Top News & Analysis from Israel & Palestine: September 16-30, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Beyond the Clickbait, Israel’s New (and Old) Visa Procedures Reveal a Cruel Reality for Palestinians,

In this episode of FMEP’s Occupied Thoughts podcast, Jessica Montell, Executive Director of the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, joins FMEP’s Lara Friedman to discuss the latest version of Israel’s new  procedures — published, updated, and due to be implemented on October 20, 2022 — governing all entry of foreigners solely to the West Bank. As Hamoked has noted in its September 14, 2022 analysis of the new regulations, this new version includes a few substantive changes, but “most of the flaws remain and some even exacerbated.” Hamoked further notes: “the new procedure is highly restrictive and needlessly hampers the entry of foreign passport holders to the oPt and their ability to stay there without interruption….All this, without any legal basis or reasonable grounds, and contrary to Israel’s obligation to act for the benefit of the protected population living under occupation.”

Palestinian Political Prisoners and Israel’s Carceral Regime,

In this episode of “Occupied Thoughts,” FMEP’s non-resident fellow Dr. Maha Nassar is joined by Dr. Basil Farraj to discuss Palestinian political prisoners, which is a central issue for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Their discussion examines on how Israel’s “carceral regime” is a key component of Israel’s occupation, how arbitrary “administrative detention” is a key tool within that regime, how military courts system functions, and the effects all of this has on Palestinians and their struggle for liberation.

Ethnic Cleansing in Masafer Yatta

‘Every day is worse than the one before’: a Palestinian community fights for survival,

“Since the legal limbo ended in May, the situation has changed quickly for the worse. Demolitions have accelerated, with all 80 people living in Khallet Athaba’ expected to lose their homes when bulldozers arrive on Thursday. The army is also carrying out more live fire training, sometimes damaging Palestinian buildings or leaving behind casings and debris residents fear could be unexploded ordnance. Shepherds say they are regularly told to leave grazing land, which is then taken over by settlers. Water and animal feed deliveries, as well as visitors from charities and activists who used to help deter settler violence, have been stopped at the firing zone’s perimeter and turned around for lack of travel permits. New checkpoints have completely isolated villages such as Jimba, making it difficult for residents to leave: the Palestinians are held up and questioned by soldiers sometimes for hours at a time, and around 60 unlicensed cars have been confiscated…The feeling, as the Abu Aram family put it, is a sense of being pursued at all times.” See also this new essay from Basil Adara, Water in Masafer Yatta (Humans of Masafer Yatta)

Palestinians in West Bank’s Masafer Yatta decry settler attacks,

“Aisha al-Huraini has not had a full night of sleep for more than a week. “Every day, the [Israeli] soldiers are raiding the village,” she says…According to the Huraini family, al-Tuwani has seen a noticeable uptick in Israeli raids and settler attacks since a May 4 Israeli High Court decision to reject a petition from families in Masafer Yatta who are among 1,300 Palestinians living in an area designated as a “firing zone” by the Israeli army since the 1980s. Al-Tuwani village lies adjacent to this zone. The Huraini family has been active in the movement to prevent the forced removal of communities within the firing zone, which are facing imminent expulsions. Daily raids and periodic demolition campaigns have defined life for these communities since the May decision, which UN experts say could amount to a possible war crime. “Once they finish evicting everyone from the firing zone, they will come for us too,” Rabia says. “No Palestinian is safe here.”” See also Israeli settlers attacked my father on our land. The settlers are free, while my father sits in prison. (Mohammed Huraini, Mondoweiss); Israeli settlers attacked a Palestinian man, breaking both his arms. Then the army arrested him. (Mondoweiss); Armed settlers assaulted a Palestinian man. Guess who’s in jail? (Oren Ziv//+972); How Israeli media reported a ‘lynching’ that never happened (Basil Adara and Yuval Abraham//+972)

