Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: January 13, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Gaza, Apartheid, and Challenging Israeli Impunity,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks with Nuriya Oswald (International Legal and Advocacy Director at Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the Palestinian human rights NGO founded in 1999 and based in the Gaza Strip) and Yael Stein (Director of Research for B’Tselem, Israel’s preeminent human rights organization) about how manifestations of Israel’s apartheid regime with respect to the Gaza Strip, both in general and specifically in the context of the Great March of Return. NOTE: In December 2021, Al Mezan issued a new report, “The Gaza Bantustan: Israeli Apartheid in the Gaza Strip,” and B’Tselem, together with the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, issued a new report, “Unwilling and Unable: Israel’s Whitewashed Investigations of the Great March of Return Protests.”

"We don't have another place to go:" Dispossession, Settler Violence, & Resistance in Masafer Yatta,

In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with activist and author Ali Awad about the threats of dispossession and state-backed settler violence facing Palestinians in the Masafer Yatta area of the South Hebron Hills. Ali’s most recent article, co-authored with Awdah Hathaleen, describes extreme violence against a village elder in a non-violent protest in Masafer Yatta: “Israeli police shattered this Palestinian elder’s bones — and drove away” (+972).

FMEP Weekly 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. To read last week’s reports, click here.

Stand With the 6

Israel’s new secret document still fails to tie Palestinian NGOs to ‘terrorism’,

“After failing to persuade diplomats, Israel last month began circulating a new document authored by the Foreign Ministry — acquired by +972 and Local Call, and revealed here for the first time — with additional information, in a fresh attempt to link the organizations to terrorism. Once again, however, it appears Israel has been unable to substantiate its claims, and European leaders remain unconvinced. Meanwhile, Israel has rejected the six organizations’ request to receive details about the allegations, although it extended the period for submitting an appeal on the decision from Jan. 10 to Jan. 18. The new document — which is designated “secret” despite not featuring any state logo marking it as official, and which was sent in either English or Hebrew to different countries, — does not present any real evidence against the organizations, but rather makes general claims about their alleged support for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is proscribed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, and the EU. It also focuses on personal ties between senior members of the six groups and the PFLP.” See alsoPNGO condemns the Dutch government decision to end funding for UAWC” (Palestinian NGO Network), “Palestinians Summon Dutch Envoy Over Halt in Aid to NGO Blacklisted by Israel” (Haaretz) and “What Donors Should Know Following the Dutch Government’s Decision to Cut Funding for UAWC” (Charity & Security Network)

Human Rights // Apartheid // Dispossession

West Bank: Elderly Palestinian-American dies after violent arrest by Israeli forces,

An elderly Palestinian with US citizenship died of a heart attack on Wednesday morning after he was violently detained by Israeli soldiers during a raid on Jaljulia village, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, his family said. Omar Muhammad Asaad, 80, was driving home after midnight when soldiers stopped him, dragged him out of the car and assaulted him before leaving him lying unconscious on the ground, eyewitnesses told the family.” See also the Washington Post reporting, “Elderly Palestinian American dies after being detained by Israeli soldiers in West Bank,” which states that “U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said U.S. officials had requested “clarification” from Israel of the events surrounding As’ad’s death.”

Israeli forces violently suppress Palestinian protest in Naqab,

“Dozens of Palestinian Bedouins have been wounded in a crackdown by Israeli forces on a protest against continuing Israeli forestation work on land residents say they privately own near the southern city of Beer al-Sabe (Beer Sheva). Some 500 protesters took part in Thursday’s demonstration, which began at 3pm (13:00 GMT). They were met with hundreds of Israeli forces who fired rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, stun grenades, as well as skunk water.…The recent escalation began on Monday, when bulldozers from the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a quasi-governmental agency, arrived with heavy police protection in the nearby village of al-Atrash and razed Bedouin farming lands, in order to plant trees. Israeli officials said the land being planted is state-owned….At least 80 Palestinians have been detained since the protests began, including minors, lawyers told Al Jazeera. The vast majority remain in detention.” See also “Protests erupt over Israeli plan to plant trees near Bedouin villages” (Al Monitor) “For the fourth day in a row, Palestinians in the Naqab demonstrate against Israeli government takeover of their land” (WAFA), “Israeli settlements threaten Negev once again” (Al Monitor), “Hundreds of Bedouins clash with police over controversial Negev tree planting” (Times of Israel), “Why tree planting in the Negev sparked protests, riots and a coalition crisis” (Times of Israel), and “Israel moves to resolve crisis after Bedouins protest” (WaPo)


