Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: April 9-14, 2022

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2022 Congressional Briefing Series: Israel & Palestine – Hot Topics in Congress,

The Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) and the Middle East Institute (MEI)  are proud to present our 2022 Congressional briefing series: Israel & Palestine – Hot Topics in Congress. This series was co-convened and co-moderated by MEI’s Khaled Elgindy and FMEP’s Lara Friedman, and featured an array of Palestinian and Israeli voices, weighing in on some of the most pressing and timely Israel/Palestine-related topics in Congress. This series was held virtually, in the form of weekly webinars held February 11-April 1, 2022. Participation in these webinars was open exclusively to members of Congress and Congressional staff. However, given the importance both of the issues dealt with in this series and of the expertise featured on each panel, we decided to make the full series available to the public — see links to the sessions below, followed by bios of all participants. Also, check out MEI’s Middle East Focus podcast’s episode (April 8, 2022) discussing the briefing series with Khaled and Lara.

Original Research,

FMEP publishes two resources on (most) Fridays: Lara Friedman’s Legislative Round-Up and Kristin McCarthy’s Settlement & Annexation Report. To subscribe to those reports, click here.

How Has America Responded to Amnesty's Apartheid Report?,

“In February this year, Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization, issued a damning report titled “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity.”  This was preceded by two similar characterizations of Israel’s “crimes of apartheid” made last year by Human Rights Watch and Israel’s own leading human rights organization, B’Tselem. How have America’s political class, civil society, Arab and Jewish American organizations reacted?  Find out at our conversation with Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), and a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and the role of the U.S. Congress.”


The last 24 hours ,

5 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces across the West Bank in 24 hrs, including a child. Accordingly to @AFP, a total of 20 Palestinians have been killed since 22nd March.”

Jewish Currents Tuesday News Bulletin ,

“Since March 22nd, five Palestinian assailants have killed 14 people in Israel in four separate attacks. Two of the attackers lived in the West Bank, the other three in Israel. The Islamic State, or ISIS, claimed responsibility for one of the attacks; the attacker in a separate incident was affiliated with the group. A member of Islamic Jihad, a militant group in the West Bank, carried out the most recent attack, in Tel Aviv…Israel’s retributive violence has been swift. Since the first of the four attacks, the Israeli government has allocated $56 million to Israeli police in “emergency” funds and $112 million to construct a new stretch of separation wall dividing the West Bank from Israel. According to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the military has arrested 200 people and could arrest “thousands” more. Military raids in the West Bank continue at a record-high clip…On April 10th, the Israeli military killed four Palestinians. One was a woman near Bethlehem who was shot while crossing the street; the military claimed she had approached soldiers in a “suspicious manner.” Another woman was killed after stabbing a Border Police officer in Hebron. A man from Hebron, protesting southwest of Bethlehem, was killed for hurling a firebomb at a motorist on a Jews-only road that connects Jerusalem to an Israeli settlement. The same day, a 17-year-old Palestinian boy from Jenin shot at soldiers from his motorbike. A soldier shot back with expanding bullets, which balloon on impact and are prohibited by international law. The boy was hit and hospitalized; he died the next day. A second Palestinian boy, 16, died the same day after being shot while “looking on the ground for stones” to throw at Israeli soldiers, according to the human rights group Defense for Children International–Palestine.” 


See also: Two Palestinian women killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank (Al Jazeera); One Palestinian killed, 17 others injured by Israeli gunfire in Nablus (WAFA); Prisoners groups: Israel detained 539 Palestinians in March, issued 195 administrative detention orders (WAFA); Israel kills two Palestinian teenagers in occupied West Bank (The New Arab); Israeli police shoot dead Palestinian in Ashkelon after alleged stabbing (Middle East Eye); Israel detained hundreds of Palestinians in March (MEMO); Israeli forces kill Palestinian human rights lawyer in West Bank (France24)

Palestinian children left orphaned after Israeli troops kill their mother,

“According to Sabateen’s family, she was walking on a sidewalk next to the main road when a group of three armed Israeli soldiers started yelling at her to stop and move away from the sidewalk. Israeli forces claimed that Sabateen approached the soldiers, who were posted at a flying checkpoint in the area, in a suspicious manner, causing them to fire “warning shots” into the air. The army later confirmed that she was unarmed. In a video of the event captured by local news channel Palestine TV, Sabateen can be seen running in the direction of soldiers after the shots were fired in the air, at which point the soldiers shoot her in the leg, causing her to fall down…“I wasn’t there, but we think that she got confused and frightened by the soldiers, causing her to run.” “When they shot the bullets into the air, I believe she was startled. You can see her holding her hands over her ears while she ran.” Mohammed added that his mom was partially blind and suffered from severe vision loss in both eyes…The soldiers shot Sabateen in her leg, damaging a major artery, which eventually caused her to suffer massive blood loss and killed her, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.”

