The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that in November, the Israeli authorities demolished, forced people to demolish, or seized 178 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank: this is the highest such figure in a single month since OCHA began systematically documenting this practice in 2009. This month’s incidents resulted in the displacement of 158 people and otherwise affected the livelihoods or access to services of over 1,000 others. All structures, except for one demolished on punitive grounds, were located in Area C or East Jerusalem and were targeted due to a lack of building permits, which are nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain.
Of the affected structures, 43 had been provided as humanitarian aid, for a total cost of 82,000 euros. It is the largest number of EU-funded structures targeted in a single
month since January 2017, bringing the total number of such structures demolished or seized since the start of 2020 to 114.
On 26 December a Palestinian Ministry of Health spokesman warned that the situation with the pandemic in Palestine is catastrophic and is getting worse and more dangerous. Regarding the coronavirus vaccine, Roya News reported he said it is expected to be available in Palestine during the next two weeks. However, he said that it is still unknown which vaccine will arrive in Palestine and that the Ministry of Health is currently working on getting COVID-19 vaccines from four different sources. In July, Aljazeera reported that stemming the spread of the coronavirus is particularly difficult in Palestine due to Israel’s military occupation and the resulting apartheid and economic devastation.
In November Reuters reported that the Palestinian Authority will resume civil and security cooperation with Israel suspended in May over a now-frozen Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh wrote on Twitter that “the relationship with Israel will return to how it was” after President Mahmoud Abbas received confirmation that Israel remained committed to past agreements with the Palestinians.
Suspending cooperation with Israel six months ago, the Palestinians said its annexation plans in the West Bank, territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war, would make a two-state solution impossible.
Renewed Israeli-Palestinian ties could open the way for the payment of some 3 billion shekels ($890 million) in tax transfers that Israel has been withholding from the Authority, whose economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
Middle East Eye says this raises many questions about the benefit of resuming the practice without having achieved any political goals, as it was halted ostensibly to be used as a pressure card. It also begs the questions: how did the PA return to normalisation with Israel, when it was recently rejecting the Arab deals? And would the PA have been able to continue with the suspension of bilateral contact with Israel, or is it inextricably linked to the occupying power?
OCHA’s office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory reported in December that on two occasions, Palestinian armed groups fired three projectiles at Israel, one of which caused damage to a warehouse in Ashkelon city. Israeli air strikes that followed, hit and damaged military sites, as well as farmlands and greenhouses.
On at least 34 occasions, Israeli forces opened warning fire towards Palestinians near the perimeter fence and off the Gaza coast, presumably to enforce access restriction, resulting in the injury of a fisherman. This represents a 56 per cent decline, compared with the monthly average of such incidents since the beginning of the year (78).