Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades terrorist operatives assemble Fajr rockets from Iran.
Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades operatives use water and irrigation pipes from former Israeli communities in Gaza to construct rockets (al-Jazeera TV, ep 13, 2020).
Rockets test-fired towards the sea a number of weeks before the program was aired (al-Jazeera TV, September 13, 2020).
Rockets test-fired towards the sea a number of weeks before the program was aired (al-Jazeera TV, September 13, 2020).
Isma’il Haniyeh visits Marj al-Zahour (Hamas website, September 12, 2020).
Burning pictures of Trump, Netanyahu, and al-Khalifa (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, September 12, 2020).
- In the Gaza Strip Hamas is directing most of its attention and effort towards halting the rapid spread of Covid-19. The number of active case reached 1,688 on September 15 and so far there have been 15 deaths. In the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories there has been in a rise in the number of active cases, although the rate of the spread of infection is lower than in the Gaza Strip. The number of active cases as of September 15 was 8,061 and there have been 211 deaths.
- The PA and Hamas criticized the Arab League for not condemning the UAE’s normalization agreement with Israel, which left an opening for Bahrain (and other Arab states) to sign similar agreements. In addition to rhetoric, the Palestinian organizations plan popular protests. Calls were also heard for protests in Jerusalem, the Palestinian communities abroad and in front of the White House in Washington.
- This past week al-Jazeera TV broadcast a program about the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades’ [Hamas’ military-terrorist wing’s] military capabilities, in ITIC assessment at the request of Hamas. Iranian-made, long-range Fajr rockets and Kornet-type anti-tank missiles were displayed. Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, praised Iran for its unconditional support of Hamas. In ITIC assessment the objective of the program was to raise the Palestinians’ morale in the wake of the blows they suffered in the international arena, and at the same time threaten Israel.
- Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesman for the ministry of health in Gaza, said Covid-19 cases were rising and new epicenters were being discovered every day. He said the central laboratory in Gaza was capable of carrying out only two thousand tests a day, and to break the chain of infection the number had to be doubled (al-Aqsa TV, September 13, 2020). Amir Mushtaha, director of laboratories in the ministry of health in Gaza, said that in the near future the laboratory staffs would be able to sample more than two thousand tests a day and that they would soon receive an advanced, faster testing device (Filastin al-Yawm, September 14, 2020).
- Drug companies in the Gaza Strip announced a new initiative to supply all the medical needs of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The announcement came after they claimed the prisoners were prevented from receiving medical equipment and drugs from the Israeli authorities (Wafa, September 13, 2020). The announcement, following media reports about Covid-19 infection among Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel, was meant mainly as propaganda.
Judea and Samaria
- The Palestinian national committee dealing with the Covid-19 crisis, chaired by Mai al-Kayla, PA minister of health, reported that if the number of active cases continued rising, it would recommend dividing areas according to “traffic light” colors, depending on the degree of infection. The recommendation will apparently go into effect Sunday, September 20, 2020 – assuming the situation warrants it (Sawa, September 14, 2020).
Rocket and mortar shell fire into Israel
- This past week no rocket hits were identified in Israeli territory.
Monthly Distribution of Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire
Annual Distribution of Rocket Hits
Stone- and Molotov cocktail-throwing attacks
- In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continued throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles and the Israeli security forces. The more prominent events were the following:
- September 14, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle west of Nablus. No casualties were reported.
- September 14, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus northeast of Hebron. No casualties were reported.
- September 13, 2020: Stones were thrown at an IDF force southwest of Hebron. No casualties were reported. One of the stone-throwers was detained.
- September 13, 2020: An object, apparently a pipe bomb, blew up near the fence of the community of Beit El (north of Jerusalem). No casualties were reported.
- September 11, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle north of Hebron. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- September 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle southeast of Ramallah. No casualties were reported.
- September 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle west of Ramallah. No casualties were reported.