For photographs, follow +972 photographer Oren Ziv on Twitter. For background on the JNF, see “How colonialism and climate change displace the Negev’s Bedouin” (+972) and this Twitter thread from Akevot: “Current clashes around the Jewish National Fund –#JNF ‘s work in the #Negev cannot be understood outside the historical context of afforestation in Israel and its hidden objective: taking over land. Ever since the country’s inception, afforestation has been used as a way of gaining control of land and securing land reserves for Jewish settlement. A 1987 JNF plan entitled “Afforestation to Preserve State Land” perfectly illustrates this. Read more.”

Between a Rising Tide & Apartheid,

Systems of colonialism & militarism destroy both human rights + the environment. Learn from Palestinians’ experiences living under Israeli apartheid in a part of the world warming faster than the global average”

West Bank: Israeli forces storm Birzeit University, shoot and arrest students,

“A group of undercover Israeli agents, known as Mustarebeen, entered the university’s campus from the northern gate and fired live bullets at the students, Birzeit University said in a statement posted on Facebook. The soldiers opened fire to keep students away as they made their arrests, wounding two people, according to Palestinians news agency Wafa.” See also this statement posted on Twitter by Dr. Hanan Ashrawi: Civil society statement on Bir Zeit University. Hands off our academic institutions & students.

A deadly trash trade is poisoning Palestinians in the West Bank ,

“In the rolling hills west of Hebron, Palestinians live amid clouds of billowing black smoke caused by their neighbors setting fire to discarded waste, almost all of it from Israel, in order to glean the prized copper within. The lucrative industry supports thousands of Palestinians and their families, bringing millions of shekels into the local economy. But Palestinians also pay a high price for the burners’ pollution. Cancer rates in nearby towns are sky-high, with children falling ill with the destructive disease at four times the rate of the rest of the West Bank, according to research by Israeli environmentalist Yaakov Garb….Israel generates about 130,000 tons of electronic scrap per year, according to official estimates. Much of it is smuggled into the West Bank, where it is resold or stripped by Palestinians seeking the valuable raw metals within….Both Israeli and Palestinian law bars the transfer of Israeli waste to the West Bank, but the shipments continue apace. Some Israeli companies and individuals save thousands of shekels, or even turn a profit, by sending their waste to smugglers, who sell it to Palestinian scrapyards….The rampant pollution has left few families unscathed. Researchers have found dangerously high levels of lead in local children, which can cause long-term neurological damage. Other Palestinian residents have suffered sudden, debilitating respiratory diseases after being exposed to burning waste.”

Who Do Israeli Settlement 'Sheriffs' Report To? Even They're Not Sure,

“They walk around armed. They’re trained by the army. They’re allowed to detain Palestinians, and they have the authority to send out emergency response teams. In some sense, they’re the local sheriffs, the highest security authority in and around the settlements. But who has authority over the people responsible for day-to-day security in the West Bank? Not only by Palestinians or leftist activists who find fault in their mode of operation wonder about this question, but also the security coordinators themselves….These coordinators are civilians, usually residents of the settlements where they’re employed. They get these positions after a bidding process. The settlements pay them using Defense Ministry funds….They are also required to undergo periodic training through the army, which also provides the weapons and vehicles. Working in the West Bank, a military ordinance grants them broad authority, including detaining and arresting people, conducting searches and seizing suspicious objects.”

