Top News & Analysis from Palestine & Israel: July 2-8, 2022

What We’re Reading

New from FMEP

Upcoming Webinar: Mr. Biden Goes to the Middle East,

In mid-July, President Biden is expected to make his first visit as President of the United States to Israel and the Persian Gulf. What is the point of his visit? What does it mean for U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel and the Gulf? What does it mean for Palestinians? To explore these and other questions, join us for a conversation with U.S.-based experts Peter Beinart (CUNY), Dana El Kurd (University of Richmond), Lara Friedman (FMEP), and Trita Parsi (Quincy). Co-sponsored by Jewish Currents. RSVP Here

“The people are devastated”: Demolitions, Harassment, and Live Fire IDF Training in Masafer Yatta,

FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with Ali Awad about Masafer Yatta and particularly Firing Zone 918 and what has changed there since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in May authorizing the Israeli military to expel the Palestinian residents of the firing zone. Ali’s most recent article on +972,”‘They’re not arriving with trucks to deport us, but the goal is the same’,” was published on June 29, 2022. Ali Awad is journalist and activist from the village of Tuba in Masafer Yatta. He is co-founder of the new media project Humans of Masafer Yatta.

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.

On the Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh

Shireen Abu Akleh family’s letter to Joe Biden: Full text,

“All available evidence suggests that Shireen, a U.S. citizen, was the subject of an extrajudicial killing, yet your administration thoroughly failed to meet the bare minimum expectation held by a grieving family – to ensure a prompt, thorough, credible, impartial, independent, effective and transparent investigation that leads to true justice and accountability for Shireen’s kill. Instead, the United States has been skulking toward the erasure of any wrongdoing by Israeli forces. From the failure to immediately ensure an independent and impartial investigation to the rushed hand-off of the bullet that killed Shireen without consultation let alone allowing us to have a representative present, which culminated in the July 4 statement adopting the conclusions and talking points of the Israeli government, your administration’s engagement has served to whitewash Shireen’s killing and perpetuate impunity…The July 4 press statement by Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price announced that Shireen’s killing was likely unintentional, yet when pressed by reporters during the July 5 press briefing, Mr. Price conceded that nobody present was qualified to reach a conclusion about intent…We call on you to: 1) Meet with us during your upcoming visit … 3) Retract the Department of State’s July 4 press statement, given that the Department’s own record indicates that it is not based on any credible assessment…4) Direct the Department of Justice,…the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and any other relevant U.S. offices or agencies to take action on Shireen’s extrajudicial killing…” See also U.S. concludes unintentional Israeli fire likely killed American journalist (Washington Post), Family of Slain Palestinian Journalist Accuses Biden of ‘Betrayal’ After U.S. Probe (Haaretz), The Takeaway: Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing looms over Biden trip to Israel, West Bank (Al Monitor), Palestinians furious at tepid US findings on journalist’s killing (Al Monitor), Palestinian Outrage After U.S. Says Journalist Was Killed by Accident (NYT), Bullet Too Damaged to Prove Who Killed Palestinian American Journalist, U.S. Says (NYT)

Progressives Introduce Legislation to Force US Investigation into Israel’s Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,

“On Tuesday night, 11 Democrats introduced legislation that would force the FBI and the State Department to investigate the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and determine whether US weapons were used to kill her…The proposed congressional legislation was spearheaded by Indiana representative Andre Carson, and submitted as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual bill that authorizes Pentagon spending and helps set US military policy. It was introduced one day after the State Department, in its first statement attributing blame for Abu Akleh’s death, concluded that Israeli soldiers likely killed the journalist…But it’s extremely unlikely the bill will even get a vote, let alone pass as an amendment to the NDAA, given the overwhelming support Israel enjoys from congressional leadership…Still, Carson’s bill is among a spate of congressional measures that emerged after the killing of Abu Akleh, reflecting the depth of congressional concern over the killing of an American journalist by a close US ally. Carson was among 57 representatives to send a letter in May to Secretary of State Blinken and FBI Director Chris Wray demanding an independent investigation into the death of Abu Akleh. In June, 24 Senators pressed President Biden for “a thorough and transparent investigation under U.S. auspices.” A separate letter sent to Blinken in June calling for a “full and transparent” investigation was signed by Democratic Senator Jon Ossoff and, in an unusual move, by a Republican senator, Mitt Romney. But Carson’s bill is the first to echo a demand made by the Abu Akleh family: that the US should determine whether US funds or weapons were used in the killing of the American journalist. Such a finding would have implications for the flow of US military aid to the Israeli unit that killed Abu Akleh.”