- September 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus and other civilian Israeli vehicles north of Hebron. No casualties were reported; the bus was damaged.
- September 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli bus northeast of Beit El. No casualties were reported; the bus was damaged.
- September 10, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northwest of Ariel. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
- September 9, 2020: Stones were thrown at a bus transporting IDF soldiers southeast of Hebron. No casualties were reported; the front windshield of the bus was damaged.
- September 9, 2020: Stones were thrown at a civilian Israeli vehicle northeast of Jerusalem. No casualties were reported; the vehicle was damaged.
Significant terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria since January 2019
Gun and ammunition found in a vehicle in Abu Dis
- ON September 9, 2020, Border Police fighters in Abu Dis halted a vehicle that aroused their suspicions. A gun and ammunition were found hidden in the vehicle. The driver, a 20-year-old Palestinian from Jenin, was taken for questioning.
The gun and ammunition found in the vehicle belonging to the Palestinian from Jenin (Israel Police Force spokesman’s unit, September 19, 2018).
Aid for Gaza
- UNRWA spokesman Adnan Abu Husayneh said UNRWA had began distributing food packages to 1,100,000 Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip. In addition, according to reports, 22 new clinics were opened in Gaza (Dunia al-Watan, September 14, 2020). Beforehand, the Chinese ambassador to the PA and Phillippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA general commissioner, had signed an agreement for a Chinese donation to UNRWA of $1 million for food for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, part of the general support for the PA territories (Filastin al-Yawm, September 11, 2020).
- An aid convoy of nine trucks from Jordan reached the Gaza Strip through the Erez Crossing, bringing medical aid and a team of 80 doctors and nurses (al-Quds, September 14, 2020).
Hospitalizing Covid-19 patients outside the Gaza Strip
- Nikolay Mladenov, special UN envoy to the Middle East, said an agreement had been reached to hospitalize patients outside the Gaza Strip. According to an agreement signed by the ministry of health in Ramallah and the W.H.O., patients from Gaza could apparently be hospitalized in Israel and the PA (Sawa, September 7, 2020).
Egyptian delegation visits Gaza to mediate issue of prisoners and MIAs
- This past week a delegation of Egyptian security officers headed by General Ahmed Abd al-Khalq, who holds the Palestinian portfolio in Egyptian General Intelligence, visited the Gaza Strip and met with senior Hamas figures. They left through the Erez Crossing to hold talks with the Israeli side and later returned to Gaza for further consultations (Sawa, September 11, 2020).
- The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reported that on two separate occasions the delegation met with Rawhi Mushtaha, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, and with “a senior military figure” who remained anonymous. According to Hamas sources, the delegation sought to formulate a plan, based on the initiative of Yahya al-Sinwar, head of the Hamas political bureau in the Gaza Strip, to release children, women and sick Palestinians from Israeli jails in return for information about the Israeli soldiers held by Hamas (al-Akhbar, September 12, 2020). Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, revealed that Egypt was currently mediating between Hamas and Israel to reach a new prisoner exchange deal (al-Andalou News, September 11, 2020).
TV program about Hamas’ military-terrorist wing
- Al-Jazeera TV broadcast a program in its “More than meets the eye” series which dealt with the military capabilities of the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military-terrorist wing. The commander of the weapons development unit was interviewed, who said the military wing’s weapons came from Iran. Among the weapons in Hamas’ possession are Fajr long-range rockets and Kornet-type anti-tank missiles. He said that in addition to Iran, Syria and Sudan had a role in transporting weapons to the military wing. He said the tunnels between the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula also had also been used to transfer weapons, but that Egypt constructed a system of barriers to prevent their passage from its territory.
- The program also reported on the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades’ sources of raw materials for manufacturing weapons after Egypt blocked them from being smuggled into Gaza from its territory. For example, the Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades claimed the rockets fired at Israel in the round of escalation in May 2019 were manufactured by recycling ammunition the IDF left behind after Operation Protective Edge and from water pipes left behind in the Israeli communities when Israel disengaged from Gaza in 2005. The claim was also made that divers from the military wing’s naval force had found the remains of two weapons ships not far off the coast of Gaza which held many mortar shells.