Four extremist Jews arrested for planning animal sacrifice atop Temple Mount,

“Four Jews in their 20s were arrested Thursday morning after police suspected they were planning to sacrifice a goat at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City ahead of Passover. The suspects, residents of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, were detained and taken in for questioning after police found a goat in one of the suspects’ homes. The “Returning to the Mount” extremist group, which advocates the construction of a third Jewish temple on the site that once housed the two biblical temples, have circulated a flyer offering a cash prize to anyone who managed to offer a living sacrifice on the Temple Mount, and to anyone arrested trying to do so.”

Joint List Leader Calls on Arab Israelis to Leave Security Forces Posts,

“The leader of the main Arab faction in Israel’s parliament called Sunday on young Arabs who have enlisted in the country’s security forces to quit their jobs, drawing criticism from across the entire political spectrum. “I call on those who have enlisted, who are a small minority, between 1 and 1.5 percent, throw your weapons in their faces,” Ayman Odeh said in a video posted Sunday and filmed at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate. “We don’t need to be with them, not part of this crime,” he said, “but rather on the same side as our people, in order to end the occupation…Odeh added that he had recently met with groups of young East Jerusalem Palestinians who alleged that they had been attacked by Arab police officers.” 

See also Ayman Odeh is right: Why should Palestinians serve in the occupier’s police? (+972, Orly Noy), which includes this reporting: “Immediately after the Israeli media picked up Odeh’s remarks, Jewish politicians began competing with one another over who could issue the most extreme condemnation. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked claimed that Odeh “incites against the State of Israel and its institutions” and that “his place is outside Israel’s Knesset”; Likud MK Israel Katz declared that Odeh belonged in prison; MK Ofir Katz, also of Likud, went so far as to appeal to the Attorney General and the Office of the State Attorney demanding that an investigation be opened against him. Meanwhile, Likud MK Shlomo Karhi is attempting to gather the 70 signatures from his Knesset peers required to suspend Odeh from office.”

Israel’s false promise of security,

“I grieve. But I grieve not only for the lives lost and broken, not only for the fear that gripped the hearts of parents, siblings, and partners until their loved ones replied to their frightened messages. I also grieve for the absence of a clear political alternative: a path, or even the beginning of a path, for how Palestinians and Israelis can transform the violent colonial relationship that has governed them for more than a century. One that replaces a tortuous hierarchy of ethno-national and class privilege with true safety, the security of neighborliness, of living together in full recognition that the other will not disappear. I grieve. But I refuse to allow our grief to fuel the deliberate decontextualization that allows Israel — a nuclear power that maintains an apartheid regime — to paint itself as a victim, and all Palestinians as antisemites and murderers. I refuse to believe we cannot create such an alternative. I refuse to believe that Palestinians and Jews cannot live together in a reality ungoverned by colonialism, violence, and terror.”

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Israeli court drops 'terrorism' charge on Manasra as #FreeAhmadManasra campaign gains momentum,

“An Israeli court dropped charges of “terrorism” against Palestinian prisoner Ahmed Manasra on Wednesday, amid an international campaign calling for his release due to him suffering from physical and mental health issues. In 2015, Israeli authorities arrested Manasra, 13-years-old at the time, after he was seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers, while his cousin, Hassan Manasra, was killed…”Unfortunately, the Israeli authorities did not have mercy on my son. They practised the most extreme forms of torture and physical and psychological intimidation against him, such as long interrogations and sleep deprivation, which caused severe and chronic pain in the head,” Maysoon Manasra, his mother, said to The New Arab. “My son experienced solitary confinement and was deprived of mixing with other prisoners. He was denied visits from his family, which compounded his suffering,” his mother said…In an attempt to pressure the Israeli courts for his release, the Global Mental Health Network in the Palestinian Territories launched an international campaign using the hashtag #FreeAhmadManasra.” See also Ahmad Al-Manasra: A Palestinian Child Who Grew up Behind Israeli Bars (Politics Today)

Government advances plans for seven new Jewish communities in south,

“The government voted on Sunday to establish a new community in the Negev, as well as to examine the possibility of the establishment of a new city in the south and five further communities — all to be Jewish…Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who backed the program together with Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, welcomed the government’s decision, saying it would advance Zionist values as well as play a key role in the security of the state…“Precisely at this time, in the face of all the security incidents, the Israeli government is establishing a contiguous urban bloc on the ground, putting a stake in the ground and beginning to build Jewish towns in the Negev,” Shaked declared…According to Haaretz, a number of the new communities are to be built near existing Bedouin communities, on land that has been designated as an ecological corridor or an area of outstanding natural beauty.”

