Monthly Report – October 2020

CURRENT SITUATION

In the beginning of October, Israel reimposed a full national lockdown due to the second wave of Covid-19. The restrictions, which should have ended at the beginning of the month, lasted until October 18th, when a reopening phase started (implying the possibility to declare some cities as red areas). Among the measures included in the way out strategy, the reopening of religious sites in Jerusalem was planned. Although, legally Israelis still need specific reasons to leave their homes. This norm was considered as limiting the freedom to demonstrate. So, on October 3rd, a series of large demonstrations against Netanyahu were held throughout Israel. The decision to start reopening the country came after a significant decline in the number of new daily Coronavirus cases since June.
No lockdown was imposed in Palestine, but some restrictions were implemented to limit the movements in those areas where high number of Coronavirus cases were reported. At the end of October about 6,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported for a total of about 60,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
On October 18th, during a meeting in Bahrain between an Israeli government delegation and the Bahraini Foreign Minister, 7 memoranda were signed besides the agreement reached the previous month between the two countries. In particular, these memoranda provide for a greater economic and political cooperation.
On October 23rd Sudan signed a normalization agreement with Israel as well, becoming the fifth Arab country to officially recognize the State of Israel (along with Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Bahrain). The agreement was signed in front of a delegation from the United States, which welcomed this détente with pleasure. Hamas viewed the agreement as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause.

SHARING, WORK AND NEWS ABOUT THE VOLUNTEERS

In Palestine, October is the month of the olive harvest.
Unfortunately, two violent episodes took place in the areas covered by Faz3a, the Campaign promoted by the Coordination Committee of the popular struggle.
The first one occurred on October 7th in Hawara, where settlers coming from the Yitzar settlement violently attacked the Palestinians with stones and set fire to the fields: when the army arrived, the soldiers moved the Palestinians away from the area, declaring it a closed military zone. The second one happened on October 13th, in Burqa, near Ramallah, where the settlers attacked the Palestinians with stones and set fire to the fields too (in that morning, Israeli soldiers had blocked farmers outside their lands for many hours, closing farming checkpoints).
The attacks keep going on in the Umm Zeitouna valley (South Hebron Hills) where the new road connecting the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma'on and the cow farms prevent the shepherds to graze in the area. On October 6th, the shepherds of Saadet Tha'lah village were attacked by the settlers from the outpost. When the army and the police arrived, one of the shepherds was arrested and taken to the police station of Kyriat Arba where he was charged with hitting a settler. The shepherd is still in prison. In response to these attacks, on October 17th, many activists from the area promoted a nonviolent action in Umm Zeitouna, which resulted in the arrest (and subsequent release) of an elderly Palestinian.
The demolitions continued as well. In particular, on October 18th, the Israeli army demolished a house, a fold and a warehouse in the Palestinian village of Al Fakheit. Later, the army went to Mufaqqara and destroyed the pipes that carried drinking water to the surrounding area. Finally, the army confiscated four tents in the village of Ar Rakeez, where it had demolished some houses the previous month. On October 21st, the Israeli army entered At-Tuwani and told a family they had built on an archaeological site, but no order was issued to stop the works.