Top News & Analysis from Palestine & Israel: June 18-24, 2022

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New from FMEP

The Imperative of Accountability for Shireen Abu Akleh’s Killing,

FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks with preeminent journalist Dalia Hatuqa about the killing of her friend and fellow journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11, 2022, the myriad investigations that have been carried out, and the imperative of getting justice, which requires accountability. * Note the new resource list with dozens of resources on the investigations into Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing as well as statements from the Israeli government, the Biden administration, and members of Congress.

“It’s our responsibility to turn on the light”: Masafer Yatta, Apartheid, and Youth Activism,

FMEP’s Sarah Anne Minkin speaks with Sameeha Hureini, an activist and university student from A-Twani village in Masafer Yatta in the South Hebron Hills. Sameeha is one of the founders of Youth of Sumud and, together with her brother Sami, was recognized with the 2021 Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk.

Apartheid/Occupation/Human Rights

U.N. rights body says Israeli soldiers killed American journalist in West Bank,

“A veteran Palestinian American journalist was killed by Israeli forces while covering a military raid in the occupied West Bank, a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday, summarizing the results of the office’s investigation into the fatal May shooting of Shireen Abu Akleh, a correspondent for Al Jazeera…The conclusions from the United Nations — which included the finding that “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets” were fired at Abu Akleh and three other journalists from the direction of Israeli forces — mirrored the conclusions of several independent investigations, including a review by The Washington Post, which found that Israeli troops were likely to have fired the fatal shot.” See also: Senate Democrats demand that US investigate shooting death of Palestinian-American journalist in West Bank (The Hill), Nearly Half of Senate Democrats Urge Biden to Investigate Shireen Abu Akleh’s Killing (Haaretz) & [Senator] Van Hollen and 23 Senate Colleagues Call for Direct U.S. Involvement in the Investigation of Shooting Death of American Journalist Shireen Abu Akleh (Press Release from the Office of Sen. Chris Van Hollen)

Eyewitnesses: Settler stabbed Palestinian to death as Israeli forces looked on,

“According to eyewitnesses, Harb was stabbed near his heart after settlers attempted to erect a tent on his family’s land, which borders the settlement city of Ariel, while Israeli soldiers and police officers who were present did nothing to stop the attack. Following the killing, an Israeli court placed a gag order on the details of the investigation…Zaid and Amjad said that prior to the stabbing there was no violence by the Palestinians toward the settlers…According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, soldiers arrived at the scene of a “violent confrontation” between Palestinians and settlers, where they identified a wounded Palestinian. The soldiers suggested the army evacuate him to a hospital in a military ambulance and “provide him with the necessary medical treatment.” According to the unit, the Palestinians refused and evacuated the wounded man themselves, and emphasized that the soldiers were “not present at the scene during the confrontation.” Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said the army’s official response “contradicts the testimonies of all Palestinians present at the scene” and demanded the army release security camera footage of the scene “in order to arrive at the truth.”” See also ‘He was saving to start a family’: Hundreds mourn Palestinian stabbed by Israeli settler near Salfit (The New Arab)

‘The land beyond the road is forbidden’: Israeli settler shepherds displace Palestinians,

“A new Kerem Navot investigation has found that there are now 77 Israeli farms and shepherding outposts across the West Bank; 66 were established over the last decade, and 46 in the last five years, part of an explosion in settlement growth during the Trump administration. The area now controlled by shepherd settlers is around 60,000 acres – just under 7% of Area C. As Ze’ev Hever, the secretary general of Amana, a settler organisation, put it at an online conference last year: “Construction takes up little ground, due to economic considerations of building development … The shepherd farms – over the last three years we have ventured into a large expanse – now cover an area almost twice as large as the built area of the settlements.” Etkes spent three years interviewing Palestinian herders, observing changes over time in the grazing areas visited by Palestinians and settlers, and using aerial photographs to map out geographical features such as deep valleys and roads, which now often form the de facto boundaries of land appropriated by settler shepherds. He also found that the settler herders are often helped with grants and allocations of pastureland issued directly by Israeli government offices and other publicly funded bodies. “This is the most important change in the West Bank in decades. The settler enterprise used to be about building communities, and now often someone comes alone to start a farm, and maybe later brings his family, living like he’s in the Wild West,” Etkes said during the Guardian’s visit to several Palestinian and settler communities in the Jordan Valley last week.” See also the Kerem Navot report: “The Wild West: Grazing, seizing and looting by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.”

