Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 27, 2021

What We’re Reading


Abusive Israeli Policies Constitute Crimes of Apartheid, Persecution,

“Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The finding is based on an overarching Israeli government policy to maintain the domination by Jewish Israelis over Palestinians and grave abuses committed against Palestinians living in the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem. The 213-page report, “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” examines Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. It presents the present-day reality of a single authority, the Israeli government, ruling primarily over the area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, populated by two groups of roughly equal size, and methodologically privileging Jewish Israelis while repressing Palestinians, most severely in the occupied territory.”


For a Q&A on the report, see: “Q&A: A Threshold Crossed — Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution

Media Coverage,

Top Analysis

    • One system, one policy’: Why Human Rights Watch is charging Israel with apartheid” (+972 Magazine // Amjad Iraqi interviews Omar Shakir)
    • Say Israel is committing apartheid? It’s not a decision we reached lightly.” (The Forward // Eric Goldstein)
    • Israel Has No Place Left to Hide” (Medium // Sam Bahour)
    • B’Tselem on Human Rights Watch report: an urgent wake-up call” (B’Tselem press release)
      • Quote: “B’Tselem welcomes today’s groundbreaking legal analysis by HRW of Israel’s apartheid regime. Firmly grounded in a careful research of the unfolding reality between the river and the sea, the alarming findings by HRW are essential reading for anyone who desires to truly come to terms with Israel’s domination over Palestinians and its systematic oppression of them. To date, the international community has by and large refused to wake up to the reality of Israel’s apartheid regime. Instead, it preferred to keep pretending that the apartheid threshold might be crossed at some unspecified time, always pushed into an ever-distancing future. Thus, “A Threshold Crossed”, the aptly named HRW report, must now serve as an urgent wake-up call for the international community, to finally take concrete action in rejection of apartheid and in support of human rights, democracy and justice.”

Major Headlines

Predictable Hasbara Chorus…

Twitter Thread w/ links to Palestinian analysts on apartheid,

As [Human Rights Watch] comes out with a new report highlighting Israeli apartheid in Palestine, it is important to remember that Palestinians have been exposing Israeli apartheid for decades. Here are just some examples:

Jerusalem, Gaza, and Escalating Violence

Security Cabinet authorizes IDF strike on Gaza if rocket fire persists,

“The Security Cabinet decided at the end of a Monday evening meeting to approve a substantial air force attack on the Gaza Strip if the launch rocket fire into Israeli territory persists. The IDF presented various operational scenarios targeting Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group which Israel holds responsible for any cross-border aggression.”


More on  Gaza

Calm Restored in Jerusalem and Gaza After Days of Clashes, Cross-border Attacks,

“A day after Israeli police removed barriers from the Damascus Gate plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City, no clashes were reported on Monday night, capping a week of violence that officials feared might spill into a wider escalation. Meanwhile, tensions between Israel and Hamas that have also been brewing over the past week have subdued, with no rocket fire from the Gaza Strip overnight. Israel’s security cabinet had authorized a harsher military response if the launches persist, but attack plans approved by the ministers were not carried out.”

Palestinians clash with Israel Police in Jerusalem near Damascus Gate,

“Hundreds of Palestinian youth gathered at Damascus Gate on Monday night to celebrate Ramadan. Police started to break up the crowd and disperse them when they began to cry: “In spirit and blood we will redeem Palestine,” and wave Palestinian flags, N12 reported. One Palestinian was arrested by police, according to Palestinian media.”


Young Jerusalem woman arrested for stabbing, ripping Israeli flag,

“An young Arab woman was arrested on Monday by Border Police forces, two days after a video was uploaded to TikTok showing her stabbing the Israeli flag.  The woman, who lives at the Galgal – Friendship House home for homeless and at-risk young women in Jerusalem, was filmed stabbing the flag, which was hanging on a rail in Zion Square in Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Charged With Jerusalem Hate Crime for Throwing Coffee at Jewish Passerby,

“The Jerusalem district prosecutor’s office on Monday indicted 19-year-old Mohammad Swilam of East Jerusalem with causing severe bodily harm, attempted assault as a hate crime and invasion of privacy after he threw hot coffee in the face of a Jewish passerby at Damascus Gate. His 17-year-old friend, who filmed the attack and posted the video on TikTok, was charged with invasion of privacy and persuading another person to commit severe bodily harm. The assault became one of the incidents that led to the violent riot in central Jerusalem on Thursday night.”

