Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: December 9, 2021

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Israeli Government Escalates Pressure on Israelis Who Stand in Solidarity with Palestinians,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” Lara Friedman interviews Oriel Eisner and Maya Eshel, two activists who were detained by the Israeli police last week in separate but connected incidents. Their arrests are another piece in the puzzle of Palestinian dispossession and state-backed settler violence.

Texas & the Constitutional Right to Boycott,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” Peter Beinart interviews Texas speech pathologist Bahia Amawi and CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas about the fight for the right to boycott Israel in Texas. After she lost her school contract for refusing to sign an agreement promising not to boycott Israel, Bahia sued the state of Texas – and won. In response, the Texas government amended their anti-BDS law. A few weeks ago, CAIR – the Council on American Islamic Relations – filed a lawsuit challenging the new amended Texas law.

Occupation / Human Rights / Apartheid

Israeli Demolition Orders for Palestinians in West Bank's Area C Hit Five-year Record,

in the West Bank’s Area C, marking a five-year record, a freedom of information request filed by rights group Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights revealed….According to the data, between 2016 and 2020, Palestinians submitted 2,550 requests for construction permits, but only 24 of them were granted – a mere 0.9 percent. From 2019-2020 the rate of approved requests was even lower, at 0.65 percent. At the same time, between 2016 and 2020, construction permits were issued for 8,356 settlement housing units in the West Bank – 384 times the number of permits given to Palestinians in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control. Last month the Civil Administration approved measures to advance the construction of 1,303 homes in Palestinian villages in Area C….Last October, the Settlement Affairs Ministry transferred 20 million shekels to 14 settlement authorities in order to buy drones and staff patrolmen to help councils monitor Palestinian illegal construction…In addition, during 2020, the Civil Administration launched a hotline for settlers to report illegal construction in Area C.”

Violent Settlement: The Connection between Illegal Outposts and Settler Violence ,

“The phenomenon of violent assaults by settlers against Palestinians and their property has been on the rise in recent years….A map of the points of violence indicates a direct relationship between the erection and expansion of illegal outposts and violent acts by settlers…These outposts, partly populated by extremist settlers, are characterized by a constant effort to expand, develop, and take over more and more land. To achieve these goals they frequently use violence to intimidate the Palestinians and evict them from their land.” Also see this new report from B’Tselem: “State Business: Israel’s misappropriation of land in the West Bank through settler violence.” 

Why US lawmakers should witness the Israeli occupation firsthand,

“At this present moment, the main factor protecting Susiya from erasure is international political pressure. When my grandfather was expelled from our ancestral village of Qaryatayn during the Nakba in 1948, and when my father was expelled from Susiya in 1986, there was no one listening when they told their stories. I, like many other Palestinians today, now have a voice with an audience to hear me. I will not let Israel turn my children into refugees in their own land.”

Report: Surge in solitary confinement cases,

“Historically, less than 4 percent of Palestinian child detainees have reported being held in solitary confinement as part of their interrogation process – or 20 to 40 children each year. A new report published today suggests that the proportion of children currently held in solitary confinement has surged to nearly 20 percent – with the trend continuing to rise. This surge equates to between 100 to 200 children each year. The report reviews 45 testimonies from children held in solitary confinement between January 2019 and May 2021.” For the full report, go here.

The Temple Mount movement is soaring under Israel’s new government,

“According to statistics published by Yaraeh, an Israeli organization that promotes Jewish entry to and prayer on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, around 10,000 Jews have entered the compound over the past three months — a 35 percent increase compared to previous years.”

Classified Docs Reveal Massacres of Palestinians in '48 – and What Israeli Leaders Knew,

“Testimonies continue to pile up, documents are revealed, and gradually a broader picture emerges of the acts of murder committed by Israeli troops during the War of Independence. Minutes recorded during cabinet meetings in 1948 leave no room for doubt: Israel’s leaders knew in real time about the blood-drenched events that accompanied the conquest of the Arab villages.”