In a Village Divided, Palestinians See Their Hold on Territory Eroding,

“Many of the major events that have shaped this corner of the Middle East have left their mark on Walaja — once a swath of terraced farmland with an ancient olive tree. Today, it serves as a pointed example of how decades of war, diplomatic agreements, Israeli settlement building, laws and regulations have carved up the West Bank and whittled away at territory under Palestinian control. The 3,000 Palestinian residents of Walaja now live partly in the occupied West Bank and partly in Jerusalem, divided into several different zones governed by different laws and regulations. Palestinian leaders and rights groups say that this type of fragmentation undermines the possibility of ever building a Palestinian state on a contiguous piece of land. “They want a land without its people so they can take the land without war and without loss of blood,” Mr. Hajajlah, 57, said of Israel, sitting on a broken chair on his terrace overlooking a valley with sheep grazing behind him. “And they are succeeding in this.””

Christians continue to leave Jerusalem amid ongoing instability,

“The number of Christians in Jerusalem is steadily declining due to the political instability and the deterioration of the economy, and they now make up less than 1% of the city’s population.”

Israeli settlers assault, injure Palestinian American attending to his land,

“Last Friday, a Facebook page run by members of the Israeli settlement hilltop youth posted a disturbing photo of an elderly man lying prone on the ground; the photographer is stepping on him, while another man presses his arms against the ground. “A terrorist infiltrated [illegal outpost] Ramat Migron,” the post claimed. “He was captured (dealt with [sunglasses emoji]), and arrested by the hilltop youth. We will keep holding onto our holy land.” The settlers who were at the scene even claimed later on social media that the man in the photo had attacked them…After investigating, +972 discovered that the man in the photo is 63-year-old Nasif Abdel Jaber, a Palestinian American citizen who has brain cancer and suffers from mental health conditions. Contrary to what the hilltop youth posted, Abdel Jaber told +972 that they attacked him — as is visible from the injuries all over his body. Moreover, he did not “infiltrate” the settlement outpost but rather was on his private agricultural land, which the outpost was established near to, east of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.”

Demolitions in the Negev-Naqab,

“2021: During 2021 the number of structures demolished in the Negev-Naqab was 3,004. This is the highest number of structures demolished historically. This, despite the dire conditions in the Bedouin villages considering the second year of the pandemic and an escalation of violence during May…Lands ploughing: In 2021, 12,604 dunam were ploughed in the Negev-Naqab. Lands ploughing is one of the many mechanisms used by the State’s authorities to appropriate the lands claimed by the Bedouins and encourage their forced displacement to urbanized townships. The State cooperates with the JNF-KKL and the Israeli Land Authority for this purpose.”

In Gaza, an application languishes, and a toddler dies,

“Jalal al-Masri and his wife spent eight years and their life savings on fertility treatments in order to have their daughter, Fatma. When she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in December, they waited another three months for an Israeli permit to take her for treatment outside the Gaza Strip. The permit never came. The 19-month-old died on March 25…Al-Mezan, a Gaza-based rights group that has helped the al-Masris and other families, says at least 71 Palestinians, including 25 women and nine children, have died since 2011 after their applications were denied or delayed.”

US Scene

Ritchie Torres & a Lesson About Who can say What on the Hill,

“This week AIPAC darling Rep. Ritche Torres (D-NY) appeared on an AIPAC forum to speak about “Concerns About a Dangerous Iran Nuclear Deal.” During that forum, Torres offered what is, objectively, a rather remarkably statement for a US lawmaker, commenting that when it comes to an Iran nuclear deal: “I try to approach the issue not from the perspective of an American, but from the perspective of an Israeli.” When called out by J Street’s Dylan Williams (“Shouldn’t a US lawmaker approach it from the perspective of US interests?”) Torres shot back with a tweet that appeared to in effect accuse Williams of antisemitism: “You are taking what I said out of context and reframing empathy for a US ally as though it were a form of ‘dual loyalty.’ The fact that I might hold an opinion that differs from yours does not mean I care about America any less than you do. Your tweet is a cheap shot.” Some people will no doubt rally around Torres’ outrage and the righteousness of his empathy for Israel. Some will also no doubt be un-bothered by a non-Jewish member of Congress implicitly accusing a Jewish commentator of antisemitism for challenging that non-Jewish members’ statement of support for Israel…And, of course, AIPAC moved quickly to deflect focus from Torres’ original words, by accusing J Street of being “more critical of Torres than of terrorists”. But regardless of how one feels about this specific exchange, it is a great opportunity for a thought experiment about who is allowed to say what on the Hill. Let’s consider 3 comparable scenarios.”