Israel's Escalating Assault on Palestinian Civil Society

We Document Human Rights Violations. Israel Wants to Silence Us.,

“Israel has refused to provide us with any evidence to support its claim from October that Al-Haq and the other organizations are front groups for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In August, The Guardian reported that a classified C.I.A. report that reviewed the evidence supplied by Israel earlier this year had found nothing to validate it. Israel’s persecution of our organizations has been roundly criticized. Israel clearly aims to discredit and defund Palestinian civil society organizations, especially those that monitor Israel’s abuses of our rights and call for justice…My main concern, however, is not for myself or Al-Haq. It’s about the wider implications the raid has for Palestinian civil society. The organizations targeted by Israel provide vital social services and support to a Palestinian population devastated by more than half a century of brutal Israeli military occupation and colonization by Israeli settlers. Over the past year and a half, leading international and Israeli human rights organizations have joined Palestinians in concluding that the oppressive system Israel has imposed on us amounts to apartheid. Perhaps this is why Israel has intensified its efforts to suppress our work…Washington and European nations must show that they are serious about supporting human rights and democracy in the Palestinian territories and Israel. Our organizations must be allowed to do their crucial work. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before Israel intensifies its repression and finally succeeds in silencing us.” See also FMEP’s resources on Israel’s designation of Palestinian civil society groups as “terrorist organizations”

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Young Palestinians arm themselves for a new era of violent resistance,

“Expectations of the passing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — the deeply unpopular, heavy-smoking 86-year-old autocrat who is believed to be in ill health — have already sparked a bloodier social order in this occupied city. In Abbas’s wake, “there will be fauda” — “chaos” in Arabic — said Mohammad Sabbagh, head of the People’s Services Committee of the Jenin refugee camp…Thousands of young people in Jenin are on Israel’s terrorism watch list, making them ineligible for work permits in Israel that would allow them to make a living. And they have watched as Israeli raids have killed dozens of noncombatants in recent months, already making 2022 the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2015. Poverty and fury have made the camp a hotbed of militancy…The new generation, Sabbagh said as he paused to shake hands with camp residents, is trying to ensure that the despised national government is replaced by local militias, which will measure their legitimacy in guns rather than ballots…Fifty-six percent of Palestinians support armed attacks against Israelis, and the same proportion expect Jenin’s armed resistance to spread throughout the West Bank, according to a June poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.” See also Israeli forces kill four Palestinians, wound dozens in Jenin raid (Al Jazeera); Killing of Young Gunman Highlights Shifts in Fast-Changing West Bank (NYT); ‘It’s going to explode’: young Palestinians look to the gun amid Israeli offensive (Guardian); Mountain of Fire: How Nablus became the heart of the Palestinian struggle (The New Arab); Palestinian experts fear increased violence may lead to new war with Israel (Middle East Eye); Seven-year-old Palestinian boy dies after Israeli army chase (Middle East Eye)

Israel sets up AI-controlled machine gun in occupied Hebron,

“The Israeli occupation forces have installed a new AI-controlled machine gun at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron to track and shoot at Palestinians. Manufactured by Israeli company Smart Shooter, the gun fires stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets, and is also capable of firing tear gas. It is being tested as part of a pilot scheme at Al-Shuhada Street checkpoint.” See also Israeli Army Installs Remote-control Crowd Dispersal System at Hebron Flashpoint (Haaretz)

The Challenges of Fighting for Palestinian Prisoners' Freedom,

“Milena, the international advocacy coordinator for Addameer, joins host Yara Hawari to discuss the ways in which Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees are fighting for their freedom. She also explores the challenges facing her organization’s work in light of the escalating Israeli criminalization of Palestinian civil society.” See also Thirty Palestinian prisoners held in Israel launch hunger strike (Al Jazeera); Jewish Currents’ 9/20/22 update on human rights attorney Salah Hammouri’s administrative detention by Israel and Human rights lawyer in Israeli prison goes on hunger strike (Guardian, about Salah Hammouri)

Why Israel’s plan of subcontracting the occupation is failing,

“In recent months, a number of Palestinian factions have mobilized in unified opposition to PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his efforts to alter decision-making processes within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and to place his righthand man, Hussein al-Sheikh, in a position to succeed him as head of the PLO. Both moves follow several other unilateral and divisive steps taken by Abbas and his inner circle in their effort to monopolize power, including the decision last year to cancel long-delayed legislative and presidential elections…At the center of the PA’s troubles is its disintegrating legitimacy among its own public. The PLO entered the process with the understanding that the PA would eventually transition into an independent State of Palestine. But as that goal has become increasingly remote, the PA has lost its raison d’être and gradually solidified into an organ of Israel’s permanent control apparatus. Even so, Abbas has shown no sign of altering the PLO’s strategy or goal of statehood, creating a widening rift with a Palestinian public that no longer sees this roadmap as viable. At the same time, major Palestinian political institutions have become increasingly authoritarian, corrupt, and repressive under Abbas’s stewardship.” See also this +972 interview with the Palestinian Governor of Jenin, Akram Rajub, ‘We built the Palestinian Authority with blood. We won’t give up on it’. 