Jerusalem / Al Quds

Palestinians, rights group condemn Jerusalem ‘execution’,

“Palestinian officials and human rights groups have condemned the killing of a Palestinian man after he carried out a stabbing attack in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli police have released surveillance video from the site of the attack near Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday. In the footage, the Palestinian, identified as 25-year-old Mohammad Salima, appears to stab an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man and then approaches an Israeli police officer before being shot and falling to the ground. Other footage shot by bystanders appeared to show Israeli police officers continuing to shoot Salima from point-blank range while he was lying on the ground and not appearing to pose a threat…The United Nation’s Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said it was “shocked by the apparent extra-judicial execution”.” See also “Israel slammed by rights group after closing probe into shooting of Palestinian attacker already on ground” (The New Arab) and “Police officers cleared in deadly shooting of Palestinian stabber” (Times of Israel)

Israel to halt settlement building at old Jerusalem airport under US pressure,

“Israel announced last month that the settlement of Atarot was to be built on the site of an abandoned international airport created during the British Mandate, near the Palestinian town of Qalandia. However, the proposal to approve the building of 9,000 housing units for settlers from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community has been paused, Hebrew media reported on Monday. The decision stirred criticism within Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s government. It came after a telephone call between the Israeli premier and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken last week, in which Blinken objected to the settlement plan in Atarot….But just as Israel announced the halting of Atarot, it revealed a new settlement expansion plan in East Jerusalem, to build hundreds of housing units for settlers in Givat Shaked near Beit Safafa, a Palestinian area between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.” See also “Israel advances East Jerusalem project 25 years after promising Clinton to trash it” (Times of Israel) and  listen to this recent conversation between Terrestrial Jerusalem’s Danny Seidemann and FMEP’s Kristin McCarthy, “Scorched Earth & Settlements in Jerusalem” (FMEP)

Analysis | Israelis Should Wonder Why a 14-year-old Palestinian Stabs Her Jewish Neighbor With a Kitchen Knife,

“Her grandfather was born in Haifa, but fled the northern city with his family during the Nakba in 1948….The teen’s grandfather was the first person in the neighborhood told to evacuate his home for the Jews. That was in 1974, 33 years before the suspect was born. When she was two years old, settlers managed to evict three families from the neighboring houses. She has lived all of her life with the dark cloud of potential eviction hovering over her head, coupled with the need to raise funds for legal battles, and dealing with violence on the streets, as well as constant demonstrations and counter-demonstrations….In May, as part of a school activity, the teen painted a small Palestinian flag on her cheek. When she returned to her neighborhood the police officers there refused to let her pass to get to her house.” See also “After stabbing, Jewish nationalists march through tense Sheikh Jarrah” (Times of Israel) and “Israel scrambles to deal with spike in violence in Jerusalem” (Al Monitor)

The Gaza Strip

Israel completes ‘iron wall’ underground Gaza barrier,

Israel has announced the completion of a sensor-equipped underground wall on its side of Gaza, a countermeasure developed after Hamas used tunnels to repel its troops during a 2014 invasion of the besieged Palestinian territory….The ministry said the barrier, which includes hundreds of cameras, radar and other sensors, spans 65km (40 miles) and 140,000 tonnes of iron and steel were used in its construction, which took three-and-a-half years to complete. It said the project’s “smart fence” is more than 6 metres (20 feet) high and its maritime barrier includes means to detect infiltration by sea and a remote-controlled weapons system. The ministry did not disclose the depth of the underground wall.” See also:Opinion | Two Million People Are Imprisoned for 15 Years. The New Barrier Will Remain There Forever” (Haaretz) and this Twitter thread from Jehad Abusalim in which he comments on the wall & map of Gaza: ”70% of Gaza’s current population comes from lands east and north of the fence…This map sums up the equation created by the 1948 Nakba that others must languish in pain for a group to live and thrive. For Israel to maintain its majority, Palestinians must remain trapped as refugees beyond walls and fences, even if their lands were within walking distance.”

Gaza: Report reveals civilian cost of Israeli bombing in heavily populated areas,

“New research on Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in May 2021 has revealed the cost of using highly explosive weapons on heavily populated areas, with UK-based monitor Airwars showing exactly where and how almost 200 Palestinian civilians were killed.” For the full Airwars report, go here. 

Lawfare // Weaponization of Accusations of Antisemitism

Conservatives Have a New Bogeyman: Critical Energy Theory: Inside ALEC’s new campaign to push anti-climate legislation across the country,

“The group’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force, which met on Friday, voted to back two pieces of model legislation that portray climate policy—even climate policy that doesn’t exist yet—as unfairly discriminating against fossil fuel companies….The legislation is modeled explicitly on “anti-BDS” bills written to counter the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions call from Palestinian civil society groups for economic actions against firms complicit in the Israeli occupation there. But such measures have proven controversial, and in some cases unconstitutional. Arkansas’s version was struck down by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as a violation of the First Amendment. To counter such claims, Isaac—and those presenting the legislation, according to an attendee who spoke with The New Republic—assured lawmakers that the model bill is in fact constitutional and intended to allow each state to “protect its economic interest,” not breach fiduciary responsibility for ideological reasons.” See also this Twitter thread from Lara Friedman: “People are suddenly paying attention to laws in states quashing free speech critical of Israel. What most people don’t know is that these laws are being used as a template for legislation quashing free speech on other topics.”