Israeli-U.S. Billionaire Saban Donates $1 Million to AIPAC’s Super PAC,

“The billionaire American-Israeli media mogul Haim Saban recently donated $1 million to the super PAC launched by AIPAC late last year. His contribution to the United Democracy Project is the single biggest individual donation to the super PAC to date, and second only to the pro-Israel lobby’s own donation of $8.5 million…Saban has long been one of the most important donors and fundraisers for the Democratic Party, generating millions of dollars for the party over the years. He has also made significant financial investments in pro-Israel organizations such as AIPAC and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. He also collaborated with late Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson on the Israeli American Council, which was founded to organize Israeli expatriates living in the United States.”


Under Israeli surveillance: Living in dystopia, in Palestine,

“Jerusalem and the West Bank are some of the world’s most surveilled places. Not a moment passes without us being made aware of the scale of intrusive surveillance constantly monitoring us: advanced facial recognition cameras, licence plate readers, spyware on our computers and mobile devices, as well as technologies that enable Israeli authorities to listen in to any – and all – of our phone calls. Let me walk you through the routine surveillance that I go through as an average Palestinian.”

Exclusive: Senior EU officials were targeted with Israeli spyware,

“Senior officials at the European Commission were targeted last year with spy software designed by an Israeli surveillance firm, according to two EU officials and documentation reviewed by Reuters. Among them was Didier Reynders, a senior Belgian statesman who has served as the European Justice Commissioner since 2019, according to one of the documents. At least four other commission staffers were also targeted, according to the document and another person familiar with the matter. The two EU officials confirmed that staffers at the commission had been targeted but did not provide details.” See also ‘Especially Remarkable’: Jordanian Activists Hacked With Israeli Pegasus Spyware (Haaretz) and Pegasus in the Caribbean? Israeli Spyware Reportedly Used in Trinidad and Tobago (Haaretz)

Israel's NSO appeals to US Supreme Court for immunity in WhatsApp lawsuit,

“The Israeli spyware maker NSO Group has filed an appeal with the US Supreme Court over a high-profile lawsuit filed by the WhatsApp messaging service. In its filing, NSO said it should be recognised as a foreign government agent and therefore be entitled to sovereign immunity under US law. The request appeals to a pair of earlier federal court rulings that rejected similar arguments by the Israeli company. “Many nations, including the United States, rely on private contractors to conduct or support core governmental activities,” it wrote in the filing. “If such contractors can never seek immunity … then the United States and other countries may soon find their military and intelligence operations disrupted by lawsuits against their agents.””

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel

From actress to activist, Noa Tishby is Israel’s first special envoy to fight antisemitism,

“In her new role, Tishby, 44, who splits her time between Los Angeles and Israel, plans to use her celebrity status and her large social media presence, as well as her unique voice on the subject, to take on the fight and, she said, work to serve as a bridge between the country of her birth and her new home…As an official envoy — though not an employee of the Israeli government, as the role is unpaid — Tishby said she would work to create alliances with groups who “might not be aware of the rise in antisemitism” and share with them that the increase in antisemitism is bad for an entire society. She also said she would work to raise awareness in international forums such as the United Nations to push more governments and organizations to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism as a legal baseline.” Also see the video announcing the appointment in which Noa Tishby declares “Anti-zionism and antisemitism are one in the same.”


