Top News from Israel & Palestine: August 11, 2021

What We’re Reading

Occupation, Settlements, Apartheid

ICC Mulls Probing Israel Over Razing Palestinian Homes in Jordan Valley,

“The International Criminal Court prosecutors’ office is mulling opening an investigation into the destruction of the homes of dozens of Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley village of Khirbet Humsah at the behest of the Combatants for Peace organization, which termed the act a war crime. The incident occurred last month when the Israel Defense Force’s Civil Administration razed the homes and confiscated the belongings of about 60 Palestinians in the village, which is located in an area that Israel has declared a firing zone. It was the third operation of this kind in the past year.”

After being detained by Israeli forces for one day, Palestinian man left with serious facial injuries,

“A Palestinian man from Deir al-Ghosoun town, near Tulkarm in the north of the West Bank, was detained by Israeli occupation forces for one day but left after his release with serious facial injuries, today said the Palestinian Prisoner Society (PPS). It quoted Loai Abu Zaiton, 24, saying that he was hit in the face by a concussion bomb thrown at him by an Israeli soldier before detaining him early yesterday. He was also beaten on his feet during his detention and then taken to a hospital inside Israel before he was released. Abu Zaiton, who was admitted to a Palestinian hospital in Tulkarm, said he is suffering from mutilation in his face, a broken nose and serious damage to the retina of his left eye.”


More from WAFA:

Jerusalem Mufti calls for rejecting Judaisation projects at Ibrahimi Mosque,

“Palestinian Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Mohammed Hussein yesterday called for rejecting the Judaisation projects at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. In a statement, the Mufti said that the Israeli occupation is planning to build passages, corridors and install an elevator in order to facilitate settler access to the mosque. He pointed out that these projects mean the confiscation of about 300 square metres of the area of the mosque, stressing ‘this is a flagrant violation of the Muslim property, as well as a flagrant violation of the international laws which protect holy sites and freedom of worship.’” Also see: Palestinians protesting Israeli work near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron attacked by soldiers, three detained (WAFA)

To Deter Trigger-happy Soldiers, Israel Must Exact a Price for Unjustified Killings,

“That Israel Defense Forces soldiers tend to be trigger-happy is an established fact. Even Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi could no longer ignore the numerous shootings of Palestinians by soldiers over the past three months, particularly in recent weeks. That’s why Kochavi met with Central Command senior officers on Sunday and asked them to take steps to reduce the shootings (as reported by Yaniv Kubovich on Tuesday)…Kochavi’s request to the commanders he met that they calm things down is meaningless. His demand to include more senior officers in some of the military activities and to make sure more decisions are made by more senior officers won’t solve the problem, either. The only way to deter soldiers from being quick on the trigger and prevent the continued wantonness is to raise the price to be paid by soldiers and their commanders, including the most senior ones, for the unjustified killing of Palestinians.” Also see: How Many Dead Palestinians Is Too Many? (Haaretz)

Israel's fanciest new mall opens in the Judean desert,

“Israel’s largest and fanciest designer mall, with a piazza built as a replica of the famous Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, opened this week outside Ma’aleh Adumim near Jerusalem. The new DCity Mall includes some 200 storefronts, restaurants, a luxury hotel, an artificial indoor sky, and more spread over 150,000 square meters. More than a billion shekels have been invested in the mall, which was designed by celebrity architect Gadi Halperin…’The entire area of Mishor Adumim will be transformed by the mall,’ [mall CEO  Pnina] Revach said… Revach insists that the decision to open over the Green Line was not political. ‘We don’t have any agenda, and we weren’t given any government grants. We bought the land very inexpensively, and we are using the money we saved to provide a great service.’”

Israel's home demolition policy is another form of ethnic cleansing,

“…By demolishing homes, the British meant to punish and create a submissive Palestinian population in order to maintain a semblance of political stability. But for Israel, in addition to establishing a swift and visible deterrence, the practice aims to dispossess and displace the existing Palestinian population and systematically replace it with a Jewish one.”

The Gaza Strip

Hamas expels UN staff from Gazan school following exposure of a tunnel under the building,

“Hamas, the militant organization that runs the Gaza Strip, prevented a team of UN experts from operating in the area of a tunnel shaft under a UNRWA school and removed the team from the area, Kan reported Tuesday. The tunnel in the Zeitoun neighborhood, part of Hamas’ military urban infrastructure, was exposed two months ago during fighting with Israel. Bomb disposal staff from the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) arrived at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) school several days ago, Palestinian sources told Kan. The specialists were requested to attend to ensure the safety of the educational building in preparation for the start of the new school year. Police arrived on the scene when they learned of the UNMAS presence, ordered the evacuation of the building and sealed it off. As a result the UNMAS team cancelled plans to examine the viability of a second UNRWA school in Rafah, in the enclave’s south, where another tunnel was suspected of being. UNRWA later informed the Hamas administration that neither school would open at the start of term as a result, with as many as 4,000 students subsequently missing schooling.”