Blinken to Lapid: U.S. wants to see accountability for killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,

“U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in a phone call on Wednesday that the Biden administration wants to see accountability for the killing of Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, U.S. and Israeli officials told me. Why it matters: Israeli officials had hoped that Monday’s State Department statement on the investigation into the death of Abu Akleh would have put the issue behind them, but Blinken’s comments signal the U.S. wants the Al Jazeera journalist’s case to stay at the forefront…Israeli officials told me Israel will take no further action on Abu Akleh’s case other than internal military procedures that had already been announced.” See also ‘Organized Whitewash’: US Claims Israeli Military’s Murder of Journalist Not Intentional (Common Dreams) and ‘US-backed Israeli whitewash’: Abu Akleh probe sparks anger (Al Jazeera)

An Israeli bullet killed Shireen. Denial is the army’s time-tested strategy,

“Yet despite claims by the Israeli army and the State Department, there are serious signs that Abu Akleh’s killing was intentional. According to investigations by the aforementioned media outlets, the bullet that hit Abu Akleh was fired from a distance of about 200 meters. Two videos taken shortly before the incident show that the seven bullets that were fired from the same source at Abu Akleh were the only shots fired at the time. Moreover, while it is likely that the army has videos from the soldiers’ body cameras as well as drone footage that could have revealed other details, the Israeli army has not provided any such evidence. The CNN investigation further showed that the shots fired at Abu Akleh were, in fact, measured sniper bullets, which were fired in a cluster of a very limited diameter. Three bullets hit a nearby tree, and one precisely-aimed bullet went through the narrow opening between Abu Akleh’s flak jacket and helmet and into the back of her head. The bullets’ impact in such close proximity to one another rules out the claim that they were fired randomly, and makes it unlikely that it was accidental. Moreover, there are at least six more bullets, according to CNN, that were fired in the incident that require examination…Here are just a few cases that help us understand why Israel cannot be trusted to investigate its own soldiers.”

Masafer Yatta: Forced Population Transfer

Fact sheet: Masafer Yatta communities at risk of forcible transfer | June 2022,

‘Since the 4 May 2022 court ruling, Israeli authorities have increasingly intensified a coercive environment for Palestinians in Masafer Yatta…Communities in the entire area live in a constant state of fear. In addition to the threat of their homes being demolished, communities also face violence from settlers residing in a nearby outpost, who have blocked roads in the area, attacked herders, and set haystacks and grazing areas on fire, undermining their physical security, negatively affecting mental and psycho-social health, lowering their standard of living, and increasing the dependence on humanitarian aid…The forcible transfer of civilians from, or within, the oPt is absolutely prohibited under international humanitarian Law.”

Israel expelled my father from Masafer Yatta 20 years ago. Now it’s happening again,

“As I grappled with the devastating news of the decision, I was both saddened to think how this expulsion is simply the newest addition to my family’s long history of losing our home, yet also comforted by the knowledge that we have remained steadfast against attempts to remove us from our land in the past. Although my family has faced expulsion and the loss of our home before, we have not lost our connection to this land, nor have we lost our will to keep fighting for it…As I think about the kind of parent I want to be to my daughter, I recall the example my father set for me and my siblings, and so I decided to interview him and hear his thoughts about where we come from and how this most recent court decision fits into our family’s story.” See also: WATCH: Israeli Forces Demolish House, Displace 15 Palestinians in Masafer Yatta (Palestine Chronicle, July 4)

"Their bullets entered a family's home" ,

“Today, as the occupation was gun fire training on our land, their bullets entered hit a family’s home, as they were in their living room. A miracle nobody died. They fled. They’re training in Masafer Yatta, near children – to evict our villages. They’ll kill us trying.” See also Masafer Yatta: Israel army fire damages Palestinian homes during exercise (The New Arab)

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

Number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank up by 46%, UN claims,