Forcible Transfer, Evictions & Demolitions in Masafer Yatta,

This is our Home by Basil Al-Adraa: “I’m not a kid anymore. I understand why Israel destroys the homes in my village. The occupation carries out these demolitions in an effort to force us to leave this land and move to the nearby Palestinian city of Yatta. Their aim is to annex more of our lands and give it exclusively to the Jewish settlers. Perhaps you know some words that capture this evil process? Ethnic cleansing? Apartheid? Occupation? Settler colonialism? I have some words too. But more than words, I have a fire in my belly. We need to fight for our homes, our roads, our schools, our sheep shelters. As much as they demolish, we need to rebuild. Because this is our land. This is where we want to live. This is our home.” See also Expert Q&A: Israel’s Expulsion of Palestinians from Masafer Yatta (IMEU interview with Basel al Adraa, June 22, 2022)


Treated Like Animals by Awdah Hathaleen: “My friend Eid burst into the community center, telling me to hurry up and get up. He woke me up in such a way that I wanted to yell at him, until I looked over his shoulder and realized he was accompanied by the Israeli military. The Israeli Civil Administration had told Eid to get everyone out of the community center because it was about to be destroyed…After I was pushed off to the side, I remember the Israeli bulldozer’s tracks churning and chewing through the play area and advancing into the community center. I remember watching the walls crumble and the photos and the art on the wall being pulled apart. Even the writings on the wall fell down, one by one. The demolition took about 15 minutes, destroying the community center and destroying the dreams of many of the children who considered the center a home for them. Then they moved to my mother’s home.” See also Masafer Yatta: An Israeli firing zone and the ancient Palestinian village fighting for survival (Middle East Eye)

‘Same agenda, just more subtle’: Bennett-Lapid government’s first year in numbers,

“New figures show surge in killings of West Bank Palestinians and no drop in demolitions during the first 12 months of the ‘government of change.’…Israelis killed more than 90 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank during the first year of the Bennett-Lapid administration, according to data gathered by Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem and published here for the first time. The figure represents a 60 percent increase in Palestinian deaths at the hands of Israelis compared with the final year of the Netanyahu government…Figures that Haaretz journalist Hagar Shezaf obtained from the security establishment and published last week show that there has also been an increase in settler violence in the West Bank during the past year. The data shows that there were 650 incidents of nationalist violence against Palestinians in 2021, compared to 500 in 2020. In the first five months of 2022, more than 400 such incidents have already been reported.” See also: Three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in Jenin raid (Al Jazeera) and Israeli court denies parole to Palestinian teenage prisoner under ‘terrorism law’ (Middle East Eye)

Fifteen years of Gaza blockade: Open the doors of our prison now,

“In the last 15 years, while under this medieval siege that turned us into prisoners in our own homeland, we also endured four genocidal wars. More than 4,000 civilians, including many children, perished under Israeli bombardment, for the sole crime of being born in Gaza. As we were being systemically brutalised, maimed, imprisoned and killed, the international community did nothing but watch idly by – perhaps because the majority of us do not have what is needed (blue eyes and blonde hair) for them to conclude we are somewhat “civilised” and worthy of human dignity…Today, as it has always been, Israel is intent on erasing, destroying, and disappearing Gaza and Gazans. Israelis did not see us as humans with agency who deserve dignity and freedom 15 years ago, and they still do not acknowledge our humanity today. We are nothing but an inconvenience to them. As the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin once openly admitted, we could “sink into the sea” for all they care. They will keep us imprisoned on this strip, and continue to slowly suffocate us for another 15 or even 150 years if the world does not wake up and say “enough”. The blockade on Gaza is a stain on human history. On this shameful anniversary, the international community is obligated to take action and start doing what is necessary to finally open the doors of our prison.”

Lawfare/Redefining Antisemitism to Quash Criticism of Israel

Arkansas Times loses challenge of state’s Israel boycott law,

“The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that the state law limiting state business with those who refuse to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel is not a violation of the First Amendment. The decision, made by the entire court, reverses a decision by a three-judge panel that the law was unconstitutional. The Arkansas Times challenged the law, with the support of the ACLU, contending it was unconstitutional compelled speech…[ACLU attorney Brian Hauss}: ““The Eighth Circuit’s decision is wrong, and we intend to seek Supreme Court review. The court’s conclusion that politically-motivated consumer boycotts are not protected by the First Amendment misreads Supreme Court precedent and departs from this nation’s longstanding traditions. It ignores the fact that this country was founded on a boycott of British goods and that boycotts have been a fundamental part of American political discourse ever since. We hope and expect that the Supreme Court will set things right and reaffirm the nation’s historic commitment to providing robust protection to political boycotts.”” Read the full decision here. Also see: ‘Frightening’: US appeals court upholds Arkansas anti-BDS law (Al Jazeera) and Federal court upholds Arkansas law that restricts Israel boycotts, ruling it does not violate First Amendment (JTA)

