While Hamas has focused most of its attention on trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the Gaza Strip, this past week a rocket was fired into Israeli territory. It is unclear which organization fired it. It was the first rocket fired during the past month. In response the IDF attacked a number of Hamas posts. No casualties were reported, either as a result of the rocket fire or the IDF attack. In Judea and Samaria Palestinians continue to throw stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli vehicles, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah focus most of their attention on trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the PA territories.

The mass return march which was supposed to be held in the Gaza Strip on March 30, 2020, to mark Land Day and the second anniversary of the return marches, was cancelled because of the COVID-19 crisis. Symbolic activities were held instead (Palestinian flags were waved, Israeli flags were burned, traffic was halted and drivers blew their horns). In the PA territories a few activities of low intensity were held.

The spread of COVID-19: Overview

So far 107 Palestinians have tested positive for COVID-19 in the PA (as of March 31, 2020), with 10 in the Gaza Strip. The PA and the Hamas administration have instituted a series of measures to prevent the spread of the virus, but Hamas has not yet imposed a general lockdown and the response of the residents of the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria has been partial. In ITIC assessment, at this stage the situation in the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria is under control. However, as time passes a severe humanitarian crisis is liable to develop, with significant consequences for the Palestinians themselves and their relations with Israel. International organizations and members of the Hamas administration have repeatedly warned of such a crisis.