“From January to June 2022 Israeli security forces killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which is 46 percent more than in the first half of last year, the UN said on Sunday…“In a number of incidents, it appears that lethal force was used by Israeli forces as a first rather than as a last resort to confront the alleged threat,” the UN report said. Noting the recent security situation, when Palestinian terrorists killed 18 Israelis in a series of attacks between March and May of this year,  the UN focused on case where the danger level did not allegedly require lethal response from Israeli security forces. Among those were the killing of a 16-year-old teen in a stone-throwing incident on May 10, a shooting of Ghada Ibrahim Ali al-Sabiteen, who did not respond to soldiers warning on April 10, and several other incidents. “Lack of accountability for these violations remains pervasive. Such impunity also allows further violations to occur,” the report said.”

Jenin in the crosshairs: Israeli forces kill 27 Palestinians in 2022 so far,

“Israeli forces have killed 27 Palestinians in the Jenin region in the first seven months of 2022, Jenin-based journalists revealed on Wednesday, highlighting to brutal effects of a sustained Israeli military operation on the occupied city. Among the Palestinians gunned down, are eight teenagers – including two school children, one a girl – and Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.”

Report: Israel Detained 464 Palestinians in June, Including 70 minors,

“The Israeli occupation authorities detained 464 Palestinians in June, including 70 minors and 18 women, and 3873 Palestinians since the start of the year, the Palestinian prisoners’ advocacy groups said on Thursday.”  See also Israeli soldiers detain 40 Palestinians, including blind man, in overnight raids (The New Arab)

"The settlement movement is planning a major action",

“Get this: The settlement movement is planning a major action, to take place 2 weeks from now: they say they’re going to set up *at least 10 unauthorized outposts* on the night of July 19-20th. These outposts will even be illegal by Israeli standards, not to mention int’l law.”

Revealed: Dozens of Egyptian Commandos Are Buried Under an Israeli Tourist Attraction,

“Indeed, interviews conducted by Haaretz and the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research in recent weeks show that even individuals at the highest levels of government and of the Israel Defense Forces were also unaware of the scale of this story – not least because of sweeping, decades-long censorship. Others, who did know about the episode, declined to talk about it on the record. Now, however, the story can be told: Dozens of Egyptian commandos who were killed in the 1967 war were buried side by side in the soil of the kibbutz. Their remains are still there, apparently beneath a tract that, since the early 2000s, has been used by the Mini Israel park, a tourist attraction. The first person to breach the conspiracy of silence was a member of Kibbutz Nahshon, Dan Meir, who approached the media with the story in the 1990s. The military censor, a unit in the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, did not allow the revelations to be published. “I know that this information is harrowing,” Meir said in an interview back then. “It’s not right that they are still buried there and that we turned the plots of land into a full-fledged agricultural area. This story distresses and haunts me. Almost 30 years have passed [since 1967] and I feel a need to unburden myself. I want the Egyptians to be returned to their home.”” See alsoTel Aviv University Is Finally Talking About the Palestinian Village It Was Built On” (Haaretz)

Lawfare//Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Critique of Israel

Ben & Jerry's sues parent Unilever to block sale of Israeli business,

Ben & Jerry’s on Tuesday sued its parent Unilever Plc to block the sale of its Israeli business to a local licensee, saying it was inconsistent with its values to sell its ice cream in the occupied West Bank. The complaint filed in the US District Court in Manhattan said the sale announced on June 29 threatened to undermine the integrity of the Ben & Jerry’s brand, which Ben & Jerry’s board retained independence to protect when Unilever acquired the company in 2000.”