A colonized Palestine isn’t the answer to the world’s guilt,

“Firstly, it should be clear to everyone that this is not about antisemitism — it is about geopolitics. Right-wing and conservative governments, frequently racist and demagogic, have been useful allies for Israel, a state which is equally resentful of the Western liberal order even as it tries to position itself firmly in that sphere…Secondly, Israel’s attacks on Palestinian activism are in no way limited to Palestinians. They are attacks on free speech, and on the international legal order and norms. The anti-BDS legislation has created loopholes that are now becoming another tool in the arsenal of anti-gun control legislation, anti-green energy legislation, and anti-abortion legislation. This right-wing demagogic reality is one in which Israel can thrive and continue to enjoy its impunity…The links between Western guilt following the Holocaust and support for the creation of Israel have been well-researched, as have the roots of Zionism, which was met with ferocious resistance by indigenous Palestinians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Palestinians are the indirect victims, the collateral damage, of European and Christian antisemitism…Fast forward a century, and those same European powers — including Germany, because of its own atrocious history — are exporting not their antisemitism this time, but their quest for absolution, onto the Palestinians. And Palestinians still do not factor into it; they are unseen. The demonized Jews — those now enjoying full sovereign and national control in the form of a nuclear armed state — have become the wonder children, the inhabitants of a state that can do no wrong. And in seeking absolution, states like Germany have once again accepted Palestinians as collateral; their oppression and colonization is a fair price to pay to allow Germany to atone for its past crimes. A blind eye must be turned when it comes to the continuation of Israeli apartheid and colonization, lest the state be aggrieved and old traumas reignited. To do so, all voices speaking about Palestinian liberation or celebrating Palestinian lives must be silenced, even if those voices are themselves Jewish.”

Israel elected president of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance for 2025,

“Israel was elected today to preside the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) for the year 2025…The IHRA is an intergovernmental body aiming at placing political and social leaders’ support behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research both nationally and internationally. The nonlegally binding definition proposed by the IHRA of antisemitism has been adopted over the past decade by a great number of countries, and is globally used for political, diplomatic and educational purposes. Israel’s Foreign Ministry campaigns for the definition to be adopted as widely as possible globally.” See also Israel adopts IHRA definition of antisemitism (i24)

German institute scales down event after mass cancellations following Palestinian Mohammed El-Kurd's exclusion,

“The Goethe-Institut, Germany’s state-owned cultural association, announced on Wednesday that their upcoming conference in Hamburg would be scaled down after mass cancellations followed their decision to disinvite Palestinian activist and poet Mohammed El-Kurd. The Goethe-Institut Hamburg’s ‘Beyond The Lone Offender – Dynamics of the Global Right,’ scheduled for June 23 to 26, originally invited El-Kurd to speak on a panel to discuss strategies used by different states to deflect from human rights abuses, according to a curator. However, the 24-year-old Palestinian, from occupied East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah, was later deemed “not an appropriate speaker” and had his invitation rescinded. This prompted a flurry of withdrawals from curators and participants.” See also Artists withdraw from German cultural event after Palestinian journalist disinvited (Middle East Eye)

The Mapping Project is not antisemitic but it is destructive activism,

The Mapping Project is undermining years of social justice efforts to bring Palestinian rights into the mainstream…it is my view that The Mapping Project, while a Herculean effort that provides lots of useful information, is a poor piece of research and a destructive piece of activism…Besides being poor research, The Mapping Project is a strategic mistake of incalculable proportions that we will pay for over many years…First, the release of the Mapping Project, without the support of key antiracist groups working in the Israel-Palestine space, and without a clear call to constructive action, put activist groups in a bad position of catch-up…The Mapping Project is not ideologically or religiously anti-Jewish as the ADL and other spokespeople for zionism claim, and those bogus accusations should be exposed for what they are–virulent, deceptive, anti-Palestinianism. But even though it is not antisemitic, The Mapping Project is still destructive to our public-facing work and to the movement.” See also this statement by the official account of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC): “The BDS Movement has no connection to and does not endorse the Mapping Project in Boston, Massachusetts. Simultaneously, we reject and condemn the cynical use of this project as a pretext for repressive attacks on the Palestine solidarity movement.” 

