Weekend long read

1) NGO Monitor reports on ‘The Politics of OCHA’s COVID-19 Humanitarian Aid in the West Bank and Gaza’.

“On March 27, 2020, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), announced the “oPt Inter-Agency Response Plan for COVID-19.” OCHA requested $34 million on behalf of numerous UN agencies as well as local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for use in the West Bank and Gaza. This number was raised to $42 million in late-April. […]

In its fundraising efforts, OCHA stated that additional resources were needed to “respond to the public health needs and immediate humanitarian consequences of the pandemic in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip” (emphasis added).

However, many of the activities being attributed to the Plan – as detailed in periodic “Situation Report” updates from OCHA and discussed below – do not appear to involve vital, lifesaving resources and supplies “to implement the most urgent and critical activities.” In some instances, it is clear that existing NGO advocacy ventures, which often involve anti-Israel rhetoric and agendas, have been relabeled “COVID-19,” without a substantive contribution to emergency humanitarian aid.”

2) At the Jerusalem Post Khaled Abu Toameh takes a look at recent internal Palestinian Authority politics.

“During the coronavirus crisis, PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh appeared to be alone at the helm, successfully leading efforts to stem the spread of the disease.

Shtayyeh’s performance during the crisis has been applauded by many Palestinians, who said his chances of succeeding Abbas have significantly improved.

Alarmed by Shtayyeh’s growing stardom, Abbas’s associates have in recent weeks made a big effort to bring the 84-year-old Palestinian leader back to center stage.”

3) At the INSS Assaf Orion explains why ‘Hezbollah’s Military Deployment along the Border Area Increases the Risks of Escalation’.

“Hezbollah’s military capabilities, which have been built up over recent decades with the help of Iran, are the leading conventional threat facing Israel. Since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the organization’s capabilities have strengthened both quantitatively and qualitatively, and its rocket and missile arsenal has increased more than ten-fold. The common assumption is that neither Israel nor Hezbollah is interested in war and that they are mutually deterred from it. Nonetheless, the risks of escalation have not waned, and perhaps are even gradually increasing.”

4) The ITIC documents the activities of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia in the Gaza Strip.

“The Nujaba Movement is an Iraqi Shiite militia handled by the Iranian Qods Force. It was established in 2013 by Sheikh Akram al-Ka’abi, who has had a close connection with Iran since the time he was fighting against the American forces in Iraq. The support received from Iran and Hezbollah has turned the movement into one of the most powerful and most important Shiite militias in Iraq. […]

Recently (May 4, 2020), there has been evidence that the Nujaba Movement maintains a presence in the Gaza Strip. The movement’s information and public relations center in Iran reported that the Nujaba Movement had recently distributed aid to Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, the aid was distributed by members of the Nujaba Movement’s office in the Gaza Strip. It included food packages, personal hygiene products, and presents for the month of Ramadan. The aid was distributed to families of shaheeds and prisoners living in the Shejaiyah neighborhood and in the northern Gaza Strip.”

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