisters (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021).

Worshippers in Qalqilya affiliated with the Liberation Party hold the Friday prayer and are later dispersed by the Palestinian police, who use tear gas canisters (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021).

Worshippers in Qalqilya affiliated with the Liberation Party hold the Friday prayer and are later dispersed by the Palestinian police, who use tear gas canisters (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021).

The Palestinian minister of health on a Zoom chat with Russian representatives for the purchase and supply of the Russian vaccine (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, December 30, 2020).

The Palestinian minister of health on a Zoom chat with Russian representatives for the purchase and supply of the Russian vaccine (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, December 30, 2020).

Reception for a released Palestinian prisoners in Jenin (Facebook page of Tasjilat al-Safouri, December 27, 2020).

Reception for a released Palestinian prisoners in Jenin (Facebook page of Tasjilat al-Safouri, December 27, 2020).

Reception for a released Palestinian prisoners in Jenin (Facebook page of Tasjilat al-Safouri, December 27, 2020).

Reception for a released Palestinian prisoners in Jenin (Facebook page of Tasjilat al-Safouri, December 27, 2020).

A gathering in Qalqilya to mark the anniversary of the founding of Fatah (qudsnet.com, January 1, 2021).

A gathering in Qalqilya to mark the anniversary of the founding of Fatah (qudsnet.com, January 1, 2021).

A gathering in Qalqilya to mark the anniversary of the founding of Fatah (qudsnet.com, January 1, 2021).

A gathering in Qalqilya to mark the anniversary of the founding of Fatah (qudsnet.com, January 1, 2021).

A wedding in Deir Abu Mash'al, (Facebook page of a local wedding photographer, December 30, 2020)

A wedding in Deir Abu Mash'al, (Facebook page of a local wedding photographer, December 30, 2020)

A wedding in the village of Anata (Facebook page of a rozana.records, December 29, 2020).

A wedding in the village of Anata (Facebook page of a rozana.records, December 29, 2020).

A wedding in al-Ram (Facebook page of abu.aldeek.record, December 26, 2020).

A wedding in al-Ram (Facebook page of abu.aldeek.record, December 26, 2020).

Wedding of a Palestinian from Bayt Iksa (Facebook

Wedding of a Palestinian from Bayt Iksa (Facebook

Mass prayer at the Nablus Gate with considerable crowding after worshippers were not permitted to enter the Temple Mount compound (Palinfo Twitter account, January 1, 2021).

Mass prayer at the Nablus Gate with considerable crowding after worshippers were not permitted to enter the Temple Mount compound (Palinfo Twitter account, January 1, 2021).

Worshippers on the Temple Mount in the wake of restrictions put in place by the Israeli police, which permitted the entrance of only 3,000 worshippers into the compound.

Worshippers on the Temple Mount in the wake of restrictions put in place by the Israeli police, which permitted the entrance of only 3,000 worshippers into the compound.

Overview
  • The situation in the Gaza Strip:
    • The number of active Covid-19 cases in Gaza is still very high. Between December 29, 2020 and January 4, 2021, 4,123 new cases were detected. The number of active cases currently stands at 9,784, down from 10,729 a week ago. There have been 398 deaths, up from 340 a week ago. There are 245 hospitalized patients, 141 in serious condition, down from 327 a week ago; the number in serious condition has not changed.
    • For the fourth week in a row a partial lockdown and nightly curfew have been imposed on the Gaza Strip; so far without a general lockdown. Medical and government sources have pointed to the success of the partial lockdown and other preventive measures in flattening the curve, especially in lowering the number of hospitalized patients and preventing the rise in the number of patients in serious condition.
    • The hospitals in the Gaza Strip continue warning of a shortage of beds and medical equipment. They are preparing to improve their capabilities to provide long-term medical care (to ease the burden on the hospitals designated as coronavirus hospitals).
  • The situation in Judea and Samaria:
    • This past week the rate of infection continued declining but the number of active cases is still high, with 7,978, down from 11,322 a week ago. Of the daily tests administered, 17.9% were positive, down from 22.3% a week ago. The Nablus district remains the district with the highest number of cases in Judea and Samaria, followed by the Ramallah-al-Bireh district.
    • According to the Palestinian Authority (PA), in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods 716 new active cases were detected, down from 997 a week ago. The number of active cases declined to 1,437 from 1,646. According to the Jerusalem municipality, the number of active cases currently stands at 1,253, down from 1,398 a week ago.
    • According to reports, the PA has contacted the Russians and Moderna for Covid-19 vaccines. The PA wants to obtain the vaccines as rapidly as possible but apparently has not yet finalized a contract with either company. Spokesmen in the Gaza Strip have stated that the ministry of health in Ramallah is responsible for delivering the vaccines to Gaza and hope they will arrive in the coming months.
The Gaza Strip
Extent of the Covid-19 infection