Israeli Scene

The Israeli left has broken the Nakba taboo. Will the right of return be next?,

“When Zochrot was established two decades ago, talking about the Nakba within Jewish-Israeli society was a very lonely endeavor. Today, while it is still the only Israeli organization of its kind, the conversation on the Israeli left has changed significantly…Ironically, the fact that so many Israelis do know the term today is partly thanks to attempts by the Israeli right to suppress discussion of the Nakba entirely — which have clearly backfired. Successive efforts at censorship — from the Education Ministry banning the use of the term in school textbooks in 2009; to the enactment of the 2011 “Nakba Law,” which threatens to cut the budgets of any public body that commemorates Israel’s Independence Day as a “national day of mourning”; to the decade-long “Nakba bullshit” campaign by the far-right group Im Tirtzu — have only increased awareness among Jewish Israelis. Nowadays, after those efforts failed, prominent leaders on the Israeli right are more likely to threaten Palestinians with another Nakba. Over the past few years, however, Zochrot has begun talking more explicitly about what redress and justice would look like at the political level. Encapsulating this shift, the organization’s “iNakba” app, which provides users with an interactive map showing the locations of every depopulated Palestinian village, will soon be relaunched under a new name: “iReturn.”…In recent years, there has undoubtedly been a parallel shift toward recognition of the Nakba among other Israeli left-wing groups. But in contrast to Zochrot, most of these groups remain far away from advocating explicitly for the right of return.”

How threats of a second Nakba went mainstream,

“It is not clear whether the threats to carry out a second Nakba are coming directly from the upper echelons of Likud and Netanyahu himself, or whether such an expulsion plan will appear on the party’s platform in the next Knesset, but this sequence of statements indicates that talk of another Palestinian catastrophe is not an outburst or an isolated case. Coming from mainstream right-wing leaders such as Katz, Galant, and Dayan, as opposed to the usual suspects for “extremist” rhetoric such as Itamar Ben Gvir, the Nakba is presented as a legitimate policy decision, akin to a speeding ticket or a fine for greenhouse gas emissions. The threat of mass expulsions of Palestinians is portrayed as a reasonable method of enforcement against both citizens and non-citizens under Israeli control…Once Palestinian citizens not only amass political and economic power, but demonstrate their national identity and proudly wave Palestinian flags, the path is paved by the right to recognize that the only way to deal with this reality is to remove them from the game. And even if there is no real intention at the moment to realize the threat of another Nakba, it is clear that if it is legitimate to threaten Palestinians with physical removal, they can certainly be symbolically removed from the Israeli body politic…Because official apartheid is not an option that Israel can market even to itself, and because equality of rights — not to mention a seat at the table — is out of the question, expulsion sounds like an almost logical option when facing such an “internal enemy.” What’s more, the Nakba is part of the Israeli collective memory, a kind of “hidden traveler” in our consciousness, so that it can easily be deployed as part of the Jewish majority’s toolbox.”

Bibi Sees a Path Back to Leadership After Israeli Government Dissolves,

“Netanyahu’s pitch to voters remains much the same: a right-wing nationalist government that includes his own Likud party along with smaller, far-right, and ultra-Orthodox factions…Netanyahu described the Bennett-Lapid coalition as “the worst government in the history of the country … dependent on terrorist supporters, that gave up on Israel’s security … [and] that endangered the Jewish character of our country.” The allusions to “terrorist supporters” and the endangerment of Israel’s “Jewish character” are clear dog whistles against the Islamist United Arab List—also known by its Hebrew acronym, Raam—which was a key part of the outgoing ruling coalition.” See also Israeli Government Collapse Gives Netanyahu Another Chance at Power (NYT)

Another Israeli government falls after mismanaging the Palestinian conflict,

“It passed a budget and racked up achievements on the economy, pandemic-management, foreign policy and a long list of reforms. Though I don’t agree with many of the government’s policies, it’s tempting to conclude that the spirit of cooperation and respect, in contrast to the warpath politics of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, bore fruit. But all the bromance and strange bedfellows in the world couldn’t stop Israel’s most ruinous policy from tearing the Benett-Lapid  coalition —  and the country — apart…In every single public opinion survey I have conducted over the last 23 years, the self-defined right, left and center break first of all over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And this coalition was doomed, too, by the conflict; three of its four lethal coalition crises – Ra’am, the Arab party, suspending its participation in the coalition; the first defection of the Meretz lawmaker Rinawie Zoabi; and the defeat of a law to continue superior legal status for Jewish settlers in the West Bank over Palestinians – were all about the occupation and its accompanying violence.”

