News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (July 8 – 14, 2020)

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Picture from a video documenting the throwing of Molotov cocktails (IDF Twitter account, July 10, 2020).

Picture from a video documenting the throwing of Molotov cocktails (IDF Twitter account, July 10, 2020).

Women's protest activities (Hamas website, July 9, 2020)

Women’s protest activities (Hamas website, July 9, 2020)

Women's protest activities (Hamas website, July 9, 2020)

Women’s protest activities (Hamas website, July 9, 2020)

  • This past week the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria were relatively quiet. The Palestinians are apparently devoting most of their attention to fighting the coronavirus. The most serious event in Judea and Samaria was the throwing of Molotov cocktails at an IDF post near Ariel. Two Palestinians were involved. The soldiers opened fire, apparently killing one and wounding the other (the event is being investigated).
  • Politically, the intensity of the Palestinian campaign against Israel’s intention to annex territories has weakened, probably because of the Palestinian focus on the COVID-19 crisis. Practical activities decreased in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. A protest rally scheduled for Ramallah was postponed. Palestinian TV reported that the stopping of Palestinian protest activities had no significance, since they had not been cancelled but rather postponed until an improvement in the COVID-19 situation.
  • Developments in the fight against the coronavirus were the following:
    • The surge in the number of Palestinians infected with COVID-19 in the Palestinian Authority (PA) and east Jerusalem continues. The number of active cases has reached 5,569 in the PA territories and 795 in east Jerusalem. In Gaza, on the other hand, only eight active cases remain (although there is still concern regarding an outbreak of the virus inside the Gaza Strip).
    • The PA ordered a lockdown accompanied by limitations and their strict enforcement. However, in various hotspots local residents protested against the limitations and the helplessness of the government. Demonstrations were held in Hebron to protest the extension of the lockdown and severe criticism was heard from the residents of the Jalazone refugee camp in the Ramallah district.
    • The PA’s public health system is facing a severe shortage of medical equipment. A spokesman for the ministry of health said only 80 ventilators remained for coronavirus patients, 20 of them already in use. The PA, in collaboration with UNRWA, decided to formulate an emergency plan for the refugee camps, which are potential focal points for an outbreak of the virus. A spokesman for the PA government said UNRWA was responsible for matters of health in the refugee camps.
Judea and Samaria[1]

The surge in the number of coronavirus infections continues in Judea and Samaria. The number of active cases currently stands at 5,569 (as of the afternoon of July 14, 2020). Of them, 4,447 are in the Hebron district, making up about 80% of the total number of active cases in Judea and Samaria. Eighteen cases are critical or serious, six of them requiring ventilators. Forty-seven COVID-19 patients have died, most of them from Hebron. Of those infected, 83 are medical personnel. The number of active cases in the east Jerusalem neighborhoods is currently 795. Since the outbreak of the virus, there have been 6,687 cases in Judea and Samaria.