This past week the number new active cases in the Gaza Strip declined. Between December 29, 2020, and January 4, 2021, 4,123 new cases were detected, bringing the number of active cases to 9,784 (down from 10,729 a week ago). There have been 398 coronavirus-related deaths, up from 340 a week ago. There were also fewer hospitalized patients, especially those in serious or critical condition. Of the 245 patients hospitalized in ICUs, 141 are in serious or critical condition.

Rate of Covid-19 infection in the Gaza Strip during the past week

Rate of Covid-19 infection in the Gaza Strip during the past week

The change in active cases in the Gaza Strip over the past month

The change in active cases in the Gaza Strip over the past month

Ministry of health preparations for the future
  • Dr. Abd al-Salam Sabah, head of the department of hospitals in the ministry of health in Gaza, reported on preparations for improving the future capabilities of hospitals to provide services and to ease the burden on the coronavirus-designated hospitals: they will enlarge the hospitals’ emergency rooms, the European Hospital and the number of beds in its ICUs; the Turkish Hospital will be adapted for Covid-19 patients in moderate to serious condition. Between 180 to 200 beds for Covid-19 patients have been allocated to the hospitals in the Gaza Strip and they have received emergency equipment (al-Ra’i news agency, December 28, 2020).
  • The ministry of health in Gaza, in cooperation with the W.H.O., is participating in a research project (carried out in 40 countries) to map the rate of the spread of the coronavirus. According to Majdi Dheir, head of the department of preventive medicine in the ministry of health in Gaza, the project, which will be conducted over a week, will take random samples from Covid-19 patients to locate the coronavirus antibodies their systems have created (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Gaza, December 30, 2020). The results will an analyzed to find the extent of the spread of the virus in the Gaza Strip, which will help the decision-making process (Sama, January 3, 2021).
  • Dr. Yusuf al-Akkad, director of the European Hospital, again noted that despite the increase in their ability to generate 4,000 liters of oxygen per minute, the shortage of oxygen continues as the health system’s greatest problem. He said another station should shortly be ready and will be able to generate about 2,600 liters. As for ventilators, he said they currently had a sufficient number (al-Ra’i news agency, January 2, 2021).
  • Dr. Fathi Abu Warda, advisor to the minister of health in Ramallah, reported a shortage of beds. He said the overall number of ICU beds in the hospitals had risen from 170 to 200. The number of beds for Covid-19 patients, however, is only 500. He said the numbers were small in relation to the population density in the Gaza Strip (Ma’an, January 2, 2021; Watan News Agency, December 29, 2020).
Preventive measures
  • December 31, 2020, marked the fourth consecutive week of a general lockdown imposed over the weekends. The stores were again crowded before the lockdown went into effect. An exceptional event occurred in Khan Yunis: four family members were detained when they disrupted the enforcement of the lockdown by throwing stones at the police (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, January 2, 2021). The four were charged with disrupting police activity, violating the lockdown and attacking police who were carrying out official duties (Ultra Palestine website, January 3, 2021).
Crowds in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City (Gaza.city2 Facebook page, December 31, 2020).  Shoppers in Gaza City (Facebook page of photojournalist Usama al-Kahlut, December 31, 2020).
Right: Shoppers in Gaza City (Facebook page of photojournalist Usama al-Kahlut, December 31, 2020). Left: Crowds in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City (Gaza.city2 Facebook page, December 31, 2020).
  • Salameh Maarouf, head of the government media bureau, reported that the emergency committee to combat Covid-19 had held a meeting to decide whether to make the preventive measures stricter or to ease them. He said the ministry of health in Gaza had recommended continuing the present format because there were clear indications that they had a positive effect on the epidemiological situation (al-Quds, January 3, 2021).
Statements regarding the success of the lockdown and preventive measures