Ben & Jerry’s Clashes With Unilever Over BDS,

“The Unilever sale to Zinger was the successful culmination of a year-long effort to lobby the parent company to reverse its subsidiary’s decision. That campaign included Zinger’s lawsuit, accusations that Ben & Jerry’s was antisemitic for boycotting West Bank settlements, letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing Unilever of violating financial disclosure rules, and pledges from seven states—Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Illinois, Colorado and Florida—to disinvest hundreds of millions of dollars from Unilever stock, in accordance with laws preventing state funds from going to companies that participate in the BDS movement. (In response to Unilever’s sale, Arizona, Texas, New York and New Jersey have pledged to review the inclusion of Unilever on their investment blacklists, while Florida and Colorado said they would not reverse their prohibitions on investing in Unilever.)…Still, close observers of the Unilever announcement said the reality of what the company did was more complicated than the tenor of Israeli press coverage—which portrayed the move as a full reversal of the Ben & Jerry’s decision—made it seem. Ben & Jerry’s is now out of the business of selling ice cream in Israel, and as the company pointed out in its own response to the Unilever announcement, “our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.” In its place will be Zinger’s version of Ben & Jerry’s, marketed only in Hebrew and Arabic. “If the idea of the anti-BDS campaign is to compel international companies to operate in settlements, this is the opposite of that,” said Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (and a Jewish Currents contributing writer). “This international company is now not operating in Israel or the West Bank.”

Meet the Israeli Who Wants to Rename Chunky Monkey ‘Judea and Samaria,

“When Ben & Jerry’s announced last July that it wouldn’t extend Zinger’s franchise because it sold company products in the occupied territories, they thought they had the upper hand. However, they didn’t know Zinger was waiting with a prepared and well-timed response. Several months earlier, he had enlisted the services of communications consultant Itay Ben Horin of Ben Horin & Alexandrovitz strategic communications firm. They decided together on a plan of action and key messaging. First and foremost, they had to separate the images of Ben & Jerry’s abroad and Zinger in Israel, as well as branding the fight as one of Israel against the BDS movement. After achieving their initial goals, Zinger kept leveraging the international community against Unilever. He sued Unilever in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, claiming it had violated American laws blocking anti-Israel boycotts. Zinger withdrew the lawsuit as part of the settlement. Zinger has hired the services of the crisis management firm Gitam BBDO IM. The firm helped him behind the scenes and lobbied public figures in Israel and abroad until the settlement…“I fought a tough war. It didn’t just happen,” he adds. “I hired the best lawyers. Many Jewish organizations lobbied governors and state representatives, and they utilized the anti-boycott laws against Unilever. Many Unilever shareholders sued on the grounds that its behavior was hurting the share price. Many people wanted to help.””

Germany puts artists, academics in its anti-Palestinian crosshairs,

“On May 20, the Goethe-Institut, a German cultural nonprofit based in Hamburg and largely funded by the German government, disinvited Palestinian poet and activist Mohammed El-Kurd from participating in the “Beyond the Lone Offender” summit…The incident is the latest episode in an accumulating norm of censorship and harassment of Palestinian activists and public figures in Germany, primarily on the grounds of accusations of antisemitism…The rescinding of El-Kurd’s invitation, therefore, did not come as a surprise to those familiar with Germany’s history of excluding Palestinian artists, academics, and activists. The last years have seen a shrinking space for Palestine advocacy in Germany, where pro-Palestinian speech is almost immediately labeled as antisemitic. Following the passage of the anti-BDS resolution in the German parliament in 2019, federal institutions began deeming all actions that support the boycott movement as antisemitic. This has allowed universities, state governments, and public institutions to deny Palestinians the right to free speech and assembly.”

The Challenge of Defending Memory in Germany,

“The country has adopted a series of measures shoring up support for Israel and clamping down on criticism of Israeli policies. In 2018, the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, voted to declare Israel’s existence to be part of Germany’s national interest. In 2019, the parliament passed a non-binding resolution—co-sponsored by a range of parties, including the right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the AfD—that designated the BDS movement as antisemitic. Palestinian activists and journalists as well as anti-Zionist Israeli artists and activists have faced a wave of repression following these measures. Many have lost their jobs or seen their public appearances canceled and their projects defunded. Palestinian activists charge that Germany’s culture of zealous support for Israel has morphed into a kind of anti-Palestinian racism. And such animus is not limited to the German center or right. The German left has long featured the idiosyncratic partisans of an ideological tendency known as “anti-Deutsche” (literally, “anti-German”), which merges antifascist militancy—black balaclavas and red and black banners—with ardent Zionism and glorification of the Israeli Defense Forces. The combination of state and grassroots hostility to Palestine solidarity activism means that conversations now commonplace on the US left remain almost unheard of within the German context.” 