Palestinian Scene

Abbas is signaling a successor. But will Palestinians accept him?,

“Rumors of Abbas’ imminent demise swirled once again last week after BBC Arabic tweeted that some of his responsibilities had been handed to his right-hand man, Hussein al-Sheikh, a controversial figure who has risen from relative obscurity to the inner-sanctum of decision-making at Abbas’s behest…Since 2007, al-Sheikh has headed the PA’s General Authority of Civil Affairs, which liaises with COGAT, the civilian branch of Israel’s military government in the occupied territories. While the position does not have the cachet of prime minister or foreign minister, it has arguably become the most important government position next to the presidency; lacking any real sovereignty of its own, the PA — and the Palestinian public — ultimately rely on Israel’s military regime to function in every aspect of daily life. The man who oversees the pipeline of permits, visas, licenses, and other such necessities from Israel to the PA is therefore endowed with tremendous power and influence.”

Palestinian Authority grants bail to accused killers of activist Nizar Banat,

“The Palestinian Authority has ordered the release of 14 security officers who stand accused of killing activist Nizar Banat last year…Banat’s family criticised the decision to release them, saying they refuse to trust or cooperate with Palestinian Authority (PA) courts. Jihan Banat, his widow, slammed the PA’s justification and further charged that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s administration could not credibly judge her husband’s accused killers. “The murderer cannot be a judge,” she told AFP, describing the decision to release the suspects on bail as “political”.”


Israel wiped out a Palestinian-German family. Germany refuses to investigate,

“On July 21, 2014, an Israeli air strike wiped out an entire family in Gaza City. Ibrahim Kilani, his wife Taghreed, and their five children were all killed instantly in the attack, as were four of Taghreed’s siblings, which came amid Israel’s seven-week assault on Gaza in 2014, dubbed by Israel “Operation Protective Edge.”…The families had taken shelter in the Majd al-Salam — the Tower of Peace — in Gaza City’s a-Rimal neighborhood after having fled twice: first leaving their home in Beit Layhia after Israeli war planes dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to evacuate, and then escaping Gaza City’s Shujaiyah neighborhood following intensive air strikes there. They had chosen to shelter in the Majd al-Salam because it was in an area that had been described as safe on the Israeli leaflets. The day before the air strike, Ibrahim had called his children in Germany, Ramsy and Layla, to tell them they were “finally safe.”…In addition to grieving the loss of his family, however, Ramsy had also had to contend with being denied the possibility of justice over their killing. Because although Ramsy’s father and his half-siblings, Elias, Yasser, Yasin, Sawsan, and Reem were, like him, German nationals, the German Federal Public Prosecutor (GBA) refused to open an investigation into the airstrike that killed the Kilani family. According to human rights experts, the GBA’s decision violated standard procedure and abrogated a legal obligation under German law. When approached by +972, the Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor declined to comment on their decision. But in 2021, in response to a December 2014 criminal complaint filed by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Palestinian Human Rights Commission (PCHR) regarding the killings, the GBA’s office justified its refusal to investigate by claiming that the evidence needed to conclusively determine whether a war crime had been committed was unobtainable. In a statement on the GBA’s decision, published last month, PCHR and ECCHR argued that it demonstrated a clear double standard in cases against “powerful actors,” and represented the GBA failing to follow its own procedures as well as a “missed opportunity for applying international criminal justice…equally to all.””

US envoy to combat anti-Semitism to visit Saudi Arabia, Israel,

“Deborah Lipstadt, the US envoy to combat anti-Semitism, will travel to Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ahead of a visit by President Joe Biden to the region, the State Department has announced. Lipstadt will promote normalisation between Israel and Arab countries during the trip, which begins Sunday, the State Department said.” See also Scoop: U.S. working on normalization “road map” for Saudi Arabia and Israel (Axios) and Israeli minister backs Moroccan claims to Western Sahara sovereignty (Al Monitor)

Palestinians call out PayPal for discrimination,

“PayPal, the most-used company for online payments, does not serve Palestinians, which negatively affects their work, especially in the the Gaza Strip, where online and remote jobs are often the only available work. Although it operates in Israeli settlements, PayPal justified its refusal to provide services in the occupied Palestinian territories on the basis of its “no-go” policy, which classifies Palestine, along with several other countries, as “high-risk” areas…Meanwhile, 7amleh – The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, an independent center based in Haifa, has been working for years with several partner organizations to counter PayPal’s policy. They launched a microsite of the company and an email invitation to receive complaints from those affected by the company’s policies. PayPal operates in Israeli settlements, which “are considered illegal under international law, which means that this policy of exclusion has to do with the Palestinian identity and not the geographical location,” Munia Zaher, the media coordinator at the 7amleh center, told Al-Monitor.”