West Bank settlements are annexing land in Israel, too,

“Documents attached to a recent appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court highlight a little known fact: a number of West Bank settlements control vast agricultural lands inside the Green Line, which they received from Israeli authorities as far back as the 1970s….Although this is not a new phenomenon, it is unfamiliar to most Israelis. According to information provided by the Israel Land Authority (ILA) to Dror Etkes, an Israeli activist who monitors settlement construction with his NGO Kerem Navot, seven settlements — Kfar Etzion, Migdal Oz, Rosh Tzurim, Ma’on, Carmel, Beit Yatir, and Mevo Horon — have contracts with the ILA to allow the cultivation of more than 38,000 dunam [9,390 acres] inside the Green Line….Etkes adds, “it is clear that land allocations of this magnitude, especially in the Arad area, are intended to decrease the Bedouin population living in the northeastern Negev, and to create a buffer between this area and the South Hebron Hills, where there is a large Palestinian population.””

The Attorney General supports the eviction of the Sumarin family from Silwan,

“The Attorney General submitted today to the Supreme Court his position on the appeal of the Sumarin family from Silwan, ruling that in his opinion there is no impediment to evicting the family. It will be recalled that the JNF/KKL (The Jewish National Fund) filed the eviction suit (through its subsidiary Heimanuta), but it later turned out that the JNF was working for the Elad settler organization who is behind the lawsuit and is expected to receive the house from the JNF if it is evacuated. In April 2021, the Supreme Court sought the Attorney General’s position on this issue, as it did regarding the eviction claims in Batan Al-Hawa in Silwan. The Supreme Court is expected to decide in the coming days on how to proceed in the case and is likely to set a time for hearing all the sides, including the Attorney General.” See also Fresh Sheikh Jarrah eviction threatens to roil capital anew” (Times of Israel)

Gaza Strip

Israel Holds Up Vital Spare Parts for Gaza's Water and Sewage Systems,

Israel is holding up the entry of hundreds of vital replacement parts for the proper functioning of Gaza’s water and sewage systems. As a result, partially treated wastewater is being released into the sea, water leakage from pipes is even worse than usual, rainwater runoff is causing a danger of flooding. The quality and quantity of drinking water, purified in special facilities, is also being affected, and the same problems keep happening because repairs are being made with makeshift materials.” See also this new report from Gisha, “Red Lines, Gray Lists: Israel’s dual-use policy and the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism.”

Gaza’s race against climate breakdown,

“Ever-worsening shortages of water and electricity. Catastrophic flooding in dense urban areas. Food insecurity exacerbated by drastic temperature increases, reduction in overall rainfall, and the long-term impact of toxic chemicals. This is the bleak near-future that awaits the Gaza Strip, a climate change hotspot within a hotspot that is being denied both its basic humanitarian needs, and the capacity and resources to prepare for and minimize the impacts of climate breakdown. Yet tackling both these issues requires taking steps under nearly two decades of an unrelenting land, air, and sea blockade imposed by both Egypt and Israel — and repeated bombardments by the latter are also exacerbating environmental devastation in the strip, further undermining Gaza’s ability to prepare for the unfolding climate crisis.”

Let’s Talk About How the Media Covers Gaza,

“Our eyes, it seems, turn to the besieged Gaza Strip only in times of incursions and assaults. Our reports focus on exceptional grief. Only extraordinary death makes headlines….And yet, inside this open-air prison, life has many more dimensions than mainstream journalism reveals. …If we measure only by distance, my home in Jerusalem is an hour away from Gaza. But because of the blockade, Gaza appears as though on a faraway planet, foreign even to neighboring Palestinians. The deliberate and systemic isolation of the Strip has translated into a cyclically vapid understanding of its reality, particularly in the media industry. To better understand the situation, I spoke to Al-Jazeera journalist Maram Humaid who recently returned to her home in Gaza after finishing a Master’s in Journalism at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies in Qatar.”