Two policewomen injured after being assaulted in Jerusalem's Old City,

“A group of policemen were attacked in the Bab-Huta neighborhood in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City on Monday afternoon, resulting in injuries for two policewomen, Israel police reported. The assailants reportedly threw a table and several other objects at the police during the attack. During the incident, the police arrested two suspects for assaulting the police officers and searches are being conducted for other people involved.” Also See – “6 East Jerusalem residents arrested for assaulting cops in Old City” (The Times of Israel)

The Struggle Over Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem,

“Over the past two decades, the Old City’s Historic Basin has undergone unprecedented development. The State of Israel has invested billions of shekels in tourism projects and archaeological excavations alone, whether in the neighborhood of Silwan, excavations of the Western Wall tunnels, or on the Mount of Olives, among other initiatives. As noted, Damascus Gate is just the latest in this chain of investments. Damascus Gate is the most convenient gate from which to enter the Old City. It has a broad entrance and does not require walking up hill, as with Jaffa Gate or Zion Gate. Moreover, it is close to the center of Jerusalem. While Israel claims that it aims to develop the area around the gate, it is effectively redefining its character, promoting tourism, and increasing Israeli presence so as to diminish or conceal the Palestinian character ofthe area. The recent clashes along the stone steps of Damascus Gate plaza should be considered in the context of this development boom. Perhaps the authorities’ concern with young Palestinians sitting on the steps was just another chapter in the struggle over identity, belonging, and sovereignty, as with many in the Old City’s Historic Basin. After so many changes to the gates of the Old City, Damascus Gate is one of the last bastions of this ongoing struggle.”

[Analysis] Leadership Vacuum Offers Palestinian Youth Protesting in Jerusalem a Lesson in Self-restraint,

“The Palestinians in general and the Jerusalemites in particular live in a constant state of self-restraint and forbearance in the face of the relentless economic, material and psychological harassment perpetrated against them as a people and as individuals by the Israeli government and its emissaries, whether official (the Shin Bet security service, the army, the police, the Civil Administration) or unofficial (right-wing and messianic organizations and racist individuals). In the part of the West Bank that does not include East Jerusalem, and even in the Gaza Strip, people have opportunities to forget the ongoing harassment for a while and find metaphorical places of refuge and emotional relief from it. In “united” Jerusalem, on the other hand, Palestinians have no respite from the harassment and or from confronting their inferior status, which Israel created and perpetuates with its Judaization policy.”

[Analysis] Israelis, Palestinians are headed for a collision without intervention,

“As former heads of the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command and members of Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS) – a non-partisan network of over 300 retired leaders of Israel’s security agencies – we suggest that Washington not wait for violence to further escalate, but rather preempt it. We therefore welcomed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s announcement that the US will restore aid to the Palestinians as evidence that preoccupation with other priorities does not preclude engagement when needed.”

[NOTE: This is an horrific Op-Ed published in a settler-run media outlet] "The Palestinian Arabs will lose Jerusalem too",

“Once again a new generation of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs who live in Jerusalem, are expressing their hatred of Jews to further that same futile aim and in the name of this ancient hatred. Though many of Israel’s enemies promote the notion that the violence is caused by Jewish actions, the latest street terror campaign, if it continues, will be very much like every other episode in the Palestinian Arab’s hundred-year war against Zionism. They lose and we march on forward. Those who wish the Palestinian Arabs well should urge them to try to shake off this rejectionist mindset, and stop acting like the great whales that continue ramming the shore, again and again until they die; Jerusalem’s Palestinian Arabs will in the very soon future lose it all; and that includes losing Jerusalem.”

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

'You Don’t Know What’s Going On?' | Top Court Takes Israel to Task Over Settlers' Use of Palestinian Land,

“The High Court of Justice was highly critical of the Israeli government on Monday for not explaining the conditions under which it had allowed privately owned Palestinian land in the West Bank to be used by Israeli settlers. The court’s comments came in a hearing on a petition seeking the rescission of a 1969 military order declaring the parcel of land in the Jordan Valley a closed military zone. The petitioners are also seeking the removal of the settlers now cultivating it.”

Gaza Strip: Snapshot | March 2021,

Monthly highlights

  • Three Palestinian fishermen killed in an explosion and two others injured off the Gaza shore.
  • Increase in passengers and imports via the Israeli-controlled crossings of Erez and Kerem Shalom.
  • The pollution level of wastewater discharged into the sea declined to the lowest level in years.
  • Local authorities reinstate movement restrictions due to a steep rise in COVID-19 cases.

