Palestine 2020 Part 2


Closed grave church and more stringent infection protection

March 25th

The tomb church in Jerusalem’s old city center is shut down by Israel, which is introducing stricter rules to counter the corona pandemic. It happens on the same day as the first death victim in the Palestinian territories is confirmed. In Israel, there are a few thousand disease cases and five deaths are known. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, has also restricted mobility in the occupied territories that have Palestinian autonomy; 60 cases have been confirmed. The tomb church has a central role in the Easter celebration, which this year is expected to be dimmed as a result of the pandemic. The Muslim shrine al-Aqsa has also been shut down by the foundation that manages it.

Israel is closing its borders

March 18th

Israel is closing its borders to anyone who is not an Israeli citizen or has a residence permit in the country. When the decision is announced, Israel has 433 confirmed cases of coronary disease. There are 44 confirmed cases on the West Bank occupied by Israel. The borders are also closed to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Coordination has taken place with the Palestinian Authority and goods must be passed through. Palestinians working in Israel have three days to decide whether to stay in Israel or return to the West Bank.

UNRWA gets new boss

March 18th

Swiss Philippe Lazzarini is named new head of UNRWA, which provides for Palestinian refugees in several countries (see November 6, 2019). He has previously worked for the UN in Lebanon and for the International Red Cross Committee, among others.

Power take on the spread of coronavirus

6 March

Bethlehem is being quarantined after cases of covid-19 viral disease have been discovered in hotels in the Palestinian city, which live off tourist and pilgrimage traffic. Decisions are said to have been taken in consultation between Palestinian and Israeli authorities. On the West Bank, where Bethlehem is located, the Palestinian Authority (which has local autonomy under Israeli sovereignty) has introduced emergency permits with travel restrictions and large gatherings. In Israel, where cases of illness have also been found, air travel has been restricted and some arriving travelers have been ordered to home quarantine.


The crisis government in Israel aims at the West Bank

April 20

Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz settle on forming a crisis government in Israel. The Ministry will take office on May 17. Netanyahu continues, despite being charged, as prime minister for a year and a half. Gantz initially starts as defense minister. The agreement between them says, according to Israeli media, that the West Bank should be placed under Israeli sovereignty with measures that can be initiated after July 1. This is also a feature of the Trump administration’s US peace plan and was met by massive criticism when the Trump Plan was presented (see January 28 and February 3, 2020).

Tug of war on coronate ester in Jerusalem

April 18

An elderly Palestinian woman is reported as East Jerusalem’s first casualty in covid-19. At the same time, Israel’s handling of the contagion in the occupied districts has become a fighting apple. Fadi al-Hadami, Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem affairs, and Adnan Ghaith, who holds the title of governor, were briefly arrested earlier this month. This happened in conjunction with Israel closing a clinic in the Silwan district that the Israeli authorities described as illegal. From a Palestinian point of view, it is claimed that Israel is systematically neglecting the needs of the Palestinian population in the city, including the need for coronate tests. Since a human rights group has approached the Supreme Court on the subject, Israel has increased the number of test sites in East Jerusalem from three to six.


Protests after death shot against autist

May 31st

In East Jerusalem, the shrine of al-Aqsa opens. It has been closed for over two months, including during the fasting month of Ramadan, when the risk of spreading coronavirus was considered high. The security requirement is high, as there is a feeling of turmoil linked to the Israeli government’s plans to annex land on the West Bank. On the same day, a Palestinian was buried by Israeli police in the belief that he was armed. The autopsy shows that the autistic 32-year-old was hit by two shots in the chest. The event triggers demonstrations, also at the police headquarters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The protests take place under slogans like “Palestinian lives matter”.

ICC wants Palestinian message

May 28

A further consequence has arisen from the Israeli government’s plans for annexing land on the West Bank, and the reaction of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (see May 19). The International Criminal Court (ICC) requests that Palestinians clarify whether or not the agreements concluded in the Oslo process in the 1990s will apply, Israeli media reports. It is the agreements with Israel that lay the foundation for a Palestinian state formation, and if the agreements are terminated, the Palestinians cannot act as a state in the court either. By June 10, Ramallah’s response should be provided. The Palestinians have previously asked the ICC to investigate whether Israelis have committed war crimes in the occupied territories.