Lina Abu Akleh: 2022 Time 100,

“After her aunt was killed while reporting in the occupied West Bank, Lina Abu Akleh became the face of an international campaign to demand accountability from Israel. Her aunt, Shireen Abu Akleh—a renowned Palestinian American correspondent for Al Jazeera—died while covering an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin on May 11. Initially, Israeli authorities claimed that Palestinian gunmen were responsible, sparking an international outcry. In the months since, Lina has given dozens of interviews, met with U.S. lawmakers to call for an FBI investigation, and most recently submitted a complaint to the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Israel has since admitted that there is a “high possibility” that Shireen was shot by an Israeli soldier in error but maintained it was not intentional. Lina’s efforts extended the work of her aunt (posthumously granted the prestigious 2022 President’s Award from the National Press Club) by publicly demanding scrutiny of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.”

Shaked Orders Family of Palestinian Who Killed Soldiers to Leave Israel After Court Ruling,

“Israel’s Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked informed seven relatives of Fadi al-Qanbar—who killed four soldiers in 2017—that they must leave the country within the coming week after the government revoked the residency status of 17 family members. Shaked told Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev to prepare for a forced expulsion of the relatives should they not depart on their own accord by next Thursday.”

Gaza Strip

In Their Words: Mental Health Professionals in Gaza on Treating the Effects of Closure,

“In late 2021, Gisha and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP) convened a group of mental health professionals and representatives of organizations working in the field in the Strip. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the effects of Israel’s closure on mental health, as well as the challenges therapists and care specialists face as residents living under closure in Gaza themselves. What follows is a summary of the observations made by participants in the discussion.”

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel

Outside audit says Facebook restricted Palestinian posts during Gaza war,

“An independent audit of Meta’s handling of online content during the two-week war between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas last year found that the social media giant had denied Palestinian users their freedom of expression by erroneously removing their content and punishing Arabic-speaking users more heavily than Hebrew-speaking ones. The report by the consultancy Business for Social Responsibility, is yet another indictment of the company’s ability to police its global public square and to balance freedom of expression against the potential for harm in a tense international context. It also represents one of the first insider accounts of the failures of a social platform during wartime. And it bolsters complaints from Palestinian activists that online censorship fell more heavily on them, as reported by The Washington Post and other outlets at the time.” See also Facebook Report Concludes Company Censorship Violated Palestinian Human Rights (The Intercept) and Statement Regarding BSR’s HRA for Meta on Palestine & Israel (Human Rights Watch) to Add 'Safety and Human Rights Warning' to West Bank Settlements,

“The online travel reservation service is planning on adding a warning to all properties in the West Bank owned by Israelis within a few days, stating that “visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights, or other risks to the local community and visitors.” According to a report by “Hatzinor” television program, the English version of the warning will also include the word “occupied”, and the company is also contemplating making the same changes for properties in East Jerusalem.” See also Israel vows ‘diplomatic war’ over plan to add safety warnings to West Bank listings (JTA)

What Antisemitism Is, What It Is Not, and Why It Matters,

“Many Jewish organizations speak about criticism of Israel or Zionism as antisemitic, but that is a misuse and, in fact, an abuse of what antisemitism is. Antisemitism is directed at Jews as Jews. Criticism of Israel or Zionism is directed at a nation-state. There is nothing discriminatory or antisemitic about challenging any or all policies of a nation-state, including the Jewish state. There are critiques of Israel and Zionism that grow out of a deep commitment to human rights. This commitment is not about being against anyone, but, rather, it’s about the unwavering support of equal rights for all.”