The Fight Against Vaccine Apartheid Goes Global,

“In recent months, the Covid-19 vaccination debate has offered another powerful opportunity for human rights advocates to point to the consequences of Israel’s actions—or in this case, lack of action. While Israel has vaccinated more than 60 percent of its population, giving it the highest Covid-19 vaccination rate in the world; and while it is slated to have millions of excess vaccines, it has refused to supply shots to most Palestinians in the occupied territories, with the exception of those with Israeli work permits. The Palestinian Authority, while working to coordinate vaccine donations and procure small shipments themselves, has not done an effective job in rallying global support for equity. As a result, just about 5 percent of the Palestinian population has been vaccinated, despite skyrocketing infection and mortality rates.”

Rights Groups Call for Israeli Action in Case of Palestinian Woman's Intrusive Search,

“Two human rights groups have called on Israel to prosecute Shin Bet security service agents and army officers involved in the 2015 search of a Palestinian woman’s vagina and anal cavity during a raid of her West Bank home. The woman was suspected of belonging to a Hamas cell that was planning a terrorist attack and the security forces were looking for her cellphone SIM card. Following a Haaretz report last week disclosing the contents of interrogation transcripts from the investigation, the Public Committee Against Torture wrote a letter on Sunday to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on the matter.”

Despite Egyptian campaign, Gaza border tunnels resume smuggling activity,

“Despite the largely successful security campaign launched by Egypt in February 2013 against the Palestinian border tunnels in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, there are reportedly Palestinian attempts to bring back some of the destroyed tunnels to life. Read more:

In Jaffa, Relentless Gentrification Complicates an Already Strained Arab-Jewish Reality,

“A timely new documentary series stresses the interplay between Jewish-Arab tension and systematic gentrification targeting people ‘of a certain color’ in the oldest part of Tel Aviv”

State Censorship, Fines and Identity Politics: What's Driving Palestinian Filmmakers Out of Israel,

“Funding is difficult, courts get in the way, the state censors, co-productions have vanished and the Arab world reacts with suspicion – the impossible reality facing acclaimed Palestinian directors in Israel is forcing them to leave”

Palestinian Politics & Elections

Egyptian officials: Palestinians plan to call off elections,

“Egyptian officials say the Palestinian Authority plans to call off its first elections in 15 years, citing Israel’s refusal to allow voting in occupied East Jerusalem. The decision effectively grants Israel a veto over the holding of elections, though President Mahmoud Abbas could also benefit from cancelling the vote, in which his fractured Fatah party is expected to lose power and influence to Hamas, the group governing the Gaza Strip.” Also See – “Report: Abbas tells global allies he will postpone Palestinian elections” (Ynet)

Palestinians reject European offer to hold Jerusalem election online,

“‘Some European diplomats proposed to have online elections in east Jerusalem,’ he said. ‘The issue is not numbers; it is political. It has to do with Israeli recognition that Palestinians in east Jerusalem have the right to vote and stand for elections’.”

EU to push Israel on Jerusalem voting as Abbas set to delay election – report,

“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has told the European Union, Egypt and Jordan of his decision to postpone the upcoming elections, but the EU has asked for a delay to a formal announcement on the matter so that it can pressure Israel to allow voting in East Jerusalem, a Lebanese newspaper reported Tuesday. As justification for the postponement, Abbas is set to cite Israel’s silence on whether East Jerusalem Palestinians can participate.”

[Podcast] Rethinking Palestine: Israeli Elections and Palestinian Citizens with Amjad Iraqi,

“Amjad Iraqi joins host Yara Hawari to discuss the Israeli elections, focusing in particular on the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Iraqi explains the current political deadlock, the history of Palestinian participation in the Knesset, the rise and demise of the Joint List and the curious case of an Islamist party embracing Netanyahu.”

The Right of Palestinian Residents of East Jerusalem to Participate in the 2021 Palestinian Elections,

“The paper explores the right of East Jerusalem Palestinians to vote and to be elected in the Palestinian Authority elections juxtaposed with the absence of full citizenship status of any state and its ensuing implications. It likewise examines the history of holding Palestinian elections in East Jerusalem and the provisions within the Oslo Accords which afford East Jerusalem residents the right to participate in the election process of the Palestinian Authority…There is no doubt that the participation of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem in the Palestinian elections is far from realizing full citizenship rights and the right to vote and be elected as is customary in democratic regimes. Under the existing circumstances, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem vote for representatives in the Palestinian Authority which has no direct influence over their lives under Israeli annexation and occupation. The position of the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian Authority over the years has likewise been substantially weakened, both practically and financially. However, at the very least, the right of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to participate in the Palestinian elections under the present political circumstances must be optimally realized, both in light of the fundamental rights that underlie it and the binding agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.”