Corona death in the Gaza Strip

May 23

The Gaza Strip reports its first death in covid-19. Since the closure of the borders has been facilitated, more than 1,500 Gazabs have recently returned home, most from Egypt, and the number of cases of infection has subsequently been reported to have increased. The first deaths occurred in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in April, but the number is still low, as far as one-digit numbers are known. On March 19, an air transport from the United Arab Emirates landed in Israel with medical equipment to the Palestinians, including respirators. Transport is also seen as a sign that the political contacts between the Emirates and Israel have improved.

Palestinians terminate agreement

May 19th

The newly announced (May 17) Israeli government’s stated intention to annex occupied Palestinian land on the West Bank leads to a sharp reaction from the Palestinian side: The Palestinian Authority no longer sees itself as bound by agreements concluded with Israel and with the United States, President Mahmud Abbas announces. He emphasizes that this also applies to cooperation in the field of security, which Palestinian self-government, based in Ramallah, has maintained with Israel since the peace process in the 1990s. “As of today, the Israeli Occupation Force must shoulder all responsibility and all obligations to the international community as the occupying power over the occupied state of Palestine,” Abbas declares, referring to international law and the laws of war (Fourth Geneva Convention on Protection, which deals with protection civilian).

Fell for assault against family

May 18

There will be a conviction for murder and attempted murder of a Jewish settler who in 2015 participated in a murder case against a Palestinian family on the West Bank when a toddler and the child’s parents died. The settler, who intends to appeal to the Supreme Court, claims that he has been pressed for the consent of the prosecutors. A younger accomplice is convicted earlier (see October 24, 2019). The attack led to a strong reaction and wave of violence from the Palestinian side, while at the same time condemning the act internationally.

Opening in corona closed border

May 3

Following an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian workers from the West Bank may return to jobs in construction, agriculture and industry in Israel. When the parties decided to close the border as a result of the covid-19 pandemic, workers were forced to choose whether to stop at the workplace or return home. Prior to the pandemic, about 120,000 Palestinians had work either in Israel or in settlements on land occupied by Israel, now about 40,000 have the right to cross the border. However, even those who now return to work in Israel must remain for one month (which means that they miss the holiday id al-fitr after the fasting month of Ramadan).


Opposition to Trump plan

June 9

The Palestinians have submitted a counter-proposal to the US plan, which is based on Israel annexing land on the occupied West Bank, Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said. The proposal presupposes that Palestine becomes an independent and demilitarized state “with minor border adjustments where necessary”. The proposal has been submitted to the so-called quartet: UN, EU, USA and Russia. Even in the proposals previously discussed in a long-standing peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, it has been a basic idea that areas on the West Bank where there are large settlements should be transferred to Israel, in exchange for Israeli land that is transferred to the Palestinian state.

Israel’s HD stops forced redemption

June 9

The Supreme Court in Israel stops a law from 2017 that would have allowed the Israeli state to expropriate hundreds of acres of land on the occupied West Bank. It is about land where settlers have built without a sign from the Israeli state. Both Palestinian and Israeli organizations had requested HD scrutiny of the law. According to international law, which prohibits an occupation force from moving its own population into an occupied area, all Israeli settlements on occupied land are illegal, including those for which Israel has given a clear sign.

The state of emergency is extended

June 3

All mosques in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip have been reopened, 70 days after the closure to counter the covid-19 pandemic. Some restrictions still apply, such as wearing face mask. On the West Bank, the reopening of society has been slower, but President Abbas is extending the current state of emergency through decrees (without closures, according to a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority). The exception rules therefore apply until July 4, which can also be seen in the light of the Israeli government’s announced plans to annex more land on the West Bank after July 1. The spread of coronaviruses remains moderate with few casualties in the Palestinian territories.

Palestine 2020 Part 2