Stories from Gaza Part 1 - Batoul Al-Masri,

“We are happy to present Stories from Gaza, a three-episode long series documenting the oppression and struggles of Palestinians in Gaza, an open-air prison under Israeli siege. In this first episode, we follow along as Batoul Al-Masri, a 15 year old girl from Gaza, tells her heart-wrenching story of family loss and military assaults. She tells us about how she has found an outlet to deal with her trauma and her mental health and finally managing to end many a sleepless nights.”

Palestinian Scene

Starving for freedom: The role of hunger strikes in the Palestinian struggle,

“Abu Hawash’s resistance and perseverance follows a long history of both collective and individual hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners. The longest Palestinian hunger strike took place between August 2012 and April 2013, when Samer Issawi refused food for 266 days before reaching a deal with the Israeli regime…In 2017, thousands of Palestinian political prisoners refused food for weeks on end all at the same time demanding basic rights. In some cases, these mass strikes have resulted in deals being reached to improve detention conditions, such as increasing family visitations and better medical services….Indeed Hisham Abu Hawash, and thousands before him, have embarked on this practice as one of the only tools at their disposal to reclaim power and resist the Israeli regime.”

‘A journey through the past’: lost music of the Palestinian uprising is restored,

“As Covid-19 swept across the world in the spring of 2020, Mo’min Swaitat, a Palestinian actor and filmmaker living in London, found himself stranded in his hometown, the West Bank city of Jenin. On walks through the quiet streets, he was drawn to the shuttered Tariq Cassettes, a music shop and record label he remembered from childhood that had closed down years ago. Intrigued, Swaitat got in touch with the former owner, who let him while away the days of the pandemic searching through the dusty archive of tape cassettes on the second floor. In the process, he uncovered a treasure trove: long-forgotten music that animated Palestinian life during the 1980s, when the first intifada (uprising) broke out….On his return to London, Swaitat received funding from Jerwood Arts to start the Majazz Project, an online platform dedicated to restoring Palestinian musical heritage. The digital release of Awwad’s Intifada Album was launched through the Majazz Project label at the end of 2021. The vinyl version, scheduled for launch in April, has already sold half of its run.”

Veteran Palestinian ambassador to Iran is replaced with his daughter,

“A Palestinian diplomat who was the country’s ambassador to Iran for 40 years has been replaced – with his daughter. The appointment of Salam Zawawi by President Mahmoud Abbas drew sarcastic comments and accusations of nepotism from many Palestinians. She replaces Salah Zawawi, who was appointed as Palestine’s envoy to Tehran in 1981.”

Global // Protest // Culture

Hollywood stars back Emma Watson after Palestinian solidarity post,

“In a letter organised by Artists for Palestine UK, a cultural network “standing together for Palestinian rights”, more than 40 named people, including Gael García Bernal, Jim Jarmusch, Maxine Peake, Viggo Mortensen and Steve Coogan, said: “We join Emma Watson in support of the simple statement that ‘solidarity is a verb’, including meaningful solidarity with Palestinians struggling for their human rights under international law.”” See also:Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, and Gael García Bernal among those supporting Emma Watson’s Palestine solidarity post” (Artists for Palestine) and “Miriam Margolyes Stands Up for Emma Watson as Support for Palestine Grows Among Harry Potter Cast” (Palestine Deep Dive)

Victory in Oldham: Elbit forced to sell Ferranti after sustained direct action campaign,

“After 18 months of sustained direct action taken at the Elbit Ferranti site in Oldham, Greater Manchester, with 36 people arrested, Elbit have now sold Ferranti technologies, with its continued operation in Oldham appearing unfeasible. Activists have occupied, blockaded, smashed, disrupted, and protested regularly at the site, ultimately succeeding in ending the factory’s production of specialist military technologies for Israel’s fleet of combat drones.”