Israeli Politics

Despite It All, Naftali Bennett,

“The talks to form a national unity government headed by Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett, that would put an end to the toxic regime of Benjamin Netanyahu, are cause for optimism. No one in the center-left has any illusions about such a government: Bennett is a man of the right who is the leader of a right-wing party. His partner in leading the party, Ayelet Shaked, is a woman of the right. The other senior partners are also right-wingers. Gideon Sa’ar and his New Hope party are right-wing, and Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman is a man of the right. Nevertheless, we must hope that Bennett and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid will succeed in their mission to enlist them all to a unity government. That, because it’s critical to end the rule of a criminal defendant who knows no restraint and who puts himself before the state.”

Sa'ar could enter gov't if Netanyahu steps down for 18 months,

“Talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar could ultimately boil down to how long the incumbent prime minister would step down for 18 months right after swearing in a government, Israel Hayom has learned. Sa’ar, a former Likud challenger to Netanyahu who ran against him in the March 23 election and vowed not to sit in his government, has so far ruled out any coalition with the prime minister owing to his corruption trial. That intransigence has made Netanyahu’s chances of swearing-in government on time slim. But a compromise of sorts that would allow him to keep his promise is now being discussed, Israel Hayom has learned.”

Mansour Abbas helps Likud score victory in Knesset Arrangements Committee,

“The Likud made a deal with political kingmaker Mansour Abbas (Ra’am Party) that helped Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party take control of the Knesset presidium in a vote in the Knesset Arrangements Committee on Monday. The presidium is made up of the Knesset speaker and its deputies. Together, they decide what bills to bring to a vote and other items on the Knesset agenda, including the date for the race for president.”

The U.S. Scene

Senior Israeli delegation arrives in Washington amid Iran tension,

“The visiting delegation is expected to meet US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley and senior US military and intelligence officials, a diplomatic source told The National. The head of US Central Command, Gen Kenneth McKenzie, will also meet the Israeli team. In January, the Pentagon moved Israel into Centcom’s area of command. But the primary goal is to lodge Israel’s objections to the US returning to the nuclear deal with Iran, Israeli reports say.”

U.S. Resumption of Foreign Aid to the Palestinians,

“Secretary Blinken explained that resuming aid for the Palestinians would serve important U.S. interests such as critical humanitarian assistance; economic development; and fostering Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination, and stability that can lead toward a negotiated two-state solution. He also said that all assistance would be provided consistent with U.S. law, and encouraged other international donors to increase their funding for similar programs. According to the World Bank, foreign aid the PA received in 2020 was 20% lower than in 2019 and the lowest in decades. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh welcomed the resumption of aid and called on the Administration to take complementary diplomatic steps to address the aspirations and rights of the Palestinian people.”

[Opinion] Why Biden Must Watch This Palestinian Movie,

“The concluding scene of “The Present” shows Yusuf, tired and hobbled with back pain, increasingly angry and on the verge of violence as he attempts to return home with the anniversary gift. His chilling, emotional outburst made me think of the frustration felt by every Palestinian who has to live with the stifling security measures and political oppression attendant to Israel’s military occupation. It was his little daughter, Yasmine, though, who gave me most pause and concern. She watched her father’s patience, dignity and humanity steadily erode. I can only imagine the imprint such experiences have on the young girls and boys who live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They grow up traumatized by injustice, discrimination and violence. They live with the feeling that their existence is controlled by people who don’t care about their welfare, their safety or their future.”

Normalization & News from the Region

UAE firm to buy 22% stake in Israel’s Tamar natural gas field,

“Israeli energy company Delek Drilling announced on Monday that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Petroleum to sell its 22 percent stake in the eastern Mediterranean natural gas field Tamar for $1.1 billion. If finalized, it would mark the biggest deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates since the Abraham Accords normalized relations between the two countries in September.”

Israeli-Arab Energy Deals Are Dramatic, but They Aren’t the Future,

“Anyone taking a broader view of the situation has to be wondering what everyone thinks they’re doing. It’s as if the New Middle East of Israelis and Arabs aren’t walking forward hand in hand to a brilliant and lucrative future, but backward to a time when fossil fuels ruled the world.”