‘I thought I was a free man’: the engineer fighting Texas’s ban on boycotting Israel,

“Hassouna has consulted the city [of Houston] on soil volatility in the nearby Gulf of Mexico – a much needed service to evaluate the structural stability of houses and other buildings. He was gearing up to renew his government contract when a particular legal clause caught his eye: a provision that effectively banned his company, A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting against the nation of Israel or its products so long as his company was a partner with the city of Houston….[Hassouna] took action, launching a case that is challenging the Texas law and – by example – similar provisions that have spread all over the US that seek to stop government contractors from boycotting Israel and can be found in more than 25 US states. Along with the Arkansas Times newspaper, A&R Engineering and Testing Inc is now one of only two companies fighting this kind of law in the nation. Hassouna’s case – which was filed on his behalf by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) – will be heard in federal court on Tuesday and is based on the idea that such laws violate free speech. If ruled unconstitutional, the 2019 ban on boycotting Israel will be illegal in the state of Texas.”

Rejections of the IHRA in Canada this week ,

Canada: academics vote to reject IHRA definition of anti-Semitism (Middle East Monitor): ““A major Canadian academic association representing more than 70,000 academic faculty and staff around the country has rejected the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in an effort to protect academic freedom.”


And the University of Toronto, explained in this Twitter thread from Independent Jewish Voices, Canada: “Major win at @UofT! Yesterday #UofT accepted all the recommendations of an internal antisemitism report, one of which included rejecting the dangerous IHRA definition, and instead embracing academic freedom on Israel-Palestine.” See also “U of T accepts all recommendations of Anti-Semitism Working Group” (University of Toronto)

U.S. Policy

New bill countering Palestinian ‘martyr payments’ targets foreign banks,

“A new bill introduced by Senate Republicans on Monday takes aim at foreign banks involved with the Palestinian Authority’s “martyr payments” to the families of individuals who carry out attacks against Israelis. The “Taylor Force Martyr Payment Prevention Act of 2021” was introduced by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Steve Daines (R-MT)…The bill would allow the Treasury Department to designate banks that “facilitate or promote” payments to the families of terrorists or “knowingly provide, or cause other financial institutions to provide” financial services to Hamas as money-laundering concerns. That designation would restrict those banks’ ability to do business in the U.S. or with U.S. dollars.”

Top Israeli military officials say Trump’s Iran deal exit was a ‘mistake,’ bad for Israel,

“Earlier this week, an interview in the Israeli press appeared with Danny Cintrinowicz, who headed the Iran branch of the Israeli Military Intelligence’s Research and Analysis Division from 2013 to 2016. This was the period during which the moderate Hassan Rouhani took over the Iranian presidency from the conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and spearheaded Iran’s effort to engage the West. Cintrinowicz called Israel’s policy on Iran a “failure,” explaining that “[Israel] pushed the US side to leave the agreement when there are no other options.”…Cintrinowicz was not alone in bemoaning Trump’s arbitrary and dangerous decision to abandon the JCPOA. Other Israeli leaders, and prominent pro-Israel Americans, also voiced their consternation. See also: Israel opposed the Iran nuclear deal, but former Israeli officials increasingly say U.S. pullout was a mistake (Washington Post)

On Israeli Tech

Analysis | ‘Trust the Dictator’: Israel’s New Method of 'Supervising' Cyber Arms Exports,

“All over the world, people have suffered human rights violations due to Israeli defense exports, particularly the NSO phone-hacking software Pegasus. These exports were carried out with a license from the Foreign and Defense Ministries. At any moment, these victims are likely to begin public, legal proceedings against the State of Israel or an Israeli company. Even if the complainants have never taken an interest in the occupation or criticized Israel over the violation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, they are certainly interested in violations of their own rights….The ministries’ latest spin: Countries that purchase surveillance systems from Israel will now be asked to sign a declaration. If this is the best they can come up with – after months of work by ministry officials and their armies of legal advisors, and after grand promises to the U.S. and French President Emmanuel Macron that Israel has learned its lesson – there’s nothing to do but tear our hair out and be embarrassed for those officials who seem to have lost all shame.” See alsoIsraeli spyware was used against US diplomats in Uganda” (Vox)