  • Kamal al-Sheikh, spokesman for the ministry of health in Ramallah, said 80 ventilators are left of those allotted to COVID-19 patients, 20 already in use. Regarding test kits, he said they had swabs but no laboratory reagents (Facebook page of the Palestinian ministry of health, July 14, 2020). Following the reports about a lack of laboratory equipment, the ministry of health said in a statement that currently there was no shortage of test kits.
  • In view of the ongoing surge in the number of active cases, the PA decided to impose a general lockdown and limitations. Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the PA government, said an operations room would be established, directed by the prime minister. It would operate daily to prevent the spread of the virus. He said violations of orders was what had led to the government’s decisions. Regarding the spread of the virus in the refugee camps, he said an emergency program would be formulated with UNRWA and coordinated with the conditions in the camps. Melhem stressed UNRWA’s medical and legal international responsibility for the refugee camps (Palestinian TV, July 12, 2020).
  • Following the announcement of the new lockdown orders dozens of Palestinians protested in Hebron and Ramallah. The district governors also protested. Succumbing to the pressure the Palestinian government made exceptions to the lockdown orders for small businesses in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Nablus (Palestinian TV, July 13, 2020).
  • The Palestinian prisoners and released prisoners authority announced that a prisoner in an Israeli jail who had cancer had allegedly contracted COVID-19 and was being treated in a hospital in Israel. Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, called for his immediate, unconditional release. He added that they were pressuring for the release of all the prisoners who were ill, as well as the elderly and women, because of the spread of the virus (Wafa, July 12, 2020). Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem condemned what he called “the medical negligence” in Israeli prisons (Dunia al-Watan, July 12, 2020).
The Gaza Strip
  • As opposed to the difficulties the PA is having in preventing the surge of COVID-19 cases in Judea and Samaria, Hamas has been conspicuously successful in dealing with the virus in the Gaza Strip. The number of active cases continues to decline, with only eight remaining. The ministry of health in Gaza offered to send teams of medical specialists to the West Bank to help them deal with the coronavirus, but so far the offer has been rejected.
  • Abd al-Nasser Sabah, director of the W.H.O. office in the Gaza Strip, again warned that the coronavirus would, without a doubt, reach the interior of the Gaza Strip, and that it was just a matter of time because Gaza was not isolated from the countries surrounding it. One of the dangers, he said, was the Palestinians stranded abroad who will enter if the Rafah Crossing is opened.[2] He said there were currently about 1,500 Palestinians in various countries abroad, a large percentage of whom are probably sick, especially since the airport in Cairo is open to many countries, including Turkey, the Gulf States and Europe. Sabah said that currently the Gaza Strip can treat only 500 patients simultaneously, and they aspire to increase their capabilities to 2,000. He said they would be ready by the end of September 2020 because they were waiting for materials and equipment purchased abroad to arrive at the end of August (Dunia al-Watan, July 13, 2020).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
  • This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
  • The Palestinian media reported that a rocket ready for launching into Israeli territory on July 12, 2020, exploded before it could be launched (Amad, July 12, 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 

Molotov cocktails thrown at IDF post
  •  During an Israeli security force operation near Ariel the fighters identified two Palestinians who were throwing Molotov cocktails at an IDF post. They opened fire, wounding one. He was treated at the scene and transferred to the Red Crescent. It was later reported that a Palestinian had been killed by IDF fire. The incident is being investigated (IDF spokesman, July 10, 2020).

Picture from a video documenting the throwing of Molotov cocktails (IDF Twitter account, July 10, 2020).
Picture from a video documenting the throwing of Molotov cocktails
(IDF Twitter account, July 10, 2020).

  • The Palestinian ministry of health in Ramallah reported the death of Ibrahim Mustafa Abu Yaqoub from the village of Kafol Hareth in the Salfit area. The cause of death was reported as IDF fire during a clash in the area (Wafa, July 9, 2020). Senior figures from the PA and various organizations condemned the killing. PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh accused Israel (“the occupation”) of allegedly being responsible for Abu Yaqoub’s unjustified killing (qudsnet.com, July 9, 2020). Mahmoud Abbas spoke to the family (Wafa, July 10, 2020). Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, also spoke to the family and condemned the killing (alresala.net, July 10, 2020).[3]
  • The Fatah branch in the village of Kafol Hareth issued a death notice, noting that Abu Yaqoub had been an operative of the branch (official Fatah Facebook page, July 10, 2020). A military-style funeral was held for Abu Yaqoub and his body was carried by operatives of the security apparatuses (official Fatah Facebook page, July 10, 2020).

Death notice issued by the Fatah branch in Kafol Hareth (official Fatah Facebook page, July 10, 2020).
Death notice issued by the Fatah branch in Kafol Hareth
(official Fatah Facebook page, July 10, 2020).

Stones and Molotov cocktails thrown at Israeli vehicles
  • In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and at Israeli security forces. This past week saw a decline in the intensity of the events, especially in the Hebron region (possibly because of the COVID-19 crisis). The more notable events were the following:
    • July 13, 2020 –Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle south of Umm al-Fahem. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 13, 2020).
    • July 12, 2020 – Molotov cocktails were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle at the western entrance to Ariel. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 12, 2020).
    • July 12, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle southeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 12, 2020).
    • July 8, 2020 – A Molotov cocktail was thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle near Hebron. No casualties or damage were reported. On July 12, 2020, the IDF detained the Palestinian who threw the Molotov cocktail (IDF spokesman, July 12, 2020).
    • July 8, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northwest of Ariel. A man was injured by flying glass. The front windshield of the vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 8, 2020).
    • July 8, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle south of Modi’in Illit. No casualties were reported. The vehicle was damaged (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 8, 2020).
    • July 8, 2020 – Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus on the Gush Etzion-Hebron road north of Hebron. No casualties were reported (Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria, July 8, 2020).
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019[4]

Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019

New hospital opened in Gaza
  • A new hospital was opened in the Gaza Strip for the residents of Khan Yunis and Rafah. Its construction was funded by a Palestinian businessman living abroad who asked to remain anonymous. The cost of construction was $1.25 million. The five-story hospital has an ER, an ICU and operating rooms (al-Aqsa, July 8, 2020).
Anti-Israeli activities sparked by Israel’s intention to annex territories in Judea and Samaria
  • This past week the struggle continued against Israel’s intention to annex territories in Judea and Samaria, although the volume of the activities was smaller. The Supreme National Authority for the Return Marches and the Struggle Against the Deal of the Century held a meeting to discuss ways to combat Israel’s annexation plan. A number of ideas were discussed, including organizing media and legal campaigns to be held simultaneously with the events on the ground. The objective will be to show the international community Israel’s [alleged] ongoing violations of [international] law (Sawa, July 7, 2020).
  • Isma’il Haniyeh gave a speech at a virtual inter-Arab conference, speaking against the imposition of Israeli law on Judea and Samaria. The theme of the conference was “united against the ‘deal of the century’ and annexation.” Haniyeh said the Palestinian people should act against the imposition of Israeli law in three ways: one, by achieving Palestinian unity; two, through diplomacy, including recruiting the support of Arab and Muslim countries; and three, violent, armed resistance. He said the military wings in Gaza continue their buildup in preparation for a confrontation with Israel. Muhammad al-Hindi, deputy leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), who also attended the virtual conference, said the Palestinian people were prepared to begin a new, comprehensive intifada (al-Manar, July 11, 2020).
  • However, practical activity has been scant. Hamas’ women’s movement held a rally on the Palestinian side of the Erez Crossing. There was a picture of ‘Aasef al-Barghouti on the stage, nicknamed “the mother of the shaheeds and prisoners in the West Bank” (Hamas website, July 9, 2020).
Women's protest activities (Hamas website, July 9, 2020)    Women's protest activities (Hamas website, July 9, 2020)
Women’s protest activities
(Hamas website, July 9, 2020)
Palestinian terrorist imprisoned in Israel dies of cancer
  • Saadi al-Gharbali, a Hamas terrorist operative from Gaza who was imprisoned in Israel, has died of cancer. He came from the Sajaiya neighborhood of Gaza City and was 75 at the time of his death (aljazeera.net, July 8, 2020). He was detained in 1994 and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of David Mashli, who owned a laundry in Tel Aviv and was his friend (Ma’ariv website, July 8, 2020).
  • The death of Saadi Gharbali, as is customary in such situations, brought in its train accusations against Israel and blame for his death on the grounds that all Palestinian prisoners suffer from medical neglect. In a series of protest activities concerning prisoners, organized after his death in the Gaza Strip, demonstrators called on the international community and the PA to take action for the release of the prisoners (al-Aqsa, July 8, 2020). Sources in the “resistance” (i.e., the terrorist organizations) said the “resistance” would not be silent in the face of his death (al-Akhbar, July 7, 2020).

Palestinian terrorist Saadi al-Gharbali (Facebook page of the prisoners and released prisoners authority, July 6, 2020).
Palestinian terrorist Saadi al-Gharbali
(Facebook page of the prisoners and released prisoners authority, July 6, 2020).

Newspaper report on the exposure of alleged Israeli cell in Gaza
  • The Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported more information about the cell allegedly exposed in the Gaza Strip and which, according to “local security” sources, was handled by Israel. According to the report the operatives were Salafists who thought they had been recruited to ISIS, while in reality they were allegedly handled by Israeli intelligence. The cell operatives were recruited by an Israeli case officer who pretended to be an ISIS operative. According to the newspaper, the cell allegedly planned to attack courts and governmental offices in Gaza. Interrogation of the detainees revealed that some of the plans to be carried out immediately were attacks on strategic targets and weapons (“the weapons of the resistance”) (al-Akhbar, July 8, 2020).
Sixth anniversary of Operation Protective Edge
  • July 12, 2020 marked the sixth anniversary of Operation Protective Edge. No special events were held in the Gaza Strip. Abu Hamza, spokesman for the PIJ’s military wing, said in a statement that the anniversary of Operation Protective Edge fell at the same time as Israel’s decision to annex territories in the West Bank. He said that during Operation Protective Edge they had attacked the Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip for 51 days, as well as the large cities, including Netanya [a distance of about 60 miles]. Today, six years later, he said, they could reach anywhere in “occupied Palestine,” including its “sensitive facilities” (Abu Hamza’s Twitter account, July 8, 2020).
PA continues campaign against Israel’s intention to annex territories in Judea and Samaria