U.S. Scene

Anti-terrorism law targeting PLO is unconstitutional, N.Y. judge rules,

“U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan dismissed an Anti-Terrorism Act lawsuit brought against the PLO and the Palestinian Authority by family members of Ari Fuld, an American stabbed to death in 2018 outside a shopping mall in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. The judge described the stabbing as brutal and horrific, highlighting the plaintiffs’ allegation that the killer attacked Fuld because he was a Jewish American. The Fuld family’s campaign for justice, Furman said, was “morally compelling.” The judge nevertheless concluded that he could not exercise jurisdiction over the case, despite a 2019 law intended to establish victims’ right to sue the groups in U.S. courts….Furman balked at the law’s intention, concluding that “Congress should not be permitted to circumvent fundamental constitutional rights through such sleight of hand.””

In Israel, some Americans are more equal than others,

“Last week, The Jerusalem Post ran a story under the headline “Palestinian Americans to be allowed to land at Ben Gurion Airport”. Israeli officials are now saying that instead of only permitting Palestinian Americans to cross over the Allenby Bridge from Jordan, they will allow them to fly into Israel’s airport and proceed from there to the West Bank. Israel is offering to make this change to gain entry into the US’s Visa Waiver Programme. If Israel were to gain admittance, its citizens would be able to travel to the US without first securing a visa. It is a privileged recognition that Israel has sought since the VWP was first created. One key reason why this has never happened, despite continued pressure from Israel’s supporters in Washington, is because for any country to join the programme, it must guarantee reciprocity – that is, it must ensure that it will treat all visiting Americans without discrimination and the US must agree to do the same with regard to its citizens. The problem is that over several decades, clear evidence exists that Israel has engaged in disgraceful, degrading and discriminatory treatment of American citizens of Arab descent who travel to the country. It appears that The Jerusalem Post story is Israel’s effort to signal to Washington that it is now ready to meet at least some of the US requirements. But this Israeli move seems both suspicious and wholly inadequate….In the end, this isn’t just about visa waivers; it’s also about the American government not taking seriously its obligation to protect the rights of its own citizens.”

Jewish charities among top funders of Islamophobia, says report by Muslim civil rights group,

“Charitable foundations with ties to Jewish federations and Jewish families feature prominently in a new report about the flow of tax-deductible donations to organizations that a leading Muslim civil rights lobby has identified as “anti-Muslim groups.”…Titled “Islamophobia in the Mainstream,” the report was published Tuesday by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group and political lobby that is harshly critical of Israel….the Adelson Family Foundation, established by the late casino magnate and Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, made the list along with the Irving I Moskowitz Foundation, the Helen Diller Family Foundation and other entities with a focus on the U.S. Jewish community and Israel.”

From Iron Dome to supply chains, US Christian group quietly shaping US-Israel ties,

“…a small, proudly faith-based organization headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, is increasingly influencing issues at the core of the US-Israel relationship. Over the last decade, the United States-Israel Education Association has brought senior congressional leaders to Israeli settlements deep in the West Bank, and has worked with the same lawmakers to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in US funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system and develop ties between Israeli and Palestinian business communities….With its partners on Capitol Hill, USIEA is now setting its sights even higher, as it develops a strategic project that aims to position the Abraham Accords nations as an alternative to China for the US life sciences and pharmaceutical supply chain.”


Citizen Lab vs. NSO: The Small Canadian Institute Taking Down Israel's 'Mercenary Spyware' Firms,

“For years Israeli cyber companies supplied spyware that serves dictators and myriad corrupt entities around the globe. But by carefully ‘watching the watchers,’ a small research institute based at a Canadian university has put the brakes on their activities – at least for now.” See also “NSO Group Spyware Targeted Dozens of Reporters in El Salvador” (Wired)

For Israeli high-tech, 2021 was a ‘bumper’ year, says head of Innovation Authority ,

“During 2021, Israeli companies raised more than $22 billion in capital; exits, mergers and acquisitions, and initial public offerings totaled $80 billion; the accumulated market capital of Israeli companies trading on Wall Street was $300 billion; and there was a record 79 unicorns, companies valued at $1 billion and up. In addition, the IIA noted that Israel’s high-tech sector now accounts for some 50% of Israel’s total exports and for 15% of the country’s GDP. Ten percent of Israelis work in high-tech, paying some 25% of the country’s total income tax.”

Analysis / Long Reads

Haifa’s lost Palestinian bourgeoisie,

“The forgotten story of the Boutagy family, one of the few middle class Palestinian families that remained in the land after 1948, allows us to comprehend how this group thrived in the city of Hayfa during the British Mandate…This prosperity was made possible also by the ability of its members to maneuver between contradictions at a time rife with political, social, and economic changes. The story of the Boutagy family following the Nakba, during which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homeland and were forcibly prevented from returning, is the exception that proves the rule. The efforts the family made to remain, and the reasons it eventually left Haifa a few years later, illustrate the stark new reality in which the Palestinians found themselves inside the newly-established State of Israel.”

The International Community and Israel: Giving Permission to a Permanent Occupation,

“The actions of the Israeli leadership are entirely rational: an acquisitive regional power which wishes to permanently annex occupied territory and maintain the statelessness of five million subjects knows that it has to maneuver carefully in a post-colonial world. It has no desire, and no incentive, to reach a different reality. Rather, it is the actions of the leading international actors – principally the United States and Europe – that badly fail the rationality test. This occupation – which, according to two former Israeli ambassadors to South Africa, has become indistinguishable from apartheid – could not have lasted for the past 54 years, all of it in the global spotlight, without the malign neglect of these leading actors. At the end of the day, the problem is not ignorance or lack of evidence – this is, after all, by far the best-documented conflict in the modern world – but the remarkable unwillingness of the international community to act upon its own comprehensive rules-based framework for peace and self-determination by imposing accountability on the offending party.” See also “How Israel is burying the last prospects for a Palestinian state” (The New Arab) 

Opinion: Israel must choose: Withdraw from the occupied territories or grant Palestinians under its control full rights,

“This continues the de facto annexation of previous governments — and arguably takes it slightly up a notch by creating the appearance of de jure annexation. It’s not merely continued land expropriation (while evading the legal ramifications) but a posturing that expects the rest of the world to accept occupied territory as if it were Israel. It is part of why Israeli human rights group B’Tselem followed Palestinian counterparts by declaring a year ago that Israel is an apartheid regime….The normalization of Israeli settlements and erasure of the Green Line is not new. It has been taking place steadily since Israel began sending citizens over the line after the 1967 war. But this new coalition pursues this agenda while presenting itself as somehow friendlier and more palatable, which it gets away with largely due to international inaction.”

A Logic of Elimination,

“There are few terms in the discourse on Israel/Palestine more contentious than settler colonialism. Faithfully describing the experience of violent dispossession endured by Palestinians before, during, and after the Nakba in 1948—when Zionist forces expelled an estimated 700,000 Palestinians from their homes—stokes the anxiety many Zionists feel about the legitimacy of the State of Israel. For decades, pro-Israel activists have attempted to refute this account by asserting that Israel cannot be the result of a colonial project because the early Zionists lacked a “mother country.” A younger generation of Zionist activists has gone even further, insisting that Jews are indigenous to Israel and therefore Zionism is, in fact, a decolonial movement aimed at “reclaiming” the land for its natives. Although this contention is clearly belied by ongoing displacement, land expropriation, and settlement construction, the fact that the term settler colonialism remains front and center in the conversation underscores the framework’s traction. To better understand the settler colonial paradigm—and how it relates to the Zionist project—I reached out to Lorenzo Veracini, an associate professor of history and politics at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne….I spoke with Veracini about the characteristics of settler colonialism, Zionism, and what it means to imagine decolonial futures.” See also this conversation hosted by Peter Beinart, “Is Israel a ‘Settler-Colonial’ State? A debate between Alan Johnson and Leila Farsakh