  • According to the ministry of health in Gaza, the preventive measures taken so far have succeeded in halting the rise in the number of Covid-19 patients and indicate a decline in the daily infection and hospitalization rates. The ministry said the data were a good indication of the degree of implementation and effectiveness of the measures. However, it warned that with the arrival of winter the Gaza Strip was in the eye of the storm (al-Hadath, December 31, 2020). Dr. Yusuf al-Rish, deputy ministry of health in Gaza, stressed that they were doing everything possible not to have to impose a general lockdown (alresala.net, January 1, 2021).
  • Spokesmen for the Hamas government reiterated that the measures that had been taken, including a nightly curfew and an overall lockdown over the weekends, had shown their effectiveness in halting the spread of coronavirus:
    • Faiq al-Mabhouh, head of the central administration in the ministry of the interior in the Gaza Strip and head of the committee for combatting the Covid-19 crisis, said the general lockdowns over the weekends had borne fruit and flattened the curve. The fact that the general population had obeyed the lockdown contributed to reducing the number of active cases. He said that what happened next depended on how strictly the preventive measures were implemented (website of the ministry of the interior in Gaza, December 30, 2020).
    • Majdi Dheir, head of the preventive medicine deputy in the ministry of health in Gaza, said the [weekend] general lockdown had clearly reduced the number of Covid-19 patients. He added that the number of seriously ill hospitalized patients had declined, and the next three weeks would be critical for every aspect of the spread of the virus (Masdar News, December 30, 2020).
    • Dr. Yusuf al-Akkad, director of the European Hospital, also noted a decline in the number of people seeking admittance to the hospital during the past few weeks. He said the number of seriously ill people arriving at the hospital had also declined. He was of the opinion that the weekend lockdowns had been an influence (al-Ra’i news agency, January 2, 2021).
    • Dr. Yusuf Abu al-Rish, deputy ministry of health in Gaza, said the epidemic had peaked from the middle of December to the beginning of January. He added that the current lockdowns had caused the curve of Covid-19 patients needing medical care to flatten.
Preparations for the arrival of vaccines
  • Spokesmen in the Gaza Strip have given various dates for the arrival of the vaccines, insisting that the ministry of health in Ramallah is responsible for dealing with the matter. Dr. Fathi Abu Warda, advisor to the minister of health in Ramallah, said they hoped the vaccines would arrive during January or February (Ma’an, January 2, 2021). ‘Atef al-Hout, chairman of the committee to combat Covid-19 in the ministry of health in Gaza, said the vaccines would arrive in April or the beginning of May (Sama, January 1, 2021). Dr. Yusuf Abu Rish, deputy ministry of health in Gaza, the ministries of health in Gaza and Ramallah were making a joint effort to acquire vaccines. He said efforts were being made through the W.H.O. and donors, but that so far there was no date for the arrival of the vaccines (alresala.net, January 1, 2021).
Foreign aid for Gaza
  • Iyad Abu Qirsh, head of the department of emergency medicine in the ministry of health in Gaza, said that on December 31, 2020, the ministry of health had received medical equipment donated by the W.H.O. and the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR, controlled by Palestinian tycoon Muneib al-Masri). The equipment included [stationary] ventilators, portable ventilators, monitors for vital signs and blood oxygen saturation machines. The equipment was distributed among the hospitals with Covid-19 wards (website of the ministry of health in Gaza, December 31, 2020).
Judea and Samaria
Extent of Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria

This past week the number of active cases in Judea and Samaria declined; 3,794 new cases were detected, down from 5,625 a week ago. The number of active cases stands at 7,987, down from 11,322 a week ago. There are 113 patients in ICUs, 23 on ventilators. During the past week 100 people died, up from 94 a week ago, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,092. In Judea and Samaria 3,162 tests were administered with a positive infection rate of 17.9% (down from 22.3% on December 28). The PA reported 716 new cases in east Jerusalem. The number of active cases in east Jerusalem is 1,437, down from 1,646 a week ago. According to the Jerusalem municipality, the number of active cases was 1,253, down from 1,398 a week ago.

  • Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, said the committee for combating Covid-19 had recommended to the Palestinian prime minister and the emergency committee that they renew the restrictions and preventive measures for an additional two weeks. She said the measures the government took during the past two weeks had had good results and flattened the curve of the spread of the epidemic (Wafa, December 29, 2020).
  • PA government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem held a press conference where he declared that the state of emergency and lockdown would be extended for two weeks beginning on December 30, 2020. The following measures will be in place (Palestinian TV, January 2, 2021).
    • Studies in educational institutions will be limited. Universities and colleges will be closed to frontal learning, which will be replaced by distance learning. Public institutions will work at 50% capacity.
    • Movement between the districts, including Jerusalem, is banned. Movement will be permitted to medical teams only. There will be no movement within cities and villages between 19:00 and 06:00.
    • Israeli Arabs will not be allowed to enter or leave the PA territories. Palestinian workers will be absolutely forbidden to work in the settlements.
    • The districts, cities, villages and refugee camps where the number of active case increases will be completely shut down.
    • Restaurants, cafés, gyms, barbers and beauty parlors will not work to more than 30% capacity.
    • Procedures will be developed for prayers in mosques and churches.
    • Weddings, mourning tents and other types of gatherings are forbidden.
Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria (according to the PA)

Covid-19 infection in Judea and Samaria (according to the PA)

The spread of Covid-19 infection (according to the PA)

The spread of Covid-19 infection (according to the PA)

Complaints about the enforcement of the ban on prayers
  •  The Liberation Party (hizb al-tahrir) accused the PA of sending its security forces’ operatives to use force to prevent the Friday prayers from being held in public in the West Bank, including Qalqilya, Tulkarm and Bethlehem. They protested the detention of clerics, the closing of mosques and the dispersal, by force, of worshippers (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021). They also alleged that the prayers were broken up on the grounds that public prayers had been banned (al-Araby al-Jadeed, January 1, 2021).
The Palestinian security forces use tear gas grenades to disperse a group of worshippers in al-Silat al-Harithiya (Jenin region) (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021; YouTube, January 1, 2021).  The Palestinian security forces use tear gas grenades to disperse a group of worshippers in al-Silat al-Harithiya (Jenin region) (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021; YouTube, January 1, 2021).
The Palestinian security forces use tear gas grenades to disperse a group of worshippers in al-Silat al-Harithiya (Jenin region) (Facebook page of the media office of the Liberation Party in Palestine, January 1, 2021; YouTube, January 1, 2021).
Preparations for acquiring vaccines
  • Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, spoke with representatives from the Russian Gamaleya Research Center, which is responsible for the production of the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. She also spoke with representatives of the Russian Investment Fund. They updated her on how the vaccine works, how it is stored and its supply to the PA. Mai al-Kayla said they were trying to get the Russian vaccines as rapidly as possible (Facebook page of the ministry of health in Ramallah, December 30, 2020).
  • On January 3, 2021, the ministry of health reported that an agreement had been signed with one of the companies manufacturing the vaccine and the government would be informed for approval of the cost. She said the vaccines were not expected to arrive before February. According to a different news item, which has yet to be verified, an agreement was signed with Moderna (Sawa, January 3, 2021).
The economic consequences of the Covid-19 crisis
  • Khaled al-Asili, the PA national economic minister, said the damage done by the coronavirus to the Palestinian national economy was more than $2.5 billion (Dunia al-Watan, January 2, 2021).
Geographic distribution of COVID-19 epicenters
Overview

The Nablus district still has the highest number of Covid-19 cases, with 2,344 new cases detected during the past week, down from 3,564 a week ago. According to ministry of health in Ramallah, the distribution of active cases by district, as of January 4, 2021, was Nablus, 2,344; Ramallah,1,449; Hebron, 777; Tulkarm 752; Jenin, 646; Bethlehem, 533; the villages around Jerusalem, 415; Qalqilya, 327; Tubas, 279; Salfit, 245; and Jericho, 211 (Facebook page ministry of health in Ramallah, January 4, 2021).