The PA continues its activities against Israel’s annexation intentions for Judea and Samaria, although less intensively than previously because most of its attention is turned towards the coronavirus. Most of its activity centers on maintaining Arab, Muslim and international diplomatic contacts. Because of the spread of the coronavirus it was decided to postpone the rally planned for July 14, 2020 in Ramallah to protest the annexation. However, postponing the rally does not mean the Palestinians have stopped their protests, but are waiting until the public health situation improves (Palestinian TV, July 13, 2020).

  • Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said Mahmoud Abbas was still waging his political campaign, principally internationally, through talks with world leaders. His objective is to compose an “international coalition” to prevent Israel from carrying out its annexation plan, which will show Israel that if it does carry out its plan it will suffer international economic and diplomatic consequences (Sawa, July 11, 2020).
  • Some of the diplomatic activity was the following:
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with Mahmoud Abbas. Putin expressed support for resolving the Palestinian-Israel conflict in accordance with international law and stressed his interest in the renewal of negotiations. Mahmoud Abbas thanked him for Russia’s opposition to Israel’s annexation plan and praised Putin for the results of the Russian election. He said the Palestinians were willing to return to the negotiating table with Israel based on international law under the aegis of the International Quartet and other countries (Wafa, July 8, 2020). Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, spoke with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russian deputy foreign minister and special envoy to the Middle East (Wafa, July 8, 2020).
  • Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s Executive Committee, sent communiqués to parliamentarians around the world, including Chile, Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland. He thanked them for calling on their governments to condemn Israel’s decision to annex territories in Judea and Samaria and to take steps to punish Israel in response (Ma’an, July 7, 2020).
  • Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, said he had sent a request to the UN General Assembly to meet to discuss Israel’s annexation plan (Dunia al-Watan, July 8, 2020).
The construction of the house of Palestinian terrorist Omar Abu Layla in the village of al-Zawiya is almost completed
  • On April 24, 2019 the Fatah movement in Salfit announced that within four months it would build a new house for the family of Omar Abu Layla in the village of al-Zawiya to replace the one destroyed by the IDF (Wafa, April 24, 2019). On March 17, 2019 Omar Abu Layla carried out a combined shooting and stabbing attack near Ariel, killing an Israeli civilian and an IDF soldier. The house he lived in in the village of al-Zawiya was destroyed by the Israeli security forces on April 23, 2019.
  •  On July 7, 2020, Fatah uploaded a picture of a house to its Facebook page, noting that it was the new house of Omar Abu Layla’s family in al-Zawiya in the Salfit district. Shortly after the IDF destroyed the old house, Abd al-Satar Awad, the secretary of the Fatah branch in Salfit, promised the house would be rebuilt. A plot of land was prepared and construction began. The building is almost finished (Facebook page of the Fatah branch in al-Zawiya, July 7, 2020; the Facebook page of the Fatah branch in Qalqilya, July 7, 2020).
The new house (Facebook page of the branch of Fatah in Salfit, July 7, 2020).   Abd al-Satar Awad (right), the secretary of the Fatah branch in Salfit, visits the house under construction in the village of al-Zawiya for the family of terrorist Omar Abu Layla (Facebook page of the branch of Fatah in al-Zawiya, July 7, 2020).
Right: Abd al-Satar Awad (right), the secretary of the Fatah branch in Salfit, visits the house under construction in the village of al-Zawiya for the family of terrorist Omar Abu Layla (Facebook page of the branch of Fatah in al-Zawiya, July 7, 2020). Left: The new house (Facebook page of the branch of Fatah in Salfit, July 7, 2020).

[1] For further information see the July 13, 2020 bulletin, “The number of COVID-19 cases continue to spike upward throughout Judea and Samaria, compared with the low number in the Gaza Strip (Updated to July 13, 2020).”

[2] On July 13, 2020, the Palestinian foreign minister updated the weekly government meeting, saying efforts were being made for Egypt to allow stranded Palestinians to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Crossing (Wafa, July 13, 2020).


[3] Senior PA and Fatah figures routinely condemn the deaths of Palestinian terrorists killed during popular terrorism attacks.


[4] 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.



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