Israel's arms exports hit all-time high, with 7 percent going to Gulf states,

“Israel’s arms exports reached a new high in 2021, according to the country’s defence ministry, with 7 percent purchased by Gulf countries that have signed normalisation deals with Israel. The total arms sales amounted to $11.3 billion, 30 percent higher than the previous year when they stood at $8.55 billion, according to Haaretz. This is the first time the ministry has stated what percentage of Israel’s arms exports went to the Gulf countries. Europe was the largest importer of Israeli arms, purchasing 41 percent of its exports.” See alsoMorocco receives ‘advanced’ missile defence systems from Israel” (The New Arab)

US aims to fold Palestinians into expanded cooperation between Israel, Arab states,

“The Biden administration wants the Palestinian Authority to be included in regional cooperation schemes being developed between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors, Middle Eastern diplomats have told The Times of Israel. The goal has been vocalized by senior US officials publicly since US President Joe Biden took office, but last month’s Negev Summit provided Washington with an opportunity to take practical steps toward that end. Palestinians, however, insist that any effort to integrate them be decoupled from the Abraham Accords, which formed the basis of the agreements.” See alsoIsrael rejects US proposal for meeting with Palestinian national security advisers” (Middle East Eye)

Trump alums cash in on Saudi ties,

Two former top officials in the Trump White House have secured billions of dollars from the Saudi government, in the form of investments in their new private equity funds, the New York Times reports. Driving the news: Jared Kushner’s firm, Affinity Equity, scored a $2 billion commitment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, while former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s Liberty Strategic Capital secured $1 billion. Why it matters: These are massive investments to bestow upon first-time private equity funds.”

Bonus Reads

Why our boycott of Israeli academic institutions will hurt the apartheid regime,

“The Middle East Studies Association (Mesa) voted overwhelmingly in late March to pass a resolution supporting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) targeting apartheid Israel. The resolution passed with 80 percent voting in favour, with 45 percent of the eligible membership participating in the referendum. This is a tremendous victory, one I am proud of as a Mesa member, for the past 19 years.…The members of this association, now more than half a century old, have harnessed years of rigorous scholarship and intellectual output to conclude that solidarity with Palestinians must today deepen and expand…Following the announcement of the successful passing of Mesa’s BDS resolution, its opponents began sending a deluge of emails to the directors of Middle East studies programmes and centres across the United States. The emails demanded these directors protest the resolution by annulling their institutional memberships with Mesa.The top-down campaign seeking to harass and punish is typical of past patterns…The thoughtful and firm non-response to these efforts, and the reaffirmation and commitment to Mesa and its membership, signal a significant change within Middle East studies.”

The Stone House: Generational histories and vivid Palestinian storytelling,

“In The Stone House, [Dr. Yara] Hawari gives us glimpses into some not-so-common Palestinian narratives. This novella by Yara Hawari contains musings from three characters (Mahmoud, Dheeba, and Hamda) from three different generations, thus three distinct experiences of living in Palestine…It says something that the women in this book are described as the ones to fully enforce the al-hakawati [storytelling] tradition to pass down the history of Palestine and its lands to the new generations – while the men struggle through the trauma of the Nakba, mixed with that extra layer of guilt induced by the shackles of patriarchy…As is customary of Palestinian women’s writings, Hawari doesn’t shy away from examining many social ills in the Palestinian society – and rightfully so because multiple wrongs can co-exist, and these ills do not diminish the Palestinian struggle.”

Intifada 1987: The story of a rare Palestinian album,

“When Mo’min Swaitat stumbled upon thousands of cassettes in a dusty music shop in his home town of Jenin, he did not know that the treasure trove would lead him to uncover a significant moment in history. His journey across oceans led him to dig up a rare lost album, Riad Awwad’s Intifada 1987, found 34 years after it was originally recorded. The album’s backstory unfolds in 1987 Palestine amid the First Intifada, mass uprisings by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip aimed at ending Israeli occupation. A week into the Intifada, multi-instrumentalist Awwad gathered his three sisters, Hanan, Alia and Nariman, and their friend, famed poet Mahmoud Darwish, to record an album of 11 songs in their living room in the Old City of Jerusalem.” 

The Mizrahi feminists shaking up Israel’s human rights scene,

“A new movement is bringing a fresh model to the struggle for the rights of Israeli society’s most invisible and marginalized groups. Can it succeed?…“I’m not aiming for the ‘peace camp,’ most of whom come from a very privileged place and from families that are already left-wing,” [Sapir] Sluzker Amran continues. “I’m aiming for the people who know what it feels like to suffer from police brutality, so they won’t be surprised when they see the police killing Iyad al-Hallaq, or when they see how the police act toward the Bedouin in the Negev and at the demonstrations in occupied East Jerusalem every Friday. In Givat Amal and other places, they see the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah and in the Negev, they see the picture of the old woman begging the police or the soldiers to let her stay in her house. “It’s not the same,” Sluzker Amran clarifies, “but people see the similarities; I don’t need to point them out because they’re clear. So this isn’t the reason I’m doing it, but I do see myself fighting the occupation with this work.””