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, was interviewed on the program. He said Iran’s support for Hamas was unconditional. He added that Sudan was important for Hamas, but that as a source of weapons its status had been lowered when it changed its approach to the Palestinian cause. Haniyeh also claimed that the office of Jared Kushner had tried to contact Hamas about the “deal of the century,” but Hamas had not responded. He said that if Israel began a new “aggression” against the Gaza Strip, all the organizations, especially Hamas’ military wing, would surprise it.
- Hamas spokesman related to the program by saying that revealing Hamas’ military capabilities sent the message to anyone trying to disrupt the supply of weapons [to Hamas’ military-terrorist wing] that all such attempts would fail (Sawa, Shehab, September 14, 2020). Many social network users posted responses to the program, some of them claiming that its objective was to frighten and threaten Israel while others called it a source of pride for the “resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations] and its operatives.
Isma’il Haniyeh’s visit to Lebanon
- Isma’il Haniyeh, head of Hamas’ political bureau, is still in Lebanon and meeting with various Palestinians. This past week he went to the region of Marj al-Zahour in south Lebanon, 27 years after he had been one of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist operatives expelled to Lebanon by Israel (Hamas website, September 12, 2020).
Isma’il Haniyeh visits Marj al-Zahour (Hamas website, September 12, 2020).
- Isma’il Haniyeh responded to criticism of remarks he made while in Lebanon. He claimed he had not intended to use Lebanon as a platform for threatening Israel. He claimed Hamas respected Lebanon’s sovereignty and planned to fight Israel only from the territory of “Palestine.” He said the Palestinians were faced with unprecedented “strategic threats” which necessitated a “strategic vision,” and individual reactions were insufficient. He also said it was important to coordinate “armed resistance” [i.e., terrorist activity] with political activity (al-Jumhuriya, September 12, 2020).
- Haniyeh’s response was occasioned by a remark by Walid al-Kilani, responsible for Hamas’ information bureau in Lebanon. He said Hamas was not interested in the possibility of military action outside Palestine and had not carried out any such military activity, and its position was clear: its military arena was inside “Palestine” (Nida al-Watan, September 8, 2018). Haniyeh and Kilani were forced to respond because of the discourse raised by the reception given Haniyeh by armed Palestinians when he visited the refugee camps in Lebanon and a statement he made, interpreted as a threat to attack Israel not only from the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian reactions to the Arab League’s decision
- On September 9, 2020, the Arab League’s foreign ministers held a meeting which focused on the Palestinian issue. They discussed a resolution proposed by the Palestinians regarding the UAE-Israeli agreement to normalize relations. Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, who chaired the meeting, asked for an expression of solidarity and support for the Palestinian cause and opposition to the normalization agreement. The concluding announcement of the meeting did not express a united opinion of the Arab League states regarding the agreement. Moreover, the announcement left an opening for other states to sign agreements normalizing relations with Israel.
Left: Riyad al-Maliki gives a speech at the meeting of Arab League foreign ministers (Arab League Twitter account, September 9, 2020). Left: Cartoon of Palestinian disaffection with the Arab League. The youth of Qalqilya buries the Arab League (Isma’il al-Bazam’s Facebook page, September 11, 2020).
- The PA was bitterly disappointed by the Arab League’s decision, coming after the blows of normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. At the weekly government meeting PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh said the day the agreement was signed was “a black day in the history of the Arab nation” and a defeat for the Arab League. He said the Palestinian government was considering recommending to Mahmoud Abbas that he reexamine the PA’s relations with the Arab League (Wafa, September 14, 2020).