U.S. Scene

It’s risky for Biden to go to the Middle East,

“How do Americans really feel about Biden’s visit? To answer this question, I designed a set of questions for the University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll, which I co-lead with Professor Stella Rouse…Regardless of how we introduced the question, respondents showed little enthusiasm for the president’s Middle East trip — fewer than one-quarter of Americans approved of the president’s trip overall.”

Progressive Democrats press Biden on Israeli E1 settlement plans ahead of trip,

“Twenty-nine progressive Democrats on Friday called on the Biden administration to pressure Israel to scrap plans to advance controversial settlement construction in an area of the West Bank that critics say is essential to a future Palestinian state. The letter from lawmakers comes weeks before Israeli authorities are slated to hold a long-delayed meeting, during which they are expected to advance buildings plans on the swath of land known as E-1, just days after US President Joe Biden wraps up a visit to the region. Building in E-1 would link Jerusalem to a large settlement to its east, but essentially bisect the West Bank in two and make a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital nearly impossible, critics say.”

Israel delays travel restrictions on West Bank in apparent gesture to Joe Biden,

“Israel has delayed the implementation of strict rules limiting the ability of foreigners to enter and stay in the occupied West Bank, in what is believed to be a gesture to Joe Biden before the US president’s visit to the Middle East next month. A statement from the high court on Wednesday said the new rules would be shelved until early September, as a decision had not yet been made regarding objections to the proposed policy. An injunction alleging discriminatory and restrictive criteria was filed by HaMoked, an Israeli non-profit organisation focusing on Palestinian legal rights, last week. The rules were due to come into effect on 5 July…The 97-page ordinance replacing the current four-page document is expected to stifle the Palestinian economy and academia, as well as create complications for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian families with dual nationality already struggling to navigate a convoluted permit system. Nearly all foreigners would only be granted single entry visas, some valid for just three months, and be forced to leave between visas and wait in some cases for more than a year before reapplying for entry. Residency is limited to a total of five years, making family life and long-term employment almost impossible…There are no provisions at all for some common visa categories, including teachers and journalists working for Palestinian media outlets, as well as culture and tourism, and family visits by siblings, grandparents or grandchildren.”

Opinion | 'America Will Help End the Occupation': The Speech Biden Should Give in Israel – but Won’t,

“Tachles, it has been 55 years since Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More than 90 percent of the Palestinians in those territories have been born into Israel’s occupation. For two generations, Israel has been ruling over another people, denying them the most basic freedoms, and not providing them with a horizon of hope for freedom and independence…To encourage the government of Israel to end settlement construction, my administration will reestablish the practice introduced by past administrations, of offsetting the cost of settlement construction from the aid package we provide to Israel. Our aid is intended to enhance Israel’s security. Settlements hinder security. We will also condition our aid on Israel’s refraining from other practices that hinder peace, whether that’s the unjustified demolition of Palestinian homes or the unjustified confiscation of Palestinian land. Our American aid will not serve to perpetuate and entrench the occupation.”

Democrats' Rising Jewish Star Has Some Advice for Biden Ahead of Israel Trip,

“Not only has the Georgia senator crafted lasting relationships with Israeli, Palestinian and political, diplomatic and military officials in the region, he has done something arguably even more notable: spearheaded significant bipartisan efforts aimed at pushing conflict resolution and a political settlement forward…Over the past several weeks, Ossoff has led two bipartisan letters to the U.S. administration alongside Romney and Graham – widely considered two of the strongest supporters of Israel in the history of American politics – that might have been viewed as overly critical of Israel without their co-sign. The letter with Romney called on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to ensure justice over the May killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh while covering an Israel Defense Forces operation in Jenin.”

Opinion | Biden Is Making a Big Mistake With the Abraham Accords,

“If nothing else, Biden and the U.S. must at a minimum rebuild Palestinian trust. The Palestinian sense of isolation and diplomatic paralysis is feeding disturbing trends: just 28 percent support a two-state solution in a new June survey, while 55 percent support return to armed confrontations and intifada. Sixty-five percent actually oppose dialogue with the Biden administration given the perception, as Samih al-Abed lamented, that the U.S. has done little to repair its relations with Palestinians following the tremendous damage of the Trump years.”