The distribution of active cases in the various districts

The distribution of active cases in the various districts

Nablus district

The Nablus district still has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Judea and Samaria although the number declined somewhat. As of January 4 there were 2,344 active cases, down from 3,564 a week ago.

Number of active cases in the Nablus district

Number of active cases in the Nablus district

Hebron district

In the Hebron district coronavirus infections again decreased. As of January 4 the number of active cases stood at 777, down from 1,309 a week ago. The Hebron district currently has the third highest number of cases in the PA territories.

Number of active cases in the Hebron district

Number of active cases in the Hebron district

Bethlehem district

There was a significant decrease in the number of active cases in the Bethlehem district. As of January 4 there were 533 active cases, down from 732 a week ago.

Jenin district

The number of active cases in the Jenin district decreased this past week. As of January 4 there were 646 active cases, down from 1,049 a week ago.

  • The police in the Jenin district closed dozens of stores and issued hundreds of citations to individuals and store owners who did not obey the lockdown and government-mandated preventive measures. During the week the Palestinian security forces and residents clashed a number of times when the residents protested the enforcement of the lockdown. On December 28, 2020, three Palestinians who rioted and threw stones at the security forces were detained (PA police website, December 29, 2020). On January 1, 2021, Palestinians blocked a road, threw stones and set fire to tires to protest the enforcement of the lockdown. The police and security forces dispersed them and detained 11 protesters (PA police website, January 2, 2021).

Gatherings without preventive measures

Wedding preparations for a resident of Jenin |(Facebook page of a Jenin wedding photography studio, January 1, 2021).     Wedding preparations for a resident of Jenin |(Facebook page of a Jenin wedding photography studio, January 1, 2021).
Wedding preparations for a resident of Jenin
|(Facebook page of a Jenin wedding photography studio, January 1, 2021).
The Qalqilya district

As of January 4 the number of active cases in the Qalqilya district continues declining, standing at 327, down from 412 a week ago.

The Ramallah district

In the Ramallah district the number of active cases declined somewhat. The district now has the second highest number of cases in Judea and Samaria. The number of active cases is currently 1,449, down from 1,753 a week ago.

  • The police closed stores in Ramallah that were open in violation of the lockdown, and issued citations to people and store owners who did not employ the government-mandated preventive measures (PA police website, December 30, 2020). The police also closed a restaurant in one of the city’s hotels where there were thirty people. The restaurant was closed immediately and two of its owners were detained (PA police website, December 31, 2020).
The villages around Jerusalem

The number of active Covid-19 cases in the villages around Jerusalem is currently 415, down from 749 a week ago. Weddings and other mass events continue to be held, some of them, in ITIC assessment, by residents of east Jerusalem.

A wedding in the village of Anata (Facebook page of a rozana.records, December 29, 2020).
A wedding in the village of Anata (Facebook page of a rozana.records, December 29, 2020).
The East Jerusalem Neighborhoods

According to the PA, 716 new active cases were detected, down from 997 a week ago. The number of active cases was 1,437, down from 1,646 a week ago. According to the Jerusalem municipality, on January 4 the number of active cases was 1,253, down from 1,398 a week ago. The neighborhood of Beit Hanina had 201 active cases and the Old City had 148. The rate of positive test results is around 15%.

The number of active Covid-19 cases in east Jerusalem, according to the PA

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

The extent of Covid-19 infection in east Jerusalem, according to the Jerusalem municipality, December 13, 2020

Mass prayer at the Nablus Gate with considerable crowding after worshippers were not permitted to enter the Temple Mount compound (Palinfo Twitter account, January 1, 2021).  Worshippers on the Temple Mount in the wake of restrictions put in place by the Israeli police, which permitted the entrance of only 3,000 worshippers into the compound.
Right: Worshippers on the Temple Mount in the wake of restrictions put in place by the Israeli police, which permitted the entrance of only 3,000 worshippers into the compound. Left: Mass prayer at the Nablus Gate with considerable crowding after worshippers were not permitted to enter the Temple Mount compound (Palinfo Twitter account, January 1, 2021).