- Hamas condemned the Arab League for tabling the Palestinian request. As to the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE and the claim that the Arab League had begun to justify signing agreements with Israel, Hamas said that in effect the League had abandoned its role of coordinating between the Arab states and its commitment to the Palestinian cause (Shehab, September 9, 2020). Mahmoud al-Zahar, a member of Hamas political bureau, said the Arab League had rejected the goal for which it had been formed, which was to guard the Arab nation in general and the fundamental issue of Palestine (Quds Press, September 11, 2020). Senior PIJ figure Ahmed al-Mudallal called the position of the Arab League a new withdrawal from its stance on the Palestinian issue, adding that its current position provided legitimacy for the State of Israel to exist as a natural entity in the heart of the Arab world (Filastin al-Yawm, September 10, 2020).
Initial reactions to the normalization of relations with Bahrain
- On September 11, 2020, the American president announced that Israel and Bahrain, under American aegis, had agreed to normalize relations. Bahrain, according to the announcement, would join the UAE at the White House ceremony where the normalization agreement would be signed. The announcement led to harsh criticism from Palestinians, who called on Bahrain to retract its decision. Mahmoud Abbas recalled Khaled ‘Araf, the PA ambassador to Bahrain.
- Mahmoud Abbas condemned the agreement with Bahrain, saying normalization of relations would provide legitimacy for “Israel’s policy of occupation and aggression.” He also said it meant Bahrain was breaking with the official Arab position (Wafa, September 11, 2020). Social media users in Judea and Samaria said the agreement was not a surprise for the Palestinian public and that the Arab states could not be trusted. Some called the agreement “treason.”
- Hamas and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations protested the agreement. Hamas spokesman Husam Badran said Bahrain’s normalization of relations with Israel was detrimental to the Palestinian cause and that the declarations of the Arab states that supported normalization were the result of pressure exerted on them by America (al-Aqsa, September 11, 2020). In Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip dozens of Palestinians burned pictures of Hamad al-Khalifa, the king of Bahrain (Shehab, September 11, 2020).
Right: Hamas demonstration in Deir al-Balah (palsawa, September 12, 2020). Left: Burning pictures of Trump, Netanyahu, and al-Khalifa (Twitter account of journalist Hassan Aslih, September 12, 2020).
- The national united leadership of the popular resistance, a body established at a virtual meeting of the leaders of Fatah, Hamas and the PIJ on September 3, 2020, declared two days of protests to stress their rejection of the normalization of Israel-UAE and Israel-Bahrain relations. The leadership stressed that the Palestinians had to focus on popular resistance activities in all regions, especially Jerusalem. The proposed activities (Filastin al-Yawm, September 3, 2020) were:
- Tuesday, September 15, 2020, was declared a “day of popular refusal” in the Palestinian territories. Palestinians were asked to fly flags in all the cities and refugee camps, including in Palestinian communities abroad. The national Islamic forces in Ramallah and al-Bireh called for Palestinians to participate in the protest at al-Manara Square, and at the same time a demonstration would be held in front of the White House (Wafa, September 13, 2020).
- Friday, September 18, 2020, was declared a “day of mourning” during which black flags will be flown to show sorrow at the signing of the normalization agreements and mourning prayers will be broadcast from the loudspeakers in the mosque minarets.
Joint panel of the heads of the terrorist organizations
- Jibril Rajoub, secretary of Fatah’s Central Committee; Saleh al-‘Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau; and Muhammad al-Hindi, head of the PIJ’s political bureau, participated in a joint panel which was broadcast on the Palestinian TV channels in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Their main themes were the following:
- Jibril Rajoub said that the announcement of the joint national leadership of the popular resistance had united the political positions of all the organizations. He called on all the organizations to join the national leadership and resolve their differences. He said that in addition to the popular struggle Fatah and Hamas would continue to discuss the internal Palestinian schism, and he expressed hope that within a number of weeks an agreement would be reached for a time table and framework for holding elections.
