An Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip apparently took effect with no formal announcement May 6, after two days of hostilities that saw hundreds of rockets launched from Gaza and the most extensive Israeli air-strikes on the Strip since 2014. A total of 27 Palestinians, overwhelmingly civilians, are reported dead in the air-strikes, which also included the first "targeted killings" of Hamas militants since 2014. Four Israeli civilians were also killed, all in the south. In the hours before the ceasefire, Israeli troops massed on the Gaza border, and a new invasion of the Strip appeared imminent. (Ma'an, Al Jazeera, Ha'aretz, YNet)
A Hamas leader on Dec. 27 said that the draft resolution for Palestinian statehood presented to the UN Security Council is "disastrous," and that it has "no future in the land of Palestine." The statement comes amid growing criticism at home of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' push for the UN to recognize Palestine as a state, with some calling the move a symbolic gesture that distracts from the larger struggle to end the Israeli occupation. Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar, however, took a harder line, saying in a statement that Hamas would not accept the resolution because of its focus on the 1967 borders, and not on the entirety of historic Palestine. He said that the movement will only accept the complete 1948 borders, and will refuse to consider allowing Jerusalem to be a capital for both Palestinian and Israeli states. (Ma'an, Dec. 26)
The Israeli military's Civil Administration on the West Bank has filed plans for establishing a new settlement in the Jordan Valley, where thousands of Bedouins will be forced to relocate. The Civil Administration is advancing several such plans. The current plan was drawn up without consulting the residents themselves, and is part of the Civil Administration's attempt to concentrate the Bedouins living in the West Bank's Area C in "permanent sites," with a view to annexing most of this area to Israel and leaving it free for settlement expansion. The new settlement for the relocated Bedouin, to be named Ramat Nu'eimeh, will be built in Area C near Jericho, in the Jordan Valley, and is slated to house about 12,500 people from Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley and the Ma'ale Adumim area.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reacted Dec. 31 to Israel's announced initiative to formally annex the Jordan Valley. "If they do that, which we will not allow, we will see what future holds," Abbas said. "This land is ours and will remain Palestinian land, and everybody should know that this is a red line that can’t be crossed." Also that day, the Palestinian Authority cabinet convened its weekly meeting in the Jordan Valley to symbolically protest the annexation plan. From the village of Ein al-Beida, the ministers issued a statement asserting that not a "single span of the hand of this area is for rent or swap."
Israeli forces on Dec. 31 delivered evacuation orders to around 100 Palestinian families in the northern Jordan Valley ahead of a military training exercise. The evacuation affects around 1,000 Palestinians living in rural communities around Wadi al-Maleh, local mayor Arif Daraghma told Ma’an News Agency. They must leave their homes by Dec. 2 for 48 hours, or they will be subject to penalties, he said. The orders state that Israeli troops will be holding military drills in the area. "To ensure the safety of the local inhabitants, temporary eviction notices were distributed today to the residents of the illegal structures located in a closed military zone to be used in the exercise," Israel's army said in a statement. The residents will be allowed to return after the military exercises have been completed. "It should be emphasized that these structures, located in closed military zones actively used by the IDF, are illegal in nature," the statement added.