Top News from Israel & Palestine: April 29, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Annexation, Human Rights

13-year-old Palestinian boy is pepper-sprayed in the face by Israeli border police officer,

“Mu’taz Zaru was pepper-sprayed in the face by a border police officer in Hebron’s a-Sahala neighborhood. The 13-year-old had gone to the checkpoint to ask about his stolen bike when the incident occurred.” (video) (Btselem report)

Israel settlers set fire to cars in Jerusalem chanting 'May your village burn',

“Israeli settlers set alight three Palestinian cars last night in the village of Beit Iksa, north-west of occupied Jerusalem, and sprayed threatening slogans across the road, reported Wafa news agency. The vandalism comes amid rising Israeli settler violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem, which intensified at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. According to local sources, three private cars were torched, and settlers from the illegal Ramot settlement wrote, ‘Jews, let’s win’ on the road. Under that, they wrote ‘Tiktok’ along with a star of David. They added that the cars are owned by a member of the Abu Khalaf family, in addition to Anas Khatib and Issa Hammouda Gheith. The windows of several parked cars were also smashed, while dozens of settlers gathered and chanted ‘May your village burn.’” Also see: Palestinian cars set ablaze in Jerusalem after incursion by suspected Israeli settlers (Al Anadolu)

Citing military drills, Israeli army orders Humsa al-Fouqa community to leave their homes,

“Palestinian families in Humsa al-Fouqa community in the northern Jordan Valley were told by the Israeli army to leave their homes on Monday, according to Mutaz Bisharat, a local official. He said that the army is going to hold military drills in the area and has ordered the families of the community to leave their homes and the area for the duration of the drill. Israel has been trying to evacuate the Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley using different pretext, including conducting military exercises.”

Damascus Gate: The symbolic flashpoint of Jerusalem’s latest tensions,

“Many Palestinians see recent Israeli aggressions around the Old City as part of a long-standing plan to erase Palestinian identity from Jerusalem.”

Rights Groups Urge Israel: Revoke Gaza Fishing Restrictions Imposed During Flare-up,

“A coalition of human rights organizations have called on Israel to reverse its Monday decision to restrict fishing off the Gaza Strip, decrying ‘collective punishment’ over repeated rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled enclave. In a letter addressed to Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, the groups – Gisha, Adalah and Gaza-based Al Mezan – said the fishing ban harms ‘Gaza’s entire civilian population.’ They cited Israeli authorities who claimed Hamas was responsible for any violence coming out of the Strip, and therefore questioned the measure, which affects all Gazans.” Also see: Israel reopens Gaza fishing zone after quiet night on the border (Times of Israel)

What Is Israel Planning, Expulsion by Bus or by Truck?,

“In buses, trucks or command cars? How do the Israel Defense Forces and the Civil Administration plan to carry out the major expulsion of over 1,000 Palestinians from their land, their villages, and their homes in Masafer Yatta, a collection of around 20 Palestinian hamlets and villages in the southern West Bank? Will the soldiers receive an order to use live fire against the men, women and children who refuse to leave their land, their villages and their caves, the region where their parents and grandparents were born and lived? Or will rubber-coated metal bullets, dogs, suffocating tear gas, stun grenades, tasers and beatings with clubs suffice?”

Palestinians suspected of firebombing cabin at illegal outpost; man lightly hurt,

“The Israeli military launched a search for a group of Palestinians suspected of firebombing a cabin at an illegal outpost in the central West Bank in the predawn hours of Thursday morning while four people were inside, the Israel Defense Forces said. One of the four young men who was sleeping in the cabin was lightly injured as he jumped out of a window to escape the flames…The illegal Oz Zion outpost was first built in 2005 and has been torn down by the Israeli military and rebuilt multiple times over the past 16 years.”


US Policy

US Disagrees that Israel Carrying out 'Apartheid',

“The United States on Wednesday voiced disagreement with Human Rights Watch’s allegation that Israel is committing ‘apartheid’ against the Palestinians but said it was committed to condemning abuses. ‘It is not the view of this administration that Israel’s actions constitute apartheid,’ a State Department spokesperson said. President Joe Biden’s State Department, however, said it would not ‘offer public evaluations of reports by outside groups’ — a shift from Donald Trump’s administration which loudly berated advocacy groups that criticized ally Israel.”


Also see:

Biden's security adviser: US and Israel have a policy of 'no surprises',

“White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC News that the United States and Israel disagree about reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran but have an understanding to ensure there are ‘no surprises’ between the two governments.” Also see: U.S. and Israel seek to “fence off” Iran deal dispute from other issues (Axios)


Israel - Continuing Post-Elections Mayhem

Netanyahu caves, nominates Gantz for justice minister,

“After being reprimanded yesterday both by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and the High Court, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has nominated Defense Minister Benny Gantz to take on the Justice Ministry as well.”


Also see:

Bennett's new hope: A merger with Gideon Sa'ar,


“Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett and New Hope leader head Gideon Sa’ar plan to merge their parties, Israel Hayom has learned, in a move that will see Bennet tasked with the premiership as the head of a party that garnered a combined 13 Knesset seats instead of the seven Yamina earned.”


Also see:

Netanyahu's Far-right Ally Threatens Attorney General With 'Force by the People',

“Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit does not have the authority to declare Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu incapable of carrying out his duties because of his decision to appoint Ofir Akunis as justice minister, tweeted MK Bezalel Smotrich, chairman of the Religious Zionism party, on Wednesday. ‘There’s no such law and no such animal,’ he tweeted. ‘It is a threat to democracy and the people, and if Mendelblit leads a governmental revolution by force – he will be met with opposing force by the people, who will fight for their independence and sovereignty.’”

Palestinian Scene/Elections

EU in contact with Israel over polls in Jerusalem,

“The EU representative in Palestine on Wednesday confirmed the union’s support for efforts by the Palestinian authorities to hold elections next month in all Palestinian territories, including in Jerusalem, Palestine’s state media reported. 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received EU representative Sven Kuhn Von Burgsdorff at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, according to Wafa news agency. Two sides discussed the latest developments regarding Palestinian legislative elections slated for May 22. ‘EU is continuing its intensive contacts with the Israeli side to hold the elections in occupied East Jerusalem, as was the case in the previous elections,’ Burgsdorff said.”


Free Speech, Lawfare, & Weaponization of Antisemitism

Will next anti-Semitism envoy address progressive push to sideline IHRA definition?,

“…Ellie Cohanim, who served as Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism during the Trump administration, told JNS that the names being floated for the next envoy reflect the emerging split within the Democratic Party over the issue of anti-Semitism. ‘I would suggest that candidates like Abe Foxman, Deborah Lipstadt and Sharon Nazarian would take a more centrist approach to combat anti-Semitism; while Nancy Kaufman has made statements that would put her on the left of the Democrat Party,’ said Cohanim. Indeed, Kaufman stated in an interview with The Forward that she finds the IHRA definition an ‘interesting tool,’ but opposes codifying it into law. Kaufman herself has drawn criticism in the past as the head of the National Council of Jewish Women for supporting and working alongside the Women’s March, whose co-founders had ties to anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam. In 2017, she signed a letter in defense of political activist Linda Sarsour, who has been known for her anti-Israel stances and support for BDS.”