- Saleh al-‘Arouri said that even though there had been no unified leadership during the first intifada, all the organizations had held a joint position. Currently, he said, there were a joint leadership and “popular vision.” He called on the Palestinian people to express its rage at Israel on the day designated for protest and on the media to cover the events.
- Muhammad al-Hindi noted the importance of the planned activities and said his organization would participate in the activities and strive to make them successful. He stressed their interest in turning over a new leaf and discussing the common denominator of all the organizations.
The virtual panel, left to right, Muhammad al-Hindi, Saleh al-‘Arouri and Jibril Rajoub (Jibril Rajoub’s Facebook page, September 13, 2020).
Mahmoud Abbas encourages the “popular resistance” [i.e., popular terrorism]
- Mahmoud Abbas continues to encourage the so-called “popular resistance” [i.e., popular terrorism]. The Wafa news agency reported that Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Walid Assaf, the chairman of the Authority for the Struggle against the Wall and Settlements, to express his esteem for “the heroes of the popular resistance,” their activities and “achievements” in “getting rid of the colonial strongholds.” He stressed the importance of “escalating the non-violent popular resistance” in defense of the Palestinian people and their land (Wafa, September 11, 2020).
Palestinian banks continue preventing the transfer of salaries to prisoners and released prisoners
- At the beginning of September 2020 the Arab Bank refused to accept the transfer of salaries from the PA’s ministry of the treasury for 94 prisoners and released prisoners, and returned the funds to the ministry’s account. The PA authority for prisoners and released prisoners condemned the bank for its action.
- Qadri Abu Bakr, chairman of the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs, confirmed that several Palestinian banks refused to open new accounts for newly-detained prisoners. They also refused to pay the salaries of several prisoners even though the funds had been transferred from the ministry of the treasury. He said that since the banking crisis began after Israel had decided to take steps against them, they had held meetings with the Commission of Detainees, the ministry of the treasury, the prime minister’s office, the banks and the monetary authority. At all the meetings the banks were asked to continue paying the salaries until the local bank could be founded. Abu Bakr noted that the position of the leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas was clear and public, and stood behind all obligations to the prisoners and their families. He again called on the banks to pay the salaries until the upcoming opening of the national bank, which would take the operation upon itself (Facebook page of the Commission for Detainees, September 7, 2020).
- Qadoura Fares, chairman of the Palestinian prisoners’ club, called on the PA and the ministry of the treasury to stop working with banks that violated Palestinian law by closing the accounts of prisoners and released prisoners. He said that in the near future they would begin a campaign with a blacklist of the banks in question. Qadri Abu Bakr said that as part of resolving the “prisoners’ crisis” they had asked Mahmoud Abbas to hire released prisoners to work in PA institutions. To that end a committee was appointed, which had not yet met, headed by PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh (al-Araby al-Jadeed, September 7, 2020).
- Note: On July 30, 2020, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) asked the president to include Qadri Abu Bakr’s name on the list of terrorists and to impose sanctions against him because of his ongoing encouragement for terrorism by providing payments and services to prisoners and their families. In response the Commission for Detainees issued an announcement stressing its adherence to its national mission without consideration for Israeli or American pressure, and noting it would continue to defend the freedom of the Palestinian prisoners and their legitimate rights (Facebook page of the Commission for Detainees, September 13, 2020).
 For further information, see the September 14, 2020 bulletin, “The Spread of Covid-19 in Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria.” ↑
 All information and reports are from Rescue Without Borders in Judea and Samaria unless otherwise noted. ↑
 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. ↑
 On December 17, 1992, Israel expelled 415 Hamas and PIJ terrorist operatives to Lebanon. They erected a tent camp in Marj al-Zahour north of the security zone controlled by Israel. The expulsion was a watershed event for Hamas, and among the terrorists expelled were several of today’s Hamas and PIJ leaders. ↑
 For further information, see the June 29, 2020 bulletin, “The Palestinian Authority takes practical steps to set up a government bank to handle payments to prisoners and families of shaheeds.” ↑