Also see:

Report: Gaza terrorist groups threaten to mimic Hezbollah attacks,

“Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip are considering stepping up provocations beyond sending arson balloons across the border fence into Israel, the Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam reported Wednesday. ‘Give the total breakdown in the negotiation efforts and Israel’s lack of response to the conditions of resistance, and the lack of any visible future for the internal interests or removal of the blockade, the resistance is looking at the option of ‘lighting up’ the border, which will not be limited to sending arson balloons and similar methods, but will move to what happened on the Israel-Lebanon border, including the clashes between Hezbollah and Israel,’ a source said.”

Israel investigating May barrage that killed 6 civilians in Gaza,

“After initially finding no grounds for disciplinary action, the Israeli military later opened an investigation into an artillery bombardment that killed six Palestinian civilians, including an infant, in the Gaza Strip in May. To date, no soldiers or senior officers have been punished for the errant fire, which witnesses say came without warning. Human rights groups have long accused the Israeli military of having a poor record of investigating the conduct of its troops, and the Haaretz daily last week accused the army of covering up the incident.”

Palestinian-Israeli initiative sends 60 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza,

“As an act of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza who are still recovering from the latest war in May, Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish Israelis launched a donation campaign that gathered 3,300 boxes of aid to the residents of the strip. The five trucks left Monday morning from the village of Kufr Qara in Israel and entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the only commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza…According to Masalha, the transfer of aid to Gaza was not easy to carry out. Their first request was refused, he explained, and the Israeli authorities stipulated that only diapers and food can be brought into Gaza. With the intervention of the Regional Cooperation Ministry, headed by Issawi Frej of Meretz, the group was able to get the necessary permits. ‘We had a hard time with the approvals. Each time it was something different. At first they approved toys but not other things. It was mentally exhausting,’ said Masalha.”

Inside the Green Line

Despite calm, Israeli town copes with scars of rocket fire,

“Just three months after the latest war between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, the border town of Sderot appears to be on the road to recovery. The streets are bustling, and the town is filled with well-kept parks and playgrounds. The local real-estate market is booming. But underneath the veneer of normalcy, the scars of years of rocket fire run deep. Metal rocket fragments are on display outside the main police station, as a museum of sorts. Next to every park and bus stop is a small concrete bomb shelter — often decked out with colorful murals and street art. An Iron Dome rocket defense battery sits on the eastern edge of town, a few hundred meters (yards) from a new apartment complex. Some Sderot residents say they jump at the smallest noise. Parents report children still wetting their beds or being too scared to sleep alone.”

With new policing division, Bennett unveils plan to tackle crime among Arabs,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett vowed on Wednesday to end the ongoing crime wave in Arab communities, at a ceremony inaugurating a unit dedicated to ‘restoring safety to Arab streets.’ ‘Arab society today constitutes 20 percent of the population in Israel and 60% of the crime. This situation, this neglect, is intolerable and we will put an end to it,’ said Bennett, after examining a table of illegal weaponry seized in a recent police raid. Bennett announced his intention to formulate a national plan to combat crime in Arab areas in June, immediately after taking office. According to a draft of the plan, NIS 2.4 billion NIS ($770 million) will be budgeted over five years.”

Palestinian Authority/PLO

Palestine slams 'illegal' Israeli deduction of tax revenues,

“Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Tuesday described Israel’s deduction of Palestinian tax revenues as ‘illegal’, Anadolu Agency reported. Speaking at a weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank city in Ramallah, Shtayyeh said Israel deducts monthly 100 million shekels ($31 million) of Palestinian tax revenues and demanded the Israeli authorities pay back all money. The tax revenues — known in Palestine and Israel as maqasa — are collected by the Israeli government on behalf of the Palestinian Authority on Palestinian imports and exports. Israel in return earns a commission of 3% of collected revenues. The tax revenues collected are estimated at around $30-33 million every month, for which tax revenues represent the main source of income to the Palestinian Authority. ‘These monthly deductions leave us in a difficult financial situation and weaken our ability to address the financial needs of our people,’ Shtayyeh said. Israel deducted 628 million shekels ($193 million) from Palestinian tax revenues in the first half of 2021, according to an Anadolu Agency survey based on data of the Palestinian Finance Ministry. Since 2020, Israel has deducted around $16 million monthly from the tax revenues on claims that this amount is being paid out by the Palestinian Authority each month to the families of Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel for staging attacks against Israeli targets.” Also see: Israel’s confiscation of $31 million of Palestinian tax receipts every month ‘illegal’, says PM (The New Arab)

CIA director visit aims to strengthen PA, Palestinian official says,

“CIA director William Burns’ visit to Israel shows that the Biden administration is serious about restoring Washington’s relations with the Palestinians, said a Palestinian Authority official.”