Palestinian Scene

The Case for Palestinian Nationality,

“Exiled Palestinians’ right to Palestinian nationality is protected under international law, irrespective of racist Israeli apartheid policies. How can Palestinians and their leadership in the diaspora activate this right through different legal and political channels? Al-Shabaka’s Commissioning Editor Nadim Bawalsa offers recommendations for how to secure exiled Palestinians their rights to and in Palestine, from wherever they may be.”

No place like home: my bitter return to Palestine,

“All my life, my exiled parents had told me about the tragedy of Palestine. Then, when I was in my early 20s, my family moved back – and I saw it with my own eyes”

Hamas normalizes ties with Syria under Iranian mediation,

“Hamas officially announced the resumption of diplomatic relations with the Syrian government after a decadelong hiatus caused by the Islamist movement’s support for the 2011 Syrian revolution…A prominent Hamas leader, who asked not to be named, told Al-Monitor that the resumption of relations with Syria “will be followed by the reopening of the movement’s offices in Damascus in the near future.” He made it clear that the Hamas office in Damascus would not be a substitute for the movement’s main political office in the Qatari capital of Doha, but rather a branch of the movement’s offices located in several countries such as Turkey, Algeria and Beirut.”

Israeli Elections

Israel Election: Arab Balad Party Nixed From Knesset Run, Will Appeal,

“The Central Election Committee on Thursday disqualified the Palestinian nationalist party Balad from running in Israel’s next election, though the party was not expected to cross the electoral threshold. Balad representatives said they intend to appeal against the decision…The request to disqualify Balad was based on the party’s platform rejecting Israeli as a Jewish and democratic state, and instead calling for a state of all its citizens.”

Global News

Sydney festival to suspend foreign government funding after mass boycott,

“Sydney festival has suspended all funding agreements with foreign governments and their cultural agencies, after a mass boycott by artists and audiences earlier this year. The festival’s chair, David Kirk, announced the decision on Tuesday, after an independent review prompted by controversy over a sponsorship agreement with the Israeli embassy during the 2022 festival.” See also PM Truss weighs UK embassy move in Israel to Jerusalem (Al Jazeera)

How Russian Trolls Helped Keep the Women’s March Out of Lock Step,

“Over the 18 months that followed, Russia’s troll factories and its military intelligence service put a sustained effort into discrediting the movement by circulating damning, often fabricated narratives around Ms. [Linda] Sarsour, whose activism made her a lightning rod for Mr. Trump’s base and also for some of his most ardent opposition.”

US Scene

Israel's Best Friend in Congress Leaves DC for U.S.-Jewish World. Here's What's Next,

“Rep. Ted Deutch, perhaps Israel’s most important friend in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic Party, will officially begin his next chapter next week when he assumes leadership of the American Jewish Committee as the organization’s CEO, after a 12-year tenure in Congress. Deutch’s departure from Congress and his transition to one of the oldest and most significant Jewish legacy organizations in America will have significant ramifications for the Democratic Party, the U.S.-Israel relationship and the American Jewish community…Nearly seven months have passed since Deutch announced his appointment, provoking some critics to accuse him of a potential conflict of interest. They noted that while Deutch would soon head a major advocacy organization, he was still chairing a committee focusing on many of the issues that he would be championing in his new role…“I got a lot of those questions when I announced my retirement about how I would handle conflicts. I said then – and I’m quite confident this is how it played out – that my advocacy for the U.S.-Israel relationship and the fight against antisemitism [would] not change in my remaining months in office. They didn’t. The fact that they happen to be consistent with the job I’m going to helps confirm that this is the right next position for me. It’s a natural extension,” the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native said.”

The Fight for the Future of Israel Studies,

“Donors view Israel studies as a vehicle for countering Palestine activism on campus. But many of the scholars they fund don’t toe the line.”

Another Bad Faith Pile-On Against Rep. Tlaib,

“Fall is in the air so apparently it’s time again for yet another bad faith pile-on against Rep. Tlaib (D-MI), based on groundless allegations of antisemitism — this time based on what appears to be a deliberate and malicious misrepresentation of something she said…For an elegant summary of what Tlaib said (with links to the original source) and how it is being mis-represented, see this superb article from the Intercept – Fact Check: Rep. Rashida Tlaib Said Progressives Must Oppose Israeli Apartheid – and see this excellent thread from IMEU 9/21/22…”