Bennett meets CIA chief Burns to discuss Iran, increased Israel-US cooperation,

“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met Wednesday with visiting CIA chief William Burns for talks on the situation in the Middle East and specifically Iran, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. The two discussed ways to broaden and deepen cooperation between Israel and the US in the region, the statement said. They were joined in the meeting by the head of the Mossad spy agency David Barnea, the incoming head of the National Security Council Eyal Hulata, the prime minister’s military secretary Maj. Gen. Avi Gil, and Bennett’s diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir.”


Also see:

US pressuring Israel to open consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem,

“The Biden administration is working behind the scenes to persuade Israel to reopen the United States’ Jerusalem consulate for the Palestinians. It is believed that the matter will be raised during a meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and US President Joe Biden planned to take place in late August. Both sides, however, were interested in downplaying their disagreements on the issue. Israel Hayom has learned that administration officials have worked to delay a bill proposed by MK Nir Barkat (Likud), which if passed into law would essentially prevent the move from materializing. The legislation proposed by Barkat, a former mayor of Jerusalem, would ban any country from establishing a diplomatic mission in Jerusalem that is not a mission to Israel. The bill further specifies that any mission established to provide consular services specifically to Jerusalem residents will require special permission from the Israeli government.”

Israel in the Region & World

Israel and Saudi Arabia are cooperating on Iran, minister says,

“Minister for Regional Cooperation Issawi Freij (Meretz) revealed that there are contacts with Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, on the matter of Iran. In an interview on the Alhurra channel, part of the U.S. Public Middle East Broadcasting Network on Monday, Friej said the threats by Iran were not only a problem for Israel or the Saudis and required a global response.”

Lapid touches down in Morocco to kick off historic visit,

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid landed in Rabat for a two-day visit to Morocco on Wednesday, the first official visit by Israel’s top diplomat since 2003 and the highest-level trip since an agreement was signed by Jerusalem and Rabat last year to reestablish ties after some two decades.”

Senior Bahraini official openly meets IDF commander who handles Iran,

“A visiting senior Bahraini official has openly met an Israeli military commander in charge of Iran matters, in a further indication of the warming of ties between the countries following last year’s normalization deal and their alignment against Tehran. Bahrain’s Undersecretary for International Relations Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmad al Khalifa met with Tal Kelman, head of the Strategic Division of the Israel Defense Forces’ Planning Directorate, and the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesperson Avichai Adraee on Tuesday tweeted a photograph of them shaking hands.”


Also see:

Gantz calls on international community to 'stop Iran's aggression' ,

“Iran is the greatest danger to both global and regional stability, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Tuesday during a tour of Israel’s northern border, when he discussed recent tensions. ‘We are calling on all the players and countries in the world to take action to stop Iran’s aggression. It’s time for joint actions,’ Gantz said.”

How the budding Azerbaijan-Israel alliance is more than just ‘good business’,

“…While it has been long engaged in a ‘shadow war’ with Iran, recent statements by Israeli officials point to a radicalized posture. In just the past week, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. stated publicly that Israel seeks a coup d’etat and regime change in Iran, while Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatened to take military action against Tehran. Moreover, an Israeli establishment think tank, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, or BESA, published a paper openly calling for military support for non-Persian ethnic minority groups that allegedly favor secession from Iran. In that sense, Iran hawks in both Washington and Jerusalem have long placed their greatest hopes on Azerbaijanis, the largest of Iran’s minorities, in particular…”

Israel receives 3rd warship from Germany,

“The Israeli army yesterday received the third Sa’ar 6-class warship from Germany, Arab48 reported. This handover came amidst escalating tensions in the Gulf that could see a confrontation with Iran. The warship is anchored in Haifa military base, where it will be fitted with developed technologies, including sensors, weapons and communication systems, a statement issued by Israeli army said, noting that it will be operational in the coming months. According to the statement, Sa’ar 6 warships are mainly tasked to protect gas fields and Israel’s exclusive economic waters. This is the third of four warships which Israel ordered from Germany five years ago.”

Social media

Facebook suspends accounts of Israeli far right-wing former MKs,

“Facebook has permanently suspended the accounts of Israeli radical right-wing activists and former MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Baruch Marzel on Wednesday, according to Israeli media. Facebook commented that their accounts were suspended for their continued support of Kach, deemed a terror organization by both Israel and the US. ‘I wasn’t suspended as I don’t own a Facebook account, they blocked accounts that mentioned my name,’ said Marzel. ‘I might sue them [Facebook] for defamation for stating I support terror organizations. We have suffered through Pharoah, we’ll suffer through Zuckerberg,’ he claimed. Otzma Yehudit MK Itamar Ben-Gvir commented on the former MKs suspensions, calling it an ‘outrageous act designed to shut the